The Country Husband, by John Cheever, is a story about the life of Francis Weed as he dealt with his mid-life crisis. There is a supportive mid-life crisis theme throughout the entirety of the story. John Cheever goes through many stressful events that almost caused him to lose his family life. The story starts off on a plane in which John was riding home from Minneapolis. The plane crashed and John was left with a near death experience. This event kicked off the story of John’s crisis with a big bang.
From here on everything John goes through is normally excepted in our society, but with the plane crash in the back of his mind, any normal events become abnormal and add up to overwhelm him. Like any person would do in our culture, John returned home expecting sympathy and wide-open ears to hear about his exciting plane crash. This is where things started to go bad. John returns to a house full of crying and arguing children that wanted nothing to do with the great story of the crash. This upsets John but he gets over it and tucks away his disappointment; the overwhelming begins. John had a minor release of stress at the dinner table; he yelled to stop the madness but it only added to his problems when everyone started crying including his wife, Julia.
Up to this point, the reader believes John to have just had a bad day, but the tragedy that awaits him is yet to come. John walked outside and reminisced about all of the things that are a common anomaly in the nighttime at Shady Hill. During this short pause in events the author is cooling down the plot. Not only does John get stressed out in the book, but the reader also feels his stress, so the author throws in this brief cool down period to bring stress levels back to a status quo. The next night John and Julia are at dinner with the Farquarsons. John recognized the servant as a girl that was punished by public embarrassment while he wa in the war.
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John did not bring up the subject because it was improper to talk of war at Shady Hill. John found himself being restricted by a town standard. Upon arrival back at the Weed residence, John noticed a very attractive young girl watching over the kids. John is very vulnerable at this point because of the stress that has overcome him, so he finds the girl as a release for his stress by falling for her. That night John brought Anne Murchison home.
He dreamt of the girl all night. Here, John is threatening his martial life and his family life by falling for this girl, but he doesn’t realize this; all John sees is a new youthful life with this young girl in which he may leave his past life behind. John bought a bracelet for Anne; he thought that he’d found the love of his life… again. He returned home from town just before leaving for another party, and Anne was standing in the hallway. John ran to her and kissed her but was cut short by the viewing of Gertrude, the town nuisance if you will.
In this scene, John wanted to express his never-ending love to Anne, but he was interrupted. This left John with only the thought of bringing Anne Murchison home, after the party, for the remainder of the night. The Weeds returned home, and John found that Anne had already left. He was heart-broken and once again overwhelmed with stress. Only to make things worse, the next day Clayton Thomas stopped by to deliver some money and informed the Weeds that he was engaged to Anne Murchison.
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This put a huge dent in John’s dreams. Later on, John and Julia get in an argument about an insult that John threw at Mrs. Wrights on earlier. This argument almost ended the marriage. All of these events are building the story up to a final climax.
The events get more repetitive as the story gets closer to climax. In reaction to Clayton’s recent engagement, John very selfishly spread rumors about Clayton so that to prevent him from getting a job. This is the climax of the story where John realizes everything that he has done and how out of character he has become. He decides to resolve his problems by visiting a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist gave John a stress relieving activity and everything became back to normal again. The story of The Country Husband is clearly a story of a mid-life crisis. This theme is built up through events like the plane crash, the young girl, and the fight between John and Julia. The story was rather uninteresting but regardless, it would ” ve been quite difficult to stop reading once started.