Essay about Exposing Pain in The Enormous Radio

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Exposing Pain in The Enormous Radio

In John Cheever’s short story, "The Enormous Radio," Jim and Irene Westcott are presented as average, middle-class Americans with hopes and dreams just like everyone else. They are described as "the kind of people who seem to strike that satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability" (Cheever 817). Jim and Irene thought they were the epitome of the perfect American family that was free from trouble and worry. The only way that they differed from their friends and neighbors was a deep passion for serious music. This passion, through the enormous radio, brought to their attention the realization that they had just as many problems as the next family. Their reaction to the radio
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Why had this become such a necessity? As she listened to her neighbors’ most intimate and private discussions, "Irene began to feel depressed, instead of delighted as she once had been" (Giordano 57). Jim had bought the radio to make his wife happy, but the depressing, real-life stories she was hearing everyday made her realize that they had their fair share of problems too. Listening to other couples quarrel all day made her think about all the problems she and Jim had. Irene had "deluded herself into thinking that her life was different from those she listened to on a daily basis" (Giordano 57), but she now understood that even they had difficulties.

Jim had become fed up with Irene’s obsession with the enormous radio. He did not understand why she listened to it so intently if all it did was bring her misery. Meanwhile, Irene constantly nagged at Jim for even an inch of reassurance that they had better lives than those on the radio. Jim fought himself to hold in all his built up anger and frustration towards his wife and replied "Of course we’re happy" (Cheever 823). Jim knew that they had just as many problems as the next family. He tried to discuss them with his wife, but as TaVeta Smith points out, she "doesn’t address Jim’s concerns at all" (59).

Jim becomes so upset with Irene’s obsession that he unleashes his anger by explaining to her why she is so caught up in the enormous radio. He
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