By John Updike

Plot Line

Conflict/Exposition- Very beginning of the story, the narrator starts to talk about Richard and Joan's friends and how they would start little house projects right before they got a divorce. Thinking that these projects would some how help them start over and hold on to that little bit of happiness, but it never works out. Throughout the story Richard is doing just that. Rising Action- When they were trying so hard to get all the kids together, and trying to get them in all one place made me wonder. Even though I already knew what was going to be said when they were with one another, I still got anxious. Climax- Telling the kids they were going to spend some time separated to see what happens. Falling Action- The reaction of the kids, all were completely different and some very unexpected. Resolution- At the very end, all the emotions Richard (the father) was feeling was described as a mountain on his chest, that disappeared when he told the last child about the news.


My overall theme is sadness with a little glimpse of light. The reason I say light is because in the last bit of the story when the dad picks up Dickie, one of his sons from a concert that night, he doesn't know about the separation, gets told. His reaction was very calm, straight, emotionless, but he was wondering what happen when the others were told. The dad told him what John, his brother, did. Which was eat a cigarette and make a salad out of his napkin, Dickie laughed. He went from emotionless to laughing. Even in the worst times or what you think are the worst time you can find happiness and humor.


Richard- Indirect characterization. Richard tended to sugar coat his feelings and ideas as if he was trying to prevent the split from happening. The way John Updike used his language and motions was very hesitant.

Joan- Direct characterization. Joan was more straight forward, seemed a little insensitive when it came to dealing with her emotions. Then again we saw more of what Richard was feeling than her, but she gave off the persona of tired, angry, careless. She was the one who just went right ahead and told the kids, she stuck to her plan.


The major conflict was the split, but also all the planning, thought and worries of telling the kids was a huge part of this. Wondering what their reactions would be, how that would effect the family. The announcement of the split was major, but what lead up to it and the out come was even bigger.

Figurative Language

When choosing metaphors, similes and symbolism the author is trying to add some excitement and wonder to the story (my opinion) It gives you a very good vision of what the character is feeling. This story for example, the dad Richard has a wave of emotion, described as a "mountain" on his chest. By saying that I got a feel for his sentiment.