Essay on “A Small Good Thing” by Raymond Carver

“A Small, Good Thing” is one of the latest works of Raymond Carver. For several times, the author had been revising his original story “The Bath” and, finally, he had found out the very heart of it. As a result, an undefined short story of minimalist turned into a precise and structured piece of work with a beginning, middle and an end. It starts with loneliness, sorrow, hopelessness, and hate; yet, at the very end, it takes a form of repentance and redemption. A nameless baker, who is described as an incommunicative workaholic, isolated from the rest of the world, shows the best example of rebirth.

Help with Essay on "A Small Good Thing" by Raymond Carver

Help with Essay on "A Small Good Thing" by Raymond Carver

From the very beginning, the baker demonstrates indifference towards the needs and feelings of other people; he is concerned with nothing, except his work. Raymond Carver portrays him, as a man who “listen[s] without saying anything … come[s] to work … and [is] in no real hurry” (para. 1). In the story, he is shown as an aged man; the author passed over the details, concerning his family – his anger and hate could be a result of crisis in his home life.

In addition, he is a man of reclusive type. For some reasons, he shrank into his shell and protected himself from the future pain, distress and disturb. Being in contact with other people, he makes them feel uncomfortable. Ann Weiss, who used to make friends easily, “wondered if he’d ever done anything else with his life besides be a baker … he was abrupt with her-not rude, just abrupt” (para. 2). This statement shows that the baker cared not for his reputation, visitors and his income. He pays no respect to his customers and shows no interest in his future “fame” that can be passed by word of mouth.

In “A Small, Good Thing” this man makes not a single effort to build any contact with a client. There is “just the minimum exchange of words, the necessary information” (para. 2). Every customer, especially the one who comes to the bakery, wants to reach mutual understanding; after all, he/she comes to find the exact thing he/she needs. A baker has to assist the customer: people come to the bakery for the single purpose – to find a party food that will be a central part of their celebration.

Nevertheless, Ann has found a communication gap and is deeply disappointed. She is an emotional and sensitive, as all ladies; the contact at the bakery hurts her feelings and leaves a mark on her soul. It may be assumed that she was not the only one, who had a bad experience with the baker. Yet, the baker is a workman, rather than a manager; his work is to make cakes, rolls and bread, but not to make connections.

Still, this impatient and apathetic man is made of flesh and bones and he has a chance to share love that is hidden in his heart of hearts. One of the orders is overdue and he knows nothing about the accident in the family. The baker is not the one, who can put the words together; every call, he makes to this family, harasses both man and wife. He is a “creep who keeps calling” (para. 18) for them.

Finally, after the Scotty’s death, they all meet together. The baker lets Ann talk, just like at the very beginning and then comes the moment of rebirth. He admits that he don’t know how to act and speak; he accentuates that he is not an evil man. At last, he asks for Ann’s and Howard’s forgiveness and says: “I hope you’ll eat some of my hot rolls. You have to eat and keep going. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this” (para. 184). They share the bread with each other in a warm bakery and the baker comes out of his shell. He speaks about his life that is full of loneliness, childlessness and doubt; his heart melts and, finally, he realizes that “feeding people” (para. 186) is better than selling flowers.

Certain obstacles in life may harden it; but, the other obstacles may lead to compassion, forgiveness and understanding in the same life. In the Carver’s story “A Small, Good Thing”, the baker is not a hopeless man, who wants to live the rest of his life in isolation; he uses his chance to renewal.

Works Cited:

Carver, Raymond. “A Small, Good Thing”. Wings Buffalo. 1983. 26 Sept. 2006.       <http://wings.buffalo.edu/AandL/english/courses/eng201d/asmallgoodthing.html>.

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