Lit Essay 1

Submitted By vikingsmel4
Words: 888
Pages: 4

Mel Mclean
February 18, 2015
Essay #1

The Calm
By: Raymond Carver

The short story, The Calm by: Raymond Carver takes place in a traditional small town barbershop in Crescent City, California. Like most typical barbershop scenes that are watched in movies or read about in books, Bill’s barbershop is filled with gossip and exaggerated stories. This particular story the unnamed narrator is getting his hair cut while observing the other men who are patiently waiting to get their hair cut as well. One particular man catches the narrator’s eye and his name is Charles. Charles, who we find out is a security guard at the local bank, dominates most of the short story by telling an exaggerated hunting tale. After analyzing what may seem to be a meaningless story that Charles discloses, the story shows some commonality and significance to the narrator’s contemplation of whether to leave Crescent City. In the opening paragraph the narrator begins describing the men in the barbershop, he ignores two of the men but oddly describes Charles in grave detail. He begins describing him as “The man was moving a toothpick around in his mouth”, this is very interesting seeing that moving a toothpick around in ones mouth suggests some sort of contemplation. Although, at the time, we are unaware of the decision the narrator is being forced to make in the story. The contemplation that Charles is conveying by moving a toothpick in his mouth is a direct reflect of the narrators question whether to leave Crescent City. The narrator right off the bat recognizes Charles from the bank where he is a security guard. The narrator is very observant and critical of Charles specifically the way he talks. The narrator describes Charles by saying “I didn’t like the man’s voice. For a guard, the voice didn’t fit. It wasn’t the voice you’d expect”. From the beginning the narrator is uneasy about Charles. His occupation as a security guard should make people around them feel safe however the vibe the narrator get is total opposite of safe. The barber asks Charles a question about his hunting trip the past weekend. Charles is immediately indecisive about whether he killed the deer or not. The question that was asked was simple and straight to the point, however Charles much like are narrator is indecisive about killing the deer; just as the narrator is about moving away from Crescent City. One very important detail of Charles story that possibly makes the narrator feel like he doesn’t belong in Crescent City is the fact that Charles attends this hunting trip with both his son and father. The fact that three generations of Charles family lives in Crescent City makes the narrator question his importance in the city. The population of Crescent City, CA according to Google is about 7,900 people. This small population suggests that this town is one of those towns where everyone knows everybody. The way the narrator recognizes then men in the barbershop demonstrates that the people of this town are familiar with each other. This idea of Charles having roots in Crescent City gives Charles a reason to live there. This makes the narrator realize that he unlike Charles has no roots here giving him no reason to stay. The meaningless story told by Charles, with what seems to be pointless details, actually resonates and