Study Guide

Cheever: The Stories of John Cheever

by John Cheever

Cheever: The Stories of John Cheever Themes

Social Concerns / Themes

The Stories of John Cheever brings together material from five earlier collections in addition to four previously uncollected stories initially appearing in the New Yorker. The stories are chronologically arranged, covering the years from 1947 to 1978, and together demonstrate Cheever's gift to enlist the people, places, and objects of modern society for the purposes of art.

Cheever first gained notoriety as a short story writer and despite sojourns into the novel continued to nurture his craft throughout his career. With stories such as "The Enormous Radio," "Torch Song," and "The Pot of Gold," Cheever early established a reputation for utilizing an urban setting to explore the lives and loves of city dwellers filtering in and out of mostly fashionable East Side apartment houses. However, within the best of these early stories, Cheever began to introduce thematic concerns that would define his fiction throughout his career. One such theme, best illustrated in "The Enormous Radio," is that beneath the surface of appearance often lies a disturbing if not dangerous element that manifests itself without a character's consent and beyond his control. In another story "Goodbye, My Brother," Cheever focuses on family relationships, especially those between brothers. The story is also significant for observing the destructive forces of discontent and loneliness within characters compensating for their inadequacies by self-pity or striking out at the uncaring...

(The entire section is 531 words.)