Does the humor in "The Drunkard" arise from observationof life or from distortion of life?
The humour in this excellent tale is a result of observations on life rather than a distortion of life. Let us remember that Larry mimics his father's drunken behaviour when he finds that he himself is drunk. There is no sense in which therefore we are presented with a distortion of life. The humour lies in the way that his father, hoping to get drunk, bribes his son with a lemonade to ensure his silence, only failing to notice his son drinking his beer and therefore becoming drunk. The way in which Larry imitates his father's drunken behaviour is an extremely funny comment on the kind of things his father did whilst drunk, and as Larry's father is forced to take his son back home in broad daylight, his shame is just as acute, if not more so, than his son's embarrassment.
Lastly, let us not forget the insight that this story gives us into the marital relationship between Larry's parents. Larry's mother is shown to be delighted at the excuse she has to scold her husband publicly when he returned with Larry in his drunken state, but next morning, she quietly praises Larry for being his father's "guardian angel," showing an accurate observation on the marital relationship that is based on public shaming and double standards. There is no sense, therefore, that this story is a distortion of life.
The humor arises from the observation of life because he observes how great he is then he is upset that he gave into such temptation. The funniest part of the story is when the young boy is walking home with his dad and there is a sort of role reversal. Larry is being loud and obnoxious to everyone on the way home and his father is being whiny and embarrassed like his son usually is. It seems that when the kid becomes the adult, the adult reverts to a childlike state. Then another part that is humorous is when the mom praises Larry for being drunk because he was her "brave little man" and he was his dad's "guardian angel" (page 352) because he prevented his father from getting drunk which allowed him to go to work the next day.