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The first paragraph of Cheever's story is detailing a discussion about a gathering or party the night before. It is significant in that it reflects a pervading attitude in the community. The midsummer Sunday, the afternoon, and the hangover effect is something common to many of the people in the community. The narrator talks about how this sentiment is present in different venues in the community. The "parishioners leaving church," "the golf links," and even "the wildlife preserve where the leader of the Audubon group was suffering from a terrible hangover" are varied domains where all individuals in the community share the same condition of the hangover. In broadening it out to many members of the community in varied conditions, the narrator brings this back to the conversation between the Westerhazys and the Merrills. From this, the narration moves towards Neddy Merrill and his own condition, the focus of the story and quest, in general. What starts off as a conversation about "drinking too much" becomes a quest that drives both the story and reflects much about the modern condition of being in the world.
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