Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

Since its publication, ‘‘The Country Husband’’ has been praised by critics. The story has received particular attention for its portrayal of suburban life. In The American Short Story: Continuity and Change, 1940–1975, author William Peden deems ‘‘The Country Husband’’ ‘‘one of the best of Cheever’s excursions into the suburbia.’’ Calling the story ‘‘a minor masterpiece of contemporary fiction,’’ Robert A. Hipkiss in Studies in Short Fiction encourages the reader to consider ‘‘how much of the upper-middle-class suburban angst it includes.’’ He explains that the story portrays the struggle between the individual and the community that focuses on issues concerning conventionality, making peace with the past in favor of a better future. Because Francis is portrayed within the context of the suburbs, he makes an unusual protagonist. Robert G. Collins comments on this point in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature:

This protagonist looked as if he had little future other than taking up an anesthetizing hobby; yet, he would become the literal alien, the man who moved out of his skin, that restricting and soiled garment, and drifted into new worlds searching for a real image to correspond with his continuing need.

‘‘The Country Husband’’ is often commended for its underlying complexity. Cheever introduces many elements...

(The entire section is 594 words.)