Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The point of view of “Crazy Sunday” is that of a limited omniscient, or selected omniscient, narrator. Everything is seen as Joel sees it or could see it; thus, dramatic irony is provided by the contrast between Joel’s perception of events and the deeper understanding afforded to the reader. When Joel makes a fool of himself at the Calman’s party, he is conscious of his error, but when, at the end of the story, he makes a much more serious mistake, abandoning Stella, only the reader grasps the significance of Joel’s action. Joel himself has lost the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and thus he fails to see the reality of Stella’s suffering.

This is a dramatic story with cinematic effects. There is a five-part structure, with three strong Sunday scenes separated by interims at the studio. The interims set up the logical business of the Sunday scenes. Each Sunday shows the humiliation of a different main character, first of Joel at the Calman’s party, then of Miles being attacked for his adultery, and finally of Stella’s collapse with grief at the news of Miles’s death. In each scene, Joel’s love for Stella progresses a step further, a commitment from which he later retreats.

The fully dramatized Sunday scenes (which include the Saturday of the Perrys’ party, extending to the tragic early hours of Sunday) are visually oriented. Readers are constantly being directed to appearances, shapes, colors, positions. Moreover, the characters are always looking, seeing, noticing. In the world of “Crazy Sunday,” only appearances count.

As usual with good F. Scott Fitzgerald stories, there is crisp, concise observation: “an Italian-colored sweater,” “a dress like ice-water, made in a thousand pale-blue pieces, with icicles trickling at the throat,” “under the pure grain of light hair.” The descriptive language works well with the theme of glamorous make-believe threatened by reality.