A Husbands Worst Nightmare

Published: 2021-09-06 03:50:14
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When a husband hears the news of his wife having an affair outside their marriage, he becomes the victim and is left to decide what to do about the situation. While an author can set up this chain of events with ease, taking the story and giving it life is something completely different. To bring the audience in and assist them in feeling what the husband is thinking and feeling, and at the same time showing sympathy to the wife is truly a work of art. “Under the Radar” a short story by Richard Ford does just that.
Throughout this story the author uses background and specific emotions so the reader is brought in close. So close that the reader feels involved in someway. They end up feeling like they have a voice in the matter at hand. Ford’s continuous build up of suspense is what drives this story to a point of no return, a true cliffhanger, and a point Marjorie Reeves cannot return. This story is an example of how setting, emotion, and a relatable situation can work in the author’s favor. The main part of this story is evident in the first paragraph. In a very literal sense, Ford, reveals Marjorie’s secret that she’d been keeping from Steven.
He lets the reader know exactly the type of person he wants Marjorie to be received as. The title for this story describes how this first paragraph should be, as well as how the entire story is going to take place. In this opening paragraph, the use of emotions is felt toward Steven and his predicament. On the drive over to the Nicholson’s for dinner-their first in some time-Marjorie Reeves told her husband, Steven Reeves, that she had had an affair with George Nicholson (their host) a year ago, but that is was all over with now and she hoped he-Steven-would not be mad about it and could go on with life. (Ford 20)
This quotation is a description of what type of person Marjorie can be assumed as being, and not only that, but lets the reader know who the victim is going to be. Steven almost instantly becomes the protagonist. Marjorie is revealed as the antagonist. She has created a conflict for which Steven must react to in someway. This conflict, for the time being, has put Steven in the limelight. Not knowing anything about the characters in the beginning gives the reader the chance to make up their mind prematurely, form an opinion about Marjorie, without knowing who either Steven or Marjorie are in their real lives.
Ford has Marjorie use, what seems to be, a typical apology for a conflict of this nature. He shows that even though there was an unforgivable event, it’s human nature to try to back out of the situation at hand. It gives Steven a chance to accept or decline her. It also gives Steven the chance to decide the future of the relationship. “I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, Steven,” she said, “but I felt I should tell you before we got to George’s. The Nicolsons’, I mean. It’s all over. It’ll never happen again. I promise you . No one will ever mention it.
I just lost my bearings last year with the move. I’m sorry. ” (Ford 22) Marjorie tries to make the future seem bright, attempts to justify her actions, and then lastly she apologizes for what had happened. She uses a series of steps to reassure herself, as well as Steven, that they are safe from this ever coming up again. Post-apology, Steven shows no signs of accepting her apology. Steven sits in his seat quietly, almost still in shock. Ford has created a situation in which the main characters will not recover from. The setting for this story puts the characters in a no escape situation.
Being in a car on the side of a road forces the conflict to be talked about, and gives the opportunity for it to escalate. Ford slowly increases both characters anger and violence as time goes on. This first becomes evident when Marjorie attempts to make more conversation, and Steven reveals his real emotion for the situation. It was then that he hit her. He hit her before her knew he’d hit her, but not before he knew he wanted to. He hit her with the back of his open hand without even looking at her, hit her straight in the front of her face, straight on the nose.
And hard. In a way, it was more of a gesture than a blow, thought it was, he understood a blow. (Ford 23-24) In this moment the rolls appear to switch, and Steven becomes the person in the wrong. This is the first true action that shows up in the story. With this action, Ford gives Steven a chance for an epiphany; once he realizes what he had done, the reality of the situation sets in. This shows the emotion that the author was trying to convey. He shows that while Steven sits quietly in the car, a great anger was building inside him.
Up until that violent action, there had been little conversation and extensive background study. From the husband’s point of view this seemed to be the correct action at the time. This action is not something Steven would have ever done to Marjorie. He regrets this action to some extent, with also feeling as though he should strike her again when he hears her response. Earlier in the story Marjorie makes a comment, “you’ll be sorrier,” this is the action that follows and can be interpreted in several ways. Her comment could be a threat of some kind or even just a reaction to Steven’s violent act.
Even though Marjorie has been the antagoist though out most of this story, she has one final action in the end. Then he heard his own car start. The muffled-metal diesel racket of the Mercedes. The headlights came smartly on and disclosed him. Music was instantly loud inside. He turned just in time to see Marjorie’s pretty face illuminated, as his own had been, by the salmon dashboard light. He saw the tips of her fingers atop the arc of the steering wheel, heard the surge of the engine. (Ford 26) The audience in this final paragraph of the story is left feeling as though they need more.
Ford creates a cliffhanger a few sentences after this quotation. The action that Marjorie does here is never resolved and neither is the conflict between the two. Ford shows the audience how, in these four examples, as well as other small pieces, an act of infidelity can have severe consequences. The elements to create the series of events were simple and to the point. Marjorie in the opening reveals that she was having an affair. This event is what sets up the entire string of events listed in the examples above. These events, as well as the setting of the story, put our characters in an interesting situation.
This situation forces the characters to make life-changing decisions. Emotion is clearly evident; it’s shown throughout the entire story in many different forms. Steven shows a peak of emotion when he hits Marjorie. On the other side, Marjorie shows her emotions when she tells Steven that he’ll be “sorrier. ” These events were necessary to get the audience to the end of the story when Marjorie takes off in the car.

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