Analysis of ‘The Bath’

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Communication is crucial to everyday life, and most people do not know how important it is until it is no longer available. Appropriate dialogue, in a wider sense, lays the foundations for strong relationships and creates trust, as well as assisting people in better understanding one another through the use of body language and other communication cues. Both parties should air out their problems, solutions, or thoughts in the perfect type of communication. When adequate communication is missing, it may lead to a lack of understanding, anger, the destruction of healthy relationships, and unnecessary anxiety. In Raymond Carver's story ‘The Bath' whose storyline involves a boy Scotty who gets hit by a car on his birthday and is taken to hospital after he slips into a coma after which his parents wait by his bedside while doctors try their best to find out the problem. Scotty's mother is distraught and refuses to leave the hospital until she discovers that it is needless to stay there while there is absolutely nothing she can do hence decides to return home. Some forms of essential communication are conspicuously missing throughout the story as there is very little positive energy being existent in the story. Despite the fact that there is some level of interaction between the characters, it is not sufficient to make a reader understand what is going on. Right from the beginning of the story, among the most noticeable features is the intent of the author, Raymond Carver to explore the theme of communication or precisely, the absence of proper communication within the story and how the characters reflect a lack of communication and negative energy.

Foremost is the scene whereby Scotty's mum, Ann Weiss visits the bakery shop to place a cake order for her son's birthday (Styhre & Alexander, 178). Ann tries as much as possible to give detailed explanations about what she wants precisely, but the baker who apparently remains anonymous throughout the story pays very little attention to her and responds back with very few words, telling her that she has already said all the baker needs to know. From this scene, it is worth noticing that proper and interactive communication which is expected in that particular scene is well-achieved when both parties contribute to the topic at hand and give their ideas instead of having one person talk throughout and the other person listens. That conversation between the two is easy to forget because positive emotions impress people, but it is absent because the baker is concerned with only what is necessary according to him. Although the baker's affirmation is not satisfactory, it is imperative as all through the story; it is the only instance where Ann and her husband are given assurance that everything is fine (Oliveira, 5-15).

The second instance where lack of communication depicts itself is when the next Monday, as Scotty is on his way to school, he tries to coax his friend into telling him what he has gotten Scotty for his birthday but instead, Scotty's friend keeps silent the entire time (Halfon & Weinstein, 47). Shortly afterward, Scotty gets involved in an accident, and after being knocked down by a car, Scotty's friend asks him how it feels like to be hit by a car, but Scotty fails to answer his friend.

Later on in the story, another theme of lack of communication is portrayed when Ann Weiss tells the technician she doesn't quite comprehend what is going on when the technician starts taking blood from Scotty's body (Gale, 50). In such a situation, typically anyone would want to know why blood is taken from the child but rather than explaining, the technician proceeds without any discussion.

In addition to the situations mentioned above, the idea of no communication is seen again when the baker who was tasked with making a cake for Scotty's birthday makes his very first phone call to the Weiss household (Birkeland, 100). When Scotty's father picks up the phone, he has little information about cakes thus he hangs up on the baker before he can know the purpose of the call. It is evident that the baker wanted to ask why the cake had not been collected and why he had not been paid the amount agreed on earlier.

Furthermore, within the story, another instance of lack of proper communication is evidence when Scotty's dad is seated next to Ann in the hospital (Bernardo, 50). He wanted to say something else, but again, there was no bringing forth whatever it was that he wanted to say. Still at the hospital, when Ann sees Nelson's mother and father, the former confuses Ann with a doctor or nurse and asks Ann to keep her updated, but apparently, Ann is unable to tell her anything because she is neither a doctor nor a nurse in that hospital.

At the end of the story, the effect of lack of communication manifests itself when the baker calls again, and Ann doesn't realize it is him (Young, 99). There is irony because a phone call which is a form of communication is used but neither person will hear what they should listen to because they seem to have been in misunderstanding.

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Works Cited

Bernardo Blanco, Elena. "Optimism and Pessimism in Raymond Carver’s Short Stories." (2015).

Birkeland, Eirik Ulltang. ‘Things he wanted to say’: Figures in the Dialogue of Raymond Carver’s Short Fiction. MS thesis. The University of Bergen, 2016.

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Raymond Carver's" A Small, Good Thing". Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.

Halfon, Sibel, and Lissa Weinstein. "Literary and analytic transformations of trauma: Repetition, revision and rebirth in two stories of Raymond Carver." Psychoanalytic Psychology33.S1 (2016): S120.


Styhre, Alexander, and Alexander Styhre. "Raymond Carver and the voices of everyday life." Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal 12.3 (2017): 174-189.

Young, William. "Men, Menace, and Transcendence in Raymond Carver." The Midwest Quarterly 59.1 (2017): 99-7.

September 21, 2021

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