The World Of Apples by John Cheever, 1973
The magic trick:
Detailing the protagonists feelings throughout the beginning, middle and end of an ordeal – except during the crucial pivot point
Cheever is very explicit about his protagonist’s state of mind throughout the story except for during one scene. And wouldn’t you know it’s the crucial scene. That’s the trick of course.
We have a protagonist facing a crisis. He seeks spiritual healing. And we see him well – better than before – in the aftermath. Why did he choose to pray to the writers he prays to during the apex moment of the narrative and why did that prayer set him free? Well, I don’t know. I think I might have some guesses, but really, that’s for each reader to decide. And that’s quite a trick on Cheever’s part.
Why had he – provincial and famous for his simplicity – chosen to leave Vermont for Italy? Had it been the choice of his beloved Amelia, dead these ten years? She had made many of their decisions. Was he, the son of a farmer, so naïve that he thought living abroad might bring some color to his stern beginnings? Or had it been simply a practical manner, an evasion of the publicity that would, in his own country, have been an annoyance?