The Stories of John Cheever Characters

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The Stories of John Cheever Summary & Study Guide Description

The Stories of John Cheever Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever.

Joan Harrisappears in Torch Song

Joan Harris is a woman from the Midwest who moved to New York City in the mid-1930s. About the same time, Jack moved from the same city to New York where he met Joan. Eventually, Jack began to refer to Joan as the Widow, because she was always dressed in black and carried an air of grief. The friends often meet after work for drinks, and it seems that Joan is always looking for something unattainable. Joan intends to become a model but soon realizes that she does not photograph well and takes a job as a hostess. The narrator describes Joan as a "big, handsome girl with a wonderful voice" whose face had a gentle beauty. Despite the goings-on in Joan's world, the woman was always innocent and convivial. After Joan is promoted to an executive job, she and Jack hardly see one another.

Joan begins to associate with men of unsuitable character. These men seem to prey on Joan, and routinely she takes them in and suffers the men's abusive behavior from verbal threats to physical abuse. The situations always turn out for the worst. The men are usually alcoholics or junkies. Joan takes to buying drugs for one of her boyfriends. Joan becomes pregnant and has an abortion. The boyfriend leaves her and Joan is stuck in a vicious cycle of wanting something she cannot have.

This behavior continues to go on with Joan until her reputation is destroyed. It got to the point that Joan gives up the last of her respectability and hocks her grandmother's jewelry. Jack goes on with his own life and the next time he sees Joan, she has fallen on hard times. Joan continues to be incorrigible, and even after she and Jack a serious fight. Joan is not deterred.

Evarts Malloyappears in O City of Broken Dreams

Evarts Malloy is a middle-aged man from the Midwest town of Wentworth, Indiana. Malloy and his family live an average life. Things take a drastic turn when Malloy shows the play he hass written to a New York producer. Malloy never thought anything would come of the play but decided that he had to write about a local, older woman with a salty character and a snake farm.

Malloy shows his naïveté when the family takes a trip to New York City to meet with the producer. Malloy attempts to be savvy and is suddenly embarrassed by his wife's innocence. Malloy's behavior begins to change, particularly after he meets with the producer. Malloy is star struck, and obsessed with being introduced to New York society; he soon begins to elevate above his station.

The bellboy at the hotel convinces Malloy to visit an agent, and consequently, the agent talks Malloy into dumping the producer for something better. This goes against Malloy's principles, but by this time, the man is completely caught up in the possibilities of fame and stardom.

Malloy finally gets his wish to gain the wisdom of the old woman from his hometown when he spots her on the street. Malloy gets his comeuppance when the woman says she's going to sue him for libel. At first, Malloy and his family decide to return to the Midwest but soon rationalize that he may be able to make his fortune in California despite the assault on the old woman's character.

Irene Westcottappears in The Enormous Radio

Irene Westcott is the wife in "The Enormous Radio," a tale of a woman who becomes obsessed with eavesdropping on her neighbors.

Renee Hallappears in The Sutton Place Story

Renee Hall is a thirty-something woman that develops a friendly relationship with Deborah Tennyson.

Deborah Tennysonappears in The Sutton Place Story

Deborah Tennyson is a little girl who is cast off onto the housekeeper and becomes friends with Renee Hall.

Paul Hollisappears in Summer Farmer

Paul Hollis is a businessman that tends to a farm at the family's country house.

Clarissa Ryanappears in The Chaste Clarissa

Clarissa Ryan is the outcast daughter-in-law to a stuffy, wealthy family who becomes an obsession with Baxter, a notorious womanizer.

Jim Clancyappears in Clancy in the Tower of Babel

Jim Clancy is an Irish immigrant who works as the elevator operator in an upscale New York apartment building.

Cash Bentleyappears in O Youth and Beauty!

Cash Bentley is an ill tempered, former high school track star obsessed with his past.

Blakeappears in The Five Forty-Eight

Blake is a businessman who has an inappropriate romantic liaison with his secretary and then dumps her, not knowing that the woman is mentally unstable.

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This section contains 767 words
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The Stories of John Cheever from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.