English V AP Slot 7
January 21, 2010
“Vada all’inferno.” This quote, meaning “go to hell” in Italian, is merely one example of the grotesque in the “Reunion.” However, this story not only contains the grotesque but also contains humor and pathos. These tones highlight the various conflicts in the story: conflict between the father and the waiters and between Charlie and his father.
The humor and grotesque show the obvious conflict between the father and the waiters. The speaker creates comedy through the grotesque and unexpected behavior of his father. At the first restaurant Charlie’s dad boisterously calls over the waiter, yelling in various languages and commanding the waiter to “’Chop-chop.’” Charlie comments that “His boisterousness in the empty restaurant seemed out of place,” showing that his behavior is unexpected and incongruent. When the father tells the waiter to “’Calm down, calm down, sommelier,’” he creates situational irony because he is the one being boisterous and because he is in need of calming down. The father’s bizarre behavior continues when he mentions that he has “a whistle that is audible only to the ears of old waiters.” “’I’m sorry, sir,’ the waiter said, ‘but I won’t serve the boy another drink’”: a periodic sentence creating a punch line effect. The father’s grotesque deportment continues at the other restaurants when he pretends he is in England in one restaurant and when he speaks Italian at the Italian restaurant. The dad’s grotesque conduct can also be seen at the very end when he attempts to get a “’God-damned, no-good, ten-cent afternoon paper.’”
Humor and the grotesque show the conflict between the father and the waiters; pathos shows the conflict between Charlie and his father. The reader feels sympathetic toward Charlie. His parents are divorced; and he hasn’t seen his father in three years; in fact, Charlie considers his dad a stranger: “He was a stranger to me.” When he asks his father...