A Small, Good Thing by Raymond Carver

A Small, Good Thing
by Raymond Carver
Bianca Ardevela
Alyssa Dominguez
 The disruptive effects of unexpected catastrophes in life
 The dire need for closure after a tramuatic
Plot Overview
 Ann Weiss orders a birthday cake for her son Scotty who is going to turn
Scotty gets hit by a car on the way to school and passes out when he gets
Scotty is in a coma at the hospital, but the doctors give his parents false
hope telling them that he is only in a deep sleep
The baker keeps calling the house, reminding Mr. and Mrs. Weiss of the
Along the way she encounters another family whose son is dying,
emotionally detached doctors, and a baker whose lack of family enables
him to understand their situation.
Scotty dies
Mr. and Mrs. Weiss confront the baker
The baker comforts them with food and conversation
Two Important Quotes
 “She hadn’t let Howard into it, though he was there and
needed all along. She felt glad to be his wife.” (384)
 The accident of Scotty has brought Howard and Ann a little bit closer because she has
taken him into acknowledge now. Her fear of losing Scotty has crossed her into
appreciating her husband at that moment.
 “It isn’t, isn’t fair.” (403)
 Ann kept repeating this phrase to the baker expressing how unfair the accident was to
happen. This quote summarizes the story because it is unfair how Scotty’s accident
happened on his birthday and how there was very little they could do to save him.
More Quotes
 “They nodded when the baker began to speak of loneliness,
and of the sense of doubt and limitation that had come to
him…what it was like to be childless ... and they talked on
into the early morning… and did not think of leaving.”
 Baker
 “ The baker was not jolly. There were no pleasantries between them, just
the minimum exchange of words, the necessary information. He made
her feel uncomfortable, and she didn’t like that (p. 376).”
The baker is not a sociable person, he is very focused on his job
He is a man of a few words
“He looked at her and said, “Monday morning (p.377).”
At the end of the story the baker is characterized as a more humble man.
“ I work night and day in here, trying to make ends meets (p. 402).”
“Gold alone knows how sorry. Listen to me. I’m just a baker. I don’t
claim to be anything else(p. 404).”
• The Mother
• Caring, confused,
uncertain, maternal, lost,
• The Baker
• Understanding, reflects the
common man who works to
make ends meet, lonely,
lives vicariously though his
creations (cakes)
 Cake
 Scotty’s birthday and childhood
 what Scotty is going to miss out on
 The baker keeps calling about the cake, which drives Ann crazy
 The thought that Scotty is in a coma is glued into her mind, and the cake
is just a subconscious reminder of what things could have been if he
hadn’t been hit by the car
 The plot of the story is very drawn out and detailed during specific parts. It mainly
focuses on the reaction of the mother, Ann, and the father as they wait for Scotty to
wake up from his coma.
 “Of course, the birthday party was canceled.”
 The significance of the accident happening on his birthday is that it offers more sympathy and pity to
the characters and their reaction.
 The anonymous phone calls add suspense to the story and exemplify Ann’s frustrated
reactions to it. This relate to the theme because it shows how stressed out the mother
is with this unexpected tragedy that she is leashing her anger on a stranger.
 “I wouldn’t want to call it coma. Not yet, anyway.”
 The doctor’s vagueness about Scotty’s condition is supposed to soothe Ann and Howard but only
aggravates Ann more, even as she is supposed to go home and rest. During her time at home, Ann
assesses the situation and slowly recognizes that she needs to appreciate what is left in her life because it
is gone, such as her husband.
Plot (continued)
 “His lips parted as his last breath was puffed through his throat and exhaled
gently through the clenched teeth.”
 Carver’s minimalist style is seen as he writes about Scotty’s death. This style is most evident in this scene may
be because Carver does not want to focus on the death but rather the effects of it, as can seen throughout the
story, such as how Ann and Howard dealt with the shocking result.
 The story escalates to the climax when Ann and Howard drive to the bakery to
confront the baker.
 The last scene shifts tone and atmosphere. Ann and Howard are eating food that
the baker gave to them. This is significant because it symbolizes their haven,
their escape from reality.
 The story ends with them eating bread until daylight. “They did not think of
 Because of the unfortunate circumstances that have occurred in their life, they are running away
from the truth and seeking comfort within someone whom was irritating them before.

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