The Birthday Party by Katharine Brush Audio and Analysis

by Daniel Johnston on January 4, 2015 · 0 comments

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The Birthday Party by Katharine Brush was published in The New York Times in 1946 and is still being read frequently today. It is just a tiny little story, in which an observer sees a man and his wife at a restaurant. The wife has a cake brought over to the man, but he doesn’t like it the public celebration and gets really embarrassed and upset. His wife is in turn very upset by his rebuffing and cries.

The Birthday Party gets readers thinking because there are a number of unanswered questions, it being such a short story and the perspective being thought of an unknowing observer. For example, why did the wife give the gift to her husband despite the fact that she surely must’ve known that he wouldn’t like it by this point in their marriage? She had to have known he would get upset and therefore did it intentionally, so a lot more is going on here.

Brush allows us to catch a glimpse of action and leaves us to wonder what might’ve been going on. It is not really a full-fledged story, but more of an exercise in the perspective of the observer, and certainly a good one.

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