Compare and Contrast: The Bath/A Small Good Thing

Length: 4 Pages 901 Words

Raymond Carver is the author of two parallel stories, “The Bath” and “A Small Good Thing”. Both of these stories have similarities and differences. “The Bath” is a more nonspecific story lacking names for the characters or a resolute ending, while “A Small Good Thing” has both names and an ending with a feeling of conclusiveness. The first major similarity, obviously, is the fact that the basic plots are the same. There is a family made up of a mother, a father and a son. When both stories begin, it is a Saturday afternoon before the Monday of the son’s birthday. The mother is ordering a cake to be made for a party they are having for the boy, who’s name is Scotty. It then jumps ahead to the day of Scotty’s birthday, where an accident takes place. He is walking to school, and is hit by a car. As a result, he winds up in the hospital. In both stories, the mother character has many similarities. In the beginning of both stories, she carefully selects a cake she knows her son will love and tells the baker to put his name in green icing on it. After the accident, as would be expected, she spends a vast majority of her time by the boy’s bedside. She also voices concerns to the child’s doctor when Continue...


However, in "A Small Good Thing there is a completely different side of him revealed. While eating the baker's rolls, the parents learn that he really isn't a mean or vindictive person, and he's not trying to pull a sick practical joke. To me, the biggest difference between the two stories was the relationship with the baker. He had been unaware that his wife had ordered a cake, and he gets angry with the baker before finally hanging up on him. He, along with is wife, sit at their son's bedside for hours. It was interesting to me to see how just by adding little things, names and specific details, the story changed. He seems unfriendly, almost as if he just hates everyone. She tells him Scotty is dead, and his solution, since he doesn't know anything else, is to feed them. Another somewhat subtle difference between the two stories was the information given in "A Small Good Thing about Nelson. In each version, she finally agrees to go home, and while looking for the elevator, bumps into a couple whose son is also in the hospital. In both the stories, he comes from his office to the hospital upon hearing of his son's accident. In "The Bath, no such information is given. As was mentioned, the plot in "A Small Good Thing is much more detailed. While looking for the elevator, the mother bumps into another pair of parents and learns that their son has been stabbed and is in surgery.