Fever (Short Story)

Inciting Event: At the beginning of the story, we learn that Carlyle’s wife has left him and their two kids at the beginning of summer. The Key Event is that work is about to start and he needs a babysitter for his kids.

First Plot Point: The first sitter Carlyle hires is an irresponsible teenager who leaves his house and children a mess. He is now desperate. His reaction: He wants to call his wife but decides against it.

First Pinch Point: After Carlyle reminisces bitterly on how his wife left him for one of his colleagues, Richard, and left him in this situation, his wife calls. She knows about his sorry plight and says Richard has helped to recommend a good sitter, Mrs. Webster.

Midpoint: Carlyle hires Mrs. Webster and feels a sense of wellbeing. He starts dating Carol, doing his job well, and is beginning to come to terms with his wife’s departure.

Second Pinch Point: Carlyle falls sick. His wife tells him to write a journal during his fever to express how he feels but he ignores her.

Third Plot Point: Mrs. Webster informs him she is leaving town and has to quit working for him.

Climax: Carlyle remembers his wife’s suggestion about a journal and begins pouring out his story to Mrs. Webster. He talks for hours.

Resolution: After he tells his whole story, he waves goodbye to Mrs. Webster and feels “as if something important had been settled,” finally reaching closure about his former life he had with Eileen and feeling capable of waving goodbye and letting her go.

Comments: This short story was originally published in Raymond Carver’s collection, Cathedral (1983).

(Submitted by Portia Tang.)

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