A young boy, Scotty, is involved in a hit and run car crash on his birthday as he heads to school on a Monday morning. Scotty dies three days later as a result of occlusion which doctors claim would have been avoided had it been noticed sooner. Scotty’s girlfriend, Ann Weiss, who is social and enjoys making friends, had ordered a sixteen-dollar cake on Saturday for his son’s eighth birthday scheduled to take place on a Monday from a taciturn baker whom he left her telephone number with. The baker, oblivious of Scotty’s accident and demise, makes harassing calls to Scotty’s home asking them to pick their three-day-old cake. The story ends with the baker being rueful and asking for forgiveness for how he treated the Weiss family stating that it was a result of solitude and childlessness. Indeed, one has to be kind to others as everyone they come across is fighting their battle.
The story brings compassion and friendliness in the characters. At the beginning of the story when ordering her son’s birthday cake, Ann Weiss tries to engage the baker in a conversation but his reticent nature makes her wonder if he has ever had anything else to do in his life apart from baking, even as she gives up making friends with him (Carver 5). Her compassionate nature is also seen when she inadvertently steps into a little waiting room while looking for an elevator, and Franklin’s family thinking that Ann is a nurse, asks about his condition. They narrate to her how he was accidentally stabbed in a fight he wasn’t involved in. She empathizes with them as she also tells them what happened to his son Scotty. The next morning she goes to the waiting room, and the condition of the room compels her to inquire about the family. The nurse at the reception informs her that franklin had passed on (Carver 20). Doctor Francis is also seen to be commiserating with Howard and Ann Weiss after their son’s loss such that Ann is unable to comprehend his goodness (Carver 23).
Isolation is one of the key factors in the story. The baker had isolated himself from the outside world. He spent two-thirds of his day in the bakery, talked less to people, confessed to the Weiss family how lonely he felt and how it had led him to have a sense of doubt and limitation in his middle years (Carver 28). As Howard drives home from the hospital, his thoughts of how good life had been for him so far, shows isolation. He thought that life revolved around his family and close friends and as far as they were fine and did well in their lives, then that was all that mattered. The sudden accident of his son shook him because he had never thought of such an eventuality (Carver 7). Humans are isolated from each other. This is depicted by how the medical practitioners treat the Weiss family. They come and go without being empathetic to her and them; life goes on heedless of the pain of the parents. The description of Dr. Francis dressing, as if he was just from a concert (Carver 10), and the orderlies illustrates this.
The concept of human connectedness and forgiveness is depicted. When tragedy strikes, it is in the human nature to long for connection and solace. Ann had all along thought that she was the only one concerned about Scotty’s health, but as Howard held her hand, she realized that they were in it together and was glad that she was his wife (Carver 12). Ann Weiss feels attached to Franklin’s family because they are facing the same problem; the impending demise of their sons. She is moved by their story and feels coerced to share hers (Carver 17). The baker seemed rude and callous as he continually harassed Howard and Ann Weiss. However, the situation changes when Ann tells him that their son is dead and they have been waiting on him. The baker is seen to be remorseful as he begs for forgiveness. They sit down to share coffee and cinnamon rolls. The baker though childlessly is able to relate to the family’s grief as he opens up on how lonely he has been and how his rudeness had nothing to do with him being evil. Solitude is what had transformed him (Carver 28). They then converse the whole night into the early morning.
In our day-to-day life, it is essential to be kind to people we encounter in our endeavors because it’s hard to know what they are passing through. Ann Weiss tried to be friendly and kind to the people she met to the level of being compassionate and empathetic. The baker was apathetic at first, but at the end, he realized his mistake and even offered to share food with the Weiss family. It is indeed vital to be benevolent to people we meet because we do not know what they are going through. This is because one might be requiring a shoulder to lean on when on the other hand we are unkind to them.
Carver, Raymond. A Small, Good Thing. 1983. http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/sgthing/.html