“The Birthday Party”, by Katherine Brush, is about a couple celebrating their husband’s birthday at a fancy restaurant. However, the husband quickly becomes very angry at his wife’s attempts to make him happy. Although it seems that he is simply shy, it is also possible that it goes much, much deeper than that. Overall, the narrator’s attitude towards the couple seems to change throughout the story. While the narrator, at first, doesn’t seem to care about the couple, as events unfold, they begin to feel sorry for the wife.
First of all, the story says that the couple is in their late thirties. Therefore couple may have been married for quite some time. However, it is also possible that they were recently married. This could show that the wife doesn’t know the husband’s personality incredibly well. Second, the narrator said that they looked “unmistakably married”.
This most likely means that, although there was affection between them, they were not constantly staring at each other nor holding hands as most affectionate couples do.
It’s more likely that the couple was looking at other people, and doing ings that other stereotypically dedicated couples would not be interested in doing. The narrator doesn’t seem to have any particular opinion towards them at this point in the story; he/she simply seemed to notice them at a glance.
The narrator said that they sat opposite of “us” in a banquette.
This likely means that the narrator was with someone else. The narrator could be with the reader, but it is never said for sure who was with them. They said the man had a “self-satisfied face”. This could signify that he looked stuck up. They also said that the woman was “fading pretty”. This made it quite likely that the narrator was male. The narrator may be somewhat attracted to the wife, which will contribute to “his” attitude towards her later. The narrator then said that there was nothing noticeable about them until the end of their meal when the head waiter brought them a cake. The narrator also calls it an “Occasion”, which means that it was a big occasion, hence the capital O. Likely, they were both dressed nicely. For example, the wife had a big hat. At this point, the narrator still doesn’t have much of an attitude toward the couple.
The wife planned a surprise for the husband: a small cake with one pink candle. An orchestra played happy birthday, and everyone clapped. The wife “beamed with shy pride”, according to the narrator. The husband became angry after receiving the cake. The narrator said that you would say “Oh, no, don’t be like that!”, showing that the narrator thought that the husband’s reaction was a bit stupid. By this point, the narrator has been watching them for a rather long time; it’s unclear why. The narrator then said that the husband said something “quick and curt and unkind” to the wife. The narrator then couldn’t bear to look at her, so they stared at their plate. When they looked back, she was “crying quietly and heartbrokenly and hopelessly, all to herself, under the gay big brim of her best hat”. The narrator seemed upset that she was crying “heartbrokenly and hopelessly, all to herself.” The narrator seemed to feel very sorry for her.
Overall, the narrator’s attitude towards the couple seems to change throughout the story, While the narrator originally barely notices them, they eventually become very upset with the husband’s treatment of his wife. The narrator also seems to be quite upset when the wife is crying. Therefore, the narrator, while originally not caring one way or the other about the couple, ends up legitimately feeling bad for the wife, due to her husband’s rather harsh treatment of her.