Voyeurism and Middle-Class Precarity in “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill”
The title story of The Housebreaker of Shady Hill and Other Stories, initially distributed in The New Yorker in 1956 reallifecam, gives a window onto Cheever’s clashed treatment of the suburbs, particularly in how its rural landscape is interceded by the account focal point of the banished urbanite at its middle. It starts by presenting its hero and storyteller as a urban émigré in the past from New York City:
My name is Johnny Hake. I’m thirty-six years of age, stand five feet eleven in my socks, gauge one hundred and forty-two pounds stripped spy, only, and am, as it were, exposed right now and talking into the dull. I was considered in the Hotel St. Regis, conceived in the Presbyterian Hospital, raised on Sutton Place, initiated and affirmed in St. Bartholomew’s, and I penetrated with the Knickerbocker Grays, played football and baseball in Central Park, figured out how to button myself on the structure of East Side flat coverings, and met my significant other (Christina Lewis) at one of those enormous cotillions at the Waldorf. I served four years in the Navy, have four children now, and live in a banlieue called Shady Hill.
We have a pleasant house with a garden and a place outside for cooking meat, and on summer evenings, staying there with the children and investigating the front of Christina’s dress as she twists around to salt the steaks, or simply looking at the lights in paradise, I am as excited as I am excited by more solid and perilous interests, and I figure this is what is implied by the agony and sweetness of life. The proposal of the exclusionary hones in Cheever’s anecdotal rural networks—their “whi (…)
In the story’s opening section, the particulars of Johnny Hake’s life are deliberately spread out through relating New York regions voyeurhouse; Hake’s memoir is basically outlined out by urban geology. The area of these milestones in Manhattan’s East Side and their somewhat rich undertones will come to underscore Hake’s sudden money related troubles after his movement to suburbia. Contrasted with Cheever’s own turn out of the city, at that point, Hake’s isn’t such a great amount of managed by financial need as it is by the bait of suburbia for new families, the suburbs being an extraordinary place, as Hake claims, on the off chance that you “have kids to raise” (258), a standard dispute which Kenneth T. Jackson partners with the dread of the developing racial decent variety of urban areas.
It has been proposed that the voyeuristic distractions of “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill” hidden cam are ordered, or foreshadowed, by the peruser experiencing Hake’s presentation; as Keith Wilhite notes, “we wind up push into an angry commitment with a man who, at any rate allegorically, remains before us exposed” (223-24). The points of interest of Hake’s life are set out efficiently, logically: it isn’t only a picture of Johnny Hake, however the portrayal of a whole class. In alluding to such top of the line books as Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955), Catherine Jurca sees that well known after war writers had “received semi sociological strategies, especially in fiction managing suburbia,” their work having a tendency to use “the measurement tone of sociology” to portray and evaluate rural life (84-85).
Jurca proceeds to include that “the circumstance of ‘genuine’ fiction is very extraordinary voyeur video,” refering to Cheever’s work, and essentially his Shady Hill gathering, for instance of a strand of composing which opposes “characterizing a regular suburbanite,” his heroes appearing to be “relatively dreary in light of the fact that each is so extremely exceptional” (102 n. 2). However as the opening of this story appears, Cheever was not disinclined to recognizing his characters with a particular social class or sort, as a major aspect of a mass of individuals, regardless of whether they will shed their everyday trappings over the span of their separate accounts.