Greed and Corruption Is Raymond Carver's Popular Mechanics

Greed and Corruption
A quarrelling couple allows their hatred for one another to overshadow the safety of their young child and “In this manner, the issue was decided” (63) in Raymond Carver’s morbid adaptation of our modern self-seeking society. “Popular Mechanics” is not only the title of a well known do-it-yourself magazine, but is also the title of Carver’s short story. The title “Popular Mechanics” foreshadows the abrupt and sudden harm of the couple’s baby. Carver uses allegoric references to the weather, the rooms in the house and the child to portray the greed and voracity of society.
The story opens with the snow melting into “dirty water” (62). The snow is no longer pure and white, it is unclean. In the same sense, the couple is no longer content in their marriage; their love is deteriorating just as the snow is deteriorating. The darkness of the world is creeping into the house and into the marriage. “As the light dims, the civility of the parents wanes” (German and Bedell). Later in the story, “the kitchen window gave no light” (63), signifying all concern and consideration leaving the parents.
While the husband is packing his belongings the wife yells relentlessly at her husband. She identifies the picture of her child in his bag, takes the picture and leaves the bedroom. The bedroom, once a place of intimacy, is now a place of controversy. As the couple moves into the kitchen, their concern for their child’s well being is slowly disappearing. The wife, in an effort to guard the child from the father, steps behind the stove. The father reaches across the stove in order to pry the child from her arms. This action is the first real signification of the father’s negligence. After a brief but boisterous struggle, “they knocked down a flowerpot that hung behind the stove” (63). “The breaking pot symbolizes the breaking up of the marriage” (German and Bedell).
Carver also uses a biblical reference to King Solomon and the two mothers. Both women give...