A Discussion of the Theme of “Ladies Ball” by Richard Cumyn Baseball, the great American past time. It is an activity that used to be exclusive to men. Starting off their love for the game as little boys playing at the game in the Little League version…
A softer version of the game was developed and called “Softball”. Still the same game, just a different set of rules as applicable to women. In Richard Cumyn's novel “Ladies Ball”, we discover the story of David and his unknown reasons for falling out of love with baseball. Richard Cumyn never clearly stated what year the story was unfolding in, so I am choosing to believe that the story had been set in the era after World War II, when men were coming back from the war and were reclaiming their right to the great game of Baseball. Cumyn as an author creates an internal conflict for this main character, David. However, it is an internal conflict that seems to have no beginning and no resolution. Instead, he used this conflict in order to successfully depict a man who comes to the realization that by letting go of something that he loved and enjoyed as a child, he has also lost an understanding of a portion of himself as a person. When his wife, Joan, is invited to join the local informal ladies baseball league, he believes that she won't have any interest in joining the local team for a game that night. Mostly because she is more of a cycling person than a “baseball” person. However, it slowly becomes clear to the reader that Joan was simply humoring her husband when she first refused to play with their new neighbors because of the way that David reacted to the invitation extended to her. He decided that she should not play the game. He did not allow her to make the decision for herself. But events on their first night in their new home conspire to allow Joan to try her hand at “ladies ball”, or softball as their neighbor Grace preferred to call it. However, what David believes and what is true are two different things. Contrary to his belief, Joan did not want to “get away from this neighbor” but instead, actually wanted to participate in the game. The passage from the book is clear: “[he] [decides] that they [need] a way to escape gracefully from [the neighbor].” Thanks to the clever manipulation of their children and an extremely hot summer night, she got the chance to do something that she knew her husband was dead set against her participating in. Somehow, David has chosen to channel his dislike of baseball and his fear of having to play the game that he no longer likes through his wife. His thoughts, actions, and conversation with her that night as they passed the local baseball diamond showed his insecurities about baseball and left him feeling highly uncomfortable and torn between allowing himself to enjoy the female version of a game that he loved, and walking away from the game because it was now being played by women. David is truly uncomfortable with the way that Joan had defied him in order to play the game, making him look like a fool and party killer in front of their new neighbors. He had expected her to decline politely when she was invited to play yet again. He never expected her to suit up and get out on the field, ready, willing, and able to play. When he leaves her to put their children to bed, he can't help but return to the field to see how his wife participates in the game. He does this from the shadows as he is still reluctant to show her and their neighbors that he has started to enjoy the game and watching his wife play “ladies ball”. Having his wife catch the winning ball only adds to David's inner conflict about the game that he gave up on. His lonely excursion into the baseball mound to get a whiff of the game yet ...
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