Summary

The short story “Sunday in the Park” by Bel Kaufman begins with a woman enjoying a warm Sunday afternoon in the park, while her husband, Morton, is reading a newspaper, and her son, Larry, is playing in the sandbox. The woman is feeling peaceful and content.

Suddenly, another boy, Joe, throws sand at Larry. The woman tells him not to, but Joe does it again. The woman scolds Joe more severely. However, a man on the bench, who the woman assumes is Joe’s father, tells Joe that he can keep throwing sand since it is a public sandbox. Morton tries to reason with the man on the bench, but the man insults him and stands up, ready to fight, implying that Morton will not be able to fight him. The woman is afraid there might be violence but does nothing to stop Morton. The two men stare at each other, then Morton turns and walks away, taking his family with him. Larry throws a tantrum because he does not want to leave the playground. The woman tries to keep her dignity as they walk past the man on the bench. However, she feels strongly unsettled by the incident. 

Morton tells the woman that getting into a fight with the man would not have had solved anything. She agrees but then lashes out at Larry, who is still crying, telling him she is ashamed of him. Larry cries harder. Morton tells the woman to keep Larry quiet, or he will discipline him. The woman replies using the same words as the man on the bench. ...

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