Throughout Amy Hempel’s short story “Today Will Be A Quiet Day,” the reader gets the sense that something is absent in the family’s relationship, and that they fear whatever it is. After reading through the story, the reader discovers that it’s the mother who is absent– it can be inferred that, based on the lack of reference to her, there is some point of pain that is related to her absence.
The story is written from a third person limited omniscient point of view, in past tense. The narrator is the father, so the reader gains a little insight on his thoughts on the situation. During the course of the story, the father takes his two children (a son and a daughter) on a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and to a diner in the city because “he wanted to know how they were.” This interest in their well-being is obviously a valid concern. Both children express bitterness when talking about things like the death of their dog and the rain, but the reader can tell that the line both of them use (“I hate its guts”) really has a deeper meaning and actually refers to whatever their mother did to cause them grief.
At the end of the story, the father and his children are lying on the floor of the master bedroom in sleeping bags, trying to sleep. Seemingly to finish the evaluation of his children, the father tells them that he has “good news and bad news.” To his apparent delight, the daughter tells him to “get the bad news over with,” showing that she is emotionally prepared to face whatever bad things the world can throw at her. Through this line, Hempel shows that her characters have gotten over whatever bad thing happened with their mother, and that they are healing together.