Having a formal dinner is a notable event that can join people together in order to celebrate important occasions or to commemorate significant events. Dinners are also an excuse for meeting people that do not commonly get together very often. Usually we tend to meet up with family members to have a nice moment together and to have fun, but that is not always the case. Some families have to endure difficulties every time they meet, such as fighting with each other, high-tension moments, people leaving without finishing their meals and the absence of other members.
It is only natural that some members of the family would try hard to get through their dinner as peacefully as possible; and some other members would contribute in their own way to help the family dinner to succeed. This seems to be the case of Cody, Jenny and Beck Tull in the novel “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” by Anne Tyler, who collaborated in their own way to make the dinner in Pearl’s memorial possible.
Indeed, although Pearl’s absence and Ezra’s perseverance were important for the Tulls to have their dinner together, the way in which Jenny, Cody and Beck contributed to finally go through the dinner as a family was the key to success. It might be claimed that Ezra’s insistence and Pearl’s absence were important contributions to the dinner to happen. As regards Ezra, he was always trying to gather his family so as to have “a real family dinner” and Pearl’s absence gave the family the opportunity to finally have a successful reunion.
He invited all his family to his restaurant, as he usually did, but he had never succeeded before in having a dinner together. This time, he included his father Beck, whom he asked to join them because it was his mother’s last wish. Pearl also helped in her own way. Because she was not there, she could not interrupt their meal with her abrupt departures and her anger towards others as it used to happen when she was alive. Yet they were not the only ones of the Tull family who contributed to the dinner to happen. As a matter of fact, Jenny, Cody and Beck contributed significantly to their going through the meal.
To begin with, Jenny cooperated with her change of attitude towards family meetings and food; she invited her husband and their children to have dinner with her family and thus she created a warm atmosphere in Ezra’s restaurant. Because of this, Jenny was an absolutely necessary part for the dinner to happen. Before, she had never stayed at Ezra’s restaurant to share a meal with her family and she had made excuses every time because she was always on a diet; but on this occasion she stayed and she had a plate full of food in front of her.
Clearly, that Jenny accepted food and stayed the whole meal, demonstrates that she wanted to eat Ezra’s food and share a special meal with her family. In addition, Jenny was one of the first ones to go into the restaurant to have dinner with her family in Pearl’s memorial. Naturally, this shows a completely different attitude towards her family meetings, for she seldom accepted the invitations to go to Ezra’s restaurant before, nor had she stayed there for a long time. Unmistakably, her change of opinion and her well disposed attitude towards food were a notable feature that contributed to the full development of the dinner.
Furthermore, Jenny took Joe, her husband, and their children to the dinner and she introduced them to Beck. Before she had never introduced one of her former husbands to her father, for he had never been there when the family gathered to have a dinner together at the Homesick Restaurant; what is more, she had never invited them to have dinner at her brother’s restaurant. It is evident that Jenny was one of the members of the family who helped to go through the meal. Moreover her presence contributed to the unity of her family and thus it also helped to the attainment of the dinner.
Also, the fact that she took all their children contributed to the fraternal atmosphere as they resembled one of those “great big, jolly, noisy, rambling…why, families! ”. Because there were lots of people at the restaurant, they created the image of a huge and united family; “a clan […]. Like something on TV. Lots of cousins and uncles, jokes, reunions […]”. It is obvious that Jenny, her husband and her children played an important part for the completion of the dinner. Because of these reasons it is understandable that Jenny’s presence and contributions were one of the crucial parts for the dinner to succeed.
Not only did Jenny help the dinner to take place, but Cody was also an essential part for it to occur, since he accepted to go to Ezra’s Homesick Restaurant and he stayed there and participated actively in the conversation the family had with Beck. Another reason that made Cody an essential part for the dinner to happen was that he got the answer from his father he had been waiting his whole life; and he was the one who brought him back to the restaurant. Like Jenny, Cody had a decisive role in the realization of the dinner.
The eldest of the Tull siblings had always been against everything which had to do with his younger brother, especially the “eternal family dinners at Ezra’s restaurant”, and so, he was always trying to avoid them. However, he was also one of the first ones to come into the Homesick Restaurant and was willing to stay there and finish the meal even though Beck disappeared after he had said inappropriate things to his father. This evidently shows that, even though Cody was still resentful towards his father, he had changed, for he would not have suggested finishing the dinner before, but instead, he would have gone away as he usually did.
Also, his change of attitude towards Ezra’s dinners was decisive; if Cody had refused Ezra’s invitation to have dinner at his restaurant they would not have had their meal all together. Moreover, his change of attitude is essential for the dinner to have succeeded because it shows that he was committed to make the meal happen. Furthermore, Cody participated actively in the conversation with his father, and although on certain occasions he was rather hard on him, he introduced his wife and son to Beck, trying, in this way, to make him feel part of his family.
Likewise, Cody played the key role in the dinner by bringing Beck back to the restaurant. Even though Cody told a story that made “Beck draw back sharply” and at the very beginning he suggested that it was a possibility that they could finish the meal without him, he realized that it would not work. He could see that “one empty place at the table ruined everything. The chair itself, with its harp-shaped wooden back, had a desolate, reproachful look” but he stayed in the restaurant while the other members of his family went to look for his father.
That Cody had stayed in the restaurant is crucial because it was a moment that let him “think of times in grade school when he’d teased some classmate to tears, taken things a little too far, and then looked around to find that all of his friends had stopped laughing”; this made him question if there was not the same hollow silence in the dining room, among the sheeted tables. This whole questioning was necessary because it led Cody to realize that he had made a mistake and so he went to find his father. When he found Beck, they had a talk and everything was settled down and so Cody nd Beck went back to the restaurant with their family. Additionally, when Cody found his father in the street, they talked about why Beck had “dumped them on their mother’s mercy”. Cody asked Beck for an explanation because he could not understand “how could he do that” since they were kids that had no way of protecting themselves. Cody also mentioned that it was him to whom they looked for help and protection, but he reproached his father that the only thing he did was to turn his back on them. Because of the things that Cody said, he got the answer he wanted from his father about his abandonment.
Cody got to know that Beck had left because Pearl was not the same person his father had met years ago. This is a crucial event in Cody’s life because he finally solved the issues with Beck, and thus he felt closer to him and finally understood why he had abandoned them with their mother. This event is particularly crucial for the accomplishment of their dinner since it not only helped Cody to solve the doubts he had had his whole life, but also helped to finish it because Cody managed to bring his father back and thus, they could take up again where they had left their dinner.
It can be said that this whole situation between Cody and Beck was one of the most significant moments in their last dinner for it brought them closer together; and hence they could go through their meal in a more tranquil and homely atmosphere. The situation was important to such an extent that if Cody had not found Beck, the Tulls would have had another unfinished meal. It was also crucial because it was necessary for Cody and Beck to solve their problems and thus come together as a family.
Cody’s role in this last dinner was particularly significant for it helped to its development and, by extension, it helped to the unity of the whole family. Finally, Beck contributed to the successful realization of the family dinner by answering to Ezra’s invitation, by making his offspring realize that they were a family and by coming back to the restaurant after fighting with his son. Even though Beck had not been part of the family for nearly thirty years, his presence during the dinner was as important as that of all the others. The first way in which he contributed was by replying to his son’s invitation to Pearl’s funeral.
Although Ezra was very cold when he called his father, he came anyway to Pearl’s memorial dinner. His presence was really a surprise for his sons and his daughter, for they never expected to see him again. Also, even though Beck faltered when Ezra told him that they were having dinner in his restaurant, he accompanied them anyway. This reveals that it was a difficult situation for Beck to deal with, the fact that he hesitated, shows that he was not sure if he should go with them or stay, but this also shows that even if he had a difficult time facing his offspring, he was willing to go and share some time with them.
Furthermore, Beck was always mentioning that they resembled a big happy family. Beck thought that they were “a crew. A whole crew” and the fact that he saw many people there, made him think that they were a united family. When he talked about his sons and his daughter, he told them that he was proud of the family they managed to have. Also when Beck talked about Pearl, the whole family tried hard to bring back all the good memories they had of her.
The impression that Beck had that the Tulls were a close family, and the fact that he was always mentioning that they resembled a united family, helped a lot, for the Tulls could realize that it was true that they were reunited and that they were sharing a nice moment together even if they were gathered because of Pearl’s funeral and she was not present among them. Because of Beck’s presence they could finally come closer as a family and since they were all interested in what he had to say, they all wanted to stay there to hear his explanation.
Finally, his coming back to the restaurant after arguing with Cody was a decisive factor that evidently helped to the successful development of the dinner. After the argument with Cody, Beck left the restaurant, but when the eldest of his sons, Cody, went to look for him and they talked, he decided to go back again to continue their meal. If Beck had not given his explanation of why he had abandoned his children, the dinner would have not been likely to happen because the Tulls would still be resentful towards their father, and it would have caused more arguments among them.
Also, Beck is the only character who, after having a discussion and leaving an unfinished dinner, agrees to go back again. This definitely shows that he wanted to share the meal with his children and of course he was eager to finish it, though at first he was not sure, he went anyway with Cody and the rest of the family. Due to all these reasons we can naturally say that Beck’s presence during the dinner at the Homesick Restaurant was as indispensable as that of all the others, for he was the one who helped the most with the success of the meal because his presence made their meeting pecial since he could solve his problems with his family and also because he helped them realize they were a family. All along, Ezra’s insistence and Pearl’s absence helped with the success of the family dinner and their help was the most evident one. Yet, what really contributed to their staying together that day was that the other members of the family cooperated in their own way. It is clear that Jenny, Cody and Beck played a very important role in the realization of their dinner, for they contributed with their presence during their meal.
Creating a homely atmosphere, which was what Jenny did by attending the dinner with her family, not arguing with anyone and at least accepting food were details that helped the dinner to succeed. Furthermore, Cody’s presence was indispensable to finally go through a meal; attending the dinner, staying, talking to Beck and convincing him to go back to the restaurant after their fight were Cody’s contributions to their dinner.
Last but not least, Beck also had a decisive role in the success of the meal; being present, making his children realize they were a family and coming back to the restaurant after his leaving were crucial details that made the family united and help them to go through the dinner. One can argue that Ezra’s and Pearl’s contributions were the most noticeable and the ones that helped the most but without each participant’s contribution, the dinner after Pearl’s funeral could not have succeeded.
It can be noticed that they truly became closer because “they looked unexpectedly joyful” the moment they found Cody and Beck. The Tull’s situation makes us notice that their presence and contributions are important because each of them cooperated in going through the meal as a united family. Furthermore, each family member’s contribution is extremely important so as to have a successful dinner in which the family can celebrate, commemorate an occasion or simply have a reunion to bring the family together.