In Cheever's "The Enormous Radio" a seemingly "perfect" American family is forced to look inward to discover certain truths about themselves instead of judging outward towards others around them. .Irony floods this short story as the Westcott's are far from being the "perfect family," and the community they try to conform to is just as flawed as the Westcott's' themselves.
Jim and Irene Westcott are a typical American family with "satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability" (Cheever 101) who hopes of one day moving to a nice suburb in New York City. Early in the story we are shown aspects of the Westcott's' character and desire to conform to those around them, "and in the cold weather she wore a coat of fitch skins dyed to resemble mink" (101). Irene wants to present herself as something she is not, a person with a perfect life, marriage, and one with little to no conflict. .
The Westcott's are different in one way; they share an interest in serious music. Although they chose to conform and talk little about this interest to anyone, this passion for listening to serious music results in Jim buying Irene a new radio when the old one breaks. Irene's first impression of the radio is fore-shadowing at its best, "She was struck at once with the physical ugliness of the large gumwood cabinetand now it seemed to her that the new radio stood among her intimate possessions like an aggressive intruder"(102). Irene's perception of the radio leads the readers to believe no good can come from its presence, as it already disrupts the facade of her own "perfect" world.
Just as Irene seems to be at peace with the radio, she starts hearing sounds that she discerns are coming from her own apartment building. Soon Irene starts to hear conversations between people over the radio, Jim shrugs it off as a play being played over the radio.