‘Independence Day’ by Richard Ford is a sequel to ‘The Sportscaster,’ featuring Frank Bascome as he struggles to gain independence and reconnect with his family.
Written in 1995, this is the second book in a four-part series.
Where the Story Picks Up
Independence Day by Richard Ford takes place primarily in the fictional town of Haddam, New Jersey in 1988. This is the second novel in a four-part series, and it reconnects the reader with Frank Bascombe, who is now 44 and no longer a sportscaster, but is living life as a Realtor.
He is still divorced and struggling to maintain a relationship with his family. He is unsure whether life can lead anywhere or amount to anything good.
The story line takes place during the Fourth of July weekend when Frank is trying desperately to sell a home to the Markhams before leaving town for the weekend to visit his son and daughter who live in Connecticut with Ann, his happily re-married ex-wife.Frank’s relationships are difficult for him to understand; they are tentative and occasional, and he prefers it this way. Frank sees himself as being in what he calls his Existence Period, which is a sort of holding pattern.
The Weekend Begins
Before Frank leaves town, he shows the Markhams yet another house.
He has shown them almost 50 homes so far, but he is hopeful that his one will be the one they actually buy, even though it is next to a minimum security prison. Frank believes he is selling people on a life, not just a house. So far he is failing with with the Markhams.By the end of the story, The Markhams realize that their marriage is falling apart just like their dreams for a house. They of course lose the house, and this is just another disappointment Frank has come to expect.On his way to Connecticut, Frank makes a stop on the Jersey shore to visit his girlfriend, Sally. He is sure that he will be excited by the time with her, but as we can predict, the time with her is less than satisfactory.
Sally tells him that she is unhappy in her life, and she is convinced that it must be because they are not good together.After his disappointing visit with Sally, Frank heads to his ex-wife’s house where he will pick up his son, Paul, who is having difficulties. Paul was picked up for shoplifting three boxes of condoms and has been accused of assault and battery. The grief over the loss of Frank’s other son, Bryan, and their dislike of Ann’s husband Charley O’Dell, are the only two things Frank and Paul share.Before Frank leaves with Paul, he talks with with Ann and lets her know that he would like a second chance.
She reminds him that she is married to Charley O’Dell and that she divorced him because she didn’t want to be married to him any longer. She tells Frank that she couldn’t trust him. Frank and Paul leave for their weekend trip, but Frank is already fearing the worst.Frank hopes that a trip to the baseball and basketball halls of fame will offer the opportunity for change for his fifteen-year-old son.
He plans to use the concept of Independence Day as a metaphor for the idea that humans can accomplish anything they want to in life. He believes it is important for him to encourage his son not to worry. His expectations for a successful weekend do not pan out, and the weekend is cut short because of Paul’s actions. This is another disappointment in a series of poor life experiences for Frank.
The Outcomes Define Frank’s Life
In Independence Day, nothing turns out as Frank would have hoped — not with Sally, Ann, or Paul — but he is not surprised. He is, quite honestly, resolved to the facts of his life. He has come to believe that he is not as significant as other people.
It is in this understanding that Frank takes his first tentative steps out of the Existence Period and into the Permanent Period, which will bring him a sense of community and the hope of possibility.
In Independence Day by Richard Ford, Frank Bascombe attempts to reconnect with his son and teach him about the value of independence. As he attempts to educate his son about life, Frank begins to understand the importance of community and family, and he takes small steps toward understanding how difficult independence can be.