Edward Ferrers, or Ned, is visiting his father, always referred to as Mr. Ferrers, as he does only once every three years. The town is Draperville, Illinois, Maxwell’s fictional town rhyming with Naperville. Mer. Ferrers is a hard man, moderate in all things except his fanatical Republican convictions and his fanaticism about money. He wants his son to be responsible with money. He is a widower, remarried. The story is built on the father-son dualism, the tension between the revenant and the patriarch, the discomfort with small-town boosterism reflected in the father’s small-town obsessions, though as the visit progresses, tension loosens between father and son, so that when the son repays the father for a brief loan, the father tears up the check, a gesture never imagined before.
The New Yorker, June 6, 1964