Updike spares the reader little as he describes the dying man's last days. And the dying marriage gets the same treatment. It is made all the more poignant when you realize it is Updike's own marriage he is probably describing. He is both hard on himself (Martin, in the story) and forgiving of himself. Pretty nifty to pull off. He wants his former wife to accept his mistress into the family fold but chooses a strange time to attempt this.
Although the writing is sure-handed, this is a hard story to like too much. I think that is due to Updike wanting Martin (himself) to be forgiven. And he also is ambivalent toward the woman by having her unable to stay by her father's side as he dies. Interesting in many ways but not totally successful, I think.
When I was at Breadloaf, Updike was roundly criticized for many things: his upperclass characters, his ornate writing for two, his repetition of themes, but I never minded this. I wonder if he is thought better of today. I bet he doesn't turn up on many syllabuses. \