A Canary for One by Ernest Hemingway The story under consideration is “A Canary for One” written by Ernest Hemingway. He was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously.
Many of these are considered classics of American literature. Now I’d like to pass on the story. The title of the story is rather complex. On the one hand it is related to the present which the American lady intends to give to her daughter. And on the other hand it reveals the idea of the woman’s self-centeredness as she doesn’t cope with her daughter’s feelings and implants her beliefs on the girl. Now I’d like to pass on the theme and ideas of the story. The leading theme of the story is connected with family relationships. There are several ideas in the story which help us to discover meaning of the story.
Firstly, The American lady doesn’t even try to understand her daughter’s desire to marry the foreigner as for American women “Americans make best husbands”, she is too self-imposed. Secondly, the idea of semi-national marriage sounds absurdly, as the author shows us a perfect example of bad relationships between the American husband and wife, who are intended to divorce. Let me give you a brief summary, to reconstruct the events more accurately. It is the story of three people on a journey across Europe. A married couple shares a compartment with a woman who will be visiting her daughter. She is taking the daughter a canary.
They are all Americans living in Europe so their conversation soon becomes easy and revealing, turning to intimate topics, the kind of things one can comfortable confess to strangers on a train. The two women do most of the talking which is about the woman’s daughter and the European man she’s about to marry. The woman is against it and insists to take her daughter away as the American men are the best husbands, while the second woman’s American husband remains silent. After they arrive to their destination, all three part with each other. The plot of the story is given to engage the reader emotionally.
The author sets up an external conflict between the American woman and her daughter. Moreover there is a conflict between values of the woman and the values of the couple. Speaking about the symbols in the novel I should say, that the main symbol is the canary. An amusing similarity begins to surface between the woman and her captive bird as she decidedly affirms disapproval of her daughter’s ill-fated union. The bird symbolizes both dependence of the woman of her beliefs and the daughter of her mother. As for discourse type it should be noted that the story is partly narration, partly description and partly dialogue.
The special role is given to narration and dialogue, as through these discourse types that author reveals the atmosphere and the main ideas of the story. What is more it is written in first person perspective. The narrator is the husband but we can realize that only in the middle of the story. The author uses the indirect characterization. The protagonist of the story is the young man who despite being an American is characterized as an Englishman because of wearing braces and his English character which separates him from his wire and the women.
The antagonist is the American woman, a middle-aged woman who is characterized with her deafness – not just the reluctance to her anybody else’s opinion but also a physical one. Setting creates a certain mood in the story. The immediate setting is the compartment. It is extremely hot there “it was very hot in the train and it was very hot in the lit salon compartment”. The heat, smoke, dust create the sick atmosphere. Shades of grey, brown and black are predominant in the story: “dusty trees”, “brown wooden restaurant cars”, “long cement platform”.
The story is written is formal language with infusions of informal one. There are constant repetitions of the word “American” in the text, which obviously gets a negative connotation here. To sum it up I can say that the story made a great impression on me. It is rather ironical and I am convinced that the ideas which are expressed in the story are very common nowadays. The national bias often mix up marriages. But we all are people and creating boundaries is incorrectly. Besides being deaf to other people’s beliefs and feelings is a straight way to rupture.