Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Despite her reputation for focusing on the angst of the individual and failed relationships, Ann Beattie’s most frequent themes are intimacy and friendship, companionship in marriage or love affairs, love as a powerful element of the psyche and of memory, and the impact of human beings on one another. Although Beattie’s work has often been criticized for its coldness or lack of emotion, her stories are actually very intense, with powerful emotions held just under the surface. Communication and intimacy are major themes. In “Snow,” there is a “he said/she said” approach, in which the narrator recounts her own memories about the place in the country and the time spent together there, and then acknowledges that the man’s account of the same times and events would differ from her own. Where she sees the marvelous and the vivid, the remarkable, quirky, and miraculous, he would see only the ordinary, the explicable, and the mundane.

One of the main themes of “Snow” is thus of things being turned upside down, of not being what they seemed. A sense of glory, intimacy, and perfection is coupled throughout with a message of ill-fatedness and separation.