Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Dylan Thomas developed “A Story” as a presentation for Welsh television during the last year of his life. Like his well-known poem “Fern Hill,” it recalls a joyous time in his youth from the perspective of his mature years. By re-creating the sensory excitement, the almost delicious loneliness, and the feeling of a cosmos of infinite possibilities waiting to be explored, Thomas reaches back to a time in his life prior to the onset of the disappointments that plagued his adult years. Whereas “Fern Hill” depends on a vision of the natural world as a source of wonder and delight, “A Story” is closer to Under Milk Wood (1954), his drama about the singular characters of the small Welsh town of Laugharne, which also presents a view of the adult world from a relatively innocent observer who is astonished and highly amused by the antics and odd speech of grownups. There are a number of images of an inspiring landscape, but most of the details are designed to convey the moods of the characters and the atmosphere of the shop, bus, and pubs where the action occurs.

The narrator’s introduction to the mysterious world of men is presented as a readjustment of self-perception. At first, the boy’s uncle is described in terms of his daunting size and physical presence, while his aunt is depicted as a quaint mouse-figure. There is a distinct separation between the boy and his family because they are rendered in surreal terms. The shop is less a...

(The entire section is 443 words.)