Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

One of the major themes in this story is that of the emerging consciousness of a young child. The overwrought and almost exhausting flood of sensations and emotions, collecting around but also subtly contradicting the idea of happiness, eventually reveals a psychological portrait of the narrator and of her childhood. The narrative’s series of episodes demonstrates how a child begins to lose her innocence and develops an awareness of complexity within her own consciousness and in the characters of her two parents. The little girl begins to discern differences in her parents and in her relationship with them, and in retrospect, she begins to see that the magical happiness of that time was a mysterious and complicated condition that involved suffering as well as joy. That she is actually speaking about this is in itself a sign that she is articulating impressions and sensations only tentatively felt at the time, but that, with maturity, she can identify and name.

As she begins to sort through her overwhelming sensations, she struggles to get to the heart of the family drama that is being played out underneath the surface. Describing herself and her mother as two moons who bask in the reflected light of her charismatic father, the little girl is also haunted by her jealousy of her mother, as well as her mother’s jealousy of her. In the end, however, this conflict is resolved in her mother’s favor. The emphasis on her mother as the “winner” suggests...

(The entire section is 530 words.)