Describe the humor in the narration of the short story “Last Spring They Came Over” by Morley Callaghan.       

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story “Last Spring They Came Over” by Morley Callaghan describes two brothers who come to Canada from England trying to make their way in the world.

The young men are sons of a Baptist Minister and the family was too large for them to stay at home.  First, Alfred comes over; then, his brother Harry follows him.  Alfred gets a job on a newspaper.  He is not a good news reporter; the other reporters know that eventually he will be fired.

The humor in the story is tricky.  The boys are innocents, and the humor is at their expense.  Although the descriptions add a humorous approach to the story, sadly the story leads to the death of one of the brothers and the unclear future of the other one.

Both of the young men are naïve about the ways of the world, in particularly, Alfred.  Alfred exaggerates his dress and actions.  Carrying a cane and wearing a fedora as he goes on his assignments seems to please him tremendously.

Alfred was always willing to talk pompously…He flung his arms wide and talked in the hoarse voice of a bad actor.

He is unaware of the discussion surrounding his lack of reporting ability; consequently, he writes home about the great opportunities and the success that he is having in Canada.

The brothers take little seriously.  Once Alfred was asked to pick out a pretty girl; however, he told the fellow reporter that it was hard for him since he never was around girls and he preferred the company of men.  Of course, this spread rapidly throughout the paper.  The men tried teasing him but got nowhere because Alfred was unaware of their meaning.

Harry lost his job first; finally, Alfred lost his job. 

The editor, disgusted, called him a fool. For the first time since coming over last spring he felt hurt, something inside him hurt and he told his brother about it, wanting to know why people acted in the way they did.

Now both brothers were out a job.  Eventually, Harry succumbs to pneumonia; with only Alfred left, no one knows for sure what happens to him. 

The story has a sardonic approach.  The descriptions seem funny; in reality, it is never enjoyable to laugh at someone who is not clever or educated enough to know that he is the subject of the humor.

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