What are the themes in the Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark? How does it connects to out lives?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of what makes Clark's short story so powerful is the theme of defining importance. The fact that the dwellers in the cave hold dear to them literature and artistic expression as few of the items from their "former" world as what would represent them and the things they believe in is powerful. Jenkins' care for literature is compelling and represents a theme that has much resonance in our own lives.  What do we define as quality literature that could withstand the test of time?  What criteria do we use to determine what makes great "literature?"  At the same time, is what we treasure so dearly able to be shared with others?  The fact that the phonograph has to be hidden from others indicate its precious state brings to light another theme from the short story.  In a setting where the things we love are rare, how open are we to sharing these with others?  Is there an intrinsic value to sharing what we love or is what we love meant only for us?  These are powerful themes that arise out of Clark's story.