Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The theme of the story is loneliness and the extent that people will go to relieve it. Bridie is a woman who was disappointed in love early in life and has since made sacrifices so that she can stay at the farmhouse to care for her crippled father. However, she is lonely and isolated. Had her father not lost a leg, she would have preferred to get a job in the town, where there is more of a social life. In the evenings, alone with her father, she often thinks of the activities that would still be going on in the town, but the town is eleven miles away and too far to cycle just for an evening.

Bridie has been going to the same wayside dance hall for twenty years, but she never manages to make the romantic connection for which she longs. She is friendly and seems to be on good terms with everyone at the dance, but the intimacy she desires escapes her. In spite of her loneliness and her poor prospects, however, she cannot keep her hopes from springing up again, even if they are unrealistic. She tries in a gentle way to turn her somewhat distant relationship with Dano Ryan, whom she has known for twenty years, into something closer. Although she is not in love with him, she regards him as a decent man, but Dano Ryan is not interested in her.

Bridie’s loneliness stands in stark contrast to the bright lights and bustle and the banter and the camaraderie that pervade the dance hall. However, even that is deceptive, because the dance attracts many...

(The entire section is 515 words.)