A Canary for One Critical Discussion
by Ernest Hemingway

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Critical Discussion

It is, of course, the revelation that the young couple are about to end their marriage that comprises the final irony of this tale. By doing so, it undercuts the older woman’s hypothesis that American women should only marry American men, further illuminating her nonsensical nationalism. The older woman clearly wants to revert to an early day and cut herself and her family off from the foreign influences of the post-War world; she is, in fact, an isolationist. But there is another form of isolationism afoot in this story, the gulf that exists between the young husband and wife. In retrospect, the destructive scenes—train wrecks, burning buildings, and the like that the husband/narrator chooses to note—are symbols of his marriage. But even more revealing is the fact that the couple never say anything to each other, a fact that is completely lost on their older compatriot who apparently considers such silence to be “normal” among properly married people.