Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The central theme of “Now That April’s Here” is the social dangers inherent in becoming involved in relationships that encourage one to waste time and opportunities, with a subsidiary motif of disloyalty. Writing in the 1920’s, Morley Callaghan could not openly present the intimate sexual activities of Charles and Johnny, but he hints at them sufficiently. In his classic autobiographical book, That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Some Others (1963), he revealed that in 1929, when he and his wife were in Paris, he had promised an editor that he would write a story about a pair of bright, bowing, snickering homosexuals whom they both observed in a Parisian café. One of the gay pair was a writer named John Glassco, whose own memoirs support the conclusion that he and his friend Graeme Taylor were the models for Callaghan’s characters.

Charles, who may have some real creative talent, sponges on Johnny, who pays for their room, board, and drinks, types his meager manuscripts for him, and evidently loves him with considerable tenderness. Then three destabilizing things happen: Johnny’s father upbraids him and challenges him to get a job; Johnny dabbles again in heterosexuality while in London; and Constance seduces him into decamping for the United States. Charles, although never brave, is somewhat more aggressive than Johnny; it is Charles who pushes Simpson, a total stranger, and who also invites getting slapped by daring to call Johnny’s new love a tart. Neither young man is depicted as attractive. Charles has too large a head, “that ought to have belonged to a Presbyterian minister,” while Johnny has “a rather chinless faun’s head.” Constance manages to see more in the latter, undoubtedly because of his money. She willingly participates in a bisexual ménage à trois until she can succeed in separating the two men by making Charles jealous.