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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 192

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The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner is about Joe Allston. He is 70 years old, difficult to deal with, and a former literary agent who has no goals in life. He considers himself a spectator in life. Besides Ruth, his wife, the rest of his family is dead and he has no relatives. One day, Allston receives a post-card from one of his friends whom he has not seen for many years. The post card prompts him to look at the records of a trip he took many years ago. Reading the journals makes Allston reminisce about the past.

Ruth and Allston’s son passed away. The author reveals how Allston constantly regrets not spending more time with his son. Losing his son affected him in many ways. He stopped writing his novels and began feeling lonely. Allston constantly thinks about his failures. Stegner gives flashbacks of how Allston and his wife went on a trip to Denmark as a way of moving on with life after their son’s death. However, it becomes clear that the couple is still grieving his death, which has isolated them from the rest of the world.