Birthday Party

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The short story, “Birthday Party,” by Katharine Brush, depicts a couple in their late thirties. The wife prepares a surpise for him because it is his birthday and despite her efforts the husband is not pleased leaving the wife in tears, which causes the readers to be more sympathetic to the woman. This shows that problems cannot be covered up. The author, Katharine Brush conveys this message to the readers through description, repetition, and anonymous characters throughout the story.

Brush describes the husband and wife at the restaurant. Through the description they seem like normal people. The husband is described to have “a round, self-satisfied face, with glasses on it.” And the woman was “fadingly pretty, in a big hat.” As they “sat on the banquette opposite us in a little narrow restaurant, having dinner.” This creates a vivid picture for the reader which shows that they look like ordinary regular people. Later, the narrator notices that it was actually an Occasion and describes the effort of the woman. “A small but glossy birthday cake, with one pink candle burning in the center.” In addition there was a piano and violin orchestra. These descriptions of the woman’s efforts cause the reader to be more sympathetic towards her when the man rejects her efforts.

The author also uses repetition of words and sounds to convey the message to the reader throughout the story. The woman’s efforts are often referred to as “little” although they mean a lot to her. For example it says, “in fact, the husband’s birthday, and the wife had planned a little surprise for him.” Later in the short story it says, “and as soon as the little cake had been deposited on the table, and the orchestra had finished the birthday piece, and the general attention had shifted from the man and the woman.” By using the word “little” the author makes it seem like her efforts lack importance. Although her efforts are described as little she is described to “beam with shy pride over her...
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