Canary for One

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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

Like many of Hemingway’s stories, ‘A Canary for One also deals with the essential loneliness of man and the futility of human relationships. Here he describes a train journey to Paris. After a brief note on the environment in the first character, an American lady starts a conversation obviously referring to the Canary that she bought in Palermo for a dollar and a half. The interior of the lit salon was quite stuffy with smoke coming out from many chimneys. After sometime when the train stopped at Marseilles, she bought a copy of ‘The Daily Mail’ and a bottle of water and at this juncture, it was known that the lady was deaf. Then follows a beautiful description of the train journey with references of the harbour with stone hills and the last of the sun on water. After dark the train passes through a farm-house before reaching Avignon where people got on and off the train. On the station were Negro soldiers who were wearing brown uniforms and they were quite tall with shining faces on the electric lights. The...
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