An Analysis of "A Great Day" by Frank Sargeson

Topics: Great Depression, Unemployment, Short story Pages: 3 (1100 words) Published: November 13, 2008
”A GREAT DAY” by Frank Sargeson
Literary analysis

The short story “A Great Day” is written by the New Zealander Frank Sargeson, one of New Zealand’s leading authors. He wrote this novel during The Great Depression in the mid 1930s. New Zealand was one of the countries that were affected by The Great Depression. Unemployment reached 12 percent at its worst and New Zealand’s national income decreased severely. The author explicitly emphasises this by bringing up the unemployment of both of the characters, Fred and Ken.

This story is about two friends, Fred and Ken, taking an early morning fishing trip. It looks like it’s going to be a great day. It was something uncommonly strange about this day. The two talk about normal stuff, and as they reach their fishing spot, they start fishing. As the story goes on, you start to notice small hints leading on to the final incident. The fishes won’t bite the bait, so Fred proposes that they row over to the reef, to get mussels as bait. They start rowing against the reef, which is out in the deep water. Fred looks back towards the shore, and notices it being deserted. Fred starts pulling up the mussels, and after while they switch, and Fred get back in the boat, and Ken goes into the water. Fred starts his grand plan he’s had all along. He starts rowing with high pace against the shore. Ken can’t swim, so he’s destined to drown. After a while Fred capsizes the dinghy and starts to swim towards the shore. The structure of the text is unusual. There is no use of quotation marks, and minimal use of point marks. It seems like the author deliberately simplifies the language. But all at the same time this way of writing also gives us very much information. The tone of the language is just flat, and shows little emotion. The happenings in the story are just laid flat out paper, the pace is not raised, just cool and mellow all the way through. This way of writing gives yet again, the final incident a shocking effect....
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