Analysis of “Canary for One” by Ernest Hemingway

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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.

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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 sergeant who was with them was of course a white man. During the night, the American lady could not sleep because the train was speeding up very fast and she was not use to such a speed. But everything was alright in the morning as she was quite relaxed. The train was approaching Paris by then.

She refreshed herself and also the Canary. The American lady was having a conversation with the writer’s wife who happens to be one of the characters of the story including the writer himself. The most remarkable question that the American lady asked the writer’s wife was whether her husband, that is the writer was an American or not. At this she remarked that she took him to be an English man. At this, the writer interrupted by saying that she might have made this remark because he was wearing braces. He, however, wanted to say suspenders but he end up saying braces instead. A Canary for One” is the story of three people on a journey across Europe. The setting is a compartment of the train. A married couple shares a compartment with a woman who will be visiting her daughter. She is taking the daughter a canary. They are all Americans living in Europe and have a conversation. The main character of the story is the American lady. She is a middle-aged woman. The author doesn’t even mention her name as it’s unnecessary. In the whole story there are no names at all. What we know of her – she is a bit deaf and has a daughter.

No mentions her husband. So we may guess for the time being she has no husband at all, or his existence is so unimportant for her. This is the first sign of her loneliness. The older woman initiates and then dominates the conversation. What concerns her daughter, it’s well-known that she was madly in love with a Swiss fellow, but it turned out they parted. No explanations, just a fact. The American lady kept on saying that American men make the best husbands. It is possible that the mother didn’t let her daughter marry her Swiss boyfriend, as he belonged to the “wrong”…

This part tell us about a trip of American Lady thought the Italy and France. We don’t know the aim of her trip and the description of places where the train stopped only in one paragraph we see her speaking to unknown opponent about her last buying. Thought the context we can understand that she bought a bird. The author described different views that American Lady saw. At the one station she saw tall negro soldiers contrasted with short white sergeant on her way to Avignon she saw burning farmhouse at the field.

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Analysis of “Canary for One” by Ernest Hemingway. (2016, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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