The short story “The Moose and the Sparrow” was written by the Canadian author Hugh Garner. The story is about a
young man named Cecil, whose parents divorced when he was very young, and who grew up in several foster homes. Cecil graduated from high school at the age of seventeen, and had finished a year of university when the story begins. In
order to study, he needs tuition money, and therefore he starts working in a logging camp. One man, named Maddon Moose, is determined to make Cecil break down at least once during his stay at the camp.
Cecil is young and smart. He has set his mind on studying art; he makes beautiful things out of plain wire. Moose is
picking on him because of this, and because of his physical appearance, which is less strong than his own. As the new guy, it took a while before he was accepted by the other men, but they ended up liking him more than they liked
On the other hand, we have Maddon Moose. He appears to be slightly older than Cecil, though his age is not mentioned in the text. Maddon probably dropped out of school, and therefore seems to have a need of picking on those who happens to be smarter than him. Maddon is a Saw boss and very strong physically. He is unsympathetic and always picks on others, so nobody likes him.
Hugh Garner likes to show us the characters, by what they say and do, instead of just telling the reader about them. for example; “What happened?” I asked one of Maddon’s men.
“Moose burned the kid’s hand,” he told me. “He heated the end of a saw in the tea fire and then called the kid to take it to be sharpened. He handed the hot end to Cecil, and it burned his hand pretty bad.” (Hugh Garner, ‘The
Moose and the Sparrow’).
The story takes place in a logging Camp, and often in the bunkers where the men live, during the summer holidays. This is an important part of the story, and a course to Cecil’s problems; the setting gives Moose an opportunity of giving Cecil the hardest work possibly.
Even though the story is about Cecil, it is told from Mr. Anderson’s point of view – it’s a first person angled story. The themes of this story are jealousy, murder/crime, and being picked on.
Hugh Garner creates a tense atmosphere by making a climax – he builds up the story by describing different events that get more and more exiting, and giving hints and foreshadowing’s to the reader. Also, he has a way of describing the actions of the characters that makes the reader want to know the outcome of the story.
The title is not fully understood until the end of the story, when the author tells the reader that Cecil has a sparrow-looking smile. ‘Moose’ is, of course, the person Maddon Moose. I think these are very appropriate labels, because it makes it easier to explain the relationship between them, the sparrow fighting against the moose. But, in the end, it is the little sparrow who wins. This shows that being big and strong, but dumb, isn’t always ideal; it was the small but clever one, who won. Perhaps this is what the author is trying to tell us.
In this text, there are several foreshadowing’s. Example; ‘That evening the kid turned in early…’ and, ‘I woke up during the night to hear a man laughing near the edge of the camp and Maddon’s name being called. I figured it was Moose and Lefevre coming home drunk from Camp Three.’ (Hugh Garner, ‘The Moose and the Sparrow’)
We also get another hint when the author tells us about how eager Cecil was to get Mr. Anderson’s wristwatch strap finished, and when we’re told about Lefevre not being at Camp Three at all the night of the incident.
I think it was a very good story, and I liked it very much. At first I didn’t quite get it, but it all came clear at the end. It is a very good short story, exiting to read and well written.