Characterisations

The most important characters in the short story “The Moose and the Sparrow” by Hugh Garner are Cecil, Moose and Mr Anderson. Aside from them, few other characters are mentioned episodically such as Lefevre, George Semple and the Indian Chief called Danny Corbett.

Cecil

Cecil is the protagonist of the story whom the narrator describes both physically and in terms of behaviour, personality, background and mental state. These depictions are made through what others say about him, direct descriptions and Cecil’s way of acting and speaking.

Physically, Cecil is depicted through Mr Anderson’s eyes as frail, much like a sparrow: “His head was buried in his arms and his shoulders were heaving with sobs.” (p. 210, ll. 7-8); “The last we saw of Cecil was his little sparrow smile, and his hand waving to us from the window.” (p. 214, ll. 25-26)

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Moose Maddon

Moose Maddon is the antagonist in the short story. His name is very symbolical. The moose can be associated with traits like strength and grumpiness; the same traits that characterise Moose. Furthermore, his other name – Maddon – also suggests the mad anger he has towards Cecil.

Moose is depicted directly by the narrator as uneducated and envious of Cecil, who is pursuing higher studies:

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Mr Anderson

Mr Anderson is a secondary character in the story, but also the narrator. As a result, his traits are revealed through the way he tells the story and his perspective on the events.

Mr Anderson is not depicted physically, but since he calls Cecil “the boy” and he is being addressed as “Mr”, we can assume he is an older man. We do not know much about his background or his job at the camp site. However, these details are, in fact, irrelevant to the story. What is important about Mr Anderson is his wisdom and ability to read people.

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