Structure

“The Moose and the Sparrow” by Hugh Garner is structured chronologically, with the main events happening over a few days. The action is rendered through dialogue, narrative passages, and descriptive passages.

In what follows, we will focus on the next elements of structure:

  • Point of view and narrator
  • Setting and time
  • Composition

Point of view and narrator

The text is a first-person narrative of one of the characters, Mr Anderson. Consequently, he has limited knowledge and readers only get his point of view on the events. What is interesting about the narrator in the short story is that he is neither the protagonist, nor the antagonist. He is only a secondary character who assumes the role of an observer: “One evening late in the summer as I was walking along the river having an after-supper pipe, I stumbled upon Cecil curled up on a narrow sandy beach.” (p. 210, ll. 5-7)

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Setting and time

The story is set somewhere in British Columbia, at a logging camp during the summer. As the story was written in 1966, we can assume the author intended it to be a contemporary one. However, given that there are no exact coordinates of time, the story might as well take place in more modern times.

The camp is described mostly in terms of how work is organised and it reveals some traits of the characters. Cecil’s bunk, for example, is the place where the boy lets his creativity loose and makes “belt buckles, rings and tie clips” (p. 210, l. 1).

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Composition

The story is composed around a plot twist and a cliff-hanger ending. As you have seen, Moose’s death comes unexpectedly and, in the end, the narrator comes to suspect Cecil of murdering Moose. We will now look at the narrative techniques used in the story:

  • Narrative hook
  • Backstory
  • Foreshadowing
  • Plot twist
  • Direct address
  • Open ending

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