Themes and message

The main themes of the short story “The Moose and the Sparrow” by Hugh Garner are jealousy, harassment and the psychological effect it has on the victims, as well as intellectual superiority versus physical superiority.


People are jealous or envious when they feel others are better off than them or have/do things that they would have liked. Jealousy comes from a feeling of inferiority when comparing oneself to others.

In “The Moose and the Sparrow” this theme is illustrated through Moose’s character.



Bullying or harassment is another important theme in the short story. By harassment, we understand physical and psychological aggressions of people who are considered weaker. Because of his frail physical appearance and his young age, Cecil becomes the perfect victim for someone like Moose, who is both older and stronger than the boy.  


Intellectual superiority vs. Physical superiority

At a core level, the story is about intellect versus physical strength. This theme is recurrent in literature, mythology, and religion. Multiple such accounts show how a weaker opponent can win a fight/conflict with a stronger one thanks to an intelligent trick.



The most important symbols in the short story are the name metaphors. Moose Maddon symbolises a dangerous, physically powerful being, as the moose is.


Moreover, here you can read about:

  • Use of contrasts
  • Message

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