Discuss the tone and theme of "A Small, Good Thing"

Essay by Jade5055University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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In Carver's story, "A Small, Good Thing," the tone appears to be that of sadness. The story contains a few tones including bitterness, pity, and even love. Despite this, sadness seems to be the overpowering tone. The following are the two situations that bring the sadness throughout the story:

"There was a Negro boy in surgery last night," Ann said. [. . .] "He passed away," said the nurse at the counter. (Carver)

Scotty, honey, it's Mommy and Daddy," she said. "Scotty?" The boy looked at them, but without any sign of recognition. [. . .] His lips parted as his last breath was puffed through his throat and exhaled gently through the clenched teeth. (Carver)

This story deals with people dying, lack of hope, and unfortunate events that happen in life. All of these events add to the intense sadness in the lives of the characters.

The baker tries in the end to give the family a sense of happiness, or to ease the sadness brought on by the death of their son.

The theme in this story is that, despite how bad life gets, there is always hope or something that one can do that will bring forth a sense of happiness. As the baker said, "Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this." (Carver) The baker tries to comfort the parents in their time of grief. In one sense, he feels the same pain of isolation as they do. He is cut off from the outside world in his bakery, yet he is able to feel their pain and help them.

As in life, the story deals with the most painful of situations, dealing with the loss of a loved one. Just life reality, many who are on the outside do...