The short story “The Skating Party” by Merna Summers is about a love triangle conveying the theme that it is essential for individuals to make rational decisions because they will have to endure the consequences for the rest of their lives. Having been raised on a farm in Willow Bunch, Nathan Singleton aspired to become a farmer with a devoted wife. Contrary to his goal, he left his home and relocated to the city to become a teacher. Then, he ultimately returned to Willow Bunch to focus on his farming career. “In some ways it seemed as if he had never really left Willow Bunch…
I found it hard to imagine him as I knew he must be in his classroom: wearing a suit, chalk dust on his sleeve, putting seat work on the blackboard. He didn’t even talk like a teacher. ” (Summers 187-188) The significance of character revelation in this quote highlights Nathan’s personality traits that are reminiscent of a stereotypical farmer. This justifies why Maida found it difficult to visualize Nathan possessing personality traits pertaining to a stereotypical teacher. With further inference, it can be concluded that his specific traits didn’t effectively complement his teaching career.
This incompatibility influenced him to return to Willow Bunch, where his childhood aspiration almost came to fruition when he became engaged with Eunice Lathem. Though unfortunately, he receded to teaching in the city once again after her demise. Nathan’s indecisive demeanour regarding his career is symbolized by engraving a tattoo on your body. The consequence was the absence of occupational stability in his life, a reminder which is symbolized by the fact that a tattoo is permanently etched onto your skin.
Secondly, the theme of “The Skating Party” is reinforced through Delia’s decision to skate with Nathan at the skating party. Due to the lengthy duration of time they spent together, Eunice became infuriated because she detected intimacy. Delia then agreed to skate with Eunice in order to calm her down. Eventually, they both fell through the ice; Eunice’s death was the price for Delia’s survival. “Eunice Lathem’s sister, whose name was Delia Sykes, moved away from Willow Bunch right after the accident. ” (Summers 191)
This quote represents Delia’s character development. From a very extroverted, flamboyant character, she confined herself in a shell due to the torment caused by the outcome of her decision and its role in Eunice’s death. This categorizes her as a dynamic character. She then left Willow Bunch, believing that isolating herself from her friends and family would be the only way to atone for her mistake. Delia made an irrational decision to skate with Nathan which is symbolized by choosing to have a tattoo drawn onto your skin.
Her decision indirectly resulted in Eunice’s death, a traumatizing experience she endured for the rest of her life that is symbolized by the adherence of a tattoo. It will always be with her; one glance at it will remind her of the skating party. Lastly, the theme of “The Skating Party” is accentuated through Nathan’s decision to save Delia instead of Eunice. “The one pair of arms had white fur around them. And I reached for the other pair” (Summers 199) This quote revealed Nathan’s true desire and who he valued the most in his life.
It also implies the inner conflict he experiences, such as reflecting on the credibility of his decision and evaluating possible outcomes if he acted differently. Such thoughts prevent him from achieving tranquility. Like a tattoo, the remorse Nathan’s burdened with will stay for the remainder of his life as a result of choosing to save Delia and allowing Eunice to perish. Nathan’s inability to choose a career, Delia’s decision to skate with Nathan, and Nathan’s decision to save Delia instead of Eunice emphasizes the theme of “The Skating Party”: it is necessary to make decisions rationally in order to avoid regrets and live a satisfying life
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