8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦
…for all through life she had kept her heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, which was as pure and clear as crystal, and, looking at all matters through this transparent medium, she sometimes saw thruths so profound that other people laughed at them as nonsense and absurdity.
It’s become a tradition of mine each year to include a story that has a Christmas-type title in my Deal Me In list just for the fun of seeing when it shows up. I’ve yet to have one of them actually get selected during the holiday season. For 2017, I put Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Snow Image: A Childish Miracle” as the one non-New Yorker/New York City story in my red suits. It also happens to be the only 19th Century story in my Deal Me In 2017 list. I read this story when I selected the Eight of Diamonds for Week 14 of Deal Me In 2017. It’s included in my copy of The Celestial Railroad and Other Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. My Deal Me In List can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
Knowing that Hawthorne has a penchant for the macabre, I was curious about this story. I would have to say that the macabre isn’t necessarily a part of “The Snow Image” but it does include the supernatural – in a less frightening manner. Although from a child’s perspective, it could still include a scary situation but I would call it more of a sad situation than a scary one.
It’s easy to see Hawthorne’s purpose in showing how adults can squash the imagination of children – even adults with the best of intentions. Two children play in the snow and make a snow image of a little girl to be their sister/playmate. The cold wind gives life to the snow image and the three of them have a grand time playing.
That’s when the parents come in. Not knowing where the third child came from, they get a little concerned. The father, whom Hawthorne continuously refers to as “common-sensible”, is concerned about the third child staying out in the frigid air. While reading the story, one can see where this might end.
An interesting aspect of the story is the reaction of the children’s mother. Hawthorne puts her somewhere in between the children’s wonderful imagination and the common-sense of her husband as the quotation above indicates.
Towards the end, Hawthorne gets a little preachy by explaining the moral of the story. Ordinarily, this would bother me in a story; however, Hawthorne makes it work. Perhaps its because his moralizing is directed at adults instead of children.
While Christmas is not mentioned, “The Snow Image” could make a great addition to any winter/holiday story collection.