Posted in Short Stories

Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Great Carbuncle

Deal Me In 2020 – Week 22

At nightfall, once in the olden time, on the rugged side of one of the Crystal Hills, a party of adventurers were refreshing themselves, after a toilsome and fruitless quest for the Great Carbuncle.

I had to look up what a carbuncle was and all I got was “a large boil”. Since that didn’t seem to align with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Great Carbuncle”, I dug a little deeper to find that a carbuncle is also the name of any red gemstone usually a garnet. This second definition fits with Hawthorne’s story. With the use of the word “Great”, I get the idea that this red gemstone is large in size.

A band of people of different backgrounds have come together to search for the Great Carbuncle in a fashion that reminds me of Ocean’s Eleven. The odd aspect is that while they are all traveling and searching together, they each have their own idea of what they will do with the treasure once they find it. There is never any real explanation as to how the little group got together but as they stop for the night, the story shifts focus to the married couple of the bunch. They seem to be the most genuine and the least arrogant; however, they still want the stone for themselves.

Themes of selfishness show up as the story takes us to a Raiders of the Lost Ark ending. For whatever reason, this story, written well before the advent of movies, made me think of specific movies. I guess everything that is old does become new again.

This story is included in the collection The Celestial Railroad and Other Stories. I read it when I selected the Three of Clubs for week 22 of my Deal Me In 2020 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In 2020 list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.




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