The main themes of the short story “Every Good Boy” by David Nicholls are those of expectations versus reality and the search for one’s passion. Using the story of a young boy who is trying to learn how to play the piano, the author’s message is that we live in a society in which parents pressure children to be good at something, which sets children for unrealistic expectations.
Expectations vs. Reality
The short story explores this theme through the main character, the boy narrator. Being an average child without any particular skills or passions and outshined by his older siblings, the boy in the story puts his hopes and expectations in learning how to play the piano. Though the instrument is not particularly appealing to him, but quite the contrary, the boy still gets excited by the idea of becoming a skillful popular pianist:
The search for one’s passion
Another important theme in the short story is the search for one’s passion. In modern societies, ever since individualism became more important than collective identities, religion or other more traditional values, people are expected to find their calling, to have a gift, a skill of their own which differentiates them from the others as individuals. This perspective has both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, it gives people more freedom of choice and makes them realise that they can be valuable as individuals.