The main theme of the short story “Ice Break” by Astrid Blodgett is that of family relationships (between parents, between parents and children, and between siblings). Additionally, the story also touches upon themes such as sacrifice and grief. The author’s message is that family relationships can be improved and loss can be overcome if conflicts are forgotten. However, the story leaves us with the feeling that the conflicts are neither resolved nor forgotten but only hidden beneath the surface.
The story explores various family interactions which illustrate different aspects of family relationships. Although these relationships are ultimately based on love, they are overshadowed by all kinds of conflicts which make the narrator’s family seem dysfunctional.
Firstly, the relationships between adults are influenced by their different interests and perspectives on raising children. Both Dawn’s parents and uncles have a conflict of different interests. Dawn’s mother and aunt are concerned about their husbands’ safety when going ice-fishing, a concern that probably comes out of love; although the women do not share the men’s passion for ice fishing.
Sacrifice and grief
The theme of sacrifice is illustrated through the actions of Dawn, the father, and the mother.
Because Dawn does not want to be alone with her father and because she believes her sister should spend more time with the man before the parents separate, the girl is willing to sacrifice the money she worked hard for. The five-dollar bill which she gives to Janie to make her come on the fishing trip has an important significance for Dawn: the bill represents the first money she earned on her own.
To make the family stay together longer, the parents are willing to sacrifice the time they spend with their daughters.