Themes and message

Personal relationships

The short story “Hall of Small Mammals” by Thomas Pierce focuses on the theme of personal relationships and commitment to them. Val is the 12-year-old son of the narrator’s girlfriend, and the narrator has been dating Val’s mother for several months. The narrator does not see the relationship as long-term, as he admits he is not in love, and he is also a “serial dater” who tends to give up at the first sign of difficulty. This points to the narrator's unwillingness to commit to a long-term relationship.  However, it is important for the narrator to gain Val’s approval, as the child’s dislike of him is very strong. At the same time, there is no point of connection between them, and despite finding themselves having to share the same space and time, they are very different people who fail to understand each other and have no real wish to do so. Although the narrator wants Val’s approval, he does not want to have to work for it very hard. The interest he shows in Val’s screenplay is pretended, and Val senses as much. The difference between him and Val is that Val does not feel the need to pretend that he is interested in the narrator. The narrator's lack of commitment ...

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