Feelings of Helplessness
At one point or another we all succumb to the feeling of helplessness in our lives. Whether it is a feeling of not being able to break free of an abusive loved one or being trapped by a bad storm, the natural animal instinct of survival is apparent. "Celebration" written by W.D. Valgardson studies that instinct and the helplessness of situations that drives us to it.
Valgardson introduces various situations that require survival techniques in the story. One is the helplessness of the children in the violent home atmosphere and the poverty that they live in. Whenever Eric and Mabel fought, "the children hid under the Toronto couch, lying absolutely still, making no sound for hours on end." (61) The action of hiding that the children take when the parents are fighting, presents one of the animal instincts that is shown throughout the story. Because of the vulnerability the children have, they remove themselves out of sight and presumably, out of danger. Mabel is also touched by feelings of helplessness which is most apparent when she is outside struggling with the cold and close to death. Because of her exposure to the cold Mabel, "instinctively made her body as small as possible to preserve her warmth."(64) Her automatic reaction to place herself in the fetal position shows that her unconscious mind has already collapsed into a self-preservation mode, as like the children do when they are threatened. Eric, the dominant male in the story also submits to frailty and powerlessness when he gives, "a sudden start and his eyes widened as if, without warning, a terrible vision had been thrust upon him. He took a step toward the door, then stopped."(69) His realization of the children still huddled under the couch drives a wave of despair and regret over his person. Knowing that he can do nothing and that as soon as the heat from the stove dies the children will most likely die, he paces and staggers like a caged animal.
The use of animal symbolism is used to represent each character in their time of vulnerability and defenselessness. When the adults are fighting, the children are described as, "two small animals hiding in a cave; only their large, dark eyes moved."(61) They demonstrate the same reactions that animals have when they are in a threatening situation, hiding and becoming invisible until the "storm" is over. Mabel...