Firefly by Adewale Maja-Pearce
In Firefly by Adewale Maja-Pearce we have the theme of conflict, independence, connection, pride, struggle and separation. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Maja-Pearce may be exploring the theme of conflict. Both parents are arguing over their life in the city with the wife feeling as though her child and the family would have been better if they had stayed with her father in the village. This didn’t suit the husband, yet no reason is given and one is left to expect that the husband wants to be independent of his father-in-law. He does not wish for others to say that he cannot rear his own family. It is also interesting that the wife appears to be quite submissive to her husband and does not really argue with him till she feels the need to do so. As far as the reader can work out the father also appears to be more concerned about the cost of healing his child over the fact that the child can be healed. Though some critics might argue that money is in shortage for the family in the city.
There is also no doubting that both parents are planning on going their separate ways when the child dies. The wife having begun to pack her suitcase. This may be significant as it suggests that the marriage was only connected by the child. There may have been no love between the father and the mother near the end of the marriage or a least the reader does not feel as though there is any love between both parents. The child bonds or connects them and when she dies. The wife knows that it is time to move on. Most likely back to her father in the village. If anything the child’s illness has put a further strain on an already strained relationship. It might also be important that the father looks after feeding himself without really taking the time to see how his child is. Though it is noticeable that after he feeds himself he does show a little more concern. The lack of physical contact between both parents says a lot as in many ways it acts as foreshadowing to the parent’s eventual separation. The reader again aware that the only connection that both parents have with one another is through their child.
It is also possible that the wife married out of love or what she perceived to be love. However the harsh realities of life and her husband’s attitude have been a rude awaking for her. Which makes the decision to leave her husband more the easier. The fact that none of the characters are named may also have some significant as Maja-Pearce may be drawing on the everyday, every person relationship and the difficulties that couples can go through. The wife after all appears to be only staying in the relationship because she and her husband have a child. Something which is as strong bond between a couple but which may not be lasting as is the case in the story. Other foreshadowing in the story may be the fact that the wife starts to get her suitcase ready. It is as though she has had enough of her relationship to a man who some might consider to be too proud. Proud because he would not take a job from his father-in-law. A job in whereby he would have been more financially comfortable but may have felt that he might have lost some of his independence.
In reality the story is a piece about a young struggling family who have had opportunities but because of the husband’s pride none of the opportunities have materialized. Resulting in the death of his child and the end of his marriage. Two things that that the husband may not have envisaged would happen to him. However he was faced with a dark reality. His child is dead and his wife is leaving him. Though it is difficult to say for sure as to whether the husband is fully effected by the course of action that is about to occur. He appears to think only of himself. Particularly when he questions the money that is given to the doctor by his wife. It is as though money is more important than the well-being of his child. It is for this reason that it is difficult for the reader to feel too much sympathy for the husband. He appears to put himself first whereas his wife has put their child first and tried her best to care for the child. It has also taken a tragedy for the wife to realise that she has made a mistake in marrying her husband. Something that appears to be lost on the husband.