Nostalgia by C.A. Davids
In Nostalgia by C.A. Davids we have the theme of abuse, bitterness, selfishness, letting go, ignorance, paralysis and acceptance. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realizes after reading the story that Davids may be exploring the theme of abuse (sexual). Ella has been abused by her father when she was younger and it appears as though she is unable to let go. Which is understandable. Her mother on the other hand is willing to forget the past. However she is unable to forgive Ella for which she sees as Ella’s abandonment of her and her father. This may be significant as it suggests that Ella’s mother is not overly concerned about the abuse that Ella suffered at the hands of her father. In fact Ella’s mother is more concerned with her own interests than she is with Ella’s. If anything the mother remains in denial and does not consider what happened Ella to be justification for Ella moving to London. Something that some readers might find unacceptable.
The theme of bitterness is evident in the story with it being the mother who is more bitter than Ella. She appears to be only thinking of herself and acting selfishly. In fact Ella’s mother blames Ella for leaving her when the reality is that Ella had no choice but to leave. She could no longer live with her father. Something that the mother does not understand. Which may leave some readers to believe that the mother is not only thinking of herself but she has accepted what her husband has done to Ella. Symbolically the setting is important as it suggests a state of paralysis. For Ella the home is a place where she suffered and for the mother it is a place where she remains paralyzed by the past. A life when things where better for her. Though some critics might suggest Ella’s mother has and is living in ignorance.
There may be further symbolism in the story which might be significant. The taxis outside in the square could highlight the need for escape. For Ella and others possibly. The prayers at the Mosque on Fridays also appear to be the only time that there is any sort of peace in the square and that only lasts for two hours every Friday. The wedding band that Ella plays with could symbolize not only nervousness but a sense of security. At low points in the story Ella twitches on it and may long for her husband’s presence. Somebody who can take her away from the past. The neighbours could represent the idea of trust. Ella trusts what they say and it is significant that Ella’s mother does not. She thinks they are gossips and no longer speaks to them. Ironically it should be your family you trust but Ella’s father and mother have broken that bond. Which might explain as to why Ella did not come home for her father‘s funeral nor should she have been expected to.
The end of the story is interesting as Davids appears to further explore the theme of acceptance. Ella as she walks out the door and down the corridor realizes that she no longer has anything else to say to her mother. She accepts that her mother will always defend her husband. Whether it is right or wrong she will nonetheless accept his actions and consider the abuse that Ella suffered as part of life. The mother too as she sits back in her chair appears to accept that Ella is gone forever and has no intention of contacting her at the hotel. Ella’s giving of the number to her mother also suggests that it is up to the mother to communicate with her in the future. She will not continue to take steps towards a reconciliation which many readers may suggest is impossible considering what the father has done.