On Waking Up by A.G. Gardiner
In On Waking Up by A.G. Gardiner we have the theme of sleep, control, happiness, contentment and change. Taken from his Windfalls collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Gardiner may be exploring the theme of sleep. For Gardiner there is no better time than just having woken from sleep. Man is calm and refreshed and ready to tackle any of the chores that he may encounter. However Gardiner appears to be considering only one type of man in the story, himself. He forgets that others may not wish to wake up such is the drain of the day on them. Though it is true people are waking up happier since the end of the First World War. Everybody that is except the Kaiser. Who Gardiner imagines must wake in a nightmare after the calamity and loss of the war. The Kaiser after all has lost the war and as such has reparations to make to several of the opposing forces. His world has been shook upside down and will not know normality again. As too may those who are subordinate to the Kaiser. Life for them is not as simple or as happy as Gardiner suggests.
Which makes the essay very one-sided with Gardiner taking only the positives that can be gleamed from waking from a good night’s sleep. It is as though Gardiner since the end of the war is back in control of his life and as such is going to enjoy every waking hour. Something that is admirable but does not give thought to others. It is also interesting that though Gardiner sleeps comfortably at night he does not discuss with the reader the difficulties that he once might have incurred with sleeping. All we know is that Gardiner is looking forward to each day when he wakes up. He discusses the problems of others, like the Kaiser, but not himself. One is left to assume that Gardiner like so many people at the time did not always sleep well during the war and were anxious that they might not wake up at all. In general Gardiner is in merry spirits throughout the essay and even has time to consider the benefit of nature when one wakes up. How the sound of birds can help a man or put a man in a good mood first thing in the morning. This may be significant as Gardiner appears to be taking the simplest of things (the birds singing) to promote the benefit of walking up to a new and better day.
What is also interesting about the story is that Gardiner does not allow for anything to get him down. He has survived the war and everything is looking positive. If anything there is a spring in Gardiner’s step. Which may or may not be matched by others. It is difficult for a man or woman to spring out of bed knowing that they have lost a son in the war. Gardiner himself does not appear to have been affected this way. If anything life to Gardiner is a luxury beginning with his first waking hour and allowing for the sounds of the day to breach his ears. He has no worries as such and sees those who have as being too ignorant to enjoy waking up or at least to be too preoccupied with matters of the day. In reality the reader might find that Gardiner is living a much pampered existence. When the vast majority of people do not have time to listen to morning choruses but rather must get themselves ready for work.
It is also clear to the reader that Gardiner would not change his life in any way. Though he had ambitions as a child but as he has grown older and more appreciative of waking up. He is content to stay the way he is. Gardiner can also not understand how others, with the exception of the Kaiser, cannot simply enjoy waking up and starting a new day. At no stage does Gardiner think of those who may carry through their problems of yesterday into the following morning. That life is not as simple as Gardiner is making out. People have feelings that cannot necessarily be turned off or on at the flick of a switch. Many people consider life, particularly waking up, to be a chore that they would rather not have to do. Whereas Gardiner has the means and mentality to believe in a new day every day. Which again is admirable though not necessarily practical. Regardless of this the reader is left assured that the Kaiser will wake up worried and Gardiner will wake with the joys of youth in his heart.