The Hole That Jack Dug by Frank Sargeson
In The Hole That Jack Dug by Frank Sargeson we have the theme of hard-work, struggle, connection, trust, independence and respect. Narrated in the first person by a man called Tom, who is helping Jack to dig the hole, the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Sargeson may be exploring the theme of hard-work. Jack is a constant worker and takes no time off from digging the hole. The purpose of which is uncertain at the time. If anything Jack may be feeling that he is doing his part for the war. Keeping himself busy and fending off communist soldiers. It is after all the time of the Vietnam War and it was feared that communism would take over the world. Jack’s wife plays an important part in the story. Though she is always there for Jack she likewise does not know what Jack intends to build. There is also a connection between Jack, Tom and Jack’s wife. The all want to see the hole finished before the war ends.
The theme of struggle is also evident in the story. Jack is a workaholic when it comes to the hole whereas Tom tires that somewhat easier. Something that might not be helped by the fact that Tom does not realize what Jack is building. At no stage in the story does Jack tell anybody about what he is digging for or what he might be building. Which might leave some reader s to suggest that Jack is exerting excess energy such is his worry about the war. The hole itself ends up being big enough for a bomb shelter but Jack never admits to this He may have concerns that the Japanese will invade New Zealand and he wants to be prepared. There is also a sense that Jack’s wife may never fully understand him and if anything she puts up with him and his whims because she knows that he is a good man.
Tom’s relationship with jack is important as he appears to be the only friend that Jack who will help him dig the hole. Even if he is doing so blindly and does not know that the hole is for. Jack’s wife doesn’t even know what the hole is for and her relationship with Jack is close. Close enough for him to give her his wages every week and to trust that she will buy the right thinks. If anything jack may feel as though his wife is cleverer than him and as such can be trusted. He after all appears to be a manual labourer while his wife is a teacher. She is obviously good with sums of money. In reality both Jack and his wife allow for the other to live independent lives and never get in the other’s hair. Tom is also respectful to Jack and his wife.
The end of the story is interesting as Jack may be planning on growing a vegetable plot over the hole he and Tom have dug. This too could be important as Jack may want to be self-sufficient. Knowing that with war comes food shortages. Something that Jack does not wish to be surprised by. However as readers we can never be certain as Sargeson ends the story as soon as the hole is built. It could have other roles but a vegetable path seems to be the most likely. That or either a bomb shelter. The Vietnam War was a real threat in New Zealand with many people building bomb shelters and vegetable plots so that they would not succumb to communism and also be self-sufficient. If anything the reader hopes that Jack and Tom’s efforts will not be in vain. The hole could also be seen to represent a shift in the position that Jack finds himself in. The worry of war can be overpowering and some people might feel as though they did not take action.