At Hiruharama


Penelope Fitzgerald

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Themes and Colors
Value and Perception Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Colonialism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in At Hiruharama, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Value and Perception

“At Hiruharama” explores the often-overlooked value of neglected or abandoned people, places, and objects. The story contends that value is determined not so much by intrinsic qualities but by perception. This idea is exemplified most explicitly during the story's climax. After Tanner helps his wife, Kitty, deliver their child, the doctor arrives and discovers a second child in what Tanner mistook for afterbirth. What Tanner perceived as garbage turned out to be, on closer…

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In “At Hiruharama,” community is often presented as flawed and comically imperfect, but those imperfections don’t invalidate its worth or mean that it doesn't have value. Though the Tanners’ home is miles away from their closest neighbors, the story portrays them as still belonging to a community, as a number of people help them in small but significant ways. Their distant neighbor, Parrish, lends them racing pigeons so they can notify the doctor when…

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Upward Mobility and Colonialism

“At Hiruharama” tells a multi-generational story of upward mobility, extolling the virtues of resourcefulness, enterprise, hard work, and having a positive outlook. The story begins with Mr. Tanner excited to explain how he ended up with a lawyer in the family—a clear sign that he’s proud of what his family has accomplished after starting out with so little. As he tells the story of his grandparents, Tanner and Kitty, he details how they both…

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