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The Breaking of Ice at the Skating PartyThe night of the skating party hold events that is romantic, symbolic and tragic.Two versions of the story told by two people present at the skating party share insight into the versions they believe to be true, except one story teller has a few secrets that has laid guilt on his mind for over thirty years. Merna Summers' The Skating Party holds a lesson in love and life; Nathan and Winnie Singleton's stories are different, Winnie believes Nathan tragically lost his 'wife to be' in a skating accident, when in reality Nathan loses a love, no one else but him knows of. Nathan's thoughts on the mood of the night, and his indirect statement referring to his tragic episode will reveal why the narrator considered it peculiar that Uncle Nathan had never married and who he was really in love with. Winnie's version of the skating party is accompanied with darkness so beautiful that Nox the goddess of night could be present; the night ski fluttered with moon light and cloud, the bon fire's demon like reflection quivered over the frozen water. Friends and family dance with one another oblivious to anything outside their magic ice-land. As the night advanced, people went up to the house where the party would continue; two young ladies went in opposite directions of everyone else and went through the thin ice. "Near the fire, people heard their [the two girls] cries for help.
A group of men skated out to rescue them." (Summers pg. 190-191)At the front of the line was Nathan Singleton, and coincidently the two girls being saved are his wife to be Eunice and her sister Delia, the party was being held for both Nathan and Eunice on the account of their up coming marriage; and now Nathan is linked with several other men from the party trying to save his fianc'e and her sister. Winnie tells the story of her brother in-laws encounter with death. "Your uncle Nathan risked his life, my mother said... There was no way on earth he could save both girls." (Summers pg.191)Tragically, Nathan did not save both girls, during the ordeal the moon was hiding behind the clouds and Nathan could not make out faces, he grabbed the first set of hands he could and the other pair went under without a trace. Winnie and everyone else share the feeling of, how ironic and sad; we all know Nathan wanted to save his love Eunice. "It troubled me that he had [not] had some way of knowing .
I would have expected love to be able to call out to love" (Summers pg.191)In Winnie's eyes, Nathan saves the wrong girl and regrets his poor judgment for the rest of his life that by him making that mistake, there is the irony; he loses his love by grabbing the wrong hands from the freezing lake. Uncle Nathan shows indirectly and directly that he is in love with Delia not Eunice; "I [Nathan] suppose I liked Eunice at first because she looked so much like Delia" (Summers pg. 196)Nathan was also telling the story of stone man hill to his niece, stone man hill was the symbol of his confusion between Eunice and Delia. "I wanted both... I thought when pa told me to get those rocks picked, that that was what I had to do. I think now I should have spoken up.
I know for years I felt guilty whenever I remembered that I had done just what was expected of me." (Summers pg.190)Nathan saying this shows this was the symbol between Eunice and Delia, he was expected to marry and fall in love, so he asked Eunice to marry him and he expected later to fall in love because Delia was taken and he was expected not to interfere. He felt that when he was rescuing he had a choice, he says; "But I could see their hands on the edge of the ice, the one pair of arms had white fur around them[Eunice]. And I reached for the other pair."(Summers pg 199)When Nathan says, "I think I should have spoken up" (summers pg.190)This is Nathan indirectly feel like he was expected to pull up his fianc'e, but he loved Delia, he wanted to be with her instead of Eunice so he picked Delia out of the water first because he did not want to feel guilty again for not speaking how he truly felt. Nathan loved Delia, he did not love Eunice or anyone else, he was pressured to do what everybody expected and was going along with marrying Eunice until his conscience stepped in, and stopped him. His opportune moment was when both were in the lake looking to be saved and he rescued Delia first putting her out of harms way first and than looking for Eunice who was taken under. The ironic thing is Delia did not love Nathan nor knew he loved her, and she had left Willow Bunch to Edmonton three days later.
Nathan is left without a wife and his true love in his mind the tragedy was not the death of Eunice, but the departure of Delia his true love. When every one else at Willow Bunch including Winnie saw the tragedy as a young man in love losing his love to an accidental death..
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