The Purple Swamp Hen Themes & Motifs

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The Inability to Empathize

Lively’s collection of stories is also an anthropological display of human beings who lack empathy because it is an evolutionary impossibility. This concept of humans being forever unable to truly empathize is strongly emphasized in the first short story of the collection. The purple swamp hen announces that he has seen both the humans in the ancient world of Pompeii and the humans who live today. There is a severe lack of progress mentioned in “The Purple Swamp Hen,” and humans are considered unchanging in their constant thirst for extravagance and entertainment, especially when it comes at the expense of another’s happiness. The swamp hen defines the human beings in his time as being from a “Benighted age” (9) and then follows this comment with a rather biting observation that humans have never advanced out of such an ignorant time. He mentions...

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This section contains 3,387 words
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Buy The Purple Swamp Hen Study Guide
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