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The Skating Party

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Ashley Morris

on 26 May 2015

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Transcript of The Skating Party

Merna Summers is a Canadian short story writer. She has won numerous awards including the Marian Engle Award in 1989 and the Ohio State Award in 1968.
Born in Mannville, Alberta in 1933 she had a passion for writing since she was little. Merna's other famous works include "Calling Home" and "North of the Battle". She is a part of The Writer's Union and interested in novels, children's poetry, literary reviews and criticism.
Merna Summers

The guilt and secrets about Eunice’s death that Nathan had been keeping to himself are resolved when he speaks to his niece the day after Delia’s death. Nathan is shocked, saddened and feels he finally needs to tell someone. He retells the story from meeting the girls to Eunice’s death. He explains to Maida that he always loved Delia despite being engaged to Eunice and secretly he thinks she loved him back. Unfortunately the way life goes they would never be together so he
for Eunice because of how similar she was to Delia. Finally Nathan tells Maida that in fact he did know who he was saving and he chose Delia first. This answers the questions associated with Maidas comment "I would have expected love to be able to call out to love", because in a way this did happen, it just was not the love that everyone expected. This also relieves Uncle Nathan of the guilt that he has had to live with for his entire life.

By: Merna Summers
The Skating Party
Point Of View
In "The Skating Party" by Merna Summers, a young girl named Maida is curious about her uncle. She finds it strange that her uncle Nathan Singleton is not married. Maida's mother explains that when Nathan was young he had a beautiful fiancée named Eunice Lathem. Her mother recalls Nathan and Eunice's engagement party; a skating party. She explains that on the night of the celebration, Eunice and her sister Delia, went skating away from the party. They fell through the ice, Nathan raced to save them but didnt have time to save both. He managed to pull out Delia but Eunice perished. Days later, Delia moved away, never to return to the small town of Willow Brunch. Maida finds it hard to believe that her uncle Nathan, although it was dark and he couldn't see, wasn't drawn to the girl he loved. One day while Maida and her uncle are together at the house they notice Delia's death announcement in the newspaper. Her uncle, overcome, sits down and begins to tell Maida about how he met Delia.

He explains that when he first met Delia, he fell in love instantly. Unfortunately he discovered she was already married to a much older man. In trying to forget about Delia, Nathan met her sister and began to court her. Months later, Eunice and Nathan decided to get married and host a skating party in celebration. She organized most of the wedding and even helped sew white rabbit fur onto Eunice's mittens and jacket for skating.
On the night of the party, Nathan skated with Eunice and then with Delia. When he and Delia skated, they left the gathering by the fire and skated off into the darkness for a very long time. Upon return, Eunice had realized her sister and fiance were more than friends. The sisters skated off together to get away from the party and discuss this issue. Minutes later the two girls fell through the ice, Nathan rushed forward with the other men to aid them. In the dark he could see two pairs of hands holding on to the edge of the ice. Eunice's mittens had white rabbit fur sewed on to them. Nathan reached out and grabbed the other pair of hands and saved Delia's life.
"The Skating Party" by Merna Summers is narrated by the young Maida in first person. As the story starts Maida introduces us to her family, house and perception of life. She is talking as if we are sitting with her in the kitchen listening to her stories. As we read further into the story Maida retells stories that her Uncle Nathan told her years ago when she was young. She quotes him in first person as she combines his quotes and her opinions into tales of the stone man and Delia Sykes and Eunice Lathem.
Maida Singleton
Maida is the niece of Uncle Nathan, Maida is a very curious girl. She likes to be well informed on the world around her. Maida is mature for her age and has an open mind towards situations causing her to be understanding.
" I wanted to be told. I wanted to know how things really were and how people really acted "(pg. 188).

Uncle Nathan
Nathan is a wise man from past experiences. He also isn't honest to people for example, only Maida knew that Uncle Nathan could tell Delia and Eunice apart. He questions his decisions that he makes in life. "I wonder if I would have felt any better about it if I had got Eunice instead of Delia" (pg.199).

Delia Sykes
Delia was the real true love of Uncle Nathan. She was an outgoing, free spirited girl. Delia made sure to make her appearance known and she welcomed everyone.

Eunice Lathem
Eunice was the older sister to Delia. She was Uncle Nathans fiance before she had died. Eunice was much quieter than her sister she wasn't as outgoing she was collective and kept to her self most of the time.
"The Skating Party" takes place in Willow Bunch in the early 1900's. The story is set near and on a frozen lake but the story is narrated on Stone Man Hill, a place that used to be inhabited by Natives.
In the beginning of the story we are introduced to the tale of the stone man. As a kid Nathan was asked by his father to take down the stone man. This poses a tough decision for him. Nathan wanted to keep the stone man but he also wanted to obey his father and have a larger wheat crop. Nathan tells Maila
"I felt guilty whenever I remembered that I had done just what was expected of me."
This is symbolic of the decision Nathan is faced with later on in life and in the story Nathan. He loves Delia however she is married to Mr. Sykes. He also likes Eunice but Delia is his true love. Nathan gets engaged to Eunice but when faced the choice of who to save he does what was not expected and saves Delia. For the rest of his life he feels guilty. Nathan wonders
"... if I would have felt any better if I had saved Eunice?"
Thematic statement
We don't choose who we fall in love with and sometimes we can not be with that person. Also, we are faced with tough decisions that don't always end in our favor and can cause us to regret these choices later in life. In "The Skating Party", Uncle Nathan falls in love with Delia Lathem but to later find out she is married. He meets her sister Eunice and he is reminded of Delia. He believes that he can fall in love with Eunice as easily as he did with Delia. Eventually Nathan and Eunice got engaged but secretly he always loved Delia. When Delia and Eunice broke though the ice he had knowingly saved Delia and it taunted him for years.
Situational Irony
Text-to-world Connection
1) What is Situational Irony?
(Answer in you notes.)

2)After reading the following passage what would be an example of situational irony in "The Skating Party" Write a brief paragraph with your answer and explanation.
In the short story, Uncle Nathan wants to be with Delia but he cant because she is married. In life, we don't always get to be with who we want so sometimes we settle for anyone to get over that person which leaves us unhappy.

Also, in The Skating Party Uncle Nathan faced a difficult decision. His fiance, Eunice and sister Delia had fallen through the ice. Uncle Nathan could have only saved one and he saved Delia on purpose this proved his true love towards her. He constantly felt guilt about saving Delia instead of his fiance but he also felt guilty of loving Delia more than he loved Eunice and regretted doing so. Sometimes we need to make tough, major decisions like the people we let into our lives but if we don't follow our gut and heart we can regret these decisions we make.
"It was several minutes before we heard them calling for help:' Uncle Nathan said.
Uncle Nathan and I sat silent for some time then: he remembering, I pondering. "If only you could have seen how beautiful she was," he said at last, and I didn't know whether it was Eunice he was speaking of or Delia.
"I wonder if I would have felt any better about it if I'd got Eunice instead of Delia," he said. I realized that he'd been trying to make the judg ment for 30 years.
"You didn't have any choice,' I reminded him. "It was dark. You couldn't see their faces:"
"No," Uncle Nathan said. "I couldn't see their faces." The sound of old winters was in his voice, a sound of infinite sadness.
"But I could see their hands on the edge of the ice," he said. "The one pair of arms had white fur around them. "And I reached for the other pair."
When we find out that Nathan knowingly saved Delia first is an example of situational irony. We would have expected him to save Eunice first if he could but instead he saved Delia because she was his true love.
Class Activity
In the story Uncle Nathan has to save his fiance Eunice or her sister Delia from drowning. If you were put in the exact same situation, who would you save?

1. Mom or dad
2.Your sister or brother (or one of your siblings)
3. Best friend or Girlfriend/boyfriend
4. Ex friend, ex girlfriend/boyfriend or your enemy
This can help you understand how Uncle Nathan might of felt when he had to make a choice on who to save. Some decisions aren't easy to make and your choice may have you questioning if you made the right one.
Situational Irony: A circumstance in which the outcome is not what was expected.
The Conflict in The Skating Party can be sorted into two forms of conflict; internal conflict and external conflict.

External conflict for this story includes when the two sisters, Eunice and Delia fight over Nathan on the lake. Eunice expressed how she got jealous of Delia and the two skated off to sort out their problem, only to break through the ice on the lake and fall into the water.

The internal conflict is between Uncle Nathan and himself, where in the story he deals with making giant decisions and living with whatever consequences follow from those actions.

Nathan is the only one to choose who he grabs out of the water first, and he chooses Delia. He questions his judgement often because he could not save the two of them. This is the main form of conflict as he finds himself confiding in his niece about what had happened many years ago.

Summary Continued
Full transcript