Lit Guides

Them Others | Summary and Analysis

Summary of Them Others by Stacy Aumonier

Themes of loss, connection, hope, suffering, struggle, and war are explored in Stacy Aumonier’s story “Them Others”. The story is told in the form of a frame narrative, and we meet the Ward family. World War I provides the historical backdrop. It depicts the suffering of ordinary people during the war, as well as the hardships faced by soldiers who were able to return home.

Them Others | Summary

The story opens with the narrator directly addressing the readers and the readers get to know that the story is going to be about a certain Mrs. Ward’s vision. The narrator acts as a transcriber who is telling the readers about these visions. The narrator then goes on to suggest the reader embark on a journey with him to the Dalston Junction station. While taking this journey the narrator also provides the name of people who live in different streets and the condition of their garden. A certain Miss Porson is a dressmaker ay number nine, Mrs. Allesoon is at number four and she curses her husband, Mr. And Mrs. Andrew MacFarlane at number fourteen. The O’Neals’ are irresponsible people whose garden is untidy and unkempt. Mrs. Abbott’s garden is a kind of playground. We then get to know about The Greens, George Green is in the grocery line and both his sons are earning good money and his daughter takes piano lessons. Old Mr. Bilge lives at number eight which is a curious place and then finally we reach number twelve where Mrs. Ward lives. We also get to know that number eleven is unoccupied.   

Mrs. Ward lives with her husband and daughter and her son Ernie is away on the battlefield. Her whole life revolves around her son and she is waiting for him to return. He sends her letters regularly and his letters are received with great enthusiasm in the household.

But one day the letter stops coming and doesn’t come for a very long time. Tom is almost certain that his son has died in the war but Mrs. Ward doesn’t lose hope. Meanwhile, we also get to know about a German family name Stellings who were the neighbors of the Wards. Mrs. Ward tells the narrator about them and describes some of their eating habits and manners as foreign and exotic. She also tells the narrator how Ernie and the younger sons of the Stelling had a friendly relationship. She fears whether the two of them are fighting against each other and wonders would they ever hurt each other. She is certain that Ernie would never hurt Hans. Hans returns and tells the family that he was captured but he escaped with the help of his friend Martin. The family receives him with great enthusiasm but Mrs. Ward is thinking about Mrs. Stelling and wonders the pain that this war has inflicted upon both of them.

Them Others | Analysis

Mrs. Ward is heartbroken because of his son Ernie’s absence from the house. Mrs. Ward’s life changes in such a way that she doesn’t know which way to go and it’s clear to the reader that she’s desperate for information on Ernie’s whereabouts. What’s also fascinating about the story is that Mrs. Ward can relate to Mrs. Stelling and the loss she must be experiencing as a result of her sons’ involvement in the war. Mrs. Ward also notices that she identifies with Mrs. Stelling as a mother rather than judging her as the enemy because she is German. It’s as if Mrs. Ward is connecting with Mrs. Stelling without even realizing it. Tom accepts Ernie’s death when the letters stop arriving, but Mrs. Ward never loses hope. She is sometimes down and out about things, but she is a strong woman.

The reader can also tell that Mrs. Ward is in pain. Ernie seems to have been a ray of sunshine in her life. Ernie’s mischievous element appears to appeal to her, and there’s no denying that Ernie is mischievous, especially after nearly giving his mother a heart attack upon his return home. Ernie appears to have taken everything in stride. The war’s effects on Ernie, on the other hand, are palpable. It’s difficult for him to tell his story. This is also significant because Ernie would have witnessed numerous atrocities during the war and, like many soldiers, could have been suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder and shell shock.  Ernie’s youth may also be significant, as Aumonier may be emphasizing the fact that many of the soldiers who fought in World War One were young boys by making Ernie’s character so young. 

Ernie’s family is overjoyed to see him. Mrs. Ward’s happiness is tinged with sadness as a result of her feelings or connection to Mrs. Stelling and her sons. Mrs. Ward is respectful of Mrs. Stelling, although she hasn’t seen her in years. Mrs. Ward pays a visit to Mr. Stelling’s grave, demonstrating her respect. She is aware that the war has torn families apart, even though she has been fortunate. Mrs. Stelling, she knows, may not have been. Aumonier is implying here that there are no true winners when it comes to war. Both sides suffer from the loss of loved ones, with families on both sides grieving. It was only by a stroke of luck that Ernie and Martin were able to flee. Ernie would still be in prison or, worse, he might have been killed if it hadn’t been for Martin.

Mrs. Ward, without a doubt, has struggled while Ernie was at war and while he was missing. Mrs. Ward’s life did not continue as it had for others. She was full of hope, but she often felt as if she couldn’t bear the pain she was experiencing. Mrs. Ward may not have seen the point of the war, as her only concern was Ernie’s safe return. She is similar to other mothers who had sons fighting in the war in many ways. Their main concern was not the war itself but ensuring that their sons returned home safely. The stress and anxiety felt by the mothers and other family members would be relieved only then knowing that their sons were safe and sound at home with them. Aumonier is implying that war affects not only sons or soldiers, but entire families as well. The effects of war frequently alter the lives of a mother, father, brother, or sister. Mrs. Ward is aware of how life-altering war is when she considers how much Ernie enjoyed Mrs. Stelling’s pudding.

Them Others | Themes

Stacy Aumonier’s story “Them Others” explores the themes of loss, connection, hope, suffering, struggle, and war. The theme of war appears in the story when the readers get to know that Mrs. Ward’s son Ernie is out on the battlefield during World War 1. The theme of suffering and loss is not just of the Ward and the Stelling family. These two families serve as an archetype for various such families whose sons are fighting in the war and this brings just destruction and loss to them. When Ernie’s letter stop coming, his father’s accepts after a while that his son may have been killed in the war. But Mrs. Ward, his mother never loses hope and she keeps on insisting that if not today, his son’s letter would come tomorrow. Her connection with the German Stelling family is peculiar and represents how human beings are capable of loving and respecting each other despite conflicts. Mrs. Ward doesn’t care about the fact that the Stelling family is German, all she feels is that they are going through the same struggles as her family and they used to be very good neighbors.

Them Others | Title of the Story

“Them Others” in the title refers to the German Stelling family who used to stay beside the Ward family. Mrs Ward refers to them as “them others”, but here this reference stands as a symbol for her connection with the Stelling family. Though referred to as others, Mrs. Ward can relate to Mrs. Stelling much more than she could relate to anyone around her. Their bond is not just because they were once neighbors but also because their loss is perhaps the same.

Them Others | Character Sketch

Mrs. Ward- Mrs. Ward is Ernie’s mother. She is a strong and loving mother. Her whole world revolves around her son Ernie who is away on the battlefield fighting for his country. She is always happy whenever her son’s letters come and even when the letters stop coming during his captivity she is hopeful that her son would return. She doesn’t care about why the war is happening and her only concern is that her son should return home safely. She doesn’t read newspapers because she feels that all the newspapers discuss these days is the war. She feels a connection with her previous neighbor Mrs. Stelling who is German but she doesn’t care about the fact that she is German. She feels a connection with Mrs. Stelling as she feels that both of them suffering because of the war.

Tom Ward- Tom Ward is Ernie’s father. He gets sick and is removed from his job at the gas works when he stops receiving letters from his son. He becomes very happy when his son returns.

Ernie Ward- Ernie is a young soldier who goes off to fight in the war. He is suffering from shell shock and has difficulty narrating all about his escape. It is not clear whether his supposed friend Martin is real or a figment of his imagination because he may be hallucinating because of the atrocities and struggles that he may have witnessed during the war. He attempts to surprise his mother when he comes back and is successful since he succeeds in stunning his family.

Lily Ward- Lily is Ernie’s sister who serves at a tea shop. She elopes with a young tobacconist.

Stelling Family- The Stelling family comprises of the deceased Mr. Stelling, Mrs. Frow Stelling, her elder son and her younger son Hans. The Stelling family is a German family from Bremen. They used to be Ward’s neighbors but after the death of Mr. Stelling, the family moved back to Bremen. Mrs. ward can relate to Mrs. Stelling since she feels that the loss of both mothers is equivalent because both of their sons are fighting in the war and all they have left with them is struggle and hope. 

Martin- Martin is the soldier who helped Ernie escape. The readers never meet this character and only get to hear Ernie’s version of the character. He helps Ernie escape and Ernie is all in praise of the fact that he did that just with the help of a compass and didn’t even need a map.

Them Others | About the Author

Stacy Aumonier was a writer from England. He wrote over 85 short stories, 6 novels, a volume of character studies, and a volume of 15 essays between 1913 and 1928. He was best known for his work as a short story writer. In 1922, Rebecca West described his writing as “the envy of all artists” because of his ability to blend reality and the imaginary. The Golden Windmill and Other Stories (1921), The Friends and Other Stories (1917), and Miss Bracegirdle and Other Stories (1923) are three of his short story collections. He also wrote six novels: Olga Bardel (1916), Three Bars Interval (1917), Just Outside (1917), The Querrils (1919), One After Another (1920), and Heartbeat (1922); a collection of 14 character studies called Odd Fish (1923); and a collection of 15 essays called Essays of Today and Yesterday (1926).



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker