Peter Meinke’s “The Cranes” is a story about love; the book provides a unique approach to the theme of care and affection through a fictional account about an elderly couple who are deeply in love. It is a short yet touching story on the human condition viewed from the context of the endurance of love and the uncertainty of life. As the title of the book suggests, the main characters in the story are an elderly couple who are called “the Cranes”. The story is unique because the author uses symbolism and foreshadowing to engage the reader, resulting in a conclusion that is ultimately sad and gloomy.
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The plot of the story begins with the couple, the Cranes, who have driven themselves in their car to the marshes, near a gulf, a rather lonely place. While sitting in the car and watching as life passes by, they begin to reminisce about their life and all that they have grown through. They talk about their age, their children, their dwindling abilities, and a host of other issues. As they are watching animals at the gulf, they notice some cranes and they start drawing parallels between their lives and the lives of the cranes. Similarly, the passing cranes remind them of their love, courtship, and parenting. The lady quips that the older cranes make the younger cranes look like clowns and the man laughs. Additionally, the lady also expresses her concerns about their children, but the man assures her that they did a good job and that their children would grow into responsible adults as they had proven so far.
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The author uses the cranes as a symbolism for the old love that the elderly couple has because the cranes mate for life and spend many years together. Therefore, “the Cranes” the family and the cranes the birds share the characteristics, which are so rare in the modern world – loving and unconditionally caring for each other, making sacrifice, and believe in each other. In a sudden twist, the man brings out an towel-wrapped object and places it between them. The lady closes her eyes in preparation for what is to come next as the two cranes fly away in fear of what has happened.