The idea behind the short story genre is to convey a message or point to the reader economizing on words. Unlike the novel, every part of the short story is important. Paragraphs and even the title mean much more to the story. In the short story the title is likely to be a way that the author emphasizes a message to the reader and points her in a direction of thinking. The title can also symbolize or capture a distinct purpose. The story "Birds with No Feet" by Andrea Barrett, is a story of a hunter’s dream to become famous and live well off of his dream of hunting. But his dreams are repeatedly smashed as a result of fire, sickness, or being beaten to his goal by another man. In this story, I discussed with my mother many significant points and interesting events in the story. I felt, along with my mother, that I wished for this young hunter named Alec to become the hunter he dreamed of being. But, he had no such luck. The overall theme my mother and I came upon on was one that lies in the title itself, “Birds with No Feet.”
The young hunter Alec and his older counterpart Wallace both strive to kill these animals for science. In the beginning, both men set off for the Amazon to enhance the educated world of the West by bringing back amazing specimens to museums. They sell them to pay their way for another trip. But as we read along in the book we find that Wallace and Alec are not the same. Wallace set off for the Amazon in order to discover new creatures and advance his knowledge of the animals of the Amazon. From his work he develops new hypothesizes. Unlike Wallace, Alec ventures to the Amazon for his love of hunting and because of his desire to get rich and famous. Wallace says he is working for the advancement of science. Alec claims this as well. But as the short story develops we can watch Alec search the globe for some creature that he can become famous from.
Alec is having poor luck in his life. Wallace is doing quite well. Alec decides he must find something that Wallace has not found, in attempts to outdo Wallace. Alec thinks back to his days at the museum from when he was young. He remembers the bird without any feet. So he decides if he can find one of these he will get rich and become famous. So Alec sets out. He reaches the land where birds have no feet, but to his horror, this bird species does have feet! He discovers then that educated, “superior;” western world of science had put a bird in a museum and mislabeled it. Not only had they mislabeled it but also they even made up a story about how it takes flight without its feet and how it never lands in its whole lifetime. This not only sinks Alec’s hopes, but also makes the western world of science seem somewhat nonsensical. All these world-renowned, college-graduated, professors did not consider that the native people just cut off the feet of these birds to make them easier to skin Through this passage, the native people seem more down-to-earth with a sensible intelligence, and the “modern” or “civilized” people of the western world of science seem witless, too caught up in their scientific pursuits to think practically. This part of the story also points out the lack of attention from the scientists towards the natural environment of the jungle, and the lives of their “specimens” within it.
An overall theme in this book is one of a bird with no feet. From the bird with no feet incident, we learn to be attentive to the environment.
In “Birds with No Feet,” Alec does not kill for the advancement of science. He kills for his own reasons such as wealth, enjoyment, and fame. We see a difference between Wallace’s reactions and Alec’s reactions when both men’s ships burn, resulting in the loss of live and dead animals. Wallace says in a letter, “That each specimen lost represents a double death. Our hunting always had a point; each bird we shot