Theme and message



Katherine Mansfield’s short story “Sixpence” explores the theme of guilt through Edward, the father, who regrets beating Dicky as a way of punishment for his behaviour. What makes Edward realize that what he did was wrong is hearing Dicky call him “daddy”. Knowing that Dicky is still a vulnerable child, Edward becomes emotional: “What he wanted to do was to kneel down by Dicky’s bed and cry and beg to be forgiven.” 

The theme is also hinted by the title of the short story. The symbol of the sixpence represents the father’s guilt and his way of dealing with it. Because he thinks it is not proper to verbally apologize, he gives Dicky a material thing in an attempt to ask for forgiveness. At the same time, the ending suggests that Edward’s guilt i...

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