The Sparrows in Madison Square (Henry)

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The Sparrows in Madison Square
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A struggling writer tried to sell a story about sparrows in Madison Square but failed, leading him to befriend a homeless man and share a meal of roasted sparrows.

A young man in financial difficulty moved to New York City to pursue a career in literature. He had heard that the key to success was to write an article about the sparrows in Madison Square and sell it to the Sun newspaper for $15. Upon arriving in the city, he found lodging and immediately began observing the sparrows in the park. Inspired by their cheerful chirping and the greenery around him, he wrote an article and submitted it to the Sun.

The Narrator — young, aspiring writer from the countryside; hopeful, naive, and frustrated.

The brave, piercing notes of those cheerful small birds formed a keynote to a wonderful, light, fanciful song of hope and joy and altruism.

The next day, he eagerly searched the newspaper for his article but found nothing. Later, he received his manuscript back in the mail with a note of thanks from the Sun. Disappointed and angry, he blamed the sparrows for his failure and began to hate them.

I never saw birds so persistently noisy, impudent, and disagreeable in all my life.

One day, while sitting in the park, a disheveled man approached him and asked for money for a cup of coffee. The young man gave him three cents and shared his frustration with the sparrows.

The Homeless Man — whiskered, unkempt, and resourceful; former aspiring writer.

In response, the disheveled man caught two of the birds and invited the young man to join him in cooking and eating them.

As they roasted the sparrows over a fire, the disheveled man revealed that he had also come to New York 15 years prior to work in journalism. He had written an article about the sparrows in Madison Square as well but had fallen asleep on a park bench and had his money stolen. The young man realized that the path to success in the city was not as simple as he had once believed.