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Chanticleer and his hens devour snails

Hawthorne’s Humor Through Quotes: #4
By: Rae Padilla Francoeur

One running joke providing comic relief in “The House of the Seven Gables” involves some chickens descended from an elite line, “an immemorial heirloom” belonging to the Pyncheons, owners of The Gables. These comic hens were great fun to watch as they freely roamed the gardens. A certain small species of snail, “a tidbit” to the palates of these birds, were “greatly esteemed” by the hens. “…they might be seen tasting, turning up their heads, and smacking their bills, with precisely the air of wine-bibbers round a probationary cask.”

Hawthorne goes on to write: “All hens are well worth studying for the piquancy and rich variety of their manners.” Is this just fiction or did he, in fact, enjoy observing chickens?

Date: July 29, 2022

Author: Hannah Kogut


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