The Birds | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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The Birds | Symbols


The Wireless Radio

Nat's wireless radio is a symbol of the Hocken family's connection to the outside world and civilization. Early in the story the wireless radio airs news bulletins explaining that the catastrophe is affecting all of Britain and providing advice for how people such as the Hockens should safeguard themselves from the bird attacks. The radio also airs musical programs, which help relax the family. At this point in the story the wireless reassures Nat and his family that the situation is not totally out of control.

Later in the story, Nat worries about the radio running out of power, but when the radio stops broadcasting news and goes silent, including foreign stations, Nat simply switches it off, realizing that there will be no more broadcasts. By the end of the story the wireless radio represents the collapse of civilization in Britain and perhaps the rest of the world.

Nat's Last Cigarette

At the end of "The Birds" Nat has only one cigarette left in his packet. This last cigarette represents human comforts and the luxuries of modern life—comforts that can't exist when human existence is reduced to a struggle for survival. Earlier, when Nat smokes his penultimate cigarette to cover up the stench of burnt birds, he reasons that he will save his last cigarette for another day. However, at the story's conclusion Nat decides to smoke the last cigarette as the birds begin tearing down the door, indicating Nat has resigned himself to death.

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