Hampl’s mother bought the teacup in 1939; it was made in Czechoslovakia; she was married in the same year. It was the year when the Second World War started. Czechoslovakia was taken over and destroyed by the armies of Adolph Hitler. After a lapse of time, her mom gave the teacup to Hampl as a souvenir. Hampl takes it in a metonymical way as a page of history book, and makes many associations, and exploration. It shows that a seemingly insignificant object like a teacup can be a great source of information for artistic creativity.
The major themes of the essay are the relationship between a mother and her daughter; their opinion on marriage, family life and career development and connection between the past and the present. These themes are represented by this essay.
The essay was written in the background of the Second World War. The whole world was burning in the fire of the War. Many things were destroyed; women lost their virginity; countries were destroyed, ruined and defeated and bombs fell on women, children and soldiers. Thus the year 1939 was the year of falling.
Hampl visits her mother to get information about various aspects of the past. She asks her mother to reveal many facts of past life in Czechoslovakia. The mother and the author disagree about many things. It is because of generation gap. For the author work is the important thing in life. But her mother thinks family is more important and marriage the most important of all women tasks. So she wants the writer to get married and continue the flow life. But the writer thinks that marriage is a tragedy, a falling that utterly ruins her life as she loses her virginity. She only wants to learn history and past from her mother, but the latter thinks it is the future that matters. Here we see the daughter to have lost faith in family, old conventions and traditions.
The teacup connects the mother, daughter, the past and present because it was made in 1939 in Czechoslovakia, and because the mother has given it to her daughter. The author would like her mother to give her daughter other information about the past, but her mother will not talk about the past. This means the only way the writer can find out about her mother is by looking at the teacup. She ends her essay with a suggestion that here are many other articles like the teacup which should be read carefully.
# Explain that “The teacup is a detail, a small uncharted finger from the mid-century bonfire.”
The mid-century bonfire is referred to the Second World War that started in Europe in 1939 and continued till 1945. The teacup was made in Czechoslovakia. Many things were destroyed fire of war that year. Human bodies fell dead in the streets. Houses of art and literature, science and technology too were dismantled systematically. Whole Europe was smeared with the blood of millions of innocent people. The cup, however, survived. It was not burnt and thus remained uncharted. It was a witness of the soul-searing devastation of lives and property. We get detail information of the fall of Europe in general and the fall of Czechoslovakia in particular if we make the semiotic interpretation of the statement.