Theme and message

The main theme explored in “Diary of an Interesting Year” by Helen Simpson is the theme of survival. The narrator is at the centre of this theme and, through her, the theme of survival gains new dimensions.

The key message of the short story is the potentially devastating consequences of global warming. In the story, the government and capitalist systems have left it too late to do anything and a cataclysmic climate shift has completely changed life on Earth, leaving people starving and desperate.


The theme of survival can be interpreted and analysed in several ways. One example is society’s struggles for survival after the global warming. As the narrator exemplifies, people are forced to leave their homes and move to different cities to survive due to a cataclysmic change in the Earth’s climate:

Glad we don’t live in London. The Hatchwells have got cousins staying with them—they trekked up from Peckham (three days). Went round this afternoon and the cousins were saying the thing that finally drove them out was the sewage system—when the drains backed up, it overflowed everywhere. 

Just like their friends’ cousins, the narrator and her husband also have to leave their home and travel to a safer place, which they hope is represented by Russia. Note that at the moment Russia is a country with poor farmland, but in the fictional world of the short story it has become a “land of milk and honey”.

Another aspect regarding society’s struggle for survival is the way in which every important item is either rationed or shared with others. The narrator talks about food rationing, a car-sh...

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