Here the main personified character of the story, the Primus Stove, is portrayed. The stove was first invented in Stockholm by Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist and is the first pressurized-burner kerosene (paraffin) stove. The “Primus” stove became a general term for all similar stoves, even if they were not technically produced by the Primus company. The steam waves coming off the top portray the function of the item as a heater. The arms and facial expression show the Primus’ incredulity and feeling of inferiority compared to the large, traditional stove. This incredulity is also portrayed through the rhymed three synonymous words with which the text of the children’s book begins.
Here is the traditional house stove that was common in many households. It is juxtaposed to the Primus stove, seen to the right. The traditional stove seems old and dilapidated, making the Primus stove seem almost like a new upstart. Houses with these stoves would have the pipes running on the walls and ceilings of their home, which is shown with the stove having the long pipe running along the edges of the page. The pipes set the scene, probably in a house with such pipes, where the Primus stove exists.
The colors used in the page are scarce, being only brown, red, and black. There was a paper and ink shortage in the Soviet Union in the 1930s when this book was published, accounting for the few colors seen here. Nevertheless, the brown is still able to portray the old characteristics of the traditional stove.
Another point of juxtaposition is that the Primus stove has hands, while the old traditional stove does not. The hands of the Primus stove are where the pot or bowl would be placed to be heated up under the fire. Despite the fact that a traditional stove would not have such a place and would not have these hands anyway, the illustrator did personify the traditional stove with legs and eyes and a mouth, but no hands.
The text reads with a melancholic hyperbolic statement coming from the personified Primus that he would throw himself into a stove from sadness because of the fact that he is not a Ford, but a Primus. The choice of the self-harming hyperbole to involve a “stove” specifically is interesting. It gives another layer of depth to the character/object of the more traditional stove, since not only is it dialogue with the newer Primus stove, but is also what the Primus stove associates with the consequence of his own irrelevance/inferiority.
The Primus is very
And is displeased,
although – he -Primus- is first class.
- “Ah, I, from grief, to the stove I throw myself.
I dash myself,
I throw myself,
I topple myself,
Why am I only a Primus
And not a Ford?
HOW THE PRIMUS STOVE WANTED TO BECOME A FORD