The poet talks about the working of a fan in "Mystery of the Talking Fan". The title signifies that the speaker considers it a mystery as to how the fan works. Mystery in general is some event that one does not have an answer to. It may have a tone of suspense that gives one an eagerness to solve. The speaker seems to be a child as children have a very curious mind. They ponder about trivial things and events around them. The speaker considers the fan as a human being throughout the poem. The fan is personified as its sound is referred to as 'talking'.
Ceiling fan
The poem begins by introducing the talking fan. Although the readers may wonder as to how a fan, being a non-living object, can talk. The next line explains that the chatter was electrical. The speaker feels that the fan wanted to convey something. In a busy world, humans do not even have time to wait and listen to their fellow human beings. The speaker making an effort to understand the fan's emotions is a direct reference to this. The fan's sound is not just a slow conversation, rather it is a chatter. This shows that the fan makes a lot of noise without giving any break. It is also referred to as electrical, as the fan may cause the sound because of any fault in electrical lines or a few loose screws. The speaker cannot understand what the fan is trying to convey but hopes it is not something serious. If it was a matter of concern, the speaker feels that he would regret not having heard the fan.
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The speaker wonders what the fan is communicating
The speaker gets curious about the sound the fan makes. He is pretty sure that the fan also has feelings and that it is trying to express itself through the squeaky sound that it makes. As long as it made the noise, the speaker felt like he had company. He did not feel alone or bored as he was trying to decipher what the fan was saying, But the speaker sadly recollects that one fine day the chatter of the fan came to an end.
Motor oil
The speaker talks about how human beings eliminate the little mysteries and fun in the world. The fan kept squeaking in its own way. When the speaker thought of it as a beautiful way of communication, people around thought of it as a nuisance. They found a way to put an end to the fan trying to express itself. They were not able to view the situation from the same perspective as the speaker. They oiled the motor of the fan to reduce the noise. When a fan wears out due to constant use, it may create noise. Applying oil in the motor can ensure that the fan runs smoothly without any creaking. It is very similar to applying oil in doors to stop creaking. One has to remove the screws and blades before oiling the motor. Some fans have an oil hole and do not require the removal of blades. The speaker says that the mystery was spoiled because of the oiling. The fan no longer made any noise and the thrill that it gave to wonder about the fan's feeling was lost. The speaker says that the fan ran very smoothly as water. Water, when placed inside a bowl, moves in a very peaceful way without much noise until it is disturbed. Similarly, the fan has only slow movement but no noise.