In The Ice Palace this immensely talented Norwegian writer investigated the shade of darkness that lies at the reaches of the fresh and restless mind of a child; this time the child is Mattis, a grown man in his late thirties, hopelessly ""simple"" to the village, a sad and wearying care to his lonely older sister Hege. The woodcock flying over the house was a sign to Mattis, a sign that meant some special happiness, even though Hege's demands that he find work occasionally bothered him. The claw prints of the bird, the dreams of a welcoming girl were also surely signs. But the bird is killed, its eyes shut and no one seems to understand. A wonderful idyllic afternoon with two kind visiting girls, whom he then proudly rows to the shore, insinuates a grown-up or at least a manly image. However, the old ineptitude returns, and Mattis experiences a helpless anguish as Hege finds a lover--kind and powerful but the lover then separates him from Hege's patience and love. Childlike, hazily aware of the reality of death and loss in signs and portents, Mattis clumsily attempts to thwart fate, drowns with the cry of a woodcock off course. Vesaas has a patient way with the pitiful small agonies of lost creatures among the raw but deceptive strength of rural people. Haunting tragedy in a Bergman landscape.