In this short story, Bjørnson explores the notion of crime and punishment. He recounts a memory from fifty years before the trial and execution of a young man who killed his pregnant lover. Bjørnson remembers feeling great compassion for the pathetic youth, but, at the same time, recalls with objective clarity such details as the nervous urge to laugh during the execution and the twitching of the severed head. Bjørnson criticises a state apparatus of justice which ritually murders a youth for a crime committed in desperation, while turning a blind eye to crimes perpetrated by apparently upstanding members of the community.
The small community in Eidsfjord was shocked at the murder of a young woman: she had …
Rees, Kathryn Jane. "Nye Fortellinger: Et Stygt Barndomsminde". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 October 2016
[https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35834, accessed 15 December 2017.]