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In this story, Myop is 10 years old, which is an age right on the cusp of adulthood, but still firmly standing in the world of childhood. She is carefree, life is good, she feels safe, protected and confident in the world around her. As she forges into the forest, that confidence shows in Walker's statement that she needed to "make her own path." Myop feels in control of her destiny; she is self-assured and excited to be on her own. That is important because it is this day that she will realize just how dangerous being on her own can be. For her, making her own path, and a spirit of independence and confidence were potentially dangerous, and this is a valuable lesson that she will learn by the end of the day.
Since Myop was still a child, but very close to the age where people start to grow up, she was anxious to assert her independence and make her own way in the world. After the realization that someone was hanged in the forest near her house, however, it became pretty evident that she was making a path into a world that she knew very little about, and that world was not a kind one. It is a world where people are murdered just for the color of their skins, a world where she was not safe. Before, she assumed she knew everything; she was safe in her life and the world she lived in. But, if you are going to make your own path and forge into the real world as Myop did, there will be surprises to come, sometimes horriblly unpleasant surprises. Walker plungers her right into that world, seeming to say that there is no escaping it, and that Myop had better learn about it now. There is no carefree path through the world.
I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!
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