Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Written from the first-person point of view, this sketch embodies the boisterous and self-assured tone of its fifteen-year-old narrator. Thomas not only captures the headstrong vitality of the boys through his narrator but also manages to maintain an ironic perspective on the boys’ untested dreams. Dylan’s admiration for Dan’s amazing accomplishment of having written seven historical novels before he was twelve reveals not only a youthful mutual admiration society but also a monumental absurdity.

By presenting the adult world through the eyes of a boy, Thomas renders their conversations and attempts to communicate with the youngsters as comic failures. The adults and the boys live in two separate worlds. The adults restrain and repress the vitality of youth, and whenever the boys are alone together, Thomas’s language becomes more poetic, unrestrained, and self-indulgent, as if to say here are two boys, artistic prodigies turning their dreams into words and music that the adults cannot fathom or appreciate. The gray Mrs. Bevan, for example, carries in the color of her skin the death of vitality. She is interesting to the boys only insofar as she might be manipulated into a glorious fiction, a madwoman leaping from a tall window. That is excitement, and that is what life and poetry are all about.