Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Thomas’s chief aim in writing this autobiographical sketch is to capture the happy hooliganism of his boyhood. His head filled with poetry, pranks, and dreams, Dylan discovers a kindred spirit through his bloody little fight with a strange boy. Although surrounded by straitlaced adults, the two boys create and maintain a wonderful world of their own, filled with immense hope and joyful, profane energy that threatens to crush everything in its path, including a maid’s privacy and a minister’s sense of propriety.

In all of Thomas’s poetry and fiction, he consistently praises the joys of primal energy, the life force that drives the blood, and the juices of the grass and flowers. He takes a special interest in children, following the tradition of the Romantic poets, because children best symbolize a natural oneness with the unchartered life force. Still free from the constraints of civilized society and its debilitating rituals, boys such as Dylan and Dan represent the hopes of the mature artist. If the child is father of the man, as William Wordsworth says, then the fifteen-year-old Dylan in this story is indeed the shaping influence of the mature poet, Dylan Thomas, the irreverent singer of the sacredness of life.