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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 613

Loss There is a lot of loss in ‘‘Jeffty Is Five’’ from the beginning to the end. The loss of childhood is developed in the history of Donald’s life. Having been sent away from his home and parents when he was five must have been a traumatic experience for Donald....

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Loss
There is a lot of loss in ‘‘Jeffty Is Five’’ from the beginning to the end. The loss of childhood is developed in the history of Donald’s life. Having been sent away from his home and parents when he was five must have been a traumatic experience for Donald. No matter how nice his aunt Patricia was, he did not live in his primary home. A child of five is well aware of the circumstances of his life even if he cannot comprehend the meaning behind the things that are imposed upon him. Having to deal with these issues at a young age robbed Donald of the innocence and freedom of living a childhood in an environment where he had room to dream about good things, and where magic and happiness are the dominant themes.

Jeffty experiences loss, also. The fact that he remains forever locked in his childhood means that he has lost the ability to grow up. Even though Donald, as the narrator, presents the grown up world and the modern world as something less than desirable, Jeffty will never fully realize thoughts beyond the childhood years. He will never go to school, never find love, never have children, and never fully realize his potential. And he will never be independent of his parents. Jeffty is imprisoned in his childhood and has lost his full freedom.

Jeffty’s parents experience loss because they have a child whom they will never be able to watch grow up. They will never see Jeffty as a teenager, going through all the challenges of adolescence. They will never discover what Jeffty could master as an adult. They will never see him leave home, have children, or grow old. They also have lost their lives, in a sense. Jeffty’s parents believe that Jeffty is a freak. They are embarrassed by his presence. They don’t go out with him. They have lost their ability to think of retirement away from Jeffty.

The passion for things of the past also represents a loss. The narrator believes that the quality of the past has been sacrificed in the name of progress and material wealth. This loss of quality is evident in many different ways. Old-fashioned, slow-cooked food has been sacrificed for the sake of saving time. Radio programs have been changed from fascinating storylines to talk-show hosts who want to rant and rave about sex. Cars that once were protected by heavy metal bumpers are now built so lightweight that a sneaker can cause a permanent dent.

Nostalgia
Items of the past run like long lists in this story. There are the foods, the toys, the clothes, the furniture, and the movies. All of them seem more beautiful, more exciting, and more tasteful from the point of the present, looking back at the past. Most of all there are the radio programs. These include Captain Midnight and his Code-O-Graph machine and Secret Decoder Badge. They also include comedy with Jack Benny and Amos ’n’ Andy; thrillers include The Shadow, and The Lone Ranger; news with Walter Winchell. In the narrator’s mind, these programs are irreplaceable. Nothing today comes near them.

Childhood
Childhood is described as a place that is capable of being a near-paradise, especially around the age of five. It is a place of magic, happiness, and freedom. In childhood there is no sense of responsibility, and kids talk about comic books and playing soldiers. It is a time of hope and colorful mysteries. ‘‘It is a time of delight, of wonder, of innocence.’’ Childhood is seen as a place to return to, or in Jeffty’s case, a place never to leave.

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