Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era

by Sterling North
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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 243

The story line of Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era stems from the basic idea that humans and nature should develop a mutual respect that would allow them to live together and to develop fulfilling bonds of love. North paints a believable picture in Rascal that avoids unreachable idealism, and the essential realism of his work is its primary merit. Living in a time of crisis in American life, young Sterling North, along with his constant friend Rascal, faces a personal crisis that accompanies his emergence into manhood. He confronts, with the easygoing encouragement of his father and the more disciplined shove of his sister, his need to grow when he is forced to cage his pet raccoon and to move his half-built canoe from the living room. Although minor incidents in comparison to the larger picture of life during World War I, these confrontations with responsibility shape North's response to his evolving maturity. Throughout these difficult times, he takes great comfort in his pet raccoon, whose tenacious and daring personality mirrors that of his master. Their ultimate separation highlights the significance of the time they have spent together and points to the greater theme of this work. Any reader of Rascal will understand the significance of the subtitle "A Memoir of a Better Era," which refers to both a better time in America and a better time of life, when longer summer nights and fresh breezes seem sufficient to engender hope.

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