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As children grow up, they increasingly become aware of their surrounding and start exploring and relating with it. A child’s development is significantly influenced by factors in his environment, and the experiences he has. Children about the age of five are generally creative and enthusiastic, with imaginative ideas of how to handle various tasks. They also ask more analytic questions. Children also become more social, as they learn new things and participate in activities that involve other children. The narrator plays a very important role in the story. The narrator can be the main character, or important character, a minor one or someone, not even in the story. The character and attitude of the narrator sets the tone for the story. The narrator feelings will influence the version of the story which may or may not be true. For example, a child narrator may relate to events that he does not understand. He may not know all the facts and fail to understand what is going on. A narrator can exaggerate, leave things out or lie as he tells the story.
The story “Beamish Boy” is about RayJay Walsh, a young boy on a vacation with his family. He is the narrator and offers a child’s view of a vacation with his family. It revolves around him and his perception of the surroundings, his family members and his relationship with them. He describes in vivid details the areas where they are vacationing and the interaction of his family members. He asks numerous questions, thinks of thousand different things and considers numerous situations and scenarios. RayJay interprets the world around him as he sees it. His limited understanding of what is happening in reality forces him to state everything as he sees it. He looks at things differently, like a camera, and presents them at a different angle, a picture, which even though is innocent, appears warped to the viewer. Though the child does not understand what is going on, the readers are likely to understand the occurrences. For example, he does not understand that his father has become drunk after drinking beer. He knows that the grass is slippery when wet. However, he does not understand why his father falls against the fence when grass is not wet. This is further emphasized when he says,” Dad stands up as if the wind was even harder than it is. The wind rocks him back and forth……” (Mills 9). Also, he does not understand that his parents are not happy together. Megan’s eyes “were jelly purple when she left but, not purple like Ma’s eye the time she was racoonish” (4). RayJay’s mother is on the doorway in her sunny dress and looking pretty, yet his father does not bother to acknowledge this. “He does not look because he never does and she does not either anymore” (5). The reader is able to see that RayLay’s father is a drunkard, his family is unhappy and dysfunctional.
As a narrator, RayJay has several weaknesses in the story which have surfaced in the writing style of RayJay Walsh. The story lacks a proper structure. It takes various twists and turns and changes direction too often for the reader to follow through and clearly understand the story. There is no clear transition between occurrences, but breaks in between events. As the reader is trying to come to grip with such ways of understanding the meaning of the narration, RayJay skips the beat for a few seconds and starts to take the reader on a different tone altogether, which has nothing to do with the narration which was going on all this while. At one time, RayJay talks about his kite, but then starts to flow on a different line regarding something totally different. It is only later on that the issue of the kite is revisited. It is until one has read the whole story that you are able fill the gaps and tell clearly what RayJay is talking about. A Good narrator should be able to capture thoughts and imagination of the reader as soon and as long as possible. The reader could get bored if there is too much delay. Though RayJay was able to capture the imagination of the reader later in the story, he lacks the suspense and the charm of a polished outcome, once the plot is revealed. RayJay simply states what he sees and he sees it literally. However, the reader is left with a multitude of unanswered questions and is left to draw his own conclusions. Where does Seamus disappear to during intervals of the story? What is the underlying current between his father, mother, and brother?
RayJay poorly delivers the story. He lacks logical order and coherence. In addition, the story does not provide background information at first. The exposition in a story, is very important as it gives the reader insight into the characters' personalities and the motivations behind their actions based on past events. The story becomes hard to understand as RayJay though knowing what happened before the story started, does not bother to tell the reader. RayJay’s emotions and senses play a significant role in his tender age in discovering what the world has to offer. Although his direct observations help him to evaluate things and family matters as he experiences them, his ability to express them is shadowed by his lack of language fluency, despite his translucent voice.
RayJay’s narrative consists of short simple sentences sprinkled with multiple adjectives. His vocabulary is not developed and the language used is simple and even crudely innocent at times. Though this could be confusing to the reader in understanding what the narrator intends to say, through his imaginations and comparisons of what he sees with what he knows, the reader is able to create a highly realistic picture of the scenarios described in the story. This can be inferred from the beginning of the story:
“My kite is black and plastic spread out flat and black against the grass and underneath the wind is snaky. Wind is a snake. Water is a snake and grass is a snake and snake is wind and water but snake is not grass” (Mills 1).
Upon reading this the reader can picture the kite trailing behind the little boy flying along the grass.
The narrator repeats similar ideas and sentences reinforcing the scene in the reader's mind. As a child, with a mind that is easily distracted, oscillating from one idea to another and back, gives a sense of a whirlwind of ideas, as is with any five year old making the story realistic. Although he is a young boy absorbed with his kite, his thoughts move from his kite to the ocean and back to his kite. “The ocean is not far. I could hear it all the time on Sunday. Now I have to listen hard because I heard it Monday”. The kite is black and mine. I got it stored all day” (2).
The reader does not have to use his or her imagination as the narrator creates a clear picture of the events occurring. RayJay simply states what he sees comparing it to what he knows leaving the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. RayLay has also uses irony which is an important tool in the narration to tell his story. He employs the use of comparison and highly descriptive words to portray an activity or emotion. “My kite has sticky paper eyes and is a bat………my arms are as skinny as worms” (3). My father’s face is Seamus’s, but my face is not Seamus’s and Meagan‘s face is nobody’s.
Absence of a comprehensive flow of thoughts makes it difficult for the reader to get a complete sense of the surroundings of the story. However, the same is used to clasp the reader and one finds himself understanding, associating and empathizing with RayJay. According to RayJay, both the sun and the moon are round, but the sun, unlike the moon, has no face and burns one in the eye (11). This explains why when the sun is around, you cannot look at his smile as he will fry your eyes like egg (6).
RayJay’s unique perspective on life forces the reader to interpret the ordinary in new and more interesting manner. He innocently translates the world around him to give meaning according to his understanding. He compares everything that hisses with a snake. “Wind is a snake. Water is a snake and grass s a snake and a snake is wind and water bur a snake is not grass” (1). According to RayLay, the sun has no face, but, the moon has one. The narrator captures the reader, touches him, forcing him to revive his own childhood, or that which he sees around his own interaction with children. The reader is transported to his childhood, interacting with his own siblings and is captivated by the story. At the end of the story, RayJay starts to realize that there is a conflict among the family members.
“He wonders where his brother disappears to all the time. “I see him. I wave because he sees me, too, but then he doesn’t see me. He doesn’t look at me .he doesn’t wave”. (13)
The story has a tragic undertone masked behind the narrator's childlike innocence. RayLay cries. He has no explanation for crying but then he realizes somehow there is no reason to cry. “Then I cried because I wanted one…..Then I was crying more but not the kite I don’t know what. I tried to stop but I cried tears and hiccups…….” (2).
“I watch. A fly buzzes all around the box then goes in through the wire and crackle zap then white light and it is dead. The tray beneath is full of dead ones, more than fourteen, and there is some lying on the sidewalk. I think I should feel sad or maybe bad for hating them because I do…..it must be awful to be stuck to stuck something’ until you die” (14).
Although Mills has a unique style of writing, the story does not flow in a sequence as is expected of a story, written by a writer trying to depict one’s childhood. Mill has written the easy in from the tone of a child. There are conflicting meanings in the narration. Indeed, RayJay has been very eloquent in the way he depicts his emotions in the story, following a random, strange path, yet being able to come back to the point just at the right time.
The style of the story is strange to the extent that the reader would find it difficult to comprehend from the beginning. However, ideas are generated immensely throughout the narration and can easily take the reader on a beautiful journey, where it enables the reader to see things from a very different perspective. Mills takes the role of someone’s childhood extremely well and is able to demonstrate the wits and guts of a young boy. He has been tremendously creative making the story understood from a young boy’s point of view and not a mature individual.
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