Monday, March 29, 2010
"I wish I was as old as O." (the son, who is 6 1/2), N. said. I was surprised, because usually N. laments the idea of growing older. I wondered where this sentiment came from, and where it was leading. I said, "You'd like to be as old as O." Norris responded, "It's a castle with the drawbridge up, and I can't get in. O. and R. (O.'s even older best friend) are inside but I can't join in."
I was so moved by the aptness and poignancy of this metaphor. I wanted to tell the college students in my introductory literature classes who don't see the value of literature, who resist reading: this, this is why we read! Stories help us make sense of our lives and express that to others. Stories give us images, a metaphor like a castle that helps a boy think through the complexity of his adversarial relationship to someone who doesn't intend to be mean, but whose age gives him defensive strength, whose play has a sophistication that remains impenetrable to the young outsider's forays.