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Holding It Together

I’ve noticed a trend in the literature we’ve been evaluating in this class.

Children hold it together pretty damn well.

In fact, I believe it could be argued that they do better at remaining functional in the face of disaster than many of the adults in their lives and in these stories.

Sure, Oskar’s quest into NYC to find a singular mystery lock (and mystery person) could be seen as unstable and dangerous. But the kid has a mission; he’s out to solve a problem, to seek closure.  His mother, meanwhile, seems to have closed down, and his grandmother is quite apparently anxious over Oskar’s well being and in mourning for her son.

Oskar manages to invent, to act, and to continue joking, all whilst keeping a terrible, heavy secret.

I’m put in mind of the children, particularly Justin, in Falling Man. These kids responded with a similar sense of mission and purpose, which seems to mirror (on all of these levels and in both of these novels) the reaction of America post-9/11.  They are all — the children and the country — in search of something as a means of saving all or part of themselves.

One Response to “Holding It Together”

  1. Marta says:

    This is a great point. It’s odd to consider the extent to which children are vulnerable to the same stressors that adults are. Not to sound like the judge who gave me my driver’s license last semester, but it is true that some crucial brain areas like the prefrontal cortex continue to develop well into one’s twenties. There’s no doubt that those cognitive differences affect how children interpret information, or even encode it in the first place, but I wonder if there’s a benefit to that…like, I wonder if being less able to understand something (or predisposed to understand it differently) could make it more possible to cope with it. Sort of funny to think about when you contrast it with this societal view of children as weak and/or impressionable.