Growing up will always be a greatly discussed topic for writers, regardless of genre, time period or their own personal experiences. Stories about growing up have been a part of fiction throughout history, with great authors such as J.M Barrie, CS Lewis and even Stephen King adding their own contributions. The pieces discussed in this essay have very different views on growing up and are told from very different perspectives. One from an elderly man wishing his granddaughter would stay young forever and one from a young boy trying to be much older then his respective years.
Flight, by Doris Lessing, is the story of an old man’s struggle to accept his granddaughters desire to get married and his own negative feelings on marriage. Lessing was raised in Zimbabwe in the 1930’s, by a mother determined to keep a strict Edwardian lifestyle, which may have been responsible for Lessing‘s opinions on marriage. Lessing is quoted saying "There is a whole generation of women and it was as if their lives came to a stop when they had children.” DorisLessing.org, 2012, [online]. The protagonist, the Grandfather, has similarities in his opinions to that of Lessing’s own. Which is that marriage is for when you are ready to give up on a life of your own.
Compass and Torch, by Elizabeth Baines, is the story of a camping trip between a young boy and his father. The pair have not spent time alone together since the father’s divorce from the boy’s mother, a year earlier. Their relationship has been damaged by their estrangement which they both are trying to repair, although they are not capable of it in just one night. The primary character of the story is the boy, with the majority of the story being told from his perspective.
Both of the authors use characterisation as a method to portray the theme of growing up. In Flight, the grandfather is upset at his youngest granddaughter’s longing to grow up and move out, it is shown in this quote from his internal monologue ‘now the house would be empty, gone all the young girls with their laughter and their squabbling and their teasing. He would be left, uncherished and alone.’ He feels abandoned by her, he is the only mentioned male family member and it assumed that he is the father figure to his grandchildren. His perspective is from a person left behind by the person growing up rather than the person who is growing up, which is less common in fiction. By the end of the story the grandfather has become more accepting of the change, which is illustrated by his release of the pigeons.
The boy in Compass and Torch is the focus of Baines’s story. He is eight years old and trying to act like a grown man. He is striving to convince his father and himself that he is a man and equal. ‘In which he and his father will be two men’ is just one example of his determination to be seen as a man. The attempt at equality is his way of adjusting to his changed relationship with his father. In contrast when he is at home with his mother he acts the most mature, especially with his stepfather Jim, ‘‘Yes’ said the boy, forcing himself to acknowledge Jim’s kindness and affirmation.’ is a example of the boy showing a surprising amount of maturity for an eight year old. Differing from Flight, the boy does not have a epiphany at the end of the story and it is assumed he will continue his attempts at maturity when he wakes.
The language style varies in the two pieces. In Compass and Torch, Baines switches the narrative between the view points of her characters, mostly from the perspective of the boy but with brief insights into what the father is thinking and occasionally the horses. In Flight, Lessing writes from the outlook of the Grandfather, with the entirety of the story filled with his actions and thoughts. This fits with the aims of the two pieces, Flight being about...