Diagnosing the Character: The Stone Boy

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Diagnosing the Character: The Stone Boy
“Acting is not that far from mental disease: An actor works on splitting his character into others. It is like a kind of schizophrenia,” as quoted by famous actor Vittorio Gassman. Two brothers went out to pick peas for their family. The youngest brother, Arnold, was carrying a loaded gun, which caught on a wired fence. This ended up killing his brother, Eugie. What must it be like to know you killed your sibling? Arnold, the young boy in the short story “Stone Boy,” most likely suffers from schizophrenia. With twelve different symptoms to help with a diagnosis, Arnold portrays six. Arnold’s three most visible symptoms include flat and expressionless gaze, social withdrawal, and the inability to cry.

A flat, lifeless face was the way Arnold looked from the moment of the gunshot to when he climbed into bed. Earlier that evening, Arnold sat silently listening to the conversations of visitors. His gaze was expressionless and locked on the floor. Uncle Andy says, “Not a tear in his eye.” Arnold didn’t and couldn’t comprehend what had happened that morning. At meals, his facial expression remained flat. Also, when Arnold talked, if at all, to his mother, he used short and flat statements. At the end of the story Arnold says, “I didn’t want nothing,” leading the reader to question his mental state and Arnold’s thoughts of his brother’s death.

Another common symptom of schizophrenia is social withdrawal. After Arnold told his parents of the death, he then went up to the loft in the barn. He said little, if anything, while at the courthouse with his father and Uncle. At his home, he rarely spoke to family members, or the few visitors that stopped by. “Arnold vowed he would never ask for anything again,” as stated in the narration of the “Stone Boy.” Arnold felt the pain and hate from his family. It’s easy to see why he wouldn’t talk. Knowing that he killed his brother, Arnold sensed deep disgrace and shame. By isolating...
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