Essay: One Day When We Were Young

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One day when we were young

As the title of this short story alludes, the theme of One day when we were young (published in Thicker Than Water, 2001) is youth, growing up and going from childhood to adulthood – or at least becoming a teenager. The story takes place in 1955 probably on the countryside of Ireland, where the author Vincent Banville is from – this is also supported by the description of the nature and surroundings, with rocks, meadows and ruin castles, and the fact that a protestant girl "trailed an aura of mystery" , since most of the Irish population are Catholics. The story tells about the main character Mickey's first experience in dealing with puberty; an eventful period containing many often confusing feelings, especially revolving around the paradoxical relationship between boys and girls, curiosity about the other sex and puppy love.

Mickey is part of a triumvirate called the Three Mesquiteers, in addition to Mickey, the group also includes Cecil Baxter and Joy Malone, and each boy has a certain role in the group, ll. 8-11: "he [Mickey] invariably being the hero because he thought up the stories. Cecil Baxter, tall and pale as egg white, was his right-hand man, while Joey Malone, fat and roly-poly, was the bumbler of the group."

This is a good example of how people by virtue of their character, appearance or intelligence attain a natural position in a group. However, leadership is never a given, especially in periods where life and social rules are changing, and Mickey experiences this, when they start talking about girls and he doesn't have the answers that the others are looking to him for as the leader. They end up deciding to go back and spy on the girls, where they find the half-naked girls bathing in the sun. The reaction to this vision is very different for the three boys and shows a distinction in their emotional development. For Cecile and Joey the experience is merely a moment of boyish fun and they still consider girls as...
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