David must pretend, not just for the remainder of the novel, but for the next forty years, to be ignorant of Frank’s crimes, and much of what is happening because his parents do not realise that he has overheard their discussions.
A loss of David’s innocence appears during his killing of a magpie. This “it can be done in a flick of the finger”. The particular significance about this plays an important part in his as he considers that he also is capable of committing such unfortunate yet immoral things. “Looking in the dead bird’s eye, I realised that these strange, unthought of connections - sex and death, lust and violence, desire and degradation - are there, there, deep in even a good heart’s chambers”.
In David journey has is forced to see life in a more truthful and more painful way. He learns many lessons, but none more disturbing than that which follows Frank’s suicide. “You see, I knew - I knew! - I knew! That Uncle Frank’s suicide had solved all of our problems … I felt something for my uncle in death that I hadn’t felt for him in life. It was gratitude, yes, but it was something more. It was very close to love”.
Maturity may come at any age, but it is an experience that is remembered their whole lives. As the story continues, David matures and grows in order to deal with the situation. Larry Watson suggests that traumatic experiences transform children into adults, and that disturbing experiences lead to...