The Thing in the Forest

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When I first read The Thing in the Forest, I was immediately taken in. I wondered what the thing could be. Was she going to talk about the two little girls, Penny and Primrose, witnessing the making of weapons, the abused lives of other orphans, or even the murders of German prisoners? The exposition, especially the time when World War II was going on, had led me to expect hostility. And my expectations turned out to be right, but in a different form. “The thing” was a hideous, worm-like creature, described in detail in words but still difficult to picture. I think this was done by the author on purpose – to motivate us to use our imagination. Every person could have his or her own idea of what “the thing” looked like, but one issue was certain – it was a very unattractive thing, and would continue to haunt the two girls and the readers as the story went on.

The structure was wholly based on “the thing”, even when the story followed each in turn as they mature into women, make different livings, and then grow old. It wasn’t yet mentioned, but such an encounter must have had an everlasting effect on the girls. Keeping us in suspense of what the effect could be for some time, the turning point came when the powerful experience finally brought the two of them back together. Again I was led to expect. What would happen when they returned to the forest? I was a little disappointed that they did not go back together. Surely they needed each other’s presence as to have the courage? But this time my expectation was wrong. The fear was too great for them to bear, and the presence of the other would only be the proof that they did see the thing in the forest.

The possible unfortunate ending of the younger girl who followed them was also brought up. This was an example of a rearrangement to chronological order. The missing of Alys could have been mentioned when the girls returned from the forest. Yet the author chose to postpone it. Readers quietly learned...
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