Kirsten C. O’Quinn
Great Books Seminar
Dr. Joel Worden
April 14, 2015
A Place of Our Own
“Children, who control little else in their lives,
have always been drawn to the concept of a place of their own where they can be lords and ladies of their own kingdom” (Misheff 131).
While growing up in Delaware in the late 1970s and early 80s, my friends and I had a special place that we escaped to whenever we had a chance. Down the hill behind our house was a row of forsythia bushes. They were mature bushes with long, sturdy branches that arched upwards before cascading back down, touching the green grass. Each spring these bushes bloomed with vibrant yellow flowers, eventually dropping off and sprouting lush green leaves. Because the bushes had been there forever, they were large and dense, and because they were at the bottom of the hill in our back yard, serving as a barrier to the annoying kids on the other side, nobody paid them much attention. Well, nobody except my friends and me. We discovered them one day when we were about eight or nine. Eric, Misty and I crawled under the bushes and realized that they made the perfect fort and, because the bushes were so close together, we were able to have plenty of room to hang out by ourselves. We cleaned out all of the old underbrush and swept the dirt “floors” so that we would have a place to sit. I can’t remember exactly what we did under there, though I do have a recollection of stealing cigarettes from our parents, as well as matches to build a fire. While the adults in the neighborhood had a saying about these forsythia bushes, “First they get yellow. Then they get green. Then they get in the way,” these were magical places for us to flee from the teasing and bullying of the older kids in the neighborhood, enabling a total escape from our parents and anything that they thought that we “had” to do, as well as taking control over something that was ours alone, something that no adult could touch or change. There in the back yard, under the forsythia bushes, we spent our springs and summers for several years, living some of the best days of our childhood.
Children today still continue to seek out a need for their own secret or special place, whether it is under the table, in a corner of the basement or outside in a specific secluded spot known only to themselves or their close friends. “Between the ages of six and twelve [that] what girls and boys want most of all is to ‘make a world in which to find a place to discover a self’” (Cobb in Sturm 84). David Sobel found this to be consistent amongst two groups of children whom he conducted a study with in Devon, England and Carriacou, Grenada. Even though the two groups were very different regionally and economically, there were clear similarities.
The height of interest in these places occurred during the eight- to eleven-year age span (33). There appears to be consistency in the developmental tendency toward constructed play places (34). Children expressed a need for privacy independence, and self-sufficiency. Essential is the separateness from the world of parents and family (47).
“The Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson is the story of two fifth graders, Jesse and Leslie, who form a special bond because of their differences. Both are outsiders at school due to their distinctive hobbies, traits and family dynamics. By building their secret kingdom, “Terabithia,” the two of them construct a fortress that comes to life only for them. Here they fight imaginary battles against their enemies, allowing them to survive their day-to-day trials and tribulations in the real world. “Between the two of them they owned the world and no enemy, Gary Fulcher, Wanda Kay Moore, Janice Avery, Jess’s own fears and insufficiencies, not any of the foes Leslie imagined attacking Terabithia, could ever really defeat them” (Paterson 40). English Literature Professor Trudelle Thomas believes that “the idea of...
Cited: Cobb, Edith. The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood. New York: Columbia UP, 1977. Print.
Erikson, Erik H. "Childhood and Society Paperback – September 17, 1993." Childhood and Society: Erik H. Erikson: 9780393310689: Amazon.com: Books. W. W. Norton & Company, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.
Goodkind, Terry. "A Quote by Terry Goodkind." Terry Goodkind. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
Hidayatullah, Syarif. A Main Characters Analysis on Anxiety and Defense Mechanisms in Bridge to Terabithia Novel. Thesis. State Islamic University, 2010. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Hourihan, Margery. Deconstructing the Hero: Literary Theory and Children 's Literature. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.
McLeod, Saul. "Erik Erikson | Psychosocial Stages | Simply Psychology." Erik Erikson | Psychosocial Stages. Simply Psychology, 2008. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. .
Paterson, Katherine. The Bridge to Terabithia. New York: Avon, 1977. Print.
Sobel, David. Children 's Special Places: Exploring the Role of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses in Middle Childhood. Tucson, AZ: Zephyr, 1993. Print.
Winter-Hebert, Lana. "10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day." Lifehack RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. .
Please join StudyMode to read the full document