"Growing up" - Joyce Cary.
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"Growing up" - Joyce Cary "Growing up" is a short story written by the author Joyce Cary. The story is very simple in outline. A man comes home from work and he plays with his daughters, who attack him. In the struggle, their pet bitch bites him. The girls tend to his wound, but in the end he goes out to his club seeking some male company. Beneath this simple narrative, lots of other things happen. Like several other authors, Joyce Cary chose a title which suggests one of the themes of the story - of growing up. This appears to refer mostly to the two sisters, Kate and Jenny. Later we see that it may also apply in a way to their father, Robert, who has been able to play with his daughters for years, but now sees a time when he won't be as attached to them as he was before. The author makes this idea quite clearly in the last sentence of the story "...no he thought, not quite a game - not for half a second, she's growing up - and so am I". Another theme in the story might be nature - the story looks at nature in human, animal and other terms.
When the girls attack him, Robert has no means to defend himself. Possibly, this might be the symbolism of how he's not able to control his daughters by force of personality. One thing which we cannot tell is if Robert is realistic or not. On one hand, we learn that he has "lost most of his illusions" and knows that children are "honest". But he also wants to be in his daughters' world. However, when he looks for some comfort he does not turn to his wife, but to male society - even though he sees it as boring. If the father doesn't seem to know his own daughters and the mother never actually seems to be there for them when needed, are they both good parents? The role reversal of parent and child at the end, with Jenny in a superior position, she is alarmed by the wound whereas Kate still laughs when she sees it. The girls in the story appear sometimes as individuals, but also as a pair who act together. We read that they adore each other "...and one always comes to the other's help". However, as the story is concentrated on Robert's thoughts, this might also be about what Robert is thinking.
Marriage appears to be permanent for men like Robert, so, the idea that he might leave home for good is not here presented as an option. Concluding, this story invites the reader to see it from different viewpoints. The way that Robert doesn't really seem to know his daughters very well, and that he's proud of how his garden grows wildly (symbolising the children growing wild) seems to me that Robert has a lack of real personality. He wants to be different from the other parents, but on the other hand, he seems to love his daughters very much, even though he's not such a good parent. The children grew wild, because no one actually seemed to take care of them when needed - they both spent their time playing around in the garden, under no adult supervision. It seems as though Robert feels quite scared of the fact that his daughters are growing up and that they don't need him as much as they probably needed before. Possibly he might be realising that he could have spent more time with them when they were younger, but now, it's too late as they are growing up. To me, the main message of this story is how children grow up and the parents still don't seem to realize it quite well - and when they do, they get scared of losing them. Ana Mouchet de Castro 11 JG 1,328 words
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