Respond to Reality

The protagonists in both “Indian Camp” and “Araby” are faced with situations that provide them with a sense of reality. However, their responses to their experiences differ. As the reader, we tend to relate to the character based on our own forestructure and how we deal with similar situations. Do we minimize the importance of the situation and take little lesson from it? Do we emphasize it and overreact to the lesson learned?

In “Indian Camp,” the reader can tell that Nick is still young and naive throughout the story, even though he tries to portray himself as older and mature. In the beginning, he sits within his father’s embrace as if he were a child seeking comfort. The dialogue between Nick and his father is another sign of his age and maturity. His father explains situations that would be more obvious to those who are older and wiser. He tells Nick that the woman will be having a baby and when Nick casually states that he knows, his father corrects him by saying, “You don’t know. Listen to me.” (29) This tone suggests to the reader that Nick is inexperienced and not mature enough to understand the full concept of the situation.

In little time, Nick is introduced to many, possibly intertwined, situations. He witnesses a C-section without anesthesia and the suicide of man. There is also the inclination that Nick’s Uncle George was involved with the Indian woman and the baby was his, which led to the suicide of the Indian man. All of these events force Nick to look at life realistically and he begins to ask questions. We can start to see the change in Nick at this point. His actions and dialogue with his father change. He begins to say “Daddy” instead of “Dad” and sits away from his father instead of near him. Furthermore, we can see that Nick is underestimating the significance of the situation because he feels that he will not ever die. By the end of the story, we can see Nick’s response to his experience is one that is somewhat calm, reclusive and child-like.

In “Araby,” we see a different response from the character. In the beginning, we can gather that the protagonist is still young. He is in school and still enjoys playing outside with his friends until dark. However, we see that he is at the age of development. As he describes his love for his friend’s sister, the narrator’s language demonstrates to the reader that he is reaching an age of maturity. Once she finally speaks to him, it consumes his thoughts completely. He looks at the trip to Araby as his chance to prove himself to her.

Unfortunately, this is the point where the character experiences his dose of reality. Because his uncle did not get home in time, he was not able to make it to the bazaar until right before they closed. This illusion of what Araby was and the significance behind the trip began to fade once he arrived. This feeling is intensified as the girl of the store only speaks to him “out of a sense of duty” and pays little attention to him. (41) He begins to feel that his trip is pointless and the delusion he had for the girl he loves is coming to an end. The feeling of it being over is emphasized as the character leaves and the lights go out on him. He is filled with anger and heartbreak during his realization. His response is much different from that of Nick in “Indian Camp.” Instead of feeling reserved, his reaction is very passionate and emotional.

Both characters are faced with a coming-of-age reality but their responses differ. Some are more reserved while others are more distressed. Similarly, readers respond to situations, stories, and characters differently based on their own realistic views and experiences.