Happy Birthday, 1951
Summary: The text is about an old man and a young boy, who live in a ruin, in a former warzone. The city is still full of soldiers and tanks. The man got the baby boy about six years ago from a refugee woman. The story begins with the man wanting the boy to choose a birthday. The boy chooses the following day. The old man puts together a cart for the boy, but he also wants the boy to experience a world without war. Next day the boy gets the cart and pretends it’s a tank, because he is fascinated by war, but the old man want the boy to pretend that it is a truck.
Later the man takes the boy into the forest for a day to experience the world as it should be. They pass a tank on their way, and the boy is all ecstatic about it, but the man wants the boy to come along into the forest. The man falls asleep, and wakes up late in the afternoon and the boy is missing. The old man is calling the boy and in the end the boy comes out from the tank. Characterization of the old man: The old man has lived a long life with war close to him which means that he has learned the consequences of war. These experiences make him too traumatized to let the boy be a boy.
The old man wants the boy to learn the seriousness of war and that it is not just a game. He is trying to teach this to the boy by taking him into the forest where there is peaceful and no signs of war. The forest is the one place where the man really feels serenity. The man wants the boy to learn the value of life and to take a look at what war and soldiers really does to the nature, but the boy does cannot see the beauty of the nature like the man can. The man’s perspective on life is one way and the boy’s the complete opposite way.
The man just wants the boy to grow up to be an idyllic citizen with peace on his mind and not a soldier who kills his way through the world. Characterization of the boy: The entire life of the boy has been during war, so the boy does not know anything else. The boy is a victim of the war, because his mother had to flee and leave the boy in the old man’s care, this happened when the boy were just a tiny baby, now the boy is six years old. He is deeply fascinated by the soldiers and the tanks. He knows all of the colors and braids of the different types of soldiers. “Black and red is the engineers,” interrupted the boy seriously. “Plain black is the military police, and red is the artillery, and blue and red is the medical corps, and black and orange is…”” He is practically hypnotized by the tanks driving in and out of the town. The old man wants the boy to look up to him and resent soldiers and war, but the masculinity and power the soldiers radiates makes them role models to the boy, instead of an old, grumpy man who cannot see the fun in being a boy pretending to be a strong soldier in a tank on the way to save the world.
Comment on the ending: The ending shows us that even though families love each other and this love ought to be unconditional, a difference in opinions and diversity in life in general can push people away from each other. There is a gap between the old man and the young boy, like an entire missing generation, and this gap makes the soldiers the boy’s father figures and role models, because the old man is just too old to connect properly with the boy and meet his needs. But on the other hand neither the boy nor the man understands one another. The importance of role models:
Role models are of great importance to every child in the world. Children have to learn a lot of things while growing up, and therefore it is essential that a child gets some guidance and some proper role models, for instance boys need at least one male role model, to teach him how to climb trees, ride a bike, use tools, pick up spiders and beetles and so on, things that only a few female role models are able to, at least not in the same way. But boys also need to learn empathy and being able to feel and love and other female qualities, which only a female can teach them.
Children need parents/role models who can take good care of them, so that they can grow up to be well-spoken, pleasant, and serene citizens, and not role models who are alcoholics and do not give a damn about themselves or their children. But on the other hand parents/ role models can also be too overprotective towards their children, and both these parenting methods can harm the children. This is probably one of the reasons for all the teenage crimes, teen alcoholics, and teenage parents et cetera. Our children are a reflection of ourselves in many cases, alcoholic parents reflects to their hildren that drinking is okay, children of violent people does not know any better than it is okay to beat up people and so on. But many children in these cases also turn out just opposite of their parents, because they are traumatized by their own childhood. So parenting methods/role models are of great importance to raise children the way we all want to be, whole, caring, loving and proper human beings.