The Open Window.
In today’s society, there comes a
time in each person’s life when innocence is lost at the hands of an experience
or a gain of knowledge. As a child, we often dream the ‘impossible’… to one day
become an astronaut, or adopt the lifestyle of our favourite television
character. However, as we grow up probability deters us because we realise that
there are limitations. Whilst we often criticise children because of their
naivety, it’s because of this sense of wonder and awe that they are able to
dream big. As an adult, it is essential to maintain this outlook that ‘if you
put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything’, which will inherently allow
each person to affirm or challenge their own or more widely-held assumptions
about the human experience and the world. So, I guess the challenge then is to
keep the window to your childhood always open…
The world knows ‘Che’ Guevara as
a figure of the Cuban Revolution. He is one of the world’s most recognised and
celebrated 20th-century revolutionaries, standing as a symbol of radical
revolution for those who are underrepresented due to a capitalistic society.
But, he wasn’t always this person; Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s whimsical, yet
eye-opening memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries follows a man who lived for the
experience and opens the windows to the discoveries and the lessons gained from
each life situation, resulting in his loss of innocence.
Guevara’s daughter, Aleida
Guevara, provides a preface to present us with a positive opinion of a young
adventurer, falling in love with his continent and finding his place in it. By
acknowledging the original journal has been ‘rewritten by Ernesto himself as a
narrative’ prepares us for elements of bildungsroman shown through the shift
from subjective to objective language as the memoir unfolds.
The opening chapters openly
challenge our understanding of Guevara and frame the discovery to follow, by
successfully summing up the effect of his journey around America, and how this
journey stripped away his innocence and changed him into the man he was to
become. Guevara uses a third person perspective in his predominantly
first-person memoir, to distance himself from the boy he was at the beginning
of his journey. In the translated titles; ‘so we understand each other’ Guevara
acknowledges the ‘man he used to be’, addressed with the use of a hyperbole in
saying that ‘the person who wrote these notes passed away…’ furthers the idea that
he is no longer the same person he was so many months ago and that we are about
to find out why.
Introducing us to his brooding
writing style, Guevara personifies the ocean as a ‘confidant’ that will
essentially keep everyone’s secrets. His effective imagery in ‘the discovery of
the ocean’ personifies the ‘moon silhouetted against the sea, smothering the
waves with silver reflections.’
Lord of the Flies, written by
William Goulding, tells the story of a group of English schoolboys who are
stranded on an isolated island after their plane is shot down during the war.
The novel stands as an allegory for the broader world, which integrally
explores the flaws in society back to the defects of human nature, and
ultimately the loss of innocence.
In his portrayal of the small
world of the island, Golding paints a more extensive representation of the
fundamental human struggle between the civilizing instinct; which encourages
people to work together towards shared goals, comply rules, and behave
honourably, and the primitive instinct; which urges people to rebel against
civilization, seeking brute power over others, act inconsiderately, inherit
despotism, and indulge in violence.
Throughout the novel, a sense of
irony is displayed from the journey in which the boys go through. Specifically
creating what is their own version of civilisation which only resolves in the
boys closing the window on each other, creating a war just like the one they
have fled from. The text respectively represents civilisation and savagery,
whilst dealing with the loss of innocence in a broader picture.
‘What I mean is… maybe it’s only
us’ here, Simon tries to suggest that the real danger on the island is not the
so-called ‘beast,’ rather the innate evil that lies within the boys themselves.
Simon implies that the boys are aware of this, but it’s easier to fear the
swine than it is to face the reality; that they’re actually afraid of one
Like Guevara’s The Motorcycle
Diaries the journey becomes a process of discovery, as the boys being rescued
is not a time of unmistakable joy, for Ralph recognizes that, in spite of being
saved from death on the island, he will never be the same. ‘Ralph wept for the
end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart,’ his sudden realisation that he
is safe and will be returned to civilization evokes a state of reflective
despair, as he comes to the understanding that he has lost his innocence and
learned about the evil that prowls within all human beings, whether they like
it or not. With ‘the darkness of man’s heart’ standing as a metaphor for the
immoral viciousness, and power struggles that so plagued the boys on the
island. Here, Golding unequivocally connects the sources of Ralph’s despair to
the main theme within the novel: the loss of innocence, thus, presenting us
with a further understanding of how experience, that rescinds innocence, also
leads one back to it.
Both texts delve deeply into the
loss of innocence, with it being such a fatal point in each individual’s life,
as everyone at some point closes the window to their childhood, essentially,
cutting off their innocence. Yet, sometimes it just takes a push to move
forward in life, to reclaim this innocence and allow ourselves to dream big,
and accomplish the ‘impossible’.