The Open Window. In today’s society, there comes atime in each person’s life when innocence is lost at the hands of an experienceor a gain of knowledge. As a child, we often dream the ‘impossible’… to one daybecome an astronaut, or adopt the lifestyle of our favourite televisioncharacter. However, as we grow up probability deters us because we realise thatthere are limitations. Whilst we often criticise children because of theirnaivety, it’s because of this sense of wonder and awe that they are able todream big.
As an adult, it is essential to maintain this outlook that ‘if youput your mind to it, you can accomplish anything’, which will inherently alloweach person to affirm or challenge their own or more widely-held assumptionsabout the human experience and the world. So, I guess the challenge then is tokeep the window to your childhood always open… The world knows ‘Che’ Guevara asa figure of the Cuban Revolution. He is one of the world’s most recognised andcelebrated 20th-century revolutionaries, standing as a symbol of radicalrevolution for those who are underrepresented due to a capitalistic society.
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But, he wasn’t always this person; Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s whimsical, yeteye-opening memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries follows a man who lived for theexperience and opens the windows to the discoveries and the lessons gained fromeach life situation, resulting in his loss of innocence. Guevara’s daughter, AleidaGuevara, provides a preface to present us with a positive opinion of a youngadventurer, falling in love with his continent and finding his place in it. Byacknowledging the original journal has been ‘rewritten by Ernesto himself as anarrative’ prepares us for elements of bildungsroman shown through the shiftfrom subjective to objective language as the memoir unfolds. The opening chapters openlychallenge our understanding of Guevara and frame the discovery to follow, bysuccessfully summing up the effect of his journey around America, and how thisjourney stripped away his innocence and changed him into the man he was tobecome.
Guevara uses a third person perspective in his predominantlyfirst-person memoir, to distance himself from the boy he was at the beginningof his journey. In the translated titles; ‘so we understand each other’ Guevaraacknowledges the ‘man he used to be’, addressed with the use of a hyperbole insaying that ‘the person who wrote these notes passed away…’ furthers the idea thathe is no longer the same person he was so many months ago and that we are aboutto find out why. Introducing us to his broodingwriting style, Guevara personifies the ocean as a ‘confidant’ that willessentially keep everyone’s secrets. His effective imagery in ‘the discovery ofthe ocean’ personifies the ‘moon silhouetted against the sea, smothering thewaves with silver reflections.’ Lord of the Flies, written byWilliam Goulding, tells the story of a group of English schoolboys who arestranded on an isolated island after their plane is shot down during the war.The novel stands as an allegory for the broader world, which integrallyexplores the flaws in society back to the defects of human nature, andultimately the loss of innocence.
In his portrayal of the smallworld of the island, Golding paints a more extensive representation of thefundamental human struggle between the civilizing instinct; which encouragespeople to work together towards shared goals, comply rules, and behavehonourably, and the primitive instinct; which urges people to rebel againstcivilization, seeking brute power over others, act inconsiderately, inheritdespotism, and indulge in violence. Throughout the novel, a sense ofirony is displayed from the journey in which the boys go through. Specificallycreating what is their own version of civilisation which only resolves in theboys closing the window on each other, creating a war just like the one theyhave 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 onlyus’ here, Simon tries to suggest that the real danger on the island is not theso-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 theswine than it is to face the reality; that they’re actually afraid of oneanother. Like Guevara’s The MotorcycleDiaries the journey becomes a process of discovery, as the boys being rescuedis not a time of unmistakable joy, for Ralph recognizes that, in spite of beingsaved from death on the island, he will never be the same.
‘Ralph wept for theend of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart,’ his sudden realisation that heis safe and will be returned to civilization evokes a state of reflectivedespair, as he comes to the understanding that he has lost his innocence andlearned about the evil that prowls within all human beings, whether they likeit or not. With ‘the darkness of man’s heart’ standing as a metaphor for theimmoral viciousness, and power struggles that so plagued the boys on theisland. Here, Golding unequivocally connects the sources of Ralph’s despair tothe main theme within the novel: the loss of innocence, thus, presenting uswith a further understanding of how experience, that rescinds innocence, alsoleads one back to it. Both texts delve deeply into theloss 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 moveforward in life, to reclaim this innocence and allow ourselves to dream big,and accomplish the ‘impossible’.