In the world of fantasy, the child chooses the roles he wants to play. In the world of fantasy, the child finally finds his essence and feels that he is valued by others. In Dan Chaon’s “Big Me”, showing and telling serves the instrument of the child’s imagination, and the means of escaping his real-world loneliness. Dan Chaon creates an unbelievable image of the child who tries to define his role and meaning in the world, through the prism of thirty-two-year-old Andy O’Day who tells the story of his childhood. “I never felt like danger. I was convinced of my own powers of stealth and invisibility.
[…] He couldn’t see me unless I chose to be seen” (Chaon, 2002). In Chaon’s story showing and telling, observation and imagination provide a young boy with unlimited power – the power that he cannot use in real world, and the power he needs to compensate for the constantly increasing sense of loneliness. He is going through a difficult period when his parents are drinking and quarreling; his brother attempts a suicide; under the increasing social pressure, the child can no longer remain realistic, and to some extent his showing and telling becomes the key to moral, mental, and spiritual salvation.
To be a Detective for Andy means to save the imagined two million city of crime, and to have an opportunity to penetrate into other houses for investigation: “I had been going to his house frequently by that time. I had a notebook, into which I had pasted the Santa photo, and a sample of his handwriting, and a bit of hair from his comb. […] There were letters: “I am tired, unbelievably tired, of going around in circles with you. […] I had copied this down in my detective’s notebook” (Chaon, 2002).
Andy imagines himself a Detective; he investigates the way other people live; he writes everything down into his small notebook – this is how his showing and telling works. The need to control other people’s lives does not leave him as he reaches the thirty second year of his life. His showing and telling turns into the second life, which he secretly leads as a reminiscence of his early years when he could sense the smell of the unlimited power of a Detective in a two million city. References Chaon, D. (2002). Big me. In D. Chaon, Among the Missing, Ballantine Books.
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