“My Greatest Ambition” is about a young Australian boy of thirteen who has a dream of being a comic book artist. This dream is rubbished and scoffed at by everyone whom he knows. He has to keep his desire a secret from his parents as they give little or no support for such frivolous activities. However, the young Lurie follows his ambition and makes his first comic strip and sends it to a dying magazine. Seeing his work the editors of this magazine considers asking young Lurie to work for them as a fulltime employee.
Here Morris Lurie highlights the prejudiced and judgmental mind-sets of adults towards the capabilities of the youth. Lurie skillfully uses humor to highlight some important issues in the society. He twists the language and the words to get his point across to the readers in the most entertaining fashion. Lurie uses techniques such as irony, imagery, dialogue, typical teenage exaggerated language and different point of views to make his story most enjoyable. At the opening of the story, Nu hilariously describes his peers as “ There they sat, the astronomer, the nuclear physicist, the business tycoon (on the stock exchange), two mathematicians, three farmers, countess chemists, a handful of doctors all aged thirteen and all with their heads in the clouds.
Dreamers! Idle speculators! A generation of hopeless romantics!” Here, Lurie uses the exaggerated and overtly dramatic language of a typical thirteen year old who thinks he knows everything. Also this idea is very ironic as in most society’s professions such as doctors and chemists would be considered perfectly normal and creditable. And the idea of becoming a comic book artist would be considered pure fancy. Something which is not stable or respectable.
Therefore it is ironic that Lurie thinks of children who aim of having a conventional and conservative occupation as “idle dreams and hopeless romantics”. Morris Lurie also makes wonderful use of imagery in this short story. ”… read by the sorts that were always t sitting under trees and wearing glasses and squinting and turning pages with licked fingers?
An awful prospect!” His sarcastic description of people who read stories without any pictures forms an ideal visual imagery in the reader’s minds. Lurie also describes the comical clothes taking books out f the library and wears to the meeting and the struggle which lead to the final decision. The description of his ‘Good Suit’ which was slightly short for him at the ankles and the corn yellow, silk tie which with the proper Windsor knot would prevent anyone to look elsewhere. This provides a vivid visual. Lurie’s conversation with Ms. Gordon also provides wonderful auditoria imagery.
He also uses imagery when he illustrates how Nu humouredly imagined himself walking into his office through a garden of exotic plants with a pipe in his mouth. “… our eyes met and I would smile, or was that smile stretched across my face from the second I came in?” Gives another hilarious example of imagery which is spread throughout the story. The conversation and description of his father is a perfect example of the way Lurie shows the typical teenage exaggeration and uses amusing dialogue to highlight prominent problems in the society.
The discourse with Nu’s father where the father is only interested in the money shows how badly the father is influencing his son. As the father was materialistic and money minded the son feels defensive and begins to think about the money he will receive too. “Maybe I’ll decide not sell them. Which I will if the price isn’t right.” This is one of the perfect examples of how the author uses humor to emphasize on social trouble. The description of his clothes shows another instance where teenagers exaggerate and hyperbole.
He also foreshadows the fate of the young Nu’s comic book artiste dream when he writes about the reaction of the editor when he sees Lurie live or the first time. The awkward behavior and the disappointment at Nu’ age gave hints about how any more of Nu’s comic strip will be treated. As long they didn’t know the age of Lurie he was given the respect his work deserved. But as soon as they discovered Lurie to be thirteen he was dismissed with a capacity of a child. The author also shows how disappointed and humiliated Nu was being at being treated as inferior.
In this wonderful story issues such as parental negligence and the judgmental and narrow mindedness of a rigid society is shown. Problems all teenagers face such as lack of support and teenage angst which is usually not considered as an issue and are stereotyped and dealt with and an indifferent sigh “Teenager. They’ll grow out of it.” In this story Lurie shows how this attitude and narrow-mindedness can actually suppress natural talent and passion. Again, in “My Greatest Ambition” Morris Lurie uses great language and humor to create an entertaining but indirectly instructing story.