Everyone starts their life’s journey as a child. In “The Child’s Story”, written by Charles Dickens (1852), the adventure of one’s life from a child to an adult is illustrated. The story is about a traveler who goes for an exploration of his life. Although the words that Dickens has used is dramatic, the story itself is mundane. During the traveler’s trip, he encounters six people: a beautiful child, a handsome boy, a young man in love, a middle-aged gentleman, a father, a mother and their children.
Underneath its main plot, Dickens might have been implying that life should be cultivated by ourselves and that time is important.
The very first person the traveler meets, is a beautiful child. Throughout the story, the child repeatedly disappears and reappears in different points of his growth. The child asks him to play with him in shine or rain. Although Dickens describes everything was new and true, it has a sense of being done in imagination that the happenings might not have been done in reality.
While playing, suddenly the boy vanishes. Instead, a handsome boy comes up in front of the traveler. The boy is interested in learning, so he and the traveler enjoys learning together. They learn about outer-space, myths and some sports games. After a while, again, the young man takes place of the handsome boy. The young man had been looking for true love. Since he was able to find it, he has a fulfilled youth.
Then, the traveler meets a middle-aged gentleman.
The man is busy cutting trees down and making a pathway for his wife and children. Children said their dreams or action one from another and parted. When all of the middle-aged gentleman’s wife and children has gone to their own ways, the traveler loses his journey’s companion. Once more, he runs into an old man who is recalling his memory. Then all of the traveler’s friends ” the beautiful child, the handsome boy, the young man in love, the father, the mother, and their children ” gather around the traveler.
As J. Kerouac has noted that “the road is life” (1957), The Child’s Story implies that life should be made by ourselves. In paragraph 10, the family is cutting down trees and making a pathway through the woods. The pathway might indicate the whole way of life. By cultivating it, Dickens may message that life is something we have to make by ourselves. At the same time, however, Dickens may be accepting the mankind’s life cycle. According to Erik Erikson’s theory, there are eight stages of psychosocial development (1959): infant, toddler, preschooler, grade-schooler, teenager, young adult, middle-aged adult, and older adult. In standard, the beautiful child could be in the position of preschooler to grade-schooler. During these stages, children begin to develop a sense of initiation through play and social interactions. The handsome boy could be in the teenager stage. This stage plays an integral role in life to shape one’s identity and independence. Young adult is the period when the young boy was in love. They explore personal relationships with others such as love. Middle-aged adult is the step when the middle-aged gentleman belonged to. In adulthood, people try to build their lives while focusing on their careers and family. Lastly, the old man is in the stage of older adult. It is the period to turn back on their whole life and accomplishments.
However, Dickens’s message to open one’s road of life, contradicts with his illustration of life which goes along the life’s template. Another way of thinking is, it could be contextualized that Dickens is satisfied with the template he had overwent. Likewise, the vocabularies “delightful” (para. 3), “happy” (para. 8) – which were used in the content were beautified. There was some consistent comparing from Dicken’s experience and the short story. For instance, he had a fulfilled childhood and youth.
The young man was in love with a girl similar to Fanny Dickens; the author’s beloved old sister (The Circumlocution Office, n.d.). He described how the girl looked like, and what the young man and her have done. Comparing Fanny and the author’s wife, Catherine, they resemble each other. In the text, the word “Somebody” (Dickens, 1852, para. 8) was frequently used. This way of saying give the readers a blurred image of what Dickens was supposed to say. It could be suspected that Dickens replaced his wife’s position from Catherine to Fanny. One more example is, in reality, he was sending a busy life with his family and the society as what the middle-aged gentleman spent his life in the same way of the short story. From these points, the short story may be an autobiography. Because he was pleased with his life, he might have felt the template life would be delightful as long as one could open the path by themselves.
By showing the change of the nature, the story implies that time flies rapidly. In every scene, the landscapes were illustrated using five senses such as sight, hearing, and smell. In paragraph 3, for instance, when the traveler was with the child, the colors were visualized to describe the brightness of the sky, the youth of the nature. When the traveler met the middle-aged gentleman, the wood was gradually being thick and dark in brown. After the gentleman’s children parted individually to their own pathways, the leaves of the woods were changing to yellow to brown and falling off. Just after the gentleman disappears, the traveler was near the end of the woods and could see the sunset. At the time the traveler met the old man sitting on a troop, the sky was purple because of the sunset. When the traveler sat face to face with the old man, the sun covered the entire atmosphere with a warm tone. In fact, in the first paragraph, Dickens claims that a journey seems long in the beginning, but very short in the midst.
Through this short story, Dickens implies that our life-paths are opened up by ourselves. Ironically, the author implies that our life is on the railway. By expressing the speed of time, the author also implies strongly the significance of time. This story is appropriate for English learning beginners, because the vocabulary there, was easy to understand. In addition, the landscapes in the story was easily imaginable since it was described clearly with colors. It is still, however, a profound topic to consider what life is and the importance of time.