A story by Saki perfectly explains how a child’s imagination always come into conflict with dull and constricted world of adults
Last night, I was reading a story ‘Lumber Room’ written by Hector Hugh Munro, better known by his pen name ‘Saki’ where he draws a contrast between the world of an adult and a child. Nicholas, the male protagonist of the story, has been introduced as a witty and smart child whose imagination knows no boundaries. He is ruled by his intelligence alone. His imagination turns into reality when he heads towards the Lumber Room despite the fact that it was a never-never land for kids. He breaks all the shackles and lets his imagination carry him forward. He doesn’t let the confined and constricted world of adults obstruct his path as it has always done. Since old people are overcautious, they try to use their age as a weapon to combat the imagination of children. Due to this fact, the writer takes a dig at such people by calling them ‘Older, better and wiser people’.
It is evidence of the constrictions of an adult’s world that Nicholas has to find a secret way to enter one room of his house despite being a dweller of the house because his aunt doesn’t allow the children to visit it.
‘She is a woman of few ideas with immense power of concentration.’
It reflects how differently the mind of an adult and child works in the same situation and also narrates a tale of the dullness encompassing the adults’ world. Nicholas’s aunt, who is representing a whole lot of older people, thinks only in a limited way and doesn’t give admission to any creative ideas. She accepts naked realities without using the aid of art and creativity, but Nicholas’s mind always yearns to perceive ideas and objects in a way unknown to his aunt. His curiosity to see and explore what is in the Lumber Room distinguishes him from older people who bury their curiosity and imagination under the layer of sensible thought. They don’t feel the need to serve their curiosity through the imagination.
Even after entering into the Lumber Room, we find Nicholas thoughtful about what he sees there. He observes everything placed in the Lumber Room, be they are old worn-out ornaments full of historical value and importance themselves or a tapestry that drags the whole attention of a little boy. He observes a tapestry with the utmost focus and attention and finds a hunter aiming too closely at a pig, and when obscure-looking wolves surround him and his hounds, he escapes. Had an older person been in place of Nicholas, he would have considered it a common artwork but for Nicholas, it becomes a prophetic revelation. He sees himself as a hunter who escapes by using his intelligence while he sees his aunt as a pig who has to become a morsel of the wolves because of her own tyranny and faces detention of thirty-five minutes in a water-tank. So, adults love swathing in their cocoons while children believe in the act of exploration.
It is safe to say that an adult’s world is like a capsule that’s hard to swallow in spite of the fact that it has all the ingredients required to eradicate the ills of society, while a child’s world is like a caplet that can be easily consumed though it has the same ingredients as a capsule, but its smaller size enhances its effectivity and adaptability.