This short story is about a father coming home from a business trip to his family. He expects joy and excitement at his homecoming from his daughters and is surprised by their indifference. He meets his daughters and they begin to behave in an alarmingly violent fashion. He panics but the ‘game’ ceases as abruptly as it had started. Later the girls’ mother arrives with the welfare committee and they conduct themselves like well-educated young ladies should to the bewilderment of their father. After tea, his youngest daughter positions herself in superior posture to examine Quick’s wound, this only increases his confusion and need for male company.
Quick is proud of his neglected, untidy and wild garden. He feels this sets him apart from his neighbours who have neat and trim gardens; “Quick was even proud of it”, “…an original masterpiece among gardens.” This garden symbolizes the overlooked facet of his life and the way he let his children grow freely and savage just like this garden.
The relationship between the garden and the girls is comparable to the association between the schoolboys and the island in William Golding’s novel, The Lord of the Flies. The two girls are taken over by evil and savagery just as the boys were, once rules and order abandoned them. This is particularly felt when Kate and Jenny chase Snort – the dog – around the garden just like Jack hunts pigs on the island in The Lord of the Flies.
Cary questions Mr. And Mrs. Quick’s parental abilities by linking the neglect of their garden with the lack of dedication to the girls’ discipline. This is shown by Quick’s constant demonstrations of surprise at the sudden changes of his daughter’s personalities – he doesn’t know them and runs away from his responsibilities, “Robert was shocked”.
The mother is oblivious to and is more concerned with problems dealt at the welfare committee than what goes on in her own home “…all you children – amusing yourselves while we run the world.” This is extremely well portrayed when the welfare committee discuss the story about the 14 year-old gone wild and how awful that was. The story of the 14 year-old also portrays what the girls may become and the mother’s unconsciousness.
This leads on to the question of whether these parents truly know their children. The girls are young and take on role-playing games therefore their personalities change constantly putting on a performance for their parents, “And at tea, the two girls, dressed in smart clean frocks, handed round cake and bread and butter with demure and reserved looks.”
This contrasts with the type of behaviour Quick had witnessed moments earlier in the garden. Their games led them to an alarming and fierce frenzy that shocked and frightened him. This shows how fast these girls are able to pretend and modify their conduct, “Though still in a mood of disgust, found himself obliged to submit to this new game.”
Towards the end of tea, Quick feels suffocated and ill at ease. He doesn’t understand the female environment that surrounds him and yearns for male company “Quick felt all at once a sense of stiffness. He wanted urgently to get away, to escape. Yes he needed some male company”. He plans to go to a bar and socialize with an acquaintance – Wilkins. The constant presence of Wilkins at the bar suggests that he too is running away from his household troubles and responsibilities. This makes it evident that Quick will probably become like Wilkins as the years go by.
Before Quick leaves to join Wilkins in a pool game and maybe even dinner Jenny approaches him. She adapts an under control attitude and is poised on the wall looking down on her father to examine his wound “Having reached this superior position, she poked the plaster…”. This leads to a complete role-reversal as if she has become the parent and Quick the child.
This short story questions parental skills and the ability to accept and face one’s responsibilities. I feel that Cary made good use of comparing the wild garden to the savage girls by first introducing the garden and Quick’s pride of it and then subtly contrasting it with the girls’ personalities. Quick’s reaction of surprise toward these brutal and sudden changes in his daughters only highlight the fact that he doesn’t really know his children. The girls are shown as innocence gone vicious due to the neglect of their parents though the parents mean well.
Growing Up by Joyce Cary
2435 WordsNov 3rd, 201310 Pages
1.The wild garden reflects the wildness of the girls.
2.There is a clear divide between daughters and father, they do not fully communicate with him, but then he does not with them either.
3.Mr and Mrs Quick seem to neglect their daughters with his work and her social life.
4.The daughters are presented as untidy and dirty, certainly not the sweet innocent daughter figures the father imagines them to be.
5.He almost seems scared of his daughters and when Jenny and Kate do communicate with him, it is in a savage manner.
6.They are violent to the dog. The language becomes angry, violent and fragmented to emphasise the horror of the situation.
7.Robert Quick is shocked, but his remonstration is pathetic and results in the…show more content…
What else can we say about Robert? The picture is a little ambiguous.
For example we cannot say whether Robert is realistic or not.
• On the one hand we learn that he has "lost most of his illusions" and knows that children are "honest".
• But he also wants to share in his daughters' world.
• When he looks for some comfort he does not turn to his wife, but to male society - even though he sees it as boring.
Jenny and Kate
The girls in the story are Jenny (twelve) and Kate (a year older). They appear sometimes as individuals, but also as a pair who act together. Here are some of the things they do.
• Jenny reads a book and asks her father to lift her onto a wall.
• Kate plays on a swing.
• Jenny is alarmed by the wound whereas Kate still laughs when she sees it.
• attack the bitch (Snort)
• fight their father
• tend his wounds
Can you add to either of these lists?
We read that they adore each other "and one always came to the other's help". (We cannot be sure if this is information from the writer to the reader, or what Robert is thinking. It could be either.)
The girls have some contradictory feelings. We see that growing up does not mean becoming more sensible or like real adults. The girls' excitability and wildness makes them in some ways less responsible than when they were younger. We see this contrast in the way they speak to their father. Look at what they call him: "Paleface" and "Paleface Robbie" or "Daddy". What does each