How do unpleasant realities of life are presented and experienced by a seven-year-old boy? As the child travels from being an innocent into becoming an experienced person, both the good and bad facets of life will eventually shape his emotions, perspectives and dealings with other people.
In doing so, the breaking of the child’s innocence turns into a learning experience which he and even the people around him may use as an instrument to continue living in accordance with the norms of the society. While it is expected that life realities, when witnessed from a boy’s point of view, may be rather unclear or incomplete, this does not necessarily mean that the child is totally unaware and unmoved of its accompanying and eventual implications.
This is because a child may be physically small but he is able to grasp what the society is presenting to him and ultimately identifies the good and bad things which he needs to keep and disregard, respectively. Manifestations of such abilities are evident among almost all children because they are naïve by nature.
Such innate and youthful characteristics open a child to many opportunities and possibilities. When guided properly, a child may use life realities, however harsh they are, to work to his or her advantage and even to the benefit of other people and the society in general.
One book which ideally depicts the said quality of a child in John Grisham’s 2001 book titled “A Painted House.” Aside from its notable plot, which is about the story-telling of a seven-year-old boy of the struggles facing his family’s cotton-picking business in rural Arkansas in 1952, the Grisham novel is most worth-reading because of the character of the young protagonist – Luke Chandler (Grisham, 2001).
In fact, it is the said struggles which brought out the best in Luke because of the fact that even at a young age, he is determined to help out in their business and in his little way, solve the problems even if his mother always tells him: “Don’t worry.
The men will find something to worry about” (Grisham 1). The ways how Luke dealt with his growing-up miseries through his exposure to the cruel realities of life, Grisham succeeded in imparting to the public a touching novel about a child’s journey from being an innocent child into becoming a knowledgeable person (Grisham, 2001).
Manifestations of above awakening are evident with the power of Luke to overcome the cruelties in his life which he personally witnessed. These include a murder, a rape incident which has resulted into pregnancy and an illegitimate child, the poverty of the Mexicans and hill people and other adult-related obstacles.
The novel, as seen from the view of Luke, told of the unwavering determination of the Chandler family to make their business survive and show to the people of Arkansas that despite living in an unpainted house, their cotton-picking trade will pick up. While the author stands out in his law-related books because of their plots, Grisham’s A Painted House novel definitely shines because of the character of Luke.
Using the first-person point of perspective of Luke, the author effectively provided the public with a view of the hardships which then challenged the people of Arkansas (Grisham, 2001).
Through the eyes of Luke, A Painted House serves as a blank paper where the author excellently writes the details which happened in the United States after World War II. The character of the protagonist is one which is filled with many real incidents and people albeit presented through Luke’s youthful point of view. In fact, Luke’s life is very simple and his world is small with the family’s business of cotton-picking being his concentration.
The child in Luke is presented in the book many times with the Chandler family trips to town on Saturdays, church activities on Sundays, special treats at carnivals and the boy’s ultimate dream to play baseball as attested by his statement that he will not be a farmer but a baseball player (Grisham 5).
However, as Luke takes on his journey, becomes exposed to the characters in his life such as his family and the workers composed of the hill people and Mexicans as well as harsh realities of life, the boy unwittingly somehow grows as an experienced person even at a young age.
Hence, it is worthy to consider how Luke, in his simple yet uplifting manner, is able to address and cope with cruel issues which confronted his young life. The life realities which are too enormous and difficult for Luke to realize but triumphantly handled include the ethical conflicts about a murder case, a child born out of wedlock and even the financial destruction that hit the area.
Despite these cruelties which Luke’s innocence may be unable to understands, it is remarkable to consider that the boy’s naïve personality managed the said dilemmas. Beyond Luke’s notable traits and abilities in his original innocence as manifested by his child-like faith when he believes that God has control over anything just like there is reason when rains sweep away their harvests.
It is during the boy’s journey, where he is faced with the true events of life, that Luke is able to attain his experience and realizes that indeed there is reason for every thing that happens. This is evident when he said “I was certain there was a reason the Cardinals lost the pennant, but I couldn’t understand why God was behind it” (Grisham 251).