Пивоварова Юлия Сергеевна
Новокузнецкий институт (филиал) Кемеровского государственного университета
факультет иностранных языков

Представленная статья раскрывает характер связи и взаимодействия ребенка и природы, а также оценивает языковые средства литературного дискурса, отображающего эту связь. Автор описывает место ребенка в мире взрослых, определяет статус и функции его образа в пространстве литературного произведения, а также выделяет ценностный аспект взаимодействия ребенка и природы, что может послужить опорой для дальнейших филологических и лингвистических исследований.


Pivovarova Yuliya Sergeevna
Kemerovo State University, Novokuznetsk brunch
faculty of foreign languages

The article reveals an essential connection between child and nature and evaluates a literary discourse that discloses that connection. The author describes a place of child in the world of adults, identifies a status and functions of this image in the space of story, and value aspect of child-nature interaction that can be used in further philological and linguistic researches.

Keywords: child-nature interaction, image of child, literary context, the child’s place in the world


Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Пивоварова Ю.С. Child and nature in the works of r. bradbury and g. munro // Современные научные исследования и инновации. 2016. № 7 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://web.snauka.ru/issues/2016/07/69921 (дата обращения: 01.12.2023).

An image of child that widely associated with innocence and freedom aroused in the early 19th century literature has continuing relevance nowadays. As years go by a man always is doomed to choose between evil and good, between self-limited “no” and self-asserting “yes.” In this regard a child devoids of prejudice. His naive view of the world as tabula rasa absorbs everything that happens without any conviction, as if he himself was the creator of the world.

The close relationship of the child with nature is predetermined by, obviously, the very essence of the existence of the body. Any being is originally biological, and only then is a social one. Stephen R. Kellert, Yale University School Professor of Social Ecology, proves that child’s nature experience can be divided into three ways of cognition:  direct (actual physical contact with nature setting in the most spontaneous way – in a forest, creek, even park); indirect (actual physical programmed contact with nature – in a zoo, arboretum); vicarious or symbolic experience (representations or depicted scenes of nature) [1, 118]. Thus, we may assume that direct way of interaction is mostly biological, and indirect and vicarious ones are socially controlled.

By acquiring the skills of existence in the society, on the one hand, a child extends the possibility of influence on a society; on the other hand, he narrows his mind with the accepted norms, values, and traditions. So speaking about pure turbid mind open to any phenomena of life, is essential only for the young inexperienced person.

Based on these ideas, we can assume that a child psychologically, as well as primeval human at the dawn of society, is closely connected with the most pantheistic perception of the world. He, as like any pantheist, does not consider the question of God’s existence meaningful, but he believes in the absolute unity of the universe and nature. The cult of objects is more important to him than the worship of another person.

A child does not need God, he feels being the Creator. Awakening egocentrism with irrepressible craving for testing his strength can develop into many different forms. Repeatedly the great classics of literature have been appealing to the image of a child resisting elements and himself (William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”), merging with nature (James M. Barry’s “Peter and Wendy”), and controlling it (Roald Dahl’s Matilda”).

A child is born as a world whole, but throws it a challenge. He is still connected by the umbilical cord with the material world, but he’s already going to be its master, mentally superior to it tormented with pride [2, 5]. So Oganyan A. in his afterword to Ray Bradbury’s novel identifies a unique role of child in modern literature. According to the critic, a child’s body is a subject of death, but he tends to be immortal. If a man is able to subdue his pride, he sees not an enemy in the world around him, but a partner in being the object of creative love.

This article presents a view to the problem of the image of the child and the nature in the works, that seem fully reveal the gist of this interaction.

The works of Bradbury and Munro aren’t chosen accidentally. Ray Bradbury often takes children as the main characters who tend to the immediacy of vision, clarity of perception. His “Sea Shell” and «The Shore Line at Sunset» where the country of childhood is opposed to adult world of mechanized bourgeois society, with its rationalism and insensitivity. Bradbury is interested in psychology, the disclosure of the inner world of a growing personality. It affected also in his book “Dandelion Wine”.

Hector Munro has repeatedly appealed to his own memories associated with severe childhood. Subject of aunts (and uncles) is very common in his stories, as well as the conflict with them. Munro’s stories show a constant struggle child’s world with the world of adults, or in other words, the conflict between creative, imaginative poetry and narrow, pragmatic mind.

In the novel “Dandelion Wine,” the writer draws not only the inner world of a child, but the world seen through his eyes, unlike the adult world, in which everything is recorded clearly and unambiguously. This world is bright, lively, sometimes incomprehensible, unpredictable, which is pouring and swaying, changing with the growing child.

And at the beginning of the novel the main character, a boy Douglas, fills his description of wine with extended “natural” metaphors: “The medicines of another time, the balm of sun and idle August afternoons, the faintly heard sounds of ice wagons passing on brick avenues, the rush of silver skyrockets and the fountaining of lawn mowers moving through ant countries, all these, all these in a glass” [3, 16].

A romantic perception of reality manifests itself in a negative relation to the Machine itself, characterized in all works of Bradbury. Bradbury has been seeing machines as evil, no matter what was originally a humane aim of them. The evil in the novel “Dandelion Wine” brings A Machine of Happiness as like a cinema represents accidents. A child rejects all products of human activity, especially if they carry a hidden “dark” potential.

An image of Douglas is distinguished by a poetic thinking.

“The thin lapping of the great continental sea of grass and flower, starting far out in lonely farm country, moved inward with the thrust of seasons. Each night the wilderness, the meadows, the far country flowed down-creek through ravine and welled up in town with a smell of grass and water, and the town was disinhabited and dead and gone back to earth” [3, 17].

In another passage speaking about feeling alive, Douglas (and the author together with him) increasingly uses similes, “over his shelled ears “, “the world … like images sparked in a crystal sphere”, “Flowers were sun and fiery spots of sky strewn through the woodland”, “birds, like skipped stones across the vast inverted pond of heaven”, “Insects shocked the air with electric clearness” [3, 13]. All of these examples show an inseparable sacred relationship of the human being with the nature.

Let us pay attention to the plot of the story of Hector Munro ‘Sredni Vashtar”. A boy remains under the guardianship of his tyrannical cousin. He is supposed to be seriously ill, and reading is the only joy at home that available for him. Most of all, he likes history, especially the description of the ancient pagan cults. The boy’s best friend is a chicken. The main idol is a wild ferret locked in the hayloft. Every night the boy prays asking the spirit of Sredni Vashtar to get even with his enemies.

Sredni Vashtar went forth,

His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.

His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.

Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful [4, 20].

The final of the story is tragic: ferret gnaws throat of the boy’s cousin.

In essence, this story reveals the opposite side of human interaction with the environment, its dark manifestation. The child that is obviously limited with sincere love and care of relatives and incarcerated in accessible ways of understanding of the world, is looking for an outlet in the powerful, unknown forces of Mother Nature, in fact, he finds a way to subdue her in harm to others.

This point of view to the problem of psychological formation can be traced in most of the works by Hector Munro. Even in the other story – “The Lumber room” the author emphasizes sanctity of the objects for children that are habitual and unremarkable for adults. Through the prism of child’s mind a reader meets with the content of this storehouse of unimagined treasure. “It was a living, breathing story” [4, 87]. The mood of this passage is very spiritual; it is permeated with almost religious reverence and awe. “Nicholas sat for many golden minutes revolving the possibilities of the scene” [4, 88]. Adult couldn’t be so interested in the usual old things. And perhaps he would never stay there longer than for a few minutes. “It was probably the first time for twenty years that anyone had smiled in that lumber-room” [4, 88]. One can hardly believe that any person in this family deserves the same attention of the boy.

Comparing two works of Hector Munro – “The Lumber room” and “Sredni Vashtar”, it should be noted an almost religious obsession in the world of the child, that runs through all these stories and through the whole life of the author like a red thread.  The two seemingly opposite in tone and atmosphere images of the world of a boy, who devoids of genuine love of parents, and burdened with a formal care of near (de jure) relatives, contain some key components.

First of all, a description of depth of the emotional sphere of the character and its invisibility for the eyes of others, an unwillingness of other people to accept this world.

Second, the loneliness of the hero and the presence of some secret outlet and idolatry – mostly to inanimate objects, – associated with emotional deprivation of the child.

Third, there are some obvious antagonists that are shown by the author as flat characters who do not have any positive features. They are often heartless, cold-blooded people who are at the end of the story get their deserts. (For example, in the Lumber room boy’s aunt just got into the rain-water tank, and in Sredni Vashtar author deals shortly with the antagonist in a more brutal way – a ferret killed her).

And finally, fourth, there is a lack of any empathy for other people, shame and blame for what he has done.  At the same time we observe a God complex waking up with egocentrism, causing the character to avenge his enemies tenfold.

So, as we can see, the image of a child is holistic by nature, despite his young age. In the works of Bradbury and Munro he is distinguished with his kindness, hard work, spirituality, thirst for knowledge and understanding, unity with nature and distrust of the mechanisms, the thirst for the fight against evil, a sense of usefulness of the existence (I am alive, and I am in the centre of it all), poetry of the vision and consciousness, which, in fact, lead to creativity.

The image of a child who exists under the religious influence of the surrounding nature, embodied all the main elements of the problems of modern literature: the idea of ​​circulation of the good, the inseparability from the nature, the family idyll and customs, the ability to perceive the world creatively, the value of life, the inherent value of all its moments etc.

  1. Kellert Stephen R. Experiencing Nature: Affective, Cognitive and Evaluative Development in Children.// Children and nature: psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations / edited by Peter H. Kahn and Stephen R. Kellert. –The MIT Press. 2002. – P.118
  2. Оганян А. Остров невезения // Брэдбери Р. Зеленые тени, белый кит. – М., 1992.
  3. Bradbury Ray. Dandelion wine. HarperCollins, 1999. – 288 p.
  4. Saki (H. H. Munro). Sredni Vashtar and Other Stories (Dover Thrift Editions). Dover Publications. 2015. – 96 p.

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