Journeying for the first time to school “alongside” his father, the Narrator as a child, who is conscious of “time” and of “a street lined with gardens” and “extensive fields planted with crops, prickly pears, henna trees, and a few date alms,” shows that he begins a new phase of life with much potential for creativity and mindfulness (55). But, as this nameless protagonist represents the average man, upon entering “school” (55) he loses his sense of flexibility, and his whole life becomes so mechanically repetitive that It may be compressed into one day.Mafioso’s point Is that, despite all his Minimal potential, the Narrator never develops his Individual Identity; for, as he dutifully follows a given “pattern” (56), which he acquires through the Instruction that school signifies, his faculties of attention, imagination, emotions, and instinct suffer from inhibition, and he loses the freedom to create a meaningful and original pattern as an individual. As Manful shows the contrast between the Narrator and his father at the “early morning” of the formers life, the father is ironically oblivious to the son’s potential as a unique individual (58).
The self-absorbed adult, who wishes the young boy to emulate his “father and brothers,” calls school a metaphorical “factory’ where “boys” mature into “useful men” (55). But as Manful uses dramatic irony, school as “factory’ is suggestive of the reduction of repetitive and mechanical copies, and hence of a restrictive environment which stifles Individual expressions. And this Is exactly what happens once the child enters the school premises: The gate was closed letting out a pitiable screech.The men began sorting us Into ranks. We were formed Into an Intricate pattern in the great courtyard surrounded on three sides by high buildings of several floors; from each floor we were overlooked (56) This school, which symbolizes regulation, proves to be a factory-like milieu, where there is a sense of unfounded: Here, under a complex system of surveillance and discipline, the children are workers who are stratified and hierarchies into “ranks”.As Manful depicts this “[a]represent system” which “grant[s] all power to a memory or central organ” (Delude and Guitar 1 6), the Narrator is restricted to “a memory’ as he succumbs to a coercive, suppressive environment, which teaches the children to obey and follow a “central organ” comprised of a hierarchy of authority figures (“lady,” “group of men,” “mothers and fathers”), and which Is supposed to be a copy of “home” (56).
Although school Is supposed to wean children from the protective environment of home, It, Ironically, Is only a “new home” (56), where members are workers who must dutifully replicate the “pattern” handed down to them. Before instinctive potential, as Manful demonstrates through the Narrator’s simile of the school as “a huge high-walled fortress” (55).On his way to school the child “challenge[s]” his father “openly,” for, curious, questioning, and independent-minded, at this point he is unwilling to submit to the pattern his father hands down to him (55): In response to his father’s metaphor of “factory’, the child whose symbolic progress” shows his rapid mental growth (“running to keep up with the [father’s] long strides”), invents his own simile, revealing that he appropriates fortress as a signifier to give it an original twist with his comparison of school to a suppressive (“high-walled”) state of existence.Indeed, while the father’s metaphor shows an obliviousness to originality, the child’s simile shows a creativity and acuteness of perception: a fortress signifies protection, and thus the school appears to represent dependability; but in reality it represents intimidation and protectiveness, as the hill perceives with his faculties of attention, imagination, emotions, and instinct.At this point in time then, the narrator, who benefits from a sense of his freedom of choice, and hence from the freedom to thrive and grow, shows an awareness of individuality.
But he loses individuality once he enters school and conforms to the world of rules and conventions. His father asks him to “[b]e a man” (56), and in this patriarchal world which promotes the culture of masculinity, the Narrator learns to be self-suppressive.For, in this suppressive culture of masculinity, which teaches a nouns boy to endure pain bravely, he learns to bottle his emotions. Further, as the patriarch wishes his son to be “a man,” he functions as an authority figure who continues to impose patriarchal values: Mimi will find me waiting for you when it’s time to leave” (56). Not surprisingly, from now on the Narrator can only take “a few steps” before getting “lost” in the patriarchal traditions that dictate a prescribed way of life (56).Clearly, as his faculty of emotions becomes stifled, so do his faculties of attention and imagination: “l looked but saw nothing” (56). In this restrictive world f his “new home,” which stifles his potential to grow as a unique individual, Mafioso’s nameless Narrator surrenders to a repetitive and mechanical pattern of conventions and “facts” (56). For, as William James asserts, the average human learns to dispose of each new experience “under some old head,” and “assimilate[s] the new to the old” Games 309).
And “the submission” brings “contentment” (56). “[S]bumboat[ins]” to the herd mentality, he becomes oblivious of his freedom of choice, and is relieved to slide into the work that he does not have to create and hence to contemplate and be personally responsible for (56). But the “curio[us]” and compassionate child, who comes forward to comfort the bewildered Narrator, shows that he refuses to be submissive, for his faculties of attention, imagination and emotions are abundantly active: “Who brought you? (56). Clearly, this young boy, who steps out of the crowd (the herd), does something extraordinary in the environment where the Narrator becomes “lost”: He maintains his individuality. Indeed, as Manful suggests through this individual whose “father’s dead,” he has not been subjected to the stifling culture of masculinity (56). Consequently, unlike the Narrator, his extraordinary individual, who expresses himself with ease, is not in the position of “not know[ins] what to say’ (56).As he engages in meaning-making activity, he appropriates his father’s death, which does not leave him helpless, to develop his the “pattern” imposed upon him by the authority figures of his culture, loses himself in signifier. As his reductive use of mental faculties demonstrates, relying only on his faculties of memory and rationality, he borrows signifier to express his experience: “As our path revealed itself to us, however, we did not find it as totally sweet and unclouded as we had presumed.
Dust-laden winds and unexpected accidents came about suddenly’ (57).Unmindful of his own unique experience, and contentedly preserving the pattern of signifier that he absorbs from his culture, and that is embedded in his faculties of memory and rationality, he becomes part of the crowd (“we,” “our”) of his peers. For, unmindful of his individual identity, he loses his ability to “imagine” (56) his own unique experience and expression. Thus he borrows the cliche©s of “path”, clouds, “[d]just-laden winds”, etc. From his culture.
Imprisoned in a chain of signifier, his clouded imagination can no longer create unique images.Indeed, trapped among signifier, he does not realize that to make meaning for himself, he needs to appropriate the chain of signifier and break free into the novelty of change. He does not realize that he needs to benefit from his freedom of choice to move on with the flux of life, and hence to move beyond the school of “uniform[itty]” and repetitive activity, to benefit from the flux of identity (55). Unable to create his own ideas through the productive phase of his life, at the end of it he is bewildered by the changes happening all around him: “Good Lord!Where was he street lined with gardens? ” (57). Trapped in signifier (“path”, clouds, “[d]just-laden winds”) he is too confused and “lost” to make his own “street” and “gardens”. Indeed, unable to create his own ideas, he slides unmindful into old age and does not see that life is as fleeting as a day, which ends soon after “sunset” (58). Conscious of having lost “the paradise of home,” he is unmindful of his ability to create a new home, and he only wishes to “return” (57) to his old “home” (58).
Indeed, the Narrator, who submits to the pattern imposed upon him, never creates a meaningful relationship. Throughout the youthful phase of his quotidian life, he mechanically and self-absorbed slides in and out of superficial relationships. For the thought of forming relationships on the basis of his individual freedom of choice escapes him: “my heart made friends with such boys as were to by my friends and fell in love with such girls as I was to be in love with” (56).So superficial are these relationships that when the “bell” rings “announcing” the “end of work” and thus the “end” of his life of prescribed professional activities, he bids “farewell” to “friends and sweethearts” (57). Unlike the Narrator, however, the “middle-aged man,” who “smile[sees]” despite his tribulations, is an individual who makes his own meaningful pattern of awareness, for he moves on with the flux of life without disrupting his unique Journey as he moves forward to reconnect with the self-absorbed Narrator after “a long time” (57).As a contrast to this active passer-by who makes time for an old acquaintance, the Narrator, who is oblivious of his own middle age, and who on his own can take no more than “a few steps” in his own unique Journey, shows no sense of the passage of mime and can only “nod” repetitively in “agree[meet]” with the mindful man, for he is stuck in a mechanical pattern (57). But as an old man, who waits “in a daze” at “the crossroads” of new possibilities, the Narrator still has the freedom of choice to create a meaningful relationship, and hence a unique pattern, with “the young lad” who “cross” the chaotic street (58).
As Manful appropriates signifier, school, which signifies instruction, must give way to the awareness that life, which reflects continual change, is supposed to be about continual learning. Thus there is still time for the Narrator to appropriate the signifier of “steps” and “street,” and through an awareness of the flux of life, to develop a new self-identity as a “Grandpa”, and hence, through a meaningful relationship, to create a meaningful pattern for himself beyond “any irritable reaching after fact and reason” (Keats 71).