Chapter I Initiation Story and Private Peaceful
1.1 The Origin and Development of Initiation Story
Initiation story was born in the West. At present, the domestic and foreign academic circles have reached a consensus on this. It is called Bildungsroman in German. In Towards the Definition of Bildungsroman, Mai Lin-yan mentioned that German critics, Friedrich yon Blunckenburg, highly praised the novel of Christoph Martin Wieland in Essay on the Novel, 1774. When it comes to growth, it is the first time that the term “Bildungsroman” has been implied. Around 1820, Karl von Morgenstern formally put forward the concept of Bildungsroman in his two speeches. As his writings have not been widely circulated, his contribution to the concept of Bildungsroman has not been recognized by more people. However, German philosopher William Dilthey has won more honors in the study of Bildungsroman. He gave a more detailed explanation of Bildungsroman in Experience and Poetry, 1905. His definition became the most frequently cited concept in later explanations of Bildungsroman. However, other critics have revised that Dilthey explored Bildungsroman as early as in The Life of Schleiermacher, 1870. In Bakhtin?s view, Bildungsroman was born in the concentrated writing of a large number of Romantic writers.
Although there are different opinions on the origin of initiation story, it is generally accepted that initiation story originated in Germany in the middle and late 18th century. This is related to the formation of German national consciousness and the pursuit of national unity at that time. After that, the initiation story has developed into a crucial novel style in the history of European literature. That is to say, the meaning of “state” and “subject” was unfamiliar to Germany at that time. In order to construct a modern democratic country, Germany must create or grow up with such a meaning, and initiation story unintentionally becomes the symbol of undertaking this mission. The growth in the novel is like the growth of the nation to some degree.
1.2 The Definition and Characteristics of Initiation Story
In the history of English literature, the name of initiation story has not been fixed; the reason is not that the number of initiation story is not enough to make it an independent novel style. On the contrary, it is precisely because of the huge number of initiation story works and the different angles so it is difficult to cover its broad literary vision and aesthetic scope with a concise word. The term “Initiation” comes from anthropology. It refers to adolescence who has experienced a series of trials in life and acquired the knowledge and ability to deal with society and life independently, thus entering a new stage of life, Adult adulthood.
In What Is An Initiation Story (1960), Modigai Marcos traces the early origin of the term initiation in literary criticism. Cleanth Brooks and Warren used this term to describe a theme and a form of a story when they commented on Hemingway?s The Killers and Sherwood Anderson?s I Want to Know Why (1933) in Understanding Fiction (1943). Ray W. West used this term to refer to one of the two main forms of short stories in American Short Stories: 1900-1950 (1952). This paper adopts Marcos? viewpoint, uses initiation story as the basic name of English Bildungsroman and takes it as a synonym of German Bildungsroman.
In What Is An Initiation Story, Marcos summarizes and classifies many definitions of initiation, pointing out that there are two main types of definitions of initiation story.
Chapter II An Analysis of the Protagonist’s Initiation in Terms of Plot
2.1 The School Life
This period can divide into two parts. The first part is before the graduation of Charlie and Molly and the second part is after the graduation of the two of them. The initiation of Thomas is quite obvious in this period which has significant in his later determination and the rest of his life.
2.1.1 Before Charlie’s Graduation
In the text of initiation story, the characteristics of the protagonist presents to the readers are simple, naive, and even ignorant at the very beginning. This is the logical start of narration and the prerequisite for the initiation of the protagonist. The protagonist of Private Peaceful, Thomas Peaceful, was an innocent child. He had a carefree time before his father?s death.
Before I ever went to school, he?d often take me off to work with him, to keep me out of mischief, he said.……I hardly needed to be told. There were badger holes and fox holes to peer into, deer prints to follow perhaps, flowers to pick, or butterflies to chase.
From the description of these lines, it is not difficult to see how happy he was when he was with his father. But it was the same day that his father was killed by a big tree to save his life. He?s been blaming himself since then. He couldn?t tell anyone it was he who killed his father. The death of his father was the beginning of his inner growth.
He didn?t want to go to school because Big Joe could stay at home with mother and Charlie had told him how terrible that school place is. He even hoped that the mother could run after him and take him home. The fear of school and the desire for carefreeness at home made Tommo feel miserable.
2.2 The Short Work Life
Tommo worked with Charlie at Mr. Cox?s farm after he left school. Farmer Cox was a fair man. Tommy?s job there was looking after horses and he thought it was good enough for him because he was with Charlie again. He liked the way that Charlie treated him, not like a boy anymore. The war had begun, but their life was still peaceful. Tommo was still Charlie?s postman, and soon he found out that the letter between them seemed less frequent. One day, when he and Charlie arrived home they found Molly and her mother were there. Molly?s parents knew the love between Molly and Charlie, and they didn?t allow that. Of course, Tommo didn?t know it before that. He was quite angry. He thought working with Charlie and being their postman could make three of them together again, but the link was broken suddenly and followed his heart broken. ?I was so filled with anger and resentment towards him that I never wanted to speak to him again, nor to Molly come to that.? (Michael Morpurgo, 2014: 236-237)
He thought he had been betrayed by the brother who always protected him and the girl he swore he would love until his death. He realized that the three of them could never ever get back again. And the pain his love brought him was one of the reasons he joined the army later. He never talked about Molly with Charlie again after that. Although he still loved Molly, he buried his love in his deep heart.
Chapter III An Analysis of the Protagonist’s Initiation in Terms of Other Characters .............................. 34
3.1 Positive Guidance ................................... 35
3.2 Negative Guidance ..................................... 43
Chapter IV An Analysis of the Protagonist’s Initiation in Terms of Writing Techniques .............................. 48
4.1 Open-ending ................................... 48
4.2 First-person Narrative ............................ 51
Chapter IV An Analysis of the Protagonist’s Initiation in Terms of Writing Techniques
One of the characteristics of an initiation story is its open-ending. The end of the story is a plot to be told at the end of the story. The end of Private Peaceful tells the reader that Thomas must survive because he has promises to keep. However, the writer didn?t tell readers what would happen to him. It is clearly an open-ending. The ending of the story can be divided into a closed ending and open ending. Closed endings mean the questions raised in the story are answered; all the emotions aroused are satisfied. Opposite to closed ending is an open ending. As for the open ending, it means that most the questions raised during the story have been answered, but there are still one or two unanswered questions that will extend beyond the novel and allow the reader to supplement after reading the novel. Most of the emotions inspired by the novel will be satisfied, but there are still some emotional residues to be satisfied by the readers themselves. That is to say, if a story climax leaves one or two unanswered questions and some unsatisfactory emotions, it is called an open ending.