In Alberto Alvaro Rios's story The Secret Lion, the theme captures how change is imminent and how a child's innocence cannot be spared. Just as our world constantly revolves around our sun, we must also revolve around an essential part of our life course: change. From the caveman to the modern man change has always been present, and although we constantly change, not everyone responds the same way. The transformation from elementary to middle school, the arroyo, the grinding ball, the golf course and the lion represent symbolic objects vital to the understanding of story's theme.
The first symbolic objective in "The Secret Lion" is the transformation from elementary to middle school. Here we read about the authors' first encounter with change and his inability to comprehend what was taking place around him; for example, his realization that his friend Sergio and him can not talk to girls the same way they could in Elementary school. The narrator has reached the point where he now finds the girls sexually attractive and since talking to them makes him nervous, as a result, he avoids communication: "And we saw girls now, but they weren't the same girls we use to know because we couldn't talk to them anymore, not the same way we used to."(Kriszner 166) He now can't ask his teachers questions such as the definition of a word either because he feels that he would get criticized for asking. Now confused, he could not help but wonder why was it that trying to find out what certain words meant was considered wrong: "School wasn't school, everything was backward."(Kriszner 166) Their child's innocence had been strapped away, and now they were not children, but instead developing men who not only could get into trouble for saying the wrong thing, but were also human magnets reacting towards the opposite sex.
The second symbolic objective is the arroyo, which is the boys' way of escaping the "backward world" they live in, and go back to their previous lifestyle. The arroyo is the place the author feels like a kid again: no worries and no punishments for saying what they felt like. "We couldn't explain why, it just felt good and for the first time in our lives there was nobody to tell us we couldn't." (Kriszner 167) However; their euphoria lasts short, as life's weapon of mass destruction, disappointment suddenly strikes. Their precious arroyo river was filled with waste by the sewage treatment plant so they could not go there anymore, as it wasn't the perfect place anymore for them and now blames nature: "Nature seemed to keep pushing us around one way or another, teaching us the same thing every place we ended up."(Kriszner 167) The lesson being taught was that change is unavoidable and there was no place to hide.
The third symbolic object is the grinding ball which was perfectly round. Sergio and the author take the ball and bury it, so that it doesn't get taken away just like their childhood was. "This best thing was going to be taken away from us."(Kriszner 166) After burying the ball, they tried finding it but did not have luck: "We dug up the whole bank, and we never found it again. We tried." The grinding ball represented the children's innocence and though he tried to hide from nature to keep it intact forever, at the end he actually lost it.
The fourth is the golf course which they thought was heaven. They had found the Garden of Eden in the middle of the dessert. "It was just what we thought it would be. Perfect." The narrator and his friend Sergio were so happy that they even ran around laughing, hitting each other and acting like they were rich. They even found a hole for the soda that fit perfectly and nothing could wrong in this perfect world. But all of the sudden just as everything else before, it all came crushing down. This time, however, realizing that they could never find heaven and that life had disappointed them again, they decide to take a new approach and instead be strong and keep their heads up. "We grew up a little bit, and couldn't go backwards." (Kriszner 169) The last symbol used in The Secret Lion is the lion represents adult hood, the lost of innocence and fate. Throughout the whole story, the author claims that the lion is present but he just can't explain what it is "but it was there nonetheless like a lion."(Kriszner 166) The lion signifies the change from an innocent child to an experienced young adult. He didn't know what was happening to him, why he couldn't talk to girls, why asking questions at school was wrong and why everything perfect was being taken away. Just as chaotic as it can be, when a lion spreads terror while attacking other animals; children, just as the animals, run everywhere lost never knowing what to do. At the end however, everything calms down and life continues normally. That is what the narrator did after the "lion" had attacked he went on living the best he could without his childhood innocence. "We went back to the arroyoÃ¢ÂÂ¦and tried to have fun the best we could." (Kriszner 169) He realized at last that fate was inescapable.
The transformation from elementary to middle school, the arroyo, the grinding ball, and the golf course all let the author know that change is imminent. Middle school taught him that life was changing, the arroyo taught him that no matter where he went he could not hide from fate. The grinding ball taught them how perfectly good things get taken away for no reason, and the golf course taught them defeat but at the same time diligence, in order to continue with life. All of these objects show how vital they are to the understanding of story's theme of change being imminent and the innocence of a child cannot be saved.