Characters - Children Have to Grow Up: "Careful he might hear you" by Sumner Lock Elliot

Essay by spurniciousJunior High, 9th gradeA+, July 2006

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Sumner Lock Elliot's novel "Careful he might hear you" introduces to the reader part of the journey made by a six-year old boy named PS, on his way to adulthood. It illustrates also the notion that growing up is a multifaceted activity, requiring not only a physical maturation, but an emotional advancement as well. He suggests that people other than children need to grow up (as indeed they do). The adults most responsible for moulding PS into an adult themselves all need to mature emotionally, either to become self-confident, stable people, to proceed in life beyond the past or to separate completely their pasts from their present lives. Without doing so, these people are incapable of guiding productively the growth of another person and actually hinder his development.

Impediment of PS's development begins early as a result of Lila Baines' imposition of her own beliefs and character traits. His adoption of her ceaseless desire for social prudence frequently results in PS's profound unhappiness.

Because of Lila's unwillingness to speak her mind, Lila has crippled PS's ability to do so. Though she rages internally, her fears of losing PS to Vanessa, Lila's only comment to the husband willing to comfort her and the boy who relies upon her for guidance is a happy and practical "Crumpets for tea". This has been noticed and adopted by PS, rendering him partly incapable of true self-expression or effective confrontation. After his first terrible and lonely night spent in Vanessa's Point Piper house, afraid and uncomfortable, PS responds to her enquiry about his comfort replying that "Yes" he had slept well. Later that same weekend, PS politely reassures Ettie that "Oh, yes" he did like his stay with her, though he was internally "wishing it would... all end now."

Lila leaves PS vulnerable...