Growing Pains, Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken

Essay by mattkovyHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2004

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"To be mature means to face, and not evade, every fresh crisis that comes." says Fritz Kunkel. This postulate is demonstrated through the character Paul in Conrad Aiken's Silent Snow, Secret Snow. This young boy is beginning to mature and grow out of his childhood, and he goes through a state of repudiation that comes to life as a psychosis. In fear, he reaches for his past and his childhood, which are represented by his neighborhood postman. However, he cannot hold onto that forever. Man has an innate fear of growing up, change, and the alienation that can come with it. This young boy's psychosis, the snow, represents Man's fear of growing up.

Paul's "secret", the world of snow that he sees, is his way of keeping himself from growing up. It hides the world from him like a mother, and like a mother, it lets him feel like he has something special and is safe.

The narrator states "Nor was it only a source of possession - it was also a sense of protection." (165) This "protection" is the protection that a child feels with his mother, and with his ignorance of the horrors of the world. He uses this "snow" to keep out those things that would cause him to mature out of his safe, undeveloped world.

During school, his teacher and classmates occasionally break through his snow and he acknowledges them. For the most part, however, he keeps them in the real world, on the other side of the snow. He blocks out his teacher, Miss Buell, as the narrator says, "putting his secret between himself and the words." (165) He also blocks out his classmate girl, Deirdre. She represents romantic love, which is a very mature feeling, and that maturity is what he is...