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Red from Green - Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Simonely93
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- Red from green –

The physical changes, the insecurity, the desire of being independent and the need of confirmation are all a part of the transformation of becoming adult. Everybody has to go through the stages, where everything seems new and different – even yourself.
This transformation has been described in the most famous stories, such as “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Sleeping Beauty”, and is also being described in the short story by Maile Meloy; “Red from green”, where the young girl Sam is experiencing the changes from childhood to adulthood very abruptly.

When reading the short story you are not in any doubt of the main theme, which is the above-mentioned “the change from child to adult”.
This is seen throughout the whole story, from even the small reactions running through her body, such as her insecurity and blushing when being complimented (l. 44; p. 2)) , to her very first experience with her sexuality in the form of physical contact with the grown up man: Layton (ll. 145-157; pp. 2-3). Beside that, the act of distancing from her father is also a part of growing old, and this is a very essential point of the story, since she decides to leave him, when accepting the scholarship from the boarding school.
The shape of Sam’s state of mind is additionally confirming this changing. Sam is a very representative teenager in the middle of the puberty. She is really going through a development through the story; starting from a point, where the adultness has not been introduced to her, to a point where she has to take decisions of her own because of this development.
She is a shy and insecure teenage girl, and this is seen when she is talking to Layton, where she is trying to avoid any deeper conversation by answering with as few words as possible; ll. 19-25; p. 1: “” You got a name?” the client asked. “Sam,” she said.” […] “You have perfect teeth,” he said. “Did you have braces?” “No,” she said.” and by acting dismissive when she keeps reading instead of looking at Layton (l. 33; p. 1). Her insecurity is more directly described in lines 62-63, where she’s actually wondering if any other person thinks she has perfect teeth. This sentence also indicates her need of confirmation.
Like the majority of teenagers, Sam is divided in connection to her sexuality. Her instincts indicate her newfound passion, but her actions contrast to this. She wants to explore the new world of sex, which is seen when she is pleased of his appearance (ll. 64-65; p. 2), but when Layton touches her, she takes her distance when removing his wrist and leaving (ll.146-156; pp. 4-5). Her mentally division is also symbolized, when she’s sitting on top of Layton, and her left site is warm from the head of the fire, but her right site is cold.
Beside that she desires a protective father, which the father fails to deliver, when he is leaving her alone with Layton at the bonfire.
Just like Sam is going through a development, the relationship between her and her father is also going through a development. It appears from the beginning of the story, that the relation between father and daughter is a bit strained. They only show their caring for each other through actions; not verbally; lines 117-118: “He gave her a chip and kissed her on the forehead”. This strained relation could be owed to the death of the mother (l. 37; page 2). The point where their relationship changes, is when her father is leaving her at the fire. This very act is the symbol of desertion and even though Sam wants to believe, that he did not mean to leave her (this is seen on lines 187-188: “He definitely hasn’t meant for it to happen”, where definitely indicates her desire of convincing herself), his act creates an emotional gap between them, and causes her decision of her distancing from him, when accepting the scholarship.
Another very specific scene describes the change in the relationship, when the father finds the bullet, ll. 174-176: “”Where’d you find this?” he asked. “I shot it.” She waited for the next question. He said nothing.” Sam is challenging their relationship and his authority, by admitting her use of guns, and he does not comment on it, which indicates the distance between them, and the fact that she has becoming an independent girl, who takes choices of her own without the interference of her father.
The settings of the story support the theme very well. The story takes its place in the nature (near the river), and this physical scene connects with the sexual passion, which has its origin from prehistoric times. Furthermore the weather is described as hot, and this fact also supports the sexual part of the story.
The sexual elements in the short story are also symbolized in several things. The most evident is Layton’s gun. The gun symbolizes his masculinity, and could be interpreted as a “phallus symbol” (= symbol of the penis), and when he guides her how to use the gun, it symbolizes the guidance you need and get when having sex with another person for the first time.
Layton also alludes to her virginity, when he asks for “a virgin”, and by that he is referring to a Margarita (a drink) without alcohol (l. 112; page 3). The passion is further more symbolized in the fire.
Even though the story only lasts three days, Sam goes through a radical change, which takes her from the security and safety of childhood to the exciting, new and frightening stage of adulthood.
She distances from her father, experiences her first act of sexuality, and begins to learn herself and her limits.

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