Containing all the well-known signs of a fairy tale from the beginning, The Thing in the Forest is expected to include the fantasy aspect of a fairy tale. Unlike most fairy tales however, The Think in the Forest quickly turns into a very real occurrence that happened to children all over that particular region during that particular time period. Once the girls come within earshot, and then sight of “The Thing”, it takes on many figurative meanings. These meanings include everything from the war and all it entitled, to the girls leaving their innocence and becoming affected by the war.
The story includes two little girls as the main characters, yet Primrose, the one who later in life becomes a story teller, is assumed to be the narrator throughout the story. Primrose is “Plump and blond and curly… [She] had bitten nails, a velvet collar on her dressy green coat. ” (353). Interestingly, the narrator (Primrose), who is made slightly greedy from her experiences during the war, goes into grave detail of her clothing. The “dressy” clothing holds no real value, and is only added into the story because it holds some sort of personal value to the narrator.
Also, describing Primrose as “plump” is about the nicest way to describe and overweight child. It becomes evident from the first description of Primrose that she is favored by the narrator. Penny is different than Primrose in almost every way. “Penny was thin and dark and taller, possibly older than Primrose…Penny had a bloodless transparent paleness, a touch of blue in her fine lips. ”(353). Even though Penny becomes a much more established person compared to Primrose later in life, how Penny is described isn’t nearly as positive as the description of Primrose.
With the well detailed description of what Primrose was wearing, it would be expected that what Penny was wearing would be told. These details are never brought to light. This missing information proves that the narrator has a much stronger attachment to Primrose than Penny. The two girls are completely different in terms of personality traits, still they do have some things in common. They both lost their fathers. “ Penny’s farther, …died in a sheet of flame in the East Indian Docks…Primrose’s farther…was killed, very late in the war, on a crowded troop carrier sunk in the Far East” (358).
While both their fathers were killed, the ways in which they were killed are just another example of how different Penny and Primrose are. With one being killed by fire and one being killed by water, the natural forces could not be any more dissimilar. “The Thing” is also something that they both have in common. They both hear it. They both smell it. They both see it. “A sound and a smell fabricated of many disparate sounds and smells. A crunching, a crackling, a crushing, a heavy thumping” (356).
The sounds heard by the little girls is the very essence of war. The sound of troops and machinery crushing everything in their way. These sounds are the very sounds that they were sent away from. “Its face…appeared like a rubbery or fleshy mask over a shapeless sprouting bulb of a head. Its expression was neither wrath nor greed but pure misery. ”(357). This is the face of war. The rubbery gas masks worn by troops. For almost all, war is pure misery. Not just for the military’s fighting, but for everyone. The girls were sent away to preserve their innocence.
Once they ran into the woods, they ran from their innocence and became aware of the war around them. After seeing “The Thing”, the girls become separated and live very different lives. Just as they started out as completely different people, they continue to live as completely different people. The war did impact them both in similar ways, “They both never married. ” (358). Both Penny and Primrose choose careers that were influence by the war, but both the careers fit their personalities. Even without the war, they would have probably both chosen careers along the same guidelines.
The fact they neither of them married is something that the war probably changed. War has the power to give people something in common who would otherwise have nothing in common. “The Thing” is everything evil about the war from the understanding of two little girls. They didn’t know exactly what this evilness was, but they did know that it was evil. The story also completes a circle. Starting with a story and ending with the story starting again. How the war influence these girls continues to be passed on through Primrose, the story teller.
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