Stop Time

892 words | 3 page(s)

Stop time is coming of age story about Frank Conroy and his learning about being an adult and human nature in general. The major theme is the story of a boy’s childhood. The underlying them is exploring the responsibilities as well as the attraction of individuals in their real and metaphorical travel through life. Conroy tells his story as if he was the life in the midst of a dead society. In his story he “ramble[s] over…miles of wasteland, trying to find the center of it, the place to know it, [sensing] the place around [him] but they [are] too thinly spread, too finely drawn over all the miles of woods for us to grasp them” (29).  Conroy’s childhood was anything but happy, his home environment had many underlying issues which were detrimental to his own physical and mental well-being.

Conroy tells his story mainly in past tense, this is an obvious assumption being that the author is telling of his childhood. He does switch to the present tense which is his efforts to bring the reading into the moment that he is addressing during that time. This was effective for showing the reader the importance of what he was trying to get across, however there is no pattern for when he switches from past to present tense. His past and present is separated in his here and now, but others is based upon the ‘when I was young’ references so it is a shift in the presentation for the readers.

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Conroy does not focus on his childhood turmoil merely his journey, but there were points were the reader could assume that it is being addressed with anger. He explains to the reader that he went to his parent room through a porthole and upon exiting the porthole he fell on his head. Conroy states, “The pain was barely noticeable.  (No more than, fifteen years later, a woman’s teeth in my arm)” (157).  The scene held no real contents that could be a deeper meaning, his rambling covered issues from sexual innuendos to thievery. The reader can assume anything they want about this unclear rambling, but as a reader the locked door could be linked to his own sexual explorations. A topic for which he briefly mentioned without much detail.

If the statement where he addressed the pain was barely noticeable opens the door to the assumption that if falling on his head was not noticeable, he must have endured immense pain as a child. This could have been a way for Conroy to express the abuse and pain that was inflicted upon him as a child. This is not clearly defined, but allows room for the reader to take a deeper look at the possibilities. He also talks about looking at his newborn sister, and seeing her face. He writes, “I spent a lot of time looking at her…as if by being there long enough…I would come to understand the mystery (I was a child, remember) of life” (154).  This shows the burden this child was carrying with him. The entire story revolved around his childhood, yet he still need to allow the reader to see that he was a child wondering about the mystery of life. What had this young boy been subjected to that he carried such a heavy burden in his heart?

The story was void of emotion reactions, except for in a few instances. One of these instances was when He tells of his mother’s “nightly bout[s] of weeping, faintly girlish, expressing exhaustion rather than sorrow.  As a plea to Jean [his stepfather], they never worked” (137).  This must have been something that he witnessed on a regular basis because he didn’t even respond to his mother’s pleads and crying. He went to his room gathered his school things and went on about his day. However, when he saw a young girl crying, he was shaken by what he had saw. He writes, “I recoiled from the peephole as if a needle had pierced my pupil.  In a frenzy of confusion I began sorting books as if nothing had happened” (140). He felt sorry for the hurt of the innocent, but not in his own home, his own mother.

Conroy’s memoir is very difficult to understand, it is a disconnected series of forward motions. The tools he used continually were to dissociate himself from the life he was living. The reason was not clearly shown, just underlying innuendos of life as it is passing by him. His pain is visible when he writes of wanting to disappear and feeling invisible. He hides in a dog kennel trying not to be seen. Also as an adult, they show of his wanting to disappear when he drives drunk in his later years. His own family failed to fill the needs of his childhood acceptance and he tries to use the dogs to fill his family void. But dogs have their way of living, which is different from humans. He writes, “They had their own cabal from which I was excluded” (105).  He hides from his mother, runs away from his stepfather, and only seems concerned with seeing his baby sister. This shows there is underlying factors which were detrimental to his childhood which were shown in not so direct methods to the readers.

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