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An adolescent’s life no matter how distressed or stressful it may seem is always entertaining to watch from the eye of a third person as its packed with drama and is something a reader can relate to and empathize with. In the case of “Leopard” by Wells Tower, the story explores the life of a young Yancy. Although it is a well-executed story, it fails to consistently narrate the story in the eyes of the protagonist Yancy and it meanders on to the author (Tower’s) narrating the story with the psychological maturity of an adult. In this story about an adolescent boy navigating through the harsh natures puberty, the writer shows us the psychological warfare going on within the mind of an eleven-year-old, who is figuring out what is right and wrong surprisingly, with the psychological maturity of an adult.
As tricky as it may seem, second person narrative is an interesting way to look at a short story. It was odd to find a short story with a second person narrative, as such a form of narration is close to rare in literature. Primarily the style of narration was a breath of fresh air due to its rarity and it’s addition of depth to the story. It is common for an eleven-year-old to be talking to himself to such an extent especially while scheming a lie. But the use of such a style of narration makes one think of how deeply the author is invested in his story. In this case, it was evident that Yancy and Towers shared a certain level of similarity not only thought wise but also as they share a unique lens of viewing the world. In adolescent’s life no matter how distressed or stressful it may seem is always entertaining to watch from the eye of a third person as its packed with drama and is something a reader can relate to and empathize with. In the case of “Leopard” by Wells Tower, the story explores the life of a young Yancy. Although it is a well-executed story, it fails to consistently narrate the story in the eyes of the protagonist Yancy and it meanders on to the author (Tower’s) narrating the story with the psychological maturity of an adult. In this story about an adolescent boy navigating through the harsh natures puberty, the writer shows us the psychological warfare going on within the mind of an eleven-year-old, who is figuring out what is right and wrong surprisingly, with the psychological maturity of an adult.
The one thing that was noticeable in this story is that the author, in many occasions broke character. When an author writes a story, it is important that he or she is supposed to see the world through the lens of his or hers fictional/non-fictional character. In “Leopard” Tower in many instances failed to stick with the lens of Yancy, an eleven-year-old and used his lens as a grown-up writer which is evident through the vocabulary used in the story. It makes the readers suspicious that an eleven-year-old is capable of using polished vocabulary such as “irremediably” not once but twice properly. Another suspicious point in the story was how did an eleven-year-old be capable of knowing the name of that thing that separated once nostrils.
During puberty or the age of teenage, it is common for an eleven year to doubt themselves, try to pull one over their parents and maybe even develop some psychological sophistication due to factors such as having a divorced parent or even having an easily dislikable step-parent. But in this short story, Towers clearly stretched this leniency of being a teenager too far. A fine example will be the case of the late young character Samantha Measly, whose body was tragically found near a maple tree, not only murdered but also raped. An exciting girl who led an adventurous life and young Yancy thought “at least she didn’t die a virgin”. As cruel as it sounds it did add some much-needed contrast to the story, but it was much due to the fact Yancy was an eleven-year-old. Although perverted thoughts are common in the mind of an adolescent, it would not be the case for Yancy. It was not the thought that made Yancy seem to possess the mental stability of an adult it was the fact that through the sudden rush of the thought the child was able to understand that it was a bad thought and it was that control that made the child seem too young for his mental stability. In this short story, one would believe the character was given too much psychological maturity for his age.
Being the protagonist in this story, Yancy is a hard character to root due to his cunning persona. Regardless of Yancy being cheeky and scheming the only factor that makes the audience stick with the character is primarily the lack of affection shown by his biological Mom and the strict nature of his Stepdad. Otherwise, the reader is expected to root for the character because of the good guy plot armor put on Yancy by Tower. In a way, Yancy can also be considered his own antagonist due to his back and forth arguments or his self-conflicting nature. While his stepfather is supposed to be considered as the primary antagonist it is hard to do so as, if one looks through the lens of the stepfather one can see that everything is done for the kids own good. The stepdad’s nature or way of implementing things might be a bit rash but nothing was sinister. But as a reader we are to look at the story through the eyes of Yancy and his view makes the stepdad seem sinister even though most of the stepdad’s actions were the aftermath of Yancy’s own doings.
Structured like a short story, the story is well complemented by the second person narrative as it adds a well-needed sense of freshness due its use of the typical teenager in crisis story template. The story had a well-executed script like structure but more comprehensible to the common mind due to the second person narrative. The story was well narrated and had a fine balance of past and present tense. The addition of metaphor such as the Leopard was excellent as the Leopard can be interpreted as Yancy. The spots can represent the black spots of Yancy’s young life which represents his scheming and lying nature. The tone or the overall mood of the story can’t be expected to be a typical happy story due to the struggling nature of the boy complimented by the loveless environment the child is in. One can assume the audience of this story can be Young Adults and to an extent people in their mid-20s and 30s due to the implementations of real-world concepts such as murder, rape and so on. The audience can vary due to the fact that everyone above the age of 18 can empathize with an adolescent due to the physical and psychological strains involved.
Although it was highly entertaining to view the schemes of a teenager, one can believe it is a little far-fetched due to the layers upon layers of thought behind a simple lie. The child scheming to fall and pass the blame to the stepfather inflated to this huge case of planning a fake accident and fearing the unpredictable after-effects seem to be far-fetched for an eleven-year-old to think of. In the end, the story at its core was about an adolescent trying to gain sympathy or affection from a loved one through any means necessary in order to cope with the sudden changes that are happening in a pace in which he is struggling to keep up with.
The story proved to be easy to empathize with due to its second-person narration, but at the same time, it seemed unorthodox as second person narration is a rare phenomenon in literature. The confusing nature of the child’s maturity now seems to be justified. As after studying the text more in detail it’s been obvious that the boy even with his nature to find excuses in others but himself did possess this high rate of psychological maturity due to his parent’s divorce. So the sense of independence could have triggered his adult as a way of comprehension. Even with the mental stability, the child seems to have no good role models in his life to look up to as his father is weak, his stepfather seems to be this strict dictator-like figure and his so-called emotionless mother. Regardless the minor flaws within the short story “Leopard” proved to be a thought-provoking story which took its readers back to their respective adolescents, in the end turning into one of Wells Tower’s classic great works.
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