A young boys mother is his comforter and consoler, she patches up his scraped knees, and she kisses him goodnight. She is his idea of everything that is good in this world. His father, however, is his rock, and his source of strength. His father is his role and his source of identity. A father is the reason all little boys want to hurry into manhood.
With the absence of such a role, however, a little boy is left to face challenges to his own identity. In the novel Jim The Boy, by Tony Early, a little boy's quest for maturity is coupled with the search for his father. In this coming of age novel, Jim Glass is beginning his search for manhood, and his quest for his father. Having died shortly before Jim's birth, his father is know to him only through the stories of his mother and three uncles. Jim's quest for his father takes him through many stages in his young life. This novel is the story of a young boy finding himself, and his place in this world.
Using that, Early builds Jim's quest for his father as the driving force that carries the story. "Jim's mother and uncles had known and lived with Jim Glass, Sr. and Jim had constructed a man named Daddy from their stories... (222) " Within himself, Jim lives with a mental image of his father. This is what characterizes his quest for his father.
While he leans upon the stories and experiences of others, Jim does not really know his father. He only has an illusionary image of him. His desire to know and be like his father is fueled by his limited knowledge of him. This understanding of his father that Jim seeks to find becomes an underlying theme that is deeply rooted in the plot of the novel. Throughout his work, Early opens windows that allow the reader to see through the story and into Jim's thoughts. Through these openings in the story, the reader realizes the underlying theme of Jim's quest for his father.
In a scene between Jim and Penn Carson's father, Radford, Early opens one of these windows. When Mr. Carson mentions to Jim that he knew his father, Jim's heart begins to rapidly speed up. He is immediately drawn into what Mr. Carson is saying. The stories of his father that Jim knows are only those that his mother and uncles share.
The possibility of a new story excites Jim and makes him feel closer to his father. "Because Mr. Carson knew stories that Jim hadn't heard, Jim's father suddenly seemed close by, the way he did sometimes, as if he had left the room moments before (103)." It is here that Jim's quest is defined. Through new stories and experiences that Mr. Carson is able to relate to Jim, he is gaining new information about his father. He is gathering new stories and characteristics from Mr.
Carson and adding to the already mentally constructed image he has of his father. This window that Early creates allows the reader to clearly get a sense of the desire that Jim possesses to know his father. It through this desire that Jim's quest for his father develops as an underlying force in the novel. In his quest, Jim strives to do things that he feels his father did. He wants to imitate the "constructed man" in his mind. After hearing the story of his father's braveness from Mr.
Carson, Early allows the reader to view another snapshot of Jim's thoughts. Asserting that his "daddy wasn't afraid (108)," Jim takes the courage that he now holds to be a characteristic of his father, and finds it within himself in order to win the greased pole contest. As he continues to gain knowledge of his father, Jim seeks to do the things that he believes his dad did. Upon being taken up to Lynn's Mountain, the childhood home of his father, Jim wonders if his dad had looked upon the things he was now seeing. As Jim is exploring all the new sights on Lynn's Mountain, he thinks, "My daddy walked under these trees...
I bet my daddy sat on that rock and rested (195)." With these views into Jim's boyish mind, Early allows the reader to understand and see Jim's quest for his father. Jim actively wants to be like his father. He wants to see the things he believes his father has seen and do the things that he believes his father has done. Jims quest continues as he actively pursues ways to be like the image he has of his father.
During the course of the story, Jim pursues the idea of his father. Throughout this quest he allows him to live in his mind. Being a ten-year old boy, Jim uses his imagination to allow his father to live within him. At several instances in the work, Jim describes moments when he feels that he is expecting to see his father. With the knowledge that Jim has of him, he feels like he is playing some kind of game with his dad in which always misses him. Jim admits that he feels as though he is always arriving a few minutes after his father has left.
Because of the stories and explanations of his father that he has in his mind, he is able to make his father exists in his own world. "It was easy for him to imagine his father up there somewhere, maybe slipping through the woods with a squirrel riffle or fishing in a clear creek (109)." Jim uses the construction of the man he knows to be his father as a basis for the man that he allows to come to life in his mind. By keeping him alive in his heart and mind, Jim continues his quest for him. The only living relative of Jim's father is his grandfather, Amos Glass. Even though he has never met his grandfather, as the novel develops, Early makes it clear to the reader that the driving force behind Jim's recreation of his father is his grandfather. During a scene where Jim is standing outside the new school he looks up at Lynn's Mountain and comments, "because Amos Glass still lived in a place Jim could see, it was easy for him to imagine his father up there somewhere (109)." Knowing that his grandfather is still alive, keeps Jim's father alive to him.
His quest for his father is driven because Jim knows that the man who gave his father life is still alive. For Jim, Amos represents the life of his father, and, "nothing had made Jim's father so real as the beating heart of Amos Glass." As the novel nears its end, Jim's quest for his father culminates at his grandfather's home. The idea that Amos exists allows Jim's father to be real to him. As he finds Amos sick and dying, Jim faces a turning point in his quest.
Looking through the bedroom window at his grandfather for the first time in his life, Jim realizes that once he dies, his father's connection to life will also perish. Looking at Amos, Jim recognizes that when he is gone, so too will end his quest for his father. Jim thinks to himself, "Once Amos dies, Jim's father would become as ancient and faceless as a man in the Bible, a man walking away until he is finally impossible to see (223)." At this stage in the novel, the reader watches as this underlying theme that Early has woven into the book comes to a climax. It is here that Jim's quest for his father will end. Once Amos passes away, the reader comes to the understanding that Jim will be alone in the world in a way he has never experienced before. His quest will end, and his father will now live only inside of him.
A father is the anchor in one's life. He represents half of who someone is. Whether or not each person has a father in their life, there will be that desire to know him. In this novel, Jim has his three uncles and his mother in his life. His quest for his father, however, is always just below the surface of the story.
Jim is on a continual journey to seek his father. Serving as a theme hidden within the plot of the novel, Early uses Jim's desire to drive the novel. Throughout many points in the work, the reader is allowed to watch as this theme develops. Whatever Jim is involved in, his thoughts and action can always be brought back to the thought of his father. By doing this, Early creates a sub plot to his work, and he sustains a driving theme that carries the story through the end..