Alberto R'ios's, "The Secret Lion", does an excellent job depicting a young boy's childhood. This step out of childhood belongs to the narrator Alberto. The story takes place in the border town Nogales, Arizona near Mexico in the early 1960's. Alberto lives in lower class neighbor hood on the outskirts of town. This short story sets out to show the innocence of young boyhood, how nothing stays perfect, and when something perfect comes along, it gets taken away.
Alberto reflects stages of his life from when he was five years old to twelve years old. He attended junior high school along with his friend, Sergio. Throughout the story the duo were continuously portrayed as innocent. Alberto knew "There were words in junior high school, and they wanted to know what they were, and how a person did them" (54). Alberto didn't have enough experience in his life to figure out what the words meant. At that particular age he didn't need those curious questions answered.
Adults rejected the questions like "If you went up to a teacher and said the word to try and find out what it meant you got in trouble for saying it" (54). Teachers knew what these words were and they knew that the kids didn't need them in their vocabulary. Answers would be given through time. The boys rebelled by going to a nearby arroyo after school and "shout every dirty word we could think of and we would yell about girls, and all the Krajewski 2 things we wanted to do with them" (55). It felt good to them that they could get away from reality and have no one to boss them around. As they got older "nature seemed to keep pushing them around one way or another, teaching them the same thing every place we ended up" (56).
Alberto's mother calls the area, opposite the arroyo, hills. During the story, however, Alberto sees the hills as "mountains, for a small man" (56). This conveys that he is still in childhood and when older they will be called, just hills. Perfection is what the boys lived for, however nature threw many obstacles at them. As the boys went to arroyo some days to swim, "The sewage treatment that was, we found out, upstream, would release whatever it was that it released, and we would never know exactly what day that was, and a person really couldn't tell right off by looking at the water, not every time, not so a person could get out in time".
After their perfect day became a disaster, the boys retreat to the mountains to find another perfect place. The boys later on found a grinding ball used for mining. They found the ball to be pretty spectacular even though it was just metal, "Guythisis, this is, geeGuythis" (55). They were so excited they stumbled with their words. This ball represented perfection in an imperfect world. The last perfection the boys found in the story was so called "paradise."This was perfect, had trees, lots of trees, had birds, like we had never seen before.
It was like "The Wizard of Oz", like when they got to Oz and everything was so green, so emerald" (57). It was nothing like Arizona's dry desert. This place was so perfect to them like the grinding ball. However, they were developing out of their innocence after each incident. Krajewski 3 Alberto and Sergio's experience at paradise was perfect until, "Two men came, from around a corner of trees and the tallest grass we had ever seen" (57). It took Alberto awhile to catch on and realized their paradise was nothing much more than a golf course.
"Something got taken away from us that moment. Heaven" (57). He once learned that things get taken away and grew up. He also realized that there was no heaven, and that the golf course was a scandal. The grinding ball was also a loss to the boys.
Their trinket was perfect. They buried the ball so that they can keep this perfection from being taken away. "And came back the next week to dig it up and, we didn't know, pass it around some more or something, but we didn't find it. We dug up the whole bank, ad we never found it again. We tried" (55) Alberto and Sergio tried to hold on to their perfection and it slipped away. They finally mature and figure out that nature will take things away.
Alberto, an adult now, reflects on his childhood and sees the changes that he went through as a child. He looks at the grinding ball and looks at it as an ordinary object. Alberto toward the end of his childhood, "learned to be ready for finding the grinding ball. The truth is we didn't look so hard for it.
We were two boys and twelve summers then, and not stupid. Things get taken away" (58). He finally lost his innocence. The Lion symbolized his innocence. In the beginning of the story the lion portrayed puberty and roared from the frustrations that came along with it. They then were passed from childhood into manhood.
Finally as Alberto reflects he just thinks of the secret lion as just the lion. Alberto is now an adult and looks at things, that may look spectacular to a child, as ordinary and imperfect.