Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Secret Garden

The hidden depths of a masterpiece.
Meanwhile, the book's tackling of disability and the life of "invalids" is at once intriguing and troubling. Most notable is the depiction of Colin Craven, a cousin of Mary's even more unpleasant than she is. After his mother died giving birth to him, his father, the master of Misselthwaite, left his son to be hidden in the house. He grows up to be an angry, self-loathing boy who unnerves the servants and has a neurotic fear of becoming a hunchback. While Mary is the protagonist, her story is paralleled in Colin's. Indeed, one of the book's strangest features is that it is the two most wounded and unlikable characters who do the most to heal one another. The moral guidance of kindly adults doesn't have much to do with it.

The secret garden is a catalyst for healing in the characters who see it, and with Colin the effect is literal. Unable to walk when we meet him, he discovers in the garden that he can stand. He secretly practises until he is able to shock his father by getting out his wheelchair and walking. With Colin, it's apparent from the start that his disability is psychological, rooted in a loveless childhood. (Read entire article.)

1 comment:

tubbs said...

I remember going into an old-fashioned indy book store, back in Doylestown, as a teenager and picking that up as a b'day present for my little sister. (I liked the concept of a "Secret Garden", and I liked the illustrations). I had no idea the story was so heavy! wow -
p.s. Didn't Carly Simon write music for a
Broadway production of "Secret Garden" a few years back?