A Piece of Chalk by G. K. Chesterton
In A Piece of Chalk by G. K. Chesterton we have the theme of desire, prudence, resilience, happiness, independence and ingenuity and very on in the essay the reader realises the Chesterton may be exploring the theme of desire. Chesterton wishes to walk out on the fields and do some drawing. Not the typical drawing of the animals in the fields but more mystical creatures that he can draw up from his memory. The only problem is that Chesterton has no brown paper and he has to ask his landlady for the paper and she generously obliges Chesterton. Who in his own mind has a different type of landscape that he intends to draw. This could be significant as Chesterton by drawing or pulling form the mystic is highlighting his independence when it comes to what others might draw. He sees it pointless to draw the landscape and is much more interested in drawing other things. Things that he thinks are more valuable and are more realistic to his needs. Under no circumstances does Chesterton simply wish to draw the landscape as everybody else seems to do so.
Chesterton does encounter one slight problem and that is the fact that he has no white chalk with him. However by using his own ingenuity he breaks of pieces off rock and begins to draw the sky in front of him on the little piece of brown paper. Though some critics might suggest that Chesterton is defeating the purpose of his plan to avoid painting the landscape. He is left with no other alternative. Which may be the point that Chesterton is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that at times a man can only do the best that they can with the tools at their disposal. If anything Chesterton is being prudent rather than going on a search for a piece of white chalk which he knows he will not find. Chesterton appears to be doing the best he can in a very difficult situation which may leave some readers to suggest that Chesterton is resilient. If anything Chesterton does not allow for himself to be beaten by the fact that he has no white chalk.
What is also interesting about the story is how determined Chesterton is to not paint a landscape like the masters who have come before him. He wants his piece of art to be defining and original. A piece that some may look at and not necessarily see what is drawn. A precursor for many pieces of art. It takes a person a while to understand what has been drawn. In this way Chesterton is showing his uniqueness. He is following his own lead and allowing for himself to be independent of others. As to whether others will appreciate Chesterton’s drawing is another thing. Though the reader suspects that once Chesterton is happy that is all that matters. Chesterton really walks his own path; a path that is not influenced by others. Which would further suggest that Chesterton is independent of others. He does not necessarily rely on their opinion or what they might think. He is comfortable in his own skin. A point further noticeable by Chesterton’s desire to walk in the fields on his own.
The end of the story is also interesting as Chesterton may succumb to normality when he is using the pieces of white rock to draw the landscape. He needs to fill his page in order for the drawing to make sense. This may be significant as Chesterton may feel that a landscape after all is an important part of the imagery of a drawing. Without a landscape the drawing may look no more like doodles and ever the perfection Chesterton draws the sky white by using the pieces of rock. He knows he has no choice but to do so but the abundance of the white rock around him in the field is ideal for his purposes. Giving his drawing the shape it needs and hopefully a fuller explanation to those who view the drawing. So happy is Chesterton after he finishes the drawing that he compares the white rock to the white chalk and sees no difference. He may have started out without a piece of white chalk but the end is different. Through his ingenuity and resilience Chesterton has managed to finish his drawing. A drawing the he himself is proud of and one expects that others will be proud of too. Chesterton has taken what could have been a tortuous day and turned it into a day of ingenuity and happiness.