My Greatest Ambition by Morris Lurie
In My Greatest Ambition by Morris Lurie we have the theme of hope, aspiration, disappointment, rejection and disillusion. Narrated in the first person by a man called Lurie (assumed to be the author) the story is a memory piece and the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Lurie may be exploring the theme of hope and aspiration. The narrator had hopes of becoming a comic-strip artist and for the duration of the story right up until the end he continues with this aspiration. Going as far as sending his first comic-strip to Boy Magazine. What is also interesting about the narrator’s actions is the fact that the narrator assumes he will be offered a full time job by the magazine after their acceptance of his first comic-strip. However he is left disappointed when the Magazine decides all it wants to do is purchase the comic strip. This rejection by the magazine and the subsequent closure of the magazine may be important as it changes the course of the narrator’s life. No longer does he have the aspirations he previously had of becoming a comic-strip artist. Rather instead he becomes like every other boy in his class, a dreamer. Which may be the point that Lurie is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that in youth an individual no matter how talented can lose hope when they are rejected. Which is the case for the narrator’s second comic-strip.
The narrator’s relationship with his father is also interesting as throughout the story his father shows a lack of support for the narrator’s ambitions. If anything he makes light of the narrator’s ambitions. This may be important as it could suggest that the narrator in many ways is alone when it comes to his creativity. Whether the father understands the narrator or not it is clear that he does not show the narrator the kind of support one would expect a parent to show a child. Similarly the narrator’s mother is somewhat distant. However at the same time she is bragging about the narrator’s talents to anybody who will listen. Though it may be important that she does not actually congratulate the narrator on any of his achievements. She may be proud of the narrator yet she does not let him know this. Instead due to her over enthusiastic ways she opens the telegram addressed to the narrator. It is also possible that the mother is living her life through the narrator. She may be bored with her own life and the narrator is the only one who brings any type of excitement to her life.
The reaction of the narrator’s classmates to the fact that his comic-strip has been published is also interesting as the fascination with the narrator’s success only lasts one day. It is difficult to say for certain as to why this may be. It could be that some boys were jealous of the narrator’s success but it is also possible that many of the narrator’s classmates did not see how significant his achievement was. The narrator at the time was only thirteen yet he is published in a magazine. This is a huge achievement for a young boy. It is also possible that the classmates, who the narrator describes as dreamers, simply didn’t care about another person’s achievements. They were too busy living in their own worlds and imagining themselves to also have great success. A day really is a very short period of time to be on the receiving end of compliments from the narrator’s peers. However it is noticeable that the narrator takes his success and other people’s appraisal of his success in his stride.
The fact that the narrator gives up on drawing comic-strips after receiving the rejection from Boy Magazine may also be significant as it suggests that the narrator has become disillusioned with drawing comic-strips. Where others may have continued to send comic-strips to other magazines. This is not the case with the narrator. Instead he switches to painting however he soon realises that he is not very good at painting. Which some critics might find difficult to believe. It is possible that the narrator feels he is not good enough for himself. The level the narrator is aiming for may not have been reached by the narrator and as such he choose to give up on painting and become a dreamer like the rest of his classmates. Which leaves the reader suspecting that the narrator is discarding his talents too soon. As to why this might be is also difficult to say. The narrator enjoyed drawing comic-strips and was good at it. He didn’t enjoy painting and felt he wasn’t good at it. The logical step would have been to go back to comic-strip drawing however due to the effect of Boy Magazine’s rejection the narrator has become disillusioned. Rather than understanding that Boy Magazine was going out of publication and as such could not accept the narrator’s second comic-strip. The narrator has blended in with his classmates. No longer does he stand out among his peers. He has become the very thing he called his classmates, a hopeless romantic.