The Day the World Almost Came to an End by Pearl Crayton
In The Day the World Almost Came to an End by Pearl Crayton we have the theme of innocence, freedom, fear, religion, insecurity, connection and independence. Narrated in the first person by an unnamed woman the story is a memory piece and after reading the story the reader realises that Crayton may be exploring the theme of innocence. There is a sense that the narrator believes what Rena has told her about the world coming to an end. This along with the teachings of her church persuade the narrator that what Rena has told her is true. This may be important as if anything the narrator is being somewhat naïve or innocent. Though it also has to be taken into consideration that the narrator was only twelve at the time when Rena told her that the world was ending. It might also be a case that Crayton is suggesting that religion can have a negative influence on a child particularly if it is taught to the individual through fear. The narrator’s visions of hell come directly from what she has learnt in church. However her interpretation or those of the individuals teaching the narrator may not necessarily be correct.
It is also interesting that despite the narrator’s belief that the world is going to come to an end. She still remains adamant that she will continue to be a sinner. This too could be important as it suggests that despite the teachings of the church the narrator is allowing herself the freedom to be somewhat independent and to enjoy her life. She does not intend to allow the rigid rules of the church to hinder her freedom to sin. Even though the sins that the narrator feels she has committed are relatively innocent and may not necessarily be deemed to have broken any of the commandments. The narrator’s father is also an important character in the story as in many ways his actions reassure the narrator. Though at first his honesty frightens her and leads to the narrator’s imagination running wild. If anything the narrator’s father removes any insecurity that the narrator may have. The fact that the narrator has never seen or heard an airplane before is also interesting as Crayton may be using the symbolism of the airplane to suggest or highlight just how innocent the narrator really is.
It might also be important that the narrator relies on her father when it comes to finding out if the world is going to end as in many ways the narrator has a strong connection with her father. He is someone that she respects and knows that he will tell her the truth. This is in contrast to how the narrator feels about her mother. She knows that her mother will not be able to give her the reassurance she needs that the world is not coming to an end. If anything Crayton may be exploring the deep connection that exists between a father and a daughter. A bond that is often stronger than a mother-daughter relationship. There is a sense that not only does the narrator respect her father and his opinion but that she also trusts him too. Something that is probably helped by the fact that the narrator’s father is a deacon in the church. Though the narrator may feel afraid her father has the ability to calm her anxiety. Something that her mother would not be able to do. It might also be symbolically important that the narrator is in the dark when she hears the airplane as Crayton could be using the darkness in the narrator’s room to heighten the narrator’s fears. As she can’t see anything she is only left with her imagination which is directing her to the darkest scenario possible.
The end of the story is also interesting as the narrator appears to reconnect with the world. She sees everything around her as being beautiful. Any fear that the narrator had is gone. Thanks to the reassurances of her father. If anything there is a sense that the narrator feels free again. That she can continue to live her life as she sees fit without having to worry about the world coming to an end. The independence that the narrator showed through her ability or desire to sin has returned and no longer is she hindered by what may happen to the world. Where previously the narrator had concerns about the world ending now all she wants to do is to live her life as free and independently as she can. It is also possible that Crayton is suggesting that children should be allowed to live their lives as free as possible without the influence of negative church teachings. Childhood only comes once and each child should be allowed to live their live as innocent as possible. There will be time enough for growing up when a child gets older and becomes an adult.