he would always answer, “That’s a hat.” Then I wouldn’t talk about
boa constrictors or jungles or stars. I would put myself on his
level and talk about bridge and golf and politics and neckties.
And my grown-up was glad to know such a reasonable person.
In this passage from Chapter I, the
narrator discusses his Drawing Number One, a picture that looks
like a hat but is meant to portray a boa constrictor digesting an
elephant. Whereas children use their imaginations and see the hidden
elephant inside the boa constrictor, adults offer the most dull,
unimaginative interpretation and see the picture as a hat. Here,
the narrator explains that he uses this drawing as a barometer to
see whether an adult retains any of his noble childhood perspective.
Unfortunately, the narrator says, adults always respond with a grown-up
perspective, so the narrator must talk with them about dull, pragmatic
This passage demonstrates that being a grown-up is a
state of mind, not a fact of life. The narrator is an adult in years,
but he retains a childlike perspective. At the same time, this passage
displays the loneliness that the narrator suffers as a result of
his atypical outlook on life.