Half-Built Sandcastles

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Photo credit: Edward Byrne

Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Lake” had similar seeming characters, a focus on the autumnal season, and creepy elements of consciousness after death. I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery, but there was something softly heartbreaking in the story that stuck with me.

Right from the beginning, I was captured by the strong imagery portraying a young boy with his mother on a quiet beach in September. In the first lines, the young boy, named Harold, emerges from the silent clarity that takes over when one buries oneself in the water:

“There was a moment of green silence. Then the wave gave me back to the sky, the sand, the children yelling. I came out of the lake and the world was waiting for me, having hardly moved since I went away.”

Not only was this moment enticing because it was full of distinct imagery, but as the first lines in the story, it set a tone for what was to come.thelake

The idea of loneliness is very prominent in this piece. Harold reflects on how he is about to leave his hometown and therefore, not be in school with all the other kids; instead he spends his last moments on this deserted beach. The realization of how alone he is in theory seems to drive Harold to want to be alone in reality, and he runs off alone up the beach. I connected with this idea a lot because often, back in my hometown, I enjoyed being alone more and more as high school went on. I feel like when you feel so isolated or dissociated, there is a certain control that comes with choosing to be or feel alone. In a strange way, it is a comfort.

In learning that Harold had lost his childhood love to the water, the significance of the scenery and mood became more clear. In addition, Harold gained more depth as a character. Although death can be a very permanent and terrifying thing, death in the form of drowning seems to be softer and more peaceful. Especially in Tally’s case, there is no screaming, or gore, or pain, instead there is only a deafening silence. In addition, the whole idea of a half-built sandcastle and ghosts is very empty and anticlimactic almost, and due to this lack of substance, the devastation and heartbreak as just a gentle sadness.
This piece had beautiful imagery that really resonated with me as well as a strongly configured, vague feeling of heartbreak that lingered throughout the piece, and stuck around after. (Maria Villa / City of Stories Student)

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