The Boy at the Pond
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
When Paul is right at his breaking point, he goes out to his neighborhood pond. A little 5-year-old boy rides his bike up to him, warning him that his parents have told him there's a gator in there.
Aww, how cute, right? This little boy is trying to protect Paul, and Paul is going to pat him on the head and send him on his way with a piece of candy, right?
Um, no. He screams at him instead: "They're lying to you. They're telling you a story just so they can keep you scared" (3.7.24). Nice, Paul. Way to scar the kid for life.
Paul ends up listing (okay, shouting) several common cautionary tales that are lies…and then some that are not. "Did you ever hear about this kid, this stupid kid who wouldn't listen to anybody, and he stared at a solar eclipse, and he went blind? Did you ever hear about him? Did you ever meet him? […] Well, you have now" (3.7.42-43).
This now severely traumatized boy represents Paul's childhood self. It's as if he's trying to go back in time and tell himself not to listen to his parents' lies.
Okay. But screaming at a 5-year-old might not be the best way to go about dealing with your past, though. Just sayin'. That's what they have therapists for.