Man came to the Old Man seeking counsel.
I broke something, Old
How badly is it
It's in a million
I'm afraid I can't
There's nothing you
It can't be fixed.
It's broken beyond
repair. It's in a million little pieces.
What's Up With the Made Up Epigraph?
Like many things in A Million Little Pieces, the epigraph is completely made up. It didn't come from another source; he wrote it himself.
But there it is, opening the book and setting the tone. What
is "broken" into "a million little pieces" here? Is it the
Young Man himself? His life? His spirit? His collection of snow globes from
around the world?
At first, it seems like the Young Man and the Old Man could
be James and Leonard, but the Old Man in this epigraph doesn't offer any help
or assistance—unlike Leonard, who helps James out of more jams than could
happen even in a Smuckers factory.
The last line lends an air of hopeless to the whole poem. It
seems to say, "Oh, just give up; you can't fix it." Perhaps that's
what addiction feels like: something broken beyond repair, broken so badly you
feel you should just give up. That's definitely how James feels before the
novel begins, so it's an appropriate way to start.