I found Mark Richard’s Gentleman’s Agreement to be a moving piece. “The child,” from whose point of view the story is told, is a true embodiment of the childhood psyche. The story’s tone reflects this masterfully, presenting the reader with a picture of a young boy’s logic that is both playful and serious. The characters in the story, also seen through the eyes of the child, are just detailed enough to be appropriate. When trouble emerges, the child’s though processes go haywire in a mixture of fear and innocence. Richard does an exceptional job making the child seem real and endearing him to the reader.
When the child makes the “gentleman’s agreement” with his father never to throw rocks again, he does not take it lightly. The father presents the child with a metaphor of his rage and tells him that if he ever does it again, he’ll nail his hand to the shed. The reader knows this is not meant to be taken literally, but Richard realistically portrays the way in which a child would deal with it. The child’s creative and playful nature is shown when he starts inventing reasons why playing doesn’t violate the terms of the agreement. As the father is off fighting forest fires and the rock falls on the child’s head, the story is thrust into a different pattern. Richard’s tone here is notably involved; sentences comprise paragraphs and barely-coherent thoughts are strewn throughout. Phrases such as, “Creatures were stirred, creatures were stirring,” and “he felt the towel fall away because she was not holding it any longer and he felt the towel fall… and something else fell… and the thing that fell… felt like tickling fingers…” on pages 84-85 emphasize the childish confusion inside his head.
In the end, when the father takes the child out to the shed to remove the stitches, the entire story is validated when the child holds out his hand to uphold his end of the agreement. Overall, I found this story to be charming and unique.