The Monkey Garden: An Eviction from Childhood
The monkey garden operates as a symbol of youth and childhood in the story. This can be observed in the descriptions of the garden, the fact that it is a place of play for the children, and in the fact that the main character ceases to go there once her friend displays an interest in the opposite sex. All of these scenarios work together to demonstrate the garden as the childhood state of being all people must leave behind in the acquisition of adulthood.
The descriptions of the garden confirm the garden is a symbol of youth. In the speaker’s description of the garden, one finds the garden characterized as something wild and full of life. The author even goes to great lengths to describe the wild life in the garden. For example, the speaker says, “There were dizzy bees and bow-tied fruit flies turning somersaults and humming in the air.” In this single sentence, one can discern characteristics of youth embedded in the description. For instance, the flies are somersaulting and humming which are activities commonly engaged in by children. Also, the garden is something teeming with life much like the exuberance of youth. There are bees, flies, weeds, worms, spiders, flowers, beetles and more in the description that all attest to this idea. So, by giving the garden qualities parallel to youth, the author offers the garden as a symbol of childhood.
The garden being a place of play also demonstrates that it is a symbol of childhood. The story speaks of the children discovering things in the garden and playing games like hide-and-seek. It also describes the children jumping off of trucks and finding refuge in the garden away from their parents. It also describes it as a place of playful
imagining where the children would imagine fantastic beasts and mythical creatures. By showing both the physical and psychological play taking place in the garden, the author further solidifies the garden as symbolic of youth and childhood.
As the story evolves, the character states that some one told her once that she was too old to play games. This is the prelude to an event that causes the main character to lose the garden forever. While returning from the garden, the speaker observes her friend flirting with a group of boys. The boys, having taken her friend’s keys, say they will not relinquish them until the friend kisses them. The speaker becomes indignant at this. The reason for this is that her friend is entering into the next phase of human development where interest in the opposite sex becomes a focal point and a launching pad for eventual transition into adulthood. The speaker recognizes this and becomes frustrated to know her childhood has come to an end. She even states that after that day, she never returned to the garden. Since this episode marks the end of the speaker’s trips to the garden, we must assume the garden is symbolic of the childhood which is lost to adolescence and the awakening of adult sexual desires. Having acquired this epiphany through observing the actions of her friend, the speaker is thrust from childhood further proving the symbolic relationship of youth and the garden.
The monkey garden is a definitive symbol of childhood in the story. The author confirms this through the descriptions of the garden, the playful actions which take place there, and the cessation of those actions when the speaker acknowledges her awareness of adolescence in the form of her friend’s flirtation. All of these factors work together to demonstrate that the garden is youth and that youth is a state of being that every child
will eventually grow out of. Verily, it would appear that the main character has been evicted from her childhood and must renegotiate her world through actions expected of an adult.