The theme is the author’s reason for writing the story. This message or main thought presented by the author is usually based on their beliefs and principles. The main thought being communicated by the author of “The Day The Children Vanished’ is the psychology of how people react in the face of fear and anxiety. This main thought is established, developed, and enhanced through the use of literary techniques contained in a P.A.C.T.S. analysis. When inspecting this P.A.C.T.S. analysis, we can further understand the ways and means of how the author generates a mood and depicts the theme successfully.
The most crucial element of any story is the plot and through it, the author associates the theme of the novel. The title plays a great role in the short story. It gives the audience an immediate idea of what the story is going to be about. This particular title, “The Day The Children Vanished’, suggests to the audience a mystery surrounding children. Since all children are seen as being innocent, this makes the audience at once sympathize for them. As the story advances, the condolence is extended to the parents who are the heirs of the children. Through the frantic parents, the author now begins to examine human behavior and how it reacts when faced with fear and anguish. The inciting event, when the parents begin to realize that there was no factual explanation for the disappearance of the children and the idea of them vanishing into thin air seemed saner. “Some kind of gag. We can’t figure it out, the bus never came through the dug way.” (Trooper Teliski, pg 410).
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The Similarities and Differences Between Parents and Their Children The transition from childhood to adulthood is a journey undergone by all, but all in a different way. While some people believe that the maturation process is a time for one to develop one's individuality and uniqueness from one's parental figures, others believe that growing up is a fine-tuning of beliefs, morals and ideology ...
This inciting event provides space for the mind to grow increasingly paranoid and illogical. In the midst of all the confusion, the first reactions of the townsfolk were to blame the formerly respected Jerry Mahoney. For example, Mr. Goreman, Mr. Peabody and a few others headed by trooper Telinski, stormed into the house of Pat Mahoney and demanded information linking Jerry to the kidnapping. They posed questions like “Did he have the need for money?” trying to get information which would associate Jerry to the disappearance of the children (Pg 413).
They brought up Jerry’s past and came to foolish conclusions like “Maybe Jerry go sick all of a sudden. It happened to men who saw action overseas”¦” (Pg 413).
They fail at considering that Pat Mahoney is going through the same anxiety and distress as they are, as Jerry like their children, was his son on that very same vehicle. Pat is depicted to be quite crazy through his misleading answers and his ridiculous trips into memory lane.
We only learn at the end off the story that Pat Mahoney was in fact not crazy, but one of very few people who managed to maintain their sanity as he had objectives of his own. The increase in suspense and complication excelled when the children’s clothes and other articles were found just outside the quarry. Pat Mahoney said to Mr. Haviland, “Everyone in this town is going to be looking for that station wagon in the lake, where they know it isn’t”¦” (417).
Just like he predicted, the townsfolk crazily were at the quarry in confusion and torment in search for their children. The story reaches its conclusion when the climax of the bank robbery is met. Through the events in the story, the author reveals how the bank robbers were dependant on natural human behavior, and how the townsfolk would react in the face of fear and anxiety. This psychology almost worked for them if it were now for Pat Mahoney and Mr. Haviland.
In “The Day The Children Vanished’, the author shows both sides of the spectrum when examining the characters. There are the townsfolk that allow fear and anguish to consume them, which causes them to react impulsively and point fingers at others without any evidence. For example, Mrs. Jennings and Mr. Dickler accuse Pat Mahoney of hiding the truth to protect his son Jerry, due to his ridiculous responses to questions posed by trooper Teliski. These characters are the ones faced with the tragedy and retort to means that the author uses to depict them as being consumed with fear. On the other hand, characters such as Mr. Haviland and Pat Mahoney contrast the other townsfolk in logical train of thoughts. Mr. Haviland is an outsider to the town and he remained calm since he was not emotionally involved like the others.
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By keeping his cool he was able to logically weigh the facts and have a steady objective in mind. Pat Mahoney somewhat similar to Mr. Haviland in a weird way reacts exactly opposite to the townsfolk, which made him more hated in the town and the number one suspect to the mystery. Pat is just as worried and consumed with fear as the rest of the townsfolk, but he chooses to remain strong with his objective in mind for the benefit of his son. Through such characters in the story the author relay the mindset of different kinds of humans and thus advance his theme by linking it to the people around us in our lives.
The atmosphere surrounding the short story is vital to maintaining the interest of the audience. The atmosphere must not fail to reflect the plot and the progressing story line. Excluding the introductory paragraph, the atmosphere in “The Day The Children Vanished’ is tense, and suspense seems to be a constant throughout the story. We as the audience can grasp how the parents of the vanished children feel and we link their unreasonable reactions to the fact that they are only human and humans are not perfect. Although the author arouses sympathy from the audience, we are still apart from the story and can see the townsfolk act on impulse not logic. We the audience, still understand why the townsfolk react the way they do because faced with the same situation, most of us would react the same way.
Foreshadowing is provided through Pat Mahoney and his story about “The Great Thurston’. To Mr. Haviland it seemed ludicrous at the time, but he did not realize that Pat Mahoney was speaking from rational thought and knew the outcome of this happening, which he saw as a magic trick or a perfect diversion. Pat Mahoney also foreshadows future events through his friendly bet with Mr. Haviland where he says, “”¦tomorrow morning they’ll be out searching. I’ll make you a bet if you order them to stay in their houses they will go out searching.” (Pg. 418).
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This prediction turned out to be very accurate as come next morning, all the townsfolk were out searching at the quarry for their children.
Through a P.A.C.T.S. analysis, we can better grasp the motive for the author to write this story in the manner he does, allowing him to portray the theme through his own eyes. The theme is established, enhanced and developed through the use of literary techniques examined in this P.A.C.T.S. analysis. When we analyze a piece of work, we can see the techniques used by the author to try and portray a theme and make us see his point of view.