:: peace like a river/pages 129-179 - trauma ::

On page 140, Reuben & Swede eavesdropped on their Dad, August, and Birdie. Rube seemed surprised at their concern on his behalf, since he alone witnessed his older brother's shootings:

"It was hard talk to decipher. What was supposed to happen to you if you were present at a tragedy? Was there some sort of damage? I wasn't sure. The fact is, beyond the occasional scary dream, my chief response to the shootings was a self-centered misery that Davy'd had to go away. I just missed my brother."

I physically ached for little Reuben there. His narration often sounds more mature, but he is only 11-years-old. He witnessed his brother - one of his heroes - kill two boys, his family's only enemies. That is a very traumatic situation for any person, but especially for a child. I believe Reuben thinks he is fine, but I know for certain that many children repress their reactions to trauma. I think this is true for Reuben due to his other reaction while eavesdropping:

"'Jeremiah,' August said, 'was it like the newspaper said? The way Davy shot those boys?'

Dad said, 'Yes, pretty much as it said. He shot them down. Yes.'

At these words a thing happened I can't explain - think of some small furry animal, say a vole, going right up your spine with its cold little claws. It shook me; Swede put both arms around me or I'd have gone back to bed
[page 139]

I do not doubt that Reuben loves and admires Davy, but all the more reason that I believe Rube was traumatized by watching Davy shoot Basca and Finch dead. And know that he lured both boys to the house to do so.

Your opinions?


kate ortiz said...

i have mixed feelings on what i think reuben feels about the shootings. yes, davy lured them there (which could confuse and disturb reuben) but reuben knew that basca and finch ignited things with the family at the school. and even though the boys were lured, they did indeed come and davy was ready to "protect" his family.

i appreciated reuben's honesty that his primary feeling was self-centered misery that his brother was gone. i believe it is an appropriate response for a young boy.

jenni said...

I think our mixed feelings come from being plopped down in the midst of this family's saga. It's so traumatic all the way around, you know? Even Reuben just missing his big brother - so sad to me.

Crystal said...

I think you are right that kids don't really experience the trauma of some events until they are old enough to understand them. As teens and adults when full comprehension hits them it can be pretty bad.

I think at the time of the shooting Reuben was relieved. He really saw Davy as rescuing them. He heard the boys coming and he was laying frozen in terror in his bed. Davy was prepared for them and saved the family from whatever evil they had planned to inflict. It was only after the revelation that Davy had lured them there that Reuben may have begun to feel differently about the situation.