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The Secret Lion

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"The Secret Lion"

"The Secret Lion," written by Alberto Rios, is a strange short story consisting of symbols. Each symbol highlights the change of the lives of the twelve-year-old boy who tells the story, and his friend Sergio. As the story progresses, the boys are growing up and becoming adults. My argument is that the boys learn that change is to be expected, and is always accompanied by loss, and everything in this story is relates to symbolism.

The main symbol of the story is the arroyo, or river. In real life, it is a place to play, but symbolically it is a place to rebel, because they are not supposed to go there and swim in the forbidden water or yell forbidden words. "It was our river, though, our personal Mississippi, our friend from long back, and it was full of stories" (202). As they grow older, the arroyo does not change thought the years, but the boys' view of it does. As time goes by, the arroyo displeases the boys, and they decide to stop visiting that specific forbidden area. "Nature seemed to keep pushing us around one way or another, teaching us the same thing every place we ended up" (203). The narrator looks back, as an adult, at the arroyo for what it actually was in reality, a river polluted by sewage. This shows that when you're a child the littlest things can feed your craving for rebelling, but as change occurs and reality shows it ends up becoming a loss and a lesson.

Another symbol, the grinding ball, represents that everything is permanent and stable in life. The grinding ball represents a boy's life, perfect, but transitory. The boys end up burying the grinding ball because they realize that they cannot keep it forever, just as they cannot remain children forever. This is the boys way to preserve perfection. The ball was so perfect that they did not want to give it up, "We went back to the arroyo for the rest of the summer, and tried to have fun the best we could. We learned to be ready for finding the grinding ball. We loved it, and when we buried it we knew what would happen. We were two boys and twelve summers then, and not stupid. Things get taken away" (205). The boys did not look very hard to find the grinding ball, but even if they had found it, the perfection and innocence it recommends to them would still be beyond their reach. "The ball was gone, like the first reasons we had come to that arroyo years earlier, like the first time we had seen the arroyo, it was gone like everything else that had been taken away" (203). In a way the boys discovered that they are growing up, and losing

what they once had as a child, a perfect life. As an adult, the ball is just an ordinary object used in mining and would serve no purpose to the boys.

Another symbol is the golf course. The boys perceive it as being "heaven" (204) when they first notice it. Heaven is a symbol of innocence. "It was perfect. Heaven was green, like nothing else in Arizona...This was perfect, had trees, lots of trees, had birds, like we had never seen before. It was like the Wizard of Oz"



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