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Political Allegory in Neil Gaiman's Wolves in the Walls

Rarely one has the chance to encounter a literary work that encapsulates the true meaning of the text in the narratives of a child as is the case with Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls. It is impossible to point out a definitive single source or point of origin for the text but, as with Gaiman, an expert literary archaeologist, he draws inspirations from various works of literature and narrative techniques.
The predominant emotion of the text is paranoia. It is probably one of the few texts in children's literature which deals with the concept of madness. Here, one might think Charlotte Perkins Gilman's text The Yellow Wallpaper as a possible source text for Gaiman's work. In Gilman's text, the protagonist imagines the someone creeps behind the pattern of the wallpaper, similar to Lucy's imagination of wolves living behind the wall. The wall in the story is used as a smokescreen or a curtain that shields or hides the functionings and the machinations of the society which might seem mysterious to a child. If the text is read closely then it is revealed that the plot has a crest and trough structure to its flow. Lucy's parents are aware of wolf living behind the wall, nevertheless, they try to quell Lucy's fears regarding the wolves coming out of the wall as they repeatedly avoid Lucy's innocent queries with the all-pervading answer that if the wolves were to enter the house by breaking the wall, "it" will all end. We are never explicitly told what the "it" stands for but it is safe to assume that "it" might represent the status quo of the household. In the macrocosm, it may stand for status quo in the socio-political sphere. Hence, George Orwell's Animal Farm could be considered as another source of inspiration.
Lucy's psyche may have been traumatised by some past "revolution" by animals breaking into the household via the wall. The story illustrates how we mythologize the past through our emotional understanding of our world. A child can only act emotionally (not rationally) to the events unfolding around it. Our mythologizing of a past event creates a fantastical narrative in the mind of the child so much so that the child conceptualises it as a historical truth. Though Lucy's parents are seemingly aware of the myth, yet they rationalise it to the point that the myth loses its potency. It is at that very point when the myth enters the realm of reality. The "it" becomes all too true. It is only after that we get the sense that it has all happened before and will happen again as the wolves discuss the possibility of people breaking through the wall and the "it" will all end. The whole plot revolves around the endings of various "it"s and the fact that one change is as identical as the next. It points to the overall futility of political revolutions and also highlights the effect a revolution has on the psyche which often leads to paranoia.

Gloriously illustrated by Dave McKean, with obvious references to cubism, surrealism and impressionism, this book offers a joyful read to a child and critical socio-political insights to an adult reader.
Rarely one has the chance to encounter a literary work that encapsulates the true meaning of the text in the narratives of a child as is the case with Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls. I

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