Discuss the character of Uncle James in "The Boy Comes Home" by A. A Milne
Uncle James as a traditional Family Elder in the Boy Comes Home
Analyis of Character of Uncle James The Boy Comes Home: Uncle James, is a weak personality; however, he is sever and strictly disciplined person. His severity passes for strength with the weak. He wishes to dominate his family members with almost no liberty. He is used to decide for all his family members regardless of the fact they like his decision or not. He is a childless man. Philip, his nephew , has been entrusted to his guardianship. He knows that Philip is a carefree sort of person; therefore, he wants to control him. Though we cannot deny his fatherly affection and care for Philip yet the way he deals with him is not appreciable.
Since Philip has just returned from a four year long war, he wants to talk to his nephew about his career and future plans. But uncle James does not stop here, he wishes to impose his decision on his nephew. Uncle James talks to his wife, Emily, that he wishes to talk to Philip; he seems unhappy over Philip's unpunctuality. He tells her:
"I have decided that the best thing he can do is to come into the business at once."
She asks her husband if he will ask him or just impose his decision upon him. The uncle replies:
"What's the difference? Naturally we shall talk it over first, and--er--naturally he'll fall in with my wishes."
The aunt tells her husband that "he doesn't seem somehow like a boy who can be told what to do. I'm sure they've taught him something". But Uncle James does not seem to listen.
Uncle James begins to wait for his Philip and perhaps he falls asleep and dreams that Philip has come to meet him. Here Philip is very rude with his uncle. He demands his money before attaining the age of majority. But the uncle refuses to give him the money. Rather he asks his nephew to join him in his jam business. But Philip gets so rough with his uncle that he gets a bomb in his hand threatening his uncle. Philip says that "we use force to put down force". The uncle gets so terrified before Philip that he surrenders and agrees to do whatsoever Philips wants him to do. Philip goes out and then we see James waking up as if from a dream.
After that dream uncle James becomes frightened of Philip and becomes very soft with him though Philip happily agrees with James' advise. But it all proves that James is a weak personality that cannot stand strength. Again, he is a mere shadow of strength.
Considering the symbolic and thematic role of Mr.James is to portray how society gets frustrated and shocked when the war keeps on affecting their lives; it changes not only physical dimensions but also the mental, social, ethical and personal lives of a society. Values are mocked at in a war weary nation. The playwright has played upon the character of Uncle James to show how a war has spoiled a youthful boy and what values are expected of him by his father like uncle. The writer shocks us with the technique of a dream. The bewildered uncle James terrifies us of what horror is played in the war. Since the character of James uses "severity" with the weak, hence the character of Philip, a war spoiled youth, wishes to "use force to put down force", a lesson learnt in the trenches. The parent, Uncle James in this case, gets humiliated with what it idealized with the notions of war and how it paid.