Becoming a Full-Grown Swan

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In “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell, twelve-going-on-thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor’s life is on the brink of collapsing: his parents are arguing, he is repeatedly bullied for his stutter, he has broken his grandfather’s prized watch. Yet Jason already acts different from the usual thirteen-year-old boy. He finds comfort in the nearby woods, names his personal problems, and writing poems instead of securing himself in a core group of friends. So naturally he turns to older people, though not his parents (“Their arguments’re speed chess these days”), for advise in an attempt to escape the bullying and teenage conflicts (223). Unlike other teenagers he listens to them, and in return, they show respect. Thus, Jason finds his identity by their example. Jason meets his cousin Hugo again at a family dinner. Two years older than him, Hugo already look like an adult to Jason: “[He] wore a black zip-up top with no hood and no logo, button-fly Levi jeans, pixie boots, and [...] woven wristbands you wear to prove you’re not a virgin” (43). Hugo also has authority over his younger brother Nigel by making him cry and faking a surprised reaction when their mom asks. He even convinces Jason to smoke even after telling him they are horrible for the lungs: “Hugo’s trying to teach me how to be a kid like him, but I can’t even smoke a single cigarette” (66). So he continues to watch his fellow classmates, even observing a couple make love, hoping to gain a better reputation. The Cold War takes away the joyful spirit of the town, just in time for Jason to receive a secret letter from Spooks, the secret society in his town Black Swan. It turns out he and another one of his classmates received the letter to meet up at the graveyard. They both compete against the clock to run through multiple backyards without getting caught by the people in the houses. Jason completes the task with

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