left biblioblography: THE CARPENTER AND THE ORPHAN: A PARABLE

Saturday, June 24, 2006

THE CARPENTER AND THE ORPHAN: A PARABLE

Here it is: my first attempt at a parable. Please be as brutal as possible in your critiques, else I won’t learn from my mistakes.

THE CARPENTER AND THE ORPHAN: A PARABLE

And it came to pass, that a builder of houses was walking past the outskirts of a village, when he chanced upon a cottage.

It was a sad affair: poorly built, hastily put together from the look of it. He’d passed many of these in his wanderings, never stopping unless in need of food and a place to stay (of which he need neither).

A small boy squatted in the undergrowth, drawing in the sand with a stick. As he walked by, the youth looked up, hope in his tiny eyes, smiling.

“Are you my father?” he asked.

Startled, the carpenter shook his head. “Sorry.”

The child mumbled, and went back to his drawing.

The man glanced down, and saw nothing unusual in what the boy was drawing. And so he went on his way. He’d heard about some woman, who’d borne a child out of wedlock, and the gossips at the tavern had it that the father had been one of the armored invaders that held this area in their grip for some time. There were one or two of them who’d mumbled about evil spirits being involved as well, but those had been laughed into silenced.

Five years passed, and the carpenter again found himself walking that same road, past that cottage, and he espied the child. That building hadn’t changed much: a little better in some ways, a little worse in others.

The boy had grown larger. Long and tanned, tunic tattered, hair tousled, he squatted in front of a fire, mumbling to it. To the carpenter’s surprise, several rabbit carcasses were criss-crossed over it: some had been skinned, some not. The scent of burning fur was shifted to his nostrils.

The child became aware of his presence, standing, piercing him with his eyes. “Are you my father?” he asked, gutturally.
”Why, no, I’m not,” replied the builder.

The boy looked him over critically. “I thought not.” When the carpenter looked at him questioningly, he replied: “My father is at least seven feet tall. His beard is a flowing river: his hair is like the mane of a lion. His stride is so long that he can step from one mountain to another at once. He is stronger than a bear, fiercer than a tiger.””How do you know all this?” asked the stranger. The child fixed him with such a look, that he felt uneasy, and trembled a little.

“I just know,” is all the orphan said.

“Why are some of the rabbits skinned, and some not?” asked the man.

“My father is a hunter. He likes the smell of burning flesh, and charred fur,” was the reply.

Troubled, the carpenter bid the lad farewell, and left in haste.

Another five years passed, and the carpenter found himself walking down that same road. He had but a vague memory of discomfort, which he shrugged away, until he came to the cottage again.

The building was nearly the same as he remembered. Some yards away, however, a second hut had been built. It was rude and primitive in comparison. As he neared it, he saw poorly carved hieroglyphs above the entrance, and mounted on several branches that protruded from the thatched roof were animal skulls. A crude clay oven sat in front, and tongues of flame spat ashes into the air. The scent of burning meat filled the air.

The lad came out, clad in a long brown tunic, his long mane of hair tangled, patches of dirt and ash marring his young face. His almond eyes were even fiercer than the stranger remembered.

“You are not my father,” he said, a simple statement.

The carpenter blinked. “No, I am not. I am a simple traveler,” he answered, afraid of telling this boy of his profession, lest he be pressed into service.

“My father is as tall as the tallest tree in the woods. With a single swat of his huge hand, he can fell the mighty oak, or kill the largest buck. His eyes are as fire; his hair can cover the forest in one swoop. His legs are as tree trunks. With his mighty arms, he can wrest the mountains from their footholds, and throw them at the moon, to knock it from the sky. His words are earthquakes, and with a single bellow, he makes the sun tremble.”

“Then you have met him?” asked the carpenter. The youth’s eyes blazed ferally, and the stranger took two steps back in fear.

“I do not need to. I know this is so.”

Uneasy, the traveler bid him farewell, and took a hurried leave.

Another five years passed. Again, the carpenter found himself walking the same path. He trod carefully: memories of the fierce, disturbing youth made him wary. What changes may have come, he asked himself, in five years?

He came to the cottage. To his relief, he saw the smaller building gone, until he looked upon the cottage itself.

It was larger, and in much better shape than the last time he’d seen it. Even the landscape surrounding it showed signs of being well cared for. There was a lingering scent of cooked meat in the air; the thatching had been replaced with a proper roof, a chimney sat at the back, where curling smoke rose in the air.

And the youth came out. Gone was the wild tangle of hair; he was well groomed. His face was clean, a small beard was beginning to grow large, brown tunic had been replaced by a flowing white robe. He cast his gaze upon the traveler, and his tan face broke out into a radiant smile.

“Hello, stranger! Well met, and a long time it has been! How are you?”

“Ummm, fine, thank you,” he replied, startled. “How have you been?”

“Welcome to my father’s house!” said the young man. “Are you thirsty? Hungry? Are you in need of rest, my friend? Come in, and sit with us!”

Some heads peeped out of the house, other youths with curious gazes. “I am fine, and on my way home, but thanks to you anyways. Is your mother still about?”

The youth cast his eyes down. “Alas, my mother is no longer with us.”

“My sorrows to you, then, I did not know.”

“She passed some time after your last visit. But she is with my father now, and is now in peace.”

Remembering his prior visits, the carpenter said nothing.

The host raised his head. “Come! I will not have it said, that I am inhospitable! Please! Come inside!”

And upon this, the boy’s followers swarmed out and around him, shouting joyfully. Mumbling words of protest (for he was a mild sort of man), he was herded into the temple.

Never to be seen again.

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9 comments:

karen said...

This is my third attempt to post here today. No-no blogger problems, I'm just keeping my grandaughter, and well, she has other plans for me!

Great story, RA. It kept me riveted, wnating to know where it was going and what would happen. Good build-up and desciptive devices, and clean dialogue, IMO.

One set of grammatical corrections:
"There was [were} one or two of them who’d mumbled about evil spirits being involved as well, but those had been laughed into silence[dele d]."
(corrections in brackets.)

Also, I'm still thinking about it, but the very last sentence seems a little superfluous. I think it might be stronger to simply end with "Mever to be seen again."

As to the title, the boy is technically not an orphan, is he? He has a mother? Or am I missing something?

Mull these points over. I will reread when I get more time. There may have been an awkward sentence or something, but overall, I quite enjoyed it!

karen said...

yeesh! Sorry about all the typos! :P

farmgirl said...

well Ive been trying to post a comment but its because of vista im sure well letts see if this shows up. Great one Ra but im with karen on the last sentence.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
MS Word constantly corrects the passive voice (substitution of 'were' for 'was'), & I went w/the Word correction (all those squiggly underlines get under my skin, they do). 'Was' is actually correct, since there were '1 or 2' of them.
As to the title, the boy is technically not an orphan, is he?
Wellll, technically, we never see the mother. Liklihood is that a mother wouldn't allow her kid to mount skulls on the hut, or cook unskinned rabbits.
Also, I'm still thinking about it, but the very last sentence seems a little superfluous.
Well, I was trying to use allegory (apparently not very well). Which is why I made the guy a carpenter, sacrifice, etc.
I do appreciate the feedback, don't get me wrong.
The fact that I have to explain some of these items shows that the critique is needed. I was leaving far too much for my readers.

karen said...

Wellll, technically, we never see the mother.Yeah, near the end of the story, the youth tell the carpenter that his mother passed since his last visit.
Well, I was trying to use allegory (apparently not very well). Which is why I made the guy a carpenter, sacrifice, etc.
I know. That's why I thought it was superfluous. I thought the carpenter being sacrificed to the father was obvious (at least it was to me).

Will have to defer to Word on the passive voice, but it sure doesn't seem right. If you're comfy w/it, ok. I would change it to "some" or "several" or "those" instead of "one or two" to get rid of the question, but that's just my compulsion.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
I thought the carpenter being sacrificed to the father was obvious (at least it was to me).
Well, that's appreciated. Thanks.
I suffer from the compulsion of excess verbiage, (as if you hadn't noticed, ;).
I stand corrected on the was/were grammar. Apparently Word didn't have a problem w/it, after all.

say no to christ said...

Hey Ra, I dont have time to read everything today, but I will eventually catch up, given a couple of days. This thread os first on my list here. :)

Amy

say no to christ said...

Ra

I found some time this evening.:)

I like the direction your story is going and Karen already pointed out the problems. With some minor fixing and maybe some added story line you could start a trillogy of science fiction writings.

I would read them. :)

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
I like the direction your story is going and Karen already pointed out the problems. With some minor fixing and maybe some added story line you could start a trillogy of science fiction writings.
Thanks, dear.
This was actually my 1st swing at a parable. Don't know how much farther I'd take it.
I was just playin' about.