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... dmother is the second major death in the book that ties directly into how Edgar's character is in a state of morbid, yet constant fluctuation (an oxymoron). Edgar is the first to find his Grandmother after she has died, and because of this had a few precious seconds to look upon death for the first time. He felt that in death, a new kind of life, with "more visible torment than I (he) could have imagined possible." This time around, Edgar becomes quite inquisitive about death and what death really means, not only to the person dying but also to their loved ones and peers alike. These events further Edgar along in the growth of him coming to terms with death. The third deathly event occurs a little further into the book when Edgar is attending school.
A woman was hit by a car and fell 2 stories into the playground of Edgar's school. She was carrying groceries at the time and the blood from her body mixed with the milk in the bags to make a milky pink sort of color. He looks upon this death much better and easier than the 1st and 2nd deaths he had bear witness to. These 3 events start a time for Edgar that is seemingly very depressing and also very important in the final development of his character. In the book, Edgar's character is extremely misgiving and at times changes sparatically as the story progresses from one topic to the next. (I hinted towards this idea earlier, and at this point in the book it seems to become more relevant in the story.) Often, the little details found throughout the book, as well as the more important and obvious events such as the 3 listed above, contradict with how Edgar's character is supposed to act.
For example, although death became somewhat of a fixation for Edgar in the recent pages of the book, he still speaks about other things in a less depressed light. This left me feeling that his character is not really permanently growing, but rather changing so rapidly that it has the appearance of growth. He is a very on-again off-again character that seemingly can't make up his mind on who he wants to be. I then thought that the very essence behind all the change wasn't really contradictory, but rather another trait in young Edgar's character. This oscillating nature, however, is one of his most important character developments to take place yet in the book. This continues throughout and, although at times is very confusing, brings a deeper level to what seemed like a very unpredictable and insensible character.
The eldest and only brother to Edgar, Donald, has been his role model since he was born. In Edgar's eyes Donald was a young, free willed kid, who, no matter how old he actually became would remain the same carefree status he always had. Unfortunately for Edgar, not all that we as people believe in remain constant, as was the case with Donald. As Donald grew up to semi-adult hood, he started to assimilate into adult culture, which was a harrowing blow for Edgar. This changed Edgar's whole world, and did much to change his character. He changed his ideals because when his brother turns over into the adult world, he realizes that the only person left in his family that he can trust is himself. He had lost he dog Pinky, his grandma and now "lost" his brother too. This makes his character much stronger as a whole, and leads to more of a grown up person than a child.
In an attempt to isolate himself from his untrusting, yet loving parents, we find Edgar becoming more like his brother was as a kid. Although the topic of loss was covered primarily more in the last entry, it continues both in Donald and in the crashing of the Hindenburg. When the Hindenburg came sailing across the New York sky, Edgar was in complete and utter awe. It was uncanny how such a huge, monolithic mobile could float high above everything so carefree; it was like a message from the heavens. The Hindenburg, in Edgar's mind, was a constant. A superbly strong, juggernaut of the open skies, and this made Edgar happy, and complete. It wasn't the actuality of the machine itself, but rather what the machine was.
As long as it flew around the world, without opposition, it was untouchable, something that Edgar, as well as all humans still strive to be. When this great behemoth of a blimp came crashing down on the many town houses in the dark New York streets, Edgar lost hope. He wasn't complete, and more importantly wasn't protected anymore. This point in the book, it is a good time to look at another underlying, yet delicately intertwined character trait. This trait, the need for some sort of protection, stems from the hardships that his parents caused him while growing up. These fights, often nearly violent, were overheard and absorbed by Edgar over the years, which lead to him needing some sort of a security blanket.
Pinky was his protection early on in life, when pinky left there was a void that needed to be filled. The character is always in some sort of desperate search for security in a family that is far from it. The title of the book World's Fair, had to come into the plot eventually, and finally does near the ending of the book. The world's fair of 1931 in New York was a very new and to some, a quite an indecorous time for discovery and hope. The two architectural marvels, as well as the many projected ideals of the future brought out many new people into the world of sciences and of modernization. The fair represented what was to come, a look into the protection of the future, all the while still in the present day.
The fair also represents what Edgar was fighting for, to finally get there. Again, it wasn't the actuality of the fair itself, but rather the meaning behind it. This final step that Edgar takes is the apex of what the book was leading up to. It was a story about the growth of character, not necessarily the change in it. The future that the fair represented was what put Edgar's childhood in the past, and finally let him grow to fulfill his character. Though most of the change and Growth of Edgar has already been covered, the ending pages of the book are really what Edgar accomplished both as a person and as a character. The 2nd trip that Edgar took to the Fair, his family accompanied him.
Edgar, having feelings of such wonder and admiration for the fair, felt partly responsible for it and wanted the family to be as amazed as he. He noticed things had changed since his last visit and that it was slowly starting to decay, but his family did not know this, so Edgar felt relieved. After they had all left and the fair was closed, Edgar made a time capsule for himself, much like the one in the "Futurama" display at the fair. He buried it in the park near his house, being careful not to let anyone see. The time capsule that he buried was the closing chapter of his childhood, with books that he had read and papers he had written, and it showed the final progression of a weak willed child into a smart, nostalgic young man. The chapter that was closed for Edgar was one of pain, suffering death and disappointment, but it stood for more good than bad. Much like the god of death wears an Ankh, a sign of life; these bad things also showed how he lived through the tough times.
The capsule was the final "security blanket" for Edgar and with the commencing of its burial, he was protected. Edgar grew an exorbitant amount during the book, changing even his most noticeable quality for the better. The formerly frivolous nature of his character, to change from bad to good, deep to shallow, light to dark decayed away and left a much more resilient person in it's place. The feuding of Edgar's parents also seems to be coming to some sort of a resolution and lead to Edgar to become more complete once again. As the last paragraph of the book unfolds, Edgar is walking in the cold, brisk wind on his way back home. The one item he salvaged from putting in the capsule was a book that his dad got him as a younger child.
It was on ventriloquy, and he had never finished reading it. This book stands for the new chapter in Edgar's life and shows the one character trait that is recurring throughout the book, which is the quest for knowledge. The swastika incident from his early childhood is an example of Edgar's insatiable thirst for knowledge. When he sees the Hindenburg cruise across the night sky he wonders at how it works, and wants to gain more knowledge. The best example of this is ofcourse, The World's fair itself. The fair is a veritable piata of knowledge and that is what interests Edgar so much.
His father is much like him in the way he uses his brain and you can start to see some of the more common themes of both their personalities throughout the book. The ventriloquist book that Edgar undertakes learning at the end, was in fact a book that his dad had read early on in his life. This passing of the torch type of ending draws all of the story to an end, with a myriad of possibilities to follow. Bibliography: World Fair-EL Doctorow.
Research essay sample on Worlds Fair