The Secret Lion Theme Analysis Essay

Submitted By rickythepker
Words: 817
Pages: 4

In the short story The Secret Lion, Alberto Alvaro Rios uses literary elements to communicate his theme or message. Rios introduces the reader to two young boys who have just entered junior high and are suddenly met with drastic change. With setting, symbolism, and characterization, Rios is able to convey a theme about the loss of innocence when growing up. Rios begins his story by describing how when the boys entered junior high, everything changed. It was like a rug being pulled from underneath them, and just like that, everything was different. To escape from this new reality, the boys would go to their “arroyo,” which was a forbidden river across the highway where they disregard their new rules, yell things at the top of their lungs, and they still act like children. Through this use of setting, Rios is able to show how the boys begin to lose their innocence.
“It was our river, though, our personal Mississippi, our friend from long back, and it was full of stories and all the branch forts we had built in it when we were still the Vikings of America…” He also uses setting as a technique when explaining how “Nature seemed to keep pushing us around one way or another, teaching us the same thing every place we ended up. Nature’s gang was tough that way, teaching us stuff.” Rios uses symbolism in his story when describing a grinding ball that the boys discover one day when playing in the arroyo. Although they do not know what the ball is, they are excited and mesmerized by it anyway. The boys describe how “we had this perception about nature then that nature is imperfect and that round things are perfect…whatisit? We didn’t know. We just knew it was great.” The boys knew that if they showed the ball to anyone it would most likely be taken away, so they dug a hole and buried it. However, once they buried it, it was gone forever, like their innocence, “...it was gone like everything else that had been taken away.” Rios also uses the setting of the hills and mountains to describe a loss of innocence. After the boys lose the grinding ball, they decide to find another place to spend their time. The boys explain that on certain days in the arroyo, the sewage treatment plant would release sewage into the river, so they would have to shower immediately upon returning home. When one of their mothers catches on to this, they decide to find another refuge. The boy states that “That was the first time we stopped going to the arroyo. It taught us to look the other way. We decided, as the second side of summer came, we wanted to go into the mountains. They were still mountains then.”
By stating that “they were still mountains then,” Rios is pointing out that the boys have not grown big enough to view them as the hills that they really are. They also describe the hills as “heaven” and are comparing them to the Emerald City from the Wizard of OZ, however, they soon find out the reality…