When he was two years old, my son woke up one morning and reported, “Dream two gorillas chasing you.” My son referred to himself as “you,” his version of the royal we, but he also understood that the same pronoun would do to address his father and me, his devoted courtiers. He had just moved from his crib to a bed, and we worried about him waking before we did and wandering alone through the house. So we had no trouble deciphering his dream. We must have scared him more than we thought, rushing every morning to scold him about staying in bed instead of fawning over him, as custom demanded. The gorillas probably owed something to a recent visit to the zoo, where the howling monkeys had terrified him. A mellow baby, our son had just entered the era of tantrums—the era of his own howling. So the dream hid a complicated set of associations with his recent past, the contentment of babyhood, and even his own anger, provoked by our inexplicable transformation. Its one-sentence plot might be diagrammed as shown in Figure 4.1. Fiction that is any good has much in common with the dream mechanisms illustrated in this diagram. A linear plot can carry all this weight too, compressing a host of associations that unlock its multi-layered meaning. Both arrow and array.
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