In Joyce Cary’s short story, “Growing Up,” Robert Quick, the narrator of the story realizes that his daughters are growing up, which forces him to do the same.
When Robert returns home on Friday, he calls out for the girls, thinking he knows them well, when he finds them in the garden. He calls them enthusiastically but is disappointed at their monotonous reaction, as if they wanted to say, “Excuse me, it’s really too hot.” Quick is a man who believes that he is different from other fathers; he “never asked for affection [or]…flirted with their daughters, who encouraged them to love.” He thought to himself, “Children have no manners but at least they’re honest—they never pretend.” He looks at the brighter side of the situation and settles himself peacefully with the morning newspaper. “And the mere presence of the children was a pleasure.”
As Jenny and Kate revive themselves, their bitch, Snort, comes to play. Kate shoves the bitch away, but then Jenny throws a bamboo spear at her. [Snort] “She was not sure if this was a new game, or if she had committed some grave crime.” All at once they begin hurling objects from the garden at the dog. Snort, described as “the fugitive”, is “horrified” and “overwhelmed”.
As Robert starts to rise from his garden chair to save the dog further abuse—while stopping the girls—Kate turns on Quick and “aimed a pea-stick at him” and shouted at the top of her voice, “Yield, Paleface.” Jenny soon joins in, “Yes, yes—Paleface, yield”, rushing at her father with a “rake she carried like a lance”. Now both girls are in the throes of laughter, and hurl themselves on Quick, as they shout: “Paleface, Paleface Robbie. Kill him—scalp him. Torture him.”
As they descend upon him, Quick is frightened because “it seemed to him that both the children, usually so gentle, so affectionate, had gone completely mad, vindictive.” They begin to hurt him and he does not know how to defend himself. Quick does not want to hurt them in…