Essay on Behind the Blue Curtain by Steven Millhauser

Essay on Behind the Blue Curtain by Steven Millhauser

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In the short story, Behind the Blue Curtain by Steven Millhauser,
the protagonist is a young boy whose journey begins w

In the short story, Behind the Blue Curtain by Steven Millhauser, the
protagonist is a young boy whose journey begins with a trip to the
movie theater one Saturday afternoon. Although the child attends a
feature film each weekend this Saturday is a bit different; this
weekend he must go alone, rather than with his father as per usual.
Instead of a material treasure, the young boy seeks the treasure of a
greater knowledge, enlightenment. The reader is informed of this
through a first person point of view; the boy’s, “My father was never
wrong, but I felt he was trying to shield me from darker knowledge.
The beings behind the curtain had nothing to do with childish
flip-books or the long strips of gray negatives handing in the kitchen
from silver clips.” It is clear that the narrator does not take his
father’s word for it, and prefers to seek out for himself, the lives
of the people on the silver screen. Although Millhauser does not give
an exact time or place, it can be inferred that the story takes place
during the summer, sometime in the twentieth century, and mostly at
the theater.

Throughout the course of the story while the reader is given insight
into the personality of the protagonist, the young boy’s is never
supplied. Similarly, an exact age is not given but it can be assumed
that he is a young boy, as he seems surprised by the fact that he is
allowed to go to the theater unaccompanied, “…it was decided that I
could go to the movies alone. I knew that something forbidden was
happening, but I greeted it with outward calm.” The narrator of the
story is very curious, as most c...

... middle of paper ...

role in the short story. In the beginning, the young boy describes
carefully, and in detail, the morning he attends the movie alone. The
characters he comes across behind the curtain are also described
carefully, almost as if they really exist.

By reading the story, the reader also gains a greater knowledge; that
everyone at some point must experience the transformation from
innocence to knowledge and experience. One can learn that while this
journey can start intentionally, it can also begin unexpectedly. It
is easy for the reader to relate to the protagonist of the story
because the events take place at the general location of the movie
theater, rather than a specific location. This makes the story
universal, one that many can relate to. Additionally, Behind the Blue
Curtain teaches the reader the fantasy world of movies is just that, a

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