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The Power of Collective Tradition

A Childs Christmas in Wales Literary Analysis





“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”

John Muir



It was Christmas Day in the English country of Wales. Yet there were hippos and Jaguars and hunters. The piece A Child’s Christmas in Wales shows the power of imagination by using Essential Detail and Image in action. No other piece of literature has shown so much description in such a short story. Dylan Thomas shows his incredible writing skill so well in this story with Essential detail and Image  in Action.



Imagination plays a big role in any child’s life. Imagination is especially present in A Child’s Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas, as we get a very detailed look into the narrators memories mixed with fantasy. The narrator details his Christmas Day in a way like no other. From the hippos to the eggshell voice on the carols, it truly is a Christmas like no other.   It’s at the beginning of the piece when the narrators imagination first comes in.  The narrator and his friend, Jim liken themselves to hunters looking for Mrs Prothero’s cats to throw snowballs at; but the cats never come. 



“We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows--eternal, ever since Wednesday--that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.”



The narrator and Jim really show the beauty of imagination, as a child. Although they are about to attack an animal with snowballs, they make it seem like they’re trapping a jaguar in the arctic. They show the beauty of being young throughout the story and being whatever they want to be if just for a couple of minutes. In this story Dylan Thomas explains the children’s imaginations with great detail and makes it seem like we’re there.




“There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why.”





Thomas’s use of Essential Detail shows off his skill as a writer. In this quote he explains all of the useful gifts from his childhood.  Although mittens may seem like a not great Christmas gift, he describes them in a way of which someone would use if they were going to Disney World.The best thing he describes is the book though. His detail when describing the “Pictureless Books”, makes the reader imagine a story inside a story which is both confusing and great.



His use of Image in Action is so insane as well. A lot of stories make us feel like we can empathize with what is happening to the characters, but through Thomas’s writing in A Child’s Christmas  makes it seem like we are with the characters. His imagery when describing himself hunting is incredible, especially when he says “Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes.” This sentence is a perfect example of Image in action from a point of view the narrator.