Have you ever struggled in life? Being left out by others or simply avoiding interactions? Feel like you’re being judged? Why am I so different? Paperboy tells the childhood story of the author – Vince Vawter – himself, written as an eleven-year-old newspaper boy who struggles with the ability to speak, as stranger events keep on breaking the peace of this small town, his life took a huge turn through the course of this one summer.
Victor Vollmer the Third – the protagonist of the book – lives in a small town of Memphis with his family and babysitter – Mam. In the beginning of the book, Victor is shown to be feeling very self-conscious about himself and doesn’t fit in because of his stutter: “…when I open my mouth I turn into something else. Most people don’t take the time to understand what’s wrong with me and probably just figure I’m not right in the head.” (Vaw 20). In his opinion, people doesn’t understand him, and he is having trouble with communication and feels like an “alien” when interacting with other people, causing him to feel self-conscious. Because of this, Victor is certain that others are almost constantly judging him of his actions where ever he goes.
Not only is Victor shown to be self-conscious about himself, he is also scared to make friends and avoids social interactions with them. When he was being “trapped” in a social situation during a family dinner, his nervousness literally made him threw up: “My mother looked at me like I should do something quick but my mouth jerked open before I could grab the red cloth napkin in my lap. Spaghetti and everything else inside me—the whole shootin’ match as Rat liked to say—was set free with an air that wasn’t the least bit gentle.” (36). This proves the point of that Little man has social interaction difficulties, being surrounded by people made him nervous and uncomfortable to the point of feeling sick. With such fear for sociality, Victor could be considered as a sociopath, making it almost impossible for him to accept interaction with strangers.
Even with difficulty interacting with others, Victor was still able to overcome his sociopathy and became a more bold and optimistic person with an open heart that is able to accept others and doesn’t care for their judgments anymore: “I stuttered about the same as always with all the gigantic pauses and funny sounds coming out around the words but I didn’t pay any attention to how my classmates looked at me and didn’t try to figure out what they were thinking. And I said exactly what I wanted to.” (41-42). This truly showed how Victor became more mature and how his personality changed over the course of one summer. After all the things that happened around him, it had caused him to change his view on life: even if he couldn’t speak like a normal person, there is no point for him to care so much for it. Instead of worrying about what others think of him, Victor focused more on his own life and did what he wanted.
I believe that nobody should be afraid to be themselves, fight off introversion and be socialized with other people, there are nothing wrong to be unique and different. We all have difficult times and struggles in our lives, avoiding them is no way to solve them. Self-consciousness could lead to a lot of negative thoughts, sometimes, communication is the best way to express those thoughts.
Picture citation: Viva Sarah Press. “New tech approach to stuttering”. Israel21c, May 25, 2015. Retrieved: Sep. 24, 2017 https://www.israel21c.org/new-tech-approach-to-stuttering-2/