Theme Of Maturation In The Nest


The Nest by Zacks is in a way, Jimmy’s coming-of-age story. We see him mature as he discovers that though adults are older and more experienced, they are not always right. Jimmy makes choices for himself, ones that are caring, aware and brave. He proves to be a determined, good soul that his parents can be proud of even when they don’t agree with his choices.

When his friend Paul invites Jimmy to go on a group hike, his mother is less than pleased. In the past, Paul made bad choices, and she’s wary of allowing Jimmy near him. Jimmy is furious, both at her control and her unfair judgment of his friend. He runs out of the house to meet up with Paul and is upset to learn that nobody else came. Paul is understandably crestfallen, but Jimmy cheers him up by being there, and inviting him to dinner on his Mother’s behalf. After Jimmy calls his mother to warn her, Paul attends the meal. Paul is delightful, polite, and respectful, ultimately proving Jimmy’s positive view of him correct. Jimmy’s mother apologizes and concedes that this time she was mistaken, and that she is proud of Jimmy’s decision.

Jimmy exhibits maturity in the way he can analyze and interpret situations around him. He makes this clear when he yells at his Mother, saying, ““Everything is for my own good. Everything! But you aren’t telling me the truth. You know why you don’t want me to go on the hike? Because of Paul. You just don’t like him.”” (Zacks, P. 2) He proves to her that though her motive wasn’t explicitly stated, he can infer it through her behavior and reaction to his request. Her choice on his behalf both disappoints and infuriates him, leading Jimmy to disobey and make his own decision separate from hers.

Even though Jimmy has disregarded his Mom’s decision, he still respects her. He needs to stay true to his resolve, but he doesn’t want to cause more stress for his parents. When he invites Paul to dinner on his Mother’s behalf, he has the foresight to call his her first. He allows her a chance to compose herself and prepare for Paul’s arrival with a phone call, “Nobody else came,” he shouted into the telephone, “because all the mothers—” He was unable to go on for a moment. Then he finished. “I’m bringing him to supper afterwards, Mom. I said you asked him.”” (Zacks, P. 7) Of course, this is an underhanded move, Jimmy doesn’t allow his mother a say, and he has just disobeyed her. Luckily for Jimmy, the means come to justify the end.

Jimmy fully realizes the consequences of his decision after his Mom apologizes. He now understands that though his parents are there to mentor and teach him, they are just as human as he is. It inspires a sense of both triumph and terror, leaving Jimmy uncertain. We see this in the description of Jimmy’s feelings, “He had always been sure, even in his anger, of being able to depend on the wisdom of his mother and father. They’d always been right. But not any more. Now they might be wrong. And Jimmy would have to decide.” (Zacks, P. 9)

Part of growing up is learning to choose for yourself. Sometimes those choices are small, like deciding what to order at a restaurant. Other times they are huge, like deciding a future career. The simple fact is that every day you’re going to make decisions, ones that affect you and others around you. Jimmy learns this through doing what he thought was right, and it worked in his favor. That won’t always be the case, but that doesn’t make the choices any less worth making. Independence of mind is part of growing up, and part of what it means to be human. In the end, the only person who has the final say in what you do is yourself, be it for better or worse. 

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