Gerry receives the Bootle-Bumtrinket, a strangely shaped boat crafted by Leslie, for his birthday. It allows him a sense of freedom and mastery over the aquatic world that had previously been unavailable to him without adult assistance. Especially because Gerry does receive it for a birthday, the boat then becomes symbolic of Gerry's growing maturity and independence. However, the ridiculous name he gives the boat is also indicative of the fact that Gerry is absolutely not mature. The nature of the boat, combined with its name, then casts the boat as a symbol of Gerry's existence in a liminal space between child and adult.
The Bootle-Bumtrinket Quotes in My Family and Other Animals
A pot of black paint was produced and laboriously, in rather trickly capitals, I traced her name along the side: THE BOOTLE-BUMTRINKET. There it was; not only an unusual name, but an aristocratically hyphenated one as well. In order to ease Mother's mind I had to promise that I would refer to the boat only as the Bootle in conversation with strangers.