When either Brian or Cody ask Sophie about who her “real” parents were, she either avoids answering the question altogether or replies by telling a story about a “little kid.” Like “The Wave,” the “little kid” represents a part of Sophie’s past disguised in the form of a symbol. Sophie is the little kid of her stories; like Sophie, the little girl lost her parents, and has had to cope with wondering about why they left her alone and did not take her to heaven with them. Yet Sophie does not consciously recognize herself in the little kid. Having blocked the tragedy of her parents’ death from her conscious mind, Sophie talks about the little girl as if she were actually another person. The little kid, therefore, both represents the truth about Sophie’s past and feelings about her parents’ death, but also the ability of Sophie’s mind to block the past in order to dream her own world.
The Little Kid Quotes in The Wanderer
There's a little kid. And the little kid doesn't know what is going on. The little kid is just cold or hungry or scared and wants Mommy and Daddy. And when other people tell the little kid that Mommy and Daddy have gone to heaven . . . the little kid feels bad and wonders why they didn't take their little kid with them . . .
And everywhere the little kid goes, people ask what the little kid remembers about the grown-ups, who have gone away to the beautiful place, but the little kid doesn’t want to remember that painful thing. . . . The little kid wants to be right here, right now . . . not back at those times the little kid got left behind.
But no matter what the little kid might want, something inside pushes the little kid ahead while something or someone pulls the little kid back.
I reached across the bed and touched her hand. “Sophie,” I said. “Maybe that’s not Bompie’s story. Maybe that’s your story.”
Bompie whispered, “Sophie, he’s right. That’s your story, honey.”
Sophie stared at me and then at Bompie. She looked so scared and so little sitting there beside Bompie. And then she put her head down on Bompie’s chest and she cried and cried and cried.
I’ve been thinking about the little kid. I think that one day the little kid got lucky and she landed in a place where it was okay if she couldn’t remember all the time, and because it was okay if she couldn’t remember all the time, and because it was okay not to remember, she started to remember. And along with the painful things came the good things to remember and maybe she felt as if she’d found some things she’d lost.