Am analysis of the different paths in life taken by Tad and Gwyn in “Jackaroo” by Cynthia Voigt.
The novel Jackaroo tells the mysterious adventures of an Innkeeper’s daughter and the interactions with her family during a medieval-like time period, where the common people of the land were ruled by Lords and Earls. In the story, the Innkeeper’s daughter Gwyn, along with her brother Tad, play a central part, as they are influenced in many different ways by their parents and by society. Like all children during this time period, they had certain standards in which they were to follow developing into young adults. From their transition into adulthood, Gwyn and Tad went through considerable changes. Gwyn, secretly went against the beliefs of her parents and her community, and changed for the betterment of herself. She became who she wanted to be. Gwyn made these choices internally, listening to her heart and mind. However, Gwyn actually makes two different turns in the novel. In the end, she comes out of her mystical world and back into reality. On the other hand, Tad, reacting from the external influence of his family and the Inn, changed to form the mold of the responsible son of that time period. Though taking opposite approaches, the changes of Gwyn and Tad were very significant to their growth as characters and ultimately, to their place in the world. Gwyn started out in the novel as the hard-working, responsible daughter who contributed her all to the family and their needs. Gwyn worked a full day doing chores and helping out around the Inn. She did everything that was asked of her. She could be seen as the model child. As Gwyn continued on in the novel, she began to feel really unappreciated. Gwyn’s parents kept driving her, expecting more and more. Gwyn understood her role as the daughter, and did not complain in any way. However, Gwyn was unhappy and knew that something was missing. As Gwyn interacted in the community, she saw that troublesome times had passed over the land. The hard winter caused a lot of disaster, and caused many people to suffer. Personally seeing tragedy at the old lady’s house, Gwyn’s heart called out for her to help. Rebelling against her parents, Gwyn secretly took a goat to the old lady and her husband. Leaving the goat for the old couple, Gwyn felt like a savior. She knew her deed had been greatly appreciated, and this filled Gwyn with much satisfaction. Little did Gwyn know that her little favor to the old lady was just the beginning. The emergence of the Jackaroo costume was one the most crucial events that took place in the novel, Gwyn discovered it at Old Megg’s while being trapped in the hut by an awful blizzard. The Jackaroo costume brought about the most dramatic change in Gwyn’s life. Becoming Jackaroo, Gwyn felt she could do anything. The possibilities were endless. Roaming the night as Jackaroo, Gwyn was the hero to many unfortunate people. She left coins for the fiddler and Am, and she left a baby to Blythe. Coming to the aid of others, filled Gwyn with excitement and boldness. Gwyn risked danger and the even disgrace of her family to do what made her happy. Only as Jackaroo, was Gwyn her true self. Gwyn’s experience as Jackaroo, was only one of her turns in the novel. After talking with Win, and thinking about the whole situation, Gwyn realized that her involvement as Jackaroo must come to a rest. As Jackaroo, Gwyn would always be an outsider and a fugitive. There was no real life as Jackaroo. Gwyn needed something else. After getting injured and kept up at Old Megg’s with a fever, Gwyn was forced to find that something else. Being absent from the village for such a time, rumors started about her, and she became a disgrace to her family. Her family no longer wanted her, encouraged to leave. She could bring nothing but trouble to them. With the help of Burl, Gwyn got to work for the Lord and his son. She moved on with her life to another land. The Lord made Gwyn an Innkeeper, and she married Burl, who was meant for her all along. They understood each other and knew each others secrets. As long as she had someone like Burl, Gwyn could start her life over. She changed back to the responsible and hard working Gwyn that everybody knew in the beginning. She became a loving wife, and a trustworthy servant to the Lord and his son. Instead of changing because of his own feelings, Tad was mainly influenced by outside sources. Persuasion from Gwyn and desire for the Inn were predominantly the reasons for Tad growing up and becoming a mature young adult. Tad started out as a lazy, irresponsible brat. He was only ten years old, but he acted much younger. Tad never did all of his chores, and he whined about everything he was asked to do. Tad was good for nothing. However, that was not totally his fault. Tad’s parents had babied him since birth, raising him without much discipline at all. Having their first son die as a baby, Da and Gwyn’s mother did not want to risk anything with Tad. It was also important to the family to have a male child to carry on the family name. Tad would never have lifted a finger if it wasn’t for Gwyn. She was always jumping on him to do his part and to quit whining. As Gwyn forced Tad to do certain jobs, Tad began to realize that he could contribute in certain ways. In a way, the work actually made Tad feel good. From this, Tad began to do more and more around the house. Gwyn also made Tad watch the hanging of Win. Earlier, Tad would not even bring himself to see the dead dog at the old lady’s house. At the hanging, Tad showed his new found courage, keeping his eyes fixed on Win throughout the event. The most compelling event that showed his maturity also took place at the hanging. When Gwyn carelessly threw the ring back to the Steward, she was afraid that somebody had seen her. When no one reacted to her action, Gwyn decided that she must have gotten away with it. However, Somebody had seen her. Tad had witnessed the entire thing. Earlier, Tad would have run to Da and his mother yelling and screaming about what he had seen. Instead, Tad kept it to himself. Tad understood what was taking place, and how he needed to keep the incident secretive. The Inn helped Tad to mature as well. Tad wanted Da to leave the Inn to him so he began to show Da that he was responsible and very capable of taking care of the holding. Unlike Gwyn, however, Da and Gwyn’s mother showed approval of Tad’s behavior. Tad became an asset to the family, and his contributions were not going unnoticed. He was starting to become the man that was expected of him. Tad and Gwynn took different courses throughout Jackaroo. Both children went through drastic changes in their lives. Tad followed the typical manner, living by the standards set by society. Tad started out as a pathetic little brat who couldn’t care less about anything. Over the course of the novel, though, he changed into a responsible young adult. This responsibility eventually earned Tad the Inn. Gwyn underwent two different changes in the novel. She went behind her family’s back and became Jackaroo fulfilling her own pleasure. In the end, she reestablished herself as a responsible adult and, along with Burl, became an Innkeeper of her own. Gwyn ultimately got to experience the best of both worlds.