In the Small Themes

Michael Hague
This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of In the Small.
This section contains 915 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)

Survival Instinct

"In the Small" is fundamentally the story of man's instinct to survival, even under the most trying of circumstances. With all the dangers that lurk in the world - terrorist threats, nuclear weapons attacks, economic collapse, and global warming - no one would think that the enemy of man could be the earth itself. Apparently, the eerie blue light that encompasses the world in this story is an example of "the Gaia Effect." The theory is that when Mother Earth becomes so enraged with the damage that man has caused to nature and the earth that she will strike back. In this story, the blue light that she emanated from Mother Earth targeted mankind and made it so small that it would no longer be able to do much damage.

In this story, man is almost devastated by this blue devil. But an overarching theme that emerges from this story is that man's instinct to survive is strong, effective and relentless. When the people are shrunk, their clothes fall off of them. The people find rags and scraps and make clothes and shoes. Beatrix finds some old doll clothes for her and her mother to wear. Mouse and Beatrix both set out in the strange new world and create weapons to use against familiar creatures like cats and dogs that have now pose dangerous threats to them.

The Hoyle brothers are both engineers. They construct a miniature walkway in and around the Willow house so that the survivors can get around the large complex. The survivors abscond with a normal-sized skateboard to act as a supply transport for them. The survivors raid a museum and take tools and devices from a miniature display in order to make their lives easier.

The new reality of being smaller than a rat was quite a challenge; however, this story demonstrates the strength of the human spirit and its infinite drive to survive and adapt.

Religion

"In the Small," a graphic novel by Michael Hague, is the story of survival and renewal which is an inspired topic that is religious in tone. The main character, Mouse Willow, is a young man has the gift of premonition which, arguably, is a skill that is often attributed to God or god-like characters in literature.

Mouse leads his co-workers and others who join the group to what he is convinced is a safe place where they can begin anew. Eventually, the group is referred to as his "followers." He, at various times is called a prophet, and even the Messiah. Eventually, the group refers to their destination - Mouse's own house - as the Promised Land where they will find safety and renewal. The Promised Land is a Biblical reference to the land that God promised to the Israelis. The fact that it is Mouse who is leading them strengthens the parallel between Mouse and the divine.

Another character, a strange hippie-like survivor, simply referred to as the D-A-V is visited by angels who tell him of future events. The wild children who join the commune are led by a blind child who is a prophet and has visions of the future. This character is reminiscent of the blind prophets in the Bible, specifically Eli. Another group is led by a woman named Ruth whose namesake in the Bible is the featured person in the eponymous book in the Bible.

The group of humans who are threatened by the blue light are lost and frightened - just like the lost souls who are in need of God's grace. Mouse is the young man who becomes their leader and leads them to the Promised Land.

Leadership

Whenever tragedy strikes or a challenge presents itself to man, leaders inevitably emerge. The story of "In the Small" is about a devastating assault on mankind that threatens its very existence. In this story, there are two leaders who rise to the occasion. Mouse Willow is an intern where his father works when a strange blue light strikes earth and makes all humans shrink to one-twelfth of their normal size. He has the gift of premonition and has a vision of where he can lead the others to safety. He has the manner and bearing of all leaders. He is serious and exudes a confidence that eases the concerns of others. He believe him when he assures them that he can lead them to safety. Mouse demonstrates ideal leadership skills by his calm and steady manner and his demonstrated leadership and survival skills. By virtue of his behavior, he engenders a strength that calms the worries of the others.

It is not by accident that the other leader that emerges in this story is Mouse's younger sister, Beatrix. They had the same parents and apparently had been raised to be strong and forthright. Beatrix is a risk taker. To save her grandfather, she battles a garter snake that now looms like a large dragon. Beatrix is able to soothe her mother's frayed nerves and take off with a neighbor who cannot find her children. Beatrix demonstrates superior leadership skills just like her brother. She fights off creatures, avoids other dangers and keeps her word to those she leads.

Both young people have to face tragedy, loss and great challenges. Their skills in standing up under the pressure and stress of the ordeal they must struggle through provide support to the others who they must lead to safety in order to save mankind and civilization.

This section contains 915 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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