Who Is The Parent’s Message In A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness Essay

Death is an inevitable concept that will never fade away. How one chooses to cope with it shows what they are like as a person. The fictional work, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, tells the tale of a young boy named Conor. He is visited by a monster who is the yew tree in his own background. Throughout the story, readers find out that Conor’s mother has a terminal illness, assumed to be cancer, and Conor imposes the blame on himself. However, it is revealed that the monster had come to try to get Conor to believe that he is not guilty and to blame for his mother’s illness.

Through the symbolic meaning of the monster, Patrick Ness shows his philosophical message that in order to grow and change as a person, acceptance is key. There are some parts of a person that cannot be overlooked. Without accepting what life throws, it will all start to become a burden. The monster has many significant symbols and concepts that it stands for in the story. The monster himself even explains that he prefers being a yew tree when he stated that “I can take any form of any size, but the yew tree is a shape most comfortable” (55).

However, symbolically, a yew tree can represent transformation and rebirth. In the story, it can represent life and death with the poisonous berries and bark and needles that can help with healing. Using both of these interpretations, a conclusion can be made that the monster represents Conor’s own internal and mental transformation from a young naive boy to a more mature and understanding individual. In Ancient Greek times, the yew tree was sacred to the goddess, Hecate. Hecate was one of the guardians of the underworld and represented death, the afterlife, and crossroads.

It is possible that the monster could also be significant towards the fact that Conor’s mother needed to pass on and that Conor needed to let go of her in order for her to do so. Through this understanding of the monster for what it literally was, the theme is gradually shown. Despite that, the monster also represents Conor’s emotions throughout the book. It also represents the side of Conor that saw situations that he did not want to see or believe. In the beginning of the book, the monster told the story of a prince who wanted to overthrow his step-mother who was the queen.

Conor believed that the queen deserved punishment because she was evil, but when the monster explained what had truly happened, it turned out the prince was the one to blame. In the story that the monster told, the queen corresponded with Conor’s grandmother and he was the prince. Conor was bitter, hated his grandmother, and refused to live with her, and in the prince’s case, he hated the queen and could not stand her. Conor only saw the world in black and white and could not be more open minded to his opinions. In the second story, the monster tells the tale of a parson and an Apothecary.

The story ends with the monster destroying the parson’s home. The story also ended up differently from what Conor had expected. He had expected the Apothecary to be the villain and not the parson. This time around, Conor acted differently. He and the monster started to act as if they were one and together they destroyed Conor’s grandmother’s sitting room. Conor, thinking it was all a dream, did not realize that he himself had ravaged it all. All of his suppressed negative emotions had been channeled through the monster. Conor and the monster truly become one and his emotions are let out like a broken dam after the third story.

In the third story, the monster told Conor about an invisible man who wanted to be seen and so the monster “‘made them see’” (152). At that statement the monster lunged at Harry to “make [him] see” (152). It was actually Conor who did, but he denied the fact that he did at first. He later on realized what he did. This signifies the fact that Conor and monster are, indeed, one with each other. It was never the monster who was committing this acts of destruction, it was Conor all along, but at first, he genuinely believed it was the monster who was responsible. His negative emotions had been released as the manifestation of the monster.

At the end, the monster helped Conor see what he supposed to concieve and understand. This time, Conor had to tell his own story, but he was hesitant at first. At last, he told the monster that “‘[he couldn’t] stand it anymore’[… ] ‘[he couldn’t] stand knowing that she’ll go! [He] just [wanted] it to be over! [He wanted] it to be finished! ’” (188). His thoughts contradicted themselves and it made him frustrated. Conor took the negative thoughts and only thought of those, making him guilty. He thought that it was his fault for everything that had happened and wanted to be punished.

However, the monster would not let that happen. The monster came to Conor to help him heal (192). It reassured Conor that it was not his fault for wanting relief from his internal pain that was caused by his mother’s illness. Conor did not want to believe that he was not to blame. He thought that he deserved whatever happened to him. He felt guilty for what happened with his mother, but he never saw how it was never him directly causing it. The monster helped Conor see in different lenses and accept fate. While the monster represented Conor’s internal state, it also helped with Conor’s acceptance process.

Conor blamed himself for his mother’s illness, and as a result, the monster was created in order to help Conor learn acceptance. The three stories that the monster told were to help Conor come to terms with his true feelings and to show him to look in different perspectives. The first story was portraying his pent-up anger at his grandmother and the second was Conor acting upon those negative emotions. In those stories, the endings were far from what Conor had expected. He did not look at the perspectives of the other characters, but rather only of the main character. This reflected Conor’s own life.

He focused on himself and did not understand the intent of the people who were trying to help him. The third story reflected his acceptance of not being looked down upon as the boy with a sick mother any longer. Conor desired punishment for all that he did, but all he got was more unfavorable attention, except from Lily. However, he accepted the fact that this was his life. At last, when Conor told the fourth story, and his own, he came to terms with his feelings about his mother and the impact of her illness on him. His thoughts of wanting his mother filled him with guilt and weighed him down.

The monster said otherwise and told him that “‘it does not matter what you think, because your mind will contradict itself a hundred times [… ] your mind will punish you for believing both’” (191). The monster did not want Conor to ignore what was happening, but rather accept what happened and grow from those experiences because actions matter, not thoughts. At the end of the book, the nightmare that Conor was trapped in was to get him to let go of his mother physically and mentally. He constantly believed that his mother would get better, despite the fact that it was terminal.

However, within, Conor had always known that he would have to let go at one point (186). He had to accept the fact that he could not change destiny, no matter how much he wanted it to. Slowly, the monster coaxed the truth out of the hesitant boy and got Conor to admit all of feelings and restore himself. The monster told Conor that “[he] must tell the truth or [he] will never leave this nightmare” (185). It was trying to get Conor out of the mental state he was in at the moment in order mature and grow. Conor was in continual denial and harbored the guilt that was slowly eating away at him.

The monster wanted Conor to spill his feelings and then realize what he felt and what he thought were not applicable in what he actually did. Altogether, these symbolic meanings of the monster can help secure the connection of the monster along with the philosophical message of the book. Through the monster’s analysis, Patrick Ness’s philosophical message that in order to grow and change as a person, acceptance is key can be determined. In the first paragraph, the yew tree was discussed and how it stood for death/afterlife, transformation, and rebirth.

Those three interpretations could stand for Conor’s mother need to pass on and for Conor to let her go, the transformation of Conor’s mentality from a naive young boy to a older and more mature boy, and the “rebirth” of Conor. Conor needed to accept the reality of his mother’s fate and his own. He cannot change the outcome to what he desires, so he must accept the consequences and learn from them. After the monster got Conor to admit his feelings that had been locked up inside of him, he changed as a person, thus his “rebirth”.

Conor had become a more understanding individual and matured. The second paragraph showed how Conor expressed himself rather than concealing it all and began to see situations in a different light. Conor stopped being one-sided and began to see all perspectives. He began to understand that his thoughts did not reflect what he desired to happen, unless he acted upon them. He accepted that part of him and all the guilt that had built up began to wither away. The third paragraph explained how the monster himself was created in order to teach Conor about acceptance.

At first, Conor would not and could not let go of his mother and refused to believe that she would die, even though in the back of his head, he knew her true fate. Through the monster’s stories and guidance Conor slowly accepted it and grew from that experience. He accepted the fact that her condition was out of his reach and that it was never him to blame for all that had happened with her. From that, Conor became more mature and was able to deal with experiences like his being at his mother’s deathbed.

The monster’s true goal was to get Conor to accept he change that was occurring in his life and grow and learn from those experiences. Although the monster could take on multiple forms, it chose to be a yew tree, a symbol of death, transformation, and rebirth. On a non-literal sense, the monster also stood for Conor’s emotions and mental creation of a mentor figure who would help him come to terms with reality and his mother’s situation. Altogether, the monster helped portray the message of the story that acceptance is key. Conor is a young boy who is still learning and growing. He cannot go through life by himself at this stage though.

The monster came and delivered guidance and life lessons that would aid Conor on his path. In order to grow, acceptance of reality and the understanding of one’s surroundings is crucial. Death is never easy for anyone, yet alone a young boy. There are always experiences one must go through, even if they are difficult to handle mentally and/or physically. Denying what is front of one will make matters worse. The formidable obstacles that are present throughout life are never impossible to overcome, unless it is being ignored. Each experience is a new ordeal to learn and grow from.