The wonderful book called Blankets which was authored by Craig Thompson is a different kind of story about a Christian boy and his family. Crystallizing desire, despair, joy, redemption, and other fleeting emotions with voluptuous lines and a barrage of cross-hatching, Thompson has produced a triumph for the genre “Williams 128). The boys were subjected to the rigors of Christian bible beliefs, extreme biblical beliefs of the very strict mother. The main character and narrator is Craig along with his little brother. Growing up, Craig and Phil had to share space for most of their adolescent lives. Often the brothers would fight to keep warm in the winter, while they played instead of sleep. The treatment of the boys was harsh which develop their character as Craig and Phil grew from boys to men. Craig learned that his father was not cruel to hurt his children but teaching his sons that living according to the bible will never be easy. Craig’s Thompson setting was in the cold landscape of Wisconsin winter, where Craig enjoys his life with his brother Phil, while coming of age with his first love Rain“(Fiske 48). This is a story of love, religion, reflection and enlightenment. As their affair gets complicated, so does the novel, becoming a bittersweet meditation on family, faith, loss and memory” (Poniewozik 2).
Craig’s Thompson’s character had multiple stages of enlightenment because the story was told through the eyes of a child’s flashing back to adolescent and young adulthood. However, before understanding the enlighten moments, the characters must be described. The story was about Craig Thompson who was the main character and narrator about his young childhood and adulthood. Craig primary struggle was with the extreme Christianity practiced by his parents, which that consumed his life on a daily basis. Craig religious awakening was on different levels with different characters. Craig brother brought on a spiritual change because Phil grew apart from his brother as they got older. Craig found out that all relationships must change or be altered is just a part of life. Craig’s relationship with Raina brought about an awakening of love in the presence of God. One the main issues in Craig’s life was surrounded around the bible. Sin because the primary obstacle in Craig’s life because his family live an extreme version of Christianity. Craig’s parents hated any type of sin and the both of the boys felt the full wrath of the parents disdain for sin. If the boys committed any type of sin, the parents would abuse the boys for any transgression. This guilt of every sin made it difficult for Craig during adolescent because his unruly thoughts and the changing of his body made him an introvert loathing his own existence. Craig felt he could never please God or his parents. In addition, Craig learned that you can never trust anyone because he was sexually molested as a young boy. These events cause Craig to spend a lifetime asking God for forgiveness for sins that were perpetrated on a young innocent child. However, he finds comfort at the Baptist Christian winter camp because he meets his first love Raina. Raina will be an important character in Craig’s life because she will be the love spurned that will push Craig into the real world. Craig has a younger brother named Phil. They have similar likes and hobbies which begins as a loving relationship as brothers but as they get older the drift far apart. Phil is talked about in every section of the book which shows how the experiences with Phil developed some of his beliefs once he became an adult. In Craig’s mind Phil will be another incident that shows that families can sometimes change the path of a young adolescent. Laura and Ben are the mentally handicap adopted siblings of Raina’s. • Raina family is poor and very religious just like Craig’s family. However, the primary reason Raina leaves the relationship with Craig is because the parents are divorced. The responsibility of the mentally challenge children becomes her life. As a result, she breaks it off with Craig. In addition, Craig has not found his own way in life religiously. Craig has learned the way of his parents extreme Christianity. But Raina did not have the same conviction as Craig which contributed to the break up as well.
At this stage of life for Craig was painful because he lost the love of life Raina. Craig discovers how family’s religion beliefs can impact the children for a lifetime. This is an important moment in the growth of Craig because Raina choose the responsibility of the siblings over true love.
The main enlightenment was Craig’s religious awakening during adulthood that differed from his parents beliefs. Craig had been raised under a strict code of religion by his parents that could have been considered cult-like or extremist Christians. Craig’s parents thought the abuse of the children was for their own good because they were teaching them how to love God. Instead, the parents left the both boys with resentment, confusion, guilt and crippling fear of life. It was not until Craig went out into the world, did he find contradictions about the extremist religion forces on the family by the parents. In order to comprehend how Craig became enlighten, the background of Craig’s upbringing should be discussed. Craig was raised in Wisconsin by his very religious parents that ensured the family lived by the words of the bible. Craig grew up in poverty with very strict parents who were Christian extremist that force feed the children religion to the point of being cruel. Craig’s and his brother Phil were forced to learn the religious biases and prejudice from their parents. The Blanket provides a looking into Craig’s adolescence of innocence and trust turns into memories of pain and confusion, spoiled love, brotherly moments and new found religious beliefs. The child childhood relationship awakens Craig to his younger brother conflicts with extreme Christianity forced on the brothers by the parents.
The first lesson of enlightenment was his relationship with Phil. Craig and Phil sleep together with plenty of resistance and anger about sharing the same bed. Craig is discovering that incidents in their lives such as the babysitter abusing them may have cause the separation. Craig made it clear that sometimes in a young person’s life awful things happen. The brothers tried to erase the bad memories but the presence of each other was only a reminder of the abusive events. This incident has contributed to the boys growing apart while living under the same roof with their parents. As the boys grew older, the relationship soured as they no longer communicated. The relationship was never the same because Craig learned that religious lessons of shame from their parents took a toll on them both. Craig suffers mental anguish from cruel teenagers in his neighborhood and from the bullies at church. As result, Craig became an introvert during his teenage years finding it hard to fit in with his peers. Craig was seriously impacted in his youth by cruel and mean spirited bullies that reminded Craig that he was poor and a misfit“(Poniewozik 56).
Craig resented the Church because many of his bad moments were because of incidents related to his Church. This later led to Craig’s religious awakening because the past experience with the Church painting the picture of hell and heaven make him seek other truths in life or at least different schools of thought. Craig learned that in the outside world there were many different interpretations which he chose another religious path different from his parents.
Craig was seeking acceptance which he found in Bible camp with a girl named Raina, who developed a love interest in Craig. For the first time in Craig’s life he has someone to talk to about life, spirituality and love. However, the lesson learned from Craig that family can be the root of evil because Raina felt responsible for her adopted siblings because Ben and Laure were mentally challenged. The enlighten moment for Craig was learning that Raina’s close relationship with her family and siblings overcame the strong love they had for each other. In the end, Craig learned that love can be cruel and sweet at the same time. However, this experience was responsible for Craig searching for truths with his religion and his spiritual self. Craig left to start a life of his own after Raina broke off the relationship. But this lead to Craig to find himself and his own beliefs once we was no longer living with his parents. This new discovery about his own beliefs changes Craig into his own personal beliefs shedding the beliefs taught by his extremist parents“(Goldsmith, Francisca, Group man and Woodcock 186).
Craig Thompson becomes enlighten in many different ways as each experience brings about awareness about himself, his family or friend “(Chenoweth & Zaleski 60). In this story, Craig provides intimate looks into his mind during his visits to the Christian youth camp. The experiences at camp express moments of love and family involvement with Christianity. Craig parents had high expectations for him because he was the oldest of the sons born to the devoutly religious parents. Craig’s share how his mother practice extreme Christianity, while reminding the sons about the abiding by Gods rules in the bible. Craig and Phil both has a keen eye with drawing which the mother encourage them to draw pictures that would praised God. This was another awakening for Craig because he believed he was following his family beliefs with the drawings, however, he was told that his drawing was improper illustrations of God. These events led to Craig finding his own way in religion because this event taught him that his Mother teachings seemed to be flawed“(Williams 129). The parents follow the traditions of Christianity to a fault holding the young brothers accountable for passages they never understood., Craig found in the outside world that he had become just as extreme in religious views as his mother. This caused Craig to search for his own way in life. After Craig became an adult, he challenge those beliefs taught by his parent. Craig found that his relationship with Raina was never to be because his parents had already embedded extreme Christianity during his upbringing. Many things that happen in Craig’s life were pre-destined because the parents groomed the brothers to spend the rest of their life as servants of God without question”(Ratieri 69).
Can a graphic novel like Blankets be classified as a work of nonfiction?
This novel Blankets should be classified as a work of non-fiction. The written works are based on given facts, real events and actual moments in Craig’s life. Blankets were written in the first-person which indicates a narrative about real life events through the eyes of Craig Thompson. The graphic novel was visual depiction of Craig real life experiences that classifies this work as nonfiction. Craig pulled his reader into the story with believable moments of love, pain and self- discovery. Here some of the quotes that reflected some of Craig’s discoveries. ‘Shared’ is a sugar-coated way of saying we were trapped in the same bed, as we were children and had no say in the matter” (Ratieri 9). “As a child, I thought that life was the most horrible world anyone could ever live in and that there had to be something better” (Ratieri 9). “For a week, our freedom was interrupted by the pretense of sharing “Christ-centered” recreational activity with other Christian youth” (Chapter 2, p. 77). “When you are lost or are looking for someone suspected lost, the crowds of people form a threatening undertow, undermining your every effort” (Chapter 2, p. 104). “It was nearly impossible for me to accept that a group of people could adhere to the same belief, to be in one heart and mind, much less to join together in a constructive goal” (Chapter 2, p. 106).
Poniewozik, James. “BLANKETS (Book).” Time 162.8 (2003): 56-57. Academic Search Elite. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
This book discussed the unique love between Craig and Raina who were to love sick teenager trying to find themselves in the images of religion and family. The article goes into depth about the significance of Thompson sharing his different views with his parents because he no longer believed in being a Christian.
Wilda Williams, et al. “Blankets (Book).” Library Journal 129.1 (2004): 50. Academic Search Elite. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
The journal describes in detail the types of graphic pictures that accompany the narrative. In this graphic novel of his youth in rural Wisconsin, Thompson interjects his alter ego while sharing his thoughts about his first love, family, and religion.
Raiteri, Steve. “Blankets (Book).” Library Journal 128.12 (2003): 69. Academic Search Elite. Web. 28 Apr. 2013
This literature discussed the strict Catholic parents that punished Craig while struggling with his own demons. Craig’s struggles with his own biblical faith as he matures into a man making he own decisions about religion.
Amy Fiske. “Blankets (Books).” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 48.2 (2004): 178-179. Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
This journal discussed the trials and tribulations that made Craig the man he is today. Among the trials and the happiness is other stories of young love and youthful enthusiasm for drawing, however, his disdain for his mother’s religion-inspired his adolescent rejection of art while discovering his own personal power. That power is on full view to read as Craig does a masterly job at telling a deeply moving human story.
Chenowith, Emily, and Jeff Zaleski. “BLANKETS (Book).” Publishers Weekly 250.33 (2003): 60-61. Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
This journal revisited the themes of deep love, friendship and separation from his brother. The journal also touched on the sensitive recreations of relationship that had the most impact on Craig during this time of confusion, emotional pain and isolation
Goldsmith, Francisca, Jackie Gropman, and Susan Woodcock. “Blankets (Book).” School Library Journal 50.4 (2004): 186. Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
In this journal Blankets told a human story using the Craig as the protagonist. The journal captured his tale of growing up under tough religious times, teenage love and discovering the limits of his faith. This journal did a wonderful portrayal of his religious battles with his parents after becoming a man and during his young tender years with his brother Phil.