Thursday, June 4, 2015

Understanding and Interpreting “The Secret Power”

           Music has the ability to enhance the mind and awaken the senses.  It can also serve as a powerful reminder about a person’s past that could either create a sense of nostalgia or a sense of pain.  Since music has the ability to conjure memories from the past, the short story from Statement Magazine 2014 entitled “The Secret Power,” by Brad Kehoe, holds great significance between music and literature because both of these entities can create a way to remind people of the past so that they could strive towards a better future.  Within this story, Brad Kehoe reveals the symbolic power of music as it assists the protagonist, named Timothy, with his transition from adolescence into adulthood.

            The short story entitled “The Secret Power” reveals the power of being oneself through the comforting power of music.  Told in first-person narration, Timothy is the protagonist who had to confront challenges during high school in the 1950s.  Specifically, he had to deal with a bully named Billy, and also fell in love with a girl named Audrey.  This piece relates to music and literature because the song that the speaker was listening to on the radio created a sense of nostalgia for him.  It also allowed the speaker to reflect on his life as an adolescent.  Music serves as a reminder about his past, and also reveals how much he has grown since then.

            As a teenager, Timothy did not necessarily have the best high school experience.  For example, he reveals that “[his] senior year of high school was one of the best years of [his] life.  It was also one of the worst.”  (15).  It was also during this time in which he “discovered [his] secret power” (15).  The speaker was able to accomplish all of these achievements by learning to accept life as it is.  Basically, he does this by not preoccupying himself with the thoughts of other people, especially his high school friends.  By doing that, he was able to marry a girl named Audrey, and live a full life.

            “The Secret Power” also explores what it means to be part of a current generation as it relates to music.  For example, during the dance that the speaker and Audrey both attended, the speaker reveals, “Then the song ‘Hound Dog’ came on by Elvis Presley, a new man to fame that all the women were crazy about” (Kehoe 18).  After describing that flashback, the speaker reveals that he “relived some memories” (18).  Such an occurrence suggests that music has the ability to remind people about the past while allowing them to reflect on their lives.  Thus, music can act like an artifact that would remind people of what life was like in the past.  Simultaneously, music can also reveal to listeners how much they might have changed between the past and the present as they reflect upon their lives while listening to specific pieces of music.

            Additionally, music also relates to the power of memory because it can remind people of the past.  It can also show how “Things have changed since then” (18).  It is true that everything changes over time, but music can still act like an artifact that would remind people of the essence of a time period in which a musical composition had been created.  People cannot relive the past, but they can still reflect from it so that they would be able to progress personally instead of regress with sorrow and regret.  Furthermore, the “secret power” that is part of this literary piece is the ability to live in a way that suits a particular individual.  People might try to ridicule others, such as what Billy did to the narrator.  Nevertheless, the speaker was able to learn how to be himself.  His “secret” power was reminding himself, “Just don’t give a damn” (19).  Thus, being able to stay true to oneself is the ultimate secret power to enjoy life to its fullest.  The speaker did not let ridicule tie him down to a life filled with misery, which prompted him to live a meaningful life. 

            In the end, music has the ability to remind people of the past.  It can reveal how people behaved when they were younger, and reveal to them how much they might or might not have changed over time.  Being able to recognizing that change can prompt people to continue to strive for happiness because life ultimately is a beautiful work of art.  Music might shift as people do, but art is the essence of the basic humanity that makes people who they truly are.

Works Cited

Kehoe, Brad. “The Secret Power.” Statement Magazine 2014.  Los Angeles:               
        California State University—Los Angeles, 2014. 15-19. Print.

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