Where the Wild Things Are–Carol and K.W.
I’m just going to continue the focus from the last month or so on who are the monsters and what do they represent, and Carol and K.W. are a really rich vein to tap.
Before I get to them I just want to mention one thing to watch for in the movie: The landscape as an objective correlative of Max’s internal state. Spike Jonze or Maurice Sendak or whoever wrote the screenplay adaptation was paying attention.
We saw Carol throwing a tantrum and breaking the womb-shaped dwelling places of the wild things because K.W. had left (again). Carol is male, K. W. female. K.W. left because Carol had a jealous tantrum that she had two friends outside the group. Some of the other wild things voice hesitant support for the two friends, but are shouted down by Carol.
Carol is intense, intolerant of the two friends, unable to tolerate separation–in short, he is a mirror on Max’s state as he left for the island. He also turns out to be intensely creative, and he builds not only the model, but the fort on the island, as Max built his snow fort and fort in his bedroom.
At this level, K.W. looks like Claire, Max’s older sister, and her two friends, Bob and Terry, look like Claire’s friends, the ones who destroyed Max’s (womb-like) snow fort. Claire gets their attention on the beach by hitting them with a thrown rock, just as Max got their attention with snowballs. And Claire left in the car with her friends while Max was in terrible pain just as K.W. left Carol. Carol and Max both feel left out. This is represented objectively by the fact that they are the only two who are unable to understand Bob and Terry when they speak.
On another level, of course, K.W. represents Max’s mother–both the distant mother who doesn’t have time for him, who he’s angry with, and the nurturing protective mother who cooks for him and reads to him. This first mother is the mother Max bit, the mother who’s engaged in conversation with her boyfriend, won’t get into his bedspread fort. This is the mother of the womb-destroying imagery, the one who let dad go and the reason the wild things can no longer sleep in their pile-up, as they did after the wild rumpus. And we see this, explicitly: when Carol realizes that Max is unable to keep all the wild things together and attacks Max, Max finds safety in K.W.’s belly, and his emergence is an almost literal rebirth.
In the belly Max hears for the first time his mother’s frustrations with him in the voice of K.W. telling Carol the impact his tantrums have on the rest of the wild things. After he emerges he’s able to confess to all that he isn’t a king . . . but he does, ultimately, do magic which unites them.
If K.W. at this level represents Max’s mother, then the owls who are Carol’s competition for K.W.’s affection are, perhaps, Max’s sister and mom’s boyfriend. The rock’s K.W. threw to get their attention were heart-felt.
More in the next post or two.
Filed under: kidlit, Movies, What's it all mean, Why do kids love it | 3 Comments
Tags: Maurice Sendak, Monsters, Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are