Cold Little Bird Character Analysis

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Cold Little Bird, a short story by Ben Marcus, is about an intelligent young boy whose parents struggle coping with his emotional detachment. Throughout the story, the boy’s father, Martin, has the reader questioning whether or not there actually is a problem with Jonah or whether he is over-reacting. Through various scenes in the story one may conclude that it is combination of both.
A Cold Little Bird is told through the point of view of the father, Martin. Martin is portrayed as a loving father figure who cares about the well-being of all his family members. When his eldest son shuts he and his wife out, Martin is at first perplexed. He even goes so far as to view Jonah’s coldness as a challenge (Marcus 1). The longer Martin lets
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Scholte further claims that a child who expresses emotional detachment also shows other signs of delinquency such as stealing and bullying (Scholte 1). Scholte in a different article defines the state of emotional detachment as a psychopathic syndrome (Scholte 1).
The act of touching and hugging is a big theme in Cold Little Bird. One of the first things Jonah refuses his parents is touching or hugging him. When Martin was finally fed up with his son’s rejection and forced a hug, Jonah froze and said he did not understand why his father kept refusing to allow him his basic request. What is alarming is how Jonah threatens to tell the school counselor that his parents touch him when he does not want them to. As a result of the reader knowing the truth about the “touching” and how the school will interpret the child’s words, Martin and the reader are horrified at the implications the youth is making. This would lead both the reader and Martin to question just how “normal” the child is in fact. It might also lead one to wonder whether another adult has molested Jonah because ten year olds are usually not aware of such issues. Levy describes the emotional detachment and “not wanting to be touched” as the fault of Martin. He explains that Martin acts detached and uses the example of the bedroom scene where Martin almost seems mechanical (Levy 1). I do not entirely agree with this because Martin appears
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