Article — From the December 1954 issue

The Jet-Propelled Couch

Part I: The man who traveled through space

( 3 of 13 )

There were no other white children on the island, so until he was fourteen Kirk did not see another boy–or girl like himself. While outwardly this curious condition seemed to have no significance, it led to internal perplexity. Throughout childhood and early adolescence he was haunted by the difference between himself and his companions–a difference not solely of skin color but of social heritage and the innumerable subtleties of life.

While he could communicate with his playmates more directly and more fully than he could with his own family, he was still set apart from them and different. This produced a split in his personality that generated two contradictory views of self and world. On the one side, he developed a feeling of inferiority and a sense of having been rejected for good cause. The native world, with its warmth and communal cohesiveness, admitted him only half way. While he longed to share in it totally, he could not; and he naturally attributed this to some defect in himself, to some profound but undiscoverable fault.

On the other side, Kirk developed an internal sense of superiority. Because of the deference accorded him as a white boy, the son of the Commissioner, and because he was not permitted to take the final step toward total community with his native associates, a conviction of difference and special election was born in him. A private sense of distance between himself and all other inhabitants of the world grew: he was different and better, he told himself; therefore he was entitled to special treatment.

Between six and nine Kirk was cared for by a succession of native women. These women, he remembers, were cut from the same pattern as his lost Myna, but unlike her, they had other preoccupations, often children of their own, and they cared for him dutifully rather than from love.

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