Term Paper: Children's Literature - Hardy Boys

Pages: 7 (2357 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] On pages 139-140, after Joe and Frank had agreed that the threat from Slagel was real and scary enough to take seriously, and that they would have to leave town, they also thought about the safety of their mom and aunt. Reflecting back to page 12 when Aunt Gertrude was angry that the boys were tracking in dirt, to page 140 where the boys are warning mom and aunt about the threat, shows a growth in trust, parent to child, adult to child - and even, child to adult. "Mrs. Hardy's pretty face showed worry, but she forced a smile..." And "Aunt Gertrude's face wore an expression of militance. Removing her apron, she took a large frying pan off a hook. "Just where are these two men watching our house?" she wondered, "brandishing her weapon. Who do they think they are, threatening my nephews!"

This scene also illustrates what was noted earlier in the paper, that family sticks together when the chips are down. The boys may track in mud, and be a nuisance from time to time, but by golly, if they are in trouble, auntie will grab a frying pan and give the dickens to anyone who might wish to do something untoward to her nephews.

And true to family loyalty values and morals - and in the spirit of a good detective's loyalty to keeping the community safe - Mr. Hardy (page 171) "fastened his handkerchief over his face" and "dashed back into the tunnel" to help solve the mystery with his sons.

The Case of the Sleeping Dog

Is there anything wrong with a dog that has never done anything special? Apparently, we learn from reading the first and second paragraph of the Encyclopedia Brown story, there is pressure on kids - and their pets - to do something special, something unusual. After all, why would it even be noted that Elmo "had done absolutely nothing special in his whole life"? And why would the writer add that "Meg worried over him" because he had never done anything very special? What are dogs and other pets supposed to do, really? Aren't they just supposed to be companions, friends, of the families who feed and house them? What ever got into Meg that she would think a dog needs to become a celebrity, or otherwise do something terribly special, in order to fulfill the job description of being the family dog?

Meanwhile, pet food companies expect honesty, just like anyone else does. So, when Elmo got hurt, Meg had to decide whether to be candid and tell the pet food company (18-19) that Elmo had hurt his paw when a box of biscuits slipped off a forklift and landed on his paw. "This is the first of four days of tryouts," said the pet food representative, adding to the silliness that a dog would be (20) a "job-seeker."

And because "purebreds make the best tasters" (Meg says), and Elmo - along with the German shepherd, the golden retriever, and the collie - was purebred, he should have a fighting chance to get the job, and, make Meg someone special too, perhaps. There is pressure on kids to be like "special" kids on TV, in magazines, and in movies, one can conclude from.

But wait - someone has apparently put a "fast-acting knockout powder into Elmo's test food" (21). Now, this gives the reader some information about how kids behave in social situations, especially when there is a competition, and there will be winners and losers. And because Meg says, "it had to be Billy or Frank or Hugh," readers see that humans, kids included, jump to conclusions when something goes wrong. "It had to be..." one of those three? Not necessarily. In fact, it is brutally unfair to assume that another kid - dying to have his dog win - would sabotage Meg's dog, just to win a silly prize like having your dog win the dog food tasting contest.

Meantime, it turns out that Frank knew Elmo had been hurt, but gave himself away by saying that Meg ought to get Elmo to a "dog doc." Well, so okay, one of the boys in competition with Elmo had sabotaged Meg's dog, but, where Frank learn such behavior? From his parents? From his family? From television? A reader has to wonder how a normal, seemingly normal, kid would come up with that kind of skullduggery, and could carry it off.

Joe and Frank's aunt can be a bit hard on the boys, because boys "will be boys" and track dirt into houses, but in this case, aunt Gertrude (an old fashioned name to represent old fashioned values of raising kids by being tough on them) backs off her huffiness when she learns the boys actually got hurt in an accident.

Since Elmo the dog had never done much of any significance, except that he could hold three tennis balls in his mouth, Meg wanted him to become more of a special dog, and hence, the dog food tryouts.


Dixon, Franklin W. The Shore Road Mystery. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1964.


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