two clearly illustrates what is missingnin Agee and writers like him. Agee:nIt is painful for me to write aboutnStefan’s very sad childhood in any detailnbecause I contributed to it, bothnactively and by default, out of jealousynand out of a need to dominate. I excludednhim from my games with mynfriends, insisting that he was toonyoung for us, and at other times, whennI did condescend to play with him itnwas with a kind of pushy superiority—nnatural perhaps, in brothers six yearsnapart in age, but still a source of shamenand self-reproach when I think back onnit. There were times when my jealousynmaterialized as physical disgust—thenpale freckles covering his face, hisnhabit of saving his desserts and sweetsnrevolted me. Nor could I forgive himnthe only weapon he had against menwhich was to tell on me. It infuriatednme that his complaints were always believednand always dignified with thenmost serious attention (in large partnowing to the fact that he told the truth),nwhile on several occasions mine werendismissed as lies or exaggerationsn(which they often were). The immediatenfacts had little bearing on my feelings.nI felt victimized by his existence.nMerton:nOne thing I would say about mynbrother John Paul. My most vividnmemories of him, in our childhood, allnfill me with poignant compunction atnthe thought of my own pride and hardnheartedness, and at his natural humilitynand love . . . When I think now ofnthat part of my childhood, the picturenI get of my brother John Paul is this:nstanding in a field, about a hundrednyards away from the clump of sumachsnwhere we have built our hut, is this littlenperplexed five-year-old kid in shortnpants and a kind of a leather jacket,nstanding quite still, with his armsnhanging down at his sides, and gazingnin our direction, afraid to come anynnearer on account of the stones, asninsulted as he is saddened, and his eyesnfull of indignation and sorrow. And yetnhe does not go away. We shout at himnto get out of there, to beat it, and gonhome, and wing a couple of more rocksn18;nChronicles of Cttlturenin that direction, and he does not gonaway. We tell him to play in some othernplace. He does not move.nAnd there he stands, not sobbing, notncrying, but angry and unhappy and offendednand tremendously sad. And yetnhe is fascinated by what we are doing,nnailing shingles all over our new hut.nAnd his tremendous desire to be withnus and do what we are doing will notnpermit him togo away. The law writtennin his nature says that he must be withnhis elder brother, and do what he is doing:nand he cannot understand whynthis law of love is being so wildly andnunjustly violated in his case.n1 am not making a moral point. Merton’snpassage is about his values, whichngive him a heightened understanding.nAgee’s passage starts out on a note ofnsympathetic understanding for hisnbrother but constantly reverts to “I,”nto the effect the memory has on himself.nThe point is not that Agee is selfish butnthat he has a narrow view. He is thus ofnlittle use to his reader. Merton, on thenother hand, starts with his own feelings.nBut his capacity for sympathetic understandingnpenetrates first the heart ofnhis brother and then pierces the heartsnof all his readers. So why read Agee? DnIti the lorthLomint; issiio ol ( htnnu U »l ( iiltun.nThe ISIyth of the Sexual Revolutionn”‘^cxual R(.vi)kitii SCdtfoIll |IKiUlli!iV (III ‘lUllillljll llll • II,b I’llnnii’J) in ri

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