As I’ve mentioned in umpteen other threads you can search for if so inclined, I’m working on a children’s novel. If anyone’s willing, I’d like a spot of feedback on a bit of imagery. Mods, if you feel this thread more appropriate for IMHO, knock yourselves out.
My story is set in the mid-1980s. The passage in question concerns one of the two protagonists, Andy, a ten-year-old black boy. On the night of his father’s funeral (which he was not allowed to attend), Andy is sneaking around his family’s home: he has gotten the idea that he can somehow help his father return to if he goes to a particular tree his father once told him to go to if he was ever lost in the park. Not willing to worry his mother and sister (as he believes it is now his duty to protect them, in his father’s absence), he is sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to go to said tree.
Here’s the passage I’m working on:
*He found his sneakers by memory and his keys by feel. As a frontier scout, rescuing a pioneer family from scalp-hunting Indians, he tiptoed to the hamper to get jeans, socks, and sweater. As a Neanderthal hunter, stalking a mastodon whose flesh would feed his tribe for a month, he crept down to the living room to get a heavy zippered jacket from the coat rack. *
I have two concerns with the passage as written.
First, Andy’s neighborhood and upbringing is basically similar to mine, and at that age, kids I knew were more likely to sympathize with the Indians than the cowboys. I’m thinking that Andy might instead think of himself as, say, a conductor on the underground railroad, escorting a group of slaves to freedom. (In my elementary school, we heard about the abolitionist movement every February.) I need a very pithy way to say “conductor on the underground railroad,” though: one apposite to the second sentence as written.
My second concern is the word “Neanderthal” in the last sentence. Though Andy obviously isn’t narrating this story, my narrator is reporting his thoughts, and I’m not sure a ten-year-old would think “Neanderthal” or “Cro-magnon.” Do I lose much if I change that to “cave-man”? To me it sounds cacaphonous.
Feedback is greatly appreciated.