3. ‘She was a woman of few ideas, with immense powers of concentration.’
The aunt lacks creativity and imagination. It can be argued that she represents adults who as children were not given the creative freedom and were subjected to harsh and unreasonable disciplinary measures. As opposed to Nicholas, who is brimming with creative energy and imaginative brilliance, the aunt is snugly and smugly comfortable in her little bubble of a kingdom where she is the queen; she terrorizes the children and controls their food, lodging and behaviour (though Nicholas causes few cracks in her system with regards to his behaviour). These narrow-minded, parochial and stagnant ideas of the aunt represent adults who fail to understand the capacity of children. They lack the imagination to realize the potential and the needs of a child’s mind. They focus on shallow understandings of discipline which rigorously limit the creative potential and inhibit the growth of their imagination. The aunt is incapable of entering the world of Nicholas. She is blinded by her condescension, apathy, and obsession with authority as well as her lack of self-esteem.
4. ‘self-imposed sentry-duty’
The author adopts a humorous tone in his description of the aunt’s behaviour; he satirizes her obsession of outsmarting Nicholas. Nicholas shrewdly leads her to believe that he would attempt to sneak into the gooseberry garden: the ‘forbidden paradise.’ She takes the bait and positions herself strategically so that she can have a clear vision of Nicholas’ entry to the garden. The irony is that Nicholas achieves exactly what he wants, but reaches it in such a way that the aunt imposes the tedious task of observing the garden entrance for an extended amount of time on herself. The word ‘sentry-duty’ captures how this is usually an undesirable ‘duty’ which requires energy and time; but the aunt falls for Nicholas’ trap and enthusiastically does the duty, allowing Nicholas enough time to enjoy the pleasures in the lumber room.
The phrase ‘sentry-duty’ also suggests an important detail about the aunt. She is an authoritarian. She demands blind discipline from her minors. The invocation of army related discipline in the word ‘sentry’ suggests how she strips away any individuality of the children and expects them to become submissive and silent under her control. This reflects a wider adult community which advocates this same redundant and detrimental disciplinarian type of parenting which controls the child’s access to creativity and imagination. It is not true discipline which is expected; it is blind obedience.
5. ‘that region that was so carefully sealed from youthful eyes’
The lumber room is a symbol. It is the title because the whole story revolves around this symbol. What does it symbolize? In a lumber room you find paraphernalia which are forgotten; unused furniture, antiques that aren’t needed and other sorts of useless things. However, this particular lumber room is filled with long-forgotten stuff which Nicholas finds extremely stimulating and intriguing. This house is governed by the aunt who represents unimaginative adults who do not understand the mind of a child. This type of adults tend to conceal creative and imaginative ideas from children as well as youthful eyes as the quotation states. The lumber room is then a symbol of creativity and imagination. It is ‘so carefully sealed’ which implies a fear about the children finding out this place. Creativity and imagination are the birthplace of social change, or any change for that matter. Without these, no one would be able to change anything. Therefore, it is a symbol of how people in authority try to control the access that youths have into creative, innovative and disruptive ideas because this would take away their power.