Four Levels of The Wretched Stone (Van Allsburg):

1. Literal Comprehension

In the text, “The Wretched Stone” the cargo ship ‘Rita Anne’ carries kinds of stuff from one place to another. The crew that Mr. Howard has is very lively. They don’t sit getting bored on the ship rather sing a song, play musical instruments, share their stories and read books from the narrator’s library. One day when they are passing by they see an island that was not included in the map and has never been seen before. It has tall buildings with no people around, huge forests but no fruits and the air has some kind of odor. When they are returning back to the ship, they find a huge stone which is smooth and has light coming out of it.

The narrator brings it aboard with the help of seven people. Crew members started sitting idly staring at the light after completing their work the songs, stories, even the conversation stopped. One day the narrator is alone in the deck when a storm hits the ship, he calls for help but no one comes so he goes down to find out that others have locked themselves in a room watching the light. When he knocks and the door opens, he doesn’t see humans but people with long hairs, nails and those who have forgotten to talk.

At that very time, the stone gets struck by the lightning and its light goes away. The ship is wretched so the narrator pulls it aside waiting for someone to rescue them meanwhile teaching his crew members to speak again. Those people soon get rescued and slowly learn to talk again.

2. Interpretation

In the above story ‘The Wretched Stone’, the object stone is used as a metaphor for television and through this, the writer is trying to highlight the disadvantage of television and what it can do to a human. The writer has gone far to show that the overuse of television could turn humans into animals. The story is full of metaphors. We can interpret the island of the story as a developed place that is polluted due to humans by technology’s excessive use.

The negative effects of watching TV is the key point of the story. The writer is trying to tell us that it makes us careless and makes us forget our responsibilities. Watching TV is non-creative and non-productive, it takes away the human connection and relationship from us.

Basically, the writer is trying to narrate the disadvantages of television and along with the importance of reading books and human connections.

3. Critical Thinking

This is an enjoyable story ‘The Wretched Stone’ that is trying to tell us the importance of having conversations and reading books but there are some questionable parts.

  • The writer stated many disadvantages of watching TV, but how fair is it to completely shadow its advantages for which it was made?
  • Do watching TV really turn humans into an ape and take away their ability to talk?
  • Do people become mentally dull and uncreative by watching TV?
  • How can you use a TV on a ship when it needs electricity to run even to this day?
  • When it took 7 men to carry TV on the ship, how could only one throw it away?
  • Should we throw away the TV ignoring its uses just because it has some disadvantages?

4. Assimilation

When TV was brought to my house, I became very obsessed with it that I started watching it all the time. Because of this, I started having pain in my eyes and I could not even hear people calling me as I was so focused on it. So, I had to go to the hospital for eye exercise every week. Thank god my eyes were cured and I stopped being obsessed with TV and watched it very less.