What’s in a name

Not to dwell on Paddington Bear but something about the story has been bugging me, so here we are. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have agreed to have Paddington come live with them and as Mrs. Brown is sending Mr. brown off to have tea with Paddington, Mr. Brown exclaims that he doesn’t know the bears name. “Mrs. Brown thought for a moment. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘We’ll call him Paddington – after the station.” So here’s my beef. There is no discussion or asking of the bear if he already has a name, which he likely does, he is after all from a civilized place ( possibly somewhere near Lima ) where they have marmalade and homes for retired bears. There is no, “Ahem – but we forgot to ask and are remiss in doing so.” There is merely a moments thought and they simply rename him. The author seems to have Paddington be fine with this as he tries out his new name and is happy with it. This leads me to wonder about the underlying wholesomeness of the story. Is Paddington a spy? Is he a runaway? Has he an identity disorder? Are the Browns that snobbish that they simply name whomever they want, whatever they want? “Welcome, you must be Jonathans girlfriend, we’ll call you Marjorie.” Whatever the answer, I am perturbed. The book has lost just a wee bit of its luster. I hate when that happens. Like when I realized that Papa Berenstain Bear was really a dimwit and Mama was overworked and impossibly happy for someone who was sweeping a dirt floor five times a day. It would be really nice to feel the jolly perfectness of it all for more than a day. To hell with being an adult. Life is good. Isn’t it? What’s in a name anyway?

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