In the chapter where the Lamb is turned suddenly into an adult, the kids find themselves dealing with a Lamb that is rude, selfish, and overall lacking in good qualities. Through the whole ordeal, Lamb’s siblings are even more put off by adult Lamb than baby Lamb; except Anthea who worries about him the entire time.
For me, the narrator’s commentary in this chapter is what most caught my attention. The narrator seems to be just as unwilling to accept Lamb as an adult as everyone else; almost every time Lamb is mentioned, the reference is followed up with a comment about how he must now be called by one of his real, adult names. For example: “The grown-up Lamb (or Hilary, as I suppose one must now call him) fixed his pump and blew up the tyre” (Nesbit 198).
The chronological development of these references gets more and more wearisome to the narrator, and as sunset approaches, the references get more and more jaded and the narrator goes so far as to comment that, “The grown-up Lamb (nameless henceforth) was gone forever” (Nesbit 205).
Forever is a very permanent word, and yet this decided permanent disappearance is how both the children and narrators view grown-up Lamb: gone forever. This in no way means that the children think that the Lamb will never grow up, it just means that he will not grow into the man they spent all day dealing with – or so they hope.
Here the children address the issue with their different methods: Cyril wants to bully it out of him, Jane thinks kindness will work, Robert wants to improve him over time, and Anthea wants to protect him from all of them (Nesbit 206-207). These varied methods beg the question though, if they are all applied – or even just one – what is to really stop him from becoming the selfish grown-up he was in this section? The wish here seems to deal with a lesson about growing up and cherishing youth, but is there also another subtle lesson about adolescent development?