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While a very short and simple story, it touches on many important concepts, such as freedom, religion, patriotism, etc. It is similar in nature to George Orwell's 1984 in its treatment of propaganda, control, and inter-generational warfare.
Clavell was inspired to write this story after a talk with his six-year-old daughter just home from school. His daughter Michaela was explaining how she had learned the Pledge of Allegiance, and he was struck by the thought that, though she had memorized the pledge, she had no idea what many of the words meant. The power to use language as a weapon, as it is done — all too effectively — in the classroom of Clavell's story admonishes us to always make sure young minds truly understand what a word really means.
In the concluding comment from The Children's Story Afterword, Clavell states the following: "During that day I asked all kinds of people of every age, “You know the 'I pledge allegiance...', but before I could finish, at once they would all parrot it, the words almost always equally blurred. In every case, discovered that not one teacher, ever — or anyone — had ever explained the words to any one of them. Everyone just had to learn it to say it. The Children's Story came into being that day. It was then that I realized how completely vulnerable my child's mind was — any mind for that matter — under controlled circumstances. Normally I write and rewrite and re-rewrite, but this story came quickly — almost by itself. Barely three words were changed. It pleases me greatly because it keeps asking me questions... Questions like what’s the use of 'I pledge allegiance' without understanding? Like why is it so easy to divert thoughts and implant others? Like what is freedom and why is it so hard to explain? The Children’s Story keeps asking me all sorts of questions I cannot answer. Perhaps you can — then your children will..."