Jake and the Hawk

Open Access
Lee, Eric Brandon Zeiss
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Rodney Brent Bingaman, Thesis Supervisor
  • Barbara O Bird, Honors Advisor
  • Jake
  • hawk
ABSTRACT “Jake and the Hawk” is the story of Jake, an inattentive eight-year-old who attends school in a depressed neighborhood, living with his single mother, Linda, and older brother, Scott. Jake has problems at school: his lack of concentration gets him in trouble with his teacher; he is bullied by two students in his class. Jake has problems outside of school: he meets with a doctor who cannot quite put his finger on what is wrong with Jake; Scott is rarely around, and when he is, he fights with Linda. An avid reader with a penchant for the natural world, Jake spends his time at home playing outside, collecting twigs, leaves and flowers. One day as he plays, he happens upon a hawk that has landed on the street—a rare sight in Jake’s neighborhood. Jake follows the hawk as it skips through alleys and backstreets, but soon encounters his brother running the opposite direction. Jake now follows Scott. He learns later, as Scott confides in him, that his brother is in trouble with a local thug and drug dealer, Tyler. Scott has stolen Tyler’s money. At night, Jake starts to have bad dreams. He sees visions of the hawk being shot. At school, Jake experiences subtle hallucinations. Day by day, they grow more severe. All of this terrifies Jake—his dealings with bullies, his hallucinations, his nightly premonitions, his brother in danger. One night in his room, an otherworldly yellow light starts to pulsate from the closet. Out bursts a giant blue panther. Horrified at first, Jake soon finds the panther, Max, to be an amicable gentleman. Max takes Jake through a portal and into another world, a fascinating one where Jake discovers all the animals and landscapes he has read about together in one place. He also finds the hawk and finds it is in trouble with a terrible dragon, the villain of Max’s world, Teel. Later, Max reveals that he knows about Jake’s dreams. They are not simple nightmares, but rather prophetic. However, Max also knows a way to prevent them from coming true, a way to save the hawk. He charges Jake with a series of quests that will pit him against the most frightening characters and situations of Max’s world. Jake is mortified, but gradually swayed by Max (the only person to ever call Jake “friend”), Jake accepts. The rest of the script sees Jake through a chain of adventures that will test and develop his courage: to stand up to bullies, to think under pressure, to put oneself at risk for the benefit of another. Jake follows Scott in his own world and the hawk in Max’s. Characters and events in both worlds start to run parallel. As the story progresses, the two worlds blend together for Jake. Will Jake have the depth of conviction and strength of will to pass the tests put before him? The poet Komunyakaa asserts, “Don’t write what you know. Write what you are willing to discover.” That is what I did. I set out to discover previously unfamiliar characters and events. More than that, I set out to discover my own limits and abilities as a writer. I wanted to craft a story of courage—a discovery of courage. In some ways “Jake and the Hawk” is a classic tale of bravery, of fear overcome. It is not a story of bravery for bravery’s sake, but bravery for a more noble purpose: for the sake of another. It explores classic themes in a unique context and within individuals I have made my own friends and villains. When I ask myself what I learned from this experience, I look back to the questions I had when I began writing. Will I be able to complete an entire feature-length script? Through research and invention, will I be able to craft believable characters and a compelling string of developments, actions and events? Is this something that I will want to do again? I discovered the answer to all these questions: yes.