I have to read Leaf by Niggle for a class this fall so I read it for the first time in a long time and I must admit I looked at it in a whole different light. My ultimate conclusion after reading it was that I am Niggle. Actually, everyone has a little bit of Niggle in them, at least those of us who call ourselves artists. I have been working on a nonfiction book for a few years now and few fantasy fiction novels and I hoard them. I share tid bits here and there but generally, I am afraid of other people’s judgments on these things which are so remarkably special to me. Niggle did not share his great painting with anyone and anyone who interrupted him painting was an annoyance. At the end of his tale, he not only sees his painting complete, but he experiences it fully and lives within it, a whole new created world. But what is the one thing that helps him finish his work? The inspiration from a neighbor for whom he had little regard or admiration! Someone he viewed as an “annoyance.” Niggle realizes that the man, Parish, knows things he himself cannot understand but that would enhance his painting.
Niggle comes to the understanding that “This place cannot be left just as my private park. I need some help and advice: I ought to have got it sooner.”
Joining with Parish gave Niggle exactly what he needed to finish his painting. During the course of that experience he began to appreciate the things Parish loved, and Parish loved the aspects of nature that had inspired Niggle’s painting.
This story is not just the ideal fairy story Tolkien was trying to create. It ends up being more than that. It teaches us that there are things we cannot learn on our own, nor should we. Life is a joint experience and it is to be shared, even if that means sharing it with those we’d rather not. My writing should be shared with everyone no matter what they may think. Each one of us has a Leaf in us.