Throughout most of Jimmy Corrigan, Jimmy is seen as a rather childish character. He’s frequently depicted with a finger up his nose and being anxious about basic human interactions. The above sequence again displays his childlike nature, but what it most importantly demonstrates is that he has a desire to actually become a man and live a happy life, with his biggest problem being that such a goal seems to be nothing more than a fantasy.
The book begins with Jimmy as a child having his image of his hero being corrupted. The author makes a quick jump to the future, showing Jimmy talking to his mom on the phone and still being treated like a child. What follows is Jimmy getting an invitation to meet his dad for the first time and a series of awkward, childish interactions with him. While Jimmy had tried presenting himself as an adult to his mother earlier, telling her not to bother him while he’s at work, he reverts to this childlike state in the presence of his father.
The above series of images show what Jimmy really is: a man who does not know how to be a man, and cautiously wants to be. Within this fantasy, he’s still holding his nose just as he had been in all his childhood moments. He realizes the nurse had probably noticed the fact that his zipper was down, as kids often forget to zip up, and this is what triggers his fantasy. Even in his dreams, however, he’s still nervous. His fantasy self is equally embarrassed by the situation. Typically a person has more courage than normal within their fantasies and absolute control over the situation, but he still sees himself as relatively helpless. The nurse is helping him with his “problem” instead of him using it to in any way dominate her. She continues to direct his life, albeit in a direction he sees as more favorable. She leads him out of the hospital, cooks for him just as his mother would, and they ultimately attain everlasting happiness. Aside from his putting a ring on her finger, the nurse is the one in power throughout the situation, and it’s exactly what Jimmy wants. He wants a free life, but he’s also not strong enough to live one on his own. He realizes he’s vulnerable and it’s not something that’s likely to change, but he doesn’t want it to prevent him from living an adult life and being loved for what he is.
Jimmy Corrigan is meant to be a character that we don’t outwardly or openly relate to, but we share internalized similarities to. His awkwardness in social situations, his fear of talking to people, his concerns with meeting a long lost family member, his childhood struggles making him the nervous person he is today—these are all issues most of us have bottled up inside us, yet we try to avoid making these problems public. Jimmy is a person whose life is dominated by these struggles. Even with this overbearing anxiety, Jimmy wants a stereotypical happy life just like most other people. He wants to find perfect love. He wants to have a nice home. He wants to live happily ever after. He’s afraid that such a happy life, however, is beyond his reach, just like many of us believe that we could have a happy life if only one uncontrollable problem in our life went away. This small strip shows us that Jimmy really isn’t all that different from us. His outward problems may be far more extreme than ours, or they may be the complete opposite of others, but what he ultimately wants overlaps with the dreams of many people: a happy life. His internal struggle of how to actually achieve it and the fear of never attaining it also resonates with many of us.
Up until this point, Jimmy Corrigan mostly seemed like a big child. His mere presence would make situations awkward due to people not knowing how to handle him. Seeing his dad awkwardly try to crack a joke is quite similar to seeing an adult try to comfort a crying child—we’re so much older than them and so far beyond their stage of life that we don’t know what makes children happy or upset, but we’ll do anything to make the problem go away. Jimmy seems to be treated the same way by adults, which only makes his struggle worse. However, this sequence makes it clear that he isn’t a child on the inside and he’s just tremendously misunderstood.