Thursday, March 09, 2006

A good man IS hard to find.

Not too long ago, I assigned a short story analysis to my students. So, yesterday, we were discussing some of the stories and one student, clearly of "whatever comes out of his mouth is deception and manipulation for his own benefit" caliber, wanted to know why he was assigned Flannery O'Connor's "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." I told him, and in turn, the rest of the class, that I had hand-picked each story to try and open new avenues, new ways of looking at the world for them based on what I thought they might like. What I didn't tell them was that each story had a clear theme/moral directed at them individually, that I had hoped each student would "get."

The kid that charges interest when lending out pencils with interest had to read "The Devil and Tom Walker".

Hemingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" was assigned to "Cheeky Cheerleader" who uses 'em up and spits 'em out, if you know what I mean.

My "Day Dreamer", who is pulled around on a leash (or by other things) by his girlfriend, got "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty".

So, when "Looking Out for Number One" asked me why he was assigned O'Connor's story of use, abuse, and selfishness, I wanted to shout at him, "My old woman is a flea bag and yours is a stinking pole cat!" But instead, I asked, "Didn't you like the story?"

"It sucked."

Thanks, Harold Bloom. So much for messages, morals, and shaping the lives of impressionable youth.

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