The Living by Matt de la Pena

Shy went to knock on Supervisor Franco’s open door but froze when he saw someone was already in there – the older black dude with the funky gray hair who was always writing in his leather notebook. 1

Franco looked up at Shy, said: “May I help you?” 2

“It’s okay,” Shy said. I’ll just come back later.”

“Please. 3

You can wait outside. We will be done here momentarily.”

Shy stepped away from the door, leaned against the wall and let his warm eyelids slowly drop. As he listened to Franco’s heavy accent, he tried to imagine his nephew stuck inside the same quarantine room as his grandma. But he couldn’t. Miguel was too tough. Never even caught a cold. He remembered throwing around a football with the kid just a few hours before he left for his first voyage. In the alley behind their building. One of Shy’s longer tosses slipped right through Miguel’s little-kid hands, and the football smacked him in the face, split his lip. But Miguel didn’t go down. Just looked up at Shy as blood trickled down his chin, got all over his T-shirt. He forced himself to smile at Shy, laugh even – though his eyes were filling with tears, too.4

Shy felt a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes.

The man he’d just seen in Franco’s office was staring at him, holding his shoeshine kit. “How do you sleep standing up like that, young fella?”

“I was just closing my eyes,” Shy said, wiping a tiny bit of drool from the corner of his mouth.

The man grinned. “Franco’s on the phone now. Says he’ll have to check back with you later.”

Shy nodded.

Still no answers about the suit guy or their trashed room. Nothing to tell Rodney.

The man looked toward the window down the hall. “They’re worried about this storm rolling in. Supposed to hit sometime tonight.”5

“It’s an actual storm now?” Shy had yet to experience even a drop of rain in the time he’d spent out with the cruise ship. But he’d learned in training how badly storms affected the way passengers spent money.6

Which meant fewer tips. Less money to bring back home to his mom and sis.

Chapter 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

“I have a problem, Miss Everdeen,” says President Snow. “A problem that began the moment you pulled out those poisonous berries in the arena.”

That was the moment when I guessed that if the Gamemakers had to choose between watching Peeta and me commit suicide — 7  which would mean having no victor — and letting us both live, they would take the latter.

 “If the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, had had any brains, he’d have blown you to dust right then. 2 But he had an unfortunate sentimental streak. 3 So here you are. Can you guess where he is?” he asks.

I nod because 4 , by the way he says it, it’s clear that Seneca Crane has been executed. The smell of roses and blood has grown stronger now that only a desk separates us. There’s a rose in President Snow’s lapel, which at least suggests a source of the flower perfume, but it must be genetically enhanced, because no real rose reeks like that. As for the blood … 5 I don’t know.

6 “After that, there was nothing to do but let you play out your little scenario. And you were pretty good, too, with the love-crazed schoolgirl bit. The people in the Capitol were quite convinced. Unfortunately, not everyone in the districts fell for your act,” he says.

My face must register at least a flicker of bewilderment, because he addresses it.

“This, of course, you don’t know. You have no access to information about the mood in other districts. In several of them, however, people viewed your little trick with the berries as an act of defiance, not an act of love. 7 And if a girl from District Twelve of all places can defy the Capitol and walk away unharmed, what is to stop them from doing the same?” he says. “What is to prevent, say, an uprising?”

It takes a moment for his last sentence to sink in. Then the full weight of it hits me. “There have been uprisings?” I ask, both chilled and somewhat elated by the possibility.

[source]

Mrs. Dalloway — Virginia Woolf

“Yes,” said Peter. “Yes, yes, yes,” he said, as if she drew up to the surface something which positively hurt him as it rose. Stop! Stop! he wanted to cry. For8 he was not old; his life was not over; not by any means 2. He was only just past fifty. Shall I tell her, he thought 3, or not? He would like to make a clean breast of it all. But4 she is too cold, he thought; sewing, with her scissors;5 Daisy would look ordinary beside Clarissa. And she would think me a failure, which I am in their sense, he thought; in the Dalloways’ sense6. Oh yes, he had no doubt about that; he was a failure, compared with all this—7the inlaid table, the mounted paper-knife, the dolphin and8 the candlesticks, the chair-covers and the old valuable English tinted prints—9he was a failure! I detest the smugness of the whole affair, he thought. Richard’s doing not Clarissa’s; 10 save that she married him. (11Here Lucy came into the room, carrying silver, more silver12, but charming, slender graceful she looked, he thought, as she stooped to put it down.) And this had been going on all the time! he thought; week after week; Clarissa’s life; while I—13he thought; and at once everything seemed to radiate from him; journeys; riders; quarrels; adventures; bridge parties; love affairs; work; work, work!14 and he took out his knife quite openly—his old horn-handled knife which Clarissa could swear he had had these thirty years 15 – and clenched his fist upon it.

What an extraordinary habit that was, Clarissa thought 16; always playing with a knife. Always making one feel, too, frivolous; empty-minded; a mere silly chatterbox, as he used 17 summoned, like a Queen whose guards have fallen asleep and left her unprotected (18 she had been quite taken aback by this visit – it had upset her) so that any one can stroll in and have a look at her where she lies with the brambles curbing over her, summoned19 to her help 20 the things she did; the things she liked; her husband; Elizabeth; her self, in short, which Peter hardly knew now, all to come about her and beat off the enemy.

Acting out: Literature, drama, and connecting with history by Kornfeld, John; Leyden, Georgia

Martha is an example of a student who took a long, hard look at African American history as it was and is. An eager participant in all three plays 21, Martha was a capable actress and an excellent reader;2 yet3 in I Am Rosa Parks, she frequently had difficulty delivering her lines in one scene, when she played a waitress who refuses to serve a black patron who comes in to sit at the counter4. She was supposed to ask him rudely why he had come in and tell him in no uncertain terms to get out. Some days Martha would grimace and stutter her lines;5 other times she would not deliver the lines forcefully enough. One day, as we were encouraging her to speak louder and point to the door as she sent the patron out6, Martha stopped in the middle of rehearsal and burst into tears. “I just can’t do it,” she sniffed. “I don’t want to talk so mean to him. It’s not right!”

Martha had not simply learned the historical information about discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s; she was, in a sense, living it as a member of the cast—7and rejecting the accepted values of that time. She may have previously been aware of the existence of racism past and present, but8 it had had no meaning to her until she participated in the play. As Heathcote (1983) argued9, “In drama the ‘over there’ becomes ‘here’ and the whole world is around me” (p. 695).

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

When[1] Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor[2] a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it[3]. Even the grass was not green, for[4] the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but[5] the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

When[6] Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober grey;[7] they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were grey also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled, now. When Dorothy, [8]who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child’s laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy’s merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.

Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, [9]from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.

[1] Adverbial clause, suggests that Dorothy’s thoughts will follow. It also makes the following descriptions less boring by having a different start and a compound sentence. If you took away the “when” and just made it a sentence, it would set the tone as being short and simple sentences one after the other, and how quite trite that would sound.

[2] “Nor” is a FANBOY, but here it’s just a negative substitute for “or,” and has the effect of suggesting the scene had no good qualities.

[3] Absolute phrase, further detailing the condition of the soil, “cracks running…” Gives a clearer image of the soil as dry and suggests poor land to farm on, and evokes the question as to why people live there.

[4] Coordinating conjunction/FANBOY to connect the two clauses. The second is closely connected to the first and so, it flows better to have them joined by a comma and “for.”

[5] “But” used because two clauses contrast. The beginning suggests positive/hope but the second, longer clause has more negatives to overcome that hope, which gives the feeling that this place really kills everything.

[6] The “when” suggests dependency, and combined with the period separating it into its own sentence it serves to assert the main subject and provide one sentence to be contrasted by the rest of the paragraph.

[7] Semi-colon used because both independent clauses closely related, in fact the clauses are repetitive. It serves to create strong imagery of fading colors.

[8] Appositive, describing Dorothy as an orphan, which helps explain why she is living with her Aunt and Uncle.

[9] Not quite an absolute because no noun-adj. combination, but does focus in on noun details to show what the uncle looked like. The image is kind of strange, and suggests he is an old man and kind of a wilderness man.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

It was cool and quiet under the waves.

For a few endless moments, Tally felt only relief to have escaped the searing wind, the thundering machine, the blistering heat of the firestorm. 10 But 2 the weight of the crash bracelets and knapsack pulled her down fast, and panic welled up in her pounding chest.

She thrashed in the water, climbing up toward the flickering lights of the surface. Her wet clothes and gear dragged at her, but 3 just as her lungs were about to burst, she broke the surface into the maelstrom. Tally gulped a few breaths of smoky air, then was slapped in the face by a wave. She coughed and sputtered, struggling to stay afloat.

A shadow passed over her, blacking 4 out the sky. Then her hand struck something—a familiar grippy surface… 5

Her hoverboard had come back to her! Just the way it always did when she spilled. The crash bracelets lifted her up until she could grab onto it, her fingers clinging to its knobbly surface as she gasped for air.

A high-pitched whine came from the nearby shore. Tally blinked away water from her eyes and she saw that the Rusty machine had landed. Figures were jumping from the machine, spraying white foam at the ground as they crashed through the burning flowers and into the river. They were headed for her. 6

She struggled to climb onto the board.

“Wait!” the nearest figure called. 7

Tally rose shakily to her feet, trying to keep steady on the wet surface of the board. Her hard-baked shoes were slippery, and 8 her sodden knapsack seemed to weigh a ton. As 9 she leaned forward, a gloved hand reached up to gab the front of the board. A face came up from the water, wearing some sort of mask. Huge eyes stared up at her.

She stomped at the hand, crunching the fingers. They slipped off, but her weight was thrown too far forward, and the board tipped its nose into the water. 10

Tally tumbled into the river again. 11

Hands grabbed at her, pulling her away from the hoverboard. She was hoisted out of the water and onto a broad shoulder. She caught glimpses of masked faces: huge, inhuman eyes staring at her unblinkingly. 12

Bug eyes. 13

“Flying Carpets” by Steven Millhauser

In the long summers of my childhood, games flared up suddenly, burned to brightness, and vanished forever. The summers were so long that they gradually grew longer than the whole year,14 they stretched out slowly beyond the edges of our lives, but at every moment of their vastness they were drawing to an end, for that’s what summers mostly did: they taunted us with endings, marched always into the long shadow thrown backward by the end of vacation.2And because our summers were always ending in games, we sought new and more intense ones; and as the crickets of August grew louder, and a single red leaf appeared on branches green with summer,3 we threw ourselves as if desperately into new adventures, while the long days, never changing,4 grew heavy with boredom and longing.

 

I first saw the carpets in the back yards of other neighborhoods.5 Glimpses of them came to me from behind garages, flickers of color at the corners of two-family houses where clotheslines on pulleys stretched from upper porches to high gray poles, and old Italian men in straw hats stood hoeing between rows of tomatoes and waist-high corn. I saw one once at the far end of a narrow strip of grass between two stucco houses, skimming lightly over the ground at the level of the garbage cans.6 Although I took note of them, they were of no more interest to me than games of jump rope I idly watched on the school playground, or dangerous games with jackknives I saw the older boys playing at the back of the candy store. One morning I noticed one in a back yard in my neighborhood; four boys stood tensely watching. I was not surprised a few days later when my father came home from work with a long package under his arm, wrapped in heavy brown paper, tied with straw-colored twine from which little prickly hairs stuck up.7

 

Millhauser, Steven. “Flying Carpets.” The Knife Thrower and Other Stories.” Crown Publishers Inc., 1998.

Diagnosing and Treating The Ophelia Syndrome By Thomas G. Plummer

The Ophelia 8 Syndrome manifests itself in universities. The Ophelia (substitute a male name if you choose) 2 writes copious notes in every class and memorizes them for examinations. The Polonius writes examination questions that address just what was covered in the textbook or lectures. The Ophelia wants to know exactly what the topic for a paper should be. The Polonius prescribes it. The Ophelia wants to be a parrot, because it feels safe. The Polonius 3 enjoys making parrot cages. In the end, the Ophelia becomes the clone of the Polonius, and one of them is unnecessary. I worry often that universities may be rendering their most serious students, those who have been “good” 4 all their lives, vulnerable to the Ophelia Syndrome rather than motivating them to individuation.

And so what? 5 Is it such a bad thing to emulate teachers? What if you are a student of biochemistry or German grammar? 6 Then you have to memorize information and take notes from instructors who know more, because the basic material is factual. There is no other way. 7 And this is a temporary condition of many areas of study. But eventually every discipline enters into the unknown, the uncertain, the theoretical, the hypothetical, where teachers can no longer tell students with certainty what they should think. 8 It is only an illusion, a wish of the Ophelias and the Poloniuses that literary texts have just one interpretation or that the exact sciences be exact. At its best, even science is a creative art. Hayakawa quotes his good friend Alfred Korzybski as saying,

Creative scientists know very well from observation of themselves that all creative work starts as a feeling, inclination, suspicion, intuition, hunch, or some other nonverbal affective state, which only at a later date, after a sort of nursing, takes the shape of verbal expression worked out later in a rationalized, coherent . . . theory. 9

Most of us have metaphors—either subconsciously or consciously—of our student experience. 10 I asked several of my students about theirs. One said he thinks of himself as a computer with insufficient memory. He is able to enter information but cannot recall it. One said he is a sieve. A lot of stuff goes right on through, but important pieces stay lodged. One said she feels like a pedestrian in front of a steamroller, and the driver will not give her any hints about how to get out of the way. Another described his metaphor as a tennis match in which he must anticipate his instructor‟s response to each shot. Another thought of herself as a dog jumping through a hoop. Another described himself as a mouse in a maze with no directional signs and no exits. Another as a child in a candy store where you can choose only one or two pieces to take home. These metaphors describe people at various stages along the way from Ophelia to individuation.

Talk is cheap. It‟s fine to say, “Learn to think for yourself,” and it‟s quite another to do it. A recent Fortune magazine article described the plight of middle managers in American corporations. Driven by chief executive officers at the top for greater profits and productivity, many are working 70 or 80 hours a week and sometimes more. The article reports that the corporate byword for urging these people on is “think smarter.” But since no one really knows what that means or how to think smarter, they just work longer. And people are burning out. 11

Learning to think while still in college has its advantages. It may mean shorter working hours later on. It may mean not having a mid-life crisis because you chose to study what you wanted rather than something that someone else wanted you to study. It may mean becoming your own person. 12 It may, purely and simply, 13 mean a much happier life. I want to suggest six things you can do—six things I wish I had done—to treat the Ophelia Syndrome.

[source]

Bossypants by Tina Fey

When I was thirteen I spent a weekend at the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey, with my teenage cousins Janet and Lori. 14 In the space of thirty-six hours, they taught me everything I know about womanhood. 2 They knew how to “lay out” 3 in the sun wearing tanning oil instead of sunscreen. They taught me that you could make a reverse tattoo in your tan 4 if you cut a shape out of a Band-Aid and stuck it on your leg. 5 They taught me you could listen to General Hospital on the radio 6 if you turned the FM dial way down to the bottom.
Wildwood is a huge wide beach—the distance from your towel to the water was often equal to the distance from your motel to your towel. 7 And “back in the day” the place was packed exclusively with very, very tan Italian Americans and very, very burned Irish Americans. 8 As a little kid, I almost always got separated from my parents and 9 would panic trying to find them among dozens and dozens of similar umbrellas. 10 One afternoon a girl walked by in a bikini and my cousin Janet scoffed, 11 “Look at the hips on her.” I panicked. What about the hips? Were they too big? Too small? What were my hips? I didn’t know hips could be a problem. I thought there was just fat or skinny.
This was how I found out that there are an infinite number of things that can be “incorrect” on a woman’s body. 12

Fey, Tina (2011-04-05). Bossypants (pp. 19-20). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Holler If You Hear Me by Gregory Michie

The topics that dominate our upper-grade staff meetings rarely have much to do with how we can better teach our kids, how we can help them see themselves and the world in new ways. In truth, we seldom have time to talk about individual students at all, unless one of them is being suspended or has broken some sort of rule.13 Instead we go back and forth about detention schedules, or state goals, or lesson plan formatting, or bathroom supervision, or girls wearing too much makeup.2 The lipstick situation is getting out of hand.3 The minutiae become the agenda, and our mission, if we can even remember ever having one, gets buried underneath it all. It can all seem so overwhelming and discouraging that at times like tonight I ask myself why I continue. Why teach? Why do I do it? Why even go in to work tomorrow morning?

A few weeks ago I went to see Gyasi Kress, a talented high school student and actor I know, perform in a play.4 While waiting for the opening act to begin, I flipped through the program, which contained the typical capsule biographies of all the show’s performers.5 The only difference was that these had obviously been written by the actors themselves. Gyasi’s paragraph, written in the first person, predictably listed a few of his theatre credits and mentioned that he was part of a local rap trio. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it said: “I plan to change the world.”6

The words jumped off the page at me.7 I plan to change the world. A naïve notion? Maybe. Clichéd? Perhaps.8 But Gyasi’s bold declaration nonetheless crystallizes why I—and I think most teachers—chose our vocation in the first place, and, more importantly, why we keep on keeping on. At the core of our work is the belief, despite the distressing signs around us, that the world is indeed changeable; that it can be transformed into a better, more just, more peaceful place; and that kids who show up in our classrooms each day not only deserve such a world, but can be instrumental in helping to bring it about.9 Their voices are abiding reminders that there is something to hope for in spite of the hopelessness that seems to be closing in around us—something tangible, something real, something in the here and now.10

Upton Sinclair wrote in The Jungle that it is the difference between being defeated and admitting defeat that keeps the world going. The kids I teach know full well that the odds are stacked against them. They can find reasons to give up, to stop caring, to not go to school, almost anywhere they look. But I know that despite all that, come 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, Quincy’s opening bell will sound and, as if by a miracle, they will be there, ready for a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to be seen and heard anew.11 It is that realization that will propel me out of bed in the morning, and it is that through that I hold onto as I turn off my bedroom light ad try to get some sleep. We can make a difference. We can change the world.

Michie, Gregory. Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students. Teacher’s College Press, 2009. pgs. 192-193.