Sunday 14 December 2014

Penguin Challenge Day 14- Read At School

Oh my goodness, can I remember back that far? What books DID I read at school.  I am only kidding.
I can certainly remember the books I read at school. Especially the ones I did not enjoy or understand for my age.

I think the one I disliked the most was Billy Budd by Herman Melville. I remember all of these references to Christ and Christ like figures and as I was not, and am still not a religious person it drove me wild.  When I look back I see the Christian religion played a great part in our reading assignments.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind one bit about people being religious in any faith but it isn't something that is important to me.  It never was. But that is how I was raised and I do feel that many of us are religious simply because of the families we grew up in and where we grew up.

But I digress. We also had to read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.  Now remember this was the 1960's in America's midwest so it is probably appropriate that we were assigned these books.  All of them had religious undertones and the teachers of the day tried hard to get that Christian influence tucked into that.

I liked the Old Man and the Sea and I would like to read it again. I thought it was an amazing book at the time and I don't know if that would have changed or not by now.

I also think I would not mind revisiting The Scarlet Letter again. I do remember a funny thing happening around that book in Grade 12.  I did not get the book finished in school by the due date. I almost did but not quite. As it happened one of the class valedictorians or someone with really great grades sat next to me. I came rushing into this first period class and asked her how the book had ended because we were going to talk about it that day.  She told me and of course feeling very smug with  myself thought I knew what was what.

Well sure enough I got called on to discuss what I thought the ending meant.  At that time I think I had more confidence than good sense and I proceeded to "crap on" (for lack of a better word) about the book and what it meant, etc.

The teacher looked at me, went quiet and then said to me, " You didn't finish this book did you?"  Of course being the supreme waffler I was at that time.  "Yes I did sir but that is my interpretation of the events that happened."  I probably didn't convince him but he did get off my back and ask others also what they thought. I really was quite off.  That was kind of how I went through high school, slid through by the seat of my pants.

I can't see myself ever reading Billy Budd again but I can see a time when I might revisit Ernest and Nathaniel.  I much preferred the short stories of O. Henry and James Thurber.

What was your experience of reading in school?

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