Thursday, November 10, 2011

Donald Barthelme--"The School"

This short story starts out by talking about how a class of children are planting their orange trees at school. The teacher states that he feels like the children really aren't gonna learn anything because the trees are going to die and that will be it for that story. He also goes on to talk more about all the projects that he has for his class. For example, he talks of all the animals that have died like the fish, snake and even a puppy. He doesn't seem to be faced with all that has died and doesn't seem very worried about what the children might think. When they get the puppy, which was by total accident, he allows the children to keep it, but he knows deep down inside that the puppy will die too. When the puppy does pass away, he just tries to push that whole dilemma to the side and doesn't let the kids worry about his death.
When the children so start to ask about all the deaths that have gone on, the teacher has no reply. This is where I thought that maybe the teacher wanted the kids to wonder about what it means to live, but at the same time he was maybe sheltering them from the reality. The children come up with an awesome answer about death, but the teacher just doesn't want to say "yes! This is how things work out in life." This could be the typical story of infant sheltering.

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