Search This Blog

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Look, boss. De train, de train!

First, if you understood the allusion in my blog title, you are too old to know how to use the internet. How big do you have this text zoomed? Isn't it past your bedtime?

Once upon a time, the time when Fantasy Island was actually a weekly television show, or maybe a few years later, I fell in love with classic literature by way of Ethan Frome and Wuthering Heights. And I was fantastic at literary analysis with these pieces. I tortured my sophomore English teacher with Wharton's sexual overtones through imagery, and I dissected the significance of Bronte's moors and their role in mimicking emotion for my senior thesis.

For years, I was a book snob, reading only the best of the late 19th/early 20th centuries.  A few years into teaching middle school, however, I decided that I needed to read more young adult literature to be able to share with my students and motivate them to read. I suddenly had a new love, and literary analysis and classics faded into the distant memory of a former lover. For the first time since I was little, I found myself reading for pure entertainment. 

Fast forward a few more years, and here I am studying for a high school teaching certification because I decided I needed a challenge before getting any older, and my brain has blanked on complex literary analysis. We analyze in middle school, but it seems so different than the higher level expectations of the upper grades where the focus is completely different. I was looking at practice questions for the state exam last week, and my brain went into panic mode: What are these words? I don't remember any of this. I am so screwed. Whose idea was this anyway?

Well, there are a few things I allow myself to be egotistical about, and those include my intelligence level and ability to learn quickly. So I grabbed my handy dandy literature book (if you understood that allusion, you too young and should also probably be in bed) and got to work, focusing on the literary analysis of the short stories within. 

One of the first stories I read was "Hills Like White Elephants." I thought I had read this story before, but upon reading, I did not recall the story. I put on my literary analysis cap, exploring the conflict and indirect characterization. But I completely missed the symbolism within the story. After reading the analysis within the textbook, I had to go back to the story, and I could not believe I did not see the pregnancy (white hills) or the crossroads (train station). At this moment, I seriously began to doubt my own abilities, and I was ready to give up.

Last night, I was determined to finish Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I decided my stressed out brain needed a break. I wanted entertainment and nothing more. Who knew my darn brain would decide then and there to go into literary analysis mode. 

In the most cliched fashion, as I began reading the train scene in the epilogue of the novel, the light bulb over my head turned on, and fireworks began exploding inside my brain. The train. The train! Oh my gosh. There was a train station in "White Elephants." The train is a symbol. It was a symbol in Divergent, and it shows the same symbolism here. Oh my gosh. Crossroads. 

And just like that, the literary analysis is coming back. 

I got this. I can teach high school. 

No comments:

Post a Comment