Friday, September 14, 2007

Special note to teachers/lovers of literature

Still Friday afternoon. Alcott is reading The Scarlett Letter for school, as he informed me last night while we chatted on the phone. He is not entirely enthused. My question to you, dear readers, is how to make this wonderful novel relevant and interesting to a 16 year old brought up with too many video games, too much time on MySpace, and what seems to me to be a serious allergy to reading books.

I've pulled out my Norton Anthology of American Literature from college and am reading about Hawthorne's life and times, hoping that I can weave context into the mix and draw Alcott in by drawing comparisions between his own life and that of Hawthorne. (Both of their mothers, for instance, were not deeply and importantly involved in their sons' lives after their early childhood. Neither had the benefit of a strong father as they grew into men.) I'm also going to buy a cheap paperback this weekend because my copy seems to have grown legs since graduation (although I still have my dog-eared copy of The Blythedale Romance), and then read like a speed demon so that I can sit with Alcott on Sunday night and guide him through answering the questions his teacher has set out for the class. (Potentially tangential thought: why are they assigning questions in a literature class - shouldn't they be writing essays? Just a thought.)

In any case, I know there are much better minds and better ideas out there, so fire away, friends!

(Lord, I really hope she doesn't make him read The Sound and the Fury. The worst week of my life was spent first reading and then discussing/writing about that book.)

3 comments:

Mother of Invention said...

Yeah, Moby was quite something to get through, but maybe Alcott would like that better! I loved The Scarlett Letter. It spawned such discussion on the morals of the 7o's in which I went to college and they were handing out the Pill like candy.
Sorry, I don't have any ideas, except to try and get him to describe what a modern day girl of this book would be like and what his friends would think of her. Has society and morals changed much? Add the fear of Aids and what then? Discuss and record these things and maybe he can write from there.

You are lucky to have Alcott to put your love and energy into while your husband is away.

Lori said...

It's been a while since I read this but my first thought was all of the stuff in the news. And, no, you really can't bring up Vitter and Larry Craig but there is a point that all of us have our own A of various sorts.

There's also Pearl, of Great Price. She's an innocent but how is she treated by the town (I can't remember, honestly).

Dimmesdale -- (spoiler alert) is Pearl's father. Chillingworth (Hester's husband) is in disquise and uses this to his advantage.

There's the Bible allegories.

Just a few thoughts. Sorry this is late..good luck!

Shannin said...

The one book I could not get through was Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." Ugh.