10/28 – Reading Day & Foster Presentations

Today we’ll start with presentations from Foster groups, but the rest of the day is for reading. Instead of doing the regular Socratic Seminar lab book entry for Chapters 6 & 7, I want you to try something different:

  1. Use sticky notes to identify five passages that seem particularly meaningful/dense.
  2. Choose ONE of the five passages and write an analysis explaining what the text means, HOW YOU KNOW that’s what it means (which may require additional supporting evidence from other places in the book ) AND an explanation of why it’s important.

In terms of Foster chapters, today is COMPLICATED, so the notes I took/created based on the presentations in the two classes are LLLLLOOOOONNNNGGGG. Sorry. But here you go. There is a movie clip at the end to make it all better (though only minute 1:07-1:32 really applies).

About Christ Figures

Any character that meets 2-3 of the following criteria is probably a Christ figure:

  1. crucified or wounded in the hands, feet, side and/or head
  2. in agony
  3. self-Sacrificing
  4. good with children
  5. good with loaves, fishes, water, wine
  6. thirty-three years of age when last seen
  7. employed as a carpenter
  8. known to use humble modes of transportation, feet or donkeys preferred
  9. believed to have walked on water
  10. often portrayed with arms outstretched
  11. known to have spent time alone in the wilderness
  12. believed to have had a confrontation with the devil, possibly tempted
  13. last seen in the company of theives
  14. creator of aphorisms (wise sayings) and parables (metaphorical stories with one central message)
  15. died/buried and rises on the third day (death could be metaphorical
  16. had disciples, twelve at first, though not all of them were equally devoted
  17. very forgiving
  18. wants to redeem an unworthy world/person

The question is, once you’ve FOUND a Christ figure, what does s/he represent? Typically, writers use Christ figures to symbolize or underscore

  • Love
  • Sacrifice
  • Redemption
  • Miracles

…Though some folks use Christ figures ironically (but we’ll get to that in the spring).

About “Vampires”

There are two main messages

  1. Literal ghosts and vampires and zombies in LITERATURE are never ONLY about ghosts and vampires. They always have a metaphorical value, as Anna Kendrick’s character points out about zombies in the clip below (minute 1:07-1:32).
  2. Ghosts and vampires and zombies don’t always have to appear as visibly ghosty, vampirey or zombie-esque. As Foster says “you don’t need fangs and a cape to be a vampire.” Metaphorically being a vampire counts.

So how do we know when someone/thing is a vampire? The original story goes something like this

  • An older figure, representing corrupt, outworn values
  • A young, preferably virginal female
  • A stripping away of the girls youth, virtue, or energy in order to continue the lifeforce of the old man
  • The ultimate death or destruction of the young woman

Which means when we see…

  • a “consuming” spirit or “vampiric personality”
  • a society or a convention or value that eats away at or uses up certain groups of people or types of people
  • someone grows in strength by weakening someone else
  • exploitation–using other people to get what they want, denying that someone else has the right to exist, putting their desires (especially uglier ones) above the needs of another person, etc

…we’re probably looking at a vampire story of some kind. Examples that come to mind of these metaphorical “vampires?”

  • President Snow in Hunger Games
  • Walter Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The father in I Hunt Killers
  • Society/government in many dystopias (Hunger Games, Matched, Uglies/Pretties, etc)
  • The King Katsa meets in Graceling
  • Grima Wormtongue/Saruman to Theoden in Lord of the Rings

Remember that only minute 1:07-1:32 applies to anything here, though she’s looking for the metaphorical value of zombies…

[To Bella, after they both see a movie] I don’t know why you want to sit through all those zombies eating people and no hot guys kissing anybody. It’s gross… Like, why are there that many zombie movies anyway? ‘Cause if it’s supposed to, like, draw a parallel about leprosy, my cousin had leprosy, ok it’s not funny, you know? And, like, is it supposed to be a metaphor for consumerism? Because don’t be so pleased with your own, like, self-referential cleverness? Like, some girls like to shop. Not all girls, apparently. Although I was surprised you even called at all. Like, your depression thing, I get it. I’m totally, totally worried. But after a while, it’s like, you’re still bumming and I’m going through stuff too. And Mike said he just want to be friends. It’s hard…

(she doesn’t recognize a zombie when she sees one standing next to her, poor lass)

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One thought on “10/28 – Reading Day & Foster Presentations

  1. One of the passages that really stuck out to me was on page 92 (in the brown book), right after Brinker says that he is going to enlist in the army the following day. Gene talks of “slam[ing] the door impulsively on the past” and talks of how nice it would be to be able to “break the pattern of [his] life– that complex design [he] had been weaving since birth with all it’s dark threads and unexplainable symbols…” (92). Gene’s life is really confusing and it’s “complex” and there are “dark” parts to it that are scary or mean and it is full of “unexplainable” things that just confuse him all the more. Because growing up is hard, and it’s complicated and Gene wants a way out. He wants a way out of the guilt that he has for what he did for Finny and the confusion about why he did it in the first place and he wants a clean slate.
    Enlisting is cleaning that slate. When he enlists– when he cuts that twisted string of life and growing up that he talks about in this passage– he is left with “spools of khaki which could weave only a plain, flat khaki design”. The army life (or the army string) is simple. It is “plain” and “flat” and there are definite enemies and definite allies and there is none of this hate-love, want-to-be-like-you but at the same time want-to-brake-your-leg kinda stuff. There is no grey area in the war, it is all very black and white, all very clear. This is what Gene wants. If, like Logan said in period 5 today, Gene is a vampire, then after “killing” Finny, Gene wants to be able to move on with his life. And he can, by enlisting in the war, by wiping that slate clean, by going to a place where he will have “owed no one anything” (93).
    But then Finny is back, and Gene perhaps realizes that he can’t enlist in the war, and everything is complicated again. Gene does, in fact, “owe” somebody something, and Finny is a reminder of all that he owes and all that he did. So if Gene is a “vampire” and Finny is a Christ figure, what is the significance of “Christ’s” return in relationship to the “vampire” moving on with life? Why can’t Gene enlist now that Finny is back?

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