Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paper Bags

As I sat filing papers at Cristo Rey, I found myself getting into a methodic zone where I was able to instantly spot the students name and find the appropriate folder. After a while I did not even notice what was on the papers that I was putting away, until one word caught my attention: bomb. Stopping for a moment, I began to read the essay. The assignment was to pick three items that you would put into an imaginary paper bag that describe who you are or how you feel.
One particular student chose only two things: a bomb that is about to explode, and a pencil. The essay went on to explain that the reason he chose a bomb that is about to explode was because that is how he felt all of the time. He found himself frustrated at his life and his situation. Frustrated that he did not know as much as the other students, because his previous school was terrible, frustrated that he did not have money, frustrated that his family constantly had to struggle, frustrated at the violence he saw in the world. He wrote that at times it almost seemed impossible, but that he said it was a bomb that was about to explode, because he was starting to feel like he might be able to stop it.

The second item in his imaginary paper bag was a lead pencil. He said that he related to a pencil. When you get a pencil, you use it and use it, but once there is no more lead, and the pencil has been used down to almost the eraser, you throw it out and discard it. He said he felt that this is how people treated him. Only using him until there was nothing left. I sat astonished at the words I had read and their gravity. And began to look through the remaining papers. As I read over what other people put in their imaginary bags to represent them I found myself saddened by the struggles that many of the students were expressing, but I was also thoroughly impressed by their ability to articulate how they felt, and by the overwhelming hope many of the students had. Some of the responses included family, god, the bible, a calculator, love, a best friend, money, justice, and music. Some students chose to take the assignment as items that represented them, others as items they wanted in their life, and others as items they wish were not in their life. One of the themes I noticed was a great appreciation for the education that they were receiving. They were able to recognize that through education they would be able to achieve their dreams, and that was something very refreshing to see.

In “ A Wrinkle In Time”, we see three children who are all encountering their own “dark thing”, their own evils to overcome and fight. This book, while using magic and a world of fantasy, reminds me of the battle that everyone must face with the darkness and challenges in the world.

The book begins with Meg sitting in her bedroom, concerned with her life, much as the students of Cristo Rey found themselves frustrated and discouraged. “ School. School was all wrong. She’d been dropped down to the lowest section in her grade. That morning one of her teachers had said crossly, ‘Really, Meg, I don’t understand how a child with parents as brilliant as yours are supposed to be can be such a poor student. If you don’t manage to do a little better you’ll have to stay back next year.’” (p.5) From the beginning of the novel we see a stress on the power and importance of communication and education.

Language and communicating is necessary throughout the challenges the children face, and literature is often quoted and stressed as important. In showing Meg’s frustration and stress over her education, and by demonstrating her actual intelligence and worth, it begs into question who is truly failing. Similar to the student’s at Cristo Rey, Meg had to take her fears, her flaws, and fight against the evil in the world. At the end of the novel, it is stressed that to overcome darkness, to overcome evil, and IT what you need more than anything else is love.

No comments:

Post a Comment