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The End of Summer

Part II

October 10, 2013
by Cecelia Durham-Moen , Emmetsburg News

In Part 1 I mentioned that I was caring for my daughter, a teacher of middle school and high school English in Nebraska. While I was with her I took it upon myself to read the books that her students read in class so that I'd be better prepared to converse with her about her curriculum.

The second book I read was "Anthem" by Ayn Rand. This story really captivated my interest. I am not a fan of sci-fi but this kept me riveted. It wasn't until the end that I read the book jacket and realized that Ms. Rand lived from 1905-1982 and this book was published in the 1930's. I was amazed by the insight and imagination she had for that time, especially as a woman in that era.

"Anthem" is about a future time when all mankind has entered an age of collectivism, where the idea of individuality is punishable by death. The main character goes beyond that socialistic thinking to love the woman of his choosing. This story is quite thought provoking and perhaps especially in this day and age when we are spoon-fed ideas so thoroughly through the media.

Ms. Rand developed a philosophy known as Objectivism. She believed that we must 'accept the fact that achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness not pain or mindless self-indulgence is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values'. The concept is fascinating.

And next on the reading list came Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", published in 1953. This novel tells the story of a time in the future when book are banned and if found they are burned, along with the house in which they're found. This book itself has been highly censored and attempts have been made to have it banned. Due to my love of books the subject matter is alarming and yet spellbinding. And by the way, Teacher Ms. Miller tells me that the movie is so vastly different from the novel that they should not be considered the same!

The main character in this book begins as one of the firemen who destroy the homes and books until eventually he is told of another time when people could think and reason for themselves. The consequences are instigating.

I loved my summer of reading and the way it made me consider how today's youth look upon the concepts of these books and how they relate the stories to themselves. I will greatly look forward to the school year and checking in with Rachel to hear how her students interpret the readings and if they connect with the concepts, which I found fascinating.

All this reading and thinking of how these books may compel today's youth made me think that in every community adults should be given the reading list of their youth. I know book clubs abound but what about a book club that reads along with our youth? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have discussions and let our youth know that we are attentive to things in their world? Imagine the discussion you could have with your child, let alone the young person carrying out your groceries? The idea fascinates me. I hope it fascinates you too! I hope it motivates you to turn off the electronic devices occasionally to read and have real discussions of depth with young people.

Oh, and not to worry, Rachel does have electricity so in the evenings we'd put a rom-com DVD in to watch while we ate bowls of chocolate ice cream! I returned to my beloved Iowa and she has healed well. Now, on to the school year!

 
 

 

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