Here in the South there was a massive propaganda against "The Golden Compass" because it was (in some people's views) anti-Christian.
But I loved it...
Because, as an animal lover, I do believe that those of us who rescue animals from killing pounds experience the love of that animal, and the appreciation that they give us.
I rescued my cat from the street and she has been my unsung "guardian angel". She has protected me and loved me from the start. I love her right back. Imagine if she had never found me?! I can't think of it.
So, for me, having an animal as a spiritual guide was no big deal (nor any demonic thing).
What say you?
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I LOVE Great Expectations. I don't meet many people who do. I want to teach it, but it has now been purposefully written out of the curriculum in two different school districts in two different states where I have worked. People say it's because of the language. Dickens uses too many run-on sentences, they cry.
BULL - oney! Dickens craftily creates characters that struggle with the indecencies in this world that most of us deal with: cheating, guilt, coveting. Even though Expectations are never fully realized in the book, I think it is a great reminder to students that things don't happen just because we want them to. So, what should we do about that? The same thing Americans have done for generations: work for their dreams.
This may sound sacrilegious for an English teacher to say, but I've always felt this kind of ambivalence for Death of a Salesman. While I love the tragedy and themes, I'm always a little put off by the unappealing aspects of Willy and his boys, particularly Biff. I get it, and I don't hate them;but it's just always unsettling for me to spend time with the Lomans.
For me, it's The Scarlet Letter. I love Hawthorne's style, and to some extent I enjoy the story. I admire Hester, but Pearl's character is so unsettling, and Dimmesdale is so weak, that I always find myself struggling to reserve my judgments when reading. It's simply a matter of frustration. I guess I just can't imagine myself falling for someone as spineless as Dimmesdale, and I get angry at Hester for having done so. Totally irrational response, but there it is!
I feel this way about The Catcher in the Rye. I remember really liking the novel in high school, but when I had to re-read it during graduate school, I was pulling my hair. I kept thinking to myself, "Holden, just get over it!" I transferred schools last year, so now I have to teach it as it's part of the tenth grade required reading. Lucky me.
I loved it in 4th grade (probably because my teacher read to us from an illustrated book). Then, in 10th grade we read Edith Hamilton's Mythology. I think I took a nap behind the radiator every "reading day."
My honors 9th graders struggled through it last year and I think I'm never going to teach it again.
I also love Great Expectations. I find it layered and genius where most of my students just call it complicated. They don't want to work at good literature. :)
While I may get some flack for saying this, the bane of my existence is early American Literature. There are some gems, but mostly I find it preachy and boring. I love American History, but the literature that goes along with it is a good cure, in my humble opinion, for insomnia. Of course, the later stuff beginning with Poe is better.
One of my favorite novels is Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage. However, despite my obvious love of the novel and subject, I have never been able to teach it successfully in class. Most students were turned off by it, so I finally retired it as an in-class novel.
While I can appreciate Huck Finn, I can't care about it. I detest the whole end of the novel at the farm with Jim held captive and Huck letting Tom Sawyer run the show -- I just want to yell "You did fine all the way down the river!!!" I understand the character and purpose of the Duke, but find it all just a too-long distraction from the main plot.
The book also proves the age old adage that if you have to explain why something is funny, it just kills the funny. That is certainly the case with teaching this to 16 year olds whose ideas of humor are not quite the same as mine.
In response to post #9, Huck Finn is my favorite book in the whole world, but I have to agree with you. I HATE the ending where Tom Sawyer comes in, and detest Tom for his immaturity -- he doesn't belong on the same pages as Huck. However, I also see it as a great comparison -- Tom is so symbolic of the society that Huck and Jim were trying to escape. Completely opposite of Huck, Tom is elitist, immature, and selfish. So while it remains my favorite book, that portion of the book is something I will always love to hate.
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