How does Marta Salinas’s use of shifting (changing) moods within the eavesdropping scene from “The Scholarship Jacket” support the themes “You shouldn’t compromise on things that you have earned” or “You should stand up for yourself when something you deserve is being denied”? (You can pick either of those.)
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Here’s the passage:
In May, close to graduation, spring fever had struck as usual with a vengeance. No one paid any attention in class; instead we stared out the windows and at each other, wanting to speed up the last few weeks of school. I despaired every time I looked in the mirror. Pencil thin, not a curve anywhere. I was called “beanpole” and “string bean,” and I knew that’s what I looked like. A flat chest, no hips, and a brain; that’s what I had. That really wasn’t much for a fourteen-year-old to work with, I thought, as I absent-mindedly wandered from my history class to the gym. Another hour of sweating in basketball and displaying my toothpick legs was coming up. Then I remembered my P.E. shorts were still in a bag under my desk where I’d forgotten them. I had to walk all the way back and get them. Coach Thompson was a real bear if someone wasn’t dressed for P.E. She had said I was a good forward and even tried to talk Grandma into letting me join the team once. Of course Grandma said no.
I was almost back at my classroom door when I heard voices raised in anger as if in some sort of argument. I stopped. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, I just hesitated, not knowing what to do. I needed those shorts and I was going to be late, but I didn’t want to interrupt an argument between my teachers. I recognized the voices: Mr. Schmidt, my history teacher, and Mr. Boone, my math teacher. They seemed to be arguing about me. I couldn’t believe it.I still remember the feeling of shock that rooted me flat against the wall as if I were trying to blend in with the graffiti written there.
“I refuse to do it! I don’t care who her father is, her grades don’t even begin to compare to Martha’s. I won’t lie or falsify records. Martha has a straight A-plus average and you know it.” That was Mr. Schmidt and he sounded very angry. Mr. Boone’s voice sounded calm and quiet.
“Look. Joann’s father is not only on the Board, he owns the only store in town: we could say it was a close tie and—”
The pounding in my ears drowned out the rest of the words, only a word here and there filtered through. “... Martha is Mexican ... resign ... won’t do it ...” Mr. Schmidt came rushing out and luckily for me went down the opposite way toward the auditorium, so he didn’t see me. Shaking, I waited a few minutes and then went in and grabbed my bag and fled from the room. Mr. Boone looked up when I came in but didn’t say anything. To this day I don’t remember if I got in trouble in P.E. for being late or how I made it through the rest of the afternoon. I went home very sad and cried into my pillow that night so Grandmother wouldn’t hear me. It seemed a cruel coincidence that I had overheard that conversation.
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