We will use this blog for Independent Reading journal entries, for Personal Writing, and for occasional responses to the literature we study together and to our class discussions and activities.
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You will learn a tremendous amount by reading each other’s work. Sometimes you will think, “Ah, that’s really good, I could do that, too.” At other times you will think, “Ah yes, I make that same mistake, but I usually don’t notice it in my own writing.” Or you may think, “Wow, my writing is better than I thought.” Together, we can learn faster and make more progress.
In The Viscount of Bragelonne, by Alexander Dumas, the old soldier, d’Artagnan, proposes a business opportunity to Planchet, who was his squire in their younger days but who now owns a prosperous candy shop in Paris. D’Artagnan’s idea is to raise a small army and restore Charles II, rightful King of England, to his throne. Planchet is reluctant to invest without understanding more about d’Artagnan’s plans.
“Since you are proposing a business deal, I have the right to discuss it,” says Planchet.
“Discuss, Planchet; from discussion comes light.”
“Well then, since I have your permission, I would like to point out that in England they have, first of all, a Parliament.”
“Yes. And then?”
“And then, an Army.”
“Good. Anything else?”
“And then, the people themselves.”
“Is that all?”
“The people of England, who consented to the overthrow and execution of the late King, father of Charles II, will never agree to put the son back on the throne.”
“Planchet, my friend” said d’Artagnan, “you reason like a block of cheese.” (p. 417)
In French, the line is more beautiful: “Planchet, mon ami, tu raisonnes comme un fromage.” It made me laugh out loud the first time I read it, and it reminded me of something my French friend Christian said to me years ago when he noticed that I was wearing a new shirt: “Tu es beau comme un camion.” “You are as handsome as a truck.”
In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a group of English school boys are evacuated by plane from a war zone, but the plane crashes on a remote tropical island, and the only adult with them—the pilot—is killed. Soon after they meet, Ralph and Piggy argue about what happened to the pilot of their airplane, and we see right away that Piggy is more of a thinker than Ralph:
“He must have flown off after he dropped us. He couldn’t land here. Not in a place with wheels.”
“We was attacked!”
“He’ll be back all right.”
The fat boy shook his head.
“When we was coming down I looked through one of them windows. I saw the other part of the plane. There were flames coming out of it.” (p. 8)
Whereas Ralph unthinkingly believes that everything will work out for the best (“’He’ll be back all right’”), Piggy has kept his eyes open during the crash and is brave enough to speak the frightening truth: there are no adults left to take care of them.