In some cultures (I’m thinking Latin America), instead of Friday the 13th, the day they dread and loath is actually Tuesday the 13th. Many xenophobic American cultural critics have indicated that this Tuesday-phobia is rooted in the innate prejudice these countries feel against America, particularly those with lingering “red” sympathies. President Bush, as he addressed a crowd in Nicaragua last night, insinuated that certain Venezuelan leaders are inciting their people to this observance of the unlucky Tuesday as a direct affront to their freedom-loving, Friday-hating neighbors to their North. I don’t know about all this insinuation and innuendo, but what I do know is that here in America, we like our chicken crispy, our Twinkies fried, and our Tuesdays lucky. So, happy Tuesday the 13th. Yeah, you too, Venezuela. So there.
Anyway, one lucky thing about today is that it’s my first day back on the job after my long weekend. I came back today to discover that I left too much for the class to do on Monday, and none of the classes finished the story they were reading.
So the first thing we did today was finish reading “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor. We then took a quiz about the “plot” terms, and the story we just finished reading, which you can come in and take during project period if you missed class today.
As we corrected the quiz, we talked about how each element of plot (exposition, foreshadowing, conflict, climax, denouement) worked in this story, and I also introduced the idea of theme into the discussion. An easy way to get at this idea of theme is to ask yourself, “What is this story saying about people? What does the story say about human nature?” If you ask this question, and then use evidence from the story to deduce what the story is saying about human behavior, hey presto, you’ve got a statement of theme.
We had some pretty robust arguments about the themes in “A Good Man,” but I don’t think we were really able to agree an much as a class about what the story is really saying. Flannery O’Connor had a lot of weird ideas about religion and morality and the universal connectedness of everything that sometimes seem a little dated today, but it made for an interesting discussion, regardless.
Tomorrow, we’ll move on to further discussions of theme with a very different type of story from another author in a very different time and place.
Until then, stay lucky.