When I was in high school (not my favourite time), an English teacher said that everyone in my grade (nine, I think) had to write a one-page story in class right then. The best from the school would be submitted to a city-wide contest and blah blah blah.
Really? This sounded like bs to me - but I was often unhappy back then. I was not in the mood to generate a story out of nowhere.
I knew all the words to "For Emily Wherever I May Find Her" a beautiful song from Simon and Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme album. so I just wrote them out as an essay, tweaking it here and there. In longhand, it filled a page:
A week later, the teacher said I was chosen as a finalist from all the essays in the school. She wanted my permission to submit it. Clearly whoever was screening the school's grade nine essays was a generation just enough older than me to not have been listening to Simon and Garfunkel. I told her that I did not want my story submitted. "Thanks, Mrs. Laar," I said, "but it's personal."
- hamartia - the fatal flaw of a tragic hero, usually hubris or pride
- nemesis - the inevitable cosmic retribution
- fear and pity leading to catharsis
In my essay, I discuss the tragedy of Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). Rizzo was unhealthy. His dream was to get to Florida where he could be warm. Seeing that Rizzo is getting sicker and sicker, Joe Buck (Jon Voigt), robs and murders an old man. He buys Greyhound tickets to Florida, but Rizzo dies in the bus on the way. My essay says:
"I left the film wondering whether it would have made a difference if Rizzo had made it to Florida. Could he find happiness? He could escape his situation, but not his wretchedness and self-pity."Next to that paragraph, in red ink, Mrs. Wilson wrote, "No one ever makes it to Florida."
Every time I go to Florida, I think about Mrs. Wilson and wonder whether she was right.
Did anything that your high school teachers said still make you wonder?