Monday, February 09, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye, not middle school reading

Once again, my admin's lack of reading has had interesting consequences for me. Last semester, I had to deal with the relatively minor issue of explaining how an unmarried woman could be a mother. You may recall that I got out of that one when the students decided it was a miracle. Romeo and Juliet of course uses poetic language and euphemisms that I could glide right past...

This time, I may not get off so easily. The Powers That Be have determined that my middle schoolers need to read The Catcher in the Rye. Sigh. Clearly, they have never read the book or even a review of it. On the upside, I'll definitely know who did their reading this weekend. The ones that DON'T have questions about why the woman took off her clothes in Holden's hotel room and then a guy beat up Holden to get ten dollars for the woman, what horny means, and why was Holden so upset that the girl he knew sat in a car with his roommate, etc etc will be a dead giveaway... Sigh. I'm warming up my jazz hands as I write this.

I understand that not everyone likes to read as much as I do, even if I can't always see my way to dating them :-) , but there is really no excuse for not at least reading reviews before assigning it to students. Barring that, open the book to page one, which has no less that four curse words. One would think after the Kurt Vonnegut Incident a couple of years ago, things might have changed...

3 comments:

Michelle said...

I don't understand why they don't let those of us who can and do read choose books that are not only "safe" but interesting. We seem to run the gamut from having to explain why the husband doesn't want to be raped by his wife (Bee Season) to deadly dreary books that make me want to throw myself out the window. There are books in the happy middle there . They are fun and interesting and yes, Virginia, educational too.

Jen said...

Would it really be so hard to run a few titles by us? I don't know which is worse-- hoping the students don't read closely enough to ask the tough (aka embarrassing) questions or the ones that I feel unable to sell up in any way, because it's such an abject lie. I have to read the books, too, and I'd just as soon not have to read something that makes me want too stab myself in the face for a little excitement.

At least I can be happy I've never been asked why the husband didn't want to be raped. The Catcher in the Rye has most of the usual suspects, though-- language, teenage drinking, teenage sex, prostitution... I'm waiting for Holden to have a 37-page inner monologue about strap-on play and the inherent phoniness of doms. I am fairly certain that I would have remembered THAT if nothing else from my prior reading of this lame book. So, fingers crossed...

robininseoul said...

Paahaahaa!

Well, I guess you should be happy you're doing actual English class stuff.

My students get stupid dialogs and dictation tests. I'd love to do something gritty with them. And, even though mine are freshmen, I bet they'd have the same questions.