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Pie and mysteries... - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Pie and mysteries...
I picked up a book of lesser-known Twain with the thought of re-reading Tom Sawyer, Detective, which was as wretched as I remember... except for one great line from narrator Huck, pointing out that if you give a choice between a pie and a mystery, he'll always go for the pie, and Tom will always go for the mystery, because people are built differently, and that's the the way it's supposed to be.

I think those two characters are iconic because they manage to be coin-flips of each other without being in conflict (often). Huck is full of earthy, practical sense, Tom is full of stories and wonder (one of the few lines I remember from the Tom Sawyer musical is his cousin Mary singing, "Tom's a good boy, Tom is kind, Tom holds wonders in his mind..."). It's easy to think of Huck as the greater of the two characters--he certainly is the one that goes through a moral awakening and takes concrete action--but then, without the Tom side, we'd never get that story. Huck would have just shrugged and moved on without thinking much of it. It's the Tom in Twain who'd just have to share it with all and sundry. (Not to mention that Huck himself, in the course of his novel, needs to imagine himself as Tom to work out the schemes he does work out; he doesn't think of himself as clever, so to tell the stories necessary, he taps into his "inner Tom." That the real Tom doesn't come off as well in that novel doesn't matter, because Huck's Tom is the iconic Tom of the reader, just as Tom's Huck--free and natural--is the iconic Huck, as opposed to the real boy who lets Jim suffer because he's comfortable in the Grangerford house.)
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frenchbraider From: frenchbraider Date: January 19th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of my favorite books is Tom Sawyer Abroad - I absolutely love Huck Finn in it. I'm glad that no teacher is ever going to analyze it in class, because Huckleberry Finn was just ruined for me in high school. I know many people who've said the same thing happened to them.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed it a lot more out of school myself, mostly because it always seemed to take such a blamed long time to get through things in school. It's just not a book that ought to be parcelled out in 40 page assignments.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 19th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
We never covered Huckleberry Finn in high school, but there are definitely stories that we covered in English class that I'd read multiple times before, or enjoyed the first time when assigned them (before we actually discussed them) that I've never wanted to touch since. Even ones from the really good class.

This is why my instinctive feeling is to balk at the idea of having enjoyable things to read taught in class. And yet I also know there are serious problems with this idea. :P
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, the problem there is that when unenjoyable books are taught in class, the kids who don't read anything other than what they're assigned think that reading itself is horrible and books are boring.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 19th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know. I do. It's just that when enjoyable books are taught in class, it often seems to become so difficult to enjoy them, that it's really hard for me to believe it does those kids much good. And yet you don't want to teach books that aren't worth reading, or at least worth having read, either.

And the whole thing is the creepiest when I realize that I've hardly reread anything from my junior year of high school -- even though I enjoyed that class! I mean, including the analysis part.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: January 19th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suppose I should thank my homeschooled upbringing for the fact that I still adore analyzing what I read? I learned it from books of essays rather than a teacher....
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 19th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I was homeschooled through fifth grade. But a lot of the literature analysis came after that. The funny thing is, by this point I do enjoy analyzing stuff -- when I happen to feel like it -- but I still don't tend to go back to stuff we covered in class.
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: January 20th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
wow, who wrote those musical lyrics? i havethis oen scene fro msawyer that I potterfied for an hp classic cannon challenge (forgotthe name of the community) buthose words fit perfectly to the story. If i ever put it on my sie I shoudl knw where I quotedit from though.
(actually I didn't even knwo there was a Tom Sawyer musical...)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was the Sherman Brothers--the Wiki entry on the film is here. Johnny Whittaker was the best of the film Toms. Jodie Foster was cute as Becky, too.
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: January 20th, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
thank you.
its oen fothe far too many novesl that I haven'tread though (the onl ycopy I usedto have was an abridged one with questions for students). that lyrics just fit.
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