Eww Cooties!!!

September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the most beautiful things about children is that they are able to look beyond the things that adults believe should be separating factors. Issues of class, race, religion or parentage tend to be completely irrelevant in the mind of a child.

When I was about four I began to take swimming lessons at the local pool. While blowing bubbles and splashing in the water a little girl noticed that my unfortunate Black-Jew hybrid hair looked different underwater than her long blonde locks. Because of this every time we would swim under water she would doggy paddle over to me touch my hair.  Rather than be deterred, as some narrow-minded adults may have been, the fact that I was different attracted her to me. We eventually came to the consensus that we would be best friends; a bond that has beat the odds and remained intact over 14 years later. It didn’t matter to her that I was of a different race and it didn’t matter to me that her family lived in an apartment complex the size of my guest house; all that mattered was that we got along. Looking back on the evolution of our friendship the wise words of Sasha Fierce popped into my head, what if I were a boy?? I came to the conclusion that under these circumstances, the friendship would have been impossible! The differences between our demographics may have led to Wars and many crimes but in our 4 year old minds they were insignificant compared to the insurmountable threat of contracting Cooties. As a child people of the opposite gender are alien. Remember how sitting boy-girl-boy-girl was akin to corporal punishment? Taking this into consideration I made sure that differences in gender played a big role on the map I generated in class. Although our maps were meant to focus on interactions between humans, animals and nature when making my map I tried to get as much of Tom’s perspective as possible. I feel that from the perspective of a young boy the difference of gender is similar to the difference of species. The ability children have to ignore many of the barriers created by society is something that is very evident in However, a great deal of tension is created by the difference of gender. Due to the time and location of the book there is a clear separation between the two genders. The age group of the book’s characters further emphasizes this separation.  Although Becky Thatcher is of a higher class than Tom this is less of an issue than the fact that they are different in terms of their gender. Tom shows off to try and win her affection. He initially views Becky as a shiny new toy and quickly confesses his “love” for her in chapter 6.  This highlights the way that many men looked at women during Tom’s time and even today– as objects. Their flirtation ebbs and flows and the pair engages in fierce competition to make the other jealous.  In chapter 20 Tom even wishes Becky was a boy so that he could show her a piece of his mind. Had Becky been a boy perhaps they could have been better chums. Despite their childhood lust the two constantly quarrel because of the tension created by their genders.  Tom had the ability to interact with boys of varied socio economic and racial backgrounds but the battle of the sexes proves to be a fierce one in his life in St. Petersburg.

Check out Tim McKiernan and Louisa Krause as Tom and Becky. They were robbed at the Tony’s.


Twain the Tinkler

August 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

Whether you know him as Clemens, Snodgrass or by his better-known moniker of Twain the famed “father of American Literature” was not only a brilliant writer and humorist but also a skilled inventor with

a passion for science!

Because of his distaste for uncomfortable suspenders Twain developed an adjustable strap that tightened shirts at the waist. This invention was also used to adjust corsets and other undergarments and was patented on December 19th, 1871. Twain’s second patent came in 1873 for self-adhesive scrapbooks. This invention was very successful. By 1901, over 57 different varieties of his albums were available. Twain’s final patent was issued in 1885 for a history trivia game.

Twain’s interest in science and inventing was further sparked by the development of a friendship with engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. The two toyed in Tesla’s lab and remained friends until Twain’s death.  Despite Tesla’s conflict with Edison, Twain also formed a relationship with this famous inventor. Edison even paid Twain a visit and recorded footage for the 1909 short film of The Prince and the Pauper.

Twain even melded his love of science and literature in his novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which featured a time traveling American and served as inspiration other sci-fi alternate history story-lines.

Take a look at the Disney adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper featuring Cole and or Dylan Sprouse of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody!

Marvel of Nature

August 29, 2010 § 5 Comments

In chapter 14, Happy Camp of Freebooters, the reader sees Tom’s reaction to Nature and the tranquility it brings him. Tom and his pirate companion’s last connection to the chaos of their lives is cut off and they find refuge in the natural world. From the beginning of the chapter Twain uses calming language to describe Tom’s surroundings. When Tom awakes in the “cool gray dawn” the reader shares Tom’s “repose and peace in the deep pervading calm and silence of the woods” (Twain, 87). While Tom’s two cohorts slumber he is able to have a one on one interaction with nature and truly take in its beauty. The passage on pages 87 and 88 is very romantic for it is in this passage that Tom comes as close to reaching the sublime as a boy his age ever could. It is as if nature mimics Tom. By creating this parallel, Twain suggests that Tom is very much in tune with the natural world. As he stirs from bed, “Nature’s meditation” matches the sleepy boy’s calm meditative state (Twain, 88). As nature begins to “unfold itself to the musing boy” he too becomes more conscious until finally both Tom and his surroundings are wide-awake (Twain 87).  In previous chapters Tom seems less at peace with the natural world and shows more of an interest in conquering it. When capturing the pincher bug, drugging Peter, the cat, and imprisoning the tick, he exhibits typical boy like behavior but at the same time lacks respect for nature. Chapter 14 is one of the first times where Tom allows the natural world to exist relatively unperturbed by his many curiosities. Nature acts as the Ritalin to what is likely an undiagnosed case of ADHD. The generally hyper boy allows nature to “unfold itself (Twain, 87). Rather than try to control the animals in the woods Tom lets them be. Upon seeing a little green worm he opts to admire it from afar and remains still, allowing the worm to crawl all over his body of its own accord (Twain 88). The image of his heart swelling with gratitude on page 88 suggests that Tom has an appreciation for nature and its creatures. Although Tom tries to control the ladybug he does it from a respectful distance, merely leaning over it and finding fascination in the simple, untouched beauty of the world around him.

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