Friday, October 2, 2009

Awakening, or Not


We started oral book reviews this week in my Honors Critical Thinking class. I'm having only two students present each class period. That way, the class has time to respond, discuss, and ask questions. I try not to micromanage the discussions, to sit back and let the critical thinking take its course, stepping in only when I deem necessary. And, yes, that's terribly hard to do.


This week, one of the students reviewed Sue Monk Kidd's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, and she did an excellent job. She summarized briefly but adequately, discussed points of agreement and disagreement, ended with a recommendation--all the things a book review is supposed to do.


The problem came in the discussion after her review. At first, all discussion centered around Kidd's book. Some students asked for background or further information, and I provided it. Some made insightful comments about the main points of the review, sparking further discussion. Then, out of the blue, one student started in on Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening. Worst book I've ever read, he said. It didn't make sense, he said. I mean, we have to be careful what we wake up to, and just because women don't like something doesn't give them the right to do whatever they want.


I tried to explain the historical context, the nuances of the book, and of Edna's character in particular. His response? Edna should have realized that God set up a patriarchal culture to protect women and just "get over it."


He was saved by the bell.

11 comments:

mattwisdom said...

Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.

Ash said...

*sigh*...

Stephanie said...

I know.

Heather Mac said...

Oh, Harding and the people you attract. You make me so sad sometimes.

Kelly said...

Eye-popping WOW. For some reason, I am reminded of the old Cosby Show episodes when Elvin (the son-in-law) would say something like that, and Cliff would cover his hands with his face getting ready for Claire to lower the boom on the boy.

lisa b said...

Really? Our patriarchal societry protects us from what, exactly? Losing our loved ones in war? No, not that. Having to "earn our living by the sweat of our brow?" Nope, not that one either.

I'd really like to know just what this young man feels that women are being shielded from. From where I stand it looks like women deal with every single facet of life there is, usually in more direct ways than most men ever do.

Pardon me -- my feminism is showing.

Jonathan G. Reinhardt said...

Now, to me, the really interesting question is whether he really used the word "patriarchal," or was that, um, necessary inference about His Discourse on Stephanie's part? In which case, if my CoC eyes don't deceive me, I believe S.E. was engaging in a hermeneutical move regarding His Discourse -- which makes her a usurper of male authority. Tread carefully, Stephanie. Jesus is watching, and your subversions of God's Order of Things just may be making Him feel those nails... (and I think I just earned myself a few more years in purgatory, oops.)

Stephanie said...

Yes, he actually said the word "patriarchal.". I did not misquote, nor am I a usurper. I don't think. :-)

catever said...

Reading your blog makes me wish I were in your class sometimes. I hear about ridiculous, shocking things being said, but I'm never actually around to hear them. Maybe that's God protecting the ignorant :)

Jess said...

OH MY GOD.

I wanna die.

Lara said...

My office is so close to where you teach that I'm worried I may have gotten some of his Cro-Magnon sweat on me. Ick.

Surely he was baiting you.