This blog was written in collaboration with Joseph Hernandez and Isaac Icard
At many times in an individual’s life there are various moments where one may disconnect from reality and completely overlook the objects and actions occurring in front of them. However, when one does focus on reality and view something while simultaneously developing ideas for it, they create what is called a perception. “The School”, a short story by Donald Barthelme, is a visual/physical example of perception. Throughout the entire story many scenarios come up in which the reader is able to interpret the events in his or her own manner and attempt to come up on a conclusion of what is being symbolized and what it is meaning. As an individual is reading, the main objective of the story is to express several inconveniences in the story to keep it comical, but at the same time keep a serious message encrypted behind every word and the job of the reader is to take the writing and create their own base of thoughts according to the structure of the story and the reactions of characters.
The overall question left unanswered within the short story is what symbolizes what and why it symbolizes what it does. For example, as a reader is going through the story, they may notice the reoccurring them of death, but they might not understand the objective of the repetition and will miss out on the “lesson” that is trying to be explained. When in reality the narrator’s main objective is to express the idea that creation comes as easy as destruction and that the students in his class do not fully comprehend this so instead of a normal class curriculum, the teacher goes out of their way to create a more unusual curriculum, but easily explaining the idea with visual reference.
Throughout the short story, there are many questions left unanswered due to the story’s open endings and bizarre. The world the children in the story are perceiving is almost surreal to the reader and causes these questions to arise. However, these are then answered by the reader’s own mind and their own perceptions give the story many possible meanings.
“The School” by Donald Barthelme.” Topics, Sample Papers & Articles Online for Free, 20 Jul 2016, <https://studymoose.com/the-school-by-donald-barthelme-essay>
This analysis of “The School” by Donald Barthelme focuses on the overall structure of the essay as well as the overall theme and meaning of the theme. Throughout the short story the reoccurring theme of death is exposed to the reader of the story through various scenarios that students within a classroom setting create by actions and asking questions. The overall idea explained in the analysis is that one should acknowledge the idea that “life can be created as fast as it is destroyed.” (Paragraph 1) and that death cannot be achieved without living first. “The School” is primarily a story about a teacher (Edgar) who teaches his students in unconventional ways about life and death. Throughout the story the classroom becomes lively with various pets that they receive and try to nurture. Some of these are snakes, fish, mice, a salamander, and even a puppy. These are all strange animals to have normally and nonetheless in a classroom setting with kids. Unfortunately, all these animals die very quickly emphasizing the teacher stressing the realization of the idea that death is imminent and inevitable to the students in his class. However, the death of animals is not the only evidence for the idea of life being as easy as death. Within the story, toward the end, the students also asked Edgar to perform the act of procreation so that they may first handedly witness it. Afterwards, a gerbil enters the room and the children cheer because they believe that they just witnessed a new life being created and the story ends there.
This analysis may be used as a source of a single perception to the interpretation of various symbols throughout the short story. The potential use of this resource is also to be able to compare it to other perceptions of the story and see the similarities and differences to try and find a possible conclusion to what each part of the story signifies. Various perceptions will yield various conclusions and based off what has already been deciphered, an individual, may use this to create stronger and more evidence-based conclusions.
“Short Story Analysis of The School English Literature Essay.” All Answers Ltd. ukessays.com, November 2013. Web. 4 December 2018. <https://www.ukessays.com/essays/english-literature/short-story-analysis-of-the-school-english-literature-essay.php?vref=1>.
This analysis of “The School” by Donald Barthelme, is basically a summary and analysis that illuminates the structure of the short story right down to Barthelme’s word choice. For example, the writer points out Barthelme’s use of the word “little” many times in the first paragraph of the short story when he says, “own little tree” and “little brown sticks”. This gives the reader the feeling of the children being defenseless and depressed and causes the reader to picture the image of little children standing over their little dead trees. “The word, little, here lends a quality of vulnerability and is altogether depressing when the reader pictures 30 children mourning the loss of their little trees.” (Paragraph 2). Also, throughout the analysis the writer breaks down every sentence the teacher (Edgar), or narrator, of the short story says. By doing this, the writer exposes the true meaning of death and that it’s inevitable. “Next there comes the puppy. The reader cannot help but gasp, knowing that another death is, by now, considered inevitable.” (Paragraph 6). There had been so many deaths before the death of the puppy that the reader is able to piece together the outcomes of the puppy and the upcoming scenarios in the story.
This analysis published by the UK Essays website provides a different perspective and shines a new light on the meaning that is buried inside the short story. The analysis focuses on how the children are reacting to the deaths that they’re experiencing during their school year. These scenarios progressively get worse throughout the story and the writer notices how this can take a toll on the children and their life experiences. They progress into the death of two of the children’s childhood friends. One would think that these events would desensitize the children. However, in the end the gerbil walks into the classroom and the children cheer wildly which shows the undying spirit of the children because they are willing to take in another living thing to take care of even after all the bad luck that has come their way.
McManus, Dermot. “The School by Donald Barthelme.” The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 8 Oct. 2015. Web. http://sittingbee.com/the-school-donald-barthelme/
This article starts off with stating a few of the several themes that The School by Donald Barthelme has. Some of these themes include uncertainty, innocence, mortality, fear, curiosity, and reassurance. The story is quite confusing at the first read, but after you read it a couple times it begins to all come together. It says that the reader may not understand why everything is dying such as the orange trees, the snakes, the dog, the child and several other things. The reader is supposed to take this as death is a part of life and things may die for no apparent reason. You just have to move on and find the silver lining in things. Barthelme also wants to emphasize the point that no one truly understand what happens to a person after the die “Also at no stage is Edgar able to answer or satisfy the curiosity of the children when asked about death rather as the story progresses the reader discovers that Edgar, just like the children remains uncertain as to what may happen an individual when they die (Para 1)”. This shows that many people need reassurance to feel okay about the bad things that happen in life.
This article highlights much of the symbolism in the short story. It will help the writing of the essay by having the symbolism and meaning behind it outlined and in much depth. It takes the article and goes into a great amount of depth. We will be able to understand the themes in the story at a greater level than before which will help us to be able to create an essay with meaning and thought behind it. It opens your mind into a whole new area of thought and expands your knowledge of what is truly behind the symbolism in the short story “The School”.
“Donald Barthelme – Donald Barthelme American Literature Analysis” Masterpieces of American LiteratureEd. Steven G. Kellman. eNotes.com, Inc. 2006eNotes.com 5 Dec, 2018 <http://www.enotes.com/topics/donald-barthelme/critical-essays#critical-essays-analysis>
The beginning of this article begins with describing how to understand how Barthelme works and his process of writing. It states the best way to understand it, is to understand what his methods are not. Barthelme’s stories are typically brief and revolve more so around an intellectual idea than an emotional idea and process. To read, enjoy, and thoroughly understand Barthelme’s work you must be open minded and have a formal education. His work is not for everyone and is best suited for people who understand that the western nations language is below standard “They will probably speak most directly to readers who have noted the debased status of words in Western industrial nations and noticed that the most widely disseminated utterances of the early twenty-first century seem to be the most trivial (Para 3)”. These are the people who will most enjoy reading his work and be able to comprehend the work. The article said that the writers that are like him and have the same type of writing are the authors of the early 20th century.
This article may be used to help the reader be able to understand how where the symbolism comes from and who will be able to truly understand the form of it. If a person is from one of the several western nations Barthelme refers to then they may not fully understand it because his type of writing is not for them. The symbolism and meaning behind it is not a type that everyone will quite understand and must be though about to be able to grasp the meaning behind it. Once it is fully understood though, it will have a deep meaning, be seen very clearly and be liked by many.