Saturday, September 17, 2011

Essay on School Days

I enjoyed School Days because I felt there was a very natural progression throughout the novel. Patrick Chamoiseau, the author, is very consistent in his thought process and this allows readers to become part of the journey of his childhood education. The language is playful and appropriate to the child narrator. I found this novel to share many fundamental characteristics to Richard Rodriguez's Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. Ultimately, I found that School Days was the more effective of the two novels because it left a margin of possibilities that Rodriguez's book did not have. In this essay I will explain what I find to be the fundamental characteristics that the two novels share, and I will explore what I feel is the major difference between the two authors' educational background and how that has affected their writing.

The two authors chose to explore a variety of similar themes such as: what happens when children become educated outside the home, what happens when children are educated outside of their native languages, the quandary that children find themselves in between their native language that represents home life and a new language in their quests to fit in at school. This last case is where they slightly differ. Although both young Richard and young Patrick (whom we will call the unnamed character in School Days) choose to keep their confusion, hurt, shame, and anxiety regarding school to themselves, their reasoning is slightly different. Rodriguez could feel himself exceeding his parents' educational level and did not want to flaunt things that they did not understand around the house. Patrick did not want his mother to know that he was not doing well in school. He did not want his mother to be upset with him, knowing how highly she thinks of education and school,"He kept his failures secret, along with the scoldings and the wallops, because Mam Ninotte seemed to confer supreme authority upon the school." (Chamoiseau, p.74).

The difference in the two writings is that Rodriguez makes it seem as if every bilingual child goes through exactly what he went through. Chamoiseau, on the other hand, tells his story and indirectly shares with his readers an alternative experience. In the case of an irate mother who comes to the school in her child's defense of a wrong she felt was committed to him/her by one of the teachers, "There too, a mama furious with some Teacher would come, loudly demanding an explanation" (Chamoiseau, p.88).


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