Understanding Literature 101.16
September 11, 2013
Open Mind, Full Intellectual
Jill McDonough’s “Accident, Mass. Ave.,” Frances E. W. Harper’s “Learning to Read,” Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s “The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education,” and Stephen Graham Jones’ live reading event all reflect a common message of learning and the power of education. Education, in particular Jesuit education, opens the mind to understand different perspectives. The ability to expand your mind through learning enables freedom.
Jill McDonough’s poem, “Accident, Mass. Ave.,” explains a car accident scenario located in Boston. McDonough writes, “She lived and drove in Boston, too, so she knew,/ we both knew, that the thing to do/ is get out of the car, slam the door/ as hard as you… can and yell things” (McDonough, 9-12). The typical response, according to McDonough, is to overreact and act as a maniac would. Later on, as she slowly (finally) begins to analyze the situation, she notices that there is nothing wrong with her car. McDonough teaches that before overreacting, the situation at hand must be analyzed and thereafter conclusions can be drawn. The connection to education is the same: after learning and observing the current setting, you can draw insightful and meaningful decisions that will positively reflect the outcome.
In Frost’s “Mending Wall,” the correlation to education is met as well. The “wall” taken in the metaphorical sense can describe close-mindedness. There is no use of the wall; separating the two neighbors serves no cause. Yet the neighbor refuses to take it down. Instead of following their own beliefs, he uses the old saying of “Good fences make good neighbors” (Frost, 45). In reflection to education, if the same viewpoint is kept through time, the human mind will not expand. People should be open to new ideas and interpretations, as granted by education.
Frances E. W. Harper agrees with Frost’s and McDonough’s viewpoint on education. In “Learning to Read,” Harper writes, “Our masters always tried to hide/ Book learning from our eyes;/ Knowledge did’nt agree with slavery—/ ‘Twould make us all too wise” (Harper, 5-8). This stanza analyzes education directly by stating that education is directly linked with wisdom. Furthermore Harper associates education with open-minded and modern thought; it sways away from old, pre-conceived ideas. Education enables the mind to find it’s own freedom.
Kolvenbach indicates the benefit of education too, but particularly Jesuit education. Education is a necessary addition to human beings because it creates understanding and allows people to appreciate the world in grandeur. He writes of the wholesome education that Jesuits value, “We must therefore raise our Jesuit educational standard to ‘educate the whole person of solidarity for the real world’” (Kolvenbach, 34). Jesuit education involves knowledge as a key proponent, but adds that people should be educated on all topics in society, granting more well roundedness.
There is an additional meaning to education in the non-traditional sense—that is, learning from other’s experience. As a spectator of Stephen Graham Jones’ reading event, I learned just as much from listening, if not more, than a traditional book would have permitted. Reading a work of literature, and listening to a work of literature is entirely different. It opens perspective and understanding further than imaginable. I noticed various details, in terms of tone and comprehension, from listening to Jones’ fictional and incredibly unique writing. Overall, these various works of literature, in addition to Jones’ live reading event, illustrate the various, significant principles that education offers.