Professor Juniper Ellis
30 October 2013
Strive For What You Believe In
In works written by Richard Hague, Gary Gildner, and Langston Hughes, there is one common theme. To follow your dreams and desires, and don’t conform to others. In Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” the speaker is explaining the lack of purpose for students to take the SAT and how it doesn’t define a person or their intelligence. In Gildner’s “First Practice,” the speaker seems nervous/scared as he is about to win a “title.” In Hughes’ “Thank You, Ma’am,” a character named Roger is trying to steal a woman’s purse, but can not. He has another opportunity to steal it, but does not because the woman treats him kindly.
In the poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” the speaker feels that there is no purpose in taking the SAT. He believes that it is pointless for students to waste their time taking. “Do not observe the rules of gravity, commas, history.” There is an “and” missing at the end of the word “comma.” The poet may’ve done this on purpose as a sign of rebellion from societal norms. Many colleges see the SAT’s as an extremely important part of their acceptance process. If you look deeper into this poem, there is another meaning to what the speaker is saying. He is saying that an SAT doesn’t define a person or a person’s intelligence. One test shouldn't define the rest of a persons college career. The speaker doesn’t desire to take this test and doesn’t want to conform.
In the poem “First Practice,” the speaker seems to be talking about being in the military. “After the doctor checked to see we weren’t ruptured.” It is revealed that these men have been through strenuous activities. The speaker seems to be nervous/scared. The speakers superior says, “And if we are to win that title I want to see how.” Whomever the superior is, he is encouraging the boys and providing them with confidence and the will to win. The speaker doesn’t seem to mind the strenuous activity, not once does he complain, so if this is about being part of the military, it must be something he truly enjoys being a part of. He is following his dream.
In the short story “Thank You, Ma’am,” the main character, Roger, is a thief. He starts at a very young age because his family is never there for him. He has to take care of himself and relies on stealing from people in order to survive. Roger wants to buy a new pair of shoes, so he tries to steal a woman’s purse, but doesn’t succeed. The woman, Mrs. Jones, takes him back to her apartment and treats him very kindly. He has the opportunity to steal her purse, but doesn’t. She gave him freedom to make his own decision. Roger could’ve stolen her purse, but didn’t because she trusted him not to. The norm was for him to steal, but he made a different decision and ignored his desires. He didn’t conform to his normal routine, but instead, changed himself for the better.
I attended a lecture on Monday by author Robert Olen Butler. I truly enjoyed his lecture because he talked about a lot of personal experiences. One of his books was about his mother who was suffering from dementia which gradually become more severe. He would visit his mother in the nursing home and some days she would recognize him, and other days she wouldn’t. He also wrote a story from a birds point of view, but the bird was actually him. It was about how his wife was cheating on him and throughout the story, his thoughts were told through the bird. I think this idea was really good because it made the story so much more exciting to listen to. If he had told it from his point of view as himself, it wouldn't have been as exciting. I could tell he really enjoys writing about personal experiences and he writes differently from other authors. He doesn’t conform to other styles of writing, but creates his own.
Following your dreams and desires is the main theme in both poems, “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” “First Practice,” and the short story “Thank, You, Ma’am.” With this common theme, it is evident that all of these speakers and authors are trying to teach their readers to stray from the societal norms and do what makes them happy.