Throughout the literary works of Gary Gildner, Langston Hughes, and Richard Hague, the narrators focus on the importance of opportunity. Gildner’s poem “First Practice” depicts a football coach encouraging his young team to win their game, Hughes’s short story preaches about having the opportunity to do the right thing, and Hague’s poem encourages the opportunity to take control of life with regards to the SAT. Each author uses a different stage of childhood to emphasize the importance of seizing opportunity as it comes, especially at a young age.
In the poem “First Practice,” Gildner uses a child’s first athletic event to represent an early stage of childhood in which an opportunity to win is presented. The football coach in the poem acts as a military general would towards his troops in order to make clear to his young football players the opportunity at hand. The coach states, “across the way is the man you hate most in the world, and if we are to win that title I want to see how” (Gildner, 20-24). Coach Clifford Hill makes it clear that the young players have an opportunity to win a title but they need to prove themselves worthy in order to accomplish this. He continues to describe the boys as “hungry men who hate to lose” and this further emphasizes the sense of urgency needed to grasp this opportunity and win the game (Gildner, 15-16).
Langston Hughes’s short story describes a later and more rebellious stage of childhood in which children use opportunities for bad rather than good. The teenage boy in this story sees an opportunity to steal an older woman’s purse and tries to do so unsuccessfully. Mrs. Jones catches him and asks young Roger, “If I turn you loose, will you run?” and Roger replies, “Yes’m” (Hughes, 507). This shows that Roger would have used his opportunity to escapes rather than to apologize and fix the situation. After talking with Mrs. Jones and realizing how generous and caring she is, Roger no longer takes advantage of his opportunity to escape but instead stays awhile because “he did not want to be mistrusted now” (Hughes, 508). Roger transforms from wanting to use opportunity to do wrong to using opportunity to prove himself worthy and reliable.
The last stage of childhood is depicted in Hague’s poem, which describes the opportunity to define yourself rather than let a test define you. Regarding the SAT, the author says, “Do not observe the rules of gravity, commas, history. Lie about numbers. Blame your successes… on rotten luck” (Hague, 3-8). Hague is telling the reader to use the SAT as an opportunity to redefine what is commonly accepted. Moving from the SAT to life in general, the author says, “Desire to live whole… and follow no directions. Listen to no one” (Hague, 12-15). He wants us to take the opportunity to define ourselves rather than let others do it for us.
I view my service at Tunbridge and the time I spend with the children as an opportunity to revisit some of these previously mentioned stages of childhood. Some of the children are in their rebellious stages just as Roger is in the story “Thank You, Ma’am.” I see my service as an opportunity to learn from the people around me whether they are children or adults. I also see my service as my own opportunity to make a difference in the Baltimore community and grow as a college student and all around person.