October 30, 2013
Right to be an Individual
St. Francis de Sales once said “Be who you are and be that well”. That was a theme that occurred in Richard Hague’s “Directions for Resisting SAT’s”, Gary Gildner’s “First Practice” and Langston Hughes’s “Thank you Ma’am”. Each writer spoke to the fact that each person has the right to be an individual; that each person has different wants but yet has the right to reach those wants. We are in a world where being an individual and having a style/personal motto can be like no others but yet you are still accepted.
Richard Hague’s main theme in “Directions for Resisting SAT’s” was to be an individual. He wants the reader to have a sense of pride and to not allow anyone to hold you back. He speaks about how you are stuck in a classroom on the weekend, taking a test that essentially will decide your future. He is giving the reader something to take hold of and give them the power to not allow one test to define who we are. Richard Hague does not want society to be confined by something that does not necessarily allow a person to express who they actually are.
Gary Gildner’s “First Practice” is all about people expressing themselves. He speaks about how the “man with the short cigar took us under the grade school”. It explains how and old style teacher allowed kids to express their frustration towards another person. Although this is not necessarily a good thing, I do think it is important for people to express how they feel. Society should not deem how your express yourself. The ability to express you freely is a very important factor in today’s society. “The man with the short cigar” allowed these kids to express how they truly feel and not stopping them from it. He does not want these kids to have to bottle up their emotions.
Langston Hughes’ “Thank you Ma’am”, it starts off with a young boy trying to steal and older woman’s purse but is not able to get away before being caught. The woman snatched him up asks him why did it and later takes the boy back for supper. The boy’s answer for trying to steal her purse was simply because he wanted some “blue suede shoes”. Not only does the boy show his individualism by wanting “blue suede shoes” but the older woman shows her individualism by not reacting in the way most people would react if someone tried to rob them. She reacted in a way most people would not, she went against social norms to be angry and to try to have the young boy arrested. She also took the young boy back for supper, got him cleaned up and gave him dessert as well. The young boy’s attitude is seen doing a complete 180 degree turn when he asks the lady if she needed help with any groceries and they he would help her if she did. At the very end of the story the lady gives the boy the money for the shoes he wanted and sent him on his way.
I recently attended a reading by author Robert Olen Butler. One reading he did that spoke to me was one about his mother, who was sick with dementia, asked about help at night time. He told us that at the time he was unsure what was meant by that until he asked a staff member the night time routine for her. He said they checked her diaper every two hours, night and day. This was not allowing her to get the best night’s sleep possible and it gave her a rash from the constant changing. When confronted staff members answered with “It has always been the routine and I am simply following the rules”. But these were people who were following the norm and not ever thinking if this was good or not. They were not willing to stand up and be an individual and say that what was taking place was not good for his mother.
All three of these works spoke to me in different ways but had one overall theme, individualism. One gave me the message of I must not confine to social norms and to do what made me happy whether it was accepted or not. Another one said to express my true feelings, not to be fake but rather be true. And the last said to not necessarily do what is accepted and what is expected but to do what is right. To not let the idea of other people’s reactions bring me down.