Gary Gildner’s poem, “First Practice” shows how similar winning a sports game is to winning a battle in war. The imagery of the doctor checking out the players, the drill sergeant speech given to the players, and the location of the speech (a bunker-like area) all show a connection between war and sports. One could mistake this entire poem to be about war and about boot camp in the army, until you investigate the coach’s name. Clifford Hill was a famous rugby coach and player for Great Britain, but shows how he brings his wartime experience into his coaching expertise.
“Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, shows the importance of being unique and individualistic. The entire poem gives school related examples of conformity, clubs, committees, English class, history class, etc… Hague even goes so far as to warn against falling victim to gravity, the inescapable equalizer. This poem, centered on the SAT, is important because it shows how standardized tests remove the unique traits that each student possesses and gives advice to steer clear of conformity.
“Serving Up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro shows how even through the most difficult challenges like rehabilitating a recovering drug addict, success is possible through support, understanding, and determination. Unlike most drug addicts, Jennifer Brock and Tyrone Lewis were graced by the opportunity to start fresh, working in the Sampson’s deli. Without the help and support of the Sampsons, however, their matriculation into society would not have been possible. It is seen all too often the inability for ex-cons to attain jobs that provide sustainable incomes. This true story, however, provides a clear example that by reaching out, treating drug addicts and criminals like real people, and caring for them, success in matriculation is possible.
“A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, shows how difficult it is for foreigners to assimilate into the culture and society of America. Without help from the government, support from his family, or wife, Mr. Bhowmick struggled for years to obtain a legal residency in America, bribing his way through office checkpoints. His entire family took a toll, his wife bickering, and his daughter impregnating herself. As the stress of American life overwhelmed him, Mr. Bhowmick clung to his Indian heritage, worshiping a statue of Kali, his patron goddess of wrath and vengeance, in an almost OCD-like manner. The trials and stress of America proved too difficult for his family to take, and after discovering that his daughter used a sperm donor to impregnate herself (dishonoring the family and done out of spite), he kills the baby by beating his daughter’s stomach. This act shows how he snapped under the pressure of his job, his unloving wife, his ungrateful and secretive daughter, and provides a harsh and dramatic example of the difficulties of matriculating successfully into American society.
Throughout all of the readings for this week, a common theme on the necessity of support can be seen. On the rugby field, their coach, Clifford Hill inspired his team with his use of drill sergeant tactics. Richard Hague provides advice and support for all students, especially those in high school, to avoid conforming, become individualistic, and conquer the world. The story of the Sampsons’ success in helping drug addict criminals in Baltimore, providing them with jobs and care, shows how support can conquer the seemingly impossible. Lastly, the story of Mr. Bhowmick provides a terrifying example of the consequences of trying to make it on your own. Mr. Bhowmick, though advised by his family to talk about his feelings, keeps to himself. His daughter never talks about her pregnancy, and his wife seems distant, always busy with activities. This family, not supported by the American government that they spent years trying to assimilate into, didn’t support each other. The danger of this mentality of trying to do everything on your own is evident, seen dramatically by the murder of Mr. Bhowmick’s unborn grandson. Let us heed this story’s warning and realize the necessity of love, support, and each other.