This week, we are reading Shane, by Jack Schaefer. This novel was written in 1949, so the novel is fairly old, yet its themes can still be applied to modern day life. Shane allows readers to see the value of working hard for a living, while also living in a sort of isolation that allows for a person to know many people, but only truly trust a few. The novel emphasizes how family dynamics can change after a single encounter with someone new. It is important to realize how a single person has the power to disturb the pattern of a family and a community. Through my service, I have met a lot of students with dreams of their own, yet some are threatened and will have a hard time fulfilling their dreams due to the environment they are living in.
Bobby, who is the young narrator in the story, is enamored by Shane, who seems to appear out of nowhere. Bobby’s family soon embraces Shane, and allows him to clean up, eat dinner, spend the night, and eventually stays at their house, where he will be paid to help Bobby’s father, Joe, run the farm. Marion, who is the mother, is preoccupied by the idea that Shane has travelled around the area; she hopes to impress him with her cooking and her outfits (specifically her extravagant hats), which proves that while Marion may be isolated from the rest of the community, she is still determined to prove herself to the rest of society and assert her status. Joe enjoys Shane’s company, especially because he seems to adapt to his new working life at the farm fairly well. However, despite this, there is still tension between the family and Shane. The family notices that Shane is rather mysterious, but cannot come to the conclusion whether or not Shane is actually running from someone. In fact, the one condition that Joe had before allowing Shane to stay with them was if he was running from the law or if he was in trouble. In addition to this, the image on the cover contributes to Shane’s mysterious image. The cover shows Shane riding on horseback, with his hand on a gun holster, looking back at something in the distance. The family notices that Shane always seems anxious, as if he is looking for something, or someone, yet he never carries a gun. Despite this, his gun skills surprise Bobby, when he shows Bobby how to hold, shoot and aim a gun. Also, he takes Joe’s seat at dinner, which faces the open front door. While eating dinner, Shane has the ability to look out of that window, as if he was keeping an eye out for someone that was chasing him. This sense of the unknown about Shane’s past, and his purpose in the present, alerts the family and the community. Because of this, it alludes to a possible struggle and fight that will happen in the second half of the book. A struggle and fight would emphasize a sense of disloyalty to the people that trusted him the most, as well as the distress a single person can cause to a community, and the chain reaction it causes.
A single person causes distress to a community, which causes a chain reaction that will eventually have drastic consequences of its own. Two weeks ago, I was paired up with a boy named Markel, who I could tell didn’t want to be there. I had never seen him in Coach Class before, so I could tell that he was uncomfortable with the situation. I tried making it as welcoming as possible, but I didn’t seem to help. Markel would yell at other students across the classroom, get up and walk around, or even leave the classroom entirely. I tried yelling at him to come back, but each time I yelled, he would walk away. Mr. Smith did little to help me, but eventually he saw that Markel’s actions were impacting the success of other students. After over an hour of struggling to help Markel to focus and study, Mr. Smith had to kick him out. Once Markel left, there were about 5 other students left in the room. They were no longer distracted by Markel, and they were able to memorize their study guide and another mini study guide to help them get ahead for next class’ lesson.
Another incident happened last week, where after school, Mr. Smith had to leave so there was no Coach Class. We were already at the school, and some of the girls still wanted to hang around school. As we were leaving the building, there was a huge fight between a few boys and a couple girls. I was amazed that I recognized a few of the people that were involved in the fight. When I worked with them, they seemed nice and even-tempered, but I was shocked at their actions! The two girls we were with, who we have worked with before, were annoyed because the teachers threatened to call their parents because they were outside during the fight. The two girls are only in 7th grade, but they are planning on transferring to a new school next year to better prepare for high school. They told us about their experience at Guilford and how they wish the government would close the school down entirely because of how dirty it is and how the students act there. They told us about the kids that don’t want to learn, and since they want to learn, it’s hard for them to perform to the best of their abilities in an environment that is so counterproductive. They complained of the school’s teachers, the cleanliness of the school, and the attitude of the other kids. They said that kids often fight, but while the girls take the fights off campus to a side road or alley, the boys are more defiant and fight in front of the school. The girls are annoyed at how much drama there is, and they hope that their last year in middle school won’t be filled with drama and other unnecessary distractions. I realized that this situation has a large effect on the mood of the school. As police cars filed in to the school parking lot, the two girls were visibly fed up and ready to be at a new school. I connected this to the beginning of Shane, how a single person’s actions have the power to affect the rest of the community’s mentality and their actions. If these kids did not fight, people would not feel the need to transfer to a new school. They would look forward to going to school each day, instead of dreading being the only person willing to learn in a classroom. It’s sad that two girls that are in 7th grade are already fed up with school, but I’m glad that they realize that they need to be in a more productive environment and are being proactive to help improve the quality of their education.
In conclusion, I realize that it’s great to be able to trust everyone, even someone unfamiliar to you. Each week at Guilford, we are greeted with waves from the elementary school kids and middle school kids that have never seen us before. Some kids will even wave and say, “Hi Miss Nicole!” which makes my service worthwhile, since I know that I’m making an impact on their lives. However, a single person’s actions still has the power to cause distress to a community, which can disrupt the pattern of a person’s life. These changes are sometimes necessary, yet they are not always easy.