Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Service And Shane

Shane by Jack Schaefer is a novel that takes place in the Western United States during the 19th century. Shane, a mysterious cowboy type dressed all in black, shows up one day at the Starrett’s home asking for water. He is unlike anyone they have had before. Bob, who is the narrator and the son, grows accustomed to him and takes a liking in Shane. Even though he didn’t intend to, Shane, ends up staying at the Starrett’s home for a couple of days in an attempt to rest up. Bob and Joe look at Shane as their new hero. Both the boy and his father find excuses for Shane to stay longer than intended because they enjoy having him around. As more and more issues arise with Fletcher and the land, Shane decides to stay for a while longer to help with the farm.

For me the immediate connection the family gains with Shane reminds me of my relationship with the students I tutor at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. The kids at school seemed to immediately recognize that I was someone they could look up to. In their eyes, I am a hero because I have gone to college, something which most if not all the students at Cristo Rey strive to do. I have formed a friendship with these kids and have grown to be a large part of their life in school. This friendship came unexpectedly but I am happy that it has happened because it makes me feel like I’m doing something good. Some of the children I work with ask me questions about my life and want to get to know me because I have been an influential factor in their school life. I’m glad that they take the time to get to know me because it shows that they actually care. They always ask me how college is and if I think they can be accepted to a good school. I tell them that if they work hard enough, they can get into any school they want.

As the novel progresses, we see that Shane has decided to live with the family and serve as a hired hand on the farm. It is as if he is part of their family now. At one point, however, the reader sees that the powerful land owner, Fletcher, wants to take over all the local farm land, including the Starrett’s. Shane wasn’t going to just stand by as his home was taken over. The land issues grow and grow and Shane becomes overwhelmed and fed up with the drama. One night, Shane suddenly rides off to the local bar where he knows Fletchers men are drinking. Chris, one of Fletcher’s men throws a bottle of soda at Shane who retaliates by breaking Chris’s arm. Through this, we see a glimpse of Shane’s dark past. Bob and the family wonder about Shane’s real identity and if they will ever discover his real past.

This discovery of the Shane’s past reminded me about my volunteer tutoring experiences at Cristo Rey. By helping out the same students week after week, many of them have come to trust me as a friend and someone they can talk to. One example of this took place the week before our spring break. One of the students asked me for help. They asked me what I would do if a drug dealer gave me money for no reason. I said I wouldn’t have accepted the money because of who it came from. I told the girl that drug dealers are unreliable and dangerous people and that if she took money, I would give it back because people just don’t give money out. What surprised me is that in a matter of weeks, I had developed such a good relationship with these students that they trusted me enough to discuss something of this magnitude. This proves that people who are very unalike each other can come together and form a relationship. This relationship, it seems is much like the relationship between Shane and Bob. Both gain from being close with the other: Shane gains a close friend and someone he can trust while Bob gains a model of leadership. In my volunteer experience at Christo Rey, I have gained friends and it seems as if they have gained a role model and someone they can trust.

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