Monday, April 11, 2011

Take Back the Night

The book Shane, by Jack Schaeffer, begins in the summer of 1889 with a man riding into town. He is dressed in fancier clothes than the other men. He was wearing a black hat, boots, and a belt but they were tattered and dirty. Despite this he looks composed, strong, and dangerous. The narrator of the book is a young boy, Bob Starrett. Bob notices the stranger and is entranced by him. The stranger stops at the Starretts' house and asks to drink some water. Bob's father Joe takes a liking to the stranger and invites him to stay. The stranger introduces himself only as Shane. Despite the air of mystery, Shane gets along well with the entire family, even though they can he tell he is dangerous. Joe states that Shane is the safest person their family could have around. Shane stays the night, raves about Marian, Bob’s mother’s, cooking. The next day Joe asks Shane to stay again because it is raining. Joe and Shane create an unspoken bond while works at uprooting a very thick stump that Joe has been unable remove. Working tirelessly for hours, Shane and Joe finally uproot. With the realization that they are a great team, Joe asks Shane to stay on at the farm indefinitely to help him get ready for the winter. Shane accepts gladly.

Everyone adjusts quickly and happily to Shane's presence at the farm and soon forgets there was a time before he lived with them . Bob idolizes him as much as he does his father, Marian thinks he is a wonderful man, and Joe appreciates his company and his work. Not everything is perfect though. Fletcher, a powerful cattle rancher in town, wants to buy all of the farmers' property to expand his ranch. While Shane is staying with the Starretts, Fletcher increases his push to take the land. Shane goes into town to fix their pitchfork and runs into Chris, one of Fletcher's men. Shane refrains from fighting and is as nice as possible, but Chris continues to taunts. Chris makes comments about how farmers only drink soda and says that it smells like Shane and Joe raise pigs on their farm. Shane refuses to be goaded into fighting and returns back to the Starretts. While Shane was actually very strong in his self-control, Chris is able to spin the situation to make Shane look like a coward.

The book has a strong theme of what it means to be a man. One of the points stressed about being a man is never acting with violence unless there is no other choice. This struck accord with the event for this week about Take Back the Night. This Committee was created to bring awareness to sexual assault. Students wore shirts helping to visualize the statistic that 1 in 8 college men reported being sexual violated in his lifetime and 1 in 4 college women report being raped or attempted rape in her lifetime. During the course of the day, I was asked several times if I was part of an exclusive club in which only 1 out of every 8 men was able to join. After explaining the true meaning of the shirt, people were astounded by the statistic. Not acting violently is not on a defining trait for men, but for all of humanity. Respecting each other and our respective choices and boundaries falls into this trait. In respecting all of peers, and fellow humans, we become a stronger human.

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