The classic tale, Split Cherry Tree, exhibits just representation of general nature. While The Spirit of Emulation, on the other hand, is written in metaphor and does not represent common experience. I will discuss each stories different ways of meeting its desired moral intent, and why each is valuable and has a lasting impact.
Dave, the student in Split Cherry Tree, needed to stay after school as a consequence for splitting the cherry tree after he and five peers climbed the tree, splitting it under their weight. Professor Herbert and Dave understand one another. Dave is not pleased with the consequences because he fears his father’s reaction; yet, he displays honesty and a willingness to accept his responsibility. “ You don’t know my father,” I says to Professor Herbert. “ He might be called a little old-fashioned. He makes us mind him until we’re twenty-one years old. He believes: ‘ If you spare the rod you spoil the child.’ I’ll never be able to make him understand about the cherry tree. I’m the first of my people to go to high school.”
Today, there are so many families with children struggling to get a sound education. Part of this is due to family upbringing, or lack there of. Many students live with parents who lack formal education. The parents also hold bitter remorse toward American school systems and, thus, may vent their hostility, unfairly, on their children. In the story, Dave’s father, Luster, says “ I’ll straighten this thing out myself! I’ll take keer o’ Professor Herbert myself! He ain’t got no right to keep you in and let the other boys off jist because they’ve got th’ money! I’m a poor man. A bullet will go in a professor same as it will any man. It will go in a rich man same as it will a poor man.
Then, at school, Luster sees how schools have changed since he attended, realizing that he was wrong to speculate and make judgments based on emotion. Luster arrives with his son at school. Dave’s father, a man who picked up the long blue forty-four and put his finger on the end of the barrel on school grounds, in front of the teacher, learned, by conversing with Professor Herbert, that school was a necessary element toward a building a successful future. Guns and threats are not the answer. Today, the irony of imagining a parent come to school with a gun can truly scare us because of all the recent death and killings on school grounds by using weapons. Luster would’ve been arrested immediately if he took such action in the 21st century. Readers can relate to this.
Luster and the teacher wound up seeing eye-to-eye. They opened the channels of communication and understood each other. Students, parents, and educational staff of the 21st century should understand this realization: It all starts with communication. Professor Herbert sees that Dave’s father, too, is a good man. The professor, then, offers to excuse Dave from completing his after-school custodial duties. The father, however, realizes that his son should complete the consequence for splitting the cherry tree. I’m a just and honest man. I don’ skip debts, said Luster, in closing.
In today’s technologically advanced and high-paced society both parents need to work; thus, making it difficult to stay in touch with what goes on in a child’s school day. This highlights the need for parents, children, and staff to have an understanding of what goes on, both, at home and in school. Success can be built upon this with today’s educators, just as it was for Luster, Dave, and Professor Herbert.
There are many ways to craft stories with lasting impact. The Spirit of Emulation by Thomas C. Meehan shows readers a very different approach than that of Split Cherry Tree. Here, Meehan wrote a story that is not representative of common experience. Instead, it is written with metaphoric messages almost entirely throughout the story by displaying wild animals living in tenants’ homes. The animals become the non-verbal protagonists of the story, with the owners taking on a supporting role in the story. This will be analyzed, in detail, here.
Meehen’s story takes place in an apartment building. The apartment building has creatures that magical appear. They soon overtake the occupants and their living space. It begins with common domestic pets: dogs, cats, canaries. Then, rather quickly, we are shown large, wild animals taking up residence—all being followed by a spirit. The spirit channels through the animals and mesmerizes tenants. With the wild animals, comes the spirit following, almost hypnotizing, tenants: he just stood there for a long time with the newspaper in his hand. He was staring, fascinated, at Gertrude, and in his stare there was something that made me shudder. It was the spirit of emulation.
The purpose of the pets is difficult to comprehend. It must be viewed with metaphoric understanding to grasp; thus lacking any representation of common experience. It’s more in line with fairy tales laced in morals that may’ve been crafted by the famed, Aesop. Next, we consider the following: does the story’s lack of typicality make it less effective? The answer is no. Meehen’s intent was not to create a typical story of a man and his best friend. (pardon the cliché). Meehen reels in the reader with cunning artistry by creating an atypical story.
Meehen also uses humor to link together the abstract intensity with real-life experience: I could no longer endure an insignificant Lycosa pampeana a single day more. I then entered upon an unprecedented round of activities. I borrowed money from several friends, I became indescribably frugal, I stopped smoking… In this way I was able to purchase the most marvelous leopard you can imagine. The power in this statement could not have been met without atypical thinking. The story is littered with such magic, which is one of the main reasons for its success.
In closing, The Spirit of Emulation, is able to make its point using abstract scenarios that would seem unbelievable. The Split Cherry Tree, on the other hand, exhibits just representation of general nature. Jesse Stuart relates to our senses by taking real-life experiences and weaving them together. The Spirit of Emulation, although being least representative of general nature, reaches the reader, meeting the author’s intent. His tactics, however, come at the reader through an unnatural situation.
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