Saturday, April 08, 2006

Check In, Please

Dear Frankenstein Readers:

I've never done this sort of thing before - this "book club on a blog" thing - so please forgive if it's seeming a little choppy and disjointed. I'm doing the best I can in uncharted territory.

My question to you is this - where are all of you in the novel? I've asked my kids to read through chapter 15 for Monday, and I may give them a "reading day" on Monday, to boot, just so they can catch up if they're behind. I've got a couple of blog readers who are trying to figure out what they can comment on; they don't want to give away anything that others haven't read yet, so I want to get a sense of where we all are in the reading.

I also want to know if you would like some guiding questions. I've refrained from offering discussion suggestions for a number of reasons; I do it all day in school and I often don't feel like doing it at home; we're all adults here (well, MOST of the time!) and I'm really interested in what you think is important or interesting enough to talk about without any input from me and finally, I recognize my tendency, as an English teacher, for overanalyzation of literature - I often just can't help myself - and you might not be so inclined. If you WANT me to throw out a question or a topic for discussion, let me know and I'll be more than happy to oblige. Please know, though, that YOU can throw topics/questions/comments out for general consumption, too.

In a couple of days, when we've had some more conversations about what we've read thus far, I'll post an entry about some of the conversations I've had with the AP kids. I'll likely be looking for advice about keeping those conversations going, and about what a meaningful tactic for assessment might be, so please keep those questions in your mind as you continue to read.

Happy Saturday!

-Mrs. Chili


Blogger vanx said...

I'm up to chapter XXII, walking around Chicago, and spilling coffee on myself as I finish up.

I have a lot to say--I'll give some thought to it all first. My interest in nature imagery has me in a kind of Nirvana reading this. I am also winding out on the Garden of Eden and anxious to read Paradise Lost and the Romantic Poets. Looks like YOU'VE created a monster, Mrs C~,:^)

I'll be back--post a comment on where we have to cut off on plot references.

April 09, 2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger Kizz said...

I haven't been reading at all, totally cribbing off everyone else. But I do have a sort of related issue to bring up.


There's a wonderful episode where the symbolic surgery of the week is an adult pair of conjoined twins being separated because one of them has cancer and the other one is too weak to endure the chemo. So, long story short, the weak one dies during the separation and the mother decides not to inform the docs of the DNR the twins signed (I don't want to live if my twin doesn't) but it becomes clear that the "surviving" twin is spiritually dead and will only survive as a vegetable to be studied. So the mother is going to honor the DNR, pull the plugs and let her other daughter die. She says to the doctor, "After I do this will you put them back together, the way God meant them to be?" And that is how they are buried.

"The way God meant them to be."

Which is, I think, at the crux of the whole Frankenstein thing. Did God mean for the beings that end up becoming the creature to stay dead and as they were? At what point does what God meant for Victor's brain to be become superseded by what God meant for the people upon whom Victor develops his intelligence?

Which got me to thinking about how, in the name of God, humans have been trying to thwart "what God meant them to be" for time out of mind. The Greeks would put twins out on a hillside to die of exposure because twins were an abomination against the gods. Yeah? Then how the hell did they get down here in the first place? In theory God gave us the technology for abortion and yet, in the name of God, the entire country of El Salvador has outlawed it. (See: Forensic Vagina Inspectors - I am not kidding.)

So, those are my thoughts of late on the subject.

April 09, 2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger Mrs.Chili said...

OOOF, Vanx! It was a struggle for me to get through Paradise Lost - the language is SO dense and, well, it's a tough read (it was for me, anyway - it may not be for you). In my defense, though, I made the mistake of taking a graduate course titled "Chaucer, Spenser, Milton" and, by the time we got to Paradise Lost, I was pretty burnt out. And, it was one of those courses where I attended EVERY class, payed attention, made comments during class, thought I was keeping up, then got the mid-term and had NO idea what they were talking about! It was the stuff nightmares are made of - seriously.

I'm waiting for a couple more readers to check in; when we hear from them, we'll know what we can give away plot-wise.

April 09, 2006 7:40 PM  
Anonymous claudia said...

Don't know if I was one who you were waiting for, but as I had said, finished. Kizz made some really good points. I found myself finding that I kept going back to the question of what makes us human. Is it stricttly physiological or do you through spirit and soul in? There are actually 3 schools of thought philosophically.

April 10, 2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger Mrs.Chili said...

That is, I think, one of the essential questions of the novel. What DOES make us human? There's a lovely quote, spoken in an interview by the actor who played the Creature in my favorite film version, in which he speaks of being moved to tears during the last scene, where the Creature is carrying away Victor's dead body. I don't have it handy (and I'm on a PC and can't figure out how to open a new window without losing my space here), but essentially he said "My father has gone to heaven. The men I am made of have gone to heaven. Is there a place in heaven for ME?"

This is, I think, one of the most difficult avenues of the novel to explore, and - for me, anyway - makes Victor's behavior all the more deplorable. The Creature did have a soul - however he came to have it - and to deny him even the most rudimentary of human kindness and compassion is unconscionable.

April 10, 2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous claudia said...

Ya,because now you get into whether "brain dead" people are humans,or does their spirit/soul cross over and leave this mortal shell,which I believe,is only the recepticle for who we really are.
Also, there is a call to clarify, in ones own mind, the distinction between soul, spirit, personality and body. I happen to see them as different from each other,but not mutually exclusive. Defining one's terminology,and not assuming that another is using your definition becomes important when having this type of discussion. This brings up the fact that even though one is "literate",any discussion can rapidly fall apart if the words/concepts mean different things to different people.

April 10, 2006 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs. C

sorry for the delay - busy work-week.
I am through Chapter 16 and really getting into the monster now. I had no idea that the bad B movie Frankensteins were so off-base.

Jake is up to Chapter 13 and really struggling with the language. He just realized the author was a woman and he says that's why the language is so "fluffy".

I sort of thought we were going to read along with the class...let me know if I'm lagging.


April 11, 2006 6:46 PM  
Blogger Kizz said...

If Jake thinks this language is fluffy he should read something by Mary Shelley's husband! :)

April 12, 2006 2:40 PM  
Blogger Mrs.Chili said...

Heh. You're right, Kizz. Good 'ole Percey. Yikes.

So, here's the deal; the AP kids are going to be finished with the novel by Monday (at least, we HOPE they will be). Can you all get there by then?

Are there any questions or comments on what you've all read so far that you're just dying to share?

April 12, 2006 2:46 PM  
Blogger vanx said...

[in voice of Horschak, hand flailing in air]

"Ooo! Ooo! Miss Chili! I'm finished!"

[in voice of Vanx, hands rubbing together like sandpaper]

"Adam vs. Satan, you know what I'm sayin'"

April 13, 2006 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can be finished by Monday, no problem.
Jake may lag a bit, but spring break starts Friday at noon, so I'll see what kind of push I can make.

April 13, 2006 12:12 PM  

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