Locus Focus: Take Twenty!!!
When I started planning this meme, I mentioned that even if no one else ever joined, I'd be happy to do it all by myself. And that really was almost the case until my Fairy Blog Mother decided I should have some company. So she waved her magic wand and sent the lovely Birdie my way. She seems to enjoy Locus Focus as much as I do, and I'm very grateful to have her as a blog friend! =)
But really, I'm grateful for everyone who drops by my party once in a while, and that is why I am celebrating twenty weeks of Locus Focus with . . . a Giveaway! =D
I've put it all the details of this new giveaway after our last School Setting for September, which I hope you'll also care to read about . . . =P
The Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
Jerry opened his locker. He had thumbtacked a poster to the back wall of the locker on the first day of school. The poster showed a wide expanse of beach, a sweep of sky with a lone star glittering far away. A man walked on the beach, a small solitary figure in all that immensity.
At the bottom of the poster these words appeared--Do I dare disturb the universe? By Eliot, who wrote the Waste Land thing they were studying in English.
Jerry wasn't sure of the poster's meaning. But it had moved him mysteriously. It was traditional at Trinity for everyone to decorate the interior of his locker with a poster. Jerry chose this one.
Now here is the dark side of having a learning environment that resembles reality. Remember that reality as we know it is fallen. We disturb the universe at our own risk--as Jerry Renault finds out when he disturbs his high school.
In many ways, I think high school is a war between students and teachers--and I've had the strange experience of fighting on both sides while identifying with the "enemy." (When I was a student, I wanted to be a teacher and so fancied I "got" them; when I was a teacher, I often sided with the students.) If people play by the rules and stick to their roles, it can be a "clean" war. But Cormier is not writing about anything remotely clean.
High schools are awful places, to begin with, but Trinity High School is rotten in ways that one hopes most schools will never be. It is being eaten alive from within by secrets, intrigues and the psychological games of both the headmaster and the pupil who runs the student body's "shadow" government. To these two figures, high school is like a chess match and everyone in it who isn't a big enough player is just a pawn.
I think the most haunting of the novel's early hints about what these power plays mean for the school is in the incident of Classroom Nineteen, which one student has been given as an "assignment" . . .
. . . "Everything in Brother Eugene's room is held together by screws. The chairs, the desks, the blackboards. Now, with your little screwdriver--maybe you'd better bring along various and assorted sizes, just in case--you start to loosen. Don't take out the screws. Just loosen them until they reach that point where they're almost ready to fall out, everything hanging by a thread . . ."
The student given this assignment has a single night--eight illicit hours--to loosen all the screws in an entire classroom, or else. (Or else what? It's never clear. Assignment completion, like locker decoration, is a tradition. And in Trinity High School, traditions are done without question.) It is an impossible task. After six hours of work in near darkness, he isn't even close to his goal--and he breaks down in tears. That is when he is joined by several masked figures who remind him that "the assignment is more important than anything else," join him in his task, and order him never to reveal to anyone that he had received any help.
The next day, Room Nineteen collapses--or as the text says, explodes. Desks and chairs collapse all over, and even the blackboard comes down "like a final curtain." The students go wild, and it is the teacher's turn to weep at at a malice he does not fully understand.
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D
This Week's Loci Foci:
J.R.R. Tolkien's Rivendell @ This Miss Loves to Read
Vladmir Nabokov and the Education of Lolita @ Birdie's Nest
This international giveaway will run for one week--from 25 September to 1 October. I will announce the winner next week, on Scary Settings Challenge Day.
You qualify for the giveaway if you've joined Locus Focus in the past or join it for the first time today. (Well, everyone but Stilwell. =P You understand, right?)
The number of entries you get is equal to the total number of Locus Focus posts you've done--including the one you link up for this week, if you decide you'd like an extra entry. (Add them up for me in the combox. I trust your maths!)
If you win, you can choose ONE of the following books, which will be purchased through Amazon.com. (So be aware of your country's secret custom charges!)
To learn more about each title, you can revisit these past Locus Focus posts . . .
FAMILY HOMES CHALLENGE: Ramsey House (Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas)
SUBTERRANEAN SETTINGS CHALLENGE: The Downside (Downsiders by Neal Shusterman)
SCHOOL SETTINGS CHALLENGE: Alberto's Apartment (Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder)
Good luck to all! =D
Image Sources: a) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, b) Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas, c) Downsiders by Neal Shusterman, d) Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder