They are assigned reading for the high school students in the house. Emily is writing about To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamilton is finishing The Great Gatsby, and I am re-reading Catcher in the Rye because it is the next book assigned.
These books were assigned to me in college, so I suppose I’m looking forward to The Brothers Karamazov or the Gulag Archipelago when these children get there.
The assignments came up in the midst of our set-to that restricted access to the world wide web. Our friend Mr. Google is available to them, but Emily apparently is in a snit and Hamilton does not study, as you may recall.
Passing the kitchen table study hall recently, Emily asked me what I knew about To Kill a Mockingbird. My dear, your grandma has two literature degrees. She was answering a list of forty questions, due in several days, so I asked leave until the next night to re-read the book. It has been forty years.
I finished it by midnight, then Googled what was available. What a shocker. Her list of forty questions was from a common study guide and answered by everybody and their brother. Perhaps she was forbidden to go to the web.
We had a good time discussing hypocritical behavior, children crying when they left the court room, and on and on and on. I love the continuing controversy over Bob Ewell’s killer. Perhaps that keeps teachers teaching the book for twenty years. It was Boo Radley, of course. Unless you have a different theory.
Apparently Hamilton was paying attention; a few days later he asked me to review his Great Gatsby work. It was sixty questions, a lot tougher. Fortunately for him, only half a dozen or so were due the next day. His answers impressed me, dampened by the knowledge he had completed the work because I took away his new library book, The Devil in the White City. I had no fault except telling him to find and correct all his incomplete sentences. Even if the teacher didn’t bust him for them, I would.
Yesterday afternoon we went over the rest of the work, due in a couple of days. He was working out Great Gatsby symbolism. When he thought he was done I got to lean back in my chair and say “What about all those European names? What about Wolfsheim?” Fun!