Today in class we read a short story in which the protagonist, Estelle, seems, to the other characters, to be nuts. She dances under (not on) the table when she’s drunk, and she tries to ward off a would-be rapist with one of those plastic lemons. She cracks silly jokes all the time, even when her co-workers are trying to be serious, and it’s quite apparent that everyone around her–at best–thinks she’s a “card” and–at worst–thinks she’s crazy.
Indeed, she is a bit nuts…but she really is endearing.
As readers, we get to read her thoughts, get to be inside her head, as it were. And from inside her head, we see that she is kind, funny-as-heck, logical and profoundly empathetic.
In short, she’s very likable. But only if viewed from inside her head.
In class, we we went on to talk about how rare it is for someone’s reality–those inner traits that don’t get always get displayed–to be better than the outer mask he wears for the rest of society to see.
The students and I talked about how nice it would be if the world were filled with people like that…people whose insides were more poignant, beautiful or attractive than their outer masks are. Remember, I work in a high school, where, bless their hearts, the kids spend a great deal of time showing society what they want society to see, instead of being themselves. Which is not to say that the vast majority of adults don’t do the exact same thing.
Back to the class discussion…An astute girl, one of many students who is trying to get into top-tiered colleges, commented that it would be wonderful if a student could plug some sort of flash-drive into her head and send it off to colleges, instead of trying to write College Entrance Essays, which–as we all know–are filled with far more fiction than reality. Her rationale was that, with this fictitious flash-drive-thingy, a university could get to see a person’s true personality, her true strengths.
Her peers commented that she would certainly get into the university of her choice if that were the case, and I have to agree with them. I have a feeling that her inner-reality is superior to her outer mask (even though her outer mask is nothing, as they say, to sneeze at).
As a society, we’ll never get to the point when everyone’s inner and outer selves completely match up, but it still seems like a worthy goal.
Love this post! What a great way to lead from in the classroom–to encourage students to explore their uniqueness and authenticity. It’s amazing what good literature can do in the hands of a master teacher 🙂 Lead on friend! Future leaders are in your hands!