Thursday, November 3, 2011

Donald Barthelme “The School”

 The students in the story “The School,” ask, “Is death that which gives meaning to life?” The teacher answered, “No, life is that which gives meaning to life,” an answer which is impossible to argue against.  This is pretty much the summary of the story. A lot happens but this is the over all question behind what is going on. I think the story has a much deeper meaning then just the underlining one. I am not completely sure i understand it but i am going to give it a try.
Maybe the children in the story represent a group of everyday people and the teachers represent a group of wiser or more intelligent people.  There are a lot of things that start to die in the story and it has the children questioning what is really going on. I think they finally get to a point when everything in their society seems to be gone that they want to know what is the meaning, what happens next? Is there a next? In fear they are brought together. Would they have been brought together if the event was not impacting them all? Does the idea of the group mean anything? I think that this story shows that society can be bad but we all can come together. We all want common goals but how we go about reaching them is very different. I like how through everything the teacher never really answers the question completely. I believe that is done for a reason. In society and life we do not get clear answers, often there are not clear answer to give. We all see things different and go about understanding things different. That does not make one way right or wrong it just makes it different. I think that we do not like to see things from any other way but our own and that is why we are limited today. The story ends just like in life, the cycle just starts over again. If we do not learn the first time we will repeat our history until we do learn. This can be good but it also can be very bad. We could save time and money if we would all things logically and open minded. I think that this story does tie in with a lot of the other stories we have been reading. It does go along with society and man and the individual as well as the group impact. I think this story was a little dark but something that most could read and walk away having understood something from it.


  1. Who comes across as more intelligent in the story, the teacher or the students?

  2. I definitely agree with you about the teacher not answering the students directly. I think by doing this, he makes the students really step back and examine the society they make up. The teacher really evokes their thought in this story I feel like. It was interesting to me how we discussed the other view too and how the teacher could possibly be cutting the children off simply because he doesn't want to answer their questions. I think this is definitely a story that could be argued either way.