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11:36 pm: Of Mice and Men Without Chests

I am posting here an article from another site that is on a common theme with my article The Goals of the Superversive

Of Mice and Men Without Chests

By ANNA GITHENS

At first glance one might surmise that the title of this article alludes to the characters in John Steinbeck’s classic. Truthfully, while reading Of Mice and Men I grew to like the characters and found myself empathizing with some of their hardships. A good author is able to pull his readers into the world of his characters. While C.S. Lewis’s metaphor “men without chests” could be ascribed to the characters in Of Mice and Men, a more critical concern at hand is the impression the novel has made on young readers for more than a half-century. What has been their take-away? How has this short, yet harrowing, novella affected the hearts and minds of readers and our overall culture? Why does it continue to be one of the most popular required reading selections in middle schools and high schools across America?

In case you are not familiar with Of Mice and Men the story concludes with an act that has been described as “mercy killing.” One of the main characters, Lennie, a mentally disabled man who is like a big, clumsy, guileless teddy bear unaware of his own physical strength, accidentally breaks the neck of a young woman—who happens to be his boss’s daughter-in-law—on the ranch where he is living and working. George, Lennie’s closest friend and caretaker, finds the body and after some deliberation with his friend Candy, decides to shoot Lennie in the back of the head since the deceased woman’s husband and other men were coming to kill him. What’s also implied is that George wished to spare him from what he feared would be either a brutal death or a life of imprisonment and suffering.

I do not wish to presume Mr. Steinbeck’s intentions when he penned Of Mice and Men. The purpose of this article is not to focus on the author or characters in his novel per se, but on the culture we have created, which has ensued, in large part, from what we put into our minds.

St. John Paul II’s 1995 Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) warns of an emerging culture “actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency.” He alerts us further to “a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable ‘culture of death.’” In Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate (Rejoice and be glad) he expresses grave concern for “the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia” and “the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.”

Presently, 68 percent of Americans believe in physician-assisted suicide (up 10 percentage points from last year), now legal in seven states. The Down Syndrome abortion rate has increased to over 90 percent in Iceland, Denmark, and Australia, prompting Special Olympian Frank Stephens to speak out in defense of his life. Interesting that the character Lennie in Of Mice and Men was mentally and physically challenged.

Recently little Alfie Evans lost the battle for his life since the British High Court ruled he should be taken off life support. Despite the fact that he was granted Italian citizenship and offered treatment at Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, the judge ruled, “this would not be in his best interest.”

Perhaps some responsibility for our culture of death lies not only in our selection of literature but also in how less-than-ideal literature (or what many consider to be less-than-ideal) is taught. A book that appears to oppose meritorious ideals can also be used to champion them. There is a flip side to every story. For example, a teacher could pose the following questions to her students:

  • What would be your ideal ending to Of Mice and Men?
  • Do you think George did the right thing? Why or why not?
  • What if the authorities saw that Lennie had a mental illness and they understood he was not entirely at fault?
  • What if George was able to defend Lennie and got him the help he needed?

When you take someone’s fate into your own hands you are haunted by the “what ifs” for the rest of your life. It’s doubtful that the modern day teacher would be so inclined to seize such an ideal opportunity to open up a discussion on morality. Her potential loss of a job in this politically correct climate in our schools precludes her from doing so. Nevertheless, questions should be presented to encourage students to think outside the box of secular relativism and venture into the infinite beyond.

Read more…

 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:fpb
Date:June 27th, 2018 04:12 am (UTC)
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Funny thing. Just today, Jonathon van Maren, in his blog on LifeSiteNews, pointed out that Steinbeck, in his private life, was guilty of forcing his first wife to have an abortion in remarkably selfish and cruel circumstances, leading to the collapse of that marriage. He felt that children would have interfered with his career as a writer, although they don't seem to have done much to stop some bloke called Dickens (or for that matter another guy by the name of Jack Kirby). He then proceeded to have the comfortable number of two children with his second wife. I think the man's attitude is somewhat less innocent or really compassionate than you make it, as is, for that matter, that of the wretched judge who wanted Alfie dead at all costs, and who, it turns out, is a serial killer, with dozens of previous sentences of the same kind on (what passes for) his conscience. I think a passion for euthanasia is never compassionate and never innocent.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 28th, 2018 05:14 pm (UTC)
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I didn't know about that. I wish I were more surprised. There is something really nasty about his stories, hidden under some really beautiful writing.
[User Picture]
From:ysabetwordsmith
Date:June 27th, 2018 05:19 am (UTC)

Thoughts

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My stances include:

* Killing someone who does not wish to die is murder and not okay. The threat to elders, the disabled, and anyone else unable to defend themselves by force is very real.

* However, the medical industry has extended life in ways that create a massive amount of human suffering. As many humans prefer to avoid suffering, it is necessary to respect their right to end their own lives in a humane manner. Trapping someone in a body/mind that hurts them is torture, which is evil.

* If you can't say no, then yes is meaningless. America is a rape-friendly society because it teaches people all the time that consent is irrelevant. No doesn't mean no; power means no. Violating people's agency is wrong and destructive. But it happens so frequently that they just ... start thinking it's normal.

* It is the choice of each fertile person what to do with their own fertility. One may freely choose to give or withhold life, until an offspring separates from the parent and survives as an individual organism. Forcing someone to continue an unwanted pregnancy is not only abusive to the woman, but raises the chance of child abuse and neglect. Let's be honest: few if any of the people clamoring to "protect those precious lives" are stepping up to pay for or care for the resulting infants.

* When someone wishes for life support to be continued, that is generally preferable, as withholding it will certainly harm the family members who want that care provided -- the parents, in this case. An unconscious child is probably not suffering. So long as somebody can provide care, it is better to do so. I am rather more disturbed about cases like torturing conscious children to death with cancer treatments that will not, in fact, save their lives; this is required by law in some countries, while the consent of child and parents is irrelevant. See above regarding how it is not okay to torture people.

* It is preferable for a legal system to consider all facts of a case before deciding how to handle it. America does a lousy job of this. Some people are not permitted self-defense. Accident may not be a defense either. People with mental disabilities are routinely jailed, and not uncommonly executed by police who find them displeasing. This is evil, but fixing it is complicated.

* A clean death is preferable to a death by torture. In case of impending torture, killing someone quickly is thus preferable. However, it would be much better to live in a sane and decent society which does not practice torture or the execution of mentally disabled persons.

You can see that my positions are far afield of contemporary America. Ah well.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:June 30th, 2018 10:53 pm (UTC)
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It does not surprise me that Steinbeck strong-armed his first wife into an abortion. It's a pretty common occurrence today, too. It varies from the faux concern of "this just isn't the right time" to refusing to support them/walking out to stronger words/actions. A lot of the old ballads about young women fallen pregnant and then murdered by their lovers show the same mindset, so this isn't anything new.

When I was young and childless, it seemed to make logical sense that a woman should have control of her own body. Her own fertility, it might be phrased. It was all so hypothetical.

And then I became pregnant and saw their humanity in ultrasounds (one swam up to the source of the ultrasound to investigate) even as a mother can feel them, a part of her. Always a part of her, whether she carries them all the way or not. In the darkest nights of her soul, she will know what she did. And know that it was wrong.

Dismembered children sold for parts or left in dumpsters tell the real story. The womb is supposed to the safest place that there is. Opening it to butchers as a matter of convenience for either partner is the ultimate betrayal of a sacred trust. Why are women discouraged from seeing their children in ultrasounds if not because they would realize what they are proposing to do?

Who profits from ignorance?


[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:July 5th, 2018 09:28 pm (UTC)
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Well put.
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