This has got to be one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I’m having a hard time following the stream of consciousness style of writing Joyce uses to create the inner workings of Stephen Dedalus’s mind. It starts out with Stephen as a young boy, and his thoughts are random and choppy. There is very little description as to setting or other characters because the novel itself is all about Stephen’s coming of age.
Yet again, this is a book I’m reading for my upper level college course “The Novel”. I’m really not enjoying this class. I had gone into it hoping that I would become more familiar with and fall in love with new writers and books. What I’ve learned so far is that I really should just stick with the types of stories and writers that I know I love to read. Yes, these novels are great pieces of art, but that doesn’t mean I should lie and say, “oh god, what a wonderful book.” Yep… that would be a lie… because this one, in my own personal opinion.. is crap.
From around the 1880s to the 1980s Indian children were forcibly removed from their homes and their tribes and placed in “educational institutions” or “boarding schools”. In these schools, the were forced to speak only English, practice only Christianity, and wear only “white” clothes. They were brutally punished for speaking their own languages. Essentially, the US and Canadian governments set about a policy of cultural genocide against the indigenous people in their countries. Over half of the children who were subjected to this forced “learning” did not survive. They died of disease, malnutrition and most likely destroyed spirits. It is heartbreaking to read.
Ward Churchill has done his research on this topic and knows his stuff. Most of what he brings to light angers me beyond belief. It is a shame, however, that Churchill tends to be unable to write in a layman’s style language and give the facts life. His writing is tedious and overly scholarly, if you know what I mean. I’ve very much enjoyed reading this part of our hidden history, and will likely look for memoirs from actual victims of the institutions.
I read the first half of this last week. This week, I have to try to finish it so I can write a literary analysis of it. I’m finding it tedious to read. A lot of the descriptions seem unnecessary and just downright over the top. So far, I’m enjoying the story, but getting to it through the superfluous other stuff is annoying. Yet again, this is for a class, so this isn’t something I would pick up just out of the blue and say, “hey, I WANT to read this book.” Probably won’t ever want to read it again, either.
UPDATE: Ok it’s a woman’s perogative to change her mind, and boy have I. Not only did this book get better with time, I actually think I might go back and read it again. At the end of the book, I kept thinking back to the many instances of foreshadowing that led me to the ending, so now I want to go back and read it again if only just to catch them all. I’d also like to get a deeper understanding of Eliot’s use of irony throughout the book… no, not the sarcastic irony we a know and hold dear, the dramatic irony. It’s very deeply woven into the book, and I really think I missed out on a lot of it in my mad rush to finish the book in time to write a paper. So, in all, that superfluous, tediously detailed stuff is probably very important to the novel… duh, right?