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Connections to Our Town in a short story: The English Project"
Anabelle: Hey Raelynne…
Raelynne: Hey, how’s it going? Why are you wet?
Anabelle: English class! I hate it!
Raelynne: What? Why?
Anabelle: So I was late to class and I had to sit in the very first seat, only to have Mr. Spurty as a sub!
Raelynne: No! I heard when he talks the classroom becomes a pool…
Anabelle: You could say that again, and of course he had to give a lecture for 30 minutes!
Raelynne: Oh, that sucks, but don’t take it out on English, for your info, Mr. Whiten, actually gave us a really interesting project.
Anabelle: Like that’s possible! He gave me a C- for the last project!
Raelynne: Yeah and by the look of your project, you should’ve gotten a D, but Mr. Whiten was being quite generous…
Anabelle: Hey! I spent countless hours on that project!
Raelynne: Yeah, countless, going to the “washroom!”
Anabelle: (shrugs shoulders) Whatever, so what’s the project?
Raelynne: (sarcastically) Oh my goodness, is this really happening? Anabelle is suddenly interested in a project?
Anabelle: Haha, very funny, but seriously
Raelynne: Ok… so you know the play Our town? We have to make these connections to everything that we’ve covered in a bunch of other classes
Anabelle: Sounds… (Looks at Raelynne who stares at her) interesting!
Anabelle: So what are your ideas?
Raelynne: They’re all over the place, I can’t think straight, and besides you wouldn’t understand
Anabelle: Try me, I mean I’ve read and done everything you’ve learned
(Anabelle reads assignment sheet and the notes)
(Ian, classmate, catches up to them)
Ian: Hey girls!
Raelynne & Anabelle: Hey Ian
Ian: What are you guys up to?
Raelynne: Just some project
Ian: You mean Mr. Whiten’s project? It sounds interesting enough
Raelynne: Yeah, right?
Ian: Any ideas?
Raelynne: None yet…
(Anabelle hums “Middle of the Hill”)
Raelynne: hey, is that “Middle of the Hill?”
Anabelle: Uh, yeah, duh?
Raelynne: Do you know the lyrics?
Anabelle: Um, yeah, why?
Raelynne: Just sing the ending
Anabelle: All right! Ms. Pushy…
“… We could never really see the top from the bottom I don’t pay enough attention to the good things but I gotta you could never really see the top from the bottom I don’t pay enough attention to the good things but I gotta, I don’t pay enough attention to the good things…”
Ian: I saw the Vshow last night; they also sang that, quite a good arrangement, I have to say
Raelynne: Hello? You guys don’t get it?
Ian & Anabelle: Um… no?
Raelynne: think about the lyrics, “I don’t pay enough attention to the good things, but I gotta,” remind you of anything?
Ian: hmmm… let me guess, Our Town?
Anabelle: Wait, I still don’t get it…
Ian: Well, in Our Town, one of the major themes is to live life to the fullest and notice things that we usually take for granted, like those you love, and this song is saying how you’ve got to pay attention to those things, and indirectly the singer is quite human, and therefore reflects a common trait that all humans do. Pay attention to little things, sometimes the biggest things in life can’t be seen.
Anabelle: Oh, well then you’re welcome!
Ian: Huh? I just explained it to you
Anabelle: Well, I was singing it wasn’t I?
Ian: Yeah, but you don’t even understand the connection
Anabelle: It doesn’t matter
Raelynne: You guys, stop it, thank you Anabelle! Satisfied, everybody? I know I am, I’m one step closer to finishing this project. Hey, let’s go to the movies tonight!
Anabelle & Ian: All right sounds good,
Raelynne: Ok, so see you guys at 5 at the Glen 10?
(Around 7 o’clock, movie ended, Ian, Anabelle, and Raelynne are at Ben and Jerry’s)
Raelynne: That movie was nice…
Ian: Really? I thought it was a waste of money!
Anabelle: Hey, don’t hate the movie
Raelynne: You guys, I just noticed something about the movie.
Ian: Horrible acting? Horrible directing? Terrible plot?
Anabelle: None of the above, and never go see a movie with Ian?
Raelynne: (to Ian) No, (to Anabelle) maybe. (to Ian) “Home Alone" is a classic! Do not hate classics!
Ian: Whatever you say! So what were you going to say?
Raelynne: You know how in Our Town, in the third act, they continuously talk about how we go through life not appreciating things?
Anabelle: I thought that was already established with my song?
Raelynne: (stares at Anabelle) Well, I just thought of another connection!
Anabelle: Which is?
Ian: Of course! Kevin wishes his entire family was gone, and coincidentally when they leave him at home by himself, he learns that a life without his family is completely miserable. Why didn’t I see that?
Anabelle: Um, I don’t know, could it be that maybe you were just thinking about how many different ways you could put down the movie? Just throwing that out there…
Raelynne: Yup, poor Kevin regretted for making that “wish,” that really puts things into perspective doesn’t it? How everyday we never fully appreciate the things our family does for us…
Anabelle: Ok, coming out of that, Ian I can tell you a movie that actually was pretty bad…
Anabelle: “Wizards of Waverly Place: the Movie”
Ian: Um, never heard of it, and considering it is a Disney movie, I’m not planning on it either!
Raelynne: Why were you watching that?
Anabelle: My sister, remember? That little girl insisted on watching on it, but it’s funny, the same thing happened in the movie as well!
Raelynne: What do you mean?
Anabelle: I mean that the wishing of wanting to be without parents is the same in this movie, although, in this movie since it dealt with magic, it really does happen.
Ian: I’m still confused
Anabelle: Let me explain slowly… Alex, the main character, wishes that her parents had never met meaning she would’ve never been born, but considering the genius she was and her unappreciative character, she wishes for it, and regrets it, causing a chain of events to revert back to normal. In the end, she realizes about how much she depends on her parents, and what they do for her, and how much she has neglected and assumed their support.
Ian: I see now
Raelynne: Ha, maybe I should start watching those movies now…
Anabelle: Not worth it!
(Ian looks at the time)
Ian: Hey, it’s getting late you guys, I’ll drive you guys home
Anabelle: All right
(In the car, Ian turns on radio, an interview is on)
Radio: And now we bring Herman Hesse, welcome Mr. Hesse.
Ian: Hey, isn’t this the guy who wrote Siddhartha?
Raelynne: Yeah, we just read that book in class last semester
Anabelle: I loved that book it was so moving and really changed my life.
Ian: Uhuh… Anabelle… moved by a book?
Anabelle: What? Is something wrong with that?
Ian: Of course not!
Anabelle: For your information, I have learned much more from that book than I will in any class!
Raelynne: Oh yeah? Like what?
Anabelle: Well, the importance of nature, more specifically the River, then the ideas of Buddhism explained through Siddhartha’s journey, and the naivety of Siddhartha when it came to business and love.
Ian: Hmmm, that gets me thinking, you know I never realized this, but there are a lot of connections with Siddhartha’s journey and the journey we take as readers in Our Town.
Ian: Let’s start with all those things Anabelle “learned…” The importance of nature, the River’s significance, isn’t that like the job of the stars in Our Town?
Raelynne: Yeah, I see it! There was one section in the book… what was that? Oh yeah, “star’s a mighty good company,” the stars play a minor role, but they act as a place of serenity and peace for the dead and for the living, kind of like the River in Siddhartha. Figuratively the River acts as company for Siddhartha as he looks for a place to think and answers.
Anabelle: I may not be an expert, but one thing I couldn’t help noticing while reading Our Town, was Emily’s naivety when she joins the dead…
Ian: Hey, I thought it was natural
Anabelle: No, you just admire Emily’s character
Ian: So what if I do?
(Anabelle rolls eyes)
Raelynne: Wait, continue Anabelle
Anabelle: All right, as long as Ian doesn’t put any of his input
Anabelle: All I was going to say, that the naivety Emily portrayed with her constant impatience and gregarious nature, was quite similar to Siddhartha’s first encounter with love, I mean with Kamala. He was like a child at heart, a little tiger being taught by his mom how to prey. I guess it’s also universal in a way that everyone is naïve in a new field, for Siddhartha he had practiced an ascetic life, therefore eloigned himself from women so love was new for him, and Emily was new to being dead.
Raelynne: When you put it like that, I can see the relevance. That’s interesting…
Ian: Anabelle, do I turn here?
Anabelle: Yes, and three houses down.
Raelynne: Wait, drive slowly, we need to get to the last thing, Buddhism
Ian: um… all right
Anabelle: Personally, two things that stuck out to me from Siddhartha was the necessity to rid yourself of any attachments, which to me sounds impossible, considering I could never live without my phone or ipod, and then the second was the description of people before enlightenment.
Ian: Please elaborate
Anabelle: If you insist…
Raelynne: I think I know where this is going
Anabelle: Would you like to borrow the talking spotlight?
Raelynne: Um, sure, whatever that is
Ian: Just talk out of turn like me, works all the time
(Anabelle rolls eyes, Raelynne scoffs)
Raelynne: so then what you said reminded me of something from…
Ian (interrupts): We’re here
Raelynne: Sorry didn’t catch that, did you hear that Anabelle?
Anabelle: Sure didn’t, sounded more like “never going to arrive at my place”
Ian: Well, then let’s get this over with, I have to get home
Raelynne: OK, what I meant to say was that it reminded me of two distinct scenes from Our Town. For the first lesson, isn’t it interesting how the dead are described to be separated from everything, “desires, ambitions, etc.” That also happens to be a goal in Buddhism in order to reach enlightenment, letting go of everything you are addicted to, (to Anabelle) like your phone or Ipod.
Anabelle: Could it have a relation towards the dead reaching nirvana as they die? After all, in Buddhism you can reach enlightenment when you die, can’t you?
Raelynne: I think yes, but asceticism is rather a step to reaching nirvana, and practicing an ascetic life does not guarantee nirvana. I think the connection would make better sense, symbolically, the idea that the dead take this step can show how being dead can be reaching new heights, different than when you are alive.
Ian: Right, and the second, in the third act I remember Emily saying how live people are shut up in little boxes, and something about live people not understanding.
Anabelle: You know what I don’t understand?
Anabelle: Your obsession with Emily, she’s such a… argh no word can ever describe her
Ian: My point exactly
Raelynne: Ok, coming away from Ian’s “love life,” what you said before about Our Town puzzles me
Ian: And I can “un-puzzle” you, if that’s even a word
Anabelle: It’s not
Ian: Whatever, so from my understanding of Buddhism the way Emily portrayed the living people in the play matches or simulates the description of people before reaching enlightenment. They don’t see beyond their narrow little concerns, worries, environment, etc.
Raelynne: I see, and you know what’s ironic? They are both directed to actual living people, I mean Emily was obviously talking about the living people based on their behavior, and then Buddhism was trying to show how little people know in their little world before enlightenment. Essentially, that is also what Siddhartha searches for, the escape from this “box.”
(Ian nods in approval, short silence)
Ian: (to Anabelle) Ok, now you really have to go, I still have to drop off Raelynne.
Anabelle: Ok, ok, I’m leaving! (To Raelynne) see you tomorrow, (to Ian) thanks for the ride!
Ian: Yeah, yeah
Raelynne: Bye! See you!
(Drives away from Anabelle’s house, Raelynne yawns)
Ian: You tired?
Raelynne: uhuh, today was a short day, but I feel for some reason that it was really long
Ian: Maybe it has to do with the fact that we did nothing but talk about the English project
Raelynne: (laughs) you’re right, we are so retarded, and saying that is so ironic
Raelynne: Ok, then let’s talk about something else
Ian: Ok, like?
Raelynne: You and Anabelle
Ian: Excuse me?
Raelynne: As if you don’t know what I’m talking about
Ian: I don’t!
Raelynne: Yeah sure, Ian Mathis Wesley I will find out!
Ian: Don’t trouble yourself, considering there is nothing
Raelynne: It’s funny, your “relationship” with Anabelle is so contradictory to the simple, archetypical love between Emily and George, and everything in this world seems so complicated and complex. And yet, their relationship is really universal because their relationship specifically blossoms on honesty, Emily telling George his flaws, and a good relationship starts with an honest start. After that come all the complications… Wouldn’t it be nice to simply start relationships like Emily and George? Everything would be so much easier…
“Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have the time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart”
Raelynne: Wow, that was beautiful…
Ian: Yeah, my mom used to say that to me everyday, and you know what? I agree with what she said
Raelynne: So do I, and probably the characters of Our Town would too
Ian: Huh? What?
Raelynne: The meaning of your quote it’s talking to appreciate life, “never forget…every person that has the least place within your heart” meaning no matter how little importance you think that person may be, don’t forget because that means you’ve opened your heart to have regret one day. Kind of like how Emily regretted not appreciating her parents and the ones she loved. Then, as she is living her 12th birthday, she is constantly saying one thing, “It goes so fast,” which was addressed in that quote; “slow down in life.”
Ian: That’s the only flaw that Emily has, but then again every human is like that, right?
Raelynne: Whatever stops the tears Ian
Ian: All right, all right… Is your house here?
Raelynne: Yeah two more blocks then take a right
(Arrives in front of Raelynne’s house)
Raelynne: Thanks Ian for the ride, I had a great time today! See you tomorrow!
Ian: No problem, see you tomorrow.
(Next morning, in the school courtyard, Raelynne is busy studying and Anabelle comes to greet her with Ian)
Ian & Anabelle: Hey Raelynne
Raelynne: Oh hey guys! Did you guys sleep well last night?
Anabelle: Like a baby
Ian: All right, although I was reading the newspaper this morning and I found some interesting things you might want to hear
Ian: There were two articles one was about Daoism and the other about Egyptians. The first article, about Daoism, is a philosophy quite entwined with nature, and that got me thinking. The foundation to Daoism is to search for answers in nature, and how we will return to civility once we revert to nature. Isn’t it interesting that the dead and the living find such peace in nature, and in the end, Daoism says that we will return to being civilized when we all have abandoned our governments and laws. And in any case, nature is always consistent, when it gets dark, you will see stars above you, when you look around you will see mother nature at work.
Anabelle: Oh, I get it; it’s like the importance of nature as company in both Siddhartha and Our Town, that’s such a weird coincidence for the paper to do an article about that. Go figure…
Raelynne: And the second?
Ian: Right, the second article was about the Egyptians and their obsession with
Ian: yes, um how did you know…
Anabelle: Look, I’m not an idiot, besides I did this entire project on the Egyptians, I just love their culture
Ian: Well, considering everything I’ve learned about you I think I might need to go find the “real” Anabelle
Anabelle: (sarcastically) Ha-ha, very funny
Raelynne: I think Ian’s right; I might need to do a project on my best friend…
Ian: Anyways, so the article was about how the Old Kingdom, the golden age for the pharaohs and basically the Egyptian Era, highly appreciated art of mummification and devoted their lives (religiously) to achieving immortality, to find eternity
Raelynne: And in Our Town, I remember the Stage manager opening Act III with the mentioning of the dead trying to find eternity, “they’re waiting for the eternal part of them to come out clear?” wow, right out of the ideas of the Egyptians. Interesting, how similar the ideas are, the dead in the play are waiting for something eternal, and for the Egyptians they prepare for an afterlife, or a sort of eternity coming after they died. In a way it is universal because Our Town is based in the North American region, while the idea of immortality originates in the Middle East, in Egypt. Either way, they both tell us that for the dead there is a different type of future.
Anabelle: We ought to get moving, English starts in an hour.
Raelynne: Since when do we have the same class?
Anabelle: since this morning, I got moved
Raelynne: That’s great! We better go then, see you later Ian
Ian: Bye guys