The School Essay

1146 words - 5 pages

Death gives meaning to life"The School", by Donald Barthelme, reveals that life is an endless cycle to an audience of young children through an absurd discussion. Children at this age usually struggle to comprehend why tragic events such as the death of a loved one happen in their lives; therefore makes them search for an explanation of why. After experiencing so many deaths in their lives and searching for clarification, the children learn love is worth all the disappointments in life. Most of the deaths that occur in the children's lives were held responsible on something other than their own self. The children ignore that the orange trees might have died because they overwatered the trees but instead they blame it on the earth. Growing up requires one to face harsh reality and take responsibility for ones actions. Even when multiple things go wrong significance is everywhere in life it just has to be discovered. Death gives meaning to life and the occasions spent with someone or something before it dies become much more meaningful. In "The School", Barthelme uses the deaths the children face to indicate growing up means overcoming fear, making sacrifices, finding the value in life, taking accountability for actions, and preparing for the unavoidable.In "The School", the children's constant interactions with things that die deceive them into a fixation and fear of death; they don't realize that life involves positives, too, like love. The children fear so much death- they lose trees, fish, snakes, a puppy, even people- that it cause them to feel like there's a curse in the school. After the death of the Korean orphan, "the class took [the death] pretty hard, [and] began…to feel that maybe there was something wrong with the school" (20). So much death has led the children to fear its constant presence in their lives. Seeing as the children have little change in their surroundings; thus gives them the idea that the end result, death, is always the same. When the children got the puppy "I thought, Oh Christ, I bet it will live for about two weeks and then…and that's what it did"(20). With the constant replacements of animals, trees or even people it has directed the children to a fascination of death. Life is a cycle that continuously brings something new and even more superior, however to be pleased with life there is many sacrifices.The constant negativity and fear of death in the children's lives brings about the sacrifices during tough times, which prepare them for overcoming future deaths they may encounter by finding positives that life holds. The interaction and constant replacements of organisms help the children realize and sacrifice during harsh times that death is not worth the mourning because life is a never-ending cycle. At the end of the story the children were talking to Edgar, the teacher about love and all the sudden "there was a knock on the door…and the new gerbil walked in"(21). So many fatalities' have...

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