Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jim the Boy -- Book V: Quiet Days

Like the previous section, I thought this section didn't mesh with the beginning of the book either. I don't know if the author just didn't make the transition well when he started going in other directions or what. It just seem discordant. I'm also wondering when Jim's grandpa is going to come into play.

A Game of Catch

There was a lot of rain and everybody was getting on everybody else's nerves. Penn and the mountain boys weren't in school and Jim missed them. On the first sunny day, Jim hears the Carolina Moon stopping and goes to get the uncles. The Moon ran over a cow so it's stopped for awhile. Penn and his father have come down from the mountain. Penn's face is red and shining and his eyes are bright. The conductor tells the boys that Ty Cobb, a baseball player, is on the train but he won't let them on or get them an autograph. I don't think Ty would have minded as much as the conductor thought he would. Uncle Zeno has the idea to have the boys play catch in front of the train, perhaps hoping Ty would see them and come out. Penn wants to use Jim's glove but Jim says no so the catch gets competitive. The boys are angry. Suddenly, Penn falls down and can't move. Something is wrong.

An Afternoon in the Sun

Penn had polio and his father took him back to the mountain, not to the hospital. Aliceville was quarentined. So Jim sat in his room and waited. He felt bad for not sharing with Penn and being angry. He wanted his friend to get better. Abraham came by and brought Jim an apple pie. Pete came by and brought Jim a fossil from his desk saying he was cleaning out and would just throw it away. I think Pete might like Mama. I'd like to see them get together. Whitey came by and gave Jim a Civil War bullet on his way out of town for the last time. He was laid off from his job and going elsewhere to look for work. Jim and Whitey talk about Whitey wanting to marry Mama.

Discussion Questions

18. Why did Jim feel such a strong sense of rivalry toward Penn? What about their pasts and their families' pasts gave them a special bond?

I think Jim had grown up thinking the town boys were superior to the mountain boys. So when he met Penn, they were competitive from the start. After awhile, Jim realized that he actually liked Penn and they became friends. Penn and his father also knew or knew of Jim's grandfather, which bonded them more.

19. Jim has moments of selfishness. How does he begin to take responsibility for his actions as he grows older?

Jim still seems selfish. He wouldn't let Penn use his glove because he only wanted to look good to Ty himself at the expense of his friend.

20. "Penn had polio. The sheriff ... nailed up quarantine notices" (p. 172). Having polio felt like a death penalty to people in the 1930s and 1940s, and I remember not being allowed to swim in a public pool for several summers of my childhood. Polio ruined lives ... and sometimes took lives. If you don't have any stories about polio, see what you can find out about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's polio. News photographers were careful to take pictures when FDR was sitting or already propped up at a microphone.

I have to say it's great that polio is basically eradicated. I remember learning about it when we visited the CDC in Atlanta as a trip for the Biochem department.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

I don't remember picking up on this:
"Penn's face is red and shining and his eyes are bright."

Thanks, Jennifer.

Neco said...

I didn't remember it either from the first time I read the section. I was paging through it as I wrote my summary/thoughts bit and saw then. Oddly, I just just been thinking that Penn should have had some symptoms before he fell down and couldn't move just before I started to do the post.