January 29, 2014

3 Types of Literary Characters

Foil Characters - two different characters that are exact opposites of each other.

Dynamic Character - a character that undergoes a significant personal change in personality and perspective during the course of the story.

Static Character - a character that stays essentially the same for the duration of the story.

Title Swap

We Have Met the Enemy-Oliver Hazard Perry: Wilderness Commodore - By Richard Dillon
Mysteries of Udolpho- By Ann Radcliffe  
Miracles and Massacres -  by Glenn Beck
All Roads Lead to Austen - by Amy Smith
The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education - by Leigh A. Bortins
The Poisoners Handbook - ? (Jesse brought it)
10 Essential Herbs - Lalithia Thomas

Marianne's Regreat

"Do you compare your conduct with his?" (Eleanor)

"No. I compare it with what it ought to have been; I compare it with yours." (Marianne)

January 3, 2014

Little Women by Kim Wilson

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

There is no wonder why this book is considered a classic.  Although written close to 150 years ago, the characters of the "little women" are timeless.  Aspects of their personalities, their strengths, their weaknesses, their struggles,  and their accomplishments, parallel that of our own today and that means we can learn from them.
As Jo faces her greatest weakness, her temper, she turns to her mother for guidance. Mother's advice is nothing novel nor dated, but enduring. Dare I say, "classic?" Says Mother,
      "My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust him, the nearer you will feel to him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom.  His love and care never tire of change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother."
I loved when the ever patient, calm and collected Mother confesses her secret weakness: her ill temper.  She did so in attempt to help her daughter, Jo, learn to control her own temper. What a great mommy.  I think it is important that we show our children that we are not perfect and that we struggle with character flaws, just as they do, but that we are striving to be better and overcome them through our relationship with God.
Having a strong relationship with God is a theme throughout this book.  It is this that aids Amy in her effort to overcome her selfish nature and learn to think about others more than herself.
Beth's character reminded me of Melanie Hamilton from Gone with the Wind; so quick to give others the benefit of the doubt.  Beth's loving nature and positive attitude are covetous and inspiring to me.
Father discovers Meg's personal growth in his observation of her roughened hand.
"I remember a time when this hand was white and smooth, and your first care was to keep it so. it was very pretty then, but to me it is much prettier now - for in these seeming blemishes I read a little history. A burnt-offering has been made of vanity; this hardened palm has earned something better that blisters; and I'm sure the sewing done by these pricked fingers will last a long time, so much goodwill went into the stitches. Meg, my dear, I value the womanly skill which keeps home happy more than white hands or fashionable accomplishments. I'm proud to shake this good, industrious little hand."

I loved reading this book to my children, two of which are boys ages 6 and 8.  I was worried at first that they might not appreciate it and be more or less bored out of their minds.  Fortunately, they were very interested and it kept their attention the entire 669 pages.  We paused our reading many times and had invaluable discussions on significant themes as they were introduced - including but not limited to: faith, forgiveness, self improvement,  value of work, service, love, loyalty, evils of gossip, vanity and pride, etc. The lessons we can learn from these "little women," are priceless.

Little Britches by Kim Wilson

Little Britches
By Ralph Moody

The book begins with Ralph Moody's (Little Britches) family moving to a ranch in Colorado. They were told, by Cousin Phil, that it was one of the finest ranches in the county and in one year they could make as much money as they'd make in a lifetime at their current residence.  Oh yeah, and apparently in Colorado there are  "three hundred and sixty-five sunshiny days in a year." It is no surprise that the ranch was not at all what Cousin Phil made it out to be, in fact, quite the opposite.  Father called it a "God-forsaken place."
I read this book to my children, and at this point in the story they were furious.  They wanted to haul Cousin Phil to jail. They wanted justice! Revenge!  Something... anything.  We had a good discussion on accountability and taking responsibility for our choices; getting caught up in "get rich quick" schemes and forgoing logic. Is it reasonable to believe that one could make that kind of money in one year? Is it wise to move to a place sight unseen? Is it reasonable to believe that anywhere in the United States could have three hundred sixty-five days of sunshine? And even if that were true, it would be bad, because you need rain for your crops.
I don't know if Mother's response to their unfortunate situation had root in her want to take responsibility for their choice or not, but it is a  beautiful response nonetheless. Says Mother,
"The Bible says, 'Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.' The hand of God has led us here; we have set our shoulders to the wheel, and we will not turn back."
This was only the beginning of many great conversations with my children about righteous principles such as:  integrity, honesty, faith, hard and honest work, perseverance, discipline, duty, patience and more.  I really appreciated the part where Ralph accidently catches and consequently kills a pheasant with his steel trap.  He had been told previously that you would go to jail for killing a pheasant.  His first instinct is to hide the carcass, but soon realizes he needs to tell his father.  Father helps him understand that he needs to turn himself in and take whatever punishment may be given him.
Ralph often finds himself in situations where he is faced with ethical decisions to make. As the book progresses,  he draws on the memories of previously learned lessons and words of wisdom from his parents to help him make the right choice.  He hears his father or mother's voice in his mind and he can't seem to ignore it, so he listens.  Isn't this what we want for our children? We want them to learn from their mistakes. We want to help guide them through their childhood as to prepare them to become honest men and women in society. As is the theme in "Little Britches."