Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our Youngest Writer: Agnes Yang

I often ask my youngest students to respond to a book we are reading together. This response is from Agnes Yang, a seventh grade student at Shaker Junior High School. Her brief essay illustrates the timeless power of the science fiction doomsday tale, Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury that depicts a society in which books are condemned-- actually burned-- by "Firemen". This riveting novel has sparked much writing, and Agnes's response answers the following question about the hero of the novel, Montag, and Clarisse, a young rebel who is liquidated:

How does Clarisse help Montag become more fully human?

          In the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Clarisse helps Montag by letting him realize that he's not being himself as a human but is a person controlled by his society. She does this by having a conversation with him about how people don't realize or observe what's around them. For example, she tells Montag that sometimes drivers don't know what grass or flowers are. Also, when she tells him that there is a man on the moon, Montag realizes that he hasn't looked up in a long time. These actions of Clarisse make Montag think back about himself and rethink if he is truly happy about his job and his life.

          Clarisse also warns Montag about what's happening in reality by comparing the past time to the present time. She says that she is worried about the children of her own age killing each other and not taking responsibility unlike the time in which her uncle's grandfather lived. She also tells him that firemen used to put fires out instead of starting them to burn books. This is when Montag starts to think about how people would feel when their houses and books are burnt down and leads him to take one of the books to read. Clarisse is the one who encourages him to be truly himself and think or feel however he wants to think.

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Agnes enjoys helping others and smiling to make people feel better.