Thursday, May 08, 2008
kindness (or a double whammy book & movie review)
I recently finished reading Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter. The funny thing is, I've had this copy of the book since I was quite young, I'd say since age ten or so. But the cover of the book always turned me off, plus it has a lot of "brogue" in the dialogue, which can be hard to understand. I think I made it through the first chapter at some point in my youth. But other books by this author are on the "classics list" for the Thomas Jefferson Education Five Pillars reading, and since I didn't have those at hand, but did have Freckles, I picked it up a few weeks back and started reading it. It took me longer than it normally would have because I've been reading other books (including Haven Kimmel's The Solace of Leaving Early which I also recommend), but sometimes I enjoy a slow read because it gives the characters more time to become real to me and gives the ideas and themes of the book more time to permeate my soul. This book certainly merits some pondering. The story is of a young man called Freckles who was abandoned at birth and raised in the loveless environment of an orphanage. Due to an accident as a baby, he only has one good arm. After he leaves the orphanage, he finds a group of people who see beyond his humble background and his maimed body and give him the opportunities for growth and excellence that he'd never had before. He positively blossoms because of their love. It is a truly wonderful story.
Last night we had a "Girls Night In" (plus David) and watched Lars and the Real Girl. It is also a story of a damaged soul who hasn't felt much love in his life. I was struck by a similar theme as in Freckles. Namely, that our treatment of those who might be viewed as damaged or inferior really reflects only on ourselves. How we treat such people is an unobstructed view into the goodness of our own hearts. In the Lars story, his brother Gus says, "They'll laugh at him," and the doctor/psychologist says, "They'll laugh at you, too." I think it comes down to which side we want to be on. Fear of man makes us want to be the ones laughing, but love makes that irrelevant because we know what we should do. I know I've been in situations where I laughed and I shouldn't have, and I remember the feeling of complete smallness that accompanied the laughter. You instantly feel worse for having participated, and even scared because you know that it wouldn't take too much for the tables to be turned and everyone would be laughing at you.
So, I highly recommend both the book and the movie. And the kindness.