Thursday, March 18, 2010

Now That's Gangsta

For those of you who found Tuesday's post to be a bit ponderous (as I did upon rereading...sorry), here's a vignette instead:

Some of my students are reading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 right now. It's one of my all-time favorite books, and I love talking about it with them. If you don't know the story, it's a dystopian novel about a not-so-distant future in which an American society, amusing itself to death with high-speed cars and omnipresent visual media, allows books to be confiscated and burned by the "firemen," who no longer put out fires but rather are responsible for setting them. Two boys had reached the part in the book where the protagonist, Guy Montag, goes on the run after his own house is torched, having discovered the curious confusion, torment, and joy reading brings him.

"Yo, you read that last part?" a student I'll call Carlos said to his buddy and mine, Drew.

"Yeah, I did," Drew said. "That was straight-up g, what he did with the flamethrower." (Montag uses the flamethrower he'd once used to burn books to incinerate the fire chief who is tormenting him.)

"I know, right?" Carlos said. "Like his name says, he's g."

Drew gave him a withering stare. "It's GUY," Drew said. "GUY. Not GEE."

"So, 'G,'" I, their hopelessly nerdy teacher interjected, "that means, like, gangster, right?"

"GangSTA," Drew enunciated helpfully, giving me the same withering look he'd turned on Carlos a moment ago.

"GangSTA," I repeated, with great deliberation.

Drew shook his head sadly, as he often does during conversations like this. "Miss Eyre," he said, "don't even try."

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