Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Song of the Family

I think one of the things I love most about reading is that a book can change overtime.  Ok, well, it's not the book's you, the reader, changing...but my point remains.  The fact that you can read the same book at a different point in your life and have a TOTALLY different experience, to me, is magic.

In class, we are currently reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck.  For those of you that aren't familiar with the story, the main character is a native Mexican living on the gulf of Mexico in the 1920's-ish.  He works as a pearl diver and one day finds what they refer to in the book as "The Pearl of the World."  In other words, he won his equivalent of the lottery.  He tries to sell his pearl in the town, but the white men who live in the town won't give him a fair price.  Themes of classism and disenfranchisement abound through the novel.  If you've read any Steinbeck then you can probably guess that it doesn't end happily for our main character and, of course, someone dies.

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck uses the metaphor of music to illustrate the main character's emotions and states of mind.  The two songs that are used most prominently are The Song of Evil (basically whenever a white man is around) and The Song of the Family.  The Song of the Family is used to represent the main character's sense of safety, security, and contentedness.

I don't read this novel with my students every year.  While the kids will say, looking back on it, that they like the story, Steinbeck's syntax is tough to get through when you are 12 years old.  This year is the first year that I have pulled it out in a while.  This is also the first time that I have really gotten what Steinbeck meant to convey with The Song of the Family.

I have not been in a good place over the last few months.  Work has been extra crazy stressful this year.  I feel like I am always going with very limited time to relax.  I don't get to see Z and Baby J nearly as much as I would like and when I am home, I'm always cranky from the stress at work (which I hate bringing home with me but can't seem to help).  I am constantly feeling the pull of wanting to spend the time I do have with my family, hoping to squeeze in a few moments with friends, or taking the time that little-old-introverted me needs to recover from the craziness.

But through it all, where I am happiest, safest, and most content is at home. I feel like this little corner that Z and I have carved out for ourselves has become an eye in a storm. I don't know how this happened.  I wish I had some profound insight into what made it this way.  If I were a serious blogger, I would write a post called "Top 10 tips two make your house a home."  All I know is,  I can't wait to come home at the end of the day and I look forward to knowing that safety and security is there for me.  I can only hope that Z and, eventually, Baby J feel the same way.    I finally understand this year what The Song of the Family is all about.