Archive - Apr 25, 2011

A Middletown Romeo and Hester

When I first heard about the unresolved bullying in Middletown, CT, a couple thoughts came to mind. One was about what literature I would recommend to students dealing with bullying. There are a couple obvious choices, a few less obvious, and many more that I probably should have thought of but haven’t.

Heading off the list is Lord of the Flies. It is pretty obvious and I would be remiss not to include a quote from that great book.

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy

Another book that came to my mind was The Scarlet Letter. The reason it came to mind is perhaps less obvious. I have a tendency to look at things from a systems sort of viewpoint. I suspect that bullying is rarely simply a few kids being mean to a few other kids. Instead, I suspect that it often reflects something else going on in the culture, some hidden sin.

Is there something like this taking place in Middletown? Is it playing itself out, not only in the battles with the Board of Education to get Monique a proper and safe education, but also in other aspects of Middletown, with concerns misappropriation of funds, battles between the Mayor’s office and the Board of Education, conflicts over the chief of police, and perhaps other unnamed battles?

Then, last week, there was a fatal shooting. Some have suggested that it has to do with other unresolved issues of bullying in the schools and perhaps in the town.

When I read about this, my mind went to another story people struggling with bullying should consider, Romeo and Juliet.

In the final scene, the Prince proclaims:

And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish'd.

I fear that until those in power stop winking at the discords in town, there will be more sadness to come.

A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished: