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  Brad's Teacher Writing: In-Class Essay Samples

May 27, 2006

The following essays were written in class by Brad Hyde while his students wrote on their chosen essay topics.


What would you do if you had a mother like Amanda? Write your answer as an essay. Name and discuss Amanda’s traits in your answer.


Myself as Amanda’s Son

Unimaginable, a mother like Amanda, but if I did I think I would be much like Tom, reacting poorly and sometimes selfishly to her incessant demands.

Most mothers take a keen interest in their children, but Amanda goes too far, especially in being such a nag. When she tells Tom, “chew your food and give your salivary glands a chance to function,” I would, if it were me, respond in a similar manner, that it is “sickening” to be constantly harangued about how one eats food! Although I know that the ideas Amanda expresses about “human beings are supposed to chew their food” were popular at that time, it would still disgust me to be reminded of that while eating. Really, Amanda is rather over involved in a grown man’s life, a lesson I’ve learned with my own son. Nagging leads to a poor result and I surely wouldn’t want to be nagged by Amanda!

Amanda would really get my back up if she interfered with my reading and entertainment choices as she does with Tom. He shows an interest in literature (and the movies!), but Amanda is censorious towards his choice of reading material, “that hideous book by Mr. Lawrence.” Having read the book in question, Sons and Lovers, I would be really angry at having a mother who questioned my choice of reading and who calls a great work of 20th century fiction, “SUCH FILTH.” Amanda truly wants the world to stay the way she remembers it in Blue Mountain and actively resists any change. As for movies, I used to go to movies as an escape when I was younger, too, and it would really bother me to have Amanda scrutinizing my choice of entertainment. And her “nobody in their right mind goes to the movies as often as you pretend to” would make me really angry. Amanda as my mother-censor would most definitely be difficult for me.

Living with Amanda’s behaviour towards Laura would be the hardest of all. Her saying to Laura, about her crippled leg, that it is “a little defect—hardly noticeable even!” shows a willful lack of judgment and compassion for her daughter. I would be in the middle of that, if Amanda were my mother, and would probably shield Laura as much as I could from Amanda’s self-deceptions. I might understand her desperation for Laura, as indeed, as a parent, I know that children can lead someone to take desperate measures and to believe other than what the evidence demonstrates. But to pretend that Laura has an equal chance, given her shyness, her “queer” behaviour with the glass menagerie, her physical handicap is a kind of madness I could never support. Surely, I would be torn between, as Tom is, my love for my sister and my loathing for my mother’s behaviour.

To be the son of a mother like Amanda would be horrible and, in my case, I would likely react almost identically to Tom in the play. And so it is very possible that I would flee and leave poor Laura with Amanda, if only to escape her once and for all.

—531 words; first draft by Brad Hyde May 26, 2006



Which character do you feel most sorry for in the novel, Of Mice and Men? Explain your choice by referring closely to the events of the novel. Write as a short essay.


The Pain of Curley’s Wife

For me, perhaps surprisingly, the character who arouses the strongest feelings of pity in me is Curley’s wife. She, in my mind, is even more worthy of my sorrow than are the men in Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men.

Curley’s wife is strongly associated with Curley and that makes me sorry for her. When Candy describes Curley to George, George says he doesn’t like “mean little guys.” His wife is “purty” but “a tart” George claims when he hears Candy’s gossip. The men, because they dislike Curley so intensely, are ready to dislike his wife just as much. In fact, throughout the story this pretty young girl even has no name of her own—only “Curley’s wife.” Although Curley is “keepin’ that hand soft for his wife,” we, like George, think “that’s a dirty thing to tell around.” Imagine your husband giving out such intimate details to a group of working men! No wonder I feel sorry for her and her marriage to Curley.

I also feel sorry for her immaturity. We know that she is pretty, but, perhaps out of desperation, she seems to feel that she could have been in “pitchers” and that she would have actually had a chance. Really, however, she was being played for a fool by the man she met at the “Riverside Dance Palace.” To protect herself, Curley’s wife seems to think “my ol’ lady stole [the letter]” promised to her by the man as “soon’s he got back to Hollywood.” And, worse yet, after deceiving herself about her mother stealing the letter what does she do? She goes out “that same night” and meets Curley! Her impulsive and immature action is something for which I feel very sorry.

Lastly, and most importantly, I feel sorry for her death and the reason she ends up with Lennie in the barn in the first place. She says it herself when visiting Crooks’ room the day before: “Standin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs . . . an’ likin’ it because they ain’t nobody else.” She is lonely and Curley is no company, preferring to talk about “what he’s gonna do to guys he don’t like.” So, in the end Curley’s wife makes the fatal error of visiting with Lennie in the barn. Now, we await the worst as readers, knowing that Lennie has just killed a puppy with a “smack” after being playfully bitten. And so, in his “panic” Lennie “shook her” and soon “she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.” Curley’s wife dies a sorry death, visiting with a mentally handicapped man, the only one she can tell her stories to—a pathetic end, indeed!

I feel pity for Curley’s wife in the novel, Of Mice and Men, for her mistaken marriage to Curley, for the immaturity that makes her unable to prevent her mistakes and for her death at the hands of Lennie. Worse yet, in her death, there is no sympathy from the men in the novel. But, from me, there is plenty.

--512 words; first draft by Brad Hyde on May 26, 2006




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