Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Kayden Abernathy's Journal" Discussion

It's fine to talk about what you think of the piece, but we'd like to focus on what the piece makes you think about. Some questions to start:  
There's a common LDS trope of young men and women learning as they serve misunderstood elderly neighbors. How does this story interact with that trope?

Is she a witch?

What do you think a person should do in Kayden's situation?

15 comments:

  1. One might profitably ponder the title now that the stories been read. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or if you prefer grammer 'story has"

      Delete
  2. LDS tropes are useful because they can inspire us and direct us. You serve and you learn to love people. You go visiting teaching to the less active member and they end up coming back to church. You pray and ask for a priesthood blessing and you are healed.

    Yet these stories can leave us without direction when there's not a happy ending. For example, I did the visit a less-active sister thing. I never went in her house but brought her cookies and said hi, etc. And she ended up calling the Relief Society President and requesting that she never have anyone visit her again.

    There's times when your aunt dies of cancer despite priesthood blessings. Times when you pray for something that is a righteous desire and years later don't receive it.

    Times when you serve and have a terrible time and aren't uplifted in any way.

    And then there's times when you're asked to home teach a witch. Sometimes those stories need to be told too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It certainly goes against the grain of most popular Mormon lit, doesn't it? We expect Kayden to learn the old woman is just misunderstood, but his initial impression seems to be right. That is, if we trust him—could be mentally ill, I suppose.

    Most of the time people are similar to us, but some are genuinely evil. How can we tell if they hide it? In news stories about serial killers or mass shooters, the neighbors rarely suspect it. Sort of like the line from Jonathon Penny's "Actionable Intelligence": "We want the same things, unless what you want is sinister or twisted, in which case we do not want the same things."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally, I don't think the old woman is a witch. I also don't think Kayden is mentally ill. He's just a normal kid with a big imagination, trying to deal with the fact of a scary seeming lady who is not very nice.

      I'm reminded of the film The Wizard of Oz, which is referenced in the story. In the frame story (in Kansas) Dorothy interacts with an old woman who is mean and mistreats her and Toto. Yet from the old woman's perspective it's perfectly justified. When Dorothy goes to Oz the woman is now the witch character. By Kayden labeling the woman as a witch he excuses himself from dealing with her in a Christlike manner.

      What's interesting to me is that these are a few pages saved from a fire--we don't get to know if Kayden changed his perspective. The fire also gives the implication that Kayden (or his family) ended up having sufferings as well, just like the old woman who lost people to war.

      I hope that neither myself or others are judged by the journal I wrote when I was 14.

      Delete
    2. I don't know whether she's actually a witch, but it seemed like the author mostly writes speculative fiction based on his bio. I like your comments above about how tropes inspire us but don't necessarily help us deal with the disappointments.

      Here's an off topic question, though. Don't they wait until boys are Teachers before they assign them to home teach? I don't think they send out deacons.

      Delete
    3. It's true--the author would be the type to write a real witch into. Of course, I've always been of the camp that "the author is dead" as soon as the piece is published, and I do like that it's left ambiguous--perhaps she's a witch, perhaps it's a freaky incident. And we don't know from the title if it's just the house that's destroyed or if any lives are lost--that could really change my reading.

      I'm pretty sure in at least the wards I've been in, that it's just been teachers, and not deacons. I feel like there's something in the D&C about that being one of the responsibilities of the office of the teacher. Though I could imagine a bishop doing it anyways.

      Delete
    4. Wow! His speculative fiction is based on his bio? I have got to be an evolutionary ecologist, man!

      Yes, teachers. But in that kid's ward, I imagine the teachers have been decimated.

      Delete
    5. Oh, funny Mark! Please avert your eyes from my dangling phrases.

      Delete
  4. Um, yeah, she's a witch. Wow, didn't see that one coming.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thought of the title before Steve said anything...I am so smart!!! ...I love the syntax. Also, it is a nice mix of doubt (the boy is obviously kind of a little brat...makes me doubt him as narrator) and the inevitable conclusions or questions the aftermath brings....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Of course she's a witch. And Winsome is her familiar. And the moral of the story is, if you know someone's evil, don't say it to their face unless you're prepared to die in a house fire.

    Heh, heh, heh! One more Peck story for me to study. I swear, I am going to figure out how he does it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep yer eyes open for any news stories about unexplained house fires come June.

      Delete
    2. In Finland they have bonfires to celebrate the Summer Soltice. Is the witch Finnish?

      Delete
  7. Best. description. of the limpshake. EVAH.

    Also, damn it. I might have had a hope until today. Now I abandon all of it (no offense to the rest of you.)

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails