2013 - 2014
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“Why Are These Books So Depressing?”

Why do the books CB students read have such dark and disheartening themes and plots? The Talon investigates. Being in a college preparatory high school makes students feel like they are required to read harder, and darker themes and at times can lead students to feel reading serves one purpose – to become a depressed […]

Why do the books CB students read have such dark and disheartening themes and plots? The Talon investigates.

Being in a college preparatory high school makes students feel like they are required to read harder, and darker themes and at times can lead students to feel reading serves one purpose – to become a depressed teenager!

Books at Christian Brothers High School mostly deal with “real world” situations, but to the students they can be too depressing and dark. The Talon wanted to get to the bottom of the question: Why do CB teachers assign such depressing books about death, rape, war and prejudices?

I went to talk to two CB English teachers, Ms. Natalia Chiapa ’00 and Ms. Mary Bowers, about their views on why CBHS teaches these darker books.

Our English teachers do realize that these books are very hard to get through. Ms. Chiapa has a hard time teaching the books as well, stating that “I don’t watch the news because I already put myself in [depressing, and sensitive subjects] by teaching these books.”

“We choose books that have meaning and depth-which means they are relatively dark,” adds Ms. Bowers.

Ms. Chiapa and Ms. Bowers both agree that although the books are sometimes hard to get through they have very important messages that need to be taught.

“As a literature teacher, I’m trying to get students to look at important themes that provoke ideas,” Ms. Bowers says. “These themes are usually things that have human experiences and problems.”

Ms. Chiapa agrees completely, also saying something similar about the reason why the department and the english teachers choose these books that are full of life lessons and problems. She says that the book choices are “very much driven by the mission to learn for college, life, serving God and serving others.”

The literature books “ultimately teach issues of overcoming obstacles and pain” says Ms. Bowers. According to Aristotle “tragedy is meant to get emotion from the viewer” and if a novel gets emotion from the reader then it is a good book.

Ms. Chiapa defends the books because “it teaches the children about life and how to deal with situations and what has happened in the world.”

This fall the literature department will be discussing the books and possible changes to the curriculum. Ms. Bowers has already been changing the senior literature choices, with help from fellow colleagues. She is one of the main influences to add a choice in senior literature — seniors can choose between drama and short stories and poetry.

So to the students who feel like the books are too much to handle, and don’t understand the purpose of them, remember that life isn’t easy, and that these books are meant to show us that even through difficulties we can become stronger people and serve others.

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