Thursday, January 28, 2016

In which my daughter is traumatized by a classic

My daughter came home ranting about her English exam earlier this week. Grade 7. Given that she's in the French system, even though she's been placed in an "advanced" English class, I still don't expect it to be too terribly challenging for her. But it wasn't that. It wasn't hard. It was traumatizing. I know, because she called me as soon as she got home to tell me all about it.

She'd known it would be a comprehension-type test, and the text was about cats. Well, there were three texts, and they were about cats all right. The first two were just normal texts, but the third one! OMG (yes, she said O-M-G). It was horrible! It made her want to cry! How could anyone write something so disgusting?! She's traumatized (I know, because she said so). How could the teacher give them something so disgusting? Of course, I want to hear more.

So she starts telling me about the story. It's about a man who has a cat, only the cat loves him too much and it gets on his nerves and he starts to hate the cat and he becomes an alcoholic and now he's trying to hurt the cat. How could a cat love anyone too much, how is that even possible? Who would ever want to hurt a cat? She's choking back tears at this point, telling me how the cat loses an eye, and I'm thinking this text is a little severe, her English teacher sounded pretty cool, but assigning this text may have been a lapse in judgement. Then the man hangs the cat, kills it dead, and Helena is sobbing, how could anyone write something so horrible, why would the teacher make them read this, he doesn't like cats, does he?

And Helena goes on, in excruciating detail, not only about the story, but about her emotions, and, really, her entire value system. Now there's another cat, why would the man bring home another cat, and he tries to kill this cat too, only he kills his wife by accident. Wait a minute, I know this story. I've been listening to Helena cry into the phone for about 10 minutes now, but I'm at work and my attention is divided. But suddenly, now that we're at the end, I know this story. That's Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat, it's a classic. Yes, she confirms, that's it. It's disgusting.

Worst. Story. Ever.

Teacher says they'll be doing more stories by this writer this year. I can't wait.


Stefanie said...

Poor Helena. I hope she has recovered. Hopefully none of the future Poe stories will traumatize her.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

I guess Poe has still got the touch. Good for him.

Isabella Kratynski said...

Yeah, Eddie's still got it. I can't have been much older when I first encountered Poe. But I don't think I started off with intense animal cruelty.