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Susan’s Class Summary for October 18

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Class began with Dr. Foss announcing that the promised information about the extra credit theatre going opportunity is indeed on the blog.  Next, Dr. Foss brought up the fact that we actually have a Major Paper/Project.  He assured us that we will be receiving further information on this paper/project sometime.  With business matters out of the way, we dove into William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.  Through the course of the class, we (re)analyzed Quentin’s narration through the lens of disability as compared to Benjy’s and almost unanimously established that Jason is (in Dr. Foss’s words) a jerk.  We also looked at the intersection of disability with racism and misogyny in Jason’s narrative.

To rehash what happened in the ancient times of the previous Friday, Dr. Foss led us in a large group discussion in which he invited us to consider the similarities and differences between Quentin’s narrative and Benjy’s.  He asked us to what extent should we read Quentin’s narrative as coming from a disabled person.  A class member stated that Benjy’s narrative is written scene by scene but not in chronological order whereas Quentin’s narrative isn’t discrete enough to be broken down into scenes.  This lack of scenes occurs despite the expectation that Quentin should be able to produce a logical narration because, even if he is disabled, he is not disabled in the same way as Benjy.  Therefore, Benjy and Quentin’s narrations are similar in that they are both disjointed.  This conversation led to a contemplation of which narrator we could/should trust the most.  A class member stated that they were more inclined to trust Benjy as a narrator because he brings no personal bias into his narration.  Quentin, on the other hand, saturates his narration with his personal views, primarily those concerning Caddy.  Dr. Foss challenged that idea, saying that perhaps Benjy would not be a trustworthy narrator because he may not necessarily be cognizant to all of his surroundings.  To conclude our rehashing, a class member suggested that Quentin might be passing as “normal” even though he might actually have a mental or anxiety-based disability.

We next moved onto part three of Faulkner’s novel, April Sixth, 1928, the narration in Jason’s point of view.  After watching the projector focus with those cool lines, Dr. Foss displayed the Class Meeting Document so we could break into small groups and discuss the questions.  The first question my small group tackled was whether or not Jason should be viewed as someone with a disability or as someone who is just a jerk.  Initially, one of my group members suggested that Jason might be struggling with some sort of anxiety disorder because of his desire to control everything around him, namely Caddy’s daughter Quentin.  When other group members disagreed with assigning Jason with a disability, that group member considered that he might’ve been trying to impose disability onto Jason because of the nature of this course.  We next referred to the quote from Jason’s section that was provided by Dr. Foss:

And there I was, without any hat, looking like I was crazy too.  Like a man would naturally think, one of them is crazy and another drowned himself and the other one was turned out into the street by her husband, what’s the reason the rest of them are not crazy too.

We used this quote to represent the fact that Jason is ultimately concerned with how others perceive him, his family, and his appearance.  We thought that he was trying to disassociate himself completely from the Compson family.  For us, this was a trait that easily positioned Jason into the realm of jerk-hood because he knowingly elevates himself above the rest of his family while insulting them as well.

Dr. Foss next wanted us to choose between discussing Jason in terms of racism or misogyny and the implications of either associated when intersecting with disability.  My group chose the latter.  To do so, we looked at how Jason treated his mother.  All though Jason is his mother’s favorite, he treats her very poorly throughout his narration.  He refers to her as an invalid and complains multiple times about being surrounded by “invalids, idiots, and niggers”.  We likened Mrs. Compson to the woman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”  Both women are controlled by a man and struggling with disability.  The woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is trapped, not only by her husband, but by her location which eventually heightens her mental instability until she tears down all the yellow wallpaper in the room she is in.  Mrs. Compson, is controlled by Jason, who tells her how she should treat Quentin and is also bedridden frequently.  As far as linking Mrs. Compson with disability, a member of my group suggested that Mrs. Compson still might be in mourning for the loss of her husband, a condition that might lend itself to an unstable mental condition.  Dr. Foss announced that we had one more minute to discuss, so my group quickly recognized that both these cases inherently and negatively ascribe disability to women.

The class reconvened for the remainder of the time to go over our small group work.  Dr. Foss asks us if we thought that Jason should be viewed through the lens of disability and there was a resounding “no!” cried in unison.  A class member voiced their opinion saying that if we applied disability to Jason it would merely be an excuse for his terrible behavior and attitude.  It was decided that Jason was dysfunctional, but not disabled.  Two interesting points were brought up at the very end of class.  One was that Jason may have the potential for disability if he keeps isolating himself from his family.  The other was that a narcissistic personality disorder does exist that might be applicable to Jason.  Class ended with Dr. Foss promising rehashing next class to discuss the intersection of disability with Jason’s racism and misogyny before moving onto the final section of Faulkner’s novel.

Word count: 999

Written by Susan

October 22nd, 2010 at 11:41 am