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Thread: Pride and Prejudice for boys?

  1. #1
    I have a rising 9th grader with whom I plan to do R level Year 3 this coming fall. I am thinking that my 14 yo son is going to find it incredibly difficult to get through "Pride and Prejudice".

    There are two specific concerns:

    1-The dialogue and relationships are hard for even an adult to follow- my adult husband admits he's never actually finished it.

    2- It's a love story. He's gonna think of it like a "chick flick" and tune out I'm afraid.

    On the one hand I thought I'd just substitute the D level reading assignment, which he has not read. However, I am worried that he'll miss alot of the building blocks he'll need for future understanding by missing out on the first 4 weeks of study.
    Another idea I had was to let him read the D selection but sit in on the P/P discussions with his sister.
    And yet another is to let him watch the movie version instead of the actual book, but I don't want him to get the idea that he can wimp out on a book anytime he wants to.

    What to do?
    thank you in advance-
    Tami in TN

  2. #2
    I think you could go either way, Tami. On the one hand, I know a number of guys who really enjoyed and got into Pride and Prejudice in high school (including my own super-masculine older brother), and it IS great literature. Also, you are absolutely right that your son would be missing out on foundational concepts for the whole year if he skips the first four weeks.

    However, I could see something like having him go ahead and read the Poetics assignments and do the vocabulary terms for those weeks (so that he stays on track with literary analysis), but then just listening in on his sister's class.

    I do very much agree that it's not good to give your student the impression that he can skip books just because he might not like them. I find so often that great art (paintings, music, dance, etc., as well as literature) requires time and investment and study in order to be appreciated---I rarely have a student who is able to fully enjoy the majority of his or her literary assignments... at first. But most of my students do learn to enjoy what they read as they gain a better understanding of it, especially through classroom discussions. No discipline seems pleasant at the time! But discipline DOES yield fruit over time.

    When I taught first Pride and Prejudice, now two years ago, I had (I think) about four boys in my class. Two of them had some literary inclination; none of them had any particular literary gifting; all of them were very much BOYS: "Romance! Ewwww!" But they all got through it, and as I recall they did enjoy Austen's sparkling wit and brilliant character portraits. They at least enjoyed laughing at Mr. Collins. ;-) And, because our discussion focused partly on biblical evaluations of characters, I think they really did learn from the experience.

    All of which is to encourage you that "hard to read" or "Ewwww...romance!" are not necessarily the bottom-line experience of teenage boys when they study Pride and Prejudice. :-) The decision, of course, belongs to you and your husband. But I guess I'd encourage you to give it a try. After all, as you can point out to your son, four weeks of anything is NOT going to kill him. :-D

    Hope this helps a little!

    Christy Somerville
    Lampstand Press
    Director for Rhetoric Literature

  3. #3
    Thanks, Christy- I appreciate your input. I had another thought: What if we watch the movie BEFORE school starts, then he'll have an easier time getting through the book because he'll know the plotline and have heard the language?
    My daughter probably probably would rather read it on her own and not have the surprises spoiled. But I'm wondering if it actually might work in favor for my son.
    My fear isn't so much that he'll hate it. He does plenty of things he hates. Rather, I'm afraid it'll be beyond his ability, frustrate him, and give him a bad first experience into the R level lit.
    Ah- decisions!
    Thanks again-

  4. #4
    Tami,

    I don't really have an answer for you, but wanted to share our experience with the movie. We watched Pride and Prejudice right before we started Y4. My son was starting 9th grade at the time. It was on the summer reading list and my son (who loves to read anything and everything) was not interested in reading Pride and Prejudice. I offered the movie instead, knowing he'd go back and read the book later, if I got him hooked. Unfortunately, it didn't work out like I expected. After an hour or so he asked to be excused from watching the movie with the family. Although I really wanted him to watch it with us, my husband and I agreed to excuse him because he was bothered by the immodest clothing worn by the women and could not tolerate all the gossip and silly female stuff. He was able to appreciate some of the humor and excellent character development in this story, but just couldn't ignore the other issues.

    When we get to Y3 in R, I will have him read Pride and Prejudice. As a book, I don't think he will have the same concerns and I'm sure he'll appreciate the literary value, even if it's not his favorite book. Y4 was a bit tricky as we navigated a lot of new content, but it was such a great year of learning for all of us. I am so thankful for the R discussion scripts and all of the thoughtful questions provided to help us evaluate literature from a biblical perspective.

    I hope this helps you as you prayerfully consider the best way to present this material to your son.

    Blessings,
    Eia

  5. #5
    Thank you very much, Eia- that is very helpful.

  6. #6
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    I think it depends on the boy a lot. My oldest read Pride and Prejudice last summer just before he was 13 and loved it. We also had some good, non TOG, discussions about the books content.

    My younger son I foresee that I might have problems with due to the feminine nature of the book.

    Unless you've had problems in the past with this issue, I would not give him any warnings one way or the other.

  7. #7
    Thanks, Pat, for sharing your experience.
    Unfortunately, it's too late for him to have an unbiased preconception :-( DH saw me reading it and before I could stop him, he was talking about how he'd tried to read it a couple of times but never gets past the first few pages without being "bored" and frustrated with the language. <sigh> And this is the intelligent man I married because he's a "thinker"! <eye rolling>
    I'm less concerned about him not liking the content than I am the reading part. He is not a strong reader, nor does he enjoy it. so the language I think will be a huge problem for him- it's just not an "easy" read by any stretch. And then there are the characters/relationships to keep straight. I've already decided to make him keep a chart or list from the beginning, noting each new character and their particulars (which daughter it is, whether she's silly or level-headed, etc).
    Because he's so intimidated by the R level, and because he's a freshman, and because he's not a strong reader and I don't want to frustrate him at the beginning, I think I"m going to let him do the movie on this one, read certain passages that are specifically relevant to the discussions, do the poetics/frameworks readings, vocab cards, and of course participate in discussions.
    I hope that's the right thing. We'll see, I guess.
    Thanks all-
    Tami

  8. #8
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    Tami,
    I listened within the past couple years to an unabridged recording of P&P from our library read by an excellent British performer. It was wonderful - all the humor came through, and it was just fun to listen and not worry about stumbling over all the language (this time; not that I would recommend that always - I've also read and enjoyed Austen and would recommend it for even boys at some point). I will probably give my young freshman the choice to listen this year, and just have the book for answering questions. Four years ago my older son read P&P for our first trip through year 3, and it was one of his favorites! He didn't like the movie as well as the book, though.
    FWIW,
    Bonnie

  9. #9
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    Hi Tami,
    Just a few reflections from when we did Yr 3 two years ago - my sons were in 9th and 11th grades. P & P turned out to be one of their favorites of the year, and they really enjoyed Yr 3 literature. The characters are so well developed and the language is so vivid and the humor is do delightful that the lack of lots of "masculine" action falls by the wayside. If your son is intimidated by the language, perhaps you and your family could read it aloud together. That way your husband would get to enjoy it as well. When you watch the movie, be sure to watch the 6-episode BBC version, not that newer one with Keira Knightly (or however you spell it). The BBC version is much better and truer to the book. My older son enjoyed the book so much that he went on to read other Jane Austen novels just for fun (but not when there were lots of guys around!)!
    Blessings,
    April

    PS The language in 19th century novels tends to be quite a bit higher than in modern works. The sentences are longer and the words more precise and sometimes obscure to those not used to a rich vocabulary. But, I encourage you and your son to persevere! It is very worth it!

  10. #10
    Thank you, April and Bonnie!
    I love the audio book idea- think I'm gonna go reserve those at the library site now- thanks!

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