👨🎓 First of all, I had to google "commencement" before realizing the meaning of this academic term. It's good to have learned at least one word from a story, even if I didn't really enjoy it.
👨🎓 It is about Professor Emerson's last day of teaching in a high school before his retirement from thirty years of service. His sister, a widowed Agatha, laments his lack of ambition. The Professor himself is often disconcerted by massive industrialization of their society, which muted academic passions of his pupils.
👨🎓 On the night there is a retirement party, and the Professor, as a tradition, must give a speech. He decided, upon Agatha's advice, to read something which he had blundered years ago. Maybe this time, this last time, he could make up for his past humiliation?
👨🎓 No, he couldn't. He blundered again, but his sister consoled him, saying that "it's all right". Now the Professor is dejected and hopeless. He feels that he had achieved nothing. But had he?
👨🎓 Poor Professor Emerson is having a mid-life crisis. I pity him, not because he achieved nothing, but because even at his age (fifty), he still cannot accept himself as it is; he hasn't made peace with himself. So what if he's "just" a high school professor for thirty years, if he had given his best every day of it, and enjoying it all the while? A failure is he who possess much but does nothing; while a successful one is he who does all he could with what God has blessed him with.
👨🎓 All in all, though I felt this story rather boring (my least favorite of the year so far), at least it serves as a remembrance to always accept oneself as it is; make peace with one self; and be happy!
Rating: 3 / 5
"Boring" is a good one word summation of this story. I like to think that he was able to instill some love of literature and learning in at least a few of his students that would help them or give comfort later in life. It's main interest for me was wondering about Cather's own experience as a teacher in a similar Pittsburgh classroom and how much of this teacher's experience was actually her own.ReplyDelete