Remembering the Classics
By Cait Collins
Back in my school days there was a great emphasis on classic literature. I hated it back then, but rereading them with an adult eye can give us a new appreciation for the masters.
Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are Mark Twain’s classics about two boys growing up in a turbulent time in American History. They paint a picture of the old South in a time when slaves were a part of the norm. The characters are so vivid. I can easily see Tom Sawyer sitting back eating an apple while watching his friends whitewash the fence. Getting lost in the cave with Becky Thatcher probably raised a few eyebrows. But catching Injun Joe may have made up for it. Still, there was the importance of faith and community. Remember when Tom and Huck were lost and slipped into the church building during worship? The congregation stood to sing “Old One Hundred. I can hear the music and the song, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”
Jane Eyre also reflects a period when men and women were judged by their social standing. A man of wealth and position did not marry his child’s governess. Nor did he attempt to commit bigamy. While she loved Mr. Rochester deeply, she knew the relationship would damage his standing in society, still, she chose to commit herself to her employer. Needless to say, there was a separation and heartache but the love was true and strong. The couple defied the social mores and did live happily ever after.
As with Tom Sawyer, the characters are so vivid. And I can envision the old manor, the parties, and the country church where a wedding was called off because the groom was already married. I was easily removed from my comfortable home to Old England and to witness the shaming of a plain, innocent woman.
The list of great classics is long: Moby Dick, White Fang, Call of the Wild, Of Mice and Men; Wuthering Heights, Little Women, the Jungle Book, and Grapes of Wrath are just a few of the old books my friends and I groaned about. We were kids who were more interested in ice skating and boys or girls than in educating our minds. Maybe we should reread the old classics and see if the stories are more appealing than they were to children.