Short Fiction - Goodman's AmLit discussion

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Was Jim responsible for destroying Mr. Crane's property

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message 1: by Max (new)

Max Wu | 6 comments I didn't find the part that tells us if Jim actually broke Mr. Crane's property. If Jim didn't do it, why was Helmhotz mad at him afterwards?


message 2: by Jay (last edited May 21, 2018 12:01AM) (new)

Jay Goodman | 9 comments Mod
It's implied. Helmhotz caught him vandalizing another room, so the reader can make a fair assumption that he was responsible for the first one as well.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan Hu | 7 comments Max wrote: "I didn't find the part that tells us if Jim actually broke Mr. Crane's property. If Jim didn't do it, why was Helmhotz mad at him afterwards?"
I believe Jim was the one destroying Mr. Crane's property. Actually, I feel like this is a foreshadow of Jim destroying the periodic table and other stuff in the classroom.


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Hu | 7 comments Probably because Jim was very lonely when he first came to this school, he wanted to make other people notice him by doing terrible thing. In page 257, "Rivers of stuents flowed between classrooms, pausing in friendly eddies, flowing on again. Jim was alone." This shows that Jim has no friends in this school at all. He was resilient to other people's kindness and resist to make friends. No one is willing to really willing to give him warmth because of his resistence, which makes him more lonely. Even if he said he doesn't want friends, he is still very lonely deep down in his heart. Therefore, breaking things and causing troubles might be his only way of making people realize him.


message 5: by Richard (new)

Richard Shao | 4 comments Susan wrote: "Probably because Jim was very lonely when he first came to this school, he wanted to make other people notice him by doing terrible thing. In page 257, "Rivers of stuents flowed between classrooms,..."
I have a different perspective than you. I think it's his family or guardian of him's problem. His character was created by it. He was treated as a encumbrance. Nobody gives him love like his parents. His heart was hollow. Only destroy things can make him feel sense of presence. And if he made something wrong, he will been criticized by guardian like Quinn. He needs to release this rage.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan Hu | 7 comments Richard wrote: "Susan wrote: "Probably because Jim was very lonely when he first came to this school, he wanted to make other people notice him by doing terrible thing. In page 257, "Rivers of stuents flowed betwe..."

I agree with you. I think both the problems of his family and his lack of friends are both causes of his action of destroying things. Because his family doesn't give him enough love, he became resilient to love. And because he has no friends, he cannot find appropriate ways to express his feelings and desires. He is filled with rage, anger, desire of being loved and sadness, which leads to his action of causing damages at school.


message 7: by Angel (new)

Angel Wang | 4 comments Max wrote: "I didn't find the part that tells us if Jim actually broke Mr. Crane's property. If Jim didn't do it, why was Helmholtz mad at him afterward?"

Jim is Mr. Quinn's brother-in-law's child, he had to live with Mr. Quinn because his mother died and no one could nurture him. I think Jim did not break Mr. Quinn's property though he collects knives and always silently polishes boots (254). He is a kid that nobody communicates with and teaches in a right way.
Mr. Helmhotz is Jim's music teacher, he is mad at him because Jim splashes acid over the periodic table and blackboard (258). Also, Mr. Helmhotz is upset at Jim because he tried to help him to become a good kid, but Jim ignores his suggestions.


message 8: by Jay (new)

Jay Goodman | 9 comments Mod
So is his destruction a "cry for attention", or a way for him to release some of his rage at being abandoned and "unwanted"? Does this distinction matter for his identity? How much is this destruction related to his identity?


message 9: by Angel (new)

Angel Wang | 4 comments Susan wrote: "Probably because Jim was very lonely when he first came to this school, he wanted to make other people notice him by doing terrible thing. In page 257, "Rivers of stuents flowed between classrooms,..."

I do not agree with you that Jim wants to get more attention from the people surrounding him. I think he refuses to get in touch with the outside world because he thinks everyone will focus on his poor experience and start to pity him, they all want to do something "kind", but this will hurt Jim again. "No more talk about the poor little sick boy…that's all he's heard from the social workers and the juvenile court…"(255). Jim's uncle told to Helmholtz not to pity Jim because he already had enough people who focus too much on his personal experience.
Also when Helmholtz tried to talk with Jim, he refuses to answer all his questions in the car. "Helmholtz stamped out Jim's cigarette and buried it under the gravel of the parking lot" (256 ). Then Helmholtz thinks he is a tough child who makes him so angry.


message 10: by Angel (new)

Angel Wang | 4 comments Jay wrote: "So is his destruction a "cry for attention", or a way for him to release some of his rage at being abandoned and "unwanted"? Does this distinction matter for his identity? How much is this destruct..."

I am sure it is not a "cry for attention" because he does not want those attention and pity from people. I think it is a way to release his rage. Based on the text, Jim has strong self-esteem, he refuses to communicate with Helmholtz and make friends because he hate those friendly treatments.
When people treats him in a different way than other kids, there is a barrier between Jim and normal kids. Though maybe at first he also wants to make friends with them, they might not be a truly friend with him.
Jim wishes someone trusts him that he can also be a good kid. First time, Jim ignores Helmholtz's friendly questions; Second time, he received his trumpet, and finally Jim accept Helmholtz because Mr. Helmholtz trust him that he can also become a good kid. "He thought that his greatest treasure, the trumpet, could buy a soul for Jim. The trumpet was worthless" (263). Helmholtz gives Jim his favorite treasure to tell Jim that he is also loved by someone and he is not alone.
As a result, Jim is not born to be a bad kid. The society's special treatments to him and Mr. Quinn's distrust on him all make him angry and try to make some revenges. His identity was influenced by those unfair treatments but he still believe someone will love him.


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