A fellow classmate of mine identified Chore vs. Privilege as a possible binary that exists in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. The whitewashing of the fence is a chore to Tom because he has to do it against his will, while all of his friends are preoccupied with play. However, Tom turns the whitewashing into a privilege by persuading Ben that it was not a chore but a privilege because a boy doesn’t get to whitewash a fence everyday.
This binary between Chore and Privilege however is shattered in Chapter 4 of the novel when Tom trades in tickets he bartered for in order to win a prize. To win the prize the student was supposed to recite 2,000 bible verses which Tom obviously did not do. However, Tom did not care for the prize. Twain says “It is possible that Tom’s mental stomach had never really hungered for one of those prizes, but unquestionably his entire being had for many a day longed for the glory and the eclat that came with it.” Tom wanted the privilege of praise that came from completing the chore of reciting the verses. He wanted to show off in front of his friends even though the praise was wrongfully earned
Last week, the binary calm vs aggressive was introduced in relation to how Aunt Polly treats Tom. Perhaps she has a difficult time being aggressive towards him since his mother, her sister, died.
However, this binary is challenged in chapter 24 with the quote:
‘No, I don’t dare. Poor boy, I reckon he’s lied about it — but it’s a blessed, blessed lie, there’s such a comfort come from it. I hope the Lord — I KNOW the Lord will forgive him, because it was such goodheartedness in him to tell it. But I don’t want to find out it’s a lie. I won’t look.’
When Tom tells Aunt Polly about the bark in his pocket he never gave her, she doesn’t believe him. The calm vs aggressive binary assumes that Aunt Polly is always acting as the adult and Tom is always acting as the child. It suggests she is constantly acting in reaction to Tom. But, it’s not that she is either acting calmly or aggressively towards him. In this example she doesn’t necessarily take into account his mother’s death, she is just taking into account whether or not he is acting morally. She acts ambivalent towards him when he tells her about the bark, because she doesn’t believe him. Yet, she is secretly pleading for him to be telling the truth. She goes from acting ambivalently towards him to grateful behind his back.
Twain, Mark, and Jean Craighead George. “XXIV.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print
In Greek mythology, the king of the gods, Zeus, is constantly cheating on his wife and siring children with other women. In this particular myth, Zeus seduces a young nymph named Io and when his wife, Hera, comes down to Earth because she’s suspicious of his actions, he turns Io into a cow. Hera asks for the cow and keeps her in captivity until she escapes, but Hera sees through it and sends a gladfly to constantly sting her. She is chased into Egypt and turns back into a nymph there.
Zeus is constantly doing these things, but Hera always punishes the girls. The binary here is how men can cheat and get away with it, but women are puns and tools.
Jack and the Beanstalk reveals the adult desire of becoming rich. The story is about a poor boy named Jack, who receives magic beans by trading away the last of his family’s money (a cow). The magic beans grow a large beanstalk that reaches the sky where a giant and his wife live. Jack, being the poor boy that he is, steals from the giant that lives in the sky in order to become rich. Eventually the giant finds out and chases after Jack, but Jack cuts the beanstalk while the giant is still on it and the giant dies. Jack and his mother live happily ever after.
The adult desire is portrayed in Jack’s dissatisfaction with everything he steals. Despite the fact that Jack was “quite rich” after stealing from the giant the first time, he continues to go back and steal more. The fact that Jack is stealing for wealth also questions the author’s morality, due to the fact that Jack is only a child.
While the author makes it seem as if Jack goes back to steal from the giant out of curiosity, the idea of Jack stealing something every time he goes back to the castle is definitely the adult desire to obtain wealth easily by stealing. This is revealed in the text when it states, “Jack and his mother were now quite rich; but it occurred to him one day that he would like to see how matters were going on at the giant’s castle.” The author manipulates the story’s readers by using the innocence of a child, a poor child at that, to steal from others so that his morality is not questioned.
“Jack and the Beanstalk.” Jack and the Beanstalk. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2015. <http://fairytales4u.com/story/jackand.htm>.
The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again
“Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” BabyCenter. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. <http://www.babycenter.com/0_lullaby-lyrics-itsy-bitsy-spider_6729.bc>.