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The Master Students in Children's Literature Meet Here
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PostPosted: 06 Feb 2014 12:28 

Joined: 20 Oct 2012 17:52
Posts: 64
“(…) none of the stories are invented. Nine out of ten of them are just as they came to me fresh from the life of the people, faithfully to portray which should, after all, be the aim of all fiction, as it must be its sufficient reward.”

Most of the stories revolve around Christmas time = a hope for a better life, hope for a change is felt almost in every story
SETTING: a ghetto = a part of the city in which many poor people or many people of a particular race, religion or nationality live separately from everyone else; this is highlighted by the names of the people living in the neighborhood: Godfrey Krueger (German name), Mrs. Lee (the name means ‘shelter’ / ‘sheltered from the storm – Old English, OR ‘healer’ in Celtic and Am. E.), Mrs. Ferguson (Scottish, Irish name), Mr. Schmidt (German name), Mr. Feeney (Irish name that refers to a soldier), Mr. Stein (German / Hebrew origin meaning ‘stone’), Mr. McCarthy (originated in Ireland), Miss Linder (German origin meaning ‘lime tree’)
THEME: human condition under harsh living conditions;
When the Letter Came
Theme: misery (both human and human nature), lack of a better perspective on life brings to suicide
Abstract: An inventor eaten by hunger and humiliation, tired of hoping of a hopeless way out of poverty commits suicide before his pension is granted.
It is important to mention the fact that “tomorrow” = is not really a physical time, but it embodies the idea of hope, “tomorrow” is timeless, it’s just a cliché for what the character wishes

The Little Dollar’s Christmas Journey

Theme: altruism, human kindness
Abstract: On Christmas Eve a certain Mrs. Lee (whose name’s means ‘shelter’/’sheltered from the storm’/ ‘healer’) sends a coupon that is worth one dollar to a professor in order to buy a Christmas tree to a poor child of the tenements. The story is about the journey of the little dollar and the joy it brings all along the journey to the ones that encounter it.
Every time the coupon is refused to be accepted by different merchants there is a person who acknowledges it and offers a real dollar in exchange. So, it helps a mother with 6 children, a cartman and his horse, a girl who buys a shawl for her sick mother, a newspaper boy, a girl whose father is in hospital. Strangely, it gets back to the professor’s wife who decides to give it to a father who could not buy a Christmas tree for his children.
The little dollar is a metaphor that stands for hope, mutual help and human kindness that is revealed at least once a year: at about Christmas time.

John Gavin, Misfit

Theme: human being unable to cope with life’s hard challenges is pushed into the arms of death by committing suicide
Abstract: A father of six, a young man of thirty-four, jobless and without any hope of getting one, decides to commit suicide. He would accept any job, no matter how low it made him feel, but he was refused on grounds of sickness.
One may see his gesture of committing suicide as a sign of weakness, as a sign of a total giving up. We tend to forget that pain mixed with guilt and regrets and helplessness are a deadly mixture that finally leads a person to the dramatic gesture. Still, “there is no honor in suicide and denial” – as stated by Ronald Isaac Landau in his book The Hour of the Milk is no Longer White: a Novella of Philosophic Transcendence.
The lack of immediate perspective, depersonalized by hunger, sickness, helplessness, topped by self denial and being unable to adapt to a life that is ruled by troubles and poverty, these are the ingredients that society used to turn him against himself up to the point he could not be aware of his loss of personhood.
The feeling of not belonging and thus being denied the integration into society pushes the human being to extreme acts of which society can be blamed of: “For Gavin alive there was no place. At least he did not find it; for which, let it be said and done with, he was to blame. Dead, society will find one for him. And for the one misfit got off the list there are seven whom not employment bureau nor woodyard nor charity register can be made to reach. Social economy the thing is called; which makes the eighth misfit.”

Monika Bandi

PostPosted: 05 Dec 2014 11:40 

Joined: 19 Oct 2013 06:34
Posts: 3
Emotional stories that go deep and touch the most sensitive part of human soul… They make the reader contemplate and reflect upon the miserable life of those poor children.


It is the impressive story of little Will and his siblings. On Christmas Eve, their father-Black Bill- is caught picking pockets in Fourteen Street and taken to the police station again. His reason for doing this is “steal or starve”.
The police found a little package and a letter in the Black Bill’s pocket. The Sergeant takes out a toy from the package (’[i]’a sheep that baa’s”)[/i] and reads the letter ’’scrawled in a child’s uncertain hand:
<<Deer Santa Claas- Pease wont yer bring me a sjeep wat bas. Aggie had won wonst. An Kate wants a dollie offul. In the reere 718 19th Street by the gas house. Your friend Will>>.”

No matter how difficult was for the policeman to understand the letter, that message was the spark that lit the fire into his heart. What comes next is close to a fairy tale for the thief’s little children. The police Captain and one of his men go to the address and, there, they find:
“…three little noses, flattened against the window pane, and three little childish mouths breathing peep-holes to keep the lookout for the expected Santa Claus.”
Then, the children meet Santa Claus (the Captain), get lots of presents-including the sheep- and even more they could have ever imagined:
“that night there was Christmas, indeed, in the rear tenement … for papa had come just in time to share in its cheer.”


Paolo is an eight-year-old boy living on Stanton Street with his mother and uncle. His life is difficult and they struggle to make a living.
But Paolo’s life is about to change when his teacher discovers his talent and takes him out from that neighborhood and brings him to “a large school where there were many children…and where he was received kindly.”
He does well there, succeeds and gets a diploma in the Academy along with honours, medals and praises. On his way home to his mother, we find Paolo proud of himself and eager to share with her the joy of his success…
But, unfortunately, he dies in a train collision… “It was Paolo. The awakening had come…”
The story points to a melodramatic ending in contrast with the expectation the title arouses. Paolo has risen to a higher “home” beyond the skies of his sunny Italy…


The introduction is very different from the other stories that I have read. It is told in the first person, singular and contains autobiographical references. This way we find out there were times when Riis was not only a police reporter but also a deacon:
[i]“It is my firm opinion that newspaper men should not be deacons. Not that there is any moral or spiritual reason why they should abstain-not that; but it doesn't work; the chances are all against it. I know it from experience. I was a deacon myself once.”[/i]
This story brings a complete change of mood and the author makes use of fine irony rendering the experiences he went through and also his feelings, thoughts and opinions about that part of his life. He tells how he was completely misunderstood by “the brethren” while leading a meeting at the church and playing with poker chips at the same time. He made a wrong impression strengthen by his black eye he had got from a boxing “friendly set-to”.
Then there was Mac … which was a dog… “that lead him into temptation” and missed the Sunday service because of him(the dog). It is also humorous to find out that Mac “has a weakness for stale beer” and “got drunk” during some trips through the country in order to extend “his doctrine of evolution”.
Being tired of giving explanations every time people judged him, Jacob A. Riis decides to “resign his office as deacon”.

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