Tragedy is Often Tragic (Can You Sing a C Sharp?)
I'll never understand why school so often privileges tragedies over comedies . . . kids read Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth rather than Twelfth Night . . . and though Cannery Row is Steinbeck's best novel, that's not the one that is taught . . . and there's nothing worse than a bunch of teary eyed ninth graders listening to the final passage Of Mice and Men, when George has to shoot Lenny, and then explaining to them that sometimes, if you're a really good friend, then you have to shoot your buddy in the head, so he doesn't have to spend the rest of his days in a primitive mental institution undergoing electro-shock therapy and torturous restraint . . . Twelfth Night and Cannery Row are both about parties, however, and I guess pedagogical folks don't consider that educational (unless the party happens in The Great Gatsby, and the result of the partying is the Death of the American Dream, which is suitably tragic and outweighs any possible joy and fun in the book . . . and then there's Lord of the Flies, another fun book full of vines and creepers and tragedy, but at least there's one joke: Jack says he should be the chief of the stranded boys because he is in the choir and "can sing C sharp").