Our childhood shapes us into who we become. The lessons we learned as kids, and the people who surrounded us come with us into adulthood. You would think that a good childhood shapes someone into a good adult, but what happens to the people who are not as lucky? In the short stories Long Long after Schoolby Ernest Buckler and A Teacher’s Rewardby Robert Phillips the protagonists: Wes Holemen and Raybe Simpson, both go through difficult yet different childhoods. In Long Long after School,Wes Holemen visits his old teacher’s graveyard, and meets up with a former classmate and they reminisce about their school years and teacher. Whereas in A Teacher’s Reward,Raybe Simpson is a student who comes to visit his old teacher years later as an adult, to get his revenge on her for what she did him years ago. Childhood events can have a huge influence on the adults we become and Wes and Raybe were shaped into the adults they are because of the discrimination, support and violence in their young lives.
From the two pieces of literature we can see that both Raybe and Wes had difficult childhoods because they were harshly judged by their appearances and for how people saw them on the outside. In Long Long after Schoolthe narrator says that, “The only Wes I could seem to remember was the Wes of adolescence: the tough guy with the chip on his shoulder,” (pg.51). This quote proves that the kids in Wes’ class saw him as mean and tough; no one even gave Wes a chance to get to know him they just assumed he was a tough guy by his appearance so they did not want to get to know him.Every one made fun of Wes and excluded him from everything just because of what he looked like. Wes tells us he,“Put his hand out to close up the ring with the biggest Banks girls, but she would not take it. She said, ‘Your hands are dirty,’” (pg.50). This quote shows how Wes’ classmates discriminated against him because he was black. He was not mean or rude to them in any way, he was just simply a different race than them and his classmates refused to accept him for who he was. In A Teacher’s Reward, Ms. Scofield assumed Raybe was a bad kid from the beginning, but she never took the time to know what was really going on with him at home. She just assumed he was a bad kid, and gave up on him from the start. Ms. Scofield made the assumption that, “You were no good to start with. No motivation. No follow through. I knew just where you’d end up. You’ve run true form” (pg.385).She saw that he did not have motivation or a will to be at school, and because of that, she gave up on him. Maybe, if she had taken the time to understand Raybe, it would have changed how he turned out. Raybe and Wes were both judged on their appearances and outer selves during their childhood. They always had to prove themselves to be good kids because it was assumed that they were not and that is one of the ways their childhood shaped them into the adults that they are.
The support in one’s life plays a big role in shaping them into the adults they grow up to be. By comparing Raybe to Wes’ we can see a big difference of support in both their lives and we see how that support shaped them into very different people. Even though Wes did not have support from his classmates, he did however, have it from his teacher. When all the kids at school were mean to him and he felt powerless, his teacher stood up for him and helped him battle the discrimination. When a girl in his 3rdgrade class would not hold his hand, “Ms. Trethway made us both hold out our hands. She said, ‘Why, Marilyn, Wes’ hands are much cleaner than yours. Maybe Wes doesn’t like to get hishands dirty, did you ever think about that.’ She took Marilyn’s place herself.” The kids in Wes’ class were always very mean to him and he struggled to stand up to them so Ms. Trethway would help him. She tried to show the kids that Wes is not as bad as they think and the support from her really helped him get through school. Raybe on the other hand, was an orphan who had already experienced a difficult childhood because of the lack of support at home. So when Raybe did not have support from anyone at school, especially not his teacher, his life became much more difficult. Raybe explains to Miss Scofield that, “‘My folks are dead. They were dead when I was your student, if you’ll remember. Grandfather died too. I lived with an aunt. She’s dead now.’ ‘Oh I’m sorry. I don’t think I realized at the time –’ ‘No I don’t think you did… That’s all right, Miss Scofield” (pg.383). This quote shows how Raybe was an orphan and that everyone he loved and cared about had passed away. Events like those really shape you into the adult you become. By comparing Raybe to Wes’ we can see that even the support from one person can really make a difference in one’s life. The support or lack thereof is what really differentiates Wes from Raybe; and at such a young age the support from one’s teacher can really make a difference in helping to shape the child into what kind of adult they become.
For kids, boys especially, violence can be a substantial idea in their young lives and if it is not taught or understood properly it can become a problem as their brains develop. The other kids always saw Wes as such a tough guy but he never actually hurt anyone. The only person he hurt was himself when he punched the window, and this taught him his lesson about violence. Remembering back to years ago, Wes says, “I guess it was a pretty foolish thing to do, but I went down to the basement and drove my fist through a window… You can hardly see it now. But I almost bled to death right there.” (pg.51). Wes punched straight through a window and got badly injured, and from that experience he learned that violence is not the answer, and that it does not solve anything, it can only makes things worse. On the contrary, as a kid, Raybe was taught that violence was allowed and a good form of punishment because that is how his teachers would punish him. He was not introduced to violence in the right way and that contributed to shaping Raybe into the adult he is, a criminal. Raybe explains to Ms. Scofield how embarrassed he felt when she would rap his knuckles day after day. He says to her, “You rapped them all right… You did it lots of times, in front of the whole class. They laughed at me” (pg.384). He explains how much it hurt him when she would, “Hit me so hard my knuckles bled. My hands were sore as boils for weeks.” (pg.387). These quotes show us how badly Raybe was treated by his teacher and why he thinks that violence is the answer to solving problems in his adult life. Wes and Raybe were shown violence in their young lives in very different ways. Wes learned his lesson that violence is not the answer because he hurt himself before he could injure anyone else. But Raybe was taught that violence is the answer because whenever he would lash out in class that is how he was punished. This helped shaped the boys into the men they are today because as an adult Wes does not result to violence in any way, whereas, we know that Raybe does because of the revenge he sought on his teacher.
Based on the information from these short stories Long Long after Schooland A Teacher’s Reward we can see that Wes and Raybe were shaped into the adults they are because of the discrimination, support and violence in their young lives. Wes’ classmates may have discriminated against him, but he had the support of his teacher and he taught himself that violence is not the answer. Raybe did not have any support from anyone in his life and was especially discriminated against by his teacher, who also taught him violence is a proper form of punishment.These two short stories demonstrate how important it is for a child to have a good upbringing. Childhood is such an important time in a person’s life because it is where they learn what is right and wrong and it shapes them into the adultS they become.