My assignment this week was to consider the theme of “State of the University,” by Father Linnane, in relation to several other works. Fr. Linnane contends that people ought to strive to improve themselves while also giving to the community. His speech inspired me to relate his message to the common thematic elements of “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” by Richard Hague, “First Practice,” by Gary Gildner, “Serving up Hope,” by Stephanie Shapiro, and “A Father,” by Bharati Mukherjee. Each of these readings explores a common theme: love and compassion bring meaning to the life of the individual.
In “Directions for resisting the SAT,” by Richard Hague, the speaker ironically suggests that the experience of preparing and sitting for the SAT might well inspire the reader to do great things with his life. The last line of the poem is a challenge to readers to “make your marks on everything.” This reminded me of the portion of Father Linnanes’ speech when he said to strive to be successful. (Although what is success really?) The speaker and the poet each effectively convey a similar message to young people but by using a specific subject to which they can relate as an example of an opportunity for self-improvement.
The coach in “First Practice” by Gary Gildner craves that his team be the best on the field. Similarly, Father Linnane discusses how Loyola strives to be the best Catholic University. While the coach tells his team that he expects them to win with no exceptions, Father Linnane might rebut by saying that the coach is too strict, as it is important not to become overly invested in a particular outcome – such as triumphing over another.
In his speech, Father Linnane discusses contributing to the health of the community. This notion relates to “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, because the main characters help two drug addicts to turn their lives around. The protagonists offer the former addicts jobs, thereby helping to keep them out of trouble and to inculcate in them necessary life skills. The couple provides opportunities for the former drug addicts that they would have never had without their help. Their selflessness is indicative of Father Linnanes’ theme of helping others and doing good works for those around you.
“A Father,” by Bharati Mukherjee, recounts the difficulties of a father’s distant relationship with his daughter, Balbi. The father struggles to accept his daughter, who is not the perfect child he imagined. Although he prays to God each day for wisdom and guidance, he is actually so focused on himself that when he finds out about his daughter’s pregnancy outside of marriage, he beats her instead of supporting her. According to Father Linnane, the father in the story would actually improve himself and become more contented by expressing, as difficult as it might be under the circumstance, compassion toward his daughter and concern for her feelings, rather than dwelling principally on what he prefers.