School Days Summary

School Days Summary

School Days is a fascinating, comic and sometimes even sarcastic narrative about Patrick Chamoiseau's childhood in Fort-de-France, Martinique, one of the French colonies. We see all the events that take place in the book through eyes and perception of the little boy Chamoiseau. He tells us about his brothers and sisters who every day go to some mysterious place called “school” and back home happy and tired. The little boy doesn’t know why the Big Kids should go there every day and he feels so lonely, staying at home with his mother, who is always busy.

He paints the walls with the chalk; he took his brother’s bag to study what mysteries are hidden in it because he longed to go to school like they do. So he asks mother to go there with them, but she sends him to a nursery school where he was one of the best students and he did his best to get the praise. He liked to study there because he got a success there, but then he finds out that he doesn’t go to a real school and his world was completely ruined. And his mother decides to send him to the real school and the little boy was happy. But this happiness wasn’t long.

From the first day at school he finds out that the Teacher talks only French and he can barely understand it. Moreover, it was banned to talk the Creole language and it was hard for him to understand why his native language is barbarian and primitive and why the French language is superior. The Teacher had his favorite students, his pets because their parents were rich and they knew French, so the class was divided into “the smarties, the numbskulls, and the hopeless duds”. The teacher also had his arm which he used if a child pronounce some sound wrong or didn’t pronounce it at all, or his answer was incorrect or there were no answer at all, or the Teacher just had a bad humor that day – the reasons were enormous.

The Director of the school was a quite unpleasant person for the little boy; he was rude, never talked to children, except for sending into his office for punishment, and when he went by everything died, everybody stayed motionless being afraid to be kicked or humiliated. But in spite of all those terrific things there were also so quite pleasant school memories, one of them is milk days, when all students were sent to the school yard to enjoy the warm and delicious drink, but when someone told that there was a lizard in the milk children stop drink it and the milk days wasn’t a holiday for them anymore.

But there were afterschool games and the little boy always waited for them with a great impatience, and although his mother didn’t allow him to come home late and there were so called “baowufers” who often destroyed their games, the little boy never missed the opportunity to have fun with other children. He even began to lie his mother and found out the bottom line: the story is a lie only if you tell it badly and the stories, he create for his mother to believe him, grew better every day, he was quite talented in this area.

The little boy also liked to read; it was the Teacher,who awakened in him the love to reading and to books and he is grateful him for that. He took the book, imitated the Teacher’s manner to read, his gestures, voice and intonation. In every book there were kept secrets, his imagination couldn’t take up for, so he started to rewrote the books according to the pictures, creating his own stories. He was just imitating reading but later, bit by bit, “the homey little Creole in his head was joined by scraps of French words, phrases… There was no looking back”. Although his handwriting wasn’t perfect and the Teacher always punished him for the disaster area around his inkwell, the little boy was happy, the magic of writing opened for him, he wrote not to please the Teacher but for his own pleasure. The little boy, without realizing it, was tracing the ink lifeline of survival.

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