Home School, Charles Webb


This blog was almost named as Mrs.RobinTin or something that alludes to Mrs. Robinson, the distinct well-recognized character of The Graduate of Charles Webb. The reason of which, you can email me if you want to know. I kid.

I bought my copy of the Home School at a nearby thrift store for books, even though I am yet to have a copy of The Graduate book. This is probably going to sound a little premature, given that I will just be basing my judgment and comparison of The Graduate’s sequel on the movie, while holding on the idea that it was faithful to the book.

I liked how the movie ended. The confusion and the blank on Benjamin’s and Elaine’s faces after running away from her wedding, while facing the old couples. It was hanging, all right, like how the movie started, only this time, he had Elaine with him. Another proof that “Misery loves company.” Srsly, HAHA.

Home School was basically how Elaine and Benjamin would go lengths just to stand by their decision to have their children home schooled, even going ridiculous ways, ie. having Mrs. Robinson, now Nan, do the things she was well, great in, ie. seduction. Who can forget the epic line, “Are you seducing me, Mrs. Robinson?”

It was well, short. Really short, even. Had I not been a wee bit busy and had I have the normal attention span, I might have finished it in just a day. It really felt like just right for another movie, with no scene that had to be cut. This makes my dire need to have a copy of The Graduate even more.

Contrary to its prequel, Home School was deprived of Mrs. Robinson’s (in)famous sultriness and seduction, with just one or two escapades. She was still as crazy as she was, but tamed and more grandmother-like, which of course, she ought to be. Mrs. Robinson was as still a biting character, her witty remarks coupled with her being grandmother-y made her almost endearing, but I have to admit that I miss the old Mrs. Robinson. Her evil, wicked plans put a different spice to The Graduate, while she was a bit boring in Home School.

Probably the age, though. Of course, it might be ridiculous and disturbing to have her still with insatiable craving for sex, but you know, she’s Mrs. Robinson.

Good thing Webb managed to revive the lovable Benjamin. (I seriously resist the urge to put a ❤ every after his name.) He was as witty and smart ass, also bad ass as ever:

“Because I see here you were educated at one of the Ivy League schools.”
“Attended one,” Benjamin said.
“Attended.”
Benjamin nodded.
“Well, did you finish.”
“I finished.”
“Because you just said attended.”
“I attended it, yes.”
“And graduated.”
“Both.”
“So you were educate there?”
Benjamin didn’t make a response.

Elaine, with her matching smart and bas assery, and Benjamin surely produced quite as interesting and awesome children, Matt and Jason.

“Is he a nice kid?”
“I’m calling for a definition of ‘nice’,” Jason said. “Matt, where’s your dictionary?”
Benjamin shook his head.
“I though we should always agree on a definition of terms.”
“Not when we already know what it means.”
“Let me handle this,” Matt said, sitting up in his bed and raising his hand. It was quiet as they looked over at him. “Dad, the kid’s totally bonkers. Trust me.”

Having kids like them are probably a pain the ass, thinking that they have a witty and intelligent remark with your every conversation, but it will surely feel rewarding that you have kids that actually think.

Then again, what do you expect with parents as brilliant as Elaine and Benjamin, whose banters make all giddy and reminds me of Erich Segal’s A Love Story‘s Oliver and Jennifer, one of my favorite literary couples.

Elaine looked back through the windshield at the pens. On the highway an occasional car whizzed past. “Benjamin, I had this terrible nightmare last night. It was ghastly. Let’s see how it went — oh. We were going to Central Avenue and we pulled over next to all these dogs going crazy in these cages and you told me Mother checking into the Ardsley Motel next Wednesday.”
“May I have the car key?”
“It was so real. You were saying all these strange things about its being bright sunlight in the middle of the night and Mother telling you on the phone how much she loved everybody.”
He held out his hand.
“But then I woke up. God. I’ve never been so relieved in my life to find out it was only a nightmare.”
“The key please, Elaine.”
“You were asking me for a key in the dream. The barking dog, the key. All the symbolism — Freud would have gone crazy.”

Benjamin was as brilliant as ever with thinking of  educating their children by home school with his strong opposition to being institutionalized. Webb, displaying his prowess in putting so much wit and intelligence, not to mention smartassery to his characters, did not fail in making me love Benjamin more in his way of thinking as read:

But, even though it brought in their basic living expenses, the library job wasn’t something that was viewed by Benjamin as a vocation as such.  His vocation, he had come to realize as time went on, was to see if he could prevent what had been done to him by the various institutions he had passed through and through from being repeated in the case of his offspring.

You must really know, though, I fell in love with Benjamin the same way Mrs. Robinson was to him. His character was very much lovable, the man of wit, charms, and brains. I was more in awe with his character being hmmm, a bit postmodern? Going the untraditional way to educate his kids and accepting the fact the society actually has trouble accepting their ways, but sticking up to it anyway.

I instantly liked the premise of being home schooled, only I was hoping it would be elaborated, since it was interesting and all, but the novel focused more on the domestic issues which were not that much interesting to me. It kind of fell flat, compared to the premise of The Graduate. The characters, except Mrs. Robinson, were as good as before, but it did not leave up to its prequel. It was just like an (unwelcome) epilogue.

I felt like it would have been better to leave The Graduate in that open ended last scene.

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