Tenth of December

The Tenth of December is a fairly short story, but it has many features in the story. It constantly changes perspective. In the beginning of the book, Robin walks through the woods imagining himself tracking creatures that he made up in his head called “Nether,” who kidnapped this girl who attends at his school, Suzanne Bledsoe. He is seemed to be tracking actual footprints, although he is imagining them as “Nether” footprints. When he finds a winter coat near a frozen pond, he is determined to give it back to the owner. Robin seems to think that there is no time to be wasted to return the coat to the owner, so he decides to cut through the frozen pond to make the journey short. As he’s walking on the frozen pond, the ice breaks and Robin falls through. The perspective changes to a old man who is terminally ill named Don Eber. He finds himself in the woods with no protection from the blistering cold and hopes that it will kill him. He does this to spare his wife and children from the suffering of caring for him as his illness progresses. He is preparing for his life to end, suddenly he turns around and sees a kid in the distance drowning in a freezing cold pond. He runs towards the kid, he’s holding his coat. Robin successfully gets the kid out of the pool. The kid turns out to be Robin. Eber gives him his clothes and tells Robin to go home. Eber’s mindset changes and no longer wants to end his life. He wants to be there for his kids, Robin sends his mother to go outside and supply Eber with clothes and invites him inside there house.

The Ethics in Escape from Spiderhead

The first time I read Escape From Spiderhead, I was taken aback at how much had happened in such a short story. Jeff goes from being obsessively in love with not just one but two different people, to feeling an indescribable level of pain that drives him to kill himself. There are many different thought provoking aspects of the story but the one I found most interesting was the drugs that Abensti used, and the way he justified using them. When administering the “love drug” that causes Jeff to love both Heather and Rachel, Abnesti says

”Can we stop the war? We can sure as heck slow it down! Suddenly the soldiers on both sides start fucking. Or, at low dosage, feeling super-fond. Or say we have two rival dictators in a death grudge”.

This poses a seriously interesting hypothetical, would it be ethical to use drugs in this way if they existed? If a love drug seriously had the potential to stop wars, genocides, and hateful violence, shouldn’t we use it? I would say yes, but then we must also consider where the lines are drawn. Would it be ethical to secretly put some of the drug in my significant other’s coffee while they’re not looking because I’m scared they’re losing interest? What if it’s to keep two parents together to raise their child? And even if we are able to look past the various scenarios that test the morality of the use of these drugs, there is always the question of their validity. If Jeff and Rachel were somehow able to escape Spiderhead and begin a life together, would it be real? Does he actually love her and she, him? If he does, then is love just a bunch of emotions in our brains that are stopped as quickly as they started? Or is it more than that? In our reality, love and affection are deeply intimate emotions for most people. Falling in love with someone occurs (usually) over the course of much time getting to know them. Is this type of love more valid than the one Abnesti administered to Jeff? It would seem so but if you were able to ask Jeff when he was on the drug I’m sure he’d strongly disagree. Anyways, I don’t have any answers…just some things to think about!

Parent-Child Relationships in “Tenth of December”

Within George Saunders’ short story, “Tenth of December,” contrasting parent-child relationships are depicted.

On one side of the coin is Robin and his mother. Robin is an imaginative young boy conjures up wild stories of “Netherworlders,” and heroism. Robin describes his mother as a “good egg” who’s always been there for him, and is occasionally overprotective. In school, Robin is often bullied, and is constantly teased. Though this bullying is sometimes based upon his “manner of speaking,” it is also due to his mother’s “style faux pas.” Robin’s mother has no idea of this bullying, and Robin prefers to keep it like this. 

In a way, mother and child are sheltering each other: Robin is sheltering his mother from seeing how horribly he is being treated, while Robin’s mother is attempting to shelter him from “dangerous situations” (e.g. using a stapler).

Despite this sheltering, their relationship is extremely healthy. They are both achieving mutual recognition, and are extremely loving towards each other. 

On the other side of the coin is Eber and Allen. After Eber’s biological father abandoned him, his mother remarried to Allen. At first, Allen and Eber’s relationship was healthy. Allen was very encouraging of Eber’s ambitions, and Eber describes Allen as the “kindest man ever.” Then, Allen became ill, and began to change into “THAT.” He was verbally abusive to Eber and his mother, despite both of them trying to help him through his illness. Still, regardless of all of this, Eber loves Allen.

Years later, Eber develops cancer, and is terrified of becoming like Allen. So much so that he decides to commit suicide. He believes that a father is someone who “eases the burdens of those he loves,” and feels that by committing suicide, he is preventing himself from being “THAT.” 

This short story is a perfect example of how our upbringing and parents can dictate our personality and decisions. It is also an example of how we do not have to become our parents if we do not wish to. At the end of the story, Eber is prevented from committing suicide, and realizes that he was being “cruel” and “selfish” by attempting to do so.

“Tenth of December” is a beautiful, hopeful story, and is the perfect ending to Saunders’ short story collection.

Strength of Human Nature in Escape From Spiderhead

“I’d say no,” Verlaine said over the P.A. “That’s all just pretty much basic human feeling right there.”

In George Saunders’ short story, Escape From Spiderhead, we follow the trials and experimentation of basic human nature. Spiderhead is all about empathy; do we have innate feelings of basic recognition for other humans or all we just a composition of chemicals and hormones?

Saunders explores this concept through our narrator Jeff, a convicted killer who is a test subject for new drug trials. Throughout the story, Jeff is pumped full of various drugs which forcibly make him fall in love with other subjects or eloquently speak whatever is on his mind. We see Jeff forced to have these feelings and then have them taken away to see if they remain. In a tortuous moment of watching another test subject, Heather, succumb to suicidal depression-inducing drugs, we see that Jeff has no lingering feelings of love for her but still wholeheartedly believes that she deserves life and love. Despite having no chemical feelings for Heather or knowing anything about her life, Jeff believes that Heather and “every human is worthy of love,” (69).

Jeff’s innate empathy is further put to the test when he finds out he will be forced to watch another girl be drugged the same way as Heather. Jeff, once again, has no feelings of love for this girl and even finds out she too is a convicted killer, but he refuses to participate in the experiment. Jeff doesn’t stop with his refusal though, going as far as to willingly overdose on drugs that quickly kill him. Jeff sacrificed his life to spare another person’s pain, despite seemingly having no feelings for her.

Saunders makes us question what humanity is truly made of with this story. Is it chemicals that can be manipulated or is there an innate empathy that belongs to all of us? In a bittersweet ending of Jeff’s death, we do find that certain human traits are inherent and cannot be removed with any amount of drugs.

To be Lessened is not to be Lesser

Why should he not do or say weird things or look strange or disgusting…Why should those he loved not lift and bend and feed and wipe him, when he would gladly do the same for them? He’d been afraid to be lessened by the lifting and bending and feeding and wiping…and yet, at the same time saw that there could still be many…drops of goodness…ahead…and those drops…were not—had never been–his to withhold

Tenth of December, 249

George Saunders’s short story “Tenth of December” tells a tale of an elderly man suffering from a terminal illness and his fight for survival alongside a young, peculiar boy. Don Eber–the elderly man–begins the story on a mission to end his life prematurely. His illness has rendered him partially disabled and causes him not to be himself at times. Furthermore, Don’s father had the same disease and left Don with a considerable amount of childhood trauma. Finding it extremely difficult to cope with his condition–especially since he sees how it plays out through his father, he sought to wander out alone in the cold and escape the pain of feeling like a lesser human being.

However, Don finds himself saving a young boy’s life despite significantly unfavorable odds. This interaction restores Don’s will to live, and he ends up getting saved by the boy’s mother. As he reflects on the meaning of his life and what is important to him, he has a pivotal realization. Just because he has lost the ability to properly care for himself due to his illness does not make him any worse or less of a person. He thinks of his wife and kids caring for him, and how they know he would do the same for any one of them. He realizes that it was more the fear of being inept that was weighing down him rather than actually being less capable. If both Don and his family can accept the reality of the situation while also realizing Don’s human dignity and value remains untainted by the disease, Don should be able to live his last days with a degree of comfort and contentment. The story fortunately ends with no one being seriously harmed and Don and his family on a emotionally healthy trajectory.

Kyle’s Turning Point in Finding Himself

A passage from the Tenth of December that stood out to me was in Victory Lap on page 23 paragraph 2. This paragraph starts out with Kyle battling his own thoughts and you can see the process he is going through of what to do. This has to do with his parents, they are very strict and have a lot of rules for Kyle. However, the last line of this paragraph really stood out to me because you can see the exact moment when Kyle has a turning point. His last thought states “Quiet. I’m the boss of me”. Throughout Kyle’s life he had no control, he followed the rules and that is what he knew. But you can see how he has that moment where he was not letting people control what he was doing anymore. He was taking control of his life. I also thought it was so chilling how we saw that exact change in his mind.

The Uncanny story from Escape From Spiderhead

Her face was masked with rage. She drove her head into the wall. Like a wrathful prodigy, Heather, beloved of someone, managed, in her great sadness-fueled rage, to disassemble the chair while continuing to drive her head into the wall. (P 70)

After reading the story Escape From Spider Head from the book “The Tenth of December,” a series of short stories written by George Saunders, I come to find out how Saunders writes about dark and serious topics. This story in particular touches on the topic of the internal struggle of morality. The protaginist Jeff struggles with the moral dilemma, he has to decide if he should kill himself to save Rachel and Heather or save himself by escaping. Jeff finds himself in an oppresive, controlled setting, almost like a jail. There, he experienced much unethical experiments that played tricks with his mind. This eternal struggle eternalizes as Jeff tries to redeem himself. Jeff is in control by a man named Abnesti, who is the antagonist of the story, he belives he is working for a greater purpose. He is the one that is in control of the setting in which Jeff is in. He knows he has to obey Abnesti, if he didn’t he would be injected with docilryde (a injection that makes you obey every word someones says). Jeff meets two women, Rachel and Heather whom Abesiti made Jeff have sex with. When Jeff was asked to make a decision whether which person should be injected with Darkenfloxx (a substance that makes you severly depressed that you end up trying to kill yourself), he refuses to inject one of them with Darkenfloxx. Jeff starts to realize that Heather and Rachel are human, just like him. Abnesti injects Rachel with Darkenfloxx and Jeff is forced to watch and describe Rachels actions after being injected. Rachel is intentionally hurting herself. Jeff comes to a conclusion that he needs to save Rachel and Heather from Abnesiti. Jeff starts to show mutual regconition by viewing Rachel and Heather as human beings who have feelings. At the end of the story, Jeff results to killing himself by injecting all the drugs that Abnesti created.

How much do parents influence their children? George Saunder’s “Victory Lap” gives a possible explanation.

In many instances, children gain their beliefs, values, and their ways of living from their parents. This is inevitable, socialization plays a key role in how children act and shape their identity. George Saunders’ “Victory Lap” illustrates three different characters whose parental influence shaped their actions when faced with conflict. Saunders writes in the third person from inside the character’s minds.

Allison is fun-loving, positive, and sweet. She loves her life and her parents. They have created a supportive environment in which she can see her own value. After her incident involving Kyle and the stranger, Allison’s parents reassured her that she did the right thing. They said, “You did so good” and “Did beautiful”. It’s interesting to see how impactful parent-child dynamics can be. Her positive outlook comes from her parent’s constant support and kindness.

On the other hand, Saunders portrays Kyle’s parents as overbearing and strict. Since Kyle is their only child, they justify their actions by saying, “I know sometimes we strike you as strict but you are literally all we have.” In his every action, Kyle constantly thinks about what his parents have taught him to do and if his actions will be approved by his parents. Although the ending is unclear, Kyle may have gone so far as to “blow up” from his parent’s constant control over him.

Finally, Saunders gives his readers a glimpse from the stranger’s point of view. Even after 15 years of his stepfather, Melvin being dead, he still has a major influence on him. “Melvin appeared in his mind. On Melvin’s face was the hot look of disappointment that had always preceded an ass whooping, which had always preceded the other thing. Put up your hands, defend yourself.” This clues the reader into the reasoning why the stranger did what he did to Allison. To me, violence is probably the only thing the stranger knows: his way of life. He’s doing this to girls because he feels he has something to prove to his father: he’s not a disappointment.

“10th of December” and Memory Loss

George Saunder’s short story “10th of December” provides an interesting perspective into someone suffering from memory loss. One narrator, Don Eber, attempts suicide during the story because he is terminally ill and no treatment has worked. He sees his death as inevitable and fears what will happen to him before he dies. His stepfather went through a similar disease, and Don watched as the man he loved faded away as his stepfather’s mind deteriorated further. Don is already suffering similar symptoms, forgetting certain words, parts of his life, and almost his own name. Don wishes to commit suicide to spare his family the pain he felt watching his stepfather die. Diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have incredibly painful effects on those suffering it. This story stuck out to me because I’ve seen how memory loss can affect people. I also understand the fear about whether something like that could happen to yourself. Forgetting who you are is a terrifying idea.

Movie vs Book: Escape From Spiderhead Island

There is one conversation that can always divide avid book readers : When your favorite novel becomes a film, or say you see a film and realize its a book, which is better? Personally I tend to stick with “the book’s better so much more detail and allows you to really chew on the after math of the book” but that was until I watched Spiderhead on Netflix. Escape From Spiderhead Island is a short story by George Saunders with scifi undertones. This book explores the what if of if our emotions could be controlled by the tap of a button. Those on spiderhead island are the testing subjects and are forever bonded with a “Mobi Pack” the Mobi Pack injects chemicals into your blood streak to invoke a reaction from you for a short period of time. These reactions range from lust to mania to anger and even self reflection. Yet the book lacks detail on the subjects, why they are on this island they cant leave, and the true intensity the chemicals when put into the characters blood stream.This is where the movie comes in. 3 weeks prior to reading escape from spiderhead i watched the movie on Netflix. The characters in the film provide depth, purpose, and vividness to the story that the book simply could not etch across. For instance, within the movie, the audience sees why our main character is on spider island. Which is incredibly interesting as through the movie’s explanation subjects on spider island are incarcerated individuals serving time. The movie also outlines the rules, procedures within spiderhead day to day life , and functions of the Mobi Pack. In addition, the movie shows a darker side of Abnesti that the book doesnt really portray. So is this movie a win for books v movie adaption? Its a yes in my book.

Mutual Recognition In “The Semplica Girl Diaries”

In George Saunders’ short story, “The Semplica Girl Diaries,” Jessica Benjamin’s theory of mutual recognition is explored. In this story, Saunders fashions a world similar to the one we live in today. The one major difference, however, is that it has become popular for wealthy people to have “Semplica Girl Arrangements,” where girls from underprivileged countries are strung up by their heads as a form of lawn décor.

Saunders’ story follows a family who recently came into wealth after winning the lottery, and has bought four Semplica Girls. One of the children, Eva, is the only one who sees anything remotely wrong with society’s usage of Semplica Girls. In a piece of artwork, Eva drew her family’s four Semplica Girls with speech bubbles saying, “OUCH! THIS HURTS,” “THANKS LODES,” and “WHAT IF I AM YOUR DAUHTER.” She then, in an act of bravery, releases the Semplica Girls in the middle of the night.

Eva is the only one who has recognized the Semplica Girls as something other than objects. She sees them as human beings, not as simply lawn decorations. Even though she is the one in a position of power, she chose to equalize the power dynamic and allow the Semplica Girls freedom. We are not told, however, if the Semplica Girls also recognized Eva, to complete the circle of recognition. 

Though Eva appears slightly naive in that she released the girls into the night with no plan of where they would go, or how they would survive, and cost her family $8,600, her intentions were good. She witnessed something that didn’t sit right with her, and she chose to fix that thing. Her bravery is admirable.

Semplica Girls and the Interaction of Mutual Recognition

Semplica Girls and Lilly work toward mutual recognition when she interviews the girls for school. She goes beyond acknowledging the SGs by their Greenway names and worked on learning about their diverse backgrounds. Lilly’s interview took steps to treat them as equals, and SGs told her the stories that demonstrate they are complex people who have experienced life in a variety of ways. One SG, Januka, expressed that her name means “happy ray of sun,” and that her home country was in Laos. Rather than reducing the SGs to products of their less-developed countries, like her parents had, Lilly was able to educate her classmates about the authenticity of the Semplica Girls. In return, Lilly was mutually acknowledged by the school environment that allowed her to present her project. One could assume that the public school system would perpetuate the views of the outside world, and potentially agree with the objectification of SGs since students were educated on the Microlining process. However, in the context of the school project, Lilly was still able to share her views that opposed popular opinion.

How Kyle’s Parents in Victory Lap Affected His Every Move

No. No, no, no. They'd be gone soon. There he could go inside. Call 911. Although then everyone would know he'd done nothing. All his future life would be bad. Forever he'd be the guy who'd done nothing (21).

While I think this thought would go through some people’s minds eventually, I think the timing of Kyle’s thought (listed above) says a lot about his family dynamic and mental state. His entire life, Kyle has had to live up to the expectations of his parents. With such a strict regime and their ability to take away all his privileges in a second, Kyle has frequently had to walk on egg shells. With this in mind, I think his brain is wired to always think about consequences. In particular, social consequences, like the disappointment of his parents or in this case, society.

The idea of disappointing others means a great deal to Kyle, as impressing his parents has been a difficult task leading up to this. While he was jeopardizing his safety in order to save Alison, the alternative seemed much worse to him. By not interfering, Kyle risked being a man known for his lack of action in a serious situation.

More than anything, I believe Kyle wants to be recognized. Recognized by his parents for his achievements in high school track and recognized by society as the sophomore boy who saved Alison Pope. With such little praise at home, Kyle is finding acceptance elsewhere.

The Old Blog is Dead! Long Live the Old Blog!

For many years, we used the Blogger platform for the AP Lit blog. Since it is owned by Google, it integrates pretty seamlessly with your Google accounts — which made it easy to use, in some respects — but it is a very limited and bug-ridden platform. So this year, we have decided to construct a new class blog from scratch using the most more powerful and stable WordPress platform.

If you are interested, though, in seeing what past AP Lit students have been thinking and writing about, feel free to wander over to the old blog.

old blog

Kyle is a Killer

At the end of “Victory Lap” by George Saunders, Alison wakes up from her dream and her parents tell her that she ran outside, yelled, and stopped Kyle from killing the kidnapper. However, I think Alison’s parents are lying to her so she is not traumatized by the events. At the end of the kidnapper’s point of view, he says “He closed his eyes and waited and was not at peace at all but instead felt the beginnings of a terrible dread welling up inside him, and if that dread kept going at the current rate, he realized in a flash of insight, there was a name for the place he would be then, and it was Hell.” (25) This sentence can be perceived two ways. 1: he would be in Hell, it hasn’t happened yet, and this is more of a hypothetical situation; or 2: it WAS Hell, it happened, the kidnapper has died and gone to Hell. The use of the word “was” rather than “would be” makes me believe that the correct reading is the latter. In addition, at the time, Alison was shaking and scared for her life and seemed like she was in no state to be able to go outside and yell at Kyle to stop. Also, Kyle was so enraged and determined that I don’t think he would stop on his own. These facts lead me to believe that Kyle really did kill Alison’s kidnapper, and Alison’s parents are lying to her to protect her from feeling like his death was her fault.

Inability to Escape From Lunacy

Abnesti and Verlaine operate under the guise of scientific inquiry, however there is no ethics in their experiments and observations. They test drugs on the lowest levels of society: prisoners.

They operate under the name of science, yet their actual reasons for continuing experiments are nothing but unethical. ” ‘Are we going to Darkenfloxx TM Rachel now?’ I said. ‘Think, Jeff,’ Abnesti said. ‘How can we know that you love neither Rachel nor Heather if we only have data regarding your reaction to what just now happened to Heather? Use your noggin. You are not a scientist, but Lord knows you work around scientist all day'” (73).

And when the small voice in the back of their heads say that maybe this is wrong, the beliefs of the system they are in quickly override any sense of sanity. … “Jeff, maybe you’re overthinking this, Abnesti said. ‘It is possible the Darkenfloxx TM will kill Rachel? Sure. We have the Heather precedent. On the other hand, Rachel may be stronger. She seems a little larger.’ ‘She’s actually a little smaller,’ Verlaine said. ‘Well, maybe she’s tougher,” Abnesti said” (73).


When one is asked to think about an act they consider “forbidden” I am not sure standing in their house barefoot rather than in clean socks would come to mind. However, for Kyle, one of the three main characters in George Saunders’ “Victory Lap”, simple things that annoy parents could cause an uproar.

Throughout the section of this story that highlights what is going on inside Kyle’s head, we are never blatantly told, but can reasonably infer that his parents imply some element of neurosis, specifically OCD, onto everything that he does.

Kyle describes leaving small pieces of dirt that fell of of his shoes after a cross country practice as being “way verboten” which translates from German to “way forbidden” (11), followed by him mentally rehearsing “what if” statements in his head to mentally prepare himself for consequence if his parents returned home.

After racing to the garage to grab something to clean up the specks of dirt, he realizes he simply threw his shoes into the garage instead of placing them “on the Shoe Sheet as required, toes facing away from the door for ease of donnage later” and tore off his socks, leaving him standing barefoot in the living room, another act that he considered “absolutely verboten” (12).

Moments like this cause Kyle to do something that is a large part of how he handles situations; by swearing in his head. Arguing with himself about whether or not he is allowed to swear in his head because he is not allowed to swear out loud, we can see how his parents’ rules are driving him mad Phrases such as “crap-cunt shit-turd dick-in-the-ear butt-creamery” surround Kyle’s mind, simply because he does not feel he can express emotions and feelings that his parents cause him to have out loud.

Enacting extreme regime in a household, whether parents think it may be beneficial or not, tends to have a very large affect on children. From shows such as “The Strictest Parents in the World” on TLC to the words of George Saunders, we see the impact that reprimanding one’s child can have on their mental well-being.

The disregard of his passion for cross country because “anyone can jog” and credence that “if he [Kyle] wants the privilege of competing in team sport, he must show that he can live in our perfectly reasonable system of directives designed to benefit him”, shows us that Kyle seems to lack any sort of intimacy that a normal family household should possess (14).

There’s a saying that every house is a house but not every house is a home, which seems to ring true in this situation. Home should be somewhere where accomplishments are celebrated, memories are made, and relationships are fostered. In a home where the parents seem to believe that they had children for the sole purpose of their children serving them, a true societal binary nowadays when discussing involuntary submission and dominance, the lack of, in simple terms, love, causes extreme hardship, which can really drive some children to the point of exhaustion.

Repetition in “Escape from Spiderhead”

The story is “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Saunders. The main antagonist of the story is Abnesti, the leader of the experiment who uses the prisoners as guinea pigs to create a drug to control love.

I found the second part of the story to be interesting as it journeys through the mind of a character whose feelings are being controlled and tampered with.

Throughout the story, there is a kind of baseline tone that is calm and to the point, and then there is a heightened tone when Jake is on drugs or he is trying to prevent torture or he is having an out of body experience as he accepts his death. In the baseline tone, sentences are shorter, ideas are more repetitive, and the characters seem to care less about their surroundings.

The baseline tone reminded me of a movie I watched recently called The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. It’s about an exaggerated future dystopia in which people find a relationship and stay in it or they will be turned into an animal of their choosing. One of themes is the grey area between true love and society pressuring people into relationships. In that movie people talk like robots and act emotionless. The characters get angry and sad, and they get happy, and their dialogue carries weight, but the way they act reflects emptiness. I found similarities between that movie and this story in the way that the prisoners have a lessened sense of reality which causes them to act strangely, as well as the way society in this story wants to control love.

My favorite quote in this story is on page 78. “Why was she dancing? No reason. Just alive, I guess.” In this part of the story, an indifferent Jake watches a character act strangely and doesn’t care enough to give an elaborate response to the situation. Whenever Jake is not high on Verbulace, he is indifferent to his surroundings. He accomplishes two things in the story: he solves the mystery of what Abnesti is doing, and he kills himself. And most of the story is very repetitive: he has sex with Heather and then he has sex with Rachel. He is put in a room with Rogan, and then Keith. Jake asks the same questions, and follows the same orders, and in the climax of the story he acts on “basic human emotion” and saves Rachel from torture, in a decision to end his life that lasts a few lines.

“Escape from Spiderhead” presents society within the walls of a prison and allows the protagonist to break out in the end. I think the way Saunders presents love is interesting, as a drug to be played with rather than a serious emotion to focus in on. And I think the way Saunders presents his characters is used to convey a sense of detachment from reality in a society where higher-ups have control over emotions like love.

Sylvia Vs. Miss Moore

In “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, Sylvia and Miss Moore have an odd relationship. Miss Moore seems to fully recognize Sylvia and the kids as individuals but Sylvia does not. In the story, Miss Moore calls the kids by their first names rather than their nicknames (111 & 114). Calling someone by their own name is special and defines their identity. She treats them as human beings rather than as delinquents or trouble makers as others might. Even though Miss Moore is anything but rude to the kids, they still treat her awfully, especially Sylvia.

One can tell from the beginning that Sylvia has lots of contempt for Miss Moore when she thinks, “I’m really hating this nappy-head bitch and her goddamn college degree” (110). This disrespect is expressed again when Sylvia thinks, “… though I never talk to her, I wouldn’t give the bitch that satisfaction” (113). Sylvia probably does not have much power in her life, being a poor, black girl, so she acts rude and bossy trying to maintain any sort of power/control she can get. However, Miss Moore constantly attempts to break down this power struggle by treating Sylvia properly and not putting her down. Miss Moore strives for mutual recognition while Sylvia wants to remain in control.

Jeff’s Perception of Love

I find it really interesting how love is shown in this short story as being only sexual. Jeff learns nothing about Heather or Rachel as people, they don’t laugh together or know each other’s favorite things, and yet they claim to be in love because they had sex three times. When talking about Heather, Jeff says “And I was definitely still feeling love for her… Why do you think they call it ‘making love’? That is what we had just made three times: love.” (51). This means that Abnesti/the drug creators also share the same ideas about love, since they are the ones that created the love drug to do that. It seems that everyone in this story just has one idea of what love is, and it doesn’t seem to go much deeper than physical attraction.