Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paradise Fragment: Steven

So I’m grading English 101 midterms and getting pretty bored and frustrated with reading 25 essays on the same topic. Granted, it’s an interesting topic—to analyze Wim Wenders’ film “Wings of Desire.” But it’s funny how 25 freshman essays can sort of take the magic and beauty out of something.

So I’m almost done (Thank God), when I get to Steven’s essay. Steven is someone I would stereotype as a “bro.” He’s pretty built, has his hair always sort of gelled and spiky, wears clothing brands like Hurley and Hollister, and drives a raised truck (I learned this during a class discussion of the oil crisis). Anyway, I’m not expecting much from Steven’s essay.

And then I begin reading. And it’s the most insightful, intelligent essay in the class. He explains how the dual worlds of the humans and angels in the film are representative of the struggle for self-identity Germany was facing in the 1980s, in the last years of the Cold War, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. His essay actually moves me. I would think it was plagiarism, but it was an in-class essay, and I can detect Steven’s voice in the writing, albeit a different Steven from the one he presents himself as.

I finish the essay, stunned. And I make a decision not to pre-judge anyone until I really know them, even “bros.”

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