Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Cheese Monkeys

Winter Sorbeck is the most complicated, emotional, and debatably crazy character in CHip Kidd's book The Cheese Monkeys. His class critiques are generally crippling and sharp, almost to the point that they could cut the recipient of the criticism with a knife. In this excerpt on pages 184-186, Winter surprises everyone including the reader by commending Maybelle on her excellent ad. The assignment was to, "Design a poster, so that upon seeing it, the viewer will feel strongly compelled either to start an action or cease one." Maybelle's sign reads, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T THINK OF ELEPHANTS. Winter's reaction to this sign is to hold up the sign to random passerby on the street and see what they think:
Energised, he threw it open and barked at some random passerby, "Hey!"
We heard a muffled "What?"-an older man's voice. Winter thrust the poster out into space.
"Look at this!"
A beat, then Sorbeck asked, "So? What does it make you think of?"
"Uh, elephants?'
"RIGHT! Hah! Go AWAY!"
He pulled it back in and faced us. Intoxicated.
He reflexively beat his fist against the window, cracking the pane. He did it again. We heard a shower of glass hit the pavement.
"Do you SEE?"
This passage really stood out to me because it characterizes Winter as well as gives insight into his thinking process. The phrase "Do you SEE?" shows that Winter is trying to get his students to take away more from his class besides the proper design of advertisements and instead wants his students to learn how to influence the world. From a formalist lens, the capitalization of certain words stresses what Mr. Sorbeck is trying to say. Words like "intoxicated" and "power" show that he really cares about what he is teaching.