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April 20, 1980 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-20
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Page 6-Sunday, April 20, 1980-The Michigan Daily

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday

Books

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Reading for a sense of self

By Carol Koletsky
THROWING SHADOWS
By E. L. Konigsburg
Atheneum, 151 pp.
A WARENESS OF ONE'S self is something we
value quite highly today. We have time for
luxuries and relaxation-and we also have time to
think about ourselves. There is a special kind of stress
on the unique cognitive and emotional behavior of the
individual, an accentuation of certain qualities that is
utterly new. We also emphasize the need to healthily
control one's ego drives so that we can maintain self-
respect and live in friendship with all kinds of people.
This is a complex challenge which we pose to children.
It is one that lasts a lifetime.
The concept of understanding oneself appears in all
of E. Konigsburg's books. Konigsburg is a mother,
wife, chemist, and author of numerous award-winning
books for children. Her first published and best-known
book was the Newbery medal winner of 1968, From the
Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, that un-
forgettable, lovable story about the runaways who seek
adventure in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The
story reveals the maturing relationship between two
siblings. Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William
McKinley and Me, Elizabeth, the Newbery Honor win-
ner about the secret world in which experiments with
flying ointment fail, yet lead to the recognition of
friendship, and About the B'Nai Bagels, are other
Konigsburg favorites in which this subject matter is
constant.
Most critics agree that Konigsburg is a "moral
writer;" that is, her characters grapple with ethical
issues. Her books, though, are non-didactic. They show
children the importance of being honest with them-
selves and others. They discuss through fable the
meaning and challenge of responsibility, relationships
between people, and developing self-identity. Many
children's authors do not explore these issues;
Konigsburg's is important because she does, for isn't
that what growing up is all about? In Konigsburg's
most recent book, Throwing Shadows, children again
are shown able to see how and why they are respon-
sible for their actions. They again learn that interac-
tion leads to growth and change. And that leads to self-
discovery and self-confidence.
Carol Koletsky is an Honors concentrator in Chil-
dren's Literature and a recent winner of the Uni-
versity'sfirst Children's Book Council A ward.

Throwing Shadows is a collection of five short vignet-
tes about five children: NIed, Ampara, Avery, Phillip,
and William. The narratives are written in first person
to give the children's viewpoint. The five children have
extremely different characters and backgrounds. Yet
they all are unaware of their own identities.
Konigsburg's approach is unique. She creates several
different plots and weaves them together by means of a
common theme-for the lessons the children learn are
the same. Through experiences with people very dif-
ferent from themselves the children learn things about
themselves, thereby "throwing shadows" that enable
them to see themselves clearly. They learn to under-
stand, discover, accept, or change, their own reflec-
tions. Through new. insights and perceptions, the
children learn that the single most important
ingredient for attaining satisfaction in life is a sense of
self.
Konigsburg's perceptions of the child protagonists
are deep and down-to-earth. She thoroughly examines
and interprets her characters, so that the reader can
see the learning process evolve. Her characters instill
in her readers confidence to seek out who they them-
selves are, and to be content with themselves and the
moral decisions they make.
THE COLLECTION begins with Ned's story "On
Shark's Tooth Beach." Ned shares his mother's
hobby, which is collecting shark's teeth. One day a
lonely old man who has nothing better to do but boast
about his being former president of a university, takes
an interest in the boy's search for shark's teeth. The
old mnan claims he knows things he doesn't; he an-
tagonizes and competes with Ned. Slowly and subtley,
Ned gets sucked into playing games with the old man,
trying to outwit him for fun. When Ned finds a prize
trophy to take home to his mother, he holds it in view of
his elder. Ned sayd, "I thought about his face, and that
made me think about mine. If his face was a movie
called Jealousy and Greed, I didn't like the words I
could put to mine."
Not only do the readers get a feel of Ned's love for the
ocean in Konigsburg's narrative, they get a satisfying
moral resolution. Ned feels compelled to play games
and compete until he recognizes his ability to feel pity
and compassion for the old man and to control his own
egotistic drives. He becomes during the story a person
of deep perception and understanding.
Ned's and Avery's stories are the best in the collec-
tion. In "The Catchee," poor Avery is a little boy who is
always the innocent victim of circumstances. It is he
who gets caught and blamed for everything that hap-

pens. He sees himself as an eternal loser-"I realized
that the world is made up of two kinds of people: the
catchers and the catchees. I was a catchee," Avery
bemoans. His big brother Orville, however, can do
anything; he drives through red lights and never gets'
caught.Here Konigsburg addresses the problem of the
guilty escaping punishment. With Orville's help,
though, Avery forms a new self-image: although he
has been and may always be a catchee, being one has
built character. He has always remained honest and
brave, and this knowledge will help him overcome his
circumstances.
Ampara is an American tour bus guide in Ecuador in
"In the Village of the Weavers." She explains her
training and duties as a tour guide, and how tourists
are ripped off by shrewd foreigners. One of her bus
stops is in Antonio's village. Little Antonio sells goods.
Both children learn.to share each others' cultures and
languages. In fact, they have a very even exchange:
Antonio travels on her tour bus, entertaining the
tourists and selling them his wares, and Ampara thus
becomes a famous and favorite tour guide. In addition
to issues such as the importance of polite manners,
physical maturity, and Indian superstitions, which
Konigsburg carefully weaves into this story, the reader
watches Ampara discover Antonio's talents and learn
new things about herself.
A T THE HOME" IS the story of Phillip, who ac-
companies his mother to the old folks home one
day. He listens to old Mr. Malin sing Ukranian songs,
and tapes the life story of Mrs. Ilona, an Hungarian
woman who made a dramatic escape from the Nazis,
and Russians. Mrs. Ilona is proud of herself and her
fascinating story. She finds the other old folks boring,
just like the colors beige and gray. Phillip learns about
what it means to grow old, and, by meeting other
patients, learns that all old folks have interesting
stories to tell. He teaches Mrs. Ilona not to stereotype
old people as boring, but to listen to them. She agrees to
take over his job tape-recording the patients. In this
way, the patients can share with each other, and build
a tape library in the home. Mrs. Ilona's story is at
times slow and a little repetitious, though a good
general history of World War II foi£hildren. The
lesson of the young and the old--and& old an"a
old-learning to share, and the self-realizal ,*at
both Phillip and Mrs. Ilona achieve, make the stry
meaningful.
"With Bert and Ray," the final story, is both
William's and his mother's search for sense of self.
Books to 8

By Sara Anspach
T SOUNDS LIKE THE job you've
been waiting for. The hours are
good, the workplace is spotless,
an they usually pay in cash. Depen-
ding on the job, the wage can vary from
$15 an hour to $6 a minute. Either way
it's not too bad.
You really don't have to do anything.
They aren't the least bit interested in
your mind. It's your body, or some part
of it, that they're after.
You might be asked to donatea small
piece of skin from your hip. Or maybe
they'll give you a new drug to test, or
stick a catheter in your heart. The risk
is minimal and if it hurts, well, you're
being reimbursed...
No amount of convincing, though, will
make most of us rush out and sign up to
be a paid volunteer for one of the cam-
pus research experiments waiting for
potentialrsubjects. No matter how
much we abuse our own bodies, most of
us are very wary about what we let
others do to them. Those fortunate few
who can overcome this uneasiness have
a profitable part time profession they
can fall back on in an emergency. Few
participate often enough to get rich,
although there are stories of enter-
prising entrepreneurs who work their
way through medical school loaning
their bodies to researchers.
Both researchers and subjects show
disdain for the term "guinea pig." "It's
so . .. so derogatory," says an LSA
senior who has participated in several
medical experiments. Second year
medical student Karen Wilson has a
better suggestion for a name: "We're
scientific prostitutes," she says.
It's an apt description. Though some
show an interest in the experiment,
Sara A nspach covers the Regents
for the Daily.

some come as a favor to the researcher
and some arrive with an air of altruism,
the overwhelming majority are there
for the money. There aren't any other
legal ways to make so much money in
so little time. And many of the par-
ticipants really are desperate for
money, at least the first time they
volunteer. Once the guard is down and
they find out, as many do, that it is not
as terrible as they thought it would be,
they may choose to participate more of-
ten "for fun."
Engineering junior Mark Pressprich
was "destitute" last summer when he
noticed an advertisement on a bulletin
board in University Hospital where he
worked as,.a patient sitter. The notice
wanted volunteers for a digestion ex-
periment. It didn't sound too bad, and
the total pay would be $150. "I was down
in the bucks,", he says. "When you need
money you'll do just about anything."
Pressprich attended three sessions of
about four hours each. He swallowed a
tube that went from his mouth to his
small intestine so food could bypass his
stomach in an experiment to test the ef-
fect certain enzymes have on food. It
wasn't a comfortable experience, but
he's philosophical: "A hundred and fif-
ty bucks is pretty good money for a tube
in your mouth." And besides, he adds,
the hospital fed him several free din-
ners, which were greatly appreciated
at the time.
MONG THOSE WHO do this sort
of thing often, there are very
A ew who will do in-
mnately any old type of ex-
periment just because the price is right.
Those who are familiar with the market
can name certain tests they would
never participate in.Fortunately for
the researchers, the standards of
would-be subjects vary somewhat ar-
bitrarily and widely advertised ex-
periments seldom lack for participants.
"I've got funny priorities," says
medical student Wilson. "There's an
experiment where you. sell a small
swatch of skin for $60 and I wouldn't do
that, yet I'll allow them to put a tube in
my heart." She's referring to a series of
"cardiac catherization" hypertension
experiments she participated in last
summer. During this series a catheter
was inserted into the right atrium of
Wilson's heart through a vein in her

y'

arm. Her blood pressure was measured "people us:
while she lay on a tilted table, drugged known to hav
and wearing a knee-length water vest. Before ev
"I never completely lost consciousness, must sign a
but my blood pressure went pretty low she or he is
at times," she notes nonchalantly. She and discon:
says she was "somewhat uncomfor- periment.
table," but that the $250 she earned was mal"-or I
"the best money I've ever made." minimal ris
The skin donation Wilson refuses to emergency
do is actually one of the more 'popular' mediate car
experiments-in spite of the fact that
each donation leaves a small scar. A UT '
participant is given a shot of wro:
Novocaine, and a small bit of skin is stud
scraped from the buttocks or hip, the rea name r
area is bandaged and the donor walks participate
away with $60 in cash. An overly eager periment for
student reportedly donated skin about was inserted
15 times. Max Dehn, an LSA Ea
sophomore, donated skin last year. "It
felt like I tripped and fell and scraped
my hip, only I was saved the pain of
falling by the novocaine," he says. "I
wouldn't do it again unless I needed the
money, but for $60 you can live with the
Medical students have an edge over . ,
other volunteers, and they often check
out drugs beforehand that are going to
be used in an experiment to determine
if they are "safe." Greg Goyert, a
second year medical student, says he
checked out the consequences of taking
a drug by consulting with a friend in
pharmacology before he participated
in a certain experiment. "When you're N
using drugs, it's prudent to be wary,"
he advises. Wilson also won't par-
ticipate in an experiment that uses
drugs she considers dangerous. She
says, for example, that she would not
volunteer for a research project that
involves a certain drug used to induce
amnesia in surgical patients, because

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