14 Replies Latest reply on 7-Feb-2017 9:37 PM by aking

    Discussion #2: Swing Set

    teachontario.team

      2. Swing Set

       

      Before Reading This Section:

      • What are your own personal experiences with swings and playgrounds?

       

      After Reading This Section:

      • How many different setting appear in this section? How are they similar and different to each other?
      • Is there a dominant feeling or emotion in this section? What is it and how do the images contribute to the portrayal of these feelings?
        • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
          noproblem

          I loved the swings (sometimes I still swing when we take my dog and son for a walk). On a swing you can keep swinging yourself until you get to a height where you are clearing the support beams - when you're that high you get a really interesting view, for a second at a time, from a point much higher than you could ever jump. I used to love getting as high as I could and then, just at the right moment, I'd jump off of my seat. For a couple of seconds I'd be flying...then the ground would come to my feet and I'd have to take a couple of hyper-accelerated steps to catch myself. Then I'd start all over again. Swings also had the potential to make you dizzy - which was actually a really good thing when I was a kid. I'd lay on my stomach (especially on those flexible seats) and then I'd turn and turn and turn until the chains wouldn't let me turn anymore - then, when I'd stop turning, the chains would spin me around and around and around.

          My one bad memory from a playground involves me not responding to the recess bell and a teacher pulling me off the monkey bars by my ear (the 80s were fun - but I also probably deserved it).

           

          I feel like there are six settings in this section. I see: The tracks, the swing set, the classroom, the church, the dormitory, entire school yard/field .

          I see a connection between the feet (boots) in different settings. The feet on the tracks are grounded; there is movement but it's slow, almost at a stand still, almost planted - almost stuck. The feet that are hanging from the swings (swinging feet) are moving back and forth - they're more free - at least for the first few panels that we see them. The swinging feet seem to slow down as they endure the settings of classroom, church and dormitory. In fact, the swinging feet come to a standstill right after the panel where the priest/teacher is staring at Chanie in his bed and we are left to wonder and fear what might be next.

           

          The first four pages of this section feel draining; like energy being taking away, like being told to stop - being told you have to stop doing something - feels like forced compliance and worse.

           

          The next section feels like a rapid change of pace. Suddenly there is a lot going on and I feel confusion - too much, too fast, what's happening? Every time a panel focuses on Chanie he looks uncertain to me, like things aren't clear. The boy that is standing beside Chanie is twisting the swing's chains and these images feel like a metaphor for confusion - even if it is not deliberate from the other boys, Chanie is confused, though he is trying hard to follow their lead. He must be further conflicted or at least distracted when he looks at the little girl - the "Kid looking me in the eye".

           

          The full page panel where Chanie jumps off his swing feels like a breaking point - like jumping from a form of childhood freedom (the swing) to a scary, dizzying freedom that he is clearly not prepared for in his running away. Lastly, there seems to be a terrible realization when we shift from the memory back to reality - when it shifts from three free boys to one lonely boy on a train track...his cold breath even looks like a 3 as if he's saying "there were three of us when we left but now I'm alone".

          • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
            carolyng

            My experiences on swings and playgrounds were mostly positive…I would be there with my friends, carefree and challenging gravity and my fairly low tolerance of risk. Sometimes competition would push things into a place where I felt threatened, but I had the luxury of choice; I could stay and stand my ground or overcome my fears, or I could leave in search of more satisfactory pastimes. There were rarely adults around…it was rather a long time ago and we lived in a safe neighborhood.

            There are many settings: the playground; the school room; the chapel; the tracks; the dormitory; the happy memory where Chanie is fishing with his father. Apart from the memory, all of the settings are colorless. Repetition, either in full images or of feet suggests the passage of time to me...a hopeless, relentless routine that bears no resemblance to the children's former lives. The sequence in the playground where the boys are watching as the girl tries to run away plays out during a shorter time span and leads to a moment of truth. They are watching powerlessly and can no longer endure the conditions at the school. The older boy seems to want to intervene but knows it would be futile. There is explosive motion and release. Chanie only looked back once...no one was chasing the boys, likely because it was preferable to let them go instead of dealing with individuals who might not be possible to break.

            I think the dominant emotion is despair. The only actions available to the children are resignation or flight. The images reinforce the reality of those children’s lives; a bleak existence where they are told every day that everything they hold dear must be purged before they can be considered human beings.

            • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
              stratis

              Before Reading This Section:

              • What are your own personal experiences with swings and playgrounds?

              Playgrounds are a source of injury for me.  Tussles always arguing for the best swing or what game to play.

               

              After Reading This Section:

              • How many different settings appear in this section? How are they similar and different to each other?

              There are a few settings and they are all bleak.

              • Is there a dominant feeling or emotion in this section? What is it and how do the images contribute to the portrayal of these feelings?

              Compliance and bewilderment.    They eyes, the head hanging down and the lack of proper clothing suggest these feelings.

              • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                sevenfold

                I recall swing sets and playgrounds as happy, exciting places where I felt free to do as I pleased (completely unlike the represented in the book).

                I see 6 settings in this section: 3 inside the school and 3 outside. They are different in that the indoor settings convey a complete lack of power on the children's part, while the outdoor settings show a chance at hope, planning, and choice.  Even so, all settings feel prison-like: the sparsely furnished interior of the school, the unsafe bedroom, the view of the brick walls from the school yard - fear and tension can be sensed heavily throughout.

                • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                  gailterry

                  Before Reading This Section:

                  • What are your own personal experiences with swings and playgrounds?

                  My greatest memory of swings was the waiting my turn for the swing.  Once my turn came I can recall  and the sense of freedom as you went higher and higher.  We all waited until we were big enough to move from the small swing sets to the big kid swing set. 

                   

                  • How many different settings appear in this section? How are they similar and different to each other?

                  In the classroom scenes you see the look of bewilderment on the children's faces and praying.  You see Chanie walking the railroad tracks and I wonder if here  is recalling all of the scenes as he is walking.  When I see the swings I am wondering if this is where he did his planning to leave. When the children are at the swings and by themselves was this the only place they could talk and plan without a constant surveillance of the adults.  Do the swings represent to him, an opportunity to be free again?  In the bedroom scenes you again see the look of fear and bewilderment of the lived realities. 

                   

                  • Is there a dominant feeling or emotion in this section? What is it and how do the images contribute to the portrayal of these feelings?

                  Bewilderment...... how did this happen to me, what is happening to me, how can I get out of here, how can I get home, where is home, I have to get away from this, whatever it takes......

                  • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                    rjerome

                    My personal feelings towards playgrounds and swing sets is ambiguous. I have bad childhood memories associated with them so they don't inspire feelings of childhood innocence or play. Swing sets became settings for deep conversations when I reached my teenage years.


                    How many different setting appear in this section? How are they similar and different to each other?

                     

                    I'd say there's 6 different scenes. There's the secret path, the playground/swing set, boy's dormitory, church, the classroom, and the forest behind the residential school. The settings are similar to each other because they each represent an area that creates unease for Chanie. I also want to say they are similar because they could have potential, but human beings didn't allow these settings to give indigenous communities hope. They're different because some settings Chanie has more control than others - like where there is less supervision.

                     

                    Is there a dominant feeling or emotion in this section? What is it and how do the images contribute to the portrayal of these feelings?

                     

                    The dominant feeling is tension. There's tension in the power structures. Chanie and his classmates are rebelling against the residential schools by running away when the brother is distracted with disciplining their peer. They use the distraction to run away from the tension. There is hope in Chanie walking the secret path, but then he has memories where the residential school was destroying his culture. At the end, there's hope again when he runs away with the other boys. The images help portray these feelings through repetition. The foreground and background shows power structures by placing the person in power in more dominant positions and sizes. Repetition extends the feelings of unease. Most of the scenes shown are ones without hope. How can Chanie survive?

                    • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                      dianamali

                      We're having a great discussion for section 2, "Swing Set". Here is a short summary of some of the key ideas that have emerged so far.

                       

                      For most people, swings and swing sets invoke positive memories. Many described the sensation of flying, soaring, and the emotions connected to that sensory experience.

                       

                      Participants have noticed several different settings, such as the tracks, the playground, the classroom, the church, the dorm and the field. The inside locations were compared to the outside locations, in that the outside settings hold a bit of hope or potential that the indoor spots lack. The consensus still seems to be that all the areas share the same sense of repetition, unease, incarceration, bleakness, compliance, etc.

                       

                      As for the dominant feelings,

                      • Emile has described it as draining and confusing
                      • Carolyn says it's full of despair
                      • Janet mentioned being compliant and bewildered
                      • Jane commented on the fear and tension
                      • Gail reiterated the bewilderment
                      • Rebecca echoed the sense of tension

                       

                      I hope I've captured the gist of the talk so far. Did I miss or misrepresent anything?

                       

                      Diana

                      • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                        ruthmurray-edu

                        I remember swinging high on the swings - I hated when the swings at some parks weren't fully cemented in, and as you went higher, one of the legs of the set would raise slightly and then thump back into its hole. I'd always stop going any higher when that happened! I can't swing nearly as high now as I did when I was a kid - I start feeling sick - very unfair! Also used swings for contemplation, and "deep" teenage talks - but we wouldn't swing high til after the talking - during the talking we would just kind of rock. I hated jumping off from a height while still swinging - always had to drag my feet to slow it down.

                        Most striking for me: the shadow the priest casts across Chanie's bed, and the feet planted solidly in the following panel. Makes my stomach drop.

                        Where have the other 2 boys gone?

                        • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                          jennmacbrown

                          Before Reading This Section:

                          • What are your own personal experiences with swings and playgrounds?

                          I was a pretty cautious and maybe even anxious kid.  I played on swings sets etc with my sisters and cousins but always made sure I was using them safely and according to the rules set out by the adults.  I never considered taking risks that went beyond this fun, safe type of play.  This was very different than some of my siblings and cousins. I always admired their fearlessness. 

                           

                          As a mom, one of my fondest memories is putting each of my four girls into the baby swings at the playground for the first time and listening to their giggles and watching the smiles on their wee faces. Then as they grew up I loved helping them figure out how to pump their legs on the big swings so they did not need me to push them anymore. 

                           

                          After Reading This Section:

                          • How many different setting appear in this section? How are they similar and different to each other?

                          I noticed 4 distinct settings in this section: train tracks, swings/outdoor play, bedroom, church/chapel.

                           

                          All 4 settings are still represented by the grey darkness that differentiates his life at home and the existence in the residential schools. The swings and the train tracks do seem to show a level of "freedom".  Not authentic in any way, but the swings were a chance for kids to play and in this case to plan their escape.  The other children playing, sadly acted as a cover/distraction for their escape.  The tracks offer the same tragic, melancholy "freedom" as they are hopeful it will lead to home. 

                           

                          The group bedroom and pews of the chapel offer no sense of "freedom" or play.  For me, they represent oppression and abuse for groups of children.

                           

                          • Is there a dominant feeling or emotion in this section? What is it and how do the images contribute to the portrayal of these feelings?

                           

                          I think melancholy is the feeling that surfaces. For me the horrific irony of a playground even being offered to the children as some kind of reward or substitute for authentic play and freedom is heartbreaking.  For the children to know they may face sexual, physical and emotional abuse inside the walls of the school, implies that the outdoor time is the only chance to feel any sense of real childhood and a small window of opportunity to coordinate an escape.

                          • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                            vchetcuti

                            Before reading:

                            I loved the swings as a child, and even as a teenager. They were always a fun thing for me. Swings were a place where my best friend and I laughed, talked, planned our futures together and talked about boys. The park was also a place where my father liked to take us on weekends after the donut shop! All good memories connected to swing sets for me.

                             

                            After reading:

                            Settings: swings, classroom, church, dormitory forest and tracks

                            The similarities are in the lack of colour as seen when Chanie is with his family.  The differences are in the "positioning" of the characters. It feels like sometimes we are looking in at the action, and other times we are part of it. Some of the scenes show him alone, and others he is part of a group.

                            To me the overall emotion is fear. It is shown is facial features of the children and in the one child's reaction to the priest touching them. The empty swing seems to portray the same fear as well as sadness or emptiness.

                            • Re: Discussion #2: Swing Set
                              aking

                              When my son Max was very little, he would start to shake and cry whenever he went near the swingset.  Later he loved them so much that I couldn't tear him away from the motion.  Looking back, I think these reactions of his were one of the indicators that later became part of his profile of autism.  Hmmm.

                              I think the swingset is a metaphor for attachment to the school....the swinging is repetitive and the chains bind Chanie and the other boys to the residential school.  When Chanie is deciding when to go, the chains are in every picture.  The video of this section of The Secret Path is very chaotic as the videographer decided to emphasize the spinning of the swing.  Even Lemire focuses in on parts of boys and parts of the swing until the escape is made and then moves to a long shot perspective so we can take in the wilderness that they're running into.

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