The Irritable Howe
As you read the story “Of This Time, Of That Place,” by Lionel Trilling you realize that Joseph Howe has a lot of annoyances to deal with. A negative criticism of his poetry by Frederic Woolley makes him tense and defensive around others that he knows have read the article. He has to deal with Tertan the strange student who is later diagnosed with a mental illness and Blackburn who sets off Howe’s irritations almost every time they meet. Soon you’ll understand how irritable of a person Howe is.
When facing the class for the first time, Howe was very irritated. As all the students rushed to their classes Howe himself was procrastinating. He stopped by his office and lit himself a cigarette. Not only did this kill some time before he had to face the class it also probably helped calm his nerves. He now knew it was time to go to class. “The prospect of facing his class had suddenly presented itself to him and his hands were cold” (271). When he entered the classroom all voices were ceased and the students looked at him. To Howe, “their faces seemed gross” (271). So showing authority he briskly stated his name, and turned and wrote it on the blackboard. Then a little later on he turns to the black board again and speaks to the class over his shoulder. By him speaking over his shoulder it shows that he is still “grossed” out by the student’s faces.
While the class was writing a paper, Howe was enjoying an idly moment at his desk, when suddenly a boy at the door way interrupts the class. The boy wanted to know if he had the right room for the English 1A class. Howe nodded to him and the boy stopped before Howe and said, “I am Tertan, Ferdinand R., reporting at the direction of head of Department Vincent” (273). The introduction brought fourth a mocking cheer from the class, and “Howe looked at the class with a sternness he could not really feel, for there was indeed something ridiculous about this boy” (273). Here Howe is irritated at the...
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