One’s philosophy on life can be defining. In the novel “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” by Fred Chappell, the reader is introduced to the character Joe Robert Kirkman and the philosophy that his son, the narrator, tries to show the reader. This philosophy is that of an optimist. Joe Robert sees life as the full spectrum of good and bad. Joe Robert seems to like to stick to the safe and understood but pushes the boundaries of speaking the truth and enlightenment. It could be understood that Joe Robert is extremely courageous and heroic, both in his everyday life and as a teacher.
Joe Robert Kirkman states, “’Take away the stuff of tears, there is nothing left to make laughter of’” (35). This signifies that he understands that even though there are things in life that are bad and cause sadness, those bad things are there for a reason. He sees that these bad things are the very reason that you can, and have to, laugh at the things that happen to you. Without the bad things in life, how would someone know what was truly good to them? For instance, when he pulls the little girl out of the creek in his best suit and essentially ruins his chance of making a good impression in front of the school board, he can only take it as something to laugh at and move on. So Joe Robert puts on the new overalls from Campbell’s store and continues on with his day and thus begins the comical series of events that will lead to the reader seeing the clown that he looks like by the time he gets to the school board meeting later that afternoon.
Seeing life in full spectrum is something that Joe Robert is also talented in. The reader sees this in his statement, “’When you kept a willing heart, an open mind, you saw life as a collocation of extremities’” (35). Joe Robert is saying that life is the full spectrum of extremities. He even states, “’ On one side were terror, despair, catastrophe, tragic ruin, and flood and famine and torture and disease. Humanity had just...
Cited: Chappell, Fred. Brighten the Corner Where You Are. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Print.
Lang, John. Understanding Fred Chappell. Colombia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000.
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