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As I told you in class on Wednesday, you will need to watch this video for Monday, May 14.

The Rise of Realism

Find the text we read in class HERE


Hawthorne – Black Veil – Scanned



Here’s the video we watched in class to write the article. Bring your brainstorm and outline for next class.

American Renaissance Test Preparation

As you remember, we read and discusses the article on the book. These are the questions, and attached you will find the article.

THIS IS THE PDF: American Renaissance

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the fact that there was an American Shakespeare? PAGE 207


  1. Why was there a good relationship between Hawthorne and Melville?


  1. Is it better to say that there was an American renaissance or a coming of age?


  1. What evidence is there of the lyceums, the abolitionists and women’s rights struggle in today’s USA?


  1. Which of Plato’s ideas were clearly seen in transcendentalism?


  1. Where did Emerson get ideas to construct his idea of transcendentalism?


  1. How could Emerson’s transcendentalism go against the church?


  1. What could be the plot of a story written by a dark romantic?


  1. If you had been born in the 1840’s, what would your life differ from what it is now?



Here are the pictures and video we used in class to write the response paragraph.

GRADE 8: Cool inventions and We Can Remember it.

As I promised, here are the video about cool inventions and the audio for We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.


Science Fiction Introduction




Hi dear grade 8,

  • As it has been requested, here are the main topics you need to prepare for the consolidation exam.
  • It is also advisable to review the topics, not necessarily to read the stories again. Namely, remember the GLOBAL CONTEXTS: Scientific and technical innovation, Fairness and development, Identities and relationships.

Units are in the link below:




Writers’ genre and language choices allow them to communicate inner states and influence readers’ minds, through artistry, craft, creation and beauty.


Hi dear grade 8,


For the summative assessment of unit 5, you need to look up information, and take it either in your computer or printed, about dictatorships and totalitarian governments and over all the political and social consequences they brought to people. World War II dictatorships as well as others are to be considered. Also, you need to know what has happened in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez’s regime and its consequences.

You will write a statement for the United Nations of at least 500 words where you will tell the world about the consequences of totalitarian governments and in nations along history. This is to be written in class, by hand in paper I will provide.

The essay is not intended to provide a solution; you will just expose the evidence so that Venezuela’s politicians get to an agreement and find a peaceful solution. You can use any of the structures for the essays that we learned so far and must include at least, an introduction, two or three body paragraphs and a conclusion.



Hi grade 8,

Here’s the text.




Jeanne Houston Wakatsuki interview

Dear grade 8, here’s the interview with the book author to watch at home.


Hello grade 9 ladies,

Here you will find a few links where you practice for the First Certificate Exam.

When you click on the link below, you will see this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 19.08.39

As soon as you finish the first part (see pic below), go to the second, then the third and so on until you do all 7.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 19.16.59


Click on the link below and begin taking the test.



Here’s the guideline we read in class for you to write your essay on Thursday.

Reaction Essay Guidelines




Year 4 / Third Term



Teacher’s name: Juan Pablo Vanegas / Gina Virviescas


Humanity: Caught in a Progress Trap, Again


A Short History of Progress. Ronald Wright. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2004. 211 pp.

Leslie Evans



  1. Generally, I don’t pay attention to very short books that try to trace the entire history of the human race, and worse, present the author’s pet theory of why we are now on the verge of collapse. Ronald Wright tackles this daunting task in an undersized binding, 8 X 5.5 inches, and a text before notes and index that runs to only 132 pages in a generous sized type. Still, he has an ear for the mot juste, a sure sense for the revealing anecdote, and a theory that, even in this highly abbreviated presentation, rings true.


  1. The theory is the progress trap. The first great progress trap was the invention of spears and bows and arrows for hunting. The earliest stone tools date back three million years, at the dawn of the Old Stone Age, which lasted until the most recent retreat of the Ice Age glaciers 12,000 years ago. The revolution in hunting weaponry, which Wright suggests may also have been used to exterminate our closest hominid relatives, solidified around 15,000 years ago. By that time humans were established on all the continents except Antarctica.


  1. “Soon after man shows up in new lands,” he writes, “the big game starts to go missing. Mammoths and woolly rhinos retreat north, then vanish from Europe and Asia. A giant wombat, other marsupials, and a tortoise as big as a Volkswagen disappear from Australia. Camels, mammoth, giant bison, giant sloth, and the horse die out across the Americas. A bad smell of extinction follows Homo sapiens around the world.”


  1. The technical progress in weaponry first produced an era of prosperity and plenty. Then it crashed as the big game were driven to extinction. Wright calls this the first progress trap. Human population swelled from the kills, more people meant more hunters, more hunters meant less game. Over time the spear points become smaller and smaller, as people hunted rabbits instead of mammoths.


  1. Humanity was saved by the next wave of progress, the invention of agriculture, 10,000 to 13,000 years ago This seems a long, long time, but in terms of the timeline of anatomically modern humans, which date from 195,000 years ago, it’s a brief moment.


  1. Agriculture developed independently in four regions. In the Middle East it produced wheat and barley. The Far East domesticated rice and millet. Mexico and Central America grew maize, beans, squash, and tomatoes. And South America tamed potatoes, squash, peanuts, and quinoa. Wright points out that we live today on the crops of the late Stone Age. “Despite more than two centuries of scientific crop-breeding, the so-called green revolution of the 1960s, and the genetic engineering of the 1990s, not one new staple has been added to our repertoire of crops since prehistoric times.”


  1. It is routinely said that the most common reason for extinctions is over-specialization (apart from those caused by predators, particularly human ones). The human primate has been as successful as it has largely because of its enlarged brain and opposable thumb, which, with the taming of fire and the invention of clothing, allowed it to adapt to different climates. There is a chink in that generalist armor. Wright proposes: “In the matter of our food, we have grown as specialized, and therefore as vulnerable, as a saber-toothed cat.”


  1. He also cautions, in the manner of British philosopher John Gray, that technical progress does not equate to moral progress. “The Roman circus, the Aztec sacrifices, the Inquisition bonfires, the Nazi death camps – all have been the work of highly civilized societies.” He explains this with a computer analogy: “we are running twenty-first-century software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more. This may explain quite a lot of what we see in the news.” That doesn’t make him ready to give the whole thing up. In one of the more memorable passages he writes:


  1. “For all its cruelties, civilization is precious, an experiment worth continuing. It is also precarious: as we climbed the ladder of progress, we kicked out the rungs below. There is no going back without catastrophe. Those who don’t like civilization, and can’t wait for it to fall on its arrogant face, should keep in mind that there is no other way to support humanity in anything like our present numbers or estate.”


  1. In pursuit of his thesis that agriculture is itself the next progress trap Wright traces the collapse of the Mayas and Easter Island, treated more extensively by Jared Diamond in his Collapse, published the year after Wright’s essay. More applicable to our modern situation are his remarks about ancient Sumer in what is now southern Iraq. Originally a plain of fertile farmland, the use of river water for extensive irrigation left a buildup of salt that poisoned the croplands.


  1. “By 2000 B.C., scribes were reporting that the earth had ‘turned white.’ All crops, including barley, were failing. Yields fell to a third of their original levels. The Sumerians’ thousand years in the sun of history came to an end. . . . Today, fully half of Iraq’s irrigated land is saline – the highest proportion in the world, followed by the other two centres of floodplain civilization, Egypt and Pakistan.” Notably, the last years of Sumer were marked by complete denial, extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few at the top, and grandiose building projects.


  1. Wright proposes to fit the fall of Rome into his schema. This is a highly debated topic with a vast literature of its own. Wright makes a few points that sound plausible but I leave their validity to experts. Rome, Wright says, gathered wealth into its center from an ever expanding periphery. As its population swelled and nearby farmland was exhausted, Rome became dependent on grain imported from its outlying possessions.


  1. “The consequences can be seen in those regions today. Antioch, capital of Roman Syria, lies under some thirty feet of silt washed down from deforested hills, and the great Libyan ruins of Leptis Magna now stand in a desert. Rome’s ancient breadbaskets are filled with sand and dust. . . .


  1. “Mediaeval history confirms the archaeological evidence: the empire fell hardest at its core, the Mediterranean basin, where the brunt of the environmental cost was borne. Power then shifted to the periphery, where Germanic invaders such as Goths, Franks, and English founded small ethnic states on northern lands that Rome had not exhausted.”


  1. Ronald Wright has to confront an obvious challenge to his thesis. If civilizations are so prone to self-destruction through overpopulation, deforestation, and deterioration of farmland, how is it that the Earth today is supporting such a vastly larger population? His answer is that early civilizations were relatively localized, dependent on nearby food sources. Large parts of the globe were unsettled and open to colonization. Some parts were highly favored with agricultural resources that would take many generations to desiccate. Populations spread widely, and as global trade arose, shortages in one locality could be filled by imports. And there is a process of natural regeneration if the damage has not been too severe. In any case, the lifespan of most prominent early civilizations was a thousand years or so. The damage we do takes some time to manifest.


  1. Still, at base, civilizations survive not by their technology but by the health of the natural environment from which they draw their sustenance. Wright concludes:


  1. “The lesson I read in the past is this: that the health of land and water – and of woods, which are the keepers of water – can be the only lasting basis for any civilization’s survival and success.”


  1. Wright’s last chapter, “The Rebellion of the Tools,” is his most interesting. Here he critiques our current situation. He explains why agriculture, like hunting weapons, is a progress trap. He also calls it a runaway train. It leads, he says, “to vastly expanded populations but seldom solving the food problem because of two inevitable (or nearly inevitable) consequences. The first is biological: the population grows until it hits the bounds of the food supply. The second is social: all civilizations become hierarchical; the upward concentration of wealth ensures that there can never be enough to go around.”


  1. This last also acts to prevent remedial measures. The rich depend on the status quo and have the means to defend it, even as those at the bottom are already caught in the crumbling foundations.


  1. We now have a global civilization, where population is pressing not only on many local and regional resource limits but on planetary ones. As Wright notes, “Adding 200 million after Rome took thirteen centuries; adding the last 200 million took only three years.”


  1. In his final few pages, in what almost amount to bullet points, Wright limns the dead end we have arrived at. Our single global civilization is ceaselessly logging, fishing, irrigating, and building everywhere, eating the natural world alive. The defenders of the rich, like their predecessors in every failed civilization, cling to their privileges like grim death and use their power to drive the lower classes away from the table. The political Right has wrapped itself in a mixture of market extremism and religious fundamentalism that has become “a kind of social Darwinism by people who hate Darwin,” and is leading a revolt against redistribution that “is killing civilization.” The three richest Americans, he tells us through gritted teeth, have combined wealth greater than that of the forty-eight poorest countries. And then his peroration:


  1. “If civilization is to survive, it must live on the interest, not the capital, of nature. Ecological markers suggest that in the early 1960s, humans were using about 70 per cent of nature’s yearly output; by the early 1980s, we’d reached 100 per cent; and in 1999, we were at 125 per cent. Such numbers may be imprecise, but their trend is clear – they mark the road to bankruptcy.”


  1. We have a last chance, he says. Of course, mere redistribution within the overflowing human population, the centerpiece of the traditional Marxist and socialist project, will by itself provide only a short respite for those at the bottom. Both population and resource use must be cut back. Fossil fuels, metals, potable water, arable land, ocean fish, are all at or near their limits compared to the demands being placed on them. If we fail to scale back, he warns, “this new century will not grow very old before we enter an age of chaos and collapse that will dwarf all the dark ages in our past.”


  1. The collapse stage of past civilizations was rarely sudden, seen from the perspective of the daily life of its citizens. If a dark age lies ahead, it is likely that there will be a period, perhaps a fairly long one, of a slipping down life on the way there. We seem to be in the early stages of that. We are living in the shadow of that supposed ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”


For the summative assessment of unit 4, you will create a website to help refugees from different parts of the world to know the possibilities they have of being hosted in Colombia.

You must look up information about refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Haiti.

You should find information to answer these questions:

Why are they leaving their countries of origin? What are their religious beliefs, cultural and social background? What policies are there in Colombia for refugees?

You will gather this information to create the content of your websites.



Hellos dear grade 8,


Here is the structure of the exam:

Multiple choice questions about “The Cold Equations” and “The First Seven Years”.

Reading with some sentences missing and the sentences to be arranged appropriately.

Summaries of a story (NOT read in class) which you have to name with the parts of the plot plus the definition of each part (EXPOSITION, CONFLICT, RISING ACTION, CLIMAX, FALLING ACTION AND RESOLUTION)


Hi ladies. Here’s the video we watched in class which will be assessed in the test.


Hello dear grade 8 students,

Here are the the first sentences which summarize the first paragraph of “The First Seven Years”

Feld, a Polish shoemaker, wishes his daughter had been a man and perhaps were as Max, the studious boy who he frequently sees pass by. 

Miriam was the shoemaker’s daughter who loved reading the classics and didn’t want to go to college, but find a job and be independent.

Sobel the shoemaker’s helper loved to read the classics and lent these books to Miriam.

You will have to add the sentence or sentences that you and your group created for the following paragraphs or create a new one using the GIST strategy explained and worked in class.


  1. Valentina Diaz
When Max finished describing what he wanted done to his shoes, Feld marked them, both with enormous holes in the soles which he pretended not to notice, with large white-chalk X’s and the rubber heels, thinned to the nails, he marked with O’s, though it troubled him he might have mixed up the letters. Max inquired the price, and the shoemaker cleared his throat and asked the boy, above Sobel’s insistent hammering, would he please step through the side door there into the hall. Though surprised, Max did as the shoemaker requested, and Feld went in after him. For a minute they were both silent, because Sobel had stopped banging, and it seemed they understood neither was to say anything until the noise began again. When it did, loudly, the shoemaker quickly told Max why he had asked to talk to him.


“Ever since you went to high school,” he said, in the dimly lit hallway, “I watched you in the morning go to the subway to school, and I said always to myself, this is a  fine boy that he wants so much an education.”

“Thanks,” Max said, nervously alert. He was tall and grotesquely thin, with sharply cut features, particularly a beak-like nose. He was wearing a loose, long, slushy overcoat that hung down to his ankles, looking like a rug draped over his bony shoulders, and a soggy old brown hat, as battered as the shoes he had brought in.


  1. Maria José Tengonó
 “I am a businessman,” the shoemaker abruptly said to conceal his embarrassment, “so I will explain you right away why I talk to you. I have a girl, my daughter Miriam—she is nineteen—a very nice girl and also so pretty that everybody looks on her when she passes by in the street. She is smart, al- ways with a book, and I thought to myself that a boy like you, an educated boy—I thought maybe you will be interested sometime to meet a girl like this.” He laughed a bit when he had finished and was tempted to say more but had the good sense not to.


Max stared down like a hawk. For an uncomfortable second he was silent, then he asked, “Did you say nineteen?”


“Would it be all right to inquire if you have a picture of her?”

“Just a minute.” The shoemaker went into the store and hastily returned with a snapshot that Max held up to the light.

“She’s all right,” he said.

Feld waited.

“And is she sensible—not the flighty kind?”

“She is very sensible.”

After another short pause, Max said it was okay with him if

he met her.

“Here is my telephone,” said the shoemaker, hurriedly

handing him a slip of paper. “Call her up. She comes home from work six o’clock.”

Max folded the paper and tucked it away into his worn leather wallet.

“About the shoes,” he said. “How much did you say they will cost me?”

“Don’t worry about the price.”

“I just like to have an idea.”

“A dollar—dollar fifty. A dollar fifty,” the shoemaker said. At once he felt bad, for he usually charged $2.25 for this kind

of job. Either he should have asked the regular price or done the work for nothing.


  1. Mariana Clavijo
Later, as he entered the store, he was startled by a violent clanging and looked up to see Sobel pounding upon the naked last. It broke, the iron striking the floor and jumping with a thump against the wall, but before the enraged shoemaker could cry out, the assistant had torn his hat and coat o  the hook and rushed out into the snow.

So Feld, who had looked forward to anticipating how it would go with his daughter and Max, instead had a great worry on his mind. Without his temperamental helper he was a lost man, especially as it was years now since he had carried the store alone. The shoemaker had for an age suffered from a heart condition that threatened collapse if he dared exert himself. Five years ago, after an attack, it had appeared as though he would have either to sacrifice his business on the auction block and live on a pittance thereafter, or put himself at the mercy of some unscrupulous employee who would in the end probably ruin him. But just at the moment of his darkest despair, this Polish refugee, Sobel, had appeared one night out of the street and begged for work. He was a stocky man, poorly dressed, with a bald head that had once been blond, a severely plain face, and soft blue eyes prone to tears over the sad books he read, a young man but old—no one would have guessed thirty. Though he confessed he knew nothing of shoemaking, he said he was apt and would work for very little if Feld taught him the trade. Thinking that with, after all, a landsman, he would have less to fear than from a complete stranger, Feld took him on and within six weeks the refugee rebuilt as good a shoe as he, and not long thereafter expertly ran the business for the thoroughly relieved shoemaker.


  1. Valeria Cifuentes
Feld could trust him with anything and did, frequently going home after an hour or two at the store, leaving all the money in the till, knowing Sobel would guard every cent of it. The amazing thing was that he demanded so little. His wants were few; in money he wasn’t interested—in nothing but books, it seemed—which he one by one lent to Miriam, together with his profuse, queer written comments, manufactured during his lonely rooming house evenings, thick pads of commentary which the shoemaker peered at and twitched his shoulders over as his daughter, from her fourteenth year, read page by sanctified page, as if the word of God were inscribed on them. To protect Sobel, Feld himself had to see that he received more than he asked for. Yet his conscience bothered him for not insisting that the assistant accept a better wage than he was getting, though Feld had honestly told him he could earn a handsome salary if he worked elsewhere, or maybe opened a place of his own. But the assistant answered, some- what ungraciously, that he was not interested in going else- where, and though Feld frequently asked himself, What keeps him here? why does he stay? he finally answered it that the man, no doubt because of his terrible experiences as a refugee, was afraid of the world.




  1. Daniela Moreno
After the incident with the broken last, angered by Sobel’s behavior, the shoemaker decided to let him stew for a week in the rooming house, although his own strength was taxed dangerously and the business suffered. However, after several sharp nagging warnings from both his wife and daughter, he went finally in search of Sobel, as he had once before, quite recently, when over some fancied slight—Feld had merely asked him not to give Miriam so many books to read because her eyes were strained and red—the assistant had left the place in a huff , an incident which, as usual, came to nothing, for he had returned after the shoemaker had talked to him, and taken his seat at the bench. But this time, after Feld had plodded through the snow to Sobel’s house—he had thought of sending Miriam but the idea became repugnant to him—the burly landlady at the door informed him in a nasal voice that Sobel was not at home, and though Feld knew this was a nasty lie, for where had the refugee to go? still for some reason he was not completely sure of—it may have been the cold and his fatigue—he decided not to insist on seeing him. Instead he went home and hired a new helper.


  1. Gabriela Parra
Thus he settled the matter, though not entirely to his satisfaction, for he had much more to do than before, and so, for example, could no longer lie late in bed mornings because he had to get up to open the store for the new assistant, a speech- less, dark man with an irritating rasp as he worked, whom he would not trust with the key as he had Sobel. Furthermore, this one, though able to do a fair repair job, knew nothing of grades of leather or prices, so Feld had to make his own purchases; and every night at closing time it was necessary to count the money in the till and lock up. However, he was not dissatisfied, for he lived much in his thoughts of Max and Miriam. The college boy had called her, and they had arranged a meeting for this coming Friday night. The shoemaker would personally have preferred Saturday, which he felt would make it a date of the first magnitude, but he learned Friday was Miriam’s choice, so he said nothing. The day of the week did not matter. What mattered was the aftermath. Would they like each other and want to be friends? He sighed at all the time that would have to go by before he knew for sure. Often he was tempted to talk to Miriam about the boy, to ask whether she thought she would like his type—he had told her only that he considered Max a nice boy and had suggested he call her— but the one time he tried she snapped at him—justly—how should she know?

At last Friday came. Feld was not feeling particularly well so he stayed in bed, and Mrs. Feld thought it better to remain in the bedroom with him when Max called. Miriam received the boy, and her parents could hear their voices, his throaty one, as they talked. Just before leaving, Miriam brought Max to the bedroom door and he stood there a minute, a tall, slightly hunched  figure wearing a thick, droopy suit, and apparently at ease as he greeted the shoemaker and his wife, which was surely a good sign. And Miriam, although she had worked all day, looked fresh and pretty. She was a large-framed girl with a well-shaped body, and she had a fine open face and soft hair. They made, Feld thought, a first-class couple.


7 Laura Mendoza

Miriam returned after 11:30. Her mother was already asleep, but the shoemaker got out of bed and after locating his bath- robe went into the kitchen, where Miriam, to his surprise, sat at the table, reading.

“So where did you go?” Feld asked pleasantly.

“For a walk,” she said, not looking up.

“I advised him,” Feld said, clearing his throat, “he shouldn’t

spend so much money.”

“I didn’t care.”

The shoemaker boiled up some water for tea and sat down

at the table with a cupful and a thick slice of lemon. “So how,” he sighed after a sip, “did you enjoy?”

“It was all right.”

He was silent. She must have sensed his disappointment, for she added, “You can’t really tell much the first time.”

“You will see him again?”

Turning a page, she said that Max had asked for another date.

“For when?”


“So what did you say?”

“What did I say?” she asked, delaying for a moment—“I

said yes.”

Afterwards she inquired about Sobel, and Feld, without exactly knowing why, said the assistant had got another job. Miriam said nothing more and went on reading. The shoe- maker’s conscience did not trouble him; he was satisfied with the Saturday date.


8 Silvana García

During the week, by placing here and there a deft question, he managed to get from Miriam some information about Max. It surprised him to learn that the boy was not studying to be either a doctor or lawyer but was taking a business course leading to a degree in accountancy. Feld was a little disappointed because he thought of accountants as bookkeepers and would have preferred “a higher profession.” However, it was not long before he had investigated the subject and discovered that Certified Public Accountants were highly respected people, so he was thoroughly content as Saturday approached. But because Saturday was a busy day, he was much in the store and therefore did not see Max when he came to call for Miriam. From his wife he learned there had been nothing especially revealing about their greeting. Max had rung the bell and Miriam had got her coat and left with him—nothing more. Feld did not probe, for his wife was not particularly observant. Instead, he waited up for Miriam with a newspaper on his lap, which he scarcely looked at so lost was he in thinking of the future. He awoke to  find her in the room with him, tiredly removing her hat. Greeting her, he was suddenly inexplicably afraid to ask anything about the eve- ning. But since she volunteered nothing he was at last forced to inquire how she had enjoyed herself. Miriam began something noncommittal, but apparently changed her mind, for she said after a minute, “I was bored.”


  1. Mariana Ruiz
When Feld had sufficiently recovered from his anguished disappointment to ask why, she answered without hesitation, “Because he’s nothing more than a materialist.”

“What means this word?”

“He has no soul. He’s only interested in things.”

He considered her statement for a long time, then asked,

“Will you see him again?” “He didn’t ask.”

“Suppose he will ask you?” “I won’t see him.”

He did not argue; however, as the days went by he hoped increasingly she would change her mind. He wished the boy would telephone, because he was sure there was more to him than Miriam, with her inexperienced eye, could discern. But Max didn’t call. As a matter of fact he took a different route to school, no longer passing the shoemaker’s store, and Feld was deeply hurt.



  1. Mariana Tarazona

Then one afternoon Max came in and asked for his shoes. The shoemaker took them down from the shelf where he had placed them, apart from the other pairs. He had done the work himself and the soles and heels were well built and firm. The shoes had been highly polished and somehow looked better than new. Max’s Adam’s apple went up once when he saw them, and his eyes had little lights in them.

“How much?” he asked, without directly looking at the shoemaker.

“Like I told you before,” Feld answered sadly. “One dollar fifty cents.”

Max handed him two crumpled bills and received in return a newly minted silver half dollar.

He left. Miriam had not been mentioned. That night the shoemaker discovered that his new assistant had been all the while stealing from him, and he suffered a heart attack.


Though the attack was very mild, he lay in bed for three weeks. Miriam spoke of going for Sobel, but sick as he was Feld rose in wrath against the idea. Yet in his heart he knew there was no other way, and the first weary day back in the shop thoroughly convinced him, so that night after supper he dragged himself to Sobel’s rooming house.


  1. Juanita Ramirez
He toiled up the stairs, though he knew it was bad for him, and at the top knocked at the door. Sobel opened it and the shoemaker entered. The room was a small, poor one, with a single window facing the street. It contained a narrow cot, a low table, and several stacks of books piled haphazardly around on the floor along the wall, which made him think how queer Sobel was, to be uneducated and read so much. He had once asked him, Sobel, why you read so much? and the assistant could not answer him. Did you ever study in a college some- place? he had asked, but Sobel shook his head. He read, he said, to know. But to know what, the shoemaker demanded, and to know, why? Sobel never explained, which proved he read so much because he was queer.


  1. Sara Aguilar
Feld sat down to recover his breath. The assistant was resting on his bed with his heavy back to the wall. His shirt and trousers were clean, and his stubby fingers, away from the shoemaker’s bench, were strangely pallid. His face was thin and pale, as if he had been shut in this room since the day he had bolted from the store.

“So when you will come back to work?” Feld asked him. To his surprise, Sobel burst out, “Never.”

Jumping up, he strode over to the window that looked out

upon the miserable street. “Why should I come back?” he cried. “I will raise your wages.”

“Who cares for your wages!”

The shoemaker, knowing he didn’t care, was at a loss what

else to say.

“What do you want from me, Sobel?”


“I always treated you like you was my son.”

Sobel vehemently denied it. “So why you look for strange

boys in the street they should go out with Miriam? Why you don’t think of me?”


13 Natalia Garnica

The shoemaker’s hands and feet turned freezing cold. His voice became so hoarse he couldn’t speak. At last he cleared his throat and croaked, “So what has my daughter got to do with a shoemaker thirty-five years old who works for me?”

“Why do you think I worked so long for you?” Sobel cried out. “For the stingy wages I sacrificed five years of my life so you could have to eat and drink and where to sleep?”


“Then for what?” shouted the shoemaker.

“For Miriam,” he blurted—“for her.”

The shoemaker, after a time, managed to say, “I pay wages

in cash, Sobel,” and lapsed into silence. Though he was seething with excitement, his mind was coldly clear, and he had to admit to himself he had sensed all along that Sobel felt this way. He had never so much as thought it consciously, but he had felt it and was afraid.


14 Daniela Ramirez

“Miriam knows?” he muttered hoarsely. “She knows.”

“You told her?”


“Then how does she know?”

“How does she know?” Sobel said. “Because she knows. She knows who I am and what is in my heart.”

Feld had a sudden insight. In some devious way, with his books and commentary, Sobel had given Miriam to understand that he loved her. The shoemaker felt a terrible anger at him for his deceit.

“Sobel, you are crazy,” he said bitterly. “She will never marry a man so old and ugly like you.”


15 Isabella Patiño

Watching him, the shoemaker’s anger diminished. His teeth were on edge with pity for the man, and his eyes grew moist. How strange and sad that a refugee, a grown man, bald and old with his miseries, who had by the skin of his teeth escaped Hitler’s incinerators, should fall in love, when he had got to America, with a girl less than half his age. Day after day, for five years he had sat at his bench, cutting and hammering away, waiting for the girl to become a woman, unable to ease his heart with speech, knowing no protest but desperation.

“Ugly I didn’t mean,” he said half aloud.


16 Juanita Guzman

Then he realized that what he had called ugly was not Sobel but Miriam’s life if she married him. He felt for his daughter a strange and gripping sorrow, as if she were already Sobel’s bride, the wife, after all, of a shoemaker, and had in her life no more than her mother had had. And all his dreams for her— why he had slaved and destroyed his heart with anxiety and labor—all these dreams of a better life were dead.

The room was quiet. Sobel was standing by the window reading, and it was curious that when he read he looked young.


17 Gabriela Gamboa

“She is only nineteen,” Feld said brokenly. “This is too young yet to get married. Don’t ask her for two years more, till

she is twenty-one, then you can talk to her.”

Sobel didn’t answer. Feld rose and left. He went slowly

down the stairs but once outside, though it was an icy night and the crisp falling snow whitened the street, he walked with a stronger stride.

But the next morning, when the shoemaker arrived, heavy- hearted, to open the store, he saw he needn’t have come, for his assistant was already seated at the last, pounding leather for his love.