The School for Sympathy by E.V. Lucas
In The School for Sympathy by E.V. Lucas we have the theme of thoughtfulness, appreciation, equality, sympathy and humanity. Taken from his A Choice of Essays collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Lucas may be exploring the theme of thoughtfulness. Each child is given a role to play on a daily basis. Some are blind, lame or dumb and deaf. This leads to their carers being more thoughtful than would be usual for a person to be and if anything appreciative of the fact that they have not been struck down with a disability. A matter which impresses Lucas very much and which leads to the title of the essay. If anything Lucas may be suggesting that others too, particularly adults, might learn from the actions of Miss Beam’s students. What is also interesting about the essay is the fact that the girl that Lucas is helping does not really overly worry herself by the fact that she may be suffering from an affliction. True she dislikes being blind but it does not get her down. Her mind is able to adjust to the circumstances she finds herself in. Which may be Miss Beam’s goal.
It might also be worth noting the gratitude that Lucas feels when he leaves the school. He is thankful that he has had the opportunity to help somebody. Which may be the point that Lucas is attempting to make. He may be suggesting in life others could be more obliging to people who may not be as fortunate. To lend a hand or use their eyes to see for another person. It is a simple thing to do and one which an individual will feel greatly rewarded for doing. Rather than having society think only of itself if others thought like the school children in Miss Beam’s school the world would be a better place. Those who might suffer with an infliction will not feel isolated or fearful of the world around them. They will in reality be viewed as being the same as everybody else. The way that life is meant to be with equality for all. And nobody is left behind. It is also possible that Lucas who is so impressed will mention Miss Beam’s school to others just as it has been mentioned to him and if anything the experience that Lucas goes through is life-changing.
The fact that each student in the school experiences the same infliction’s, though on different days, is also significant as Miss Beam is treating everyone equally and as such allowing for the experiences of each child to be a developing curve in their life. No child regardless of who they may be is exempt from being inflicted with a disability for a day. It is also possible if not certain that each child appreciates life more due to the fact that they have been inflicted with a disability. They learn to help others, to be altruistic. Something that is rare when it comes to mankind and an issue that Lucas clearly understands. Hence his writing of the essay as an example to others of how a person should live their lives. However the lesson may be lost on the majority of people who might only be concerned about the small bubble of life that they live in. To them Lucas’ message falls on deaf ears. Which is somewhat ironic considering that some of the children have to pretend to be deaf on some days.
The verse at the end of the essay is also interesting as it shows how deeply affected Lucas has been when it comes to visiting the school. He cannot separate himself from another person’s woes which highlights how kind and altruistic Lucas is but it also highlights the fact that he may feel as though he is carrying a burden. He is emotionally and mentally attached to what has happened at the school. Something which some critics might suggest is a good thing but nonetheless it can burden a person or leave them at a point or moment of realisation that they simply cannot ignore and realise how fortunate they themselves actually are. Which appears to be the case when it comes to Lucas. Even though none of the children are really inflicted with a disability Lucas understands the point that Miss Beam is making. She is teaching children humanity something that other schools might be apt to do. Though the reality is that Miss Beam, the children in the school and Lucas will always be in the minority. Life has a tendency to discard those who are weaker and only the strong will survive. Miss Beam really is a pioneer in her teaching methods.