Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Book Club has begun again and Mrs. Cowley has selected a wonderful book to kick off this new school year: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. (Apparently there really is a NIMH - the National Institute of Mental Health!)

The group's discussion included identifying the protagonists, antagonists, setting, central action, and climax of the story. The most interesting dialogue happened around the question of science and its role in developing the rats' conscience and civilization.

What did science do to the rats?
Serena: Science gave them their civilization really. It made them intelligent, it gave them the conscience to tell right from wrong. It separated them from the rest of their kind. It made their lives harder b/c the regular rats didn't understand them and they now had the conscience to make difficult choices. It also made things easier for them because they could read and invent things and they could solve problems.

Jenner says to Nicodemus: "You've got this idea stuck in your head. We've got to start from nothing and work hard and build a rat civilization. I say, why start from nothing if you can start with everything? We've already got a civilization." Jenner opposes the "Plan" while Nicodemus believes that the rats will never be civilized until they stop stealing. Who do you side with, Jenner or Nicodemus? Why?
Serena: I side with Nicodemus because he has realized that if they get too lazy their civilization would disappear like many others they read in the books, and if they want to survive they need to work hard. And if they keep stealing they're just like the regular rats, and they would eventually lose their conscience to tell right from wrong.

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