Reflecting on Stories

Megan reflects on a novel about a soldier in Iraq.

McCormick, Patricia. Purple Heart. New York City: HarperCollins, 2009.

Purple Heart

“She was back home and ‘sooo scared’ about a pop quiz in bio while he was in Iraq with some traumatic brain injury.”

 Have you ever realized how silly some of our fears and worries are, compared to people living in situations that can threaten their safety?


“Everyday life wasn’t about filling up a gas tank or ordering a bucket of wings. Everyday life was about getting your gas mask on in ten seconds or calibrating the distance between your position and a sniper’s nest.”

Have you ever thought about how different some people’s everyday lives are?


“All he could see was the deep green of the army blanket. He flushed with embarrassment. He had pulled the covers over his head like a baby.”

Why should people feel embarrassed about showing fear or weakness?


“’Any, uh, emotional agitation or any other, uh, problems?’ Matt’s right leg was still weak and out of sync with his left, and he still found himself on the verge of tears half the time. ‘Nope,’ he said. ‘I’m all good.’”

Why do people lie about their state of being, when they could get help to make them better?


“You don’t want to say something you might rethink later.”

 Have you ever said something that you wish you hadn’t said?


This novel, Purple Heart, has changed my view of life because it has made me feel more grateful about my life, and has made me think about how hard other people’s lives can be. I never really knew what soldiers did in the war, because I’ve seen them in movies, fighting in brutal battles, but I’ve also seen them hiding and waiting, with not much action. And this novel painted a picture of what life is like in war for the veterans. They still have fun and mess around like normal people do, but they also have to fight and get injured to save people’s lives. They also have feelings like everyone does. They are still normal people. You think of a soldier, and you picture a very tough, unbreakable person, but they actually get frightened and sad and the war can deeply affect their lives. This fantastic novel has also made me feel even more grateful for our brave veterans fighting in war, because it has shown me all the tragedies they go through to protect people.  

Reflecting on Stories

Keenan reflects on a novel about a boy and his dog:

Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1956.

Old Yeller


1.     “In fact,” Papa wound up, “all we lack having a tight tail-holt on the world is a little cash money” (2).

Have you ever felt like all you need is just a little bit more money and everything else would be perfect?

2.     “I didn’t see the danger in time” (40).

What do you think someone could do to become more aware of their surroundings?

3.     “They were big solemn brown eyes and right pretty to look at; only when she fixed them on me, it always seemed like they looked clear through me and saw everything I was thinking” (67). 

Do you think that people can actually know what you are thinking by staring into your eyes?

4.     “I’ve hung around over there in that cow camp, eating my own cooking till I’m so starved out, I don’t hardly throw a shadow” (93).

Have you ever known what it was like to go hungry or not have a good home-cooked meal?

5.     “Hurting worse than I’d ever hurt in my life” (179).

Do you know what it is like to grieve the loss of someone or something you love?

The story of Old Yeller has made me realize that you shouldn’t dislike something right away because it could be very important later on in your life.  In the past, I have found myself jumping to conclusions about new things in my life and deciding right away that I did not approve or like something.  After reading Old Yeller and realizing that sometimes what I do not like in the beginning could help me later, I will try to do my best at giving new things a chance before deciding whether I like them or not. I have to trust that giving things a chance might help me later on in life but I might not see the benefit right now.  

This book also brought back memories to me from when my mom and I had to make the decision to put my dog Dani down because she was old and sick.  After reading this book, it left me filled with sadness instead of a smile because it reminded me of the love I had for Dani. She was my first dog and I got her when I was 3 years old; she almost made it to her 10th birthday.  We were like siblings and went everywhere together. She would protect me from other dogs that came near me when I was young.  This reminds me of how Old Yeller protected Travis and his family from the wild animals with the Hydrophobia Plague.

Another perspective about Old Yeller is that growing older, especially into adulthood, there is more and more responsibility. I recognize that as I get older, I will need to take on more responsibilities and take care of my family the way they have taken care of me throughout my life.  I hope I can be as strong a man as Travis has proven himself to be in this book.