To cushion the blow of making my students take a test, for the third time this week, I decided to read aloud a chapter from The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. We got to the part where Katniss Everdeen is saying her final farewells, before being sent off to compete in the Hunger Games (a fight to the death on live TV). Her best friend Gale is advising her to get her hands on a bow and arrow because she is a skilled hunter and he knows it might give her a chance.
“Listen,” he says. “Getting a knife should be pretty easy, but you’ve
got to get your hands on a bow. That’s your best chance.”
“They don’t always have bows,” I say, thinking of the year there were
only horrible spiked maces that the tributes had to bludgeon one another
to death with.”
At this point, I asked the class if they know what a mace is and the following discussion transpired:
Student 1: “Isn’t that what you spray in people’s eyes when you get mugged?”
Me: “You’re thinking of mace, like pepper spray, but the sentence uses the word ‘bludgeon’ so in this case, they are referring to a different kind of ‘mace’ or weapon.
I am greeted with blank stares.
Me: “You may have seen a mace in the Capital One commercials with the Vikings. A mace has a wooden or metal handle with a chain on one end. At the end of the chain is a metal ball with spikes on it, and you swing it around really hard and slam down.”
Student 2: “Oh yeah. They used one of those when they killed Jesus in that movie.”
Me: “I know what you’re thinking of, but that was more like a whip. You’re right, though, that weapon was spiked on the end, but a mace is used more for smashing.”
A couple of girls are suddenly really eager to tell share what’s on their minds:
Girl 1: “Oh that was insane. They killed that Jesus guy.” (She starts to move around in her desk, pantomiming to better explain herself.) “They put a spike through this wrist, then that one, so he wouldn’t fall off of his cross.”
Girl 2: “We learned all about it. They put spiky things on him…”
Girl 1: “It was a crown of thorns. Then they whipped him and stabbed him while he was still alive. Then they made him drag his heavy cross through the town and he was all bloody.”
Girl 1: “It was really crazy.”
Girl 2: “Did you know that’s how he died?”
Me: “The story does sounds a little bit familiar. Where did you find out about this?”
Girl 2: “Up the street last Halloween in a haunted house. It was really scary.”