Gun Violence and School Shootings

Read Friday the 13th in the Wild West, a text about a school shooting that occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, in August 2021, and then answer the following questions. Conversations with your peers / instructor regarding some of the questions raised here are highly encouraged.

Do you believe that specific days have a symbolic charge, like Friday the 13th?

Do you believe in or do you own lucky charms? Why / Why not?

Do you know the link between Ireland and Billy the Kid?

In your opinion, what would boost your (or someone else’s) self-esteem?

Where does the word ‘Friday’, in both Romance and Germanic languages, come from?

When you hear the word ‘allegiance’, which school habit in the U.S. comes to mind first? What is your view on such habit?

Give a synonym of ‘vacuity’.

Why is the victim of the shooting compared to Freyja?

The Wild West Theme Park where the author had her picture taken clad in cowgirl attire is called Mini Hollywood, an original movie set for Spaghetti Westerns. What does that expression refer to? Do you believe movies can influence society? What about the particular influence of Annie Oakley and Billy the Kid figures in the “gun worship” mentioned in the article?

The theme park / movie set is situated in the desert of Tabernas, Almería, Spain. Locate the park on Google Maps and then zoom out to determine which Spanish region it belongs to. This map below may help you in the process.

Do you know why this Spanish region, one of the 17 Comunidades Autonómas (in Spanish, literally ‘Autonomous Communities’), is relevant in the History of the Americas? Maybe this photograph of a statue in Granada (same region as Almería), will give you a hint. The statue represents people who lived at the end of the 15th century.

How important is imagination in your life? How do you best express your creativity?

To explain how this Teacher’s Corner came to light, the author, in her paragraph {“The seed was first planted (…) felt by all the corn.”} uses an extended metaphor. Briefly explain what the concept means. After identifying the theme of her extended metaphor, spotting the words building it, try to create your own extended metaphor, using any theme you’d like, to express your feelings about gun violence and school shootings.

Since the tragedy that took a teenager’s life happened in August, the sunny summer season, observe this early example of an extended metaphor taken from Shakespeare’s verses. Here, the main character compares his lover with the Sun:

 It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief,

That thou her maid art far more fair than she:

Be not her maid, since she is envious;

Her vestal livery is but sick and green

And none but fools do wear it; cast it off

Do you know which play this excerpt comes from?

Complete the following Shakespearean expressions with the correct word taken from the list below (some words are ‘distractions’ that won’t fit in the expressions).

…….. New World / Come What ……   / …… Hearted / ……. Into thin air / Break the ……… / Naked ……..

Absent – Brave – Cruel – Curse – Faint – Fly – Ice – May – Rules –  Short – Truth – Vanish – Wall

After filling the blanks, discuss the meaning of the ‘official’ expressions, together with that of some expressions that might still work with the ‘wrong’ words!

Annie Oakley and Billy the Kid, speaking through the author’s keyboard, ask the readers if they have learned nothing from the horrors of the many wars waged in their lifetimes. Name three wars on an international, national, and local level, with which at least one of those two people were contemporary with or participants in.

What do you think of auctions in general, and then of the sale of the gun that killed Billy the kid for $6 million in particular?

How would you make the world a better place if you owned that sum?

And how can you already make the world a better place by being you?

Research the history behind the expression ‘shell shock’, and give its more recent synonym, a ‘word’ made of four consonants. Are there people around you suffering from it? If your answer is yes, which circumstances led them to it?

Have you read the novel / seen the movie Bless Me, Última? If your answer is yes, what did you like the most?

Do you personally know curanderos / curanderas / folk healers? Do you sometimes feel that nature has something to tell you on a symbolic level?

Do you agree with the author when she says that at least both families (the victim’s and the shooter’s) were broken by the shooting? Why / why not?

The author suggests that maybe Última la curandera remembered that New Mexico’s many traumas were often related to “certain Juanes” of its past. Can you think of at least 2 Juan(es) / John(s) whose lives have had a traumatizing impact on New Mexico?

How would you define “Resilience”?

Do you think street art like murals can play an important role in society?

Rewrite Bennie and Juan’s story to make it a nicer story, with a better ending.