Welcome back! In our first lesson on Jayber Crow we will discuss the content of chapters 1-7:
- how our memories shape us (though they are prone to self-deception)
- why a solitary life is unlivable
- why the answers to some questions have to be lived in order to be known
Correction: Sorry for the typo in the video: I meant to write “parallel lines”, not “parellel lines.”
Important Note: Jayber’s sense of being a lost traveler wandering in the woods is a direct connection to Dante’s Inferno, which opens with the poet suddenly realizing that he has lost the True Way and ended up in the Dark Wood of Error. He tries to escape but cannot because of his own inner corruption.
In the same way, after realizing his own Dark Wood of Error, Jayber leaves the seminary and tries to find his meaning and purpose in Lexington. This ends in despair and failure because of Jayber’s divided, secret life.
There will be several more connections to Dante’s Vita Nuova and Commedia. I’ll continue to point them out, because they enhance the reading of Jayber Crow—if you’re familiar with Dante. If you haven’t read Dante, you can just skip these notes.
Note: Jayber’s use of the phrase “dark wood of error” is a direct connection to the opening of Dante’s Inferno: “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray/from the straight road and woke to find myself/alone in a dark wood” (Ciardi, 1.1-3).
For Next Time
- When you finish watching the videos, take a moment to answer this question in the comments section below: What have these chapters of Jayber Crow taught you about how your story has shaped the person you’ve become?
- Read chapters 8-13 of Jayber Crow. Click here to download the reading guide for these chapters. Remember that the reading guide should enhance your reading, not get in the way of it. Use it in the best way you see fit.
- Email me any questions you have!