Friday, May 08, 2009

Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane, Hero or Victim?

I'm currently reading another book by Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift. This book is called, Why Gender Matters: What parents and teachers need to know about the emerging science of sex differences.

As I'm reading and going through my day, I keep noting little things that people do (myself included) and how it relates to the gender differences elaborated in the book.

Today, for example, I took my three little boys to see a student musical version of The Legend Sleepy Hollow. It was exceedingly well done, not surprisingly, because I know several of the performers and they have always put on a great show.

The thing that struck me about this particular show was the way in which Brom Bones and Ichabod Crane display the archetypal boy and the anomalous boy.

Brom Bones is tough, rather lunk-headed, strong, and self-centered. He's quite knowledgeable about farming and horses, but is not an intellectual, nor is he very good at telling Katrina his true feelings (if he even has feelings). He is a trouble-maker, and is known around town for playing pranks, including one which caused the last schoolmaster to leave town.

Ichabod Crane, is lanky, intellectual, superstitious and self-centered. He's quite knowledgeable about history, (particularly the history of New England witchcraft) and other standard school subjects. He's good at wooing the ladies with his amiable manner and quick wit. In fact, the ladies of the town seem quite taken with his culture and refinement.

Katrina, the love interest of both men, is taken in by Ichabod's culture and charm and Brom Bones is jealous and angry. He tells Ichabod to lay off his girl and to leave town, but Ichabod is committed to stay in Sleepy Hollow.

Just how and why Ichabod finally leaves Sleepy Hollow is the main tale being told, but Brom Bones is no wimp when it comes to the manly arts (courage, strength, risk-taking). While Ichabod, it struck me, is quite good at practicing some of the feminine arts (charm, culture, refinement).

I never really understood who the hero of this story was supposed to be. It always struck me as rather tragic. Until I watched it in the light of the science of gender study. Now it all makes sense!

To confirm my suspicions, I asked a group of boys, ages 7-13, who had just seen the show, who was their favorite character?

"The strong guy," was their nearly-unanimous answer.

After all, who wants to be the victim?

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