Literacy and Its Implications

In Kirsten Learns a Lesson, the idea of “literacy” is a driving force throughout the book as Kirsten feels the pressure to learn how to read and write. On the other hand, in the 2017 Disney rendition of Beauty and the Beast “literacy” is viewed as unimportant and a waste of time by many of the characters. In Kirsten’s case, education is a crucial part of their childhood as they will be the ones who help their parents and establish themselves as Americans. Literacy is a key marker for educational attainment which can prove a problem for those who can’t read. Those unable to read and write are often seen as unintelligent and Kirsten strives to make her parents and Miss Winston proud. In contrast, Belle is ridiculed and viewed as silly for loving books. At one point in the film, Belle is reading while doing laundry and starts to teach a young girl. They form a sweet bond that is quickly shattered by the approach of the townsfolk who yell at her while throwing her laundry into the mud, taking the young girl with them. Yet Miss Winston, Kirsten’s teacher, is treated with respect by those around her. The idea of literacy alluding to mental capacity can be seen when Miss Winston asks Amos which reading book he is on. His pride is quickly dashed as the teacher embarrasses him by stating he should be much farther in his studies than simply a third reader considering he is nineteen. however, when it comes to Belle, the townspeople attempt to embarrass her for reading. Ironically, it is the townspeople who are ultimately painted as foolish characters due to their lack of education. In conclusion, literacy is often valued above other forms of education. It functions as a primary marker of ability and sense of understanding.

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