“The Apple and the Arrow” – Freedom and Schooling Pt.4

A Note About Peter the Soldier

While William is telling this story to his family it is said that Peter was “a kind man.” Hedwig, William’s wife agrees and said she used to play with him as a young girl, but she is not so pleased that he became a soldier. “‘He was such a sweet lad.'” But William replied that, “‘Men do many things, Hedwig, that they do not like, just to live.”

My principal and especially my English teacher have said something similar to this. My English teacher more than one has said, “Sometimes in life you will have to do things that you don’t want to do.” The Principal told us this before we took the grueling AP test against our wills. It brings me to wonder, how much is sometimes? It seems to me that for the rest of my life I will be made or asked to do things against my will for the sake of others above me. It really does seem that people have to do what they despise in order to live, but that is order to live by another man’s hand or against it, as when William killed Gessler once he abandoned the ship and escaped to wait for him in the woods.

How Parents Unwittingly Do the Bidding of Those in Power

Throughout William’s story telling I noticed that whenever Walter or Rudi interjected or asked a question they were hushed or scolded. They were told not to ask “silly questions.” They were told to wait. When Rudi tugged his father’s beard in excitement, William scolded him.This small scene grew stranger, because I noticed that the adults, Hedwig and Grandfather Walter made small comments or remarks during the story too. No one stopped them.

But Children are Spontaneous

Walter and Rudi still chimed in at times and the hushing disappeared. That was an odd part of the story.

I don’t understand why the author chose to include those bits of dialogue and interaction. It reminds me of the way many parents unknowingly, or sometimes knowingly, treat their children. Many adults have so much restraint and inhibition because of this type of rearing. Although it is necessary to have some self-discipline in order to avoid danger or trouble with other people, snuffing out harmless expressions throughout childhood is detrimental to self esteem, and merely reinforces the heavier amounts of restraint children must develop in compulsory school. When the levels of restraint grow high, a youth can develop serious emotional and psychological problems.


After Gessler died and the soldiers ran away, the men from different cantons prepared for their New Year’s revolt. When midnight approached the men gathered atop the mountains, one for each canton. They prayed and then chimed bells and blew horns. The New Year arrived. Soon after that there was the lighting of the large piles of wood gathered for the occasion. The men danced around the fires atop various mountains. Below on ground men ran tyrants from their castles and burned them down. It was noted near the end that “few people had died and very little blood had been shed.”

And finally it is revealed that this is the tale of how Switzerland came to be. The narrator remarks that after the revolt the cantons banded together and that throughout the years more cantons joined until Switzerland grew to be a nice stable size.

This is what the Alternative Education movement needs; although in this society, burning down buildings and running bureaucrats out of them would be met with brute force. I don’t advise that, but there are modern ways of achieving the same thing. It has to go beyond protesting (unless many students and youth protest, which is a different case) or rather be very different from it yet still effective. It seems that the movement does have people from many countries congregate, but there needs to be one unified gesture or action to bring attention to the cause, as with the revolution celebration on the mountaintops. It has to bring about curiosity, but not alarm. Many people have many causes they want to bring to light; I hope that youth-led education will be highlighted.

These are my reflections and I thoroughly enjoyed this story. When I first skimmed it I wondered if I would get anything out of it. I am very pleased with my conclusions. I readily suggest you pick this book up for yourself and see what you get out of it. Read it to children and recommend it to older kids and ask of their views. The theme is definitely about freedom and the struggles people go through in order to achieve it. It also highlights the ridiculous and tricky nature of authority. Most of all it teaches the liberating value in acting on free a heart and mind.


Posted on May 29, 2010, in Alternative Education, Bureaucracy, Education, School and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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