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A Summer’s Reading

Respect is a very dominant and important factor in the story of
Bernard Malamud, “A Summer’s Reading.” The reach for respect from the
people around him causes a lot of dilemma within the main character,
George Stoyonovic. And those dilemmas led to consequences that George
hated. George, a high school drop out, can not get any job during one
summer. He decides to read the magazines found at home. But when he
met Mr. Cattanzara, he immediately lies about the hundred books he is
reading, in order for Mr. Cattanzara to respect him as well as to be
proud of him.

Respect is a form of acknowledgement of one’s existence. Respect is
very important to everybody. Respect also gives a person a sense of
confidence that he is not a failure and contradicts the idea that he
is not good enough. People want respect because they want others to
know how good they are. Though everybody wants it, most people often
take it for granted. The irony of it all is that people wants it so
much that they would do anything just to get it.

In the story, the theme Respect is very important for everybody was
shown a couple of times. An example of these scenes is when George was
contemplating whether or not he should attend the night classes. “He
has considered registering in a night high school, only he did not
like the idea of teachers always telling him what to do. He felt that
they had not respected him.” He decides that since he has nothing to
do at home, attending night-class would be great and it would help him
catch up on the lessons he has missed. But that the idea of teachers
telling him what to do causes George to think twice. He thinks that
when his teachers tell him what to do or should not do it shows a lack
of respect on the teachers’ part. He then feels that he is not good
enough and loses confidence in himself. But in reality, when people
tell you what to do, it means that they are concerned about you and
that they know that you can do better but it does not really mean that
you are not good enough as a person. They are actually acknowledging
your abilities and your capabilities which also acknowledge your
existence. George searches for respect because it is where he gets the
confidence that will enable him to move on forward with his life.

Another instance in the story where it shows respect is very important
is when George tells Mr.

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Cattanzara that he is reading a hundred books
for the summer. He wants Mr. Cattanzara to respect him that he is
willing to lie in order to achieve that respect. He wants Mr.
Cattanzara that to know that he is more than just a boy who dropped
out of school and who can not get a decent job. And that he can also
do things which people around him can be proud of. When he found out
that his neighbors knew what he was doing for the summer, George
instantly became confident that he is not a nobody anymore in the
community. People in his community respect him now. But what did
George do with the respect shown to him? He did not fulfill his “end
of the bargain”. He thinks that being respected is enough already but
he must learn that he should “walk the talk”. He must do what he says
he will do because if the people finds out that he is just pure “talk”
and no concrete actions are being done, people will start to doubt him
and eventually George will lose the respect that his neighbors gave

Ultimately, Mr. Cattanzara senses that George was not telling him the
whole truth. He knew that George really did not finish reading all
those books as what he has said he has done. Maybe the reason why Mr.
Cattanzara did not told the others about George’s lie is because he
knows that George did not want to lose the admiration that the people
has for him. And he thought that he could help George by confronting
him himself. Though George lied to Mr. Cattanzara, he still respected
George and decides to confront him privately instead of telling the
whole neighborhood what George has done.

People find it absurdly important to become renowned and, at its very
base, respected because they feel confident when they are being
respected. People are ready to do anything in order to gain the
respect that they want even to the extent of lying and betraying the
trust of a certain person just like what the main character did in the
short story. George’s search for respect led him to lying to the only
person who listened to him when he was feeling sad and down. Respect
is, indeed, essential in any relationship. Respect gives a person a
sense of self-esteem that he could do anything because there is
someone who respects and trusts him. But in searching for respect, one
must remember that he should achieve it in the proper and honest way.
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