Books and Movies Reviews

A painted House by John Grisham

In his novel A Painted House, John Grisham tells the story of the
events of one summer as viewed and interpreted by a young boy, Luke
Chandler. The book presents a view of how a group of people interact
together: a cotton-growing share-cropping family, the transient workers
they hire to help them pick the cotton, and their neighbors. The story
delineates the social status and interactions between the various groups:
share croppers, “mountain folk” who come down to help with the picking, and
itinerant migrant workers from Mexico. In the process, Luke learns to look
past surface assumptions about people. This is reflected by the emphasis on
the surface appearance of his family’s house — whether it is painted r
In the view of the people who inhabit Grisham’s story, a painted house
is superior to an unpainted one, and reflects increased status, because a
painted house can only be afforded by those who could spend extra money on
paint instead of necessities. Luke’s grandfather believes that painting
one’s house is a sign of vanity and a waste of good money, while John’s
mother has always dreamed of living in a painted house again some day. The
reality is somewhere in between: with or without paint, the house is
humble, but no one talks about paint’s protective factor and that a house
whose surface was protected by a good paint job would last longer than one
that was not painted, or only painted to improve surface appearance.
Luke Chandler has a passion for baseball, and dreams one day of
playing professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals, but all baseball
is followed closely. In one scene, Luke watches a game between two church
congregations, the Methodists and his own Baptist church. In this scene he
reflects the types of judgments regarding other people that those around
him make: the Methodists should lose not base on their ball-playing ability
but because of o…


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