manual arts high school

sisse nar

Senior Member
Korean
This is from "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" by David F. Wallace.

"... this was to be the end? and at the hands of someone who probably didn't even finish Manual Arts High School and had nothing like a recognizable soul or capacity for empathy with anyone else, a blind ugly force like gravity or a rabid dog, and yet it was he who wished it to happen and who possessed the power and certainly the tools to make it happen, tools he names in a maddening singsong about knives and wives and scythes and dolls and awls, adzes and mattocks and other implements whose names she did not recognize but even so they even sounded like just what .'"

What kind of school is a "Manual Arts High School" in this context?
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It sounds like a vocational school -- a school that trains you for a specific job upon graduation, rather than for college.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    A Manual Arts High School is one that is dedicated to teaching trades such as automobile repair, printing, dry cleaning, and so on.

    I don't know whether there are many of them any more, but at one time it was assumed that students who were less gifted academically would go to these schools. The person described 'didn't even finish' such a school, so he has little in the way of scholarly accomplishment, nor has he been trained in the manual arts.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I find the use of this phrase puzzling. It's written as though it were a proper name, and there actually is at least one school of that name in Los Angeles (as well as schools of similar names in other cities). And since DFW taught near there, he had probably heard of it. But while it started out as a vocational school, Manual Arts High School is a standard high school now. I mean, its graduates are just as qualified to go to a university as the graduates of any other high school. DFW should have known that, but apparently he did not, because he - or at least this particular character - certainly seems to be implying here that only a total loser couldn't finish the curriculum at Manual Arts High School.
     
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    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I find the use of this phrase puzzling. It's written as though it were a proper name, and there actually is at least one school of that name in Los Angeles (as well as schools of similar names in other cities). And since DFW taught near there, he had probably heard of it. But while it started out as a vocational school, Manual Arts High School is a standard high school now. I mean, its graduates are just as qualified to go to a university as the graduates of any other high school. DFW should have known that, but apparently he did not, because he - or at least this particular character - certainly seems to be implying here that only a total loser couldn't finish the curriculum at Manual Arts High School.
    :thumbsup:
     
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