Furbee speaks to class at TCMS
Literary works often spark philosophical discussions. Sometimes those become esoteric or hard to grasp. At times they are only backed by beliefs or assumptions, not facts.
But Greg Goodfellow’s literature class at Tyler Consolidated Middle School benefited Friday from a visit from Tyler County Prosecutor Luke Furbee who gave a legal perspective to their discussion of “Bargain”, a short story in “The Big It, And Other Stories” by A. B. Guthrie Jr.
“Bargain” is a story of a bully, revenge, wood alcohol, and the value of literacy. The story starts with a store keeper by the name of Mr. Baumer, a Dutchman who came to America to start a new life. The antagonist, Slade, had two weaknesses-he could not read or write and he liked alcohol.
Slade refused to pay his bill to Baumer or anyone else-employing intimidation and fear to get away with non-payment.
But Baumer, knowing he was in the right, refused to write off the bill. He pursued Slade for the payment, no matter the consequences.
Preying on Slade’s weakness, Baumer hired him to haul freight with the promise of a quart of whiskey. In with the freight was a barrel of wood alcohol, which was deadly. It was well known that Slade had a habit or sneaking alcohol from the alcohol barrels, attributing it to evaporation. The next day, Slade was discovered dead.
Baumer had his workers unload the freight. One of the workers was a school boy to whom Baumer always stressed the importance of having the ability to read and write. As they were unloading the freight the boy saw the barrel labeled “wood alcohol-deadly poison” and looked at his boss. Baumer reiterated that it was good to know how to read and write.
After reading the story, the class was given the assignment of deciding whether or not Baumer should be brought up on charges and if any charges would be prosecuted successfully.
The class examined first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter. Goodfellow noted that under frontier justice, people would have understood the death because he was a bully.
Furbee spoke to how current courts would handle such a case.
He spoke about launching an investigation, evidence, possible charges, and whether or not there would actually be a case. He said the only evidence would be circumstantial.
Goodfellow extend his thanks to Furbee for clearing his schedule to be with the class on Friday to give his legal opinion based on the short story.
He went on to state that the students were not only receptive, but also respectful, asking many focused and appropriate questions.