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“The Sanctuary of School” by Barry

There are many situations when children feel sad and unhappy at school. They may not like subjects, classmates, or teachers, and they leave school classes every day with the feeling of relief. However, Barry’s essay The Sanctuary of School tells readers about the opposite situation. The main character wanted to escape from home as soon as possible. One of the main points of this piece is that children need to have a place where they will be accepted and people who will take care of them. Sometimes they do not have the opportunity to get it at home, so they seek help in other places, such as at school.

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The author describes the house as a place with an unpleasant and unhealthy atmosphere. It is demonstrated to readers only at night, therefore it seems to be something dark and even scary. One of the few pleasant objects in the house is a TV, which sometimes shows a real “bright” world. Showing its importance, Barry even names it “the light of our lives” (Barry, p. 58). However, the main character and his brother watch it only at night, with the sound turned off. People on the screen become speechless, just like children in the face of the dangers of their own homes.

The plot of the essay is designed so that the reader’s emotions change from negative to positive from the beginning to the end. For example, Barry draws a contrast between the night that reigns in the house and the day that comes when children are at school. The characters that appear throughout the story are also crucial for the whole plot. In the beginning, parents and their relatives cause hostility and tension, and then friendly, kind, and pleasant school workers change everything. Such transitions give readers a sense of hope and calm for the children: they are in safe hands at least somewhere.

In almost every sentence, the author reflects his childhood feelings. She does this in many ways, for example, directly naming them or describing the environment. She also gives various qualities to the characters, which help the reader to feel their relationship with the main character. In general, the tone of this essay is emotional, since it is clear that this period of life caused the writer many emotions. Each person and object of the surrounding world has left its imprint on her future life. She is grateful to some for this, but she probably cannot forgive others. This sincerity andcontrasts throughout the essay help the reader to imbue the story and empathize with the heroine.

School is one of the most important places that people visit throughout their lives. In The Sanctuary of School, Barry shows that many children need to be there and receive support. She also emphasizes the importance of developing the education system and allocating sufficient funds for this. This question is still acute to this day since the education system changes often, and not always for the better. Kids often find the school not the most pleasant place, because it can be associated with many problems and negative experiences. However, children are the future of the planet, so adults need to give them all the necessary skills and make them feel comfortable. This will help to make them kind, honest and conscious people who will work for the benefit of all humankind.


Barry, Linda. “The Sanctuary of School.” The New York Times, 1992, p. 58.

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