Illustration by Raya Deussen

Brave student writes paper on unread book

*The Backdoor is a work of fiction and humor

By Madeleine Fellows

Local Lewis & Clark  student, Lucas Jones ’20, wowed the English Department on Thursday when he turned in a sweeping eight-page essay on “The Sun Also Rises” without reading a single word of the book.

The Backdoor sat down with Jones’ professor, Dr. Helen Russell, at the overcrowded Dovecote in between classes. All the tables were full, so we conducted the interview standing awkwardly by the bathroom. Someone was heating up a disgusting tupperware of chili in the microwave. We asked Dr. Russell if she enjoyed Jones’ essay, not knowing what answers we would uncover.

“He waxed poetic about the novel as though he were incredibly familiar with it,” Russell said, as a few students bumped into her with their backpacks. “His insights were bold and unapologetic. Of course, all of it was nonsense. Utter garbage. But somehow he sold it. That kind of blind intellectual confidence is … scary.”

The Backdoor managed to procure a copy of the essay in question. The essay, boldly titled “Friendship, Irony and Bulls in Hemingway’s Novel,” starts out believably with, “Ernest Hemingway uses a sparse style to convey the complex thoughts of his tortured male protagonist.” But he could only fake it for so long. Later, on the final page of the essay, Jones wrote, “Hemingway shows us that the real journey is the friends you make along the way when his two main characters high-five in front of a burning building.”

“I never even bought the book,” Jones said.“On page four, I went on this tangent about bullfighting. I’m not even sure if the book has a bullfighting scene. But it’s Hemingway, so probably? I also adjusted the margins and made the line spacing 2.2, which is so subtle that I doubt Russell noticed.”

“I noticed,” Russell said. “You could drive a car through the lines of that essay.”

During our interview with Jones, a fellow classmate of his interrupted. The Backdoor respects this classmate’s wish to remain anonymous.

“Why didn’t you just use SparkNotes?” The anonymous classmate said. “‘The Sun Also Rises’ has a super-detailed SparkNotes page.”

The Backdoor found it suspicious that the classmate appeared to have a familiarity with “The Sun Also Rises” Sparknotes.

“I don’t,” Jones said. “I just assume it has a SparkNotes because it’s a classic book. I don’t use SparkNotes. I read the book which Dr. Russell can definitely tell from my essay. I’m an English major. I love reading! I have a Powell’s sticker on my laptop!”

“I wrote the essay an hour before class,” Jones said in response. “I didn’t have time to read the book, why would I have time to read the SparkNotes?”

Some call Jones immature or irresponsible. In the Backdoor’s humble opinion, his essay is a creative masterpiece. It is nonsense delivered like genius. He is a brave man.

“Well, I got an F,” said Jones. “I have to retake 205 in order to graduate. I guess I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll read the SparkNotes next time.”

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