By Miss Rumphius
Miss Rumphius’ Grandfather tells her to make the world more beautiful. She has difficulty coming up with a way to do this until she plants Lupin and the wind carries the seeds. The next summer she travels, spreading Lupin seeds. She presents the same challenge to her great niece at the conclusion of the book.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
By Jenna Caputo
Every person has values, whether they know specifically what they are, or whether they just live by them without realizing it. Values in their simplest form are our principals, or our judgment about what in life is important. But how do we acquire these values? Miss Rumphius illustrates two ways that this is possible: explicitly (listening to people) and implicitly (observing people and following their example). The book opens with Miss Rumphius sitting with her grandfather and being enchanted by his life story. She decides because of the example that he set, that she too wants to travel to faraway places and live by the sea. He tells her that she must also make the world more beautiful, but doesn’t tell her how.
Miss Rumphius raises questions concerning what it means to make the world more beautiful. Student will be quick to bring up things that are physically beautiful, but will hopefully get to a point where they can figure out what is essential to their beliefs about what makes something beautiful. This leads us to the next question set: the nature of beauty. Philosophically, there are a number of issues. First, are there objective features of something that make it beautiful or is beauty, as they say, in the eye of the beholder? In addition, there are many questions about whether beauty is culturally determined or not.
The next question set deals with family values. Students will be anxious to share what is important in their family and there will be great variety in their responses. Some philosophers believe that each person has a filial duty, while others do not.
Prominent in this book is the topic of what gives a life meaning, which by its nature is very personal. After exploring the possibilities through firsthand life experiences a person must decide what their mark will be on the world will be. This is probably why the characters in Miss Rumphius found it so important to travel the world. It’s a metaphor for having a wide range of life experiences. The author believes that through those life experiences we are in the best position to discover some experience that enriches our lives and, if we are lucky, the lives of others.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
Making the World More Beautiful
Miss Rumphius’ grandfather tells her that she must make the world more beautiful
Miss Rumphius’ grandfather gives her a duty, which she passes along to her great niece
When Miss Rumphius travels to Faraway places she meets many people who become her friends