Monday, February 28, 2011

The Arch in Post-Structuralism

There exists at Wabash College an archway that no dares pass under. The myth comes to Wabash students in the form of a story of a past Wabash student hanging himself from the archway after failing his comprehensive exams. It is said that if a student walks through the arch, that said student will fail his comprehensive exams at the end of his four years of study. Students that give no credence to superstition have been seen walking through the archway, these students are given warning, heckled, and looked at as odd. Many students refuse to walk through the arch not because of superstition, but out respect for college traditions.

The archway can be seen as a symbol of a fear that, to some degree, exists in every Wabash student. It stands as a constant reminder that hard work is not enough; that one must truly learn and understand his education here in order to earn that Latin scripted sheet of vellum that is Wabash’s diploma. But one can look at it another way: one can see it as a symbol of the College itself. It’s supposed desire to “devour” students, a manifestation of the college wanting students to fail. The archway can be seen as something dark, like the sad depressing story of the student who committed suicide upon it.


  1. Interesting way to view Wabash - "It's supposed desire to 'devour' students." As Alex said after you, this tradition has lost its merit over the years, yet we still abide to it for the sake of tradition. By not walking under the forsaken arch, we students show our respect for Wabash and our Seniors. Much like sitting on the senior bench, students who have yet to take on comps avoid walking under the arch; whereas seniors who have passed comps do not. In that sense, I perceive the arch as a symbol of both a student conquering Wabash and one's respect for the College's history.

  2. I think that you have a better interpretation of the arch than I have seen in previous posts. I think that the best part of your analysis is the assertion that the arch represents a reminder that hard work is not enough. It's true, the arch reminds students that if they don't work and buy in to Wabash there is this sort of higher power that could ruin them. While I agree with the fear analysis, I think that the arch as a mouth where Wabash effectively devours students is a stretch. Dark and depressing, maybe, devouring students, give me a little more to go off of.