An Abundance of Katherines (The True Meaning)

| 11 Comments

I want to begin with a quote from "Unshelved" which has displayed a comic strip in memory of the story that we are focusing on (An Abundance of Katherine’s by John Green).

"Colin struggles to develop the Underlying Theory of Katherine Predictability to mathematically explain his relationships" (Overdue Media).

When I read that Colin had 19 girlfriends over the span of this education, I related it to how generals and councils had many wives in the early years. I assume that I am using historical criticism since I am comparing this story to events that happened in history. This can also be in biblical times, when King Solomon was assumed to have 700 wives. I understand that Colin was only dating them, very different from marriage (or not?), but this shows a relation to how the past, history, is still a current issue in literature today.

I also took the name "Katherine" and looked up its meaning in history. According to behindthename.com Katherine can be referred to "pure." This was interesting because it shows how Colin may be attracted to girls who are pure? Would you agree?

So, overall this story is interesting because Colin had 19 girls over a span of several years, but is it because of history (post-structuralism) or is it because of the meaning behind Katherine?

Click here for the web page devoted to the host's page (Angela).

Click here for the course web page devoted to the portfolio requirements.

11 Comments

Hmm, I find it quite interesting that you related Colin’s many Katherines to rulers’ many wives/consorts. It made me think about the infamous Henry VIII who had six wives, three of them being named Catherine (generally their names are spelled with a C by historians, but they could have been spelled in alternate ways—like with a K—they aren’t really sure). Henry VIII is remembered best for his many wives and his treatment of them. He had his second wife (Anne Boleyn) and his fifth wife (Catherine Howard) beheaded. He divorced his first wife (Catherine of Aragon), divorced his fourth wife (Anne of Cleves) because he thought she was ugly, and his third wife (Jane Seymour) died from complications of childbirth. The only one who survived his wraith was his last wife (Catherine Parr) and some speculate that the only reason she did was because he died before she did. So, do you think Green had this in mind when he chose the name Katherine? Also, I find it interesting that he would chose the name Katherine when Henry VIII’s Catherines (the female) were obviously ill-treated by Henry (the male). Green is flipping it around and having the Katherine (the females) ill-treat Colin (the male) by repeatedly dumping him. Do you think that Green is trying to say something about gender through this reversal?

P.S. I like the comic you found : )

I think that, as I said on my blog, Colin is addicted to relationships. He does not want to be alone, therefore, he fills his life with these girls what all happen to have the same name. Colin is a very mathematical (and we could probably argue somewhat obsessive compulsive)and calculated person. He likes consistancy, however, the very structures that hold him together make him fall apart every time he gets dumped. (Wait...was that post-structuralism?) What does everyone else think?

Greta- I really like how you provided the class with another example, Henry VIII, because this shows how more than one person in ancient history has had several wives. I think that Green may have had this in mind while written this particular story. We will not know for certain because this is author intent, but it is definitely a possibility.

Green seems to be using the female gender as a model of history. Why? This is a good question because we, readers and critics, look at all aspect of the world in order to evaluate a text. I am focusing, more so, on historical criticism, but psychological criticism is another factor that applies.

Angela- This is another good way to look at the situation. Colin is addicted, like to a substance, and he must have it in order to maintain self-confidence and success in school. When referring mathematics to this problem, then most readers can see how many usually has a definite answer and if Colin did not have a girlfriend, Katherine, and then he would be posing an open-ended mathematical statement.

To All- It seems as though Colin is representing a form of post-structuralism since he is like a structure that only stays together when he has a girlfriend (the many Katherine’s).

A Question- Colin, representing the need for girlfriends, can be referred to someone who is scared to be without a female partner. So, is Colin a representation of how females can control a male? (Similar to what we discussed in "The Yellow Wallpaper," but just the opposite approach).

Greta- I really like how you provided the class with another example, Henry VIII, because this shows how more than one person in ancient history has had several wives. I think that Green may have had this in mind while written this particular story. We will not know for certain because this is author intent, but it is definitely a possibility.

Green seems to be using the female gender as a model of history. Why? This is a good question because we, readers and critics, look at all aspect of the world in order to evaluate a text. I am focusing, more so, on historical criticism, but psychological criticism is another factor that applies.

Angela- This is another good way to look at the situation. Colin is addicted, like to a substance, and he must have it in order to maintain self-confidence and success in school. When referring mathematics to this problem, then most readers can see how many usually has a definite answer and if Colin did not have a girlfriend, Katherine, and then he would be posing an open-ended mathematical statement.

To All- It seems as though Colin is representing a form of post-structuralism since he is like a structure that only stays together when he has a girlfriend (the many Katherine’s).

A Question- Colin, representing the need for girlfriends, can be referred to someone who is scared to be without a female partner. So, is Colin a representation of how females can control a male? (Similar to what we discussed in "The Yellow Wallpaper," but just the opposite approach).

I think that you brought up an interesting question Derek. In one way I can see how the females are controlling Colin.However, as Angela mentioned, I can also see how Colin is just controlled by relationships with people in general. For example, he became very upset when he thought he was beginning to lose Hassan as a friend or was going to have to share him with other people (for example The Other Colin who Hassan accidently called Colin one day).

I think it’s interesting that Angela and Derek both mentioned that Colin tries to use mathematical formulas to find a definite answer. It reminded me of literary criticism as a whole, where there is no real answer. It seems strange to me that Colin who loves anagramming so much needs a sure answer. After all, anagramming is all about rearranging letters into words, it focuses on all the potential and possible meanings in certain letters. Shouldn’t this plethora of signifieds (the different combinations) of signifiers (the letters) hint to Colin that there doesn’t need to be a set answer and that in fact a myriad of possibilities is desirable (he loves anagramming, so why not love the myriad of potentialities elsewhere in life)?

To answer your question, Derek, I have to ask another question. Are the girls controlling Colin or is Colin trying to control the girls? (Remember: He tries to make her say "I love you" all the time because he is so insecure. She's not really a love interest. She's (They if you count all the Katherines) are just devices that Colin uses to make him feel like a better and more accomplished person.)

Greta- I think that Colin tries to use mathematical formulas because it is a way that he is deconstructing his life. He is presented with a girl (Katherine) and then he must try to do what it takes to keep her - until the next one. I think that Colin is focusing on girls with the same name, just as you said, because he does not have to go outside of his comfort zone, per say.

Angela - Good observation. I remember reading when he tried to make the Katherine say "I love you." This presents another issue of control on his part. Is he trying to show masculine control like what we read in "The Yellow Wallpaper?" or is he trying to show the girls that he is a man who makes the decisions? This is intersting because Colin is insecure and has to have the many Katherine's in his life in order for him to have self-confidence. So, since he needs Katherine(s) and if there is no love, then why, other than self security, does he need a girl?

To All - It seems as though Colin is a representation of literary deconstruction because he is a boy who has to have a girlfriend. This is common among teenage years, as you would agree. Now once we deconstruct him, then we see him as a controller, villian, or influential device. He seems to control the girls. Next, he seems to be a villian in the sense that he is enforcing his wants onto the girls and making them say, influencing them to say, what he wants. Lastly, he is similar to a influential device because he influences all of these Katherines to date him.

So, why does Colin act like how someone would complete a math problem? Everything has a step/sequence in his life just as a math problem. On the other hand, Colin is using these girls to make his life better, but what internal emotion or attraction makes/forces him to do this?

I think that Colin feels insecure and his insecurity drives him to be self-centered. I don’t think he means to be controlling of his girlfriends or to force them to say things, he simply feels so insecure about his own identity that he struggles to fill the gap (or hole) in his gut with these girlfriends. I think it’s very interesting though that we have managed to throw the protagonist who is portrayed very positively in the book into a negative light. We’ve managed to deconstruct him so successfully that our hero also functions as a villain. Can we do the same with “The Yellow Wallpaper”? In other words, is it possible to make the narrator’s husband, John, be a more positive character? Maybe, he, like Colin was simply insecure and was completely unaware of what his actions were forcing onto the narrator.

I think that one reason that we see him, Colin, in a negative aspect is because of Derrida's concept of deconstruction. I also agree that we see him as a villian. I think that we can make John, in "The Yellow Wallpaper," a positive character by looking at him as a doctor and not influencing the narrator, his wife, to become gradually insane. Your response of both male characters being insecure is a great way to look at it. Colin and John are both insecure of the female that is in their lives. I am wondering what makes them so insecure? Is it the females that surround them or is it that they do not have confidence in theirselves which in turn makes the female seem negative?

As far as Colin is concerned, I don't think that there is any question that Colin makes Colin insecure. Katherine XIX even told him he shouldn't be so insecure by making her say "I love you" so much. I do not see John as insecure at all. I think that he is a very strong character who thinks he is doing what is best for his wife. It bothers him that his wife isn't following his orders because he honestly cares about her. I don't see John as a bad guy, but as a tragic hero.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on April 1, 2009 5:14 PM.

Term Project Progress Report was the previous entry in this blog.

Ex. 8: Post-Structuralism: Transforming History through Meaning is the next entry in this blog.

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