February 2009 Archives

We're Joads

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"We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody. Grampa's grampa, he fit in the Revolution. We was farm people till the debt. And then--them people. They done somepin to us. Ever' time they come seemed like they was a-whippin' me--all of us. An' in Needles, that police. He done somepin to me, made me feel mean. Made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't ashamed. These folks is our folks--is our folks. An' that manager, he come an' set an' drank coffee, an' he says, 'Mrs. Joad' this, an' 'Mrs. Joad' that--an' 'How you getting' on, Mrs. Joad?'" She stopped and sighed. "Why, I feel like people again."

This quote explains Ma's feelings towards life on the road.  Life on the road has changed her, and the whole family for that matter.  Enduring the hostility the family took from the policemen and the landowners made her mean and cold.  When she says "Why, I feel like people again." This is because in Weedpatch the people are kind.  Since they had left Oklahoma, they ran into rude people, but in Weedpatch, the people were kind and treated them like kindly and how they should be treated.  Ma's words help connect the world and how it is important to have fellowship among the migrants.  No matter how difficult one's problems are, they should never have to endure them alone.

Steinbeck uses the importance of self-respect and dignity as theme throughout the book. When the Joads or migrants are treated unfairly and are disrespected, it does not just hurt their feelings, but it can make them feel unhuman and unimportant.  The people will not lose theri dignity, as long as they can hold themselves back and not take the disrespect to heart. Near the end of the novel this is represented with the festering grapes of wrath.  The women observe their husbands and other male family members working hard and they know that they will always be strong "as long as fear can turn to wrath." Meaning any fears will make them and their families stronger.

The struggling families always need to stay strong and have no fear.  They are not alone in their struggles.  As long as they treat each other with respect and maintain their dignity they can be there for each other.  This can also show us that a family should stick together and succss will be achieved.
 

Holy

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"I got thinkin' how we was holy when we was one thing, an' mankin' was holy when it was one thing. An' it on'y got unholy when one mis'able little fella got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' an' draggin' an' fightin'. Fella like that bust the holi-ness. But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang--that's right, that's holy."

This quote can demonstrate the "wholeness" of the family.  They are a determined group of people who want to make the best of their lives.  They want to help fellow workers and offer them their services and food, or anything they can to help them out.  Ma Joad strongly believes it is important for their family to stay together and they can be "holy" as one.  From the above quote, they know when alone, it is not as holy.  If the family works together as one they will be successful.  You could say that success is this families American Dream.  They have a goal they want  to work towards and need to stick together to accomplish the task.  It is important for them to be a united family and they all need to be there for each other so that they can achieve their goals and dreams.  In a way it's like the turtle at the beginning of the story.  You have to keep trying to succeed.  You might fail a few times, but failure is the way to success.

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Geography Matters

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"Geography in Literature can also be more. It can be revelatory of virtually any element in the work." (166)

I've never really thought about Geography in literature before.  If I was asked what is the Geography of the book I probably would have thought of the location, rivers, mountains, and that sort of thing.  When relating Geography to literature, it includes more than just the natural Geography of what the setting is like.  The Geography in a way is the make up of the work.  It can include the plot, themes throughout the work, and symbolism.  The Geography of a piece of literature can also include the traits of its characters.  Is the character cheerful or upset? What is their personality like? All of these different elements are what make up the Geography of literature.  Geography can also play an important role in how a story or work is played out.  "When writers send characters south, it's so they can run amok.   Placing characters in a particular location can really help us to understand the Geography of a story.  If the character lives in the South, they might be more of a free spirit.  Where if you put them in Washington D.C. they would be more professional.  It is interesting how Geography plays such an important role in literature.  I would have never thought of Geography being such an important part of a work of literature.

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Use Your Imagination

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"We tend to give writers all the credit, but reading is also an event of the imagination; our creativity, our inventiveness, encounters that of the writer, and in that meeting we puzzle out what she means, what we understand her to mean, what uses we can put her writing to." (pg 107)

I found the chapter on symbols to be very interesting.  Symbolism is something that many readers struggle with.  Literature is made through the author's thoughts.  When they compose a work they have one specific meaning and visual in their head.  We as readers do not know what that meaning is.  Many readers believe that a symbol only has one true meaning when they read.  Just because the author has one interpretation in their head, does not mean it can't be interpreted in another way. The author might use the color red to help describe love or happiness.  The reader might see the color red symbolizing anger.  When reading we need to use our imaginations and use our own interpretations of what we think the author means.  Readers make up a large part of a book.  It is our interpretations that help make a book interesting and have meaning.

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Freedom

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YOUNG WOMAN (reading). Prisoner escapes - lifer breaks jail - shoots way to freedom - (pg 55)

I think that this line can sum up the young woman's feelings on her marriage.  She never really wanted to marry because she did not love the man.  She told her mother that a marriage needed to be about more than just money.  In the beginning of the second episode her and her mother are discussing why should or should not get married and in the background you hear a couple arguing and that could symbolize what the young girl's marriage would be like if she married a man she did not love.  She eventually married the man, but for the wrong reasons.  He seems to control the relationship and tries to force her to do things she does not want to do.  So it is like she is a prisoner in her marriage and wants to leave it and break free and have her own freedom.  She wants to be independent and marry someone she loves and who loves her back and who will not imprison her in a marriage. 

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... Or the Bible (Foster)

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"CONNECT THESE DOTS: garden, serpent, plagues, flood, parting of waters, loaves, fishes, forty days, betrayal, denial, slavery and escape, fatted calves, milk and honey. Ever read a book with all these things in them?" (pg 47)

As mentioned in this chapter many of the books we read contain things from the Bible.  I would think most books are based off of the Bible even if it doesn't seem that obvious to us.  The Bible was one of the first major books.  Many writers have strong religious views and base their works off of the Bible in one way or another.  Even if the writer does not have biblical beliefs we still see the Bible in their works.  Main conflicts of books were part of the Bible.  Betrayal was a theme in  The Great Gatsby.  In a way Gatsby betrayed Daisy by lying to her her.  He created a new person and made himself out to be something he wasn't only what he thought she wanted him to be.  We also see tragedies which could be compared to the floods.  Like in the Great Gatsby tragedy struck at the end with the death of Myrtle and the deaths of George and Gatsby.  Many Biblical themes are visible in many different writings because the Bible focuses on life and nature and many writers focus on the same things when writing.

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Green Light

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"If it wasn't for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby.  "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock." (pg 92)

In a way I think this quote can symbolize Gatsby's dreams and hopes, and his own "American Dream."  He sees the light at Daisy's dock every night and has a glimmer of hope that they can still be together.  The light makes him think of her all the time. 
Being that the light is on the other side of the bay, it can also mean that Gatsby's hopes and dreams are out of reach and that he could never be with Daisy.  The fog represents the barrier between Daisy and Gatsby that even though they love each other they cannot be together.  His hope is fading away. 

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning--
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."(pg 180)

This is the final paragraph of the book.  It relates to the previous quote involving the green light.  Gatsby still looks to the green light hoping his dreams will come true.  He does not want to move on but he is being pulled away from the light towards the future, yet he still wants to go forward to the light to be with Daisy. He wants to reach something that keeps moving farther and farther away.

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How to Read Lit. Like a Professor

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So far I find this book to be quite interesting, but at times confusing.  The first chapter was interesting just in the title alone: "Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It's Not)"  It describes a kid's trip to run an errand he how he encounters a German shepherd, sees a girl he likes, and how the popular boy drives an expensive car.  Typically you would see this as the "nerdy" or "unpopular" boy possibly getting made fun of and just does not really enjoy his life.  What the author really wants you to understand is just because he has a bad trip into town, this "trip" is more of a quest or journey into the next phase of his life.  He wants to be drafted into the military and turn his life into something more.  As said in the book, these "quests" occur for self-knowledge.  We can learn from our mistakes and use that to our advantage.  Our lives are full of different quests.  We may fail at some of them, but in the long run we will succeed at the important ones.

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After Apple Picking

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After Apple Picking is a poem that I have not heard of before.  In a way I understood the poem, but it did confuse me a little bit.  I interpreted it as the speaker was working and is now tired.  He was apple picking all day and became tired and wants to rest.  He is not really sure what kind of tired he is.  He thinks it might be more than your average I'm tired and want to go to bed now.  He might not be tired because he worked to hard.  It could mean that his time is ending and he might die soon.  This would be the long sleep, the sleep that lasts forever.  His body has had enough apple picking and wants to move on and go into a long sleep.

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

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I chose the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay."
This poem can be interpreted in different ways.  The main theme I found in it is that nothing can last forever.  Everything comes to an end.  In the first line "Nature's first green is gold," green can be a symbol for spring which can represent the beginning.  Flowers bloom, trees blossom, and animals come out of hibernation or are born.  Then in lines three and four it says "Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour."  This could mean the flower is wearing.  Life is going on and time is passing the flower has grown to its fullest.  Then the final two lines suggest death or the end.  The flower will die as a person will die after they have lived their life.  Nothing stays for ever and good things have to end eventually.

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The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

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"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

This quote caught my eye as I began reading the book.  This quote is a theme throughout the book and it is something that we see in our everyday lives. 
In the book Nick knows what his father means when he says this and he says he reserves his judgments towards people.  People attach themselves to things like quality instead of the important things.  In a way Nick does the opposite of this when discussing East and West Egg.  He sees West Egg as the "poorer" of the two and East Egg could be compared to the upper-class. He also judges when he describes his house.  He says "I lived at West Egg, the - well, the less fashionable of the two..." He says that his house is small and squished between two huge homes.  In a way he contradicts what he originally said about not judging people.  I think everyone does this at one point or another and judges.  Just because something looks nice on the outside does not mean it is the same on the inside, and the opposite.

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