October 2009 Archives

Remember me...Sonnet 30

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But if the while I think of thee (dear friend)
All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

--Shakespeare's "Sonnet 30"

Sonnet 30 has a very compelling message about recalling both good and bad memories from life. Even though I'm still really young, like anyone else, I still have things that I regret. This poem makes me think of one of my childhood friends--we were best friends until high school when we had a falling out. We still talk and meet for coffee, but our relationship will never be the same. 

Shakespeare's poem has an important message. Although everyone tends to think back and regret their actions, they need to also realize that there were good parts too. Life will go on. All we can do is learn from our mistakes.

For more, check out our course website!

Liberal Arts to the Rescue

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1. The world reporters are being asked to cover today is vastly more complicated than it was a decade or two past. Business, science, finance, the environment, urban development, health care, geriatrics, land use, technology and demographics are just some of the areas in which reporters have to be more knowledgeable.
2. While most journalism schools require students to take about 75% of their courses in the liberal arts and sciences, faculty advisers often fail to help students make the connection between a rigorous liberal arts emphasis and the knowledge required to cover complex news topics with authority.

--Haiman, pg 24

Although I found the stuff about anonymous sources really interesting, what really caught me in this assigned reading was the stuff about a liberal arts education. Dr. Jerz has talked about this several times in class. One of my biggest fears for when I go out in to the "real" journalism world is what will happen once I'm not allowed to plan my own stories anymore. Although the Setonian editors assign stories for me, they're usually about topics that I have at least basic knowledge about. 
When I think about my future, my ideal job would be a reporter for a video game magazine or something else with media. However, I'm being realistic when I say that I doubt I'll end up writing for a videogame magazine, at least not at first. How will I cover stories about subjects I know nothing about? Despite my constant fear, I do take comfort in the fact that Seton Hill has already prepared me in so many ways for my future. When I choose my classes for my liberal arts requirements, I always try to find ones that not only interest me, but ones that I also feel will benefit me as a journalist. 
For example, last semester, I took Images of Jesus in Film for my theology credit. This class was more than simply watching a different Christ-figure film each week. We were encouraged to find deeper symbology in each movie and even watched some really popular movies (although others I'd never heard of), such as Chocolat and The Last Temptation of Christ. After taking this course, I really felt like I had a deeper understanding of film analysis. In retrospect, I think that course will help me if I ever need to write a review of a film or book, because of the structure of our essays. 
My theology course wasn't the only class that's prepared me for my future, but I'm not going to waste any more time going into detail. This blog's long enough already. My main point is that, although most students complain about it, the Liberal Arts education is the future of our society. People need to be well-rounded individuals if they hope to accomplish great things someday.

And it all comes back to imagery

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Setting Contributes to Atmosphere and Mood

There are many ways to develop moods. Descrptions of bright colors (red, orange, yellow) may contribute to a mood of happiness. The same colors in dim or eerie light...invoke gloom or augment hysteria. References to smells and sounds bring the setting to life further by asking additional sensory responses from the reader.

Robers, Ch. 6, pg 112

Things have officially come full-circle for me. It all goes back to imagery. Setting is nothing without imagery--just the name of a town or the location of a house. The images that readers see along withthe location are what really matter. When I think back to high school, as I often do, I remember the simple question on tests: "What is the setting?" Back then, it was sufficient to just say a private Abby or 7 different rooms,when referring to the Masque of the Red Death. However, now, I'm not sure that really does it justice. Even describing the rooms wouldn't do it justice, because there's so much hidden symbolism in those rooms. However, I'm not saying that I think this makes close reading more difficult. I actually think it makes it a little easier, because by understanding the setting, and the reason for the inclusion of specific items, we are able to uncover deeper meanings within the works. I just want to say one last time that it all goes back to imagery. I love imagery and sensory details. The more detail, the better. I love it when the text paints a pretty picture in my mind, but now I really understand why it's important to include such details while other times, it really is beneficial to leave some information out. I guess it all just depends on the atmosphere.

Click here for more on Chapter 6

Foreshadowing the Inevitable

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But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and lighthearted friends from among he knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys....The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There wre buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet dancers, here were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."

--"Masque of the Red Death," Roberts pg. 357

I think I've read this story about five times over the years, but I'm not complaining. I love Poe, and I enjoy reading this story especially, because it alludes to the Plague, and the fact that when people die, there is no longer the need for divisions of class--Death does not pick us by how much fortune we do or do not have--it picks random, because, in Death, there is true equality. Everyone dies, and Poe effectively proves this in his short story. He demonstrates that even when people try to avoid the inevitable, it finds a way to happen anyway. Prospero attempts to cheat Death by locking himself within his fortress with a number of party guests. This, in theory, is where he went wrong. He let the Red Death in as soon as he allowed his knights and dames from across the land to enter his abby.

Poe foreshadows the inevitable death as soon as he mentions that the Red Death was absent from the pleasures of the fortress. Prospero has created a false sense of security for himself, and his doom awaits as Poe goes about describing the setting of the story. This does more than just give readers a visual. It adds to suspense. Readers know the Red Death is going to appear, but the question of "when?" remains until the foreboding clock begins to chime. The setting of the rooms also provides suspense when Poe describes the seventh room, which lacks the vibrancy of all the others. Readers can see a bad omen coming from this room. The more the clock chimes, the more people get creeped out. The readers know that the clock is counting down to something--death.

I think I appreciate this story a lot more now that I'm reading it in college. When I read it in middle school, and again in high school, I remember just thinking that it was a creepy story. I listened to what my teachers said the symbolism was, but probably really didn't get it. But now that I'm older and actually look for symbolism on my own, I have a new appreciation for all of Poe's works. They're so much more than just a creepy story.

Click here for more on the Red Death

Hiding Places

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Vladek: In the kitchen was a coal cabinet maybe 4 feet wide. Inside I made a hole to go down to the cellar. And there we made a brick wall filled high with coal. Behind this wall we could be a little safe.

-Maus, pg. 110

I'm absolutely fascinated by the bunkers Vladek describes in this half of the book. I recently went to see Inglorious Basterds, and in the beginning of the film, a man hides a few Jews underneath his floor. However, they were simply laying under the floorboards. In Maus, the hiding spaces were much more elaborate, and they actually worked! After I read this part of the book, I'm really curious about Jewish Bunkers. Vladek always talks about the importance of trade--he held onto valuables in order to barter later. Is that how he managed to build the bunkers? I'm sure they didn't have a lot of time to build the bunker in the basement of the kitchen, or the bunker in the attic, so it's really surprising that they were able to actually hide from the Gestapo. The only way they were found was if they left their hiding place or if someone lead the Nazis back to their hidden bunkers. I'm still confused on how the coal-bunker worked. How did they cover up the entrance with coal once they were inside the bunker? I decided to do a little research about the bunkers from the Holocaust, because I wanted to see what they look like in real life--I found a photo:

The more I read, the harder it was for me to understand what these people were going through. I can't imagine hiding and going without food for such an extended period of time. It really is incredible that people were actually successful in hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Click here for more posts about Maus.

Newspapers *always* seem unfair

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Newspapers are unfair when: They refuse to admit errors.

Haiman 13

If I had to choose, I'd definitely say that newspapers seem more unfair when they refuse to admit their errors than when they include those errors in their paper. When I was in high school, we ran a story about the homecoming queen--and we spelled her name wrong. On the front page. And all through the story. I was the copy editor, so I got all the flack for spelling the girl's name wrong. For the record, her name was "Alissa" and we spelled it "Alyssa." But the point is, we made the error, and we took the fall. I don't think we had a correction in the next issue, but I know a lot of our staff went up to Alissa and apologized for our error. And, we made sure her name was spelled correctly on the homecoming page of the yearbook--which was also my page. 

As a copy editor, I learned the hard way of what can happen if you mess up. Kids are mean, and any time someone found something wrong with the paper, they'd march up to me and tell me, because they knew I worked on the paper. I don't think anyone outside of our Journalism room realized that I was the one who was supposed to catch all the errors, but I knew, and that's all that really mattered. We all knew we'd be kidding ourselves if we thought we could have a completely error-free paper, but we did our best.

The public just doesn't understand how much work goes into producing a paper. Our school paper came out about as often as the Setonian, and I spent every class period and activity period reading the same stories over and over again. After a certain point, the words just seem to run together.

I'm not sure I agree with the statement "Newspapers are unfair." It's not that they're unfair, they're just misinformed? The bottom line is there will never be a completely error-free issue, and there will never be a public who has nothing to criticize about. It's a vicious cycle.

Divine Intervention?

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You will come out of this place - FREE! ...on the day of Parshas Truma.
...
Art: Do you mean your 'parshas truma' dream actually came true?
Vladek: Yes - this is for me a very important date...
Vladeck: I checked later on a calendar. It was this parsha on the week I got married to Anja. ...And this was the parsha in 1948, after the war, on the week you were born! And so it came out to be this parsha you sang on the Saturday of your Bar Mitzvah!

Maus, pg. 57, 59

This isn't the first time I've heard of a victim of the Holocaust being visited by a divine being during their time of need. Last year, in Images of Jesus in Film, Dr. Leap showed a Christ-figure film about the Holocaust called Sophie School: The Final Days. Like Vladek, Sophie dreams of a divine being telling her to remain strong through her struggles. Obviously, Vladek makes it out alive--Sophie, who is not Jewish and is simply a German anarchist, is hung along with her co-conspirators. 

It's very interesting to me that both of these divine beings showed up in dreams. When I first read this in Maus, I thought it was a little far-fetched, but then he explains everything, and it's just incredible. 

My liberal arts education has taught me a lot about the Holocaust already. Last semester, I enrolled in Western Cultural Traditions II. We spent a lot of time studying Poland and all of the Holocaust victims. It really helps when reading a book like this, because it helps me to better understand the book. The Jews have always been a very perseverant group.

On a side note, I love that Art wrote the book in broken English. This really makes it feel like I'm listening to Vladek tell the story, instead of Art. I think it's remarkable that Vladek is able to remember so much during the Holocaust, specifically the conversations over the dinner table. I suppose things were different back then--they didn't have all the distractions my age does, like television and videogames, and the internet. Books like this really are essential to our society, because we will reach a point where there are no living Holocaust survivors left--only their stories will remain.

For more reactions to Maus, see our course website.

EL 237 Portfolio #2

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It's that time of the year again. Portfolio time. I feel like I've learned a lot since my last portfolio, and I feel like my discussions have become more depth both on my page and on my peer's blogs as well. Let's hope we keep up the good work!

Coverage:
  • Life is Stew? was a blog entry about the second act of Good night Desdemona (Good morning Juliet). I wrote about my confusion because I never read Othello. I also talked a little about the dramatic irony in this play.
  • In Immaturity at its best, I blogged about Romeo and Juliet's homosexuality being MacDonald's way to show their immaturity. They are in love with the idea of being in love.
  • Transcendental War Anyone? gave brief reactions to two poems read for class. I compared Yeats' "Irish Airman" to Hardy's "The Man He Killed."
  • Lonelliness is a two-way street offered my take on Frost's tone and theme for the poem.
  • Stratego Anyone? was a blog about Roberts' chapter on research questions. I complained a little bit about his overuse of Hamlet for examples, but acknowledged that I disliked Hamlet in high school because my teacher did not do a good job teaching the play.
  • Characters really make the story... gave me the opportunity to analyze the majority of the characters in Williams The Quick and the Dead
  • Death of Innocence was my response to the second third of the book. I blogged about Annabel's loss of innocence--her dream of Ginger killing the turtle eggs, as well as other incidents of animal deaths.
  • Ghostbusters! proved one of my assumptions in my first blog about The Quick and the Dead. I questioned whether Ginger was a ghost or a figment of Carter's imagination. Turns out Ginger was a ghost. Yay.
  • Zombie book Review was my review of the book review of Pride Prejudice and Zombies. I praised the author for not summarizing the plot and was a little surprised by how many outside sources she included.
  • Precious Cargo throughout the ages was a blog about Masefield's Cargoes 1902. I blogged that I saw the imagery as allusions to the past. I also commented that my liberal arts education came in handy, because I recently learned about the Assyrians in my Western Cultural Traditions class.
  • Sensory details to the rescue! was a blog about Roberts Chapter 8. I wrote specifically about my love of imagery and the gustatory sense.

Depth:

Interaction:


Discussion:


Timeliness:

Xenoblogging:

Wildcard:
  • Transcendental War Anyone? -This blog entry has another link back to a previous entry about another poem studied in class, because I chose to compare the two poems. It also caused a brief discussion.
  • Characters really make the story... -This blog has a little bit of everything. Timeliness, depth, and tons of comments too!

Visit our course website for more portfolios

Sensory details to the rescue!

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Images derived from and referring to taste--gustatory images--are also common, though less frequent than those referring to sight and sound. Lines 5 and 10 of Masefield's "Cargoes," for example, includes references to "sweet white wine" and "cinnamon." Although the poem refers to these commodities as cargoes, the words themselves also register in our minds as gustatory images because they evoke our sense of taste.
--Roberts, Ch. 8

I read Cargoes before I read chapter 8, and I have to admit that I did pick up on the gustatory images in this poem. I really could taste the cinnamon in my mind as I read the poem.

This was probably one of my favorite chapters from Roberts, because I have always been a HUGE fan of imagery and sensory details. It's the whole show vs. tell idea. I'd rather read a detailed sentence about what the flowers smelled and looked like rather than read a bland sentence like "the flowers were gorgeous." That really doesn't do anything for me. With Cargoes,  there were still some moments when it was more show than tell. For example, although Masefield lists specific animals, such as "apes and peacocks" instead of just "animals," it would've been nice to see the background in which they were being held captive. I love a ton of imagery. For me, the more the better. It helps me to paint a picture in my mind, which also allows me to better understand the poetry or prose.




Precious Cargo throughout the ages

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Quinquereme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

--"Cargoes 1902" by John Masefield

Although Roberts discusses the imagery found in this poem in Chapter 8, when I originally read this poem, I didn't read the poem's imagery as imagery--I saw it more as allusions. Now, this may have been because there were so many footnotes in the first stanza; however, I do see where Roberts is coming from in terms of imagery. Masefield paints a pretty picture. In my mind, I can see the ship rowing its way across the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, I still think that the allusions are what make this poem meaningful. I have to admit that without the footnotes, I would've been a little lost, but with the help of that trusty guide, it was easy for me to understand the meaning behind the poem: Even though the three ships are from different times in history, they all share a common goal--trade. The items being traded didn't change very much over the centuries either. Whether it be ivory, gold or coal, the idea remains the same that these ships held precious cargo.

I'd like to make one more note about this poem. I'm taking Western Cultural Traditions I right now, and I just finished learning about the Assyrian culture. I love when my coursework overlaps between classes, because it just proves that the liberal arts education is beneficial to all students. 

In "I Was a Regency Zombie," journalist Jennifer Schuessler reviews Pride Prejudice and Zombies, a twist from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice written by LA television writer Seth Grahame-Smith.

The review doesn't go into too much depth with the plot, but this is probably because two-thirds of the novel are originally from Austen's classic. However, the book also includes "references to monsters, putrefying flesh and ninja swordplay" on just about every page.

The book's aim, according to Schuessler, is to "make Austen safe for audiences--read 'boys'--raised on Mortal Kombat and Evil Dead."

What was surprising was how many quotes were included in this review, from not only the author of the book, but also from critics as well. Schuessler shows both sides of the story here. After Grahame-Smith comments that he thinks Austen would appreciate his novel, Schuessler goes on to give the opinion of a Austen-expert. This was a nice way to review the book since there wasn't much to tell about the plot--most people know at least the basic story of Pride and Prejudice

Basically, Schuessler blends her review on the new zombie novel with a review of traditional Austen works. Schuessler finds a happy medium in this, by comparing the two, and polishes off her review with a small mention of other possible literary pieces in the works based on Austen's masterpieces.

Although the review did not tell the reader a lot about the book, it gives just enough to make them want to read the book. Then again, the name Pride Prejudice and Zombies does draw attention all by itself. Nevertheless, the author of this book review found a way to promote a book whose basic story is already aware to the public. She definitely wrote a very unconventional book review.

The audience for this book review is a bit of a mix. It obviously is aimed towards those "boys" who were raised on violent videogames, but at the same time, it's being aimed towards Austen scholars. Those who appreciate Austen's works should at least give this book a once-over because it gives a different look at one of Austen's most famous pieces. 


Presume that your opponent has good reason for disagreeing with you. Talk to people on the other side, and include some of their eloquent, well-argued points.


When I was working for my high school paper, we were required to write a column for every issue of The Royal, but that didn't mean that every column made it in the paper. Working as the copy editor gave me the opportunity to read about a lot of students' opinions, even the ones that didn't make it in the paper. I always enjoyed writing columns. During my senior year, I think I had a column in every issue of the paper. My old journalism teacher always warned us against using our columns as a way to rant. There were times when my columns were fueled by some other conflict that was going through my life, but ironically, I produced some of my best columns from those conflicts. Okay, now that I got my little reminiscence of the good ol' days out of the way, I have two real points to make:

One--Including quotes in an editorial. This was something I never learned in high school. I haven't read a lot of professional columns (I know, I'm a crappy aspiring journalist, but whatever), so I can't say how often I've seen quotes from the general public in columns. We were always told to include facts to back up our claims, but we were never encouraged to interview students. Usually instead of including quotes in the main paper editorial, we included a "speak-out" section, where we would include as many quotes from the student body as we could in the alloted space.

Two--Include the opposing view from your argument. I can't say whether or not I've ever done this either. I can definitely see the importance in this--you have to be able to argue your point form all sides, otherwise, it'll seem just like another rant from some crazy journalist. Although I didn't always include all views of an argument, I did try to always include some suggestions for improving whatever issue I'm complaining about.

My conclusion: Editorials are tough (duh), but a lot of fun to work with. You get a lot of freedom that isn't available in a news piece. With the inclusion of quotes, it's more similar to news than I'd ever realized, but it's nice that you can use quotes to strengthen your point in a chosen column.

Presume that your opponent has good reason for disagreeing with you. Talk to people on the other side, and include some of their eloquent, well-argued points.


When I was working for my high school paper, we were required to write a column for every issue of The Royal, but that didn't mean that every column made it in the paper. Working as the copy editor gave me the opportunity to read about a lot of students' opinions, even the ones that didn't make it in the paper. I always enjoyed writing columns. During my senior year, I think I had a column in every issue of the paper. My old journalism teacher always warned us against using our columns as a way to rant. There were times when my columns were fueled by some other conflict that was going through my life, but ironically, I produced some of my best columns from those conflicts. Okay, now that I got my little reminiscence of the good ol' days out of the way, I have two real points to make:

One--Including quotes in an editorial. This was something I never learned in high school. I haven't read a lot of professional columns (I know, I'm a crappy aspiring journalist, but whatever), so I can't say how often I've seen quotes from the general public in columns. We were always told to include facts to back up our claims, but we were never encouraged to interview students. Usually instead of including quotes in the main paper editorial, we included a "speak-out" section, where we would include as many quotes from the student body as we could in the alloted space.

Two--Include the opposing view from your argument. I can't say whether or not I've ever done this either. I can definitely see the importance in this--you have to be able to argue your point form all sides, otherwise, it'll seem just like another rant from some crazy journalist. Although I didn't always include all views of an argument, I did try to always include some suggestions for improving whatever issue I'm complaining about.

My conclusion: Editorials are tough (duh), but a lot of fun to work with. You get a lot of freedom that isn't available in a news piece. With the inclusion of quotes, it's more similar to news than I'd ever realized, but it's nice that you can use quotes to strengthen your point in a chosen column.

Breaking News

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I selected three breaking news articles to track:

Man Shot in Beaver Falls, flown to hospital  was a really short article that didn't say much besides where the shooting occured. The hospital and man's name were not even given.

Man Found Dead in his Fayette County Home gives the name of the victim and the time when his body was found. There is no cause of death released and police were still investigating. I could not find any new information about this news.

Man found in Bloomfield park committed suicide, police say gives the name of the dead man, his cause of death and information that a suicide not was found in his apartment. Little else is given in this article.

I found all of the stories on Oct. 7 early in the morning...Now, you'd think that because these articles all dealt with unresolved deaths (aside from the suicide), that the news crew would find another breaking news item to report on at least one of these subjects. Wrong.

On Oct. 8, I did find an update about the suicide story: Police determine Bloomfield man's death to be a suicide. However, there really wasn't that much new information this article. It basically said the same thing. The fact that the death was a suicide wasn't even new news....

I even checked google news for the fayette death. The only other news story I could find was from the pittsburghchannel, and in class, Dr. Jerz said that this was not a good source to use anyway. However, the article, Fayette Co. Man's Death Labeled Suspicious, did provide some new information.

I found an update about the Beaver shooting on another website for the Beaver County Times. The article, Beaver Falls man charged in shooting, is still a short article, but it gives the name of the victim as well as the suspect charted with attempted homicide. This article served as a follow up for an article published on Oct. 7, entitled Police Continue to Search for Gunman in Beaver Falls. Like the Post-Gazette article, this article does not give the name of the victim.


For more following of Breaking news, visit our website!

EL227 Portfolio #2

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The following blog entry showcases what I have been up to since posting my first portfolio for El 227. Enjoy!

Coverage: I blogged an entry for each assigned text.
Depth:

Interaction:

Discussions:

Timeliness:
  • I may be dreaming of Layout for a few weeks... 
  • The majority of my other blog entries were published prior to class time, but I did have a few this time that I completed after class time, because I feel a little behind due to golf matches.

Xenoblogging:
  • The Comment Grande: In Aja's Hello Lead, I was second to comment, but offered a link back to my own blog, because we blogged about similar topics.
  • Comment Primo: I was the first to comment on Katilin's blog entry, Writing with a sense of place in journalism. Unfortunately, no one else commented on this entry.
  • Comment Primo/Comment Grande: I was the only one to comment on Jeannine's entry When Adjectives Become Gushy, but I also mentioned that I blogged about the same thing in my own entry.
Wildcard:

Ghostbusters!

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"Jesus! You startled me," Sherwin said. "My heart went skippety."
"I loathe that movie," the woman said. "It's been in there for a month. She smiled at him thinly, a hefty broad with sunken eyes wearing some sort of partygoing apparatus with gauzy overlays, the kind hefty broads ofttimes wore. She looked familiar, as though he'd seen her in a photograph somewhere, but a specific photograph, framed.

"So you slipped away from the party, too," Sherwin said.

"Some time ago," Ginger said. "Tell me, how did you find your way in here?"

--Williams, pg. 293

 

I was so excited when I read this part of the book--not the part where Sherwin dies, but the fact that I was actually right for once. Ginger isn't a figment of Carter's imagination! I knew it! I blogged about this in my preliminary blog about The Quick and the Dead. Williams did an excellent job with this ambiguity. Throughout the whole book, there were hits that Ginger might be a ghost--but then there were also hints that she was just a figment of Carter's imagination.

Williams brings Ginger into the scene in a very eerie way. And I thought it was quite interesting that she decided to kill Sherwin, who really didn't do anything to her, since she died before having met him. I love the dramatic irony in this section. The readers know that Sherwin is not speaking with a live person--but Sherwin has no clue. Williams does an excellent job of concealing Ginger's "identity." She continuously refuses the cigarette, not because she doesn't want it, but because she obviously cannot smoke it. This is curious, however, because there was a time earlier in the novel when Ginger was asking Cater questions in his room and dropped something on the floor.

"Cater feared he'd find it on the floor in the morning and watched carefully as she placed the button in her pocket" (34). This was one of the reasons that I initially thought Ginger was actually part of his imagination. However, she just seemed to know too much--more than his conscious even. Her suggestions to invest in the stock market was another clue, but at the same time, it wasn't. Williams really got her readers with this one. She really could've had Ginger go either way "Figment of imagination" or "phantom."

Check out some other blog!

Death of Innocence

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She [Ginger] kept jamming the umbrella ple into the sand, but the point would not set properly. The tip proved to be covered with shell and yolk, which at first glance didn't present itself as such but which, as her mother continued to stab and root about and raise and plunge the pole again and again, became more adamantly shell and yolk. Ginger had selected a sea turtle's next for their umbrella site and had scrambled its leathery contents to a briny batter.

--Williams, pg 138

We already know (by the title of the novel) that this book has a lot of references to death; however, this particular passage, as well as several others in the second hundred pages have references to symbolism of the "death of innocence." The killing of the sea turtles is an excellent example, especially because at the end of the chapter, Annabel remembers that this dream was actually a memory. It seems like the majority of the "death of innocence" involves animals. The death of Tommy. The sea turtles. The ram. The birds in the Birder's cabin. The way in which these deaths are depicted infuse pity and empathy in the hearts of William's readers.

I mentioned this in class, but it's still bugging me...why is it that we feel more pity for dead animals than we do for humans. Actually, I felt a lot of pity for Annie from the nursing home as well--the one who has no idea that her husband has passed away. It's a curious thought that we return to such an innocent state the older we get. They always say that humans turn babies when they reach elderly age.

Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting that there are so many references to the death of innocence. The birds, for example, are a great example, because people kill entire families of birds just for the sake of collecting them. In a way it's similar to Annabel's love of "the inessentials." You'd think that birders would want to keep the birds alive--but instead, they choose to collect them. They destroy innocence.

Characters really make the story...

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She was never going to seek gainful employment again, that was for certain. She'd remain outside the public sector. She'd be an anarchist, she'd travel with jaguars. She was going to train herself to be totally irrational. She'd fall in love with a totally inappropriate person. She'd really work on it, but abandon would be involved as well. She'd have different names, a.k.a. Snake, a.k.a. Snow--no, that was juvenile. She wanted to be extraordinary, to poessess a savage glitter.

--Williams, pg 10

Williams does an excellent job with the development of each of her characters. Although Alice is a little quirky and possibly a little insane, she's really easy to relate to. Corvus, too, is easy to relate to, although I felt more empathy towards her than I did for Annabel over the loss of parents.

From the opening page of this book, I felt a draw towards Alice. She reminded me of myself at sixteen, acutally (until she plots to kill cats, because I love cats...). When I was in high school, I had a lot of thoughts similar to Alice. I wouldn't say I was an anarchist or anything, but I always voiced my opinions. I was outspoken, and determined. This passage--the dreams of Alice were not unlike my own at the age of 16. It's a pivotal time in a teenage girl's life. I don't care what people say, high school is not the best time of our lives...it's probably the worst acually. 

The only other thing I want to say about Alice deals with her determination to kill cats. She seemed like such a nice character up until that part of the story. Annabel even points out that if you love animals, you have to love all animals--no exceptions. One thing comes to mind for me too--didn't somebody say (I can't remember who) that people who torture/kill small animals (including cats) grow up to be serial killers? Just a thought--I mean, Alice is clearly a little disturbed, but she's had a rough life...right?

Corvus doesn't say much. I think that's what makes her such a strong character. She keeps it all pent-up inside, and Alice basically talks enough for the both of them. However, I feel for Corvus in a way I don't feel for the other two girls. I think it has something to do with Williams' use of the dog, Tommy. She uses Tommy's emotions to pull emotions out of readers. The way Tommy just waits for Corvus' mother really forces readers to empathize and sympathize. This was especially true for me--when my mom goes out of town, our toy-poodle, Cheelo, goes crazy. He expects her home at night, and will sit near the door for hours whimpering until I take him to bed with me. Luckily, he's not as big as Tommy...back on track now...

I don't want to say that I don't like Annabel, because I do, but I feel like she, like many teenage girls is very shallow. It really bothers me that she's plotting to abandon Alice and Corvus as soon as school starts in the fall. She's clearly grown attached to Alice, even if she refused to admit it. Furthermore, if she is so miserable hanging out with Alice, why doesn't she try to find some new friends? Surely there were at least a few other teenage girls at her father's parties...and it seems like they don't live in a very big city, so I'm sure there are other girls around town. 

Carter's quite the character as wel. I really like how Williams chose to keep Ginger in the picture by having her visit him. Williams does an excellent job of keeping the readers questioning exactly what Ginger is now. Is she a ghost? Or, is she simply made up in Carter's imagination? It really could go either way. At first, I was sure that she was simply a figment of his imagination, but if that was the case, wouldn't she know everything that Carter thinks/ does? Sure she calls him out for his homosexuality, but at the same time, she doesn't know everything that's going on. She could be a ghost. It would explain a lot as well. She knows things that Carter doesn't. Random things. I guess it's possible that Carter knows what she knows on a subconscious level, but the fact remains that this ambiguity really adds an interesting twist to the story.

The only other thing I really have to say about this book thus far is that I love it. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I can't remember the last time I read a book that was assigned for class and enjoyed it this much. I think Williams' ability to create such dynamic characters who are so easy to relate to, even with their messed up lives.

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