February 2008 Archives

What is He Up To?

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"In the darkness, Mr. Shiftlet's smile stretched like a weary snake waking up by a fire." (The Life You Save May Be Your Own, pg 57)

When Mr. Shiftlet was first introduced into the story, I thought he was shady and up to something. Once I read this statement, I knew for sure that he was going to cause trouble. Relating his smile to a snake instantly made me connect him to evil because of the well known Biblical connection of the snake causing the downfall of Eve and mankind. Also, the fact that Mr. Shiftlet was smiling in the dark, his facial expression unnoticable to Lucynell and her mother, confirmed my belief than he was more than just a pleasant stranger offer his services to an old woman and the daughter she supported.

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

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"When dramatic irony occurs in tragedies, it is called tragic irony. The audience knows from the opening scene of Othello, for example, that the malevolent Iago is plotthing the demise of the noble general whom he pretends to serve faithfully, and that his epithet, "honest Iago", is entirely ironic." (Hamilton 46)

Is knowing information that the main characters don't know good or bad? Does it ruin the story, or add more suspense/comedy to the situations of the characters? For me, I enjoy knowing what's going on behind a character's back. I think it intensifies the suspense in a tragedy and makes comedies even more hilarious for the reader.

My favorite type of irony is tragic irony. When I read this above quote, I recalled how I felt while reading Othello in high school. I felt like I wanted so badly to warn Othello about what Iago was planning. Gretta's response to Steph's comment on dramatic irony is exactly how I feel about tragic irony. I believe tragic irony brings the reader closer to the main characters. You begin to care about them and want the best for them even though you know the worst is about to happen. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, I as a reader wanted both characters to survive and for their families to end their struggles. But, because of tragic irony being present in the story, I understood that a pleasant ending wasn't possible.

Bad Jokes

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"It occured to him that he was lucky this time that they had found Mrs. Connin who would take you away for the day instead of an ordinary sitter who only sat where you lived or went to the park. You found out more when you left where you lived. He had found out already this morning that he had been made by a carpenter named Jesus Christ. Before he had thought it had been a doctor named Sladwall, a fat man with a yellow mustache who gave him shots and thought his name was Herbert, but this must have been a joke. They joked alot where he lived. If he had thought about it before, he would have thought Jesus Christ was a word like 'oh' or 'damm' or 'God', or maybe somebody who had cheated them out of something sometime." (The River, O'Connor, pg 31)

As I continued to read on in the story, it was obvious not only from this paragraph but as well as from many others that Harry lived a rough life with two parents who paid more attention to their social lives than to their child. I believe the "joking" that Harry recalls happening at his house all the time is lying. He probably sees lies as jokes because of the way his parents neglect them (promises were probably too easily broken in his house). Harry himself easily lies to Mrs. Connin about his name, and doesn't hesitate to continue lying to the preacher as well. The joke reference came up later in the story when Harry was in the rive right before he drowned. On page 45, Harry is jumping into the river because the preacher promised him that the river would lead him to the Kingdom of Christ (which Harry probably imagines is a better place than his own home). When the river fails at first to take Harry anywhere, he instantly believes that what the preacher had told him was just another joke. I just thought it was interesting that Harry viewed lies as being jokes, probably due to his home life.

Other Missed Reflection?

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   I know I missed one other reflection, and I think it was the one right before the Closed Reading reflection, but I wasn't sure. Since I couldn't remember which one it was, I just created this blog in place of it (Dr. Jerz if you know which one I am missing I'll write it and bring it to the next class).

     Something I'm worried about is that I want to be an English teacher, but if I don't care about what I'm learning now, how am I supposed to make my students care about it later? I would hate to change my majoy because I do enjoy writing and reading. I just really don't know what direction to go in with this. If I'm going to change my major I don't want to wait too long to do it because then I will fall behind, but I don't want to do it too soon with out giving this one a chance. If I can overcome my frustration and work my way through this, I can see myself becoming and English teacher. But, if things continue the way they are now, something has got to change. I'd make the worst English teacher in the world if I went into my future class room with the attitude I am taking into my present classrooms.

Close Reading Reflection (Part 2)

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    I think I was so mad that day of the close reading reflection that I didn't even comment on anyone else's blog (I don't know for sure though). Usually I always keep up with commenting on someone else's statement, but I guess that day I just had enough. When I went back through to try to find someone else's to comment on, I just picked a random blogged and pretended I agreed with them even though I really didn't know what they were talking about. I chose Juliana's. Its hard to start a conversation on a reading when I don't have any idea what I'm talking about. It would be easier if I had some clue, because then I hopefully would have a different reaction to it than the usual "What is this?". If you noticed in some of my longer comments, you could tell I had a slightly better understanding of what I was reading because I was about to talk about it longer and with a stronger opinion.

Close Reading Reflection

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    I was so confused after reading this article by Bltyhe and Sweet. I reread it several times and tried to look at everyone else's blog, but I still couldn't get anything out of it. In fact, I had my original reflection typed and ready to turn in the day this reflection was due, but I shoved it back into my book bag at the last minute. In it I had admited that I really had no idea what the article was talking about. I was too embarrassed to turn it in because it seemed like everyone else in class had ideas or suggestions for what the article was stating. I decided to keep my relfection and try to redo it, but I still never got anything out of the reading. In the end, I decided that I would just simply admit that I didn't understand the article and had no other reaction to it other than confusion. I find myself struggling alot with reflections because for a lot of the assignments I get so confused I don't know what to write about. I think part of the problem is I get frustrated once I start looking at everyone's blogs to see what they think. Alot of other students seem to understand whatever we're reading right away and in their blogs they make it seem easy. I think this just gets me frustrated and mad more quickly and I end up just giving up on the assignment completely.

         Introduction to Literary Study hasn't exactly been what I was expecting. I was prepared for this course to help me better understand how to read and interpret literature and how to become a better writer. Instead, I feel more confused about English now more than ever and I'm debating on whether I should change my major. I'm sorry I'm complaining so much, but I honestly don't feel like I'm learning much from this course. I've learned how to blog, but little else (and most of the time I can't even blog correctly). I'm more confused and frustrated with English than I ever was before I walked into this class.

 Blogs for Reading Assignments:

A Few of My Own Comments

        Overall, even though this far I am disappointed with how this course is going so far, I'm still hoping that things will soon take a turn for the better. Today in class, Dr. Jerz said that those students who were not putting their entire selves into the assignments and were just doing them because they had to, needed to change. Well, I'm one of those students. I have forced myself through every assignment in this class, including this one. Even though I have kept up with most of my assignments, I procrastinated completing this one just because I didn't want to reflect on how frustrated I've been so far. I hope that by the time I reach the end of this course, I can look back on this portfolio and wonder why I thought a course like this could ever be as miserable as I originally had thought.

Missed Assignments

 

Too Late

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Mrs. Page: "Come to the forge with it; then shape it. I would not have things cool." (Shakespeare)

Finally, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford are considering telling their husbands about the revenge they have been plotting and carrying out against Falstaff. I chose this quote because I thought the last sentence of it was important. Mrs. Page suggests that Mrs. Ford and herself reveal to their husbands what they have been doing in order to clear everything up, especially with Mr. Ford. Mrs. Page wants to talk to them right away instead of letting things get too far out of hand. What she doesn't know is how far Mr. Ford has taken this. The damage has already been done to Mr. and Mrs. Ford's marriage, and I doubt if there is any chance for repair due ot Ford's jealousy.  Whether they let things cool down or not, I doubt if any amount of explaining is going to fix what has already been damaged.

This is Really Frustrating

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"Although Prufock is not as worldy as Donne's persona, Eliot's charcacter also sees himself in the traciditon of courtly love, as a poet lover, he tries to sing his 'love song'." (Bltyhe and Sweet)

I just picked this random quote because I had not idea what to write about. I read the article, and I feel like I was reading something in another language. I was so lost on this article. I'm not sure if it's just because really don't understand it, or if its because I'm getting frustrated with all this blogging. Sometimes it feels like I have to concentrate more on blogging than English. I don't mean to complain, but that is just how I honestly feel.

Ford's Worst Enemy: Falstaff or Jealousy?

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Ford: "Though what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would not shall not make me tame. If I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me-- I'll be horn mad." (Shakespear 73)

 

There are so many twists and different triangles of relationships going on in this play that its difficult to keep them all straight. Ford is obviously a very jealous character. He was already doubting his wife when an unproved rumor emerged from two men he didn't even know. Instead of trusting her or just straight out questioning her, he decides to disguise himself and attack his suspicions by working through the man his wife is supposedly in love with. I chose this quote because I liked how Ford admits that even if he hadn't by nature already been a jealous man, he still would be angry with what he has discovered.

Ford is so angry with what he believes he is going on behind his back, but he himself is working behind others as well. Even though Ford has been witness to enough evidence that would allow him to believe that Mrs. Page has also fallen in love with Falstaff, instead of trying to warn and convince his friend, Mr. Page, he tries to create a plan that would allow him to embarass his friend in the end. Ford thought that Mr. Page was an idiot for trusting his wife when the rumor of Falstaff falling in love with both of their wives first emerged. If only Ford had followed in Page's footsteps and trusted his wife, he wouldn't be running into the situations he has himself caught up in now. Because of his doubt, he now has witnessed the game that Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page are playing with Falstaff. Ford mistakeningly believes that the women actually love Falstaff when they are only trying to get revenge on him. Mr. Page, on the other hand, is completely unaware of the actions his wife is committing. This is for the better because he believes he can trust her, which he can. Ford's jealously is going to cause the downfall of his marriage and lead to problems with many other characters around him. 

Quickly's Lies

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Quickly: Troth sir, all is in His hands above. But nothing with standing, Master Fenton, I'll be sworn on a book she loves you. Have not your worship a wart above your eye?

..........

Quickly: Farewell to your worship [Exit Fenton] Truly an honest gentleman. But Anne loves him not, for I know Anne's mind as well as another does. Out upon't, what have I forgot? (Shakespear 24)

 

Quickly is beginning to make a mess of everything. She not only has promised three men that she will set them up with Anne Page, but she has helped to start a conflict between her master and Evans. If she is a friend to Anne, why would she start causing all this trouble around her? Why would she tell these men that Anne loves them and that Anne will be theirs if she knows Anne doesn't love them? Is she trying to cause trouble for Anne or for the men? I see this as the beginning of a disaster, especially after reading about Quickly's not-so-kind master. Quickly has already created a battle between two of the men, what happens when the third gets involved? And what if there are more to come? 

Perfection and Reality

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"I love to hear her speak, yet I well know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound." (Shakespeare)

 

I notcied that in the sonnet, the first line of this quote is the first point that Shakespear shows some attraction towards the mistress. Although he states that music sounds better than her voice, he does admit that he loves to hear her speak. I really liked this sonnet. At first I thought it was a little weird and I wasn't sure how it was going to end. But then, when I read the last few lines, I glanced back over the sonnet again and finally understood how it all fell into place. I think what Iiked most about this sonnet is that so often readers come across poems and sonnets where the writer compared the person they cared for to objects that resembled perfection or purity. Shakespear, on the other hand, creates a real and down to earth image of the mistress. Although she may not be perfect, he loves her anyways.

Chance or Fate?

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"Though are slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men" (Donne)

 

The first of these two lines states how death affects all kinds of people, rich and poor alike. Death also can came about by chance or fate, depending on who's opinion you are considering. For example, if two cars were driving in opposite directions along the same road, and one driver happens to fall asleep causing a fatal head on collision claiming the life of the other driver. Would you think the death of the driver was fate or chance? Some would say fate, that the driver was destined to be driving along that exact road at the exact instant that the other driver fell asleep. Others would say it was chance that the unsuspecting driver happened to come across another sleeping motorist. I personally would say it was fate. I believe everything happens for a reason, even in cases such as the example I gave.

"So Busy, but What For?"

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"Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;" (Dickinson)

 

I really liked this part of the poem because I think so many people get caught up in their own lives that they forget to slow down and notice everything around them. Whether you're a rich business man or someone living on the streets, no matter how busy you are, death is going to make time to visit us all. I once heard someone ask "We are all so busy with our lives, but where are we all rushing to?". I thought of that comment when I read this poem.

Is a tree just a tree? Depends On Who You're Asking

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"The thing referred to is likely not reducible to a single statement but will more probably involve a range of possible meanings and interpretations." (Foster 98)

I used to get so frustrated in high school English when a teacher would make the class try to interpret a poem or a passage. It seemed I could never get the correct meaning. Sometimes, when the teacher would announce the "correct" meaning of the passage, I would feel completely opposed to the answer. Sometimes I would find a different meaning than the "correct" one suggested. It never seemed like it was possible to have only one answer to the interpretation, but that was what we were forced to find. Now that I know there are many possibilites and usually not just one interpretation, I understand the frustration I felt in high school was due to the fact that a certainm passage meant something different to me than it meant to whoever wrote the "right" interpretation. And thats finally okay!

A Little Lost

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"The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep." (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

I think I remember studying this poem once in high school. My favorite part of the poem is the above passage. I like how Eliot described the scene as if the yellow fog and smoke were a dog. I thought this imagery was interesting because through out the poem there are several references and scenes about roaming the streets. The way Eliot describes the yellow smoke and fog allowed me to picture a dog roaming the streets. I found this passage to be the easiest for me to understand. I was really confused on most of the other passages.

What do I think?

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"When someone asks about meaning, I usually come back with something clever like, 'Well what do you think?'" (Foster)

I used to hate when my high school English teachers would do this to me. I would try to find the correct meaning behind a passage, and they would always want me to interpret it myself. It seemed I could never get it right. It got really annoying.

An Example of Telling?

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"When the children finished all the comic books they had brought, they opened the lunch and ate it. The grandmother ate a peanut butter sandwich and an olive and would not let the chlildren throw the box and the paper napkins out the window. When there was nothing else to do they played a game by choosing a cloud and making the other two guess what shape of a cow and June Star guessed a cow and John Wesley said no, an automobile, and June Star said he didn't play fair, and they began to slap each other over the grandmother." (O'Conner 5)

This paragraph appears to be all telling. It just goes on and on describing every single action and emotion. I thought the last sentence was especially long. I became really bored and almost annoyed with this paragraph and the one that followed it (it too was almost all telling). This paragraph could have easily been shortened and made into dialogue instead of just reciting details. Why did O'Conner decide to write it this way?

Stories of the Mall

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"Keep a notebook. To R.V. Cassill, notebooks are "incubators", a place to begin with overheard conversation, expressive phrases, images, ideas, and interpretations on the world around you." (Kennedy)

I remember one of my English teachers from high school that any time I was having a problem with coming up for an idea for a short story or a poem, I should just take a note book and go sit at the food court at the mall. He said listen to the conversations going on and watch the people passing by. Something someone says or does will spark an idea for me to write about. After reading this quote I remembered my teacher's advice, and although I never got the chance to try it, for some of the assignments in this class I may find myself sitting at the food court in the mall with a notebook listening in and watching people to try to get inspiration.

Caring About the Characters

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"The novel, because of its greater length and scope, has much more complexity than the short story. Its plot is typically more involved and multifaceted, its description of the social milieu more complete. and its depiction of its characters' motives, feelings, and experiences more complex than the concise short story form allows." (Hamilton 8)

Although I like to read novels because they are so much more in depth and complicated, I like reading and writing short stories as well. Short stories allow you to get a great idea for a plot down on paper without having to write a full length novel. Short stories are quick, to the point, and yet sometimes can create even more powerful messages and meanings than a novel can.

I thought "Trifles" was a great short story. It was quick and open ended which leaves the readers guessing. What I really liked about it though was that it made the readers care about the characters with the smallest amout of detail possible. For example, after reading both Mrs. Pale's and Mrs. Peter's relfections on Mrs. Wright's past, I, as a reader, began to feel bad for Mrs. Wright and to care about her outcome. I also began to feel bad for Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale because they both felt some sort of regret for not having taken the opportunity to have possibly stopped the murder from ever happening. On the other side, I also felt slightly irriated and a little disgusted towards the male characters in the story. The men tended to make remarks to the women present that allowed me to realize that they viewed the women as being unequal compared to them. Combining all these feelings together, its obvious that the writer successfully created characters in a short story that were not as detailed as they may have been in a novel, but they still held my interest because the little detail that was provided was enough for me to care about the characters and their outcomes.

Murderer or Victim?

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"Mrs. Peters: We think she was going to-- knot it." (Trifles)

This dialgue was really interesting to read. Throughout the whole story, I was hoping one of the characters would find a piece of evidence that would clearly prove Mrs. Wright innocent or guilty. However, as the story developed and I learned more about Mrs. Wright's situation, I began to feel the same as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters felt. I began to hope that Mrs. Wright was innocent, but I had a feeling that it wasn't so. When Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discovered the dead bird and made a possible connection to Mr. Wright's murder, I could understand the internal conflicts both were experiencing. They knew they had come across possible evidence that could have been the motive for Mrs. Wright to commit the murder, but they also wanted to protect Mrs. Wright because they understood her depressing situation. At the end of the story, the two women decide to conceal the dead bird. I wonder if they choose to help protect Mrs. Wright because they both can relate to her. Mrs. Peters can relate to how lonely it can be without having children around. Mrs. Hale feels guilty for never visiting Mrs. Wright or offering help. Mrs. Hale is the one at the end of the story who manages to hide the box. I saw this as a slight act of Mrs. Hale trying to repay Mrs. Wright for all the help and company she had denied her.  The two women are fighting with their views of Mrs Wright; the dead bird forces them to consider her both a murderer and a victim at the same time. Had Mrs. Hale tried to become friends with Mrs. Wright, maybe the murder would never have taken place.Then again, at the end of the story, there is no definate answer or conclusion that Mrs. Wright did commit the murder. The dead bird only creates a strong connection and possibility.

Priceless Vacations

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"Every story or poem is a vacation, and every writer has to ask, every time, Where is this one taking place?" (Foster 163).

I noticed for our first assignment, the "English and I" essay, many classmates wrote of how English allows them to visit and experience different places and time periods without having to physically go there. I think this quote best describes the impossible opportunities English gives to us. "Every story or poem is a vacation". As readers, every time we read a story or poem, we are choosing which vacation we want to experience. Some of us may choose poems that take us to a specific location or maybe a book that takes us not only to a different place but a different time period as well. Reading and writing gives each of us the oppportunity to take those impossible vacations that could never occur in reality. This quote also reminded me of the poem we had to read for class the other day. In "A Book" by Emily Dickinson, she writes that "There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away... How frugal is the chariot that bears a human soul!". Here again literature is referred to as an inexpensive way to travel to different places and times.

“Teenagers, Bobs, and Liberation”

            Erica’s response to the end of the “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” story reminded me of my own high school. Many of the girls I used to be friends with were very fake. They tried anything to fit in and draw attention to themselves. Anyone who didn’t do the same could expect to never get invited or included anything. You may ask why would you want to be included in such a group of girls if they were so fake. Well, being independent from the popular girls may have said a lot for my character, but on the inside I realized how much I would have liked to be included in all the fun those girls always seemed to have.

            I used to hate how they would talk behind each others backs. I wanted to avoid them to make sure I never would become the same, but in the process I paid a price. When looking back on high school, I realized I missed out on a lot of memories just because I refused to join in and conform myself. Was it worth the price? To be honest I’m not sure. I wish I had could have been brave like Bernice and forced the popular girls to conform to a not so popular style. Maybe things would have been different then.

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”

I agreed completely with Andrea’s comment on how every interprets literature a little differently. An object that has an important meaning to someone may not have any importance to another. Because of these differences, I feel this is where students studying literature become frustrated with interpretation.

            Too often in high school, I was forced to discover the “right” answer or meaning for the interpretation of a piece of literature. I always felt that the task was impossible; there is not right or wrong answer. Everyone reads literature differently. It’s meant for everyone to find their own personal connections and meanings. Trying to discover the “right” meaning of a poem or paragraph only frustrate those who are studying it.

Bernice and the Braids

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"She was passing Warren's house now, and on the impulse she set down her baggage, and swinging the braids like pieces of rope flung them at the wooden porch, where they landed with a slight  thud. 'Huh!' she giggled wildy. 'Scalp the selfish thing!' Then picking up her suitcase she set off at a half-run down the moonlit street."

I coulnd't help but find the end of the story funny. Bernice got back at Majorie in the end after all she endured throughout the beginning. It was great to see Bernice finally stick up for herself. Although I think she may have went a little far by cutting off the entire length of the braid, I was satisfied with the ending.

Unoriginal

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"There's no such thing as a wholly original work of literature." (Foster 29)

I thought about this fact a lot, even before I read this statement. Everything we write or read has a source somewhere that is similar that inspired it. Every work shares something similar with another writing. Its almost depressing in a way to understand.

To be honest after reading these few sections in the book and even after what we've been doing in class, I'm beginning to believe more and more that this isn't what I want to do. I love English, but I think I would rather just enjoy it however I choose than try to dissect it and find the right and wrongs. How could I become a English teacher and motivate my students to study English when I find myself not really caring about it?

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