March 2008 Archives

Sharing the Simple Secrets

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"Isn't this sad? People who have been taught nothing about their own language are (contrary to educational exceptions) spending all their leisure hours attempting to string sentences together for the edification of others." (Truss 17)

I plan on sharing the rules Truss has explained in this section with my younger sister and a few friends. I remember in my Accelerated English 11 class, right before the PSSA, my teacher had to go overr comma, apostrophe, and other punctuation/grammar usage. Most of the students in the class, even though we were considered the top level students in our grade, couldn't remember most of the rules and concepts. The bad part was, when we did mess up these rules in our writing, our teachers would usually let it slide and failed to correct the mistakes or bother to explain the error. My sister is about to become a junior. With those dreaded state tests around the corner, I want her to feel more prepared than I ever was.

I Wish I Would Have Had This Book In High School

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"What happened to punctuation? Why is it so disregarded when it is self-evidently so useful in preventing enormous mix ups?" (Truss 13)

Where was this book when I was in high school? If I had come across Truss earlier on, this book would have probably become my bible for English classes. I had more explained to me in just a few chapters of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" than I did in many years of elementary and high school English classes. Some of the simplest questions that led to much confusion were finally answered and even better, fully explained. I could never remember simple punctuation rules such as the difference between "its" and "it's" or whether to put an addition "s" tp show possession after names that ended in "s". I can even remember during an English course last semester my class and the professor spent time discussing and trying to figure out if we should write "Jesus' " or "Jesus's" in our papers (the final decision was made that we should write it however we preferred).

What I loved about Truss was that she explained the reasoning behind the rule. Although I had previously learned the same rules (on more than one occasion), I could never remember them because I hadn't really been given an explanation to why they were so. Now, knowing the reasons why, I believe it will be much easier for me to understand them. Just Friday night, before I had finished reading this section, my roommate had asked me to help her with a paper. We ended up having a discussion on whehter she should use "whose" or "who's". If I had read the section earlier, I would have known the answer!

Watch Out For Them, They're All the Same

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"Mrs. Shortley had the sudden intuition that the Gobblehooks, like rats with typhoid fleas, could have carried all those murderous ways over the water with them directly to this place." (O‘Connor 198)

Mrs. Shortley knew that the Polish family had been vicitims of the Holocaust that were at the time of the story currently going on. However, she still related the images of murder to the family simply because they had witnessed it. Because the family had witnessed and suffered so much horror in Europe, Mrs. Shortley assumes that they will carry out the same acts on the farm. Doesn't this sound slightly familiar?

Take September 11 for example. Is everyone who is from the middle east a terrorist? Of course not, but remember how those of middle eastern decent were treated in our country after the 9/11 attacks? Even today, I often witness the same sterotype being applied. Just because some people have a slight connection with something that is bad, whether their race, religion, homeland or beliefs, others assume that they will act in a simliar fashion. Another example of this type of sterotyping is happening with Senator Obama. I've heard too often that people refuse to vote for him because he's a Muslim and "Why elect one of them after they just attacked our country?". The them and they generalization is similar to Mrs. Shortley's fear about the Polish family.

Not Common, but Not Rare

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"The third major point of view is the second-person, in which the narrator addresses the audience directly using the pronoun 'you', and assumes the audience is experiencing the events along with the narrator." (Hamilton 120)

I found this statement interesting because in high school I had always been taught that the second major point of view was second person. However, I believe this section described the concept in a more accurate way and made it clearer. Although I realize second person isn't as common as first or third person, I don't agree with Hamilton in the statement that it is rare. I have seen it too often to consider it rare.

You Say He's Evil, He Says He Isn't

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"The Misfit openly acknowledges his own evil. When the Grandmother tries to type him as a "good" man, i.e. a gentleman, he answers 'Nome, I ain't a good man...' and then adds: 'but I ain't the worst in the world neither'(148)" (Desmond 130)

In this passage, Desond slight contradicts himself with the statement he makes and the example he gives. He states that the Misfit acknowledges his own evil, but in the example he gives the Misfit acknowledges he isn't all good, but he isn't all bad. Isn't that how all people are? Just because everyone has some bad points to them doesn't mean they're evil, especially if there are good aspects about them as well.

No "Normal Good Times"

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"Mrs. Hopewell thought of her as a child though she was thirty two years old and highly educated." (O'Conner, 168)

Just like in "The Life You Save May Be Your Own", the mother in this story, Mrs. Hopewell, views her thirty year old daughter as being a child. Even though in TLYSMBYO Lucynell was viewed as a child because of her child like mind set, Joy is viewed as a child because of a disability. Mrs. Hopewell views her daughter as a child because she feels bad that Joy hasn't had any "normal good times" and she's thirty two already. The same may have been applied to Lucynell, who at her age wouldn't have had any normal good times either. So, even though Joy may have been considered "highly educated", because of her artifical leg she was still viewed as a child by her mother, just like Lucynell, even though Lucynell wasn't educated at all.

Ruby's Worst Fear: Cancer or Having a Baby?

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"It was the one word that frightened her the most. She had thought the word cancer once and dropped it instantly because no horror like that was coming to her because it couldn't." (O'Conner 72)

I wonder how Ruby would feel about cancer towards the end of the story once she realizes she may be pregnant. Which would she fear the most, cancer or a baby? She relates both with death, fearing cancer because it would eventually kill her and fearing a baby because she believes children are just waiting around to make their parents dead inside.

Earlier in the story she had stated how she had feared cancer. But, if she were to have cancer, it would give her a better reason to move. If she is just pregnant, I doubt Bill would agree with her to move because after the baby would be born Ruby would have no trouble walking up and down the steps again. For Ruby, her feelings towards cancer may be more positive than having a baby.

Numerous Possibilities

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"All through your education, your major defined what classes you took, what books you read, and probably even who you hung out with-- but when you are thinking abou work, remember that your major does not define who you are or what job you are best suited for." (Lemire 227)

One of the reasons I chose to come to Seton Hill was because of the set up of the education program. Seton Hill doesn't allow a student to major in education. Instead, the student has to pick a content area (such as English, Biology, etc.) and then work towards a teaching certificate. I chose this program because having a degree in English with a teaching certification allows me to have so many more options than just having a teaching degree. If I would chose one day to leave the education field, I would still have my English degree to fall back on and seek out another job opportunity. With a teaching degree, I can only work in the education field. I wanted to have options not only here at college, but also when I graduate from here.

Numerous Possibilities

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"All through your education, your major defined what classes you took, what books you read, and probably even who you hung out with-- but when you are thinking abou work, remember that your major does not define who you are or what job you are best suited for." (Lemire 227)

One of the reasons I chose to come to Seton Hill was because of the set up of the education program. Seton Hill doesn't allow a student to major in education. Instead, the student has to pick a content area (such as English, Biology, etc.) and then work towards a teaching certificate. I chose this program because having a degree in English with a teaching certification allows me to have so many more options than just having a teaching degree. If I would chose one day to leave the education field, I would still have my English degree to fall back on and seek out another job opportunity. With a teaching degree, I can only work in the education field. I wanted to have options not only here at college, but also when I graduate from here.

"In a less specialized sense, repetition of words can signal a speaker's preoccupations and feelings." (Hamilton 98)

Ever had a friend who kept talking about the same subject over and over? Whether they were mad at someone or excited about something, it just seemed like they could never get off the same topic? Thats what this quote reminded me of. In writing, repetition can be used to emphasize what a character is thinking or feeling. I think in our lives this kind of repetition always occurs, even though we may not always realize it.

Too Rich to Afford a Low Wage Job

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"She talks well past my legal break time and possibly hers-- about her daughter, how's she sick of working long hours and never getting enough time with her, and what does this lead to anyway, when you can't make enough to save?

I still think we could have done something, she and I, if I could have afforded to work at Wal-Mart a little longer." (Ehrenreich 191)

The last line of this quote really bothered me. Barbara has the ability to walk away from these low paying jobs and uncomfortable lifestyle she is experimenting with and step back into her normal, comfortable life style. The fact that she states how she would have maybe teamed up with the woman in the break room if she couldl "have afforeded to work at Wal-Mart a little longer" just shows how people who actually work at these jobs to make their living constantly suffer. Barbara was struggling to "afford" working at low paying jobs while millions of people base their lives around these occupations. The woman who was talking to Barbara was stuck in a situation she couldn't escape and looking for an opportunity to improve her job. Barbara, on the other hand, just thought how she may have joined in the woman's plan had she been able to continue living in the condition she was presently in. She had that option, to switch instantly from the worst to the best situation, while the othert woman could only dream of and hope for a better opportunity to come along. The life Barbara was struggling to "afford" to live is the price people pay everyday and even with greater sacrifices than what Barbara was dealing with.

I think everyone in our class had some sort of personal experience to relate to this book. I noticed during our last class discussion how people would comment how they were angry or disappointed with how Barbara handled or addressec vertain topics and situations. For example, Lauren's comment on Barbara's view of trailer trash was showed how Barbara may have been one sided on her view of different classes. And even the work situations Barbara described herself in, many of us either had the same jobs or simliar/worse experiences. Even though we may not have lived solely off our low wage jobs, most of us know what its like to work in less than comfortable occupations for hours on end.

"Bus Cleaner"

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"The next piece of business is to comb through the want ads and find a job. I rule out various occupations for one reason or another: hotel front-desk clerk, for example, which to my surprise is regarded as unskilled and pays only $6 or $7 an hour, gets eliminated because it involves standing in one spot for eight hours a day. Waitressing is also something I'd like to avoid, because I remember it leaving me bone-tired when I was eighteen, and I'm decades of varicosities and back pain beyond that now. Telemarketing, one of the first refuges of the suddenly indigent, can be dismissed on grounds of personality." (Ehrenreich 13)

I remember reading this passage over the summer for the summer reading assignment. After reading these few lines, I wanted to throw the book out a window. I guess it was because of the situation I was caught in while reading about Barbara's situation. Her pickiness about what job she wanted to apply for probably irritated me because I had spent the marjority of my summer on the floors of charter buses and school buses scrubbing them with a tooth brush. Thats right, a toothbrush.

All the jobs Barbara had passed over in the above passage had been ones I would have loved to have last summer. Because of my own situation, I neglected the fact that Barbara's age and health had a great deal to due with her choices, but still her option to look over these jobs doesn't match up for reality. She was able to look over these jobs because even if she failed to get hired anywhere else she chose, she still had her own life and occupation to return to. Others who are in need of work don't have the choice to pass over these kinds of jobs; they have to take whatever they can get.

I would have loved to have had a waitressing job that made me "bone-tired" or a hotel-desk clerk that required me to stand in the same spot for eight hours. Instead, I scrubbed and work on buses my whole summer. I cleaned up messes left behind bus loads of travellers who I know never thought about the person who would have to clean the bus once they were done sticking their gum to the seats and smashing potatoe chips all over the floor.  And my favorite part of the job was always have to dump out the bathroom in the gutter. It was especially enjoyable after the bus had just been taken on a very long trip and everything that was left behind in the bathroom failed to completely make it into the gutter and instead splashed all over me. Waitressing definately would have appeared as a wonderful option to me had it existed. But, unlike Barbara, I didn't have a choice. I had to take what I could get and make the best of it. At least from now on, hopefully any job I try to tackle, even on its worse days, will not seem so bad as long as I recall my bus cleaning days.

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