May 27, 2005

Weblog Portfolio: Part 2

This is my second blogging portfolio… which simply means you will find a convenient list of links to my best blogged work in the Spring 2005 semester of American Literature 1915-Present course with Dr. Jerz. Although I fell behind during the second semester, I have met my blogging requirements for the course.
Despite other students in the course, I feel that blogging exercises truly are a good thing -- if done properly. It allows students to discuss the readings openly, outside of the classroom, therefore promoting good classroom discussions. Although I blogged on my page much after the readings were discussed, I kept up on reading my coursemate's blogs. It helped to read their reactions and responses to the stories. It is important to keep an open mind, and understand that there is not necessarily one "correct" interpretation to a work of literature.
I am proud of my accomplishments in the class, and my ability to critically analyze American Literature. However, the point of blogging is to stay up-to-date so you can give and receive comments and allow for discussion. Regardless... you are gaining access to my best work in the second half of the course... ;)

A Streetcar Named Desire : This was one of three novels assigned for second semester. It produced mixed feelings in me.

You’re Ugly Too : A look at and analysis of the main character, Zoe.

Greenleaf : My anger spelled out onto a blog... a look at my frustrations with Mrs. May within this story.

Here We Are : My response to a story of a newlywed couple in the 1930s. Very interesting stuff!

The Best Girlfriend You Never Had : My response to the friendship between Lucy and Leo. Also included are my responses to some of my coursemate's blogged agenda items.

Blood-Burning Moon : Within this entry I responded to Mary's question she posted in her blog.

The Half-Skinned Steer : Check out my attempt to make sense of this crazy story. Also, read the positive comments I received on this agenda item.

I Want to Live! : A more in-depth look at this story and the message it gives.

The Farmer’s Children : A response to this story and note about the farmer's wife and her role in the death of the two boys.


The Secret Life of Bees
: A look at how Lily was able to grow from an abused, deprived young girl without her mother, to a strong, more independent young woman coming to terms with the past.

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The Secret Life of Bees

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“Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black ‘stand-in-mother,’ Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.” This story holds a message for just about anyone. Through Lily’s trials and triumphs, happiness and justice is served and hope is restored within the reader for a brighter future. I would definitely recommend this novel to others.

“O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.”

This was a passage Lily came across in her mother’s book by William Blake. It had been underlined. Lily closed the book and wanted the words to roll off of her, but they had stuck. “I wanted nothing so much as to tell her how sorry I was for being one of the invisible worms that flew in the night.” Lily’s feelings of guilt, loneliness, and despair were rooted in her mother’s death. To make matters worse, T.Ray, her father, was physically and mentally abusive. He refused to nurture or support Lily through her upbringing, something she so desperately longed for and needed.

“A queenless colony is a pitiful and melancholy community; there may be a mournful wail or lament from within… Without intervention, the colony will die. But introduce a new queen and the most extravagant change takes place.” This introduction to chapter fourteen beautifully demonstrates the loss of Lily’s mother and May. Lily probably would have not been alright if she had stayed with T.Ray all of the time. By meeting the sisters, Lily found acceptance, love, and truth. She found closure to her mother’s death and freedom from T.Ray. An amazing change has taken place at the end of the novel when Lily almost becomes her mother… she has grown tremendously and will persevere as a young woman should.

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The Farmer's Children

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I really don’t know what to make of this story. I am mostly angry at the stepmother, for being so inattentive and uncaring to her husband’s children (from his previous marriage), Cato and Emerson. Why would she put an extra blanket over her own children who were sleeping comfortably inside and not even acknowledge the two boys who were forced to sleep outside in the barn on a freezing winter night?! “The first wife had been the daughter of a minister, a plain and simple woman who had named her sons Cato and Emerson; while the stepmother, being romantic and overgenerous, to her own children at least, had given them the names of Lea Leola, Rosina, and Gracie Bell.”
This story was published in 1949, and perhaps the stepmother was bitter towards her husband’s former marriage, and thus, refused to acknowledge and properly care for his children. Remarriage wasn't as prominent in those days, and perhaps the stepmother held resent towards her husband's children. It is a shame that these two young boys died as a result of her bitterness and inability to let go of the past.

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I Want to Live!

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This was a truly eye-opening and touching story. After reading about Mrs. Wilson’s battle with cancer and approaching death, it just makes you want to live and enjoy life. So many passages stood out to me within this story.

“One afternoon after he left for work, she found a passage circled in his well-worn copy of Schopenhauer: ‘In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theater before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen.’”

As Mrs. Wilson found absolute truth and brilliance within this bit of philosophy, so do I. Life is a blessing given to us, and it is better to be lived unknowing of the future that lies ahead. I found this beautiful. “With Schopenhauer she could take long excursions from the grim specter of impending death. In Schopenhauer, particularly in his aphorisms and reflections, she found an absolute satisfaction, for Schopenhauer spoke the truth and the rest of the world was disseminating lies!”

“The son-in-law took antidepressants and claimed to be a melancholiac, yet he always seemed upbeat, comical, ready with a laugh. He had a sense of the absurd that she had found annoying back in the old days when she liked to pretend that life was a stroll down Primrose Lane.”

When friends visited with her before her death, Mrs. Wilson saw the love and affection they had for her. “They loved her, truly they did. She could see it. You couldn’t bullshit her anymore; she could see deep into the human heart; she knew what people were…”

I found it particularly interesting that as Mrs. Wilson approached her death that she so desperately wanted to avoid, she could see the truths and importance of life. It bothered her that everyone else was worried with trivial, meaningless things.

“The main players were assembled in the room. She… was nodding in and out but she could hear. There she was, in this apparent stupor, but she was more aware than anyone could know. She heard someone say somebody at McDonald’s put ‘everything’ on her hamburger instead of ‘cheese and ketchup only.’ They were making an issue out of it. One day, when they were in her shoes, they would learn to ignore this kind of petty stuff, but you couldn’t blame them. That was how things were, that’s all. Life. That was it. That was what it was. And here she lay… dying.”

This passage really hit home for me. While I can admit to taking life for granted and “sweating the small stuff,” I really can see the truth in what Mrs. Wilson is saying as she laid lying. What I can take from this story is a positive lesson and a reminder to make the most of everyday, and not stress or dwell on the negative. As Mrs. Wilson’s son-in-law seemed to be so happy, intelligent, and understanding of life, he also took anti-depressants. From Mrs. Wilson’s eyes, it really is relevant to today, as so many people really have everything going for them, but yet cannot get by without drugs like these. This story let me analyze how people really are in life… and how clear things become at the time leading up to death. We never know when our time will come, so value every moment and live! Live… just as Mrs. Wilson and so many unfortunate others who have passed only wish they had the chance to do!

Posted by KaylaTurano at 7:04 PM | TrackBack

A Streetcar Named Desire

After having read this story over spring break, I was rather surprised at the ending involving Blanche’s demise. Although I didn’t necessarily support Blanche’s lies and insecurities, I also do not condone Stanley’s actions leading to his sister-in-law’s tragedy. It has been quite a while since I’ve read the story, but if I remember correctly, I blame Stella for what ultimately happened to her sister. Shame on her for marrying such a cruel, insensitive barbarian husband and choosing him over family, but mostly, for letting him get away with what he did. Stanley and her only share a physical attraction, or lust. They are not in love. This is obviously seen through his abuse to her, but the physical attraction is so good they keep going back to one another. It is simply not about concern for each other’s emotions or respect for family… Stella fails to be a good sister for allowing her husband to do what he does to Blanche. But I do also feel that Blanche should not have lied so much about her past. I wonder if Blanche saw what was coming… she didn’t know Stanley overheard her putting him down to Stella, but she had some nerve to say those things to his wife, in his house. Although I understand it was a sensitive subject matter, Blanche probably brought a lot of it upon herself, as she continued to criticize and instigate Stanley.

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