February 23, 2005

A picture is worth a thousand words

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Outline

The references to photgraphy in the Great Gatsby were something i should have picked up on because I am really into photography. I took Richard Stoners B/W photo class last semester and one of his sayings is that a picture is worth a thousand words but all the words could be lies. This is very true. Nick as the narrator composes the story within his frame of reference as a photographer composes an image in the viewfinder of his camera. When you take a picture of something for artistic purposes not just a snapshot you are attempting to capture something that you felt or a message you want to convey using an image from the real world. While a photograph is an image of the real world it can be very surreal and the message it conveys may suggest somethign that is not part of reality at all.

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February 15, 2005

Is anyone in favor of Daisy?

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

One of the most significant things for me which came up as a result of finishing the novel is the change in my opinion of Daisy. At first I found Daisy to be a ditsy kind of girl happy go lucky and simple minded. Then I started to realize she had some issues like with the wedding to Tom. She throws out the necklace as if it is not important to her and it makes her seem immaterialistic, which may or may not be true but at first I took it as she wasn't being materialistic but if you think about it, it could have been as if she were taking it for granted because she had always known money and was never without, as if it were nothing to throw away an expensive gem. Then the bit about her and Gatsby's past was revealed and I almost felt sorry for her, living with her cheating husband and the humiliation that everyone knows about it and then she finds her long lost love and now she has to make a choice. Then it comes time for her to make this choice. This is where Daisy truly reveals herself. Tom knows about Gatsby and now Daisy can't really sit on the fence. She has to make the decision about who she wants to be with. (*I don't know if anyone can relate to the hot day with the heat bearing down on you and you are on the midst of a crisis its like too much to deal with. I understand why Fitzgerald set up the hotel scene under these circumstances. It helped to build up to the climax.*) Then the hotel business happens all the while Daisy wants Gatsby to be involved but can't let go of her husband (talking about their wedding day and the people that were there, etc.). She invites Gatsby to her house, announces that she wants to go to town and then rides with Gatsby! She is almost setting it up so that she hopefully won't have to make a decision. She figures the two men will just work it out for her and she won't have to do anything but look like either the poor wife mistreated by her cheating husband or the girl who was manipulated by a man into believing erroneous ideas. She also makes sure that all this occurs in front of an audience of their peers, hoping to gain favor for her side (whatever side that may truly be). This shows she is a weak character, her unwillingness to deal with the sitatuion shows she is completely wishy washy and has no control. Fitzgerald even says that "Her frightened eyes told that whatever intentions, whatever courage she had had were defintely gone." Only Gatsby is true enough to stand up for himself even if it means facing adversity. Gatsby even waits outside her window that night even though she is beyond going back it is obvious that the choice has been made for her. Even if Tom was controlling of Daisy or whatever she had her chance to make her choice in the presence of two other men who could have protected her if Tom had gotten violent. But no, she couldn't do it. Poor Gatsby. On the contrary my opinion of Gatsby improved by the end of the story. He was truly great in my opinion. He waited all those years for Daisy, working hard to impress her and to be able to provide for her as he was unable to do before.
The climax of the story was the turning point for everybody. AFter this point of the story things aren't quite the same for anybody. Nick realizes that all these people were horrible except for Gatsby. I think he almost feels as though he owes it to Gatsby after his death for even getting him into the whole mess. If it wasn't for Nick perhaps Gatsby would never have decided to pursue Daisy more aggressively (if you can call it that). Gatsby really was a true gentlemen, concerned about Daisy's feelings only and still on her side even after she melted on the spot and turned her back on him. In my opinion Daisy is not of Gatsby's calibar. She is below Gatsby, right with her husband Tom. They are perfect for one another because they are exactly alike when it really comes down to it. Maybe the Daisy that Gatsby knew 5 years before was different, uncorrupted by money as she was then.

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February 9, 2005

The Adding Machine

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Due Dates

This story was extremely pessimistic and left me with a bad feeling, at the end I felt like Mr. Zero, desperate and stupid. The idea that everything we do is pointless and God is up there sending used souls back again and again without any hope of rest is depressing. However I did find the story to be rather humorous in a sick sort of way.

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A Jury of her Peers

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Due Dates

After reading this story I found it to be somewhat disturbing, a woman killing her husband and two other women covering for her, I mean, it's kind of shady. But after thinking about it and talking about it I came to a new understanding about it. In the time that this story was written the role of women was completely different than it is today. My first thought was "Why did she have to kill him, why not just leave him?" But in those days it was not that easy. If a woman was dissatisfied with her marriage/husband it was simply not practical to divorce him. Mrs. Wright would not have had any money of her own and most women did not seek jobs but relied on their husbands to support them financially. Not only that, divorce was not as common as it is today, it just wasn't the thing to do. So most women just put up with bad relationships. Upon realizing this I could almost empathize with Mrs. Wright. The other women in the story could understand this too. It is interesting that the women in the story are constantly mocked by the men for their sensitivity and lack of "sensibility", passed off as mindless when it comes to important matters. However it is this sensitivity and attention to detail that led them to the evidence, the canary. They found what men couldn't because men don't understand women the way women understand women. I also enjoyed the symbolism between the canary and Mrs. Wright.

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Youth vs. Maturity

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Due Dates

I really enjoyed this story. The movie did not really do it justice. Of the 3 we just read it was my favorite. There was one line that really stuck out in my mind.
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look at forty-five they are caves in which we hide."
I consider this line to be particularly profound. It really sums up the theme of youthfulness verses maturity that is central to the story. (more about this in my close reading) Teenage life may have been different in the 20s but the concerns of a young mind remain the same; popularity, acceptance by the opposite sex, obsession with appearance and being attractive. The characters were so familiar to me because I think back to when I was in high school and I knew these characters personally, in fact in ways, I was one of them. The idea that parents can't possibly understand their children's generation goes along with the mentality of youth. No young person believes their parents have the slightest clue about what life is about. However parents are sitting there in their "caves" saying "been there done that". While many things do change with time, there is more continuity than we realize when we are young. It is not until after we reach our peaks and descend the other side that we realize some of these things for ourselves.

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A Rose in Daisy Clothing

Jerz: Am Lit II (EL 267): Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

First of all I have to say that I really love Fitzgerald. I liked Bernice Bobs her Hair a lot and I also really got into this story. I love his use of language. It may seem a bit flowery but he chooses his words so well to describe the message he is trying to convey. I think I was supposed to read this story in high school but I must have been slacking off or something because I don't remember doing so but I am glad I finally have the chance to. For 12.95 I'm keeping this book!

Anyway, one of the things I noticed about the story was the symbolism of Daisy being a flower. This may seem really obvious but I honestly didn't catch it until i started reading the first chapter for the second time. He always describes her as "opening up again in a flower like way." Plus the obviousness of her name being Daisy. Daisies are simple flowers and I wonder if she is really as simpleminded as she appears. She talks about roses (possible a symbol of love) a lot, like at the Buchannans the porch is described as rosy and she tells Nick he is a rose. "I am not even faintly like a rose" I love that line. I dont think she is as ditsy as she seems to be. In fact she almost mocks her own husband's dull mindedness like when she is telling him that she and Nick were talking about the "Nordic race" and calling him a "hulking brute" I think she makes herself seem simple minded so she is no competition for her husband. The part about the night before the Buchannans wedding made me think that there is more to Daisy than what she lets on. She seems concerned about losing her husband I could be wrong. Please tell me if I am. I am kind of going out on a whim here. Maybe this is why Gatsby doesn't think things are the same between the two of them. Maybe she got too used to being the stupid one that she is no longer intriguing to him.

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