October 25, 2004

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Relationship between Huck's freedom and society

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain develops Huck and Jim's adventures to allow him to weave in his criticism of society. Huck and Jim both run from social injustice and both are distrustful of the civilization around them. Huck is considered an uneducated backwards boy, constantly under pressure to conform to the "humanized" surroundings of society. Jim a slave that is not even considered as a real person, but as property. As they run from civilization and are on the river, they ponder the social injustices forced upon them when they are on land.

These social injustices are even more evident when Huck and Jim have to make landfall, and this provides Twain with the chance to ridicule the socially correct injustices that Huck and Jim encounter on land. The reflection of society should make us question the world we live in, and the journey down the river provides us with that chance. Huck was running to the freedom of the river. The river never cares how saintly you are, how rich you are, or what society thinks you are. The river allows Huck the one thing that Huck wants to be, and that is Huck. The river is freedom than the land is oppression, and that oppression is no more evident than it is to Jim.
If we recall in the earlier chapters, Huck and Jim's journey began as Huck fought within himself about turning Jim over to the authorities. Finally he decides not to turn Jim in. This was a huge decision for Huck to make, even though he made it on the spot. This was not just a boy running away from home. It was someone who had decided to turn his back on everything "home" stands for, even one of its most cherished beliefs. In this way Twain also allows to let us leave our thoughts of racism behind also and start to see Jim for who he really is, a man. Even though Huck has made his decision about Jim, early in the voyage we see Huck's attitude towards Jim as racist. Eventually Huck plays a mean trick on Jim and we see Huck begin to change his attitude, "It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterward, neither".
Later on in the story Huck becomes very caring and protective for Jim, where this reaches the point where Huck saves Jim from two slave catchers by tricking them to think Jim was Huck's small pox ridden father. The dialogue between Huck and Jim also illustrates that Jim is more than someone's property. He is a human being with feelings, and hopes for a better future. He is not some ignorant, uncaring sub-human, but plainly the opposite.
Huck and Jim's adventures so far give us a chance to examine the society they live in. It also gives us a chance to examine ourselves as well as the society today. There are more examples of human failings in these current chapters, the trickery and cheating of the King and Duke, the lack of caring by the townspeople for Boggs, and the innocence of the Wilks sisters. There is cruelty, greed, murder, trickery, hypocrisy, racism, and a general lack of morality, all the ingredients of society. Through the adventure Huck Finn and Jim are trying to find the one thing they can only find on the river, freedom, but a person can only stay on the river for so long, and so you have to go on land to face the injustices of society.
Quite a contrast, the freedom of being without authority, being able to think for yourself, running right next to the constraints made upon you by society. Somewhere deep within these chapters Twain is making a powerful statement, a wish for all humanity, that we can be brave enough to break with what others assume is correct and just, and make decisions for ourselves and the ability to stand on our own and do something about it.

Questions:

Do you think the components of our society is cruelty, greed, murder, trickery,
hypocrisy, racism, and a lack of morality?

In what ways have our society change and remind the same?

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 9:44 AM | Comments (10)

October 10, 2004

Portfolio 1

Since taking American Literature, I have been introduced to many literary pieces. Each literary piece I have read was all different, but yet they are all related in some ways:

* Deeper Look at: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge- This literary piece more demonstrates realistic scenes that brings the stories alive. The author in this piece kept the readers in suspense of whether Peyton was dead or alive. As in Bartleby, this story also discusses/ends with tragedy.

* On Bartleby: The Scrivener- This literary piece has a different shift, it focuses on a man who withdrew from society. In this piece the author demonstrated how society abandons those that are in need of help by presenting a charity case. The author showed how abandonment of society can contribute to the death of others.

Related Links : Reflection on Bartleby 1 and Reflection 2

* Thoughts on The Raven- The Raven as some of the other literary piece was about a lonely man that tries to ease his sorrows from his lost love Lenore. In this piece the author used it as an image of his life and the experiences that occurred to him. This literary piece signifies the lost of the author's wife. Although Poe experiences a lost in the Raven, Hester also experience a lost in the...

Related Links : Discussion of Poe 1

* Scarlet Letter Chapters 1-9- In this masterpiece, Hawthorne displays a hopeless victim of sin, guilt and hypocrisy in Puritan New England society. As displayed in Raven, the author had Hester experience a lost, which was losing Dimmesdale. This demonstrates how we as humans experience sin. Therefore, in the poem I presented also relates to all these literary pieces.

Related Links Scarlet Letter Overall Thoughts and Feelings and Relationship between Hester and Pearl

* Deeper Look: Going to heaven - Going Dickinson in this piece also presents a religious aspect in her writing. She proposed uncertainty about God and Christianity. As Dickinson is searching for the truth Emerson proposed that humans are to be reliant on God.

Related Links : Poem Presentation on Going to heaven by Emily Dickinson and Reflection on Presentation

* Understanding of Emerson: Self-Reliance- Emerson essay hits on the idea that individuals should be reliant on God and everyone has been put into their life by God. As individuals we are to also trust ourselves and what God has put us in.

* Wildcard: Improvement on School Lunches- This essay takes more of a different shift and area. It is about how healthy school lunches can not change a student's behavior at school.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

Wilcard: Improvement on School Lunch

In the earlier part of September Good Morning America, had a discussion on how school lunch can improve a student’s behavior, once it is healthy. The news report stated that some schools plan to replace fat filled white bread hoagies with more healthy lunch options for the students. But some school officials believe because of the lunch options, changes it has brought zero weapons on campus, zero expulsions and zero drug or alcohol on campus.
Although officials might believe this, I believe that healthy meals cannot play a role in behavior problems. Evidently, it can play a role in stopping obesity among students. It worries me that school officials can think healthy meals may contribute or help improve a child’s academic performance and awareness.
Having a healthy meal at lunch time would help develop changes within the classroom. These changes may include better student-teacher interaction and better alert students. Healthy lunches would also decrease obesity among the students. Therefore, a healthy lunch helps develop a meaningful academic environment for both the student and the teacher.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 5:24 PM | Comments (3)

Understanding of Emerson: Self-Reliance

In Self-Reliance, Emerson hits on the idea that we as individuals should be reliant on God and that every person has been into their life and position by God. As well as being reliant on God, we are to trust ourselves. Emerson in the essay said that God has put the power to handle things, think, and act into each individual. Not only are we to act into each individual, we are in need to trust what God has put inside of us. Trusting in what God has put in us, allows us to do things with our lives.
The idea is almost that of predestination, for the fact that we have a choice of which road to take. Predestination is the idea that a higher power or God has planned everything that will happen to a person in their life. Although some individuals might not agree with this, I do. Emerson idea is that God has put the choice to us, but he has given us all gifts of chosen the path we want to take. In the third paragraph, he wrote that Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string……. the paragraph continues, but he also gives us the idea of trusting ourselves through God. Individuals need to trust in God to tell them what to do and what to think.
In my opinion Emerson is telling individuals that we need to be ourselves and trust in God for guidance. As individuals we need to try to be ourselves especially in the things we say, rather than contradicting our actions and thoughts.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 4:41 PM | Comments (2)

Reflection on Presentation

The cover slam presentation, in my opinion went well and I presented Going to heaven. This poem was a beautiful poem and I felt that I made some good connections presenting it to the class. It took me couple of days to have practice, so I could have present the poem in the way I interpreted it. I wanted to try to connect with the poem, so I changed patterns from slow to fast. I also added the necessary emotions to the poem.
However, the class responded with both positive and negative responds. The overall student body rated that I did a great job and some also included some things I need to change. Some positive responds I receive from the class was that I spoke out loud when it was needed, good facial/verbal expressions, displayed emotions in questions, paused at various points, good feeling of character, stressed/emphasize words, spoke clearly and good movement/gestures. Not only did I receive positive comments but also negative. The negative refers to areas I needed to make improvement. Some negative comments was that I paced to much, going a bit slow, have a little bit more of a flow, stop hand movements and stop at where there was punctuation.
All these advice and comments are all helpful to me because it allows me to make improvement for future activities. I also found some comments similar to the ones I saw after the presentations. This was a very good learning experience that allowed me to demonstrate my opinion on a poem.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 3:56 PM | Comments (2)

On Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street

The character Bartleby is fascinating because he is as outwardly unformed as a character. Bartleby was a man who withdrew from life. He did protest, indeed protesting would have been an overt act of the quite character. The author used the prison as entirely internalized for Bartleby. He created his own prison, though fear on the part of his boss. Is that perhaps Bartleby saw more than the rest of us and has lost hope because he knows we are all in some sort of prison.
The story of Bartleby is ambiguous because we see his life entirely from the outside. Never hearing anything in Bartleby’s own voice except the repeated, “I would prefer not to.” These words made it seems as if Bartleby wanted to run/overtake the employer business, but we only saw that view through the eyes of his puzzled employer. The employer was a man who wanted to desperately to understand but was ultimately left as uncertain as we were.
All in all, Melville takes a critical look at charity. The lawyer looks as charitable actions in terms of cost and returns. If you recall back in the story the lawyer’s train of thought was: he first pities Bartleby and then recognized the fact that Bartleby is useful to him. The lawyer then notes that Bartleby would be ill-treated in another office. Presumably making him less useful to some other employer and by extension, society, and finally the lawyer pats himself on the back for keeping Bartleby as a worker. He therefore purchases self-approval for his conscience, which will cost him little. Through charity the lawyer is actually just buying himself a good conscience. He believes he is making the best use possible of Bartleby if he could get him to make copies.
However, it wasn’t until the lawyer decided to let Bartleby live in his office. But as soon as Bartleby affected his business, the lawyer moved his office and abandon Bartleby. In my opinion at that point Bartleby probably felt shut out and abandon by society, which might have contribute to his death.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 3:28 PM | Comments (6)

Thoughts on The Raven

The literary piece, The Raven in my view is about a lonely man that tries to ease his sorrow for his lost Lenore by distracting his mind. He is then interrupted by a tapping at his chamber door when he looked out; he saw darkness and whispered Lenore. However, another knock is mention and he saw a raven. In this poem, Poe uses several symbols to take the poem to a higher level. The symbols he used were the raven and midnight.

The raven is use to express the feelings of Poe and it symbolize the mourning and never ending sadness. To me the raven is used to represent Lenore and death. Poe probably considered a parrot as the bird instead of the raven. He displayed it in a depressed tone and as a bird of ill-omen. He found the raven more suitable for the mood in the poem.
In my opinion midnight in the poem symbolize an end of something and also the anticipation of something new, change, to happen. The chamber in which the narrator is positioned to indicate the loneliness of the man and sorrow he feels for the loss of Lenore. The room is richly furnished and reminds the narrator of his lost, which helps to create an effect in the poem. The tempest outside is used to more signify the isolation of the narrator, to show a sharp contrast between the calmness in the chamber and the tempestuous night.
After this poem again, I concluded that the author was depressed. The narrator displayed this loneliness/despair from his life experience into his writing. Poe probably experienced some type of traumatic event or lost that allowed him to become depressed. However after doing research my conclusions were right. Poe became depressed after the death of his wife. He also became addicted to many drugs and alcohol, which was supposedly used to remove the pain he was suffering. I found it interesting to have saw how Poe his poems to portray his life. Therefore, he used the raven as a symbol that was sent by Lenore. The lost of Lenore probably signifies the lost of his wife and resembles the mournful/never ending sadness he experience.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 12:11 PM | Comments (3)

Deeper Look At: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was a well-illustrated piece of literature. The details used by the author allow the readers to engage themselves in the story. The detail that Bierce uses in the story is confusing. In my opinion the author creates an opening of interpretation to plot the story. This is a result of Bierce’s attempt to engage the readers into wanting to read the story. It may also be Bierce’s way of persuading the reader to contemplate the idea he wrote about. These ideas were thoughts about war.
However, individuals may generally interpret this story in two different ways. As for me, I comprehend the story as Peyton seeing his future as he would want it to be, flashing before his eye the second before he falls to death. Therefore, I concluded that Peyton was already dead at the beginning of the story. While interpreting the story, I figured that his vision were not real, but were the only things he would hope happen in his near future if he was able to escape from the hands of death. The ticking of the watch signifies the lost moments of his life.
Taking a deeper look allowed me not to be shocked when he was dead at the end of story. On the other hand, others might have interpret the story as Peyton’s escaping from his death sentence and going back to his family to live his life in happiness with his wife and children before dying at the end. They would interpret the story as Peyton having his last wishes come true and being able to break out swimming down the river to safety. People with this view are shocked at the end when they find out Peyton is dead. Upon elaborating on their understanding of the narrative, the story become somewhat of a fantasy.
The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is a story that keeps the readers in suspense of whether Peyton was really dead or alive. The details Bierce used throughout the story created a realistic scene and in a sense it brought the story to life. He pulls his readers into the story by creating an attention grabbing plot and allows the readers to create their own interpretation of the events that accompany the plot. At the end however, every reader develops an interpretation as to what actually happen to Farquhar and whether he was dead or alive during what seems to be a fantasy created in Farquhar’s mind.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 9:43 AM | Comments (3)

October 2, 2004

Deeper Look -"Going To Heaven"

The title of the poem I chose was Going to heaven. It was published in 1955 and it was written by Emily Dickinson. I chose this poem because I felt it was a great poem. I came across so many poems, but this one got my attention. I decided to present this poem for my presentation because it made me wondered, so I figure it would allow the class to wonder too.

I interpreted this poem to be about two individuals that died. Though both individuals died and one is questioning whether or not they are going to make it to heaven to see Christ or would they remain behind. The person in the poem, then states if they do not make it he or she want a place saved near the people they lost. However, the poem continues and the person makes it to heaven and leaves the other person behind.
According to research I have done, the author stopped attending church and eventually withdrew from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary because she could not accept the idea of Original Sin. She also resisted the local religious revivals in which other family members and friends became involved. Despite her dislike for revivals incorporate central Christian themes in her poetry. Research also stated that she had a great love for the Bible. However, it maybe difficult to conclude how she feels about Christianity.
In the poem Going to heaven and by reading and researching other poems from Dickinson (example I cannot live with you and Faith). I concluded that Dickson realized that she and Christ can never come together on earth because of the discrepancies between herself and the teaching of Christian religion. She resolves that the only way is for her to keep the door, or the communication between them open as wide as the oceans are with prayer. Throughout her poems she includes despair caused by the confusion of Christian doctrine and keeps towards God. The reading of these poems offers an interesting glimpse into Dickinson's views on Christ and religion. Perhaps her feelings of uncertainty are manifested in her frequent use of Christ, dashes, and life effectively suspends the readers just as she is suspended from the truth.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 10:28 PM | Comments (3)

Poem Presentation "Going to heaven" by:Emily Dickinson Poem


GOING to heaven!
I don’t know when,
Pray do not ask me how,—
Indeed, I ’m too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to heaven!—
How dim it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the shepherd’s arm!

Perhaps you ’re going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first,
Save just a little place for me
Close to the two I lost!
The smallest “robe” will fit me,
And just a bit of “crown”;
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home.

I ’m glad I don’t believe it,
For it would stop my breath,
And I ’d like to look a little more
At such a curious earth!
I am glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the mighty autumn afternoon
I left them in the ground.


I chose this poem for my presentation, because I thought it was a good poem. I feel we all ask the same questions that are composed within the poem. The poem illustrates how the person can not wait until they meet the Christ.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 7:10 PM | Comments (1)

Relationship Between Hester and Pearl Discussion

In Nabila discussion, she prepared her point of view about the relationship between Pearl and Hester. She was stating some strong thoughts and feeling. However, I agree and feel the same way she does about their relationship. I too felt that Hester and Pearl love one another. Pearl did not care who her mother was, she only wanted her mother to be happy with who she was.
However, I also agree with her that Pearl is not a devil child. In my opinion, she is like every child that is brought into the world of sin. As a child we all had questions and there were things we wanted to know but our parent/family did not want us to know. Although some of us might say that Hester should have told Pearl the truth about the scarlet letter. I feel what she did was right because there is a time and place for everything and telling Pearl at age 7 would not have being an appropriate time to let her know her secret.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 6:27 PM | Comments (1)

Scarlet Letter Overall Thoughts and Feelings

After reading the remaining chapters if the Scarlet Letter, I found it interesting to see how important the symbols were throughout the book. Personally my thoughts and feelings was that, the book resulted in expulsion, suffering and acceptance. However, I also feel it resulted in knowledge of what it means to be human. Throughout the entire book the scarlet letter was meant to be a symbol of shame, not something that was supposed to help Hester identity. The letter helped because as the story gradually progressed the meaning of the letter shifted.

The letter “A” first meant adulterer, eventually it was known for “Able.” As I recalled in chapter 22, on the Election Day the Native Americans thought the letter “A” meant she was a person of importance and status. Like Pearl, the letter functioned as a physical reminder of Hester’s affair with Dimmesdale. However, I feel the instability of the letter’s apparent meaning calls into question society’s ability to use symbols for ideological reinforcement. Pearl was the physical consequence of a sexual sin and the indicator of a transgression. Yet, Hawthorne was able to show us that Pearl was a reminder of Hester’s sin. To her mother, she was more than just a mere punishment but a blessing. She represents not only “sin” but also passion that engendered the sin.
Pearl’s existence gives her mother reason to live, bolstering her spirit when she is tempted to give up. It was only after Dimmesdale was revealed he was Pearl’s father she became fully “human” (chapter 24). Pearl functioned in a symbolic capacity as the reminder of an unsolved mystery.
All in all Pearl was not asked to be born as a symbol of sin, it just happened. The Puritans viewed sin as a threat to the community that should be punished and suppressed, but the question I composed: “Was it only Hester that committed sin?” I did not only find the symbols important, but I felt I gained a better understanding about Puritan’s life and religion. According to research, religion played an important role in the Puritan’s life. They felt that they were chosen by God for a special purpose and that they must live every moment in a God-fearing manner. However, it was shocking that if Puritans did not read the Bible it was thought that they were worshipping the devil. I also found that people in Puritan religion were expected to work hard and repress their emotions or opinions. However, the puritans established laws derived from the Bible and they punished or expelled those who did not share their beliefs or committed sin. I feel that as humans we all sin and no one is perfect. My beliefs and thought are that we might sin in different ways our sin may be physical (by us acting it out) or it may be mental (thinking or lusting about it), so how can someone be punished (whip or put to death) for his or her sin and we all sin?

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 5:40 PM | Comments (1)

Scarlet Letter Chapters 1-9

I enjoyed reading the first couple chapters of the Scarlet Letter, since before I had mix feelings about reading this book. I remember when I was younger I first made an attempt to read this book and was turned away from the uninteresting introduction. While reading the introduction, I decided not to continue/proceed reading the book. Wow, was I wrong because now reading for my American Literature class I found the book satisfactory. This book in my opinion displays a masterpiece about Hester Prynee, hopeless victim of sin, guilt and hypocrisy in Puritan New England.

The book took placed in an Old English Puritan colony. In the first nine chapters the book discusses how Hester committed adultery and the consequences of her actions. She then becomes pregnant and is rejected by society as a condemned sinner. For being a sinner, she was put in prison for short time and was forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her chest for the rest of her life. She also refused to tell who the father of her child was and the identity of her husband is unknown to everyone except her. Although, this was just a little recap about what the first couple chapters was about. I really liked the writing style the author presented. Nathaniel Hawthorne devoted chapters revealing the connection with the rosebush and Hester. He connected in a way that displayed evil and sin. Although the heart of Hester and the scarlet letter were connected with evil and sin, the author also showed the readers the physical features as being beautiful. These physical features describe Hester on the outside.

Hawthorne presented chapters to reveal what going or in the hearts and mind of the character. He presented several symbols throughout the chapters. I personally think the description help me better understand and picture the opening scene and areas of the book.

Posted by Se-AnnWilliams at 5:05 PM | Comments (0)