November 30, 2004

Westward Bound

As I read the play "The Girl of the Golden West" I couldn't help but note the effort of Belasco to show the detail of each scene in each act. As I have mentioned before of Robinson, I felt as if I was in each scene as just an innocent bystander to what The Girl was going through with Rance and Johnson. I could picture each scene as it was introduced and the layout of what would be seen on the stage if this play was to be put on.

I think my favorite discription would have to be the discription at the beginning of Act II. Here Belasco is describing The Girl's home in intricate detail. He is placing props and other objects to be used in later important scenes. I especially liked how he discribed "the furniture as rather primitive." It was exactly like what we would be seeing in a mining camp. I could tell that Belasco really did his homework on this scene. He goes on to say that "Below [the bed] is a bureau covered by a Navajo blanket." Now that is detail. We as the audience did not need to know what the bureau and the end of the bed was covered in, but for the stage directions to say that the Navajo blanket was there it showed the importance of the Native American culture to The Girl.

People never really look at the setting of a story and how much impact it has on the general idea behind the things in a scene. I couldn't help but think, what would have happened during the scene where Rance and The Girl are playing poker if the table had not been there. Then other things started poping into mind as far as what would have happened to Johnson if he could not hide in the loft in The Girl's house. This sort of leads to the questions raised by some of the presenters of this story.

Janice Antal asked "Do you think she cheated/she knew she would win? Do you think it was a smart move on her part?"

Well, we know from the story that Minnie (as The Girl was called by Rance) definetly cheated on the last hand of the poker game. However, I do believe that this was the smart move on her part for many reasons. First, she knew that she did not love Rance, he was nothing but a scum bag in my opinion. He was trying to get Minnie to marry him knowing that he had a wife in another state. She would be commiting a huge mistake if she would marry him also knowing that he had a wife in another state. Secondly, her heart belonged to Johnson and she stuck to that. She told Rance that she did not care for him and that she would never marry him.

What do you guys think about how setting plays a key role in any literary works? I would love to hear what you have to say on this matter.


Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 7:39 PM | Comments (4)

Discovering Santa

As I sit here listening to Christmas music playing over my room mate's radio, I decided that I would look into exactly where the Santa myth came from. Knowing that another name for Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, I googled it and found a site called Saint Nicholas: Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus. This site is amazing! It has many different things to do including a tab on who Saint Nicholas is.

Born in the 3rd Century in Patara (a village in what is now Turkey) to wealthy parents while he was still young, Nicholas gave his entire inheritance to the poor according to what Christ taught. He was made a bishop at a young age and quickly was loved. After being persecuted and thrown in prison by Diocletian where he died, he was soon revered as a saint. There are many stories that surround his name and so many churches have been built to him that its not even funny.

There is another section on the site that show how many different cultures celebrate this saint.

In Belgium it is celebrated with a parade and children put their shoes and stockings out in order to recieve gifts from the saint.

In Croatia the feast of Saint Nicholas is the biggest gift giving holiday of the year. The children here also polish their shoes until they gleam to recieve their treats, however each child also recieves a golden twig to judge how good or bad they had been throughout the year. The bigger the twig the worse they were.

In England, there are more than 400 Anglican churches named for the saint. Again the holiday is celebrated with a feast for their patron saint and the children are given gifts and many churches invite the saint to tell the children who he is either before, during or after their Sunday service.

And finally in The United States some churches, especially the Dutch, celebrate with small or large festivals with a visit from the good saint himself.

It's amazing how one holiday can be so similar and yet so different at the same time. I hope you all have a good time looking at that site. It really is amazing!


Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 3:19 PM | Comments (7)

One Generation to the Next

As with most traditions, the Native Americans passed down their stories and legends for years. They passed down stories about their origin and the things that they believed in from one generation to the next until finally one day someone put the stories into writing. This is something that happened with many cultures. The stories were passed from mother to daughter or father to son for so many years that it is hard to tell what the original story was.

Unlike Sarah I understand the need for these people to know where they came from. For the Native Americans understanding where they came from helped them to understand the nature that surrounded them. It is the same thing for us. Everyone at some point in their lives wonders why they were born to the parents that they have, or even why they are here in the first place. The question we ask is why are we here?

This question for me was one that I struggled with especially in my senior year of high school. Why was I here? What does God have planned for me? When I asked my mom before I graduated what she went through on her graduation day it was pretty much the same as I. I listened to her as she told me about the plans she had for the future and even some stories of her own youth. Some of those stories were stories of my grandmother's youth. While I was reading these stories I couldn't help but think of them. It makes me believe that every family has their own form of oral literature. The stories our grandparents tell us of their youth were probably very similar to the stories their grandparents told them in their youth. It is in this way that families learn their past, their origin. That is that the Native Americans were trying to do.

I hope that I made sense, but that is just what I felt.

What were some stories you were all told in your youth? Do you think that you will relate them to your children? Let me know ok?


Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 2:35 PM | Comments (2)

Faces staring back

Has anyone ever wondered what life would be like if we were all the same and had all the same characteristics? I have and frankly it bores me. Robinson brings to us the ability to look at the different sides of people. Through poems like Eben Flood and Richard Corey he shows the down sides to people's emotions.

Being a person that has never really understood poetry outside of using it to express some severe emotion that I am feeling at the time, I really did enjoy reading the poetry written by Robinson. He was able to keep the images flowing in my mind and I felt like I was able to see what was going on in the poems. The two aforementioned poems have to be my favorite. They were sad, but had a humorous twist to them as well.

Let me start off my talking about Richard Corey. When I first read this poem all I could think of was a Hollywood star that was in a sleepy little town to shoot a movie. I would never have believed that he would commit suicide. Cory seemed like one of those people that loved himself and loved the attention that he was getting from the town. It didn't seem like anyone hated him. I mean in the second stanza lines 7 and 8 Robinson says: "But still he fluttered pulses when he said,/"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked." I like the fact that Linda also states that "Richard Corey is so skilled at projecting the image of success and satisfaction that he is admired and envied by all." How can someone so loved and liked commit suicide? I'm still baffled.

Next let me talk about Mr. Flood's Party. I could not help but laugh all the way through this poem. Robinson does such an amazing job capturing the image of a guy sitting on his back porch drinking from a jug by himself and talking to himself that I felt like I was hiding in the woods somewhere watching the whole story take place. The care that Robinson took in describing exactly how Mr. Flood set down the jug "as a mother lays her sleeping child (Line 25)" just blew me away.

The care to which Robinson took in describing these two characters and all the other characters in his poems makes me believe that he wanted people that read his poetry to make connections to their own lives. It makes me wonder if any of you were able to make these connections. Let me know what you think.

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 2:10 PM | Comments (2)

November 29, 2004

The "Devil" in us All

As I was preparing to read The Devil's Dictionary, Diana came into my room and told me how long it was. I was about ready to die. As I commented on Katie's blog I did not get half was through the letter B. It was not until after it was due for class that I have actually taken the time to read through this work. I think that although it is synical and bias depending on the view points that you have, the dictionary can also be a great conversation starter.

Let me start off by saying first that i was greatly amused by the fact that some of the definitions weren't even definitions at all but quotes (or supposed quotes as some cases may be) from other people. For instance the definition for Allegiance was a quote from a one G.J. Who the heck is G.J?! I mean come on now! What was Bierce thinking when he wrote some of these things? It is like he just heard some random guy on the streets say this and he thought it was funny so he put it in his dicitonary.

Now, let me tell you what some of my favorite words and their definitions are and why.

1. Ambidextrous is a person able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left. I couldn't believe this one when I read it. It was like he was saying to the people in the street, "I know how you work! You aren't fooling me!"

2. Birth according to Bierce is the first and direst of all disasters. I laughed so hard when I first read this because at the time I was feeling so down in the dumps because of things going on in my life that I was wishing I hadn't been born. So it was like it was perfect for how I was feeling at that moment.

3. A Bore is a person who talks when you wish him to listen. I sometimes feel like this when I am trying to tell someone something and I just need them to listen, but they feel the need to tell me every little story of how their aunt's uncle's cousin's friend had a problem very similar to mine.

4. Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. I still do not understand this definition. I originially looked it up because I want to teach elementary school, but I still think over it today.

These are just a few of the words that I enjoyed. I have many more and I still have not even really finished reading the whole dicitionary. I really like Shanna's idea of dressing up the this little piece of the Devil and setting it on a coffee table in your home. It is a great conversation starter. People can try and think of where and why Bierce chose a particular word or even what they think he meant by his definition that he placed or did not place as the case may be. I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. Please let me know what some of your favorite words were.

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 5:57 PM | Comments (4)

Fact or fiction

John Henry. A legend that everyone has heard of in their youth along with countless other heros from this time period. But is it just legend? I do not believe so and neither do countless others. Henry, whether this is his actual name or not, brought hope to those that were the underdogs in the working class. By racing a steam engine and beating it he showed that although technology was growing manual labor was still just as good.

As I read these songs and poems about the super human strength showed by Henry all I could think of was, "Wow his adrenaline was running really high," and what would happen if a person was put up against a machiene today. We keep seeing that more and more people are losing their jobs to machiene's everyday. Many people are let go because they don't understand the technology and others are being forced into retirement because they are simply too old to complete the tasks any more. I wish I could make people read about John Henry and what he went through to get people to realize that people are needed and machienes can't do everything.

With technology advancing so rapidly in today's world I have a feeling that we are going to go through another time period where John Henry's story will be replaced by someone else. Instead of a steam engine it would be a computer, and instead of a hammer to railroad it would be a person trying to do the job a computer can do in less time. Henry inspired people in his time to work hard and keep ahead of the things trying to replace them. He inspried people to believe that one person can make a difference. It is my hope that in the future people will look back on this story and see it more as a folk tale, but as a lesson that can be learned.

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 2:11 PM | Comments (3)

November 23, 2004

Courageous Little Bugger

Ok. So I had never actually read any of Mark Twain's (or Samuel Clemmens for the more literary crowd) works in the setting of a class. I have read Tom Swayer for pleasure, but it was the little kids version when I was like 12. Therefore I was naturally a little bit apprehensive about reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I didn't know what to expect and the way Dr. Jerz was talking I thought that I was going to be seeing the n-word all through the novel where actually it was only used maybe a dozen or so times that I can remember and usually when Huck was talking with adults.

My first impression of the novel was that it was a little bit childish and maybe not meant for students in a college level class and then I started actually becoming interested in the novel. There were so many things that people of all ages can learn from just reading this one piece of literature that I can't really just focus on one.

First, Huck and his father. This is the classic example of an abusive family relationship. Throughout that section of the novel, my heart went out to Huck. The fact that he knew his father had come into town just to get his money from the previous novel, and had the sense to give that money to someone else so that he could honestly tell his father that he had none showed to me that in this 14 year old (at least I think that is his age) there was a great amount of knowledge that others, like Tom, had no idea was out there. It also showed that he was capable of making decisions on his own. This is also the first sign of courage shown by Huck. He is able to make it through being locked in the cabin by his father and even the mental and sometime physical abuse done to him by his father.

Second, I think that he is extremely courageous for going off on his own to try and make it north. The entire story I had to keep reminding myself that he really was only 14. Some of the things he goes through and some of the ways that he gets himself out of mix ups could make anyone believe that he was older. It makes me wonder what happened to our society that kids today don't really grow up until they are like 17 or 18. In the novel it portrays the characteristics of what a normal 14 year old is going through. During this time period, kids were forced to grow up earlier in order to survive in the world. They had to go out and get jobs to help support their families and those that had the opportunity to go to school were learning how to support themselves when they were 16. Today we go to school until we are at least 18, and even longer for those that go on to higher education. I turn 20 on Friday and I think that Huck was more mature than I am right now. He had an idea about what things were out there in the world. He was able to be given a situation and could deal with it right away. I wish when I was his age I could do that. I would have just run to my mother and let her deal with it.

Did anyone else feel the way? What do you think you would have done in Huck's situation? Would you have run or would you have stayed and just dealt with the father and the town?

I hope to hear from someone soon!

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

Walled In

So once again I sit at my computer trying to think of ways to analyze Gilman's the "Yellow Wallpaper" in a different way. After reading this for the 5th time (twice in high school and three here in college) I am starting to run out of things to say. In January I wrote an entry that I will try not to reproduce here.

As I said last semester I really enjoyed reading the short story from the first person's point of view. By starting out in the beginning with the excitement of the narrator at being able to move into this amazing house for the summer and ending with her believing she is the woman behind the pattern, Gilman brings the reader into the mind of the narrator. However, a very good point was posted on my other blog entry by a visitor about whether or not Jane (as we have finally decided was the narrator's name) killed herself. How, is it possible that she did this if she is writing the events that are going on. Could it be that in the final moments she killed the husband and not herself?

The last line of the story says:

Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

This doesn't really give the reader any real clue as to whether or not this is what happened. Speculation can tell us that when John opened the door to the room he saw all of the wallpaper on the floor around his wife with her crawling all over the floor. I think that he really did just pass out because when would she have killed him? The last section of the story is basically him trying to get into the room and when he finally does he stops at the door and the she is saying that he passes out. She even says that she looked over he shoulder to exclaim the fact that John "can not put her back."

Throughout the story we do see Jane slowly losing her mind. I had previously stated that John did not care about his wife and had he cared he would have been around more. This could also drive a person to want to do terrible things. However, now I think that maybe he did care, but just could not be there to see his wife slowly sinking into such an instable mental state. He does try and do everything the doctor tells him to do to help his wife, and he does try to talk to her. Perhaps he just doesn't know how. I have recently witnessed what it was like to visit a friend in the hospital. You really just don't know what to say. Even the visitors are uncomfortable in such a setting. I can only imagine what the patient feels.

And so I have come to the conclusion that what the visitor to my blog earlier in the semester says just can't hold true. The narrator did not kill her husband, he simply passed out. There really isn't enough evidence to support that line of thought. If anyone else has any ideas on how this can be possible. Please let me know!

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at 6:51 PM | Comments (0)