February 2008 Archives

What's a Man Made Of?

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"He told the old woman then that all most people were interested in was money, but he asked what a man was made for.  He asked her if a man was made for money, or what.  He asked her what she thought she was made for but she didn't answer, she only sat rocking and wondered if a one-armed man could put a new roof on her garden house" (O'Connor, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, page 57)

I found it interesting that throughout the story, Mr. Shiftlet seems to convince the old woman that he is an honest man and that he doesn't want her money.  However, when it comes down to it, he tries to take as much money from the old woman as he possibly can because she's basically throwing her mentally-retarded daughter at him.  I thought it was just interesting too that he's debating what men are made of but she's only thinking of what she can get this man to do for her.   It definitely shows the distinction of the different characteristics between the two.  When you first meet Mr. Shiftlet, you don't really want to trust him, and you shouldn't, since he's a stranger.  But you also can't really trust the old woman, since you know she's just trying to pawn her daughter off on the first man who comes along that seems decent.

A Tiny Book of Partially-Concrete Answers?

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"The meanings of the allegorical emblems are clear and specific...  A symbol, in contrast, presents the image but leaves the subject that it represents open to a wide range of possible interpretations" (Hamilton 87).

Of course, when I read the passage about symbolism, my mind immediately flashed back to class(es) where we discussed how there was no "Big Book of Right Answers".  However, when I read about the allegorical emblems, I couldn't help but wonder if there was some sort of "tiny book of partially-concrete answers" since apparently the  meaning of allegorical emblems are clear and specific.  Obviously, symbolism is different for allegories, but couldn't a person find a different interpretation in an allegory than someone else?  Maybe my brain is just a little fried (it is the end of the week after all) but I think anyone can interpret something one way and as long as you have good support, I suppose almost anything could work.

Home, Life, and Knowledge

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"It occurred to him that he was lucky this time that they had found Mrs. Connin who would take you away for the day instead of an ordinary sitter who only sat where you lived or went to the park.  You found out more you left where you lived" (Flannery O'Connor "The River", 37-38).

I loved the very end of this quote about finding out more when you leave where you live.  I found that to be extremely true.  I know that since I've left home to come here (I live outside of Chicago) I have learned so many new things, and not just academically.  I've realized that I really, truly love Chicago and my little hometown and I've learned so many new things about Pennsylvania and "Pittsburghese".  Seriously, who knew that a vacuum was called a "sweeper"? haha

In the context of this story, though, Bevel learned a lot of new things about life and religion, at least his interpretation of it.  And learning these new things ultimately ended up getting him killed.  He was in search for more answers and a better life from what he knew already and went back to the river that Baptized him, which took his life.

The Overly Dramatic Girls Love Hyperboles

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"Hyperbole (...from the Greek word for 'to exceed') is a trope in which a point is state in a way that is greatly exaggerated... to imply the intensity of a speaker's feelings or convictions by putting them in uncompromising or absolute terms" (Hamilton 54)

I absolutely love hyperboles.  And how many times have we said "this is THE WORST DAY EVER", "my life is over!" or something else equally as dramatic?  I know I certainly have.  Of course, then I was just being dramatic and was handed that fake Oscar by my mother that only made me sulk even more and launch into another tirade of hyperboles.  I think they're great when you're trying to write a hissy fit or make a character seem way more dramatic than he or she needs to be in a situation.  I find it's great for some comedic relief, especially after a disaster of some sort (like say, a car gets a flat tire and the 15 year old daughter is complaining on the side of the road that she's NEVER going to make it to the party and she's NEVER going to live it down and she's NEVER going to make anymore friends and she's going to have to live the rest of her life in her bedroom because no one will want to talk to her after this).  No... I've never said something like that when I was 15, are you crazy?

Blogging: A History

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Hello to all you readers!  My name is Allison Hall, but please, call me Ally.  I am currently a freshman at Seton Hill University and taking this lovely Introduction to Literary Study class taught by Dr. Jerz.  For this class, we are required to read the assigned readings (be it plays, poetry, short stories, or academic journals) and blog our responses to the readings with a quote and then our discussion of that quote.  Throughout the semester so far, I have gained a broader knowledge of how blogging actually works, and how to create a link back to another website (I had seen it in other places on my other, personal blog and had wondered about how to do it for years).  I've also tried to delve deeper into the reading and not just talk about the first thing that pops into my mind, but try for a deeper meaning of the text.  I hope whoever's reading this isn't bored to tears and enjoys what I've had to say so far this semester.

  • Parents, Discipline, and the Misfit  On this blog entry, I received 3 comments.  The students who commented agreed with my post, but also brought up new and different ideas as well.
  • There is no Book on Symbolism  This blog only got 2 comments, but Richelle's comment elaborated on what I wrote in my blog and I feel that it brought great, new ideas to it.

And the rest of my blogs....

Love Always Wins in the End

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"You do amaze her. Hear the truth of it.  You would have married her most shamefully, where there was no proportion held in love.  The truth is, she and I, have since contracted, are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.  Th' offense is holy that she hath committed, and this deceit loses the name of craft, of disobedience, or unduteous title, Since therein she doth evitate and shun a thousand irreligious cursed hours which forced marriage would have brought upon her" (MWW, V.v.217-227).

I loved how the play ended, with Anne marrying for love instead of being given away for money.  Awhile she may have gone against her parents' wishes, they should rest assured that she is much happier now with Fenton than she ever would have been with Caius or Slender.  I believe that marriage should be for love, not for money.  And I was pleased to be proved wrong (see: first MWW blog) to find that Fenton really does care about Anne for who she is and not for her money. 

Sirens to Warn Men

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"Donne's persona pictures women as adversaries to be treated with caution.  Donne's use of the mermaid image to suggest the danger women pose to men most probably alludes to The Odyssey, in which only the wily Odysseus survived hearing the sirens' song" (Blythe and Sweet).

I remember bringing up the issues of the mermaids in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and comparing them to the sirens and how, according to lore and legend, they would lure sailors to their deaths by their songs.  While I didn't make the entire connection that Eliot may have been commenting on the entire gender of women and them being dangerous creatures.  While I'm a little offended as a woman in general, I kind of like the comparison.  Men probably should be wary of women because we are pretty slick and we're (well, most of us) are pretty intelligent. :)

No common sense for the common man.

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"Ask me no reason why I love you, for though Love use Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for his counselor.  You are not young, no more am I.  Go to then, there's sympathy.  You are merry, so am I. Ha, ha, then there's more sympathy.  You love sack, and so do I. Would you desire better sympathy?  Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page -- at the least, if the love of soldier can suffice -- that I love thee.  I will not say, pity me -- 'tis not a soliderlike phrase; but I will say, love m" (MWW, II.i.4-12)

This is probably the most ridiculous love letter I've ever read.  Basically, Falstaff is saying that because they're about the same age, both like wine and they're both merry, they should be together.  If those aren't great reasons to marry a man, then I don't know what is.  But seriously, if a man is trying to get a woman to fall in love with him so he can marry her to get to her money, shouldn't he be a little bit more creative?  And shouldn't he be smart enough to write different letters to different people who are friends?  I would think so, but apparently common sense doesn't exist in Shakespearian comedies.

Money, Marriage, and Cynicism

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"Evans: Nay, Got's lords and his ladies!  You must speak possitable, if you can carry her your desires towards her
Shallow: That you must. Will you, upon good dowry, marry her?
Slender: I will do a great thing than that, upon your request, in any reason" (MWW,I.i.222-228)

Slender has so much need for the money that Anne's dowry would include, I think that he is just willing to say anything that would put him in good favor to get to marry her.  I really feel that he doesn't care about anything to do with Anne except for her money.  And I don't think any of the people going after her (Slender, Caius, & Fenton) really want her for anything more than her money.  Sure, maybe they care a little bit about her as a person, but right now I'm feeling a bit cynical toward Anne and don't see any reason - thus far - as to why 3 men would be wanting to marry her, if not for her money.  We are greedy people, and unfortunately people marrying for money started long before Anna Nicole Smith.

Be Not Fearful of Death

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"Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so" (Donne, Death Be Not Proud, lines 1-2).

I like how the poem starts off by saying that Death shouldn't be proud even though people have called it "mighty and dreadful" because it really isn't.  In this time, it's unfortunate, but people were more familiar with death and experienced it more often.  This, I feel, helped people develop their own opinions that death really isn't such a bad thing because it takes people to their eternal afterlife, where they can be as happy as they can be, free from pain and suffering.  I think their views on death are so different than our own now only because, like someone said on Monday in class (I can't remember who), we're bombarded by these horrible images of death everyday, from the war to people shooting up schools.  I think maybe they did have something going by not being afraid of death then.  Maybe we should try to think like them in the future and embrace death as a new beginning.

Looking Past Beauty

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"And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any belied with false compare" (Shakespeare, Sonnet CXXX).

I love that even though Shakespeare says that his mistress' eyes don't shine as brightly as the sun, and that her lips are paler than a bright coral, and her cheeks are pale instead of rosy, he chooses to end the sonnet saying that his love is rare.  I wasn't sure what belied meant so I looked it up and it means to "give wrong impressions" or "show something to be false".  To me, I believe that Shakespeare is saying that even though his mistress may not be "beautiful" in their sense of the word, to him, she is still beautiful because love works like that.  Maybe I'm just too much a hopeless romantic but I love that the poem can say "yes, she isn't perfect or 'beautiful', but I can still love her and she is still beautiful to me".

It's a Victory, but at What Cost?

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"In a country at war, the word carries profound emotion.  When the people believe the war necessary, not only to secure the nation and her principles, but to further the cause of Christ and morality, victory is charged with even more intensity.  Dickinson quickly shatters that intense joy with the rest of line one.  The hoped for victory comes too late and only after great suffering, so late in fact that i means nothing to the victor...  No matter who wins the battle or the war, the victory means nothing to the dead" (Monteiro, 31)

I absolutely agree with this quote.  Especially today, in a war-driven society, we all want that victory in the Middle East.  However, when will the victory come along?  How many people have to die before we can declare "victory"?  In the poem, Dickinson says that the victory is held to "frozen lips", meaning that even though the war is won, it doesn't matter to those who are already dead.  I think that at this point in the war, everyone is just sick of it and wants victory, whatever that means now...

The Sweet Taste of Victory

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"How sweet it would have tasted,
Just a drop!" (Dickinson, Victory Comes Late, lines 5-6)

I feel like this quote is saying that victory would have been nice sooner, rather than later.  Victory always tastes sweeter the quicker it's won.  Bloodshed would have been less, live lost would be fewer.  Families could have been reunited faster and more parents wouldn't have lost children, but such are the costs of battle.  Unfortunately, we cannot say exactly how long something like war will be, but can only hope that it's resolved as soon as possible.  I know this idea is still true today, with the war going on in Iraq.  I think an idea like that transcends every generation.

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

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"Since then 't is centuries; but each   
Feels shorter than the day   
I first surmised the horses' heads   
Were toward eternity" (Dickinson, Because I Could... lines 17-20).

I really liked this quote because it's saying that even though centuries have passed, it still only feels shorter than day.  Time flies and when you have eternity, you certainly have time to waste.  Death is forever and I like to think that when you die, you can basically do whatever it is that you want, and most people, I think, would want to have fun.  You know there's that old saying of time flies when you're having fun.  Enjoy life (and death) and let the time fly.  We shouldn't sweat the small stuff.

Get Used to Some Changes

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"There will be a time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet" (Eliot, The Love Song... lines 26-27).

I got the impression from this quote that impressions mean a lot and so you need more time, especially as you get older (for some) to make yourself look good.  Throughout the poem, the narrator is very concerned with growing old and what changes that may make upon his body.  I know from experience that when your body is going through a change, you're very self-conscious of how you look and how your acting and the narrator seems to think that there will be enough time to give himself a chance to prepare his face to meet other people and get used to the changes.

Just Stop Looking. You'll Never Find It.

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"Don't bother looking for the originals though.  You can't find the archetype, just as you can't find the pure myths.  What we have, even in our earliest recorded literature, are variants, embellishments, versions, what Frye called "displacement" of the myth.  We can never get all the way to the level of pure myth, even when a work like The Lord of the Rings or The Odyssey or The Old Man and the Sea feels 'mythic', since even those works are displacements of myth" (Foster, Interlude, pg 191).

I think Foster is incredibly accurate in stating this.  You can never fully get down to the bottom of where a myth came from or what the truth from that may be.  Most of these myths that we're still writing about today started long before the written word, anyway.  It would be impossible to track down now where and when and how these myths started. It's like when someone is trying to figure out how a very intricate lie started, or when or who started it.  By the time I goes around the circle a couple of times, it's been so mangled and added to that it sounds way too ridiculous to even be believed anymore.  Myths, I feel, can be like this as well.

There is no Book on Symbolism

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"When someone asks about meaning, I usually come back with something clever like, 'Well what do you think?' Everyone thinks I'm either being a wise guy or ducking responsibility, but neither is the case.  Seriously, what do you think it stands for, because that's probably what it does. At least for you" (Foster, ch 12, pg 97).

I think it's important for a person to be able to reach their own conclusions about what they think something means.  If we're constantly told that someone wearing white is pure or that a book means such-and-such, what are we to learn?  How are we going to be able to become better thinkers, and better English students, if we can't figure out what something means.  Like Jerz says, there isn't a big book somewhere saying what something is supposed to mean.  We have to figure these things out for ourselves.  While one person thinks that one item means one thing, another person can certainly find a different meaning in the same item.  I think it makes class more interesting.

Parents, Discipline, and the Misfit

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"'Children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else'" (O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find 12).

I liked this quote because not only does the grandmother in this story constantly berate her grandchildren for not being respectful enough to their parents, it's completely relevant in today's culture.  Even today, I see kids who are less respectful to their parents than I was.  I think it's all about discipline and today parents are too scared to discipline their kids.  In AGMIHTF, I think it was the parent's discipline that drove the Misfit to become who he became and it was in talking about his childhood that he killed the grandmother.

Document What You Can See on Paper

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"'If you are having trouble getting started, look out the window. The whole world is a story, and every moment is a miracle.' -Bruce Taylor, UWEC Professor of Creative Writing" (Short Story Tips)

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have gotten an idea for a story or a chapter or just a random section in something that I was writing by just looking out the window or daydreaming.  People like to say to write about what you know, and what do you know more than what's right out your window?  When I look outside, I could use every adjective I know to describe the view and the weather.  After all, it had to be a dark and stormy night at one point to inspire Charles Schultz to make Snoopy write it.  Sometimes the best ideas come from just daydreaming.  I know that I've gotten one of my best ideas driving while a thunderstorm raged around my poor little car.

Stage Directions Don't Just Help the Actors

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"In practice, most students encounter plays in their written form.  That medium has serveral advantages, such as the opportunity to reread a key piece of dialogue, to review the cast of characters, and to see the stage directions that the playwright has provided to indicate the actions and the vocal inflections of the characters.  At the same time, it can be difficult for a reader to distinguish among the voices of the characters - to avoid the tendency to read a play as an extended monologue - to to envision the physical movements that accompany the words.  Seeing a performance of the play, ideally on stage but even on film, can be enlightening." (Hamilton 2).

I often find that when reading a play for class that the stage directions help me immensely when trying to gage the character's emotions.  The physical movements aren't apparent from the dialogue itself unless a character is asking another character why he may be leaving, unlike a novel or short story.  I know that the stage directions helped me be able to envision what was going on more in "Trifles".  I was able to envision the women going through the home and finding jars of preserves and discovering the bird.  I also agree that seeing a play on stage or in movie form helps me.  While it's not a play, I saw Les Miserables on stage when it came through Chicago with my sophomore English class after reading the book in class.  The musical was able to help me understand a lot of what happened in the book because it was a lot of reading that I had to do and so I confused details a lot.  Stage and film versions can be helpful, but at the same time can also be dangerous to follow, since the most recent film version of "Les Miserables" is absolutely horrible and completely cuts out a main character, which infuriated me.

Small Town Ideas

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"Literary geography is typically about humans inhabiting spaces, and at the same time the spaces that inhabit humans.  Who can say how much of us comes from our physical surroundings? ... Geography is setting, but it's also (or can be) psychology, attitude, finance, industry - anything that place can forge in the people who live there" (Foster, 165-166).

I never really thought about geography inhabiting humans, although now that Foster has brought it to light, I realize that this is true.  I am shaped by where I grew up.  My values reflect the attitudes of my hometown and I feel like I'm missing a piece of me being so far away from where I grew up (Grayslake, a town north of Chicago, IL).  Grayslake has formed my ideas on what is important to life -- growing up, most of my friends' parents were married, they had at least 2 kids normally, and a dog.  It was the typical suburb, but I wouldn't change that for anything.  It's important in a story for the characters to seem real, and a lot of time, the characters seem real because of the settings that seem all-too-real as well.

Losing an Identity

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"She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that--oh, that was thirty years ago" (Glaspell).

I feel like this quote is saying that marriage changed Mrs. Wright.  While she was a young girl, she had energy and cared about her image, but once she found someone to settle down with, she just gave up and let herself become someone completely different.  I think it's interesting that throughout the play, the women are identified by their married last names instead of their firsts.  It's like saying that once a woman is married, who she was before saying "I do" doesn't matter at all.  You lose that identity and completely take on the identity of your husband.  Mrs. Wright's identity was stripped when she married John Wright: she wasn't allowed to sing, she started dressing in plainer clothes, and people stopped visiting her. 

Dinner Reveals More Than Just Your Appetite

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"Think of all those movies where a soldier shares his C rations with a comrade, or a boy his sandwich with a stray dog; from the overwhelming message of loyalty, kinship, and generosity, you get a sense of how strong a value we place on the comradeship of the table" (11).

When I read this quote, I was immediately reminded the the Disney movie Aladdin, where you watch all the trouble that Aladdin goes through to steal the bread but then as he's about to eat, he notices the two children rummaging through the trash cans and he shares his bread with them.  And after he shares, you meet the high-and-mighty prince who's trying to woo Jasmine and you immediately recognize the difference in characters between the two men.  While I may not always pay attention to a scene in a book or movie where people are sharing a meal, I realize now that the act of sharing a meal really can be quite important. As within Aladdin you can tell how a person is viewed by others or what is important between two or more people.

Starry-Eyed Popularity Seekers

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"An eternity of minutes later, riding down-town through the late afternoon beside Warren, the others following in Roberta's car close behind, Bernice had all the sensations of Marie Antoinette bound for the guillotine in a tumbrel. Vaguely she wondered why she did not cry out that it was all a mistake. It was all she could do to keep from clutching her hair with both hands to protect it from the suddenly hostile world. Yet she did neither. Even the thought of her mother was no deterrent now. This was the test supreme of her sportsmanship; her right to walk unchallenged in the starry heaven of popular girls."

This quote reminds me of everything that anyone will do just for that little taste of popularity, or acceptance.  In high schools and on college campuses, you hear reports of hazing and acceptance rituals that can be anything from just humiliating to dangerous.  People do some stupid things to feel like they're accepted, and Bernice basically changed the entirety of her personality just to be a bit more well-liked by the boys.  While Bernice bobbing her hair may not be dangerous or humiliating, it's something that Bernice obviously does not want to do, but it willing to do just for that taste (and to prove Marjorie wrong), only to find out later that it wouldn't work.  As soon as her hair was cut, Warren brought his attention back to Marjorie and Bernice herself seemed to deflate, almost.  You see a completely different Bernice after her hair is bobbed, although I don't really blame her: a bad haircut can do wonders to your personality.

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