February 2009 Archives

"Here's me that used to give all my fight against the devil 'cause I figured the devil was the enemy.  But they's somepin worse'n the devil got hold a the country, an' it ain't gonna let go till it's chopped loose.  Ever see one a them Gila monsters take hold, mister?  Grabs hold, an' you chop him in two an' his head hangs on.  Chop him at the neck an' his head hangs on.  Got to take a screw-driver an' pry his head apart to git him loose.  An' while he's laying' there, poison is drippin' an' drippin' into the hole he's made with his teeth."  (175)


Steinbeck is painting a vivid picture of what the challenges of this time era is presenting to the people in the country.  By this piece depicting that the people in the country are battling what seems to be the obvious enemies, but how something else can come along and also poison us before you even realize it has happened.  Each of which will take its own and unique form, but ultimately all show that struggle with capitalism and how that form can transgress into another.  The way Steinbeck uses this quote given by the character Casy above proves he started out as a preacher struggling with his ultimate and obvious enemy, the devil.  Casy's struggle with his sins as Steinbeck explains in earlier chapters, "I'd take one of them girls out in the grass, an' I'd lay with her." (29), seemed obvious as Steinbeck banks on the readers knowledge that these things would be wrong for someone in Casy's position to be doing.  But as Steinbeck has Casy move into the Gila monster comparison it is showing that the enemy can come in any form, and unexpectedly even change it's form and attack the characters in a whole different way.  Steinbeck portrays that each of these character's have their own enemy that if not paying attention, like this Gila monster, will come up and bite.  And no matter what measures they seem to take to chop it away it is too late for that poison has already dripped into their blood through the hole created and the damage is done.  It will stay attached to them unless they take extreme measures to pry it away. 

So far Steinbeck proves in earlier chapters that the land tenants enemy is the tractors, the gas attendant in chapter thirteen's enemy is "them pretty yella stations in town" (174).  The dog's enemy was "a big swift car" (177).  What further enemies will be surfacing as we read on to complete the novel?  California here it comes...

"All happy families are the same, but every unhappy one has its own story."


This quote from Foster, chapter 18 page 161 really made me stop and re-read this a couple times and think that this seems to touch on a familiar feeling I feel that most readers will pick up on.  Foster's reach to the reader to feel familiar emotions when reading this don't we all think, yeah let me tell you about my family...?  Again Foster tells us on page 159, "So in literary work does submersion in water always signify baptism?  Well, it isn't always anything.  Always and never aren't good words in literary studies."  Once again Foster brings this to our attention, as he has described before on page 6 in chapter 1, "Always and never are not words that have much meaning in literary study."  If this is reiterated again, than why does it seem to be used so much, are we to simply ignore these words because they have no relevance?  For each time they are used the writer will come along with its use again but as to prove something else, I am a bit confused on this one?  Although it seems to make some sense as I have read other chapters in Foster such as in chapter 20 page 181, "The seasons are always the same in literature and yet always different.  Look for a set of patterns that can be employed in a host of ways, some of them straight forward, others ironic or subversive."  I don't know about anyone else but I placed this to as in chapter 20 on page 182, "We need a story to explain this phenomenon to ourselves no matter whom is telling a different version of this tale, but the basic impulse would remain constant."  If you spoke to different family members wouldn't you get a different version as how they view it, as Foster states here, but yet no matter how each member, or reader, sees the story, they basic family core remains constant.  So does this quote mean that if you are happy, you are constant and those families all see the same, or if you are unhappy than there is going to always be a different story?  Here it came again, that word "always", I just used it, I personally don't think that happy families all have the same pattern though.

Rose of Sharon, blossoms into nobel knowing women?

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 "Her hair braided and wrapped around her head, made ash-blond crown." page 129


I believe Steinbeck also proves that Rose of Sharon is dainty, but powerful.  Take for instance her name, Rose of Sharon, this unique name symbolizes a rose, which is dainty, delicate, round and soft.  All of which Steinbeck uses to describe her on page 136, "and Rose of Sharon behind, walking daintly" and also on page 129, "her round soft face, which had been voluptuous and inviting a few months ago, had already put on the barrier of pregnancy, the self-sufficient smile, the knowing perfection look...her whole body had become demure and serious."  The use of the word "knowing" in relation to her look in this section sends out a message that she has a way of knowing of such things to come.  And could the word "serious" also set the tone of what that might be.  The word balanced is used several times by Steinbeck to describe her, page 129, "and she balanced, swaying on the balls of her feet," and also again on page 129 "she balanced on her toes now, for the baby's sake", and finally on page 129 as well, "There was a balanced, careful wise creature who smiled shyly but very firmly at him." 

Steinbeck also eludes that she is of nobility, he references on page 129, "Her hair braided and wrapped around her head, made ash-blond crown."  Also on page 134, Steinbeck states, "Connie Rivers lifted the high tail-gate out of the truck and got down and helped Rose of Sharon to the ground; and she accepted it nobly, smiling her wise, self-satisfied smile, mouth tipped at the corners a little fatuously."  And another reference on page 134 as well, "This is Connie, my husband." And she was grand, saying it. 

The woman's intuition I believe hits right on as to Steinbeck's foreshadowing, because for the character Rose of Sharon being pregnant all of these pieces above can also be interpreted that her sense of intuition is heightened due to her pregnancy. 

As to what will happen next winter, could it be a death?  As in Foster's chapter 20, page 183, "In fact, our responses are so deeply ingrained that seasonal associations are among the easiest for the writer to upend and use ironically."  As well as in Foster's chapter 20, page 178, "winter with old age and resentment and death." 

I agree that Steinbeck opens our minds through the character Rose of Sharon that there is more to it than what the story is showing at this time.   

Imagination Station...

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"Writing literature is an exercise of the imagination."

Upon reading this weeks interlude and chapters 12 & 14 I am most intrigued by chapter 14.  On page 123, "writing literature is an exercise of the imagination" , this quote is very true.  We worry about exercising our bodies but what about our minds?  If there were no imagination in this world, and the many different kinds at that, it would prove to be a very dull one.  On page 124 "but count on it, the writer is up to something.  How do we know what he's up to?  That's another job for imagination."  This is very interesting to me as we are learning the tools to close read and analyze literature throughout this course it comes of no surprise, I believe, that imagination plays a huge role.  If we only rely on what is written and not look beyond those words and actions do we really see what the writer is trying to convey to the reader?  I obviously was not...and am trying to practice this as we go on.  Since we are all  based on our different cultures, beliefs and our own values, we are going to for sure rely on what our minds as to what will we come up with in trying to interpurt what they are writing about.   It brought me back to that show, imagination station...are we all on board with our imagination?   

Nine months...and counting!

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"Nine scenes-perhaps echoling the nine months of gestation"


In reading the introduction of Machinal it struck me that Treadwell is associating the nine scenes with the nine months of gestation for a women.  I know that I don't think that I would have put those two things together, however since she points this out it was quite interesting to connect the two. 

In episode four on page 27 where the nurse asks "aren't you glad its a girl?  You're not! Oh, my!  That's no way to talk!  Men want boys-women ought to want girls."  This reminds me of many stories all the way back to the Bible that showed if girls were born it was of no importance to the men, it was the boys that were "valued" because they were the ones to carry on the family name.  However girls were important to carry on the duties expected of women. 

But what was more intriging was that the young women when she gave birth was not speaking and did not seem to have any desire to see the baby.  During this time I understand that they say how women go through a very hormonal and emotional period of having ups and downs but it just struck me as though that could Treadwell have been possibly writing in a way to have us feel that this was just another "duty" that the young woman was expected to do, not because she wanted a child or family?  In this time period as Treadwell mentioned it was a woman's goal to marry for financial security not for love.  And a child was just another way to steal away a young woman's freedom. 

As on page 56 though when the husband states, "a mother's a very precious thing, a good mother.  And a childs a very precious thing.  Precious jewels."  Doesn't this prove that woman and children to men in this era were just items of value that a man was expected to have, not because of a desire to have a loving family and that they were people, not belongings? 

Practice Test Try

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Foster chapter 13, here is the rest of my comments.


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Foster chapter 11, Here is my agenda item.

Loss of Innocence

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The pharse from The Great Gatsby, chapter 5, page 86, "turned sharply  as if he were on a wire", appeals to the sense that Gatsby knows that he is in sense walking on a tightrope and the slightest slip can cause a great fall.  Gatsby knowing that he feels the great excitement to see Daisy again after a very long pause between the time they have seen one another last, but now also realizing that one mistake and slip and he could fall and lose what intrigues Daisy about him.   As a child would be afraid of falling say from a bicycle and afraid to carry on with it, just as Gatsby is almost in a sense scared to carry on a conversation with Daisy in fear that he will not lure in her interest.  As in Foster chapter 7, page 49, "every story about the loss of innocence is really about someone's private reenactment of the fall from grace, since we experience it not collectively but individually and subjectively."  The way that Gatsby is walking around the room is portraying his demeanor like a child.  The hands in the pockets and standing like he is not actually excited or interested mimics as when a child is trying to act disinterested in what's going on in a room but circles and gets closer and closer until they are finally sitting in the room and engaged in what is actually going on, such as when he finally sits down, rigidly as it may be.  Gatsby's walking around the house and his moves through this section show how he was trying very diligently to try to still portray the Oxford educated socialite, but realizes that once he is in Daisy's presence that he cannot maintain that and the fumbling young love-struck man now surfaces.  Gatsby leaving the living room and than resurfacing to knock at the door, as described on page 85-86 as a "dignified" knock supports that he was still trying to assume his position of power to show Daisy how well he has done for himself.  As he enters and "stalked" by Nick into the hall, this description shows that he has an obsessive behaviour and love for Daisy.  Gatsby's movements show that his theatrical qualities have fallen away and he now is showing the vulnerable & genuine side of him.  As in Foster chapter 7, page 50, "the thing about loss-of innocence stories, the reason they hit so hard is that they are so final.  You can never go back."  Nothing seems as sacred as the lost innocence of a child, that first love and forgiveness.