JeredJohnston: December 2009 Archives

Wildcard #3

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My Wildcard entry is about the upcoming holiday Christmas.  It is my favorite time fo the year and I look forward to it so much throughout the year.  Lately, the houses on my street are all lit up with lights, the days are growing shorter and just today my family and i put up our christmas tree.  We listened to christmas music, laughed and had a lot of fun and afterwards we all just sat in the living room admiring the tree and just talking for hours.  Its a tradition I look forward to every year.  We also got our first snow this weekend-dunno if anyone tried it but it was great snowball snow!  My dad, my friend russ and i discovered this while taking the garbage out at work, and yes an impromtu snowball fight occured between three grown men haha.  What is it about situations like that that can turn you into a little kid again? Nobody knows but its great. 

Anyway, one more week til break!  Have a happy holiday everybody!

Blog Portfolio 3

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In answer to this, it has been claimed that the Negro can survive only through submission. Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,-- First, political power, second, insistence on civil rights, third, higher education of Negro youth,-- (DuBois)

DuBois's argument against Washington's teachings did surprise me, I had never read much about DuBois before this class.  He poses his arguements eloquently and thoughtfully.  He does not sound as though he is attacking Washington, though its quite evident that he is being quite critical.  As I read Washington I did not sense that he was timid, or weak as he stated his views but I did have enormous respect for the way he spoke of his hope for an eventual harmony between the races despite any personal feelings he may have had he was most worried about the greater good of the future of the races.  DuBois however has a bitterness about him that is not masked or diluted in any way.  Its difficult to critique men who've had to fight so fiercely to be respected, listened to and allowed to live with dignity as much as DuBois and Washington had to in their time.  I have great respect for both of them for their dedication and courage. 




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"We dare not harm this little girl," he said to them, "for she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater than the Power of Evil. All we can do is to carry her to the castle of the Wicked Witch and leave her there." (Baum Ch. 12)


I think this quote shows the established rule of thumb for most children's literature; "Good is stronger than evil."  This notion is virtually omnipresent in all children's literature and caters to their innocence and naivete.  As soon as I read this quote (cheesey as it may sound) I felt like I was reading it as a child.  The Wizard of Oz caters to that innocent, hopeful part of us that we were so in touch with as children and seemed to have lost along the way.


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As I remember it now, the thing that was uppermost in my mind was the desire to say something that would cement the friendship of the races and bring about hearty cooperation between them. (Washington)

I found this sentiment to be a terrific summary by Washington himself in regard to his speech.  His advice both practical and wise to the members of his race was bold and as well as his advice to his white countrymen which was bold in a far different way.  I thought it was clever the way in which he addressed the white members of the crowd in a way asking permission while subtly pointing asserting his point and without sacrificing his dignity.

John Henry-Americana in its purest form

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John Henry was a steel drivin' man,

He died with a hammah in his han',

I believe that the legend of John Henry is a taste of American folklore; a story of a struggling laborer who works his life away with little to no thanks for it (in most cases).  The ideas of race are very clear in the many versions of the John Henry ballads, some more so than others. He is depicted as a man of increible strength and skill as a "steel drivin' man".  I tend to see the issue of class more clearly in these versions however rather than race.  The laborers whose backs and blood quite literally built this country and their struggle is a common Amercian folklore theme.  While reading and listening to the many versions of the John Henry legend I was reminded of the Whitman poem, "I Can Hear America Singing" which we read earlier this semester.  The people depicted in that poem were all laborers of some kind or another and that like the John Henry legend is a true depiction of the people who built America, the often unthanked laborers who face strife and struggle and who sometimes get buried at the White House....

Scott; There's more Honor

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"By the time of the evasion, then, Tom does not see what others see.  Others see a pick, Tom sees a case-knife.  Others see a shed, Tom sees a dungeon.  Others see a runaway slave, Tom sees an imprisoned nobleman." (Scott 192)

Tom is stuck in a perpetual fairy tale mindset, it is this incredibly imaginative state that Tom can't seem to escape, while he might seem immature making everyone else play by his rules and seemingly dance to the tune he calls almost arbitrarily he too is no exception to "the rules".  Since Tom is more "sivilzed" than Huck he does not have the "luxury" of the rough, adventurous life that for Huck is so commonplace.  Huck has lived a very hard life for anyone let alone a boy and therefore has had no choice but to grow up and mature accordingly; much more quickly than Tom ever had to.  Tom has had a much more comfortable life than Huck and therefore seeks out these "adventures" wherever he can convince himself that they are, to Huck they are not adventures, they are just everyday life.   

All wrapped up...

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"...and so there ain't nothing more to write about, and I'm rotten glad of it, because I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it and ain't going to no more.  But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilze me and I can't stand it.  I been there before." (Twain 320)

I love this line.  Huck has gone through such hardships along his quest to help Jim find freedom, hardships that tested both him both physically and morally.  But writing the book is the task which he finds most trying of all.  His apprehension toward being "sivilized" and his indifference toward his father's heavy-handed discipline and rage make it believable that the character of Huck Finn would take an adventure down the Missisippi (including faking his own death, nearly getting his friend killed and many instances of "borrowing") in stride but have a feeling of fatigue after writing a book.   

Bad Boy Boom

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Twain's novel, "deals with a series of adventures of a very low grade of morality...It is also very irreverent...The whole book is of a class that is more profitable for the slums than it is for respectable people, and it is trash of the veriest sort" (Mailloux 48).

I just found it hilarious that this novel has been accepted as an American classic in some circles and hailed as filth by others ever since its publication.  However, what i found even more hilarious was that the social standing of those who hail it as a classic today is the same who in the above quote call it trash and morally reprehensible.  Also, it is constantly under fire for being percieved as racist and intolerant but the quote above claims that the novel is suitable only for the lowly wretches who inhabit the "slums", you know, the lesser people who those white, God-fearing "respectable" people dare not associate with. 

Huck, JIm, and American Racial Discourse

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"It is troubling, therefore, that so many readers have completely misunderstood Twain's subtle attack on racism" (Smith 359)

I agree wholeheartedly with Smith.  So many people superficially dismiss The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as racsist without really taking a close look.  I remeber reading somewhere that someone petitioned that this book should be banned in high schools because the word "nigger" appears x amount of times in x amount of pages; obviously they did not read or at the very least, read carefully.  Yes, the word "nigger"is used with a great deal of frequency but that is only on the surface.  Throughout the novel such disgusting racsist things are said but they are not however glorified, nor are they condemned (if twain had done so he would have sacrificed the wonderful subtlty of his novel and lets face it it would just have been weak storytelling).  Rather we see young Huck gradually, through his own experiences, rather than through reading a few books (cough-Tom-cough) he is able to see through the narrowmindedness that was so common for the time and see Jim as a human being capable of love, intelligence, and compassion. 

Foster Envoi

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So, play, Dear Reader, play. (Foster 281)

I truly enjoyed the way Foster ended his book.  Throughout it was a series of guidelines and helpful hints, rather than a dry encyclopedia-esque listing.  I enjoyed how he admits that literary interpretation (like any interpretation for that matter) is up to the individual, and should be enjoyed as a "form of play".  Reading should be fun and enjoyable, sometimes a great way to relax or even a much needed escape from the relentless chaos of life (which should also be taken as play whenever possible)....

Foster Ch. 25-6

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Instead try to find a reading perspective that allows for sympathy with the historical moment of the story, that understands the text as having been written against its own social, historical, cultural, and personal background.  (Foster 228-9).

I could not agree more with Foster right now! I also found this particular passage very appropriate being that we have read Huck Finn, a book so synonomous with controversy more people know about why they "shouldn't read it" then why it should be read.  So many cry "Racsist" when Mark Twain is mentioned because of this novel coupled with their failure to adhere to Foster's aforementioned words of wisdom.  The novel is an accurate depiction of the time, Twain depicts the intolerance of intolerant people in an intolerant time (in a negative light I might add) and he is therefore called....INTOLERANT! It boggles my mind.  Race seems to be the only issue that can cause this type of outcry.  If an author depicts a murder or a rape no one moves swiftly to label him a killer or a rapist. 

Foster Ch. 23-4

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Edgar Allan Poe, who in real life saw plenty of tuberculosis, gives us a mystery disease in "Masque of the Red Death" (Foster 224).

While reading Ch 24 of Foster this story was all I could think of and then viola there it was!  Foster explains how in literature illness can be a representation of a number of things.  In Poe's short story, the myterious, unexplained disease ravages all in its path.  It could be a reprsentation of the greed that clouds Prospero's and his subjects' minds abandoning their fellow man, leaving them at the mercy of the illness.  The Red Death slowly eats away at them just as their greed slowly ate away at their decency. 



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