March 2009 Archives

Invisible Man: Chapters 1-14

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"Our white is so white you can paint a chunka coal and you'd have to crack it open with a sledge hammer to prove it wasn't white clear through" (217).

I found this quote spoken by Lucius Brockway in chapter 10 to be a part of the theme throughout the novel. The narrator has a job at the Liberty Paints plant, and Brockway is describing the elements of the "Optic White" paint that he oversees being made. This quote demonstrates Ellison's use of the Liberty Paints plant as a metaphor. In both Ellison's descriptions of the paint-mixing process and the relations between blacks and whites in the company, the Liberty Paints plant can be seen as a symbol for the racial dynamics in American society.  Brockway says the main part of Optic White is its ability to cover up blackness and that it can even whiten charcoal, which is used to make black marks upon white paper. This dynamic suggests the larger idea that the white power structure in America, like the white paint, tries to threaten and smother black identity. Prejudice forces black men and women to adapt to white culture, to hide their true thoughts and feelings in an effort to gain acceptance. We can also see this on page 218 where the narrator and Brockway are discussing the company slogan, "If It's Optic White, It's the Right White." After learning this, the narrator reiterates to Brockway, "If you're white, you're right."  These quotes demonstrate how the narrator and others are invisible.  They believe they must accept the white culture and forget their own feelings, making them invisible.

I think this is a theme we first see in the title of the book itself and then again on page 3 in the quote, "I am an invisible man...I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me" (3).

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Water?(Academic Article)

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Reading through this article I was quite confused most of the time.  I understand the connections author David Cassuto is making between the novel's themes and water.  However, I'm not sure I understand what most of them really have to do with the Grapes of Wrath.  When I read the Grapes of Wrath, I took one of the main themes to be about the American Dream and the family's struggle to be successful.  I did not find water to be a theme, but to be something more symbolic.  I did draw from the article the many Biblical themes Cassuto mentioned, which were related to the Bible, such as the baptism and the flood.

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Don't Read with Your Eyes

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"Too much acceptance of the author's viewpoint can lead to difficulties." (page 234)

I found the section where Foster describes the dangers of reading in another viewpoint interesting.  Many people have discussed the quote "don't read with your eyes." I completely agree with Foster on this quote.  When reading a work, we need to read from different perspectives which allow us to relate with the particular time period or issue that is occurring.  When reading works such as the Great Gatsby and the Grapes of Wrath, it would be very beneficial for us to imagine Gatsby or the Joad's views.  This way we could understand where they are coming from and why they make their decisions. 

However, we need to take into consideration Fosters dangers of accepting the author's view.  Just because an author like Pound discriminates against a certain group of people, doesn't mean we need to follow them.  Just because one person believes Jello is bad for us, doesn't mean we should all stop eating Jello.  I think it all depends on the reading, and our own personal beliefs mixed in with the author's.  If it is a novel like the Grapes of Wrath we should look through that point of view to understand what is really going on and accept the decisions made by the Joad family to go to California, but if it is a book like Cantos, we do not need to accept what he is saying.  We should use it as a learning experience to help us understand his views better, but we do not need to accept every little thing he says. 


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Marked for Greatness

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"Their shapes tell us something, and probably very different somethings, about them or other people in the story." (Foster, pg 193)

This quote struck me because I never really connected shape to a character's personality or traits.  When watching Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame I never really thought to link his hunched back with his personality.  His shape of be hunched could resemble his personality, because he is a shy character.  In action movies sometimes the "villain" has a scar or mark on his face, which could indicate something of his personality. Like Foster says about Richard III "put that scoliosis on Richard III and, voila, you have something else entirely. Richard, as morally and spiritually twisted as his back."  It seems that the characters with these imperfections turn out to be the heroes or main characters in a work.  I never really tied shape to personality, but now when I read that will be something that sticks in my mind.

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Why Biblical References?

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When I first began reading this play I was a bit confused throughout the different acts.  First of all, why does a 12 year old have a wife and kids? And why does the family have a dinosaur, or was I just reading that wrong? I also read that I believe it was Henry, was something like 4,000 years old!  Throughout the absurdity of some of the points of the play, I was surprised at how many Biblical references I found.  

The first of those would be the Cain and Abel story. Henry's name was changed from Cain, after he murdered his brother, the favored child just like in the Bible.  Mr. Antrobus then favors his daughter Gladys over Henry, because Henry killed his first favorite.  I also noticed in Mr. Antrobus' song to his wife whose name is supposedly Maggie, he sings to "Dear Eva" so we could think of her as Eve and Mr. Antrobus as Adam.  Later, at the end of Act II we see a similar scene to Noah's Ark where they lead two of each animal onto the boat, where they will survive.  I did not think that this play would have so many Biblical references, but mainly focus on the hardships a family over the years.

One other thing that bothered me is why did Sabina break out of character so often? I thought this odd and at times confusing...

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Portfolio 1: Blogging?

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This is a portfolio containing my blog entries for American Literature 1915 - present.  When I first began blogging I never really knew what the purpose of it was.  After more blogging and reading the blogs of my peers, I have found it is a very good way to help me see new view points of the works I am reading for class, which help my ideas develop.

Coverage: These included direct quotes from the text.
...Or the Bible
Nothing Gold Can Stay

Timeliness:These were some of the blogs I posted on time.
Geography Matters
Freedom

Discussion:These were blogs that took part in some discussion.
One Story to Rule Them All
How the West Was Won

Depth: These blogs were more in depth and involved than others.
Green Light
We're Joads

Interaction: These are a few of the blogs I commented on.
Use Your Imagination
Holy

Go here for all of the Class Portfolios

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