October 2009 Archives

"One of the major purposes of literary setting is to establish realism, or verisimilitude." (111)

I completely agree with Roberts on this one. There isn't too much to say on this subject except that realism and setting should go hand in hand. If a setting is too off-the-wall, the whole narrative will fall apart. A reader won't so much be spending time trying to relate to your characters as wondering why a Kansas farmer is at a McDonald's on Mars. There is some merit to fiction because it adds an element of fantasy that some people find to be very interesting. However, there's a big difference between fantasy and ridiculousness.

Dear Prince Prospero,

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""Who dares"-- he demanded hoarsely of the couriers who stood near him-- "who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him- that we may know whom we have to hang, at sunrise, from the battlements!" (359).

Dear Prince Prospero,

I'm sorry to report this, but life does not extend forever. After all, what did you expect, living during the time of the "Red Death"? I know that this death seems supernatural- something that could never happen to you. After all, you're "happy, dauntless and sagacious" (357). Why should anything horrible ever happen to you and your kingdom?

Well, even though you attempted to place your kingdom in seclusion, it's almost impossible to remain this way indefinately. Did you actually think that "a masked ball of most unusual magnificance" (357) would mask the horrific occurrences from which you ran? Prospero, did you not realize that life, like disease, cannot be segregated and segmented to the point of seclusion? You of all people should know this; your house is built in such a manner that speaks in this revelatory way. The rooms of your home have "folding doors (that) slide back nearly to the walls on  either hand, so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded" (357). There is always a way in. Disease will spread.

Prospero, I do not know if you secluded yourself because you were afraid of dying, or just afraid of the inevitability of it all. Time must pass, however, whatever occurrences ensue. Why, then, did you rush through each room of your house, "hurriedly through the six chambers?" (360). And why did none of your guests follow you? You offered them false and self-absorbed protection. You invited them so that you would not die alone, but in the end, you died alone. 


My Presentation About Maus (Section 2)

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When I discovered that we'd need to complete presentations about any of the assigned works, I knew right away that I'd want to present about Maus. For one thing, I've always had a passion for Holocaust study. I strongly believe that much can be learned from studying the past, particularly from studying something as monumental as the Holocaust. However, herein lies the problem that I faced upon close reading "Maus." There is SO much to say about the work, not just about the themes that can be traced in the novel, but also in how the novel relates to the Holocaust in general. Therefore, I was a little bit flustered when I contemplated what exactly to close read about Maus.

Therefore, I started where most people start: at the beginning. I began to skim through Maus again, jotting down essential themes that I thought shaped the novel. Some of these themes were general observations concerning the "cat and mouse" theme, and why the Jewish people were related to vermin. However, a problem I encountered when planning for this presentation was that we mentioned everything that I was going to say in class (before researching, that is). I don't see the harm in briefly overviewing these things, though, as they are crucial to understanding the novel.

After I noted the "vermin" theme, I also noted the fact that Spiegelman uses animal images in order to distance the reader from the artwork. This spurred a realization: Spiegelman was not only trying to distance US from the work... Through the work, Spiegelman was trying to bridge the distance between himself and his father! Once I found an integral theme of the work, I found it easy to trace this theme, both in the passage of time and in the psychological distance between father and son due to a difference in experiences. Additionally, I mention Maus II, and question whether or not this distance is fully resolved. I will present my findings to you all, and ask for your opinions.

As is required, I searched for peer-reviewed articles about Maus prior to actually beginning the close-reading, and found two good ones. I didn't choose which article I'd like to use, however, until I decided the main focus of my close-reading. The first article was entitled "Forced confessions: the case of Art Spiegelman's Maus" by Emily Miller Budick. This article seemed appropriate at first, but after I completed my close-reading, I determined that the other article, "Happy, happy ever after": the transformation of trauma between the generations in Art Spiegelman's Maus: a Survivor's Tale" by Victoria A. Elmwood would serve to prove my point extremely well. This article basically details "the author's need to write himself into a family from whose founding trauma he was absent."

All- in- all, the process went very smoothly, and I'm excited to present my findings to you on Monday.

Mighty Maus

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I don't have a specific line to blog about because I can't pick just one. Needless to say, I LOVED this book.I've always had an interest in the Holocaust (hence why I'm working in the Holocaust center). Also, Dr. Wendland mentioned this book to me, and I was rather leary to read it because I've never really liked comic books. After reading Maus, though, I don't think that this novel could have been presented in any other way.

1) Maus is a book that gives an in-depth analysis of man's inhumanity towards man through animal eyes.
The Holocaust is an indescribable horror. It's very, very difficult to even comprehend the cruelties that were inflicted on other human beings just because of race, orientation, etc. Hitler wanted to erase these differences in order to create a perfect race. Well, I believe that the most effective component of this book is the use of animals rather than human beings. We often speak in class about how human beings feel more sorry for animals because they can control the fate of the helpless creatures. I mean- come on... did you ever think you'd feel sorry for a mouse? I didn't until I read this book. I don't think that if Spiegelman used human characters in his comic, I would have reacted in the same way. (A particular example that comes to mind is the terrifying illustration on page 71 of mice hanging by the neck- you should see some of the pictures in the second book. The fact that it was MICE hanging made the situation even more pathetic and terrifying).

2) Spigelman's wavering relationship with his father and his father's relationship with the world.
The author's father is a typical old man. He complains about how many pills he has to take and how his second wife never does anything. I've experienced plenty of old men like this. However, I'm having a hard time connecting the OLD Vladek with the young, dapper Vladek. Where did this abrupt change in personality come from?? I understand that the Holocaust changed Vladek and made him more conscious of money, but I actually cared very much for the young Vladek. Nonetheless, it kind of makes me want to discover the stories of the elderly in my life.

3) I looked up the meaning of the title- it still means "mouse."
I was sort of disappointed that the title wasn't some enigmatic German phrase. It literally means "mouse." However, I did LOVE the imagery concerning "cat and mouse." Does anyone have any ideas as to why the Polish were depicted as pigs?

Portfolio 2

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Coverage: This is a compilation of all the entries I've done this semester.

Foolscap... Hankie... Whate'er it May Be:
This is an entry about Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet, I analyzed how well MacDonald parodied Othello and Romeo and Juliet.

If Wordsworth Had Written the Bible:
An entry about how Wordsworth is, well... wordy.

Finding That Balance:
This entry explores the question of whether or not Good Night Desdemona Good Morning Juliet is a feminist play.

I Didn't Realize That This Was Law School:
I examined the benefits of searching for possible objections of a paper's thesis.

Only In RobertFrostLand is Every Desert Snowy:
In this entry, I explicated Frost's "Desert Places" and the various meanings of the word "desert."

The Art of Drowning:
I analyzed the not only the character of Darleen in The Quick and the Dead, but also the persistent theme of drowning that appears throughout the novel.

John Crimmins... Resurrected:
I had no idea that the same John Crimmins from the beginning of The Quick and the Dead was the same John Crimmins in the end. This exciting discovery is detailed in this blog.

Charlotte's Web and Alice in Wonderland...:
I analyzed the connection between Alice from The Quick and the Dead and both Alice in Wonderland and Charlotte's Web.

A Slightly Angry Review of Another Review:
I wrote this blog entry about a book review I'd read about a book called "IBM and the Holocaust." Even though I didn't much care for the review, I still learned a lot with regards to internet safety because an alien commenter commented on this blog.

Comparisons and Biblical References:
I analyzed the poem "Cargoes 1902" by John Masefield, and related this to various historical events.

I Smell a Good Story:
This entry detailed how writing can appeal to the five senses of its readers.

Timeliness: These are all of the entries that were submitted on time

Foolscap... Hankie... wate'er it may be:

Oh... I didn't realize that this was Law School:

Only In RobertFrostLand is Every Desert Snowy:

The Art of Drowning:

John Crimmins... Resurrected:

A Slightly Angry Review of Another Review:

Comparisons and Biblical References:

I Smell a Good Story:

Depth: These are the entries that I put a little extra effort into.

Finding That Balance:

Only In RobertFrostLand is Every Desert Snowy:

The Art of Drowning:

John Crimmins... Resurrected:

Comparisons and Biblical References:


Kayla Lesko's "O_o??????????"
-- I offered an opposing viewpoint to Kayla's claims.

Josie Rush's "If You Can't Read Him, Read a Parody"
-- I disagreed with all the previous commenters on Josie's blog.

Brooke Kuehn's "Goodnight Juliet, Good Morning Homosexuality"
-- I offered an opposing viewpoint to Brooke's claims.

Josie Rush's "Problem Is Such a Strong Word. Let's Go with Exciting Logical Exercise. It'll Catch On."
I posed various prompting questions in a comment to Josie's blog.

Melissa Schwenk's "Flaws Make a Story."
I was the first to comment on Melissa's blog.

Dianna Griffin's "Have You Ever Been To a Desert In the Winter?"
I cleared up a bit of confusion concerning the various types of deserts, particularly the one mentioned in "Desert Places."

Dave Wilbanks' "Words You Never Hear in Arizona Bars"
-- I contributed to a discussion on Dave's blog, and offered an opposing viewpoint to Josie's comment.

Melissa Schwenk's "Picking Daisies, Falling Into Chasms"
One of my comments spurred further discussion.

Josie Rush's "Who Saw That Coming? We Did"
One of my comments spurred a strong discussion on Josie's blog.

Karyssa Blair's "Review of a Review"
I was the first to comment on Karyssa's blog.


Discussion: These are my blogs that spurred discussion among my classmates.







Xenoblogging: How I contributed to the blogging community

Brooke Kuehn's "Goodnight Juliet, Good Morning Homosexuality"
-- I offered a rather lengthy response.

Jessica Orlowski's "Finding That Balance"
-- In this entry, I challenged MacDonald's claim that her play is not feminist. I used outside resources that provided a basis for this challenge.

Jessica Orlowski's "Only In RobertFrostLand is Every Desert Snowy"
- I went the extra mile on this one. Since the blog site was down, I posted a note on Facebook and then posted a link to that note on the class site. In the actual blog, I researched definitions for various words, and this blog had a particularly large amount of writing.

*** NOTE: My blog site was down for a while, so I went out of my way to message my blog comments to each person on facebook.:

-Josie Rush's "Problem Is Such a Strong Word. Let's Go with Exciting Logical Exercise. It'll Catch On."

-Melissa Schwenk's "Flaws Make a Story."

-Josie Rush's "It's Repetitive. And Redundant."

-Dianna Griffin's "Have you Ever Been To a Desert In the Winter?"

-Josie Rush's "Your Work is Only As Good as Your Concentra... Hey look- a cloud shaped like snoopy"
-- I left a rather lengthy comment on Josie's blog, and actually cited another part of the text to support one of her claims.

Jessie Krehlik's "Characters Really Make the Story"
-- I left a long comment on Jessie's blog and continued a discussion.

Josie Rush's "Who Saw That Coming? We Did."
-- I left a really long comment on Josie's blog.

Jessie Krehlik's "Death of Innocence"

Jessica Orlowski's "Comparisons and Biblical References":
-- In this entry, I completed research about the background of the poem and biblical references in the footnotes, and used this research to draw conclusions about the work.

Jessica Orlowski's "A Slightly Angry Review of Another Review"
-- This blog entry contributed to our blogging community because I was able to invite a blogger who is outside of our class to participate in our discussion about a book review I'd read. This conversation is still continuing.

Finding That Balance:
Unfortunately, I put a lot of thought into this entry, but no one responded. So, I decided to "Wildcard" my deep thought in the hopes that it will someday be read

A Slightly Angry Review of Another Review:
This had to be one of my most... interesting entries. I began only desiring to write a simple entry on a book review. What I learned, however, was that anything you say on the internet is subject to the eyes of some malicious reviewers!

I Smell a Good Story

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"In literature, imagery refers to words that trigger your imagination to recall and recombine images- memories  or mental pictures of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensatiosn of touch, and motions. The process is active and even vigorous, for when words or descriptions produce images, you are using your personal experiences with life and language to help you understand the works you are reading" (Roberts, 129).

I was once told that the most powerful tool in writing (whether ficiton, non-fiction, etc.) is the use of your reader's five senses. As a sophomore in high school, I once had to write a descriptive paper using as many of the five senses as possible. This daunting task proved to create some of my best writing. Now, I can't help but use at least one of the five senses in each of my writings. This approach helps make that writer-reader connection that is so crucial when a writer creates a work.

This is why I found Roberts Chapter 8 extremely helpful. It offers technical terms for the various types of imagery: visual, auditory (sounds), olfactory (smells), tactile (touch/ texture), gustatory (taste) and kinesthetic. I did not know some of these terms, and I always love to learn something new. Roberts advises us to examine "what type or types of images prevail in the work" (132), which is made easier now that we know the correct terms for the images.

Something I found particularly interesting is that "tactile images are not uncommon in love poetry, where references to touch and feeling are natural" (132). I suppose I've always known this, but Roberts put into words something I did not know how to say. Now that I think about it, Masefield's "Cargoes 1902" makes use of a lot of these images, particularly taste and touch ("sweet white wine (line 5)" and "salt-caked smoke-stack (line 11).") From now on, I will be more conscious of the type of imagery poets use, and perhaps this will make some of the poems we read more enjoyable.  

Comparisons and Biblical References

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These are the Bible verses that were referenced in the footnotes on page 377 of Roberts:

1 Kings 10:22: The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.

2 Chronicles 9:21:
Same as 1 Kings 10:22

1 Kings 9:11:
(Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold according to all his desire), then King Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.


Upon first glance, I did not really care too much for this poem. Why was John Masefield simply stating various cargo loads? It didn't matter to me, nor did it make much sense. Then, after I examined  the poem again and read it out loud, I realized that there is amuch deeper meaning than I was anticipating.

The poem is organized from the richest lifestyle to the dingiest. Both the "Quinquereme of Nineveh from distant Ophir" (line 1), and the "Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus" (line 6) are large and luxiourious cargo ships. Additionally, these ships are ancient, used during times when shipping was a hot commodity and in lands that can be likened to "paradise." ("... haven in Sunny Palestine (line 2)" and "...through the Tropics by the palm-green shores (line 7)") Also, the description of the actual cargoes of these first two ships indicate the luxirious nature of their countries of origin: "With a cargo of ivory,/ and apes and peacocks,/ Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine" (lines 3-5); "With a cargo of diamonds,/ Emeralds, amethysts,/ Topazes, and cinnamon, and fold moidores" (lines 8-10).

The third stanza, however, presents a strong contrast between its content and the content of the previous two stanzas. Right away, we are given evidence of such a contrast in lines 11 and 12: "Dirty british coaster with a salt-caked smoke-stack,/ Butting through the Channel in the mad March days". This is immensely different from the previously described Quinquereme, the "largest of the ancient ships, with three tiers of oars" and the Spanish galleon coming from the Tropical lands of "the Isthmus of Panama" (footnotes, page 377). The third stanza is an explanation of the title, "Cargoes 1902," and describes the type of cargo that a "British coaster (line 11)" would carry during Britain in 1902:  "With a cargo of Tyne coal,/ Road-rails, pig-lead,/ Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays (lines13-15).

Interestingly, in 1902, Britain was emerging from a war called the "South African War... also called Boer War, or Anglo-boer Warwar fought between Great Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics--the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State" ( http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/bravo/boerwar1899.htm). The war began on October 11, 1899 and ended, coincidentally, on May 31st, 1902. When Masefield referred to "the mad March days" in line 12 of "Cargoes 1902," he was probably referring to the end of the Boer War and the cargo that was needed to complete that war (as is referenced in lines 13-15 of the poem). 



A Slightly Angry Review of Another Review

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It's absolutely amazing when one can find a popular, expensive book for about twenty-five cents. This was the case for "IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation" by Edwin Black. I found it at the SHU book sale, and I've been seeing this book everywhere. I snatched it up but haven't had time to read it yet. This is why I've chosen to find a review for this particular book.

This book, simply through the title, raises an extremely bold question: Was Nazi Germany allied with IBM during World War II? This is the way that Austin Cline begins his review. He asks:

"Was IBM simply an innocent pawn in Hitler's mad schemes? Did they unknowingly make possible what was probably the greatest evil of the 20th century? That is unlikely. IBM employees were around constantly -- the machines were only ever leased to governments, never sold, which means that IBM was always around to service, repair, upgrade, and in many cases operate the instruments of organizing death."

Although Cline catches the reader's attention, I believe that he gives a little too much of the history away a little bit too soon. I've never done any journalistic writing, though, so this is a foreign method of writing for me. If the purpose of a book review is to imitate journalistic style, Cline did this review well. He told us everything he would be telling us and backed it up throughout the review.

As for the actual language of the review, I think that Cline's mention of the history of the company and the history of the Holocaust was borderline too advanced. However, because the review was written for a book lover, the language is allowable. Despite the language, though, the chronology of thought is a little confusing and does not provide a balanced mix of opinion and actual summary. The opinion seems to come of of nowhere almost.

This review does not differ too greatly from other genres I've read. It actually reminds me of an essay of opinion. Cline analyzes the historical events in the novel well, but he reveals a little too much to the reader over the course of his review, beginning with the sixth paragraph when he divulges on other companies that were involved in an alliance with Nazi Germany. I know that he is trying to broaden our mindset as readers, but he could have saved it.

Additionally, I have one more thing to say about this review:
"Edwin Black's book contains a number of important lessons along these lines, though he is a good enough writer not to beat readers over the head with it all. He explains the situation and allows you to arrive at your own conclusions as to the moral culpability of IBM, past and present."

... Well, Cline, I wish I could say the same after reading your review.

Charlotte's Web and Alice in Wonderland...

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"No one was with Charlotte when she died. That's how it ends" (207).


In this particular section of the story, Alice is watching television with her grandparents. This common practice, in my opinion, provides some common yet insightful dialogue. Alice seems to be so incredibly attuned to death... we've seen numerous examples throughout the novel. Here, this attunement is displayed when Alice says "No one was with Charlotte when she died. That's how it ends" (207) in response to granny's reference to one of Alice's favorite childhood books. Is it a mere coincidence that Williams associates Alice's life with SO much children's literature? Alice's name is a clear reference to Alice in Wonderland, and then on page 207 there is a reference to Charlotte's Web. Both stories have a darker side to them, clearly evident and obviously stated. I'll bet that not many people, however, remember that the last line of "Charlotte's Web" is that no one was with her when she died. Slightly morbid, I think.

The fact that Alice says this line just proves what I've been speculating all along: Alice has a strong attunement with death that others are clearly missing. When Alice says this, her granny states that "It couldn't have ended like that, I'm sure... That must be the next- to- the- last chapter" (207). Then, her poppa quickly changes the subject. Could this mean that no one is willing to confront death but Alice? Clearly, her grandparents are much closer to death than she is (physically). Psychologically, though, I think they're in that stage that Nurse Daisy was talking about- I can't find exactly where it is- when she was talking about the stage between life and death. It was right when we're first introduced to Green Meadows. Perhaps Williams is indicating that Alice is afraid for her grandparents?

John Crimmins... Resurrected.

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When I read this book over the summer, I basically skimmed over it. I knew that the name John Crimmins sounded familiar, but I didn't know why. I also noticed that the initials "J.C" showed up a lot during the book, and I was going to attempt to make a connection between whatever two characters held those initials. Then, when I reviewed the book, I realized that these two people are the same person! I was ridiculously excited (ask Melissa- she was in the room). I believe that I didn't notice the connection because the second time Crimmins was mentioned, it was in the world of Emily Bliss Pickless.

As we were discussing the murder of Corvus' dog, Tommy, we aren't given much insight into the personality of John Crimmins. Initially, we may even speculate that Crimmins is a friendly neighbor who cares for Tommy when he says ""This is your neighbor, John," "Your dog is barking" "It's howling. I can hear it through my closed windows. What's going on?" (87). The narrator says that "he sounded reasonable" so the reader has no reason to believe that Corvus's neighbor is cruel. However, a level of cruelty that would result in the murder of Tommy is foreshadowed when John Crimmins says "What's it need, water or something? Food? What's its favorite food? Or maybe it needs its mouth wired shut" (87). The reader's reaction is similar to Corvus' reaction. The tone of this page's opening sentences concerning Crimmins does not suggest such malice, but nonetheless, we are introduced to a character who we are not likely to care much for as the novel progresses.

A few pages later, we are informed that John Crimmins continues to call Corvus's school and complain about Tommy's incessant barking. He even proceeds to tape Tommy's barking. Sadly, the reader journeys with Corvus to her home, where she finds the body of Tommy, and we can only conclude that, due to his cruel tone, John Crimmins killed the dog.

We do not hear of John Crimmins' whereabouts, all we know is that "he had disappeared immediately after the fire. There were already new tenants int he house he'd rented" (99). Alice, offering to avenge Tommy's death, would "see that John Crimmins met his punishment" (99). Honestly, I didn't think anything of the disappearance of John Crimmins until page 166. The mother of Emily Bliss Pickless apparently began to date Crimmins. The most intriguing part of this reappearance was the obvious religious associations with Crimmins' name. His initials are, after all, J.C. Also, Crimmins and Emily converse about Jesus Christ's death, and Crimmins details how "the reason the Son of God disappeared from the tomb was that he was never in the tomb, he was in the bellies of dogs" (167). I wasn't sure if this reference was the reason that Crimmins, in his animosity, killed Tommy. Also, I wondered if this was a blatant foreshadowing of what happens to Crimmins later. On page 187, John Crimmins talks about his 'six-day-wife' and their honeymoon during which the only book to read was one about dogs that were "tottering around half dead through the whole goddam book." 

Emily's relationship with "J.C" is interesting. Though she is a small child who seems to almost deify adults, the irony in the situation is that she dislikes a man who symbolizes the Christ figure. I would like to, in a paper, analyze this relationship further. This blog is becoming entirely too long.

I'll end with a question: Alice doesn't like cats. Crimmins doesn't like dogs. What's the significance? 

The Art of Drowning

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"She saved me from drowning" (19).

Something about this statement from Corvus irritates me. On page 19, we're introduced to Darleen, Corvus' mother's best friend. Then, we soon learn that Darleen basically tried to kill Corvus and, almost as an after-thought, saves her at the last second. The question that is going through my mind now, however, is this: Was Corvus saved from drowning and death, or was Darleen trying to save her from something else entirely (namely, a life of pain)? If the latter is the case, then Darleen failed miserably. Saying that, then, we can speculate Darleen wasn't really a psychotic freak who liked to drown her friends' kids. I don't think she was psychotic at all. Up until now, the writing style that Williams uses is much too meticulous. I just can't seem to get a good feel on Darleen. Does anyone have any ideas as to her character? I wish Williams would have devulged a bit more.

Anyway, interestingly enough, Alice took the words out of my... head... as I was reading this part: "What was sort of remarkable was that Corvus's parents had ended up the drowned ones" (19). That IS sort of remarkable. Maybe Darleen was a figure that symbolized death. Death had to take someone in the end. It didnt' matter if it was Corvus or her parents.

It seems that Williams likes to use the imagery of drowning: "She told Annabel that deer often came down from the mountains and drowned in people's swimming pools and asked if that had happened here yet" (29). This statement seems too perfect to be anything BUT strategically placed by the author. Here, we have two characters: One whose life has been doubly affected by drowning (Corvus) and one whose life may or may not be affected (although this statement by Alice seems to foreshadow something grand). What kind of imagery is Williams trying to invent here? Clearly, Alice is the only one that has not been affected by drowning, but she seems to have a bit of clairvoyance in her. Where does Alice fit into all of this?

PS) I promised that I'd reference my other blog about "Confusion" when we came to this book, but I can't find it. I'll put it in the next one. 

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