JessicaPierce: October 2009 Archives

this heart, it beats, beats for only you

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Foster - How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch23-24)

"In literature there is no better, no more lyrical, no more perfectly metaphorical illness than heart disease." (pg: 208)

This statement rings true today, so I see no reason why it wouldn't have many years ago. Today, there are so many ballads on the radio or in the music scene dealing with heart disease, or heart break. A disease of the heart could mean many things, specifically something dealing with your emotions, since the heart seems to be the center of emotion. The book says some causes could be "bad love, loneliness, cruelty, pederasty, disloyalty, cowardice, lack of determination." But really, it can mean anything having to do with or affecting your core. A heart keeps you alive; it beats and pulses with you. One thing is for certain: heart disease is never something good. It is always an ailment of some sense. Also, heart disease is a microcosm for death on a larger scale. Disease is associated with death, and the death of your heart means that you, too, will die without it. As goes the saying, "where there is no love, there is no life." Those who are heartless have no purpose. So watch out if anyone ever writes about you, and make sure your heart is intact. 

Mature Readers Only

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Mallioux - The Bad-Boy Boom (pg:43-50)


"I cannot subscribe to the extreme censure passed upon this volume, which is no coarser than Mark Twain's books usually are, while it has a vein of deep morality beneath its exterior of falsehood and vice, that will redeem it in the eyes of mature persons." (pg: 49)


This is one of the most positive reviews for Twain, saying that the book is for mature adults, not the "bad-boy" young men genre. There are so many moral twists in the story that young male readers would never want or care to understand. Yes, there is vulgarity. Yes, there is immorality. That's life. It's all part of what makes this novel still popular today. It brings out the truth of the situation and definitely does not sugar coat anything. I understand the concerns that the novel is too graphic and inappropriate, and it probably is for some ages. Mature readers should take the novel in for what it is, along with all the anecdotes that go along with it. It's a tale of lies, deceit, and all the dirtiness of life that most people try to look past. Bad boys might enjoy the adventure Tom seeks, but there are many other elements for older readers. It is sad the novel was banned for a while, but at least it's still around today for us to analyze and argue. 

New Cruelty

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Clemens - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch36-43)

"They hain't no right to shut him up! Shove!--and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose! He ain't  no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth!" (pg:316)


This is Tom's quote, admitting that he has known all along that Jim is set free. After reading this line, I saw Tom as malicious and manipulating--he purposely put all the characters through hell just for an 'adventure.' The whole thing was a sham. What kind of children are these? Tom, especially. He will risk anything and everything to pursue the venture. I hate to say it, but Tom deserved getting shot in the leg. He even wears the bullet as a trophy now! He also offers Jim money compensation for his troubles. The sad part is that no one chastises Tom or tries to set him straight; he's already thinking of his next adventure with the 'injuns.'


Basically, this quote shows a new side of Tom: his true cruelty. He treats Jim almost no better than slaveholders do--he is just a plaything to him. By now, it seems as though Tom is beyond any type of reformation. He obviously does not have the morale or level of compassion of Huck. I liked that Huck decided to move on and reject becoming 'sivilized,' considering the actions of those people who claim to be civilized. It shows his growth as a character, emphasized by the use of Tom as a foil for him. 

Portfolio 2

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This my second portfolio (Portfolio 2) of blogs at Seton Hill for EL 266: American Literature 1800-1915. The links below will take you to my writing.

Coverage: Below are links to my blogs about the assigned readings.
Thoreau, Walden (Ch2&4) - Such beautiful words...
Thoreau, Walden (Ch13&18) - Thoughts on Wood and Life
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch13-15) - I believe I can fly, spread my wings and touch the sky
Poe, The Raven - Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors
Poe, Fairyland & Epigram for Wall Street - Tales of Dreams and Money
Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Shiftless: An Analysis
Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch1-10) - Bad Luck and Untraditional Symbolism

Depth: The entries below are the ones I feel that I went into depth with, or sparked a conversation.
Thoreau, Walden (Ch2&4) - Such beautiful words...
Thoreau, Walden (Ch13&18) - Thoughts on Wood and Life
Poe, Fairyland & Epigram for Wall Street - Tales of Dreams and Money
Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Shiftless: An Analysis
Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch1-10) - Bad Luck and Untraditional Symbolism

Interaction: Below are blogs from my classmates in EL266 that I have commented on. 

Discussions: The following blogs have been included in class/group discussion or comments.

Thoreau, Walden (Ch2&4) - Such beautiful words...

Thoreau, Walden (Ch13&18) - Thoughts on Wood and Life

Poe, The Raven - Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors

Dickinson, Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower? - Death of a Flower

Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Shiftless: An Analysis

Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch1-10) - Bad Luck and Untraditional Symbolism

Timeliness: The blogs below were posted with enough time to give my classmates a chance to comment. 

Thoreau, Walden (Ch2&4) - Such beautiful words...
Thoreau, Walden (Ch13&18) - Thoughts on Wood and Life
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch13-15) - I believe I can fly, spread my wings and touch the sky
Poe, The Raven - Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors
Poe, Fairyland & Epigram for Wall Street - Tales of Dreams and Money
Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Shiftless: An Analysis
Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch1-10) - Bad Luck and Untraditional Symbolism

Xenoblogging: Below are a few blogs that I commented on and gave further insight to. 
Wildcard: A blog about my problems with time management. 

Time Management is Tough

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The title is self-explanatory. I don't remember having this problem in high school. For example, I told myself since 1:00 this afternoon that I would start creating Portfolio 2. It is 7:58 p.m. and I am just starting. Is it procrastination? Laziness? A combination? Just college life? I don't know. Any time I start an assignment, I find myself on Facebook within 15 minutes. (I understand I might have a problem...) 

But overall, time management is seriously hard. I find myself constantly strapped for time... yet I always get everything done. It's just more stressful. It would be nice if I could motivate myself to start things right away... But until then, I'll keep blogging and try to keep off of Facebook. 

It's in the Contrast

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Smith - Introduction to AHF (pg:323-344)

"The new structural principle which supplants the original linear movement toward freedom is bipolar. It is a contrast between the raft--connoting freedom, security, happiness, and harmony with physical nature--and the society of the towns along the shore, connoting vulgarity and malice and fraud and greed and violence." (pg: 329)

To start, I read the first sentence of my quote and said, "WHAT?" That sentence is incredibly wordy and hard to understand. So I took extra interest in the paragraph that followed and tried to comprehend what the wordy sentence was trying to tell me. Basically, the river has double-symbolism: it shows the raft as Huck and Jim's ticket to freedom, but it also shows the banks as the evil of the world, waiting to pounce on the fugitives. They are both drawn ashore many times, and each time they face the evil. Also, each time they come back to the raft, they bring a little more evil with them. After all, the river is surrounded my two pieces of land; the evil is going to reach them eventually. Huck and Jim are traveling the road to freedom, and getting sidetracked along the way. But this non-straight path is necessary. After all, what kind of a story would it be if the raft never faltered from its path? 

The Free Raft

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Clemens - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch11-35)

"We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft." (pg:177)

Huck states this at the end of Chapter 18, after he has been with the Grangerfords. I thought this quote was important - it seems to summarize Huck's thoughts on society so far. He sees the injustices, especially after coming from the Shepherdson feud. The raft is his safe-haven and the place where he can escape from all the injustices of his society. Jim offers Huck some delicious food, and they share it and enjoy each other's companionship. The raft seems ideal to Huck, at least for a while. It symbolizes the bubble that Jim and Huck wish to live in away from society. 

Unfortunately, the raft is not the safe-haven that they wish it to be. Once they pick up the duke and dauphin, Huck and Jim have suddenly lost their freedom to a couple of thieves. In a way, they both knew that the raft wasn't totally free - they just chose to romanticize it while they could. It was a needed, momentary escape. The raft carried them down the river, to 'freedom.' But it seems as though freedom has a large price.

The Indiana Jones Principle

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Foster - How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Interlude, 21, 22)

"The Indiana Jones principle: if you want your audience to know something important about your character (or the work at large), introduce it early, before you need it." (pg: 205)

This seems to be common sense. But really, it's not that simple. Personally, I always look for the mystery and hidden points in a story. What if I'm missing a point, or the audience is also missing it as a whole? The work loses the facet completely without reader comprehension. People usually want intrigue - they don't want to be told the information flat out. But this telling is necessary. As Foster mentions, if a person is not introduced as blind, all a reader has is the surrounding characters actions, along with the blind character's actions. People can interpret these actions many different ways... and come to many different conclusions (deaf, special needs, etc.). So, the next time I'm writing, I'll definitely keep in mind the Indiana Jones principle. Mystery and intrigue are fun, but you have to get your point across. 

Bad Luck and Untraditional Symbolism

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Clemens

"There is ways to keep off some kinds of bad luck, but this wasn't one of them kind; so I never tried to do anything, but just poked along low-spirited and on the watch-out." (pg: 83)

In this quote, Huckleberry Finn is talking about his bad luck, considering his father's soon-to-be appearance. A quote like this is despairing... he is accepting the fact that there is nothing he can do to get rid of his abusive father, and must accept what the future is bringing. 

I found the imagery associated with Huck's father to be particularly interesting. There is a description of the man on page 85, describing his face as having no color - "a white to make a body sick, a white to make a body's flesh crawl." This quote is strange for this time, because being white was something ideal and to be coveted. It seems as though Twain is twisting the traditional viewpoint, boldly saying that the literate and educated mixed man was much better off than Huck's white father, who was about as low as they come. Huck's father seems to embody everything that is evil. I think that he is a microcosm (something small that represents something large) for the white society of his time. Huck's father is the dark side of the white race (that turned out to be ironic..)

Shiftless: An Analysis

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Uncle Tom's Cabin - Aiken

"How shiftless!" (Aiken)

These words, in one form or another, are uttered by Ophelia numerous times in the play. At first, I wondered about what "shiftless" actually meant. So I did a little research. This is the definition I found for shiftless:

Lacking in resource or energy, or in ability to shift for one's self or one's own; slack in devising or using expedients for the successful accomplishment of anything; deficient in organizing or executive ability; incapable; inefficient; improvident; lazy: as, a shiftless fellow.

So, one who is shiftless does not search for other answers and is set in their ways. I can see Ophelia's use of the word in the story, especially considering Topsy's earlier state of mind. But, to Ms. Feely, anything can be shiftless. A situation, a remark, a person... I just thought that her use of the word might be symbolic of something... Perhaps exemplifying her state as well? As in, Ophelia wasn't open to Topsy at first either. She, in fact, was shiftless. She was stuck in her way of thinking, and refused to see it any other way. It was nice to see her transformation, along with Topsy's. It's just tragic that death was the cause of this transformation.

Overall, Ophelia's use of "shiftless" helped develop her viewpoint as a character. She viewed everything else as shiftless, but never herself. This could possibly be an attack on her religious beliefs, or a stereotype of the people of that religion in her area(s) as a whole. Either way, the use of the word was not a shiftless act of the author. 

Water of Life or Death?

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor - Foster (Ch18-20)

"Have you ever noticed how often literary characters get wet?" (pg: 152)

Honestly, not really. But now that I think about it, water really does play a symbolic part in works of literature. It is generally true that if you survive an incident where you should have or would have drowned, you have been reborn, kind of like baptism. And if you die, you die. There are many water references in the Bible that are relevant even today. But, as with all symbols and the like, it all depends on your interpretation.

Death of a Flower

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Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower? - Emily Dickenson

"Why, I will lend until just then,
But not an hour more!" (Dickenson)

I had to read this poem a few times before I understood it's meaning. It seems as though the narrator isn't interested in the daffodil when it is in its prime - beautiful, alive, basically the flower everyone wants. She will lend you the flower during this stage, but must have it back when it starts to decay and die. This goes back to what Dr. Jerz said in class about Dickenson having an obsession with death. It is odd that someone would only appreciate the death of a flower, and not the life which is most normally sought. Perhaps the narrator sees a beuaty in death that most people do not; she appreciates the morbid. I didn't realize there was anything to appreciate...

Knowing Your Interests

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The soul selects her own society - Emily Dickenson

"Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone." (Dickenson)

I found this poem to be very intriguing. Very simply put, some people choose the objects or paths they are interested in, and shut out the rest. Perhaps this could be a reflection of Dickenson's outlook on life. She could be telling the world that she does, or used to, shut out all avenues that she was not interested in. Or, she could be analyzing people in her life. There is no way to know for sure..

Tales of Dreams and Money

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Fairyland & Epigram for Wall Street - Poe

"I am star-stricken with thine eyes!
My soul is lolling on thy sighs!
Thy hair is lifted by the moon
Like flowers by the low breath of June!
Sit down, sit down, -- how came we here?
Or is it but all a dream, my dear?" - Poe

How beautiful. I enjoyed all the nature references, especially the ones to the moon. I saw this poem (Fairyland) as a love poem. Is there more to it? I didn't really get a sense of the terror edge that Poe usually has... The only line I picked out was when he asks Isabel if she fears the night and its wonders. Perhaps maybe the terror is that the narrator is wondering if it is all just a dream?

"Take a bank note and fold it up, 
And then you will find your money in creases!" (Poe)

I thought this passage (Epigram for Wall street) very short and sweet. Hide your money, and you'll find more of it. Then you'll never have to run out. A life lesson for all... it's just hard to hide your money when you need it, especially in this day and age for an education.

Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors

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The Raven - Poe

"And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me -- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before." (Poe)

What interesting lines. The unknown not only frightens him, but thrills him. The bird is so symbolic, especially since the narrator cannot seem to contain a fascination. Overall, I remember listening to a recording of this in high school, and I can still hear the speakers dull voice echoing "Lenore! Nevermore!" This story just seems to exemplify evil's purpose in literature, and how it can be portrayed in many different ways. Birds aren't supposed to be evil, right? Its the unknown in this story that thrills the reader, just as the narrator is thrilled in this story.

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