JessieFarine: February 2008 Archives

Angel of Gawd.

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    "The boy bent over her and stared at the long pink-gold hair and the half-shut sleeping eyes. Then he looked up and stared at Mr. Shiftlet. 'She looks like an angel of Gawd,' he murmured.
    'Hitch-hiker,' Mr. Shiftlet explained. 'I can't wait. I got to make Tuscaloosa.'
    The boy bent over again and very carefully touched his finger to a strand of the golden hair and Mr. Shiftlet left."
("The Life You Save May Be Your Own" pg. 60)

I was so surprised that he just left her like that (and I found it odd that it was described in such a nonchalant way). I wondered why he did that. Wasn't she the girl he wanted? Wasn't she innocent and trash-less enough? Why did he gradually become so disappointed in her that he just left her?

Reading on, I came to another part, just after he picks up the random boy:

    "'My mother was an angel of Gawd,' Mr. Shiftlet said in a very strained voice. 'He took her from heaven and giver to me and I left her.' His eyes were instantly clouded over with a mist of tears. The car was barely moving."
(pg. 62)

Then the boy jumps out of the car for whatever reason (that was beyond me). Anyways, he begins reminiscing about his mother and seemed very upset that he left her. Was he ultimately looking for a woman just like his mother?

I think so.

Here's heaven.

Goin' Souf

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"Writers may use such symbols as they stand, as well as adapt other conventional concepts or events to give them personal or exclusive meanings, For example, the voyage as a symbol of self-discovery is a motif in such books as The Odyssey, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Heart of Darkness." (Hamilton 86)

I'm pretty sure this is the 8 millionth time I've heard something about a trip being a symbol for self-discovery. In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Foster says on page 3, in bold, "The real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge." I remember hearing that when characters go south, it's a symbol of searching within themselves, but I forgot the source. Hence the title.

I get the point by now. Go back home.
Longest blog title ever.

Anyways, I'm Jessie Farine, and I'm 50% of the male population in my class (professor excluded). I am a freshman in my second semester at Seton hill University, and I'm in it for the long haul. This class that I am blogging for is known as EL150 - Introduction to Literary Studies. This is the introductory course for the English major at Seton Hill University. Since I want to be an English major (I'm currently undeclared), I figured I should try this class out and see what it's like. It's not so bad.

The purpose of this blogging portfolio is to tie together all of my blogs up to this point and find out what I've learned.

What have I learned?

Besides the fact that man will always be man, I've learned that I really need to pick up the slack. I won't make any excuses; I, very simply, have been procrastinating. I have spent the last almost 10 hours making up stuff that I haven't done lately and proving to myself that I have a work ethic. It feels rewarding to accomplish a massive catch-up like that, but I learned that, ultimately, it's just better to do the assignment sooner rather than later.

These blogs include a direct quote from the assigned reading, identify the source of the quote, and links back to the course web page devoted to that reading (all of my blogs contain this, so I'll just list blogs that don't fit into any of the following lists):

These blogs I posted on time (such as agenda items posted 24 hours before the class discussion, or reflection papers posted before the class meeting):

In this blog, Jeanine O'Neal left a comment in my blog which I replied to on her blog. Here is my blog with her comment and her blog with my reply:
In this blog, I replied to Dr. Jerz's comments about "Trifles" and how it can be taken in two different lights.

These blogs attracted many comments from my peers:

Very simply, these blogs show my ability to write in depth:
My blog "I know this feeling of regret" inspired Greta Carroll's Looking Beyond the Feminist Read.

These are classmates' blogs where I left a significant comment that was part of a fruitful discussion:

I noticed that my best blogs were the most timely ones as well. I really have to stop procrastinating; it yields better results.

Donne and Prufrock walk into a bar; the mermaid ducks.

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"Donne's persona pictures women as adversaries to be treated with caution. Donne's use of the mermaid image to suggest the danger women pose to men most probably alludes to The Odyssey, in which only the wily Odysseus survived hearing the sirens' song."
(Blythe and Sweet)

If I hadn't already known better and had only based my knowledge of women on Donne's and Eliot's poems, I would be deathly afraid of women. They do not paint a pretty picture for the female gender. I wonder if each had written his respective bit of poetry after some sort of relationship breakdown? What could have inspired both of these men to be so disdainful towards women? I don't think it's anything a good hug wouldn't cure.

Oh, what the hell... Congrats, son-in-law!

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Page: Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy! What cannot be eschewed must be embraced.
(The Merry Wives of Windsor, lines 233-4)

The message is simple: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. In this case though, it seems completely unbelievable. How often would a father instantly embrace a man that he despised when he secretly marries his daughter and beats out his choice suitor? It would be nice if people changed their feelings so simply and instantly, but that is hardly ever the case. Fathers tend to value their daughters very highly, and they want the best man to claim her for their wife. You would think Page would be infuriated to know that Fenton secretly took Anne and married her instead of Slender. I guess it's nice that he just put on a smile and embraced Fenton. It's nice for Anne as well, since she basically never had a choice in the entire play.


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"I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me."
("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," lines 124-5)

I felt so depressed after I read these lines. It has such a feeling of loneliness and detachment. It seems like he is completely alone in this world, noting how the others sing to only each other and not to him. I wonder if he is suicidal? In the entire poem, he is arguing with himself ("Do I dare?" "How should I begin...?" "How should I presume?" and so on) and chastising himself (noting how one would say "That is not what I meant, at all." and calling himself "the Fool."). He makes two allusions to sleep, the first describing the sky a "patient etherized on upon a table," the second when he says "Till human voices wake us, and we drown." Maybe he just wants to die and sleep forever because of his detachment?

Ford, The Elizabethan Emo Kid

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Ford: ...My heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent to him, the hour is fixed, the match is made. Would any man have thought this? See the hell of having a false woman! My bed shall be abused, my coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at; and I shall not only receive this villainous wrong, but stand under the adoption of abominable terns, and by him that does me this wrong....
(Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, Scene 2, lines 276-85)

O', what turmoil falls upon Sir Ford! This passage brings us into deep into Ford's turbulent thoughts. We can really feel his pain, his anguish, and his jealousy; effective showing, to say the least. Jimmy Eat World would kill to write anguish like that.

Death: The New Frontier

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"One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die."
("Death, be not proud," lines 13-4)

The first time I read this, I couldn't quite catch the meaning or message of this sonnet. I don't know why, maybe it was the language (I wasn't sure who "thou" and "thy" and such referred to), but the meaning of the poem seems so obvious to me now. Discussing this poem in class helped me to find the message of the sonnet. Donne is being defiant in the face of Death, saying that death is "slave to fate, chance, kings," and so on. The quote I chose wrapped the message together: Death is not the end. There is an eternity beyond death, according to the faithful, and death is but a gateway to a new frontier.

Sometimes her breath smells terrible, but it's cool.

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"I grant I never saw a goddess go:
 My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
 And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
 As any she belied with false compare."
(Shakespeare's Sonnet CXXX, lines 11-4)

I liked the entirety of this sonnet. I picked the last four lines because it brought it's truest meaning out: My lover isn't perfect, but I love him/her intensely anyway. It shows that some things are just petty: eye color, skin color, hair color, body type, etc. All that matters is the love that you can share with that person.

Monty Python and the Merry Wives of Windsor

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"Evans: Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I do despise one that is false, or as I despise one that is not true. The knight Sir John is there; and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will peat the door for Master Page. [Knocks.] What, ho! Got pless your house here." (Merry Wives of Windsor, lines 63-8)

Sir Hugh Evans is obviously a ridiculous character, and it is interesting that he is established as such so early on in the play. His accent and his circular thinking (how he hates liars, false people, and people who aren't true - all being the same thing) effectively show that he is a ridiculous character. No need for a character to jump right out and shout, "Sir Hugh Evans, you are a ridiculous character!" which is quite obvious, explicit, and openly shown. He seems like he could fit in well with a Monty Python skit.

Is he?

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"Was God so economical?"
("Victory comes late," line 7)

I love the placement of this line. It is so sudden, so harsh sounding. It really turns the tone of the poem sour and bitter from its previously lamenting sound. It resonates with Dickinson's criticism's of God. She goes on, saying "God keeps his oath to sparrows / who of little love / know how to starve!" God's table is "too high for us." She seems to feel that this God is not so benevolent at all; he only shows us the joy we could feel, but all we get are "crumbs."

Death does not come ripping this time.

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"We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away   
My labor, and my leisure too,   
For his civility."
("Because I could not stop for Death" lines 5-8)

When Death comes, you stop. It won't hurry to come to you. It'll come to you whenever it does. Because Death is kind enough to only come when it is time, you should respect it, put your work and play on hold, and go with Death. That's the way I've always interpreted this poem. It's such an odd characterization of Death, but it's a neat one considering how it is labeled as kind and patient throughout the poem.

His hate and pain, drowned in their blood.

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"'Victory comes late' expresses Dickinson's quiet bitterness toward a God who promises so much to his people, and yet distributes merely crumbs allowing them just a glimpse of real joy." (Monteiro 32)

Not only have I read the poem and the subsequent article and could see the point Monteiro was trying to make, but I too have felt the same way about "God." How can a being be a good god when, if it is believed to be the cause of everything, it causes famine, war, poverty, and all sorts of general suffering? Struggles make people stronger, sure, but suffering is different. Suffering is long term, with no end in sight, and one can only be lucky to survive true suffering (famine, etc.). Can you really be thankful to a god that puts others through that? Can that god really be good? I can completely relate to Dickinson's criticisms.

P.S. This doesn't reflect my views on bigoted Christians, religious wars, the Inquisitions and witch hunts, destroying American natives for their beliefs, Islamic extremists, etc. That is not the fault of God, but the fault of people perverting the message that God gave to them through their respective prophets. That's a whole different, endless level of criticism for me

White flag? I'd prefer a black one.

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"Here's the problem with symbols: people expect them to mean something. Not just any something, but one something in particular. Exactly. Maximum. You know what? It doesn't work like that. Oh, sure, there are some symbols that work straightforwardly: a white flag means, I give up, don't shoot. Or it means we come in peace. See? Even in a fairly clear-cut case we can't pin down a single meaning, although they're pretty close." (Foster 97-8)

This quote not only helps me see how abstract symbols can be with a small example, but it also ties into Dr. Jerz comments about how people think English teachers have the book with all of the one, correct interpretation to every work of literature. There isn't one, of course, because there isn't a one, correct interpretation for everything. If you're enough of a creative thinker and strong on arguments, you could make any interpretation work.
"She would've been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." (O'Connor 22)

This was the perfect story for a Misfits reference.

Anyways, I see this quote in a good way. Some people are over-privileged. Some people never had to struggle or worry about anything. Some people have everything handed to them. The children were not disciplined and had no respect. The grandmother was a "lady" in the noble sense of the word, and her elitism came out while she was pleading with The Misfit, saying how he has "good blood" and came from "nice people" and didn't look like he had a bit of "common blood" in him. The children's parents didn't care about much, whether it was grandma mentioning a possibly injured organ or their children's protests or rudeness, except when it affected Bailey. If these people had to struggle, to fear, to worry, maybe they would have been more sensible, more caring, and more humble.

The Two Faces of Drama

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There are two general forms of drama:  comedy and drama.

"In comedy, the tone is for the most part light, the main effects are to engage and amuse the audience, the situations and characters tend to be drawn from ordinary life, as opposed to world shaking events and noble or royal characters, and the resolution is happy, at least for the major characters." (Hamilton 3)

"In tragedy, the tone is serious, and often somber; the effect is to involve and strongly move the audience; and the outcome is disastrous for the protagonist and, often, also for those associated with him or her." (Hamilton 4)

The reading we had that was a piece of drama, "Trifles," could fall under the tragedy label: its tone is serious, dealing with a murder; the details recounted throughout the play strongly move the audience to not only think Minnie killed her husband but to also feel sorry for her; and the outcome will be disastrous for whoever you may consider the protagonist. If you consider Minnie the protagonist, she may be convicted of murder and face a heavy sentence, or if you consider Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters the protagonists, they may be punished for hiding important evidence. Well, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but the other points are pretty valid. It's late, I'm just trying really hard.

Birth, Love, Sex, Work, & Death

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"Conflict is the fundamental element of fiction, fundamental because in literature only trouble is interesting. It takes trouble to turn the great themes of life into a story: birth, love, sex, work, and death.  -Janet Burroway" (Short Story Tips)

Conflict is the spice of life. Trouble really is interesting. I find conflicts, in fiction and in real-life, to be highly interesting. Even if this trouble is happening to me, I don't complain because I think life would be dull without it, and I like the challenge of resolving a conflict. I also love conflicts in stories, because a story wouldn't be a story without it of course. Deeper conflicts, like internal struggles within a character, are my favorites, because not only is it an interesting read, but it also mirrors all of us. Who hasn't gone through life without some sort of inner strife?

Now is the winter of our discount tent

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"What he does, brilliantly, is to invest it with a specificity and a continuity that force us to really see not only the thing he describes - the end of autumn and the coming of winter - but the thing he's really talking about, namely the speaker's standing on the edge of old age." (Foster 176)

I can really see and feel what Foster (and Shakespeare) are implying with seasons. It is easy to see how fall can represent entering middle or old age (with the trees' leaves decaying from green to yellow and eventually falling to the ground) and winter can represent death (trees are completely withered and leafless, birds don't sing, even bugs are gone). My birthday is in September, and the seasons really enhance my perception of getting older because my next year of life begins with this transition into old age and death. I'm 19 now and probably in the prime of my life, but when I see the leaves withering and decaying and leaving the trees bare, I can't help but feel older myself. I'll really feel it when I'm 40.

I know this feeling of regret

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"MRS. HALE ... Oh, I wish I'd come over here once in a while! That was a crime! That was a crime! Who's going to punish that?

MRS. Peters (looking upstairs). We mustn't--take on.

MRS. HALE. I might have known she needed help! I know how things can be--for women. I tell you, it's queer, Mrs. Peters. We live close together and we live far apart. We all go through the same things--it's all just a different kind of the same thing." (Trifles)

Have you ever heard the saying hind-sight is 20/20? It's true. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters begin discussing the Wright household, how it wasn't "cheerful," and how Mr. Wright was the cause of all the unhappiness, possibly even strangling a pet canary Minnie had. Mrs. Peters related to the "stillness" that Mr. Wright brought on the household, and Mrs. Hale felt the pain of losing a beloved pet and how she wanted to hurt the boy that did it. They both realize how much they could relate to Minnie and her suffering.

Mrs. Hale's lines, "We live close together and we live far apart," and, "We all go through the same things--it's all just a different kind of the same thing," admit this realization.

Deadhead, deadhead, you're a lousy joke

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"The three of them, husband, wife, and visitor, ravenously consume the meat loaf, potatoes, and vegetables, and in the course of that experience our narrator finds his antipathy toward the blind man beginning to break down. He discovers he has something in common with this stranger---eating as a fundamental element of life---that there is a bond between them. What about the dope they smoke afterward?" (Foster 10)

It was especially good placement to have the first line on the end of the last page and the line about dope on the beginning of the next page. It was very surprising to read. I like how blunt it is - no pun intended. It is understandable how a dinner scene can work this revelation out, seeing as how even though the man is handicapped, he can handle himself on his own. The bigoted man begins to respect the blind man. I guess sharing marijuana would help as well, seeing as how they can bond while being stoned stupid.

Children in heat; you can't control 'em

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"The main function of the balcony was critical. It occasionally showed grudging admiration, but never approval, for it is well known among ladies over thirty-five that when the younger set dance in the summer-time it is with the very worst intentions in the world, and if they are not bombarded with stony eyes stray couples will dance weird barbaric interludes in the corners, and the more popular, more dangerous, girls will sometimes be kissed in the parked limousines of unsuspecting dowagers." ("Bernice Bobs Her Hair" Section I, 1)

I love the language in this quote early on in the text. It serves well to describe the actions of the youngsters in the dance through the adult woman's eyes, how the dances the kids do seem to be "barbaric," how they think the kids have the "worst intentions in the world"  when they gather to dance, regardless of whatever the kids themselves may think, do, or say. I feel like a conservative, mature lady as I read this.