JoshuaWilks: February 2009 Archives

Crime and Punishment?

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"Yeah, but the kids was hungry. It's Stealin'. though." (Steinbeck 237).

Chapter 19 talks about the people who started on the land with what seemed like good intentions then grew into "the man" that keeps everybody down. Beside all of this the talk about industrialization Steinbeck raises a relatively common moral question: If you are starving is it ok to steal food? He goes into several examples of people do bad things and dont get in trouble but the poor man who steals to survive goes down. 
He shows us the example of a man who went and got some random people to work on some land, payed them with whisky and food, while he made money. (or the land owners throughout the whole book)
Then about people who bribe the government to look the other way, or people who commit fraud, all these people do bad things and get away with it but someone who is trying to survive and feed his family gets in trouble. 
Steinbeck shows that he understands why it happens( when he has the people agree that it is bad) and he also shows that no one does anything about it even though it is wrong.

I think another part of this chapter that is important to the idea of painting the "upper class" as bad was in the end when a child gets sick and dies, all the people were able to find a little money, from the little they had, to help his family to bury him. THis shows how even though the poor have nothing they are so kind hearted and good they will give what little they have to help.
 Maybe if they didnt they would be rich.

What a Setting.

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"Chapter 1"

I am choosing to blog about the whole chapter 1 because I think that it is really important to the story and also interesting. The way that Steinbeck introduces us to the book really shows how desolate and foreboding the midwest was. Steinbeck doesnt introduce any characters, he just takes the whole chapter to really set up the tone for the whole book. Not only was it a bad time for money but nature was out to get the people during the great depression.

I find it interesting that Steinback chose to devote a whole chapter, that really doesnt move the story forward or show us any characters in the story, just to say something about nature. It is a testament to how bad the times were.

We saw in Foster how authors really take their time to write exactly what they mean to get the point across in the right way. When foster goes into such detail describing the dust that settled across the land and actually forced the people to cover their noses and eyes when they went out, he did so for a reason. He invoked emotions about dust. The fact that it is dry and choking and dirty really bring the mood of the story down.

Will Winter Ever End?

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"Seasons can work magic on us, and writers can work magic with season" (Foster 184).

As I wake up today I notice that outside my window there is once again snow on the ground. We have a whole week were the temperature rises and the snow melts and we can walk outside with no coats. Then back to snowy winter today. My point is that everyone is influenced by the seasons. Whether you are like me and are ready for winter to be over and spring to be here, or you enjoy the snow and the crisp air, you are still influenced by the seasons.

I cant really stay away from how obvious Foster makes things sound, I am pretty sure that he does it on purpose, but as I read chapter 20 I thought: well no kidding.
However (again i am repeating myself...) I didnt think of this with respect to books that I read.

Each season has some common implications, and each season has personal implications. Maybe your birthday is in the winter, there is a special feeling associated with winter outside of the typical somber feeling. Or on that note, maybe winter can be seen as somber and gray and dull, but it can also be refreshing and clean. It goes the same with weather and the rain that we were talking about in class. Often the seasons include the weather thus seasons are on a slightly larger scale. Spring has rain, summer is hot, although these arent the only things that happen in the seasons they are often the first thing that comes to mind when we think of them.

My point is that I see how writers can really take advantage of seasons to help set the mood and tone. The idea that certain seasons hold certain characteristics can play a major influence on the characters in a story. Then, without even realizing it, the reader has been influenced by the seasons.

Its just a story...

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"You keep saying that the writer is alluding to this obscure work..." pg 82
Here I go again talking about the first page of the reading, but it struck me as interesting.

We brought this idea up in class and I think it is a common question. I think that it is important to remember that although it takes the reader a few moments to read it takes the writer a long time to write. The author really does focus on what to write and how to present it. While we hear of examples of people finding symbols in works that the author never intended, I think it is more common that people reading miss a few of the subtle things the author puts in.

Again no one knows for certain what the author actually meant by the strange details that are often included in work but what we do have are the words. I can easily relate this chapter to the idea of close reading.

Love and Money.

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"Love - what does that amount too! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?" pg 17

This quote and the characters reactions and are very interesting to me. The way the mother dismisses the young woman trying to talk at all then saying this. Then in at the end of the scene the young woman even says that she will probably marry him, after going on a spiel about how she doesnt like him. After all isnt it more practical?
This is reflected in The Great Gatsby with nearly every women character, and it seems like a common theme. With the statistics of marriages ending in divorce does love really matter in the world? If Love doesnt matter then why not marry someone who will move you up in social standing and give you a better life? 
Im not saying that Love is non-existent and it is unimportant, but theoretically if you havent found someone and you get the chance to improve your quality of life then why not?
In some other cultures we see arranged marriages where the whole purpose is to create strong bonds between powerful families. At first the participants arent that into each other but they learn to love each other over time. When the relationship starts this way it has a chance to build up over time and thus it can be stronger. In a typical American relationship we often see several years of dating and "love" then a marriage. 
But the marriage is the last thing, there isnt as much room to grow after that.

Im no meteorologist.

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"It's never just rain." (Foster 75)

This whole chapter deals with the obvious fact that the setting plays an important role in determining the tone of any work. As I was reading I couldn't help but agree with everything that was being said. If i were put on the spot I dont think that I could have come up with so many different meaning that rain could have on the tone and mood. It seems pretty obvious but I didnt really think about it. 
Thus far that is how book tends to read for me. I read along and I understand what is being said and it makes sense, but I probably would not have thought of things like that.
After reading this I immediately thought of the part of the book when Gatsby meets daisy at Nick's house. It was raining outside and when they first got there then when Nick went out and came back it had stopped raining and there was the pronounced change in Gatsby.
What other kinds of things could the rain have symbolized?

Not quite who I thought he was.

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"But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding." (Fitzgerald 89)

With this quote, and really this whole section we begin to see a great deal about the other side of Gatsby. Up to this point we know a strong, mysterious, and powerful Gatsby and this kind of behavior is rather unlike how I have come to think of Gatsby. Gatsby is acting like a teenager who doesn't know how to talk to girls (a point that Nick actually brings up!) Where we are used to seeing him as kind of a suave powerful man. I think this whole section is really a turning point in the book. The fact that Gatsby's character changes so much not only influences the attitude of the reader but also of Nick. We really see this different side of Gatsby and begin to understand his devotion that he must have toward Daisy. Particularly at the end of the chapter on pg 94-96 I really sympathized with Gatsby. If only things could have been different... 

This section shows why Fitzgerald ordered the story the way that he did. First we met Tom and Daisy and learned to not like Tom very much. Now we are in the situation of seeing how Tom is the bad person and how genuine Gatsby is but he is stuck in a bad position. (Even if Gatsby is a little creepy... He did buy a house across from Daisy to watch her?) Now the things that were purposely left out are beginning to make sense.

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