February 2008 Archives

Lost an Arm in the Arm Services.

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"His left coat sleeve was folded up to show there was only half an arm in it (O'Connor 47)... He said he had fought and bled in the Arm Service of his country" (O'Connor 52).

Hmm, clever wording O'Connor.  He lost his arm, but how?  Losing a limb while in a battle is common, so maybe the man lost his arm in the Arm Service.  Get it?  ARM Service and he lost his ARM?  He could have lost a finger or a leg, but O'Connor chose an arm and she also chose to have the man describe his life and how he was in the Arm Services.  Maybe the author did not intend to do this, but it is how I took it.

Born Too Late

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"An allusion is a passing reference in a work of literature to another literary or historical work, figure, or event, or to a literary passage" (Hamilton 74).

In tenth grade, my English teacher introduced our class to the song "Born Too Late" by The Clarks.   She explained the word allusion to us and played the song.  There is allusion seen all throughout it.  Take a look at the lyrics:

Vincent will you teach me how to paint
Teresa will I ever be a saint
John I really think your songs are great
I was born too late

William will you teach me how to write
Cassius will you show me how to fight
Thomas A. I think I see the light
I was born tonight

I've had a hard time leaving this town
I've been losing everything that I've found
I'm gonna search the sky, kiss the ground
Build it up and tear it back down

I've had a hard time leaving this place
I've been counting all the lines on my face
I'm gonna curse the sky, hit the ground
What goes up comes tumbling down

Jimi show me how you play that thing
Elvis will I ever be a king
and Jerry all the joy and love you bring
I was born to sing

Martin Luther King show me the way
Jesus Buddha teach me how to pray
Christopher I think I see the bay
I was born today

The allusions are all of the historical figures and what they have done.  Ever since my teacher connected this song to allusion, I have never forgotten what it means.

Snowball and Napoleon Love Allegories!

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"An extended form of personification occurs in allegory, in which an abstract concept is presented as though it were a character who speaks and acts as an independent being" (Hamilton 39).

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear allegory is "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.  It is an allegory because the concept of the Soviet communism coming to power is presented through simple farm animals.   Two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon represent Trotsky and Stalin.  I personally did not like this book because it was boring for me.  However, I could not forget it- not because I spent nights of homework trudging through the book- but because it has a historical tie.  Anytime someone talks about communism or Stalin or the Soviet Union, I automatically link these to "Animal Farm."  In a way, an allegory makes certain characters or stories hard to forget.

Name Stealer

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"'What's your name?' She asked in a drowsy voice.  'I don't know but only your last name.'  His name was Harry Ashfield and he had never thought at any time before of changing it.  'Bevel,' he said.  Mrs. Connin raised herself from the wall.  'Well ain't that a coincident!' She said.  'I told you that that's the name of this preacher!'" (O'Connor "The River" pg 26)


At first, I wondered why Harry changed his name to Bevel.  I thought about this and realized that Harry/Bevel is on four years old.  Young children normally copy what others say.  However, there has to be more significance to Harry telling Mrs. Connin that his name is Bevel.  Maybe, the preacher was once like Harry.  Harry could be on the same path as Bevel.  It could be foreshadowing for when Harry gets lost in the river.  There seem to be many possibilities.  I am just not sure what it could mean.

Portfolio 1 (Sorry for the Lack of a Better Title)

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For my EL 150 Intro to Literary Study Class, we have to read selections and subsequently respond to them using blogs.  We must then respond to our peer's blogs.  Blogging has given me other people's insight on certain text.  It is very interesting because everyone has a different opinion and take on each assignment.  Also, blogging has helped me to better understand and analyze stories because it gives me practice on responding to text.  Along with this, it has helped me to write for an audience, something I have not done before. 

A portfolio of my work so far:


Misleading Wake-up Calls

True Originality
In the End, a Good Man?


Sympathy for Death?  It Didn't Last Long.
Hair Like Wire?  Sounds... Pretty.


Happiness and Illness


Stages in Life
Stories of Trains, Hospitals and Baseball Fields


Mock-vater + Clapper-de-claw = an irate Frenchman lead on a leash
This is really beautiful...... (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
Standing on Tip Toes
Birth, Love, Sex, Work, & Death

In the End, a Good Man?

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FORD  Let it be so, Sir John.  To Master Brook you shall hold your word, for he tonight shall lie with     Mistress Ford.  (MWW Act V, Scene V)

I thought that the last few lines of the play wrapped everything up well.  In the end, Ford is still going to seduce his wife just like his character Brook said he wanted too.  I think that Ford said this so he could cover his previous flaws through the play.  His jealousy and mistrust made people think poorly of him.  However, in the end, he states how he has been true to his word with Falstaff.  He said he would seduce Mistress Ford after Falstaff revealed her trustworthiness.  And, since Falstaff had done that, Ford has kept his word.  Good for him, but that still doesn't excuse his crazy jealousy and mistrust.


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"Eliot borrows the same technique" (Blythe and Sweet).

I wonder, did Eliot intentionally borrow the same technique?  Or did he simply write and he happened to use the same techniques as Donne.  I know that many times authors unintentionally reuse ideas.  Maybe Eliot never read Donne's work.  Maybe he has, and purposefully reused technique.  Perhaps he read the poem, internalized the technique and was influenced to use it in his poem without realizing.

Falstaff the Fool

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Mistress Page: What, Sir John Falstaff (Aside to him.)  Are these your letters, knight?
Falstaff: (Aside to Mistress Page)  I love thee.  Help me away.
-MWW Shakespeare Act III Scene III

This situation was funny for me because Falstaff is a complete fool.  He thinks he is doing a good job in wooing the two Mistresses.  However, while he is wooing Mistress Ford, Mistress Page comes to the house and he tells her that he loves her.  He is making it very obvious that he is trying to woo each of them.  If the Mistresses hadn't have known in the beginning that Falstaff was a lying fool, they would defiantly have figured it out at this point.  


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"O diable, diable!  Vat is in my closet?  Villiany!  Larron!  Rugby, my rapier!" (Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I; Scene IV).


Doctor Caius's accent amused me.  I do not remember reading any of Shakespeare's plays where he uses accents in his dialogue.  I really liked the accent because it gave Caius more character than just being a doctor.  This also reminded me of Spanglish, because Caius uses French words as well as English when speaking.  The accent seemed to set him apart from the other characters.  Perhaps it indicates that Caius is foolish, because he cannot coherently speak English. 


Hair Like Wire? Sounds... Pretty.

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"If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head" (Shakespeare).

I laughed when I read this particular line.  Since it didn't seem like Shakespeare was positively describing the woman, I imagined metal wires used in electronics growing out of her head.   The image was a hideous but funny image to me.  However, I read that golden wire was used to describe a woman's hair in Elizabethan poetry.  Back then maybe it was a complement to have hair like wires, but now it is gross.  There is such a big difference in meanings, and because of this interpretations, between then and now.

Sympathy for Death? It Didn't Last Long.

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"Die not, poor Death...And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die" (Donne).

The first part of the quote appeared in the first part of the sonnet, which seemed to start out sympathetic to death.  It seemed as though the narrator was telling death that it is not as dreadful as people say.  The narrator states, "Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow."   He or she seems to be telling death that it brings pleasure by peace and sleep.  I also thought that "Die not, poor Death" seemed contradicting, wouldn't Death already be dead since it is death?  The sonnet took a turn and the tone became more malicious.  I thought the narrator was telling Death he would die in a conquering voice.  How does he go from telling Death not to die, to commanding Death that it will?

"Freezing Lips"

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"Victory comes to those who cannot even taste its sweetness through 'freezing lips,' just as it comes too late for soldiers who give their lives on the battlefield.  No matter who wins the battle or the war, the victory means nothing to the dead" (Montiero).

When I first read Emily Dickinson's poem about victory, I was very confused about the "freezing lips."  This clarified it for me.   The freezing lips relate to the dead soldiers, and they cannot experience the victory of the war is they were killed.  Is victory really worth all of the lives taken in its name?  It is a question each person must answer.

Stages in Life

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"We passed the school where children played   
At wrestling in a ring;                                  
We passed the fields of gazing grain,   
We passed the setting sun" (Dickinson).

This part of the poem reminds me of the stages of life.  Children on a play ground = youth.  They are shown wrestling.  Perhaps it means that they are wrestling with who they will become.  Or maybe they are wrestling with who they want to be and who their parents want them to be.  Next, the fields of grazing grain = middle age adulthood.  The fields relate to adulthood because it is just an open area and reminds me of a waiting point with no physical growth but more of a slow degeneration, hence the "grazing."  Finally, old age = the setting sun.  It seems self-explanatory; the sun sets on the world and the sun sets on life.


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"Cherries suit robins;    
The eagle's golden breakfast    
Strangles them.    
God keeps his oath to sparrows" (Dickinson).

Dickinson's use of birds is prominent in these two lines.  Why did she choose to use three different kinds of birds instead of three different animals?  My first thought was that birds can fly high (obviously) to reach God's table because "His table's spread too high for us."  However, it doesn't seem like an interpretation with any depth.  I thought of the stories, "The Birds" and "The Raven" and remembered how gross and mean those birds were.  If the birds in this poem are gross and mean, why would they be able to fly up to God's table?  

Unique Ideas

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"Your novel may contain echoes or refutations of novels or poems you've never read" (Foster 189).

I thought this statement was interesting.  How many times have you thought you had the greatest, most unique idea in the world and found out that someone else had the same idea?  When I was younger, I had an idea that if I was ever granted three wishes I would just wish for more wishes.  I thought I was the only one who ever thought of this.  Turns out I wasn't.    

Happiness and Illness

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"The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes" (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock).

Why yellow fog and why yellow smoke?  Fog is a white-ish color and smoke is gray or black, what makes these yellow?  In one of my high school classes, we read the Edgar Allen Poe story "The Masque of Red Death."  After reading this, We identified the different colored rooms in the story and analyzed what each color meant and what it represented.  The use of colors to represent emotion is used in this quote.  Yellow could mean a number of things.  For example, it could mean happiness or illness.  Eliot could be expressing happiness the narrator feels when he is in love.  However, it could mean illness.  The narrator could be explaining his "love sickness" for his lover.

Symbolism for the Reader, Not Only the Writer

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"Some symbols do have a relatively limited range of meaning but in general a symbol can't be reduced to standing for only one thing"  (Foster 98).

I liked what Foster says here because it allows for a wide variety of meanings for symbols.  Nothing in Literature has a definite symbolic meaning, it all depends on what context a symbol is used in and the reader.  During high school when we would read a short story, book or poem, some of my classmates would find symbolic meanings that I did not find.  On the other hand, I would find symbolism in places that they did not.

Misleading Wake-Up Calls

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"Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet.  In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady" (O'Connor 3). 

From the beginning of the book, the grandmother has been a funny character because of her ways of thinking and acting.  I think this quote is one of the funniest thoughts she has because she doesn't trust her son enough and prepares for an accident.  I also think it is funny because of her priorities of making sure she still looks like a lady after an accident.  That is the last thing I would personally think about if I were in, or anticipating an accident.  The humorous character of the grandmother led me to believe that the story was going to be a comedy.  I was surprised when events took a turn for the worst, especially when the men took the grandmothers family into the woods.  It had a very misleading introduction, but I still liked the story.  The fact that it started as a comedy and ended tragically was a wake-up call.  It made the reader  think more about the events instead of reading the story and thinking  "That was cute" and forgeting about it in a week.

Stories of Trains, Hospitals and Baseball Fields.

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"If you are having trouble getting started, look out the window. The whole world is a story, and every moment is a miracle."

I think this is a helpful tip.  After I read this, I looked out my own window.  Everything has a story to it.  I see athletic fields which holds stories of victories and losses.  There is a train, a hospital, and cars.  The train could tell a story filled with mystery and a hospital a story of tragedy or hope.  They each have multitudes of stories to them.  I am even finding myself now thinking of different stories to write.  This brainstorming technique of looking out the window is an effective one.

"The novella falls between the novel and the short story in both length and complexity" (Hamilton 12)

There are differences between novels and novellas, and novellas and short stories.  Novellas seem to be in the middle of everything, not long enough to be a novel but not short enough for a short story.   Novels are more complex and include many characters and a variety of events.  Short stories, however, focus mainly on one point, and generally include less characters.  The poor novellas seem out of place considering novels and short stories are much more well known.  Just because they seem out of place does not mean novellas are useless.  I like then since they are still long enough to engage the reader for a few days while not being overwhelmingly long.      

Geography Really DOES Matter

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"When writers send characters south, it's so they can run amok" (Foster 171). 

I read the chapter title and wondered how geography really mattered.  Sure I figured it was important for setting, but setting alone.  I had no idea it affected more than that.  After all the explaining Foster does, I still did not understand why geography was so important.  However, this quote hit me, and I understood.  The geography affects the characters themselves, along with their actions and situations.  The characters, actions and situations in a story ultimately mold the storyline itself.  If the geography has an effect on the plot as a whole, it obviously really does matter.

Clues in the Kitchen

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"COUNTY ATTORNEY. I'm going to stay here awhile by myself (To the Sheriff). You can send Frank out for me, can't you? I want to go over everything. I'm not satisfied that we can't do better."

I thought this quote was funny.  The Court Attorney said he wanted to go over everything, but chances are he was only going to look in useless places such as the upstairs and outside.  He would not check the kitchen because he thought it was a ridiculous place for women and their "trifles."  If he used his common sense, he would realize that the kitchen would be the best place to find clues since the wife would have spent most of her time in there.  It just proves how stupid the men are in this story.

Bernice's Bad Bob

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"She saw two of the girls exchange glances; noticed Marjorie's mouth curved in attenuated mockery- and that Warren's eyes were suddenly very cold." 

When Bernice mentioned her bob, everyone seemed to think it was a good idea.  Towards the end of the story, people encouraged her to get the bob.  If they encouraged her, why would they be so awkward towards her after she got her hair cut?  Wouldn't they be excited, as they were before?  If they were real friends and knew it was going to look ridiculous, they should have stopped her- unless they knew Marjorie's plan and were part of it.

True Originality

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"There's no such thing as a wholly original work of literature" (Foster 29). 

When I first started reading about how no story is completely original, I was sad.  I thought every book had it's own unique qualities.  For a short time, I tried to think of a fully original story  to prove the quote wrong.  However, I continued reading to reach the quote: "Stories grow out of other stories, poems out of other poems" (Foster 33).

I had interpreted the first quote wrong.  It was not saying that all stories are exactly the same.  Many stories and poems have originality, but they were all inspired by something.  This makes me wonder if there is be one original story or poem that started it all since stories and poems came from other stories and poems.  If so, what could that story or poem be?

November 2010

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