October 2009 Archives

Ouch, My Heart.

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EL 266

" The afflicted character can have any number of problems for which heart disease provides a suitable emblem.... Socially it may stand for these matters on a larger scale, or for something seriously amiss at the heart of things" (Foster 209)

Ha, nice pun Foster!

Anyway, I do believe that this is true. Many characters have "heart problems" that siginfy something else is amiss. Take the narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart Edgar Allen Poe. His heart beating so loudly and harsh that he was forced into confessing his sin. His heart wanted to tell the truth and was ready to burst open to do so!

Also, in other works, many people have a "bad heart" in the literal and figurative sense. Scrooge, the main character of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was only convinced to change his ways by the third ghost, Death. His heart was bad in a literal sense that he was on his death bed, and also, his heart had been bad throughout the story because he was a rude, selfish person.

Those bad, bad boys

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EL 266

"Of course, concern over lower-glass delinquents continued and was simply compounded by fears that the sons of respectable, bourgeois families were also threatened by corrupting models of bad boy behavior in and out of texts" (Mailloux 45)

While I can see this point in relation to Huckleberry Finn, I don't see a huge connection here. I mean, I don't think Huck's behavior was extremely delinquent, he was simply a child without parents and stability. Yes, he did swear and lie and steal watermelons, but was he really such a bad role model?

Throughout the novel Huck struggled with issues of morality and always seemed to make the right choices. He was a mischievous boy, who many critics of the time misunderstood. They should have taken the time to focus on the real moral images in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and not harped on the bad role model presented in Huckleberry.

'That wuz him'

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EL 266

"Well, den, you k'n git yo' money when you wants it; kase dat wuz him" (Twain 320)

It is here that we find the true fate of Huckleberry Finn's Pap. Apparently he had been dead the entire time Huck was floating down the Mississippi with Jim. But what I find even more interesting is that once this line is said, Huck moves from that subject to talking about Tom Sawyer so quickly. No emotion, no extra thought, nothing is said about Pap. Huck doesn't tell us if he was happy, sad or unfeeling, he just continues right on to the end of the story.

This leaves me wondering how much he truly cared for Pap. He quotes him often while floating down the river. "Pap always said it warn't no harm to borrow things" (Twain 124). Here it seems as if Huck is already speaking of Pap as dead (past tense). Maybe in his own mind, Pap was dead to Huckleberry Finn. Huck was now free and obviously had no plans of going back to live with him, but it still seems like there was some bond there. Huck mentions that for a bit he enjoyed living with his father and he, "didn't see how [he'd] ever got to like it so well at the widow's" (Twain 90). This lasted for a short time, but once Pap had too much alcohol, Huck decided it was time to leave.

I'm still ambiguous about just how much Huck cared for his father. I think he enjoyed the freedom of his father's lifestyle, but knew he was better off somewhere else. He never mentions missing his father though out the novel like Jim is mentioned lamenting over his family. I think maybe Huck just wanted his freedom more than he wanted the love of a parent.

Blogging Portfolio II

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 Blogging Portfolio II - American Literature

Book topics include: How to Read Literature Like A Professor, selected poems of Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson, Uncle Tom's Cabin (Play Version), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and more! I have included links to entries from my own blog as well as from classmates' blogs. The portfolio demonstrates coverage, depth, interaction, discussion, timeliness, xenoblogging and contains a wild-card entry.

Coverage: A complete list of blogs thus far.

Free at Last : The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Introduction by Smith, H. N.)

Liar, Liar : The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Chapters 11-35)

Camping : How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Interlude, 21, 22)

Huckleberry Finn: Holden Caulfield?  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Chapters 1- 10)

Uncle Tom's Cabin, II Uncle Tom's Cabin (Xenoblogging)

The Heart of a Child Uncle Tom's Cabin (Entire Play)

Geography is Everything How to Read Literature Like a Professor (18, 19, 20)

Trains and Horses Emily Dickinson, Selected Poetry

Recluse Emily Dickinson, Selected Poetry

Real and Imaginary Poetry Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Poetry

The Raven: Good or Bad? The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Quit Being so Selfish! How to Read Literature Like a Professor (13, 14, 15)

Brain-Rot Walden (Chapter 2 and 4)

The Choice is Ours Walden (Chapter 13 and 18)

Depth: Blogs that I have gone into detail about and have drawn specific conclusions about plot, characters, or the story in general.

Free at Last : The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Introduction by Smith, H. N.)

The Heart of a Child Uncle Tom's Cabin (Entire Play)

Geography is Everything How to Read Literature Like a Professor (18, 19, 20)

Recluse Emily Dickinson, Selected Poetry

Real and Imaginary Poetry Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Poetry


Interaction: Comments I have posted on the blogs of peers that have sparked discussion or added insight into what was being discussed

Katie Lantz: Uncle Tom's Cabin, II- Yes, this is my own blog, but I have responded to comments and feel that it was significant enough to be placed here.

Kayla Lesko: Dickinson Post II

Jennifer Prex: Temporary Longing

Jessica Pierce: The Free Raft

Heather Mourick: Relationships

Jamie Grace: Are We Going to Disappear?

Discussion: Blogs of mine that have sparked discussion online or in class.

Brain-Rot Walden (Chapter 2 and 4)

The Raven: Good or Bad? The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Geography is Everything How to Read Literature Like a Professor (18, 19, 20)

Trains and Horses Emily Dickinson, Selected Poetry

Huckleberry Finn: Holden Caulfield?  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Chapters 1- 10)


Timeliness: These blogs have been posted early enough to spark discussion before class.

Liar, Liar : The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Chapters 11-35)

Uncle Tom's Cabin, II Uncle Tom's Cabin (Xenoblogging)

The Heart of a Child Uncle Tom's Cabin (Entire Play)

Geography is Everything How to Read Literature Like a Professor (18, 19, 20)


Xenoblogging: These are comments I have left on the blogs of peers that demonstrate an understanding of the post and promote or encourage discussion.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, II Uncle Tom's Cabin (Xenoblogging) - With this blog, I tried to foster a discussion within the class about the relationship between Eva and Pearl. I thought that it went well, and we actually discussed this in class.


Comment Primo:

Heather Mourick: Relationships


Comment Informative:

Jamie Grace: Are We Going to Disappear?


Comment Grande:

David Wilbanks: Which Pallas?


Wild Card: An entry of my choice!

Oh, Annabel Lee....:  A blog discussing film adaptations of Annabel Lee and why I think "George Higham" when the poem is recited.  

Annabel Lee Wildcard

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Okay everyone, so after watching the poem recitations in class, I have a confession to make. I cannot listen to any rendition of Annabel Lee without hearing the voice of the characters from George Higham's film adaptation of the poem... courtesy of Dr. Arnzen and Introduction to Literary Study.

I searched around on Youtube to find a link to the movie, but alas no luck. I did however remember about a spoof on the film done by Kayla Lesko, Karyssa Blair, Christina Celona, and Jed Fetterman. It's great and you should check it out. The spoof starts about 2:25 into the video.

Here you are!

Free at Last

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EL 266

"For not only does the River connote freedom; the Shore connotes slavery, bondage in a more general sense than the actual servitude of Jim" (329)

This point kept coming back to me throughout the novel.

River = freedom, fun, good; Shore = slavery, bondage, bad....

When Jim and Huck are floating down the river they seem to have a good time and nothing really harms them. It is only when the come to the shore that they face people like the king and the duke, and get into trouble. Huck says, " You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft" (Twain 177). Indeed, he felt like he was able to be free and at ease on the raft, but that was not so on the shore. Huck was always feeling uncomfortable and uneasy at the Widows place. "It was a rough time living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; so when I couldn't stand it no longer, I lit out," remarks Huck (Twain 70).  He wanted out, away from the Shore.

Even for Jim, the shore didn't just represent slavery. On the shore he had his foot bit by the snake, he was forced to live in the swamp while Huck was with the Grangerfords, and he was taken prisoner on Silas Phelps' Farm. The land was just no good for him either.  While on the River, Huck and Jim seemed to have much more peaceful times. In fact Huck says, "two or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely" (Twain 177). On the river Huck and Jim were equals, both sharing in the work and traveling together.


Liar, Liar

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EL 266

"I reckon you ain't used to lying, it don't seem to come handy; what you want is practice" (Twain 245)

The passage above, spoken by Levi Bell to Huck Finn, during the inquisition of the king and duke, was taken as an insult by Huck! How dare this lawyer tell him that he did not know how to lie! That's what his whole adventure consisted of, and Huck thought he was darn good at it too.

I think this passage plays into the morality issue of Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck is torn between his mischievous side, and the part of him that wants to do right. Earlier in the story he had wanted to do the "right" thing by turning Jim in, but decided against it. Huck still struggled with this issue throughout the story. At one point, when Huck found out that Jim had been sold by the king, he decided that he would "go to hell" rather than give Jim's chance at freedom. Huck was taught that by lying about Jim's whereabouts and true owner he was committing a large sin. But I think the good deed he did was far greater.

Despite his white lies, Huck was trying to save Jim. Even though they ended up in quite a few tight spots, Huck talked their way out. So I think, in this instance, his lies may be for the best.


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"Everywhere you look, the ground is already camped on" (Foster 187).

Yes, I have heard this before Foster. I remember you mentioned this in the chapter when you talked about how ideas originated with Shakespeare and the Bible. It seems we are getting redundant here....

But I really did like how he went through and explained how different writers deal with this fact. Some pretend their work is totally original while others fake amnesia... but does this really work? 

Huckleberry Finn: Holden Caulfield?

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EL 266

"You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," but that ain't no matter"

Yes, these are the words of Huckleberry Finn not of Holden Caulfield, but they sound so much alike! When I began reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn I was struck by how similar the two are!

I had read both Catcher in the Rye and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in high school, but never made the connection. In fact I am sure that I may not have made the connection now, except for the fact that I read Catcher in the Rye last semester during Young Adult Literature.

In truth, both characters have a lot of similarities. Both are dissatisfied with their current lives and embark on a journey. While Holden only goes to New York City, Huckleberry Finn finds himself rafting down the Mississippi. Along the way both encounter obstacles and must overcome them, taking away personal significance from these experiences. They really do parallel each other, and even the attitude seems to be the same. Holden and Tom Sawyer have the same, "tough guy" type of speech. They are a very angst(y), young type of protagonist.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, II

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"Do you know who made you?" (Uncle Tom's Cabin 91)

This was the same question posed to Pearl in The Scarlet Letter...

Does anyone else think it has some significance or see a pattern here? Maybe the authors were trying to tell us something about religion at the time... How do the situations these questions are posed in make them different?

Just trying to see if I can get a conversation going here. If you have any thoughts, feel free to post them!

The Heart of a Child

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EL 266

"Because it makes so many more round you to love, you know?" (Uncle Tom's Cabin 90).

When little Eva was asked why she preferred slavery, her response was, "Because it makes so many more round you to love, you know." Already at this point in the story she had taken quite a liking to Uncle Tom, and when she says this she was sitting his lap, decorating him with flowers. In her own mind, his status was of no meaning, and he was just another friend to her. He had saved her life when she fell off the boat, so she trusted him completely.

Marie, on the other hand, would have nothing to do with Uncle Tom. When she saw her daughter place a kiss upon Tom's cheek, she was appalled. This just goes to show how much age changes our view on things. If we could all be a little more childlike, like Eva, the world would be a much better place.

Geography is Everything

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El 266

"And we feel that those novels and stories couldn't be set anywhere but where they are, that those characters couldn't say the things they say if they were uprooted and planted in, say, Minnesota or Scotland." (Foster 164)

If writers didn't have a specific place in mind when creating their stories, we would all be in trouble. Some stories simply have to be set in a particular location.

Take the Lord of the Rings for example. If these characters were placed anywhere else other than Middle Earth, the whole plot just wouldn't make sense. JRR Tolkien created the perfect place for them in this regard. The Shire is the perfect serene, small spot for Hobbits, while Mordor gives that suspenseful, dangerous feeling. Rivendell is truly one of a kind and would not make sense in a place like Pennsylvania or India.  In fact, I think the whole meaning of the story would change if it were set somewhere else. Each place has certain significance, or else the writer would not have created it that way.

Also, I think that I attach certain characteristics to characters from a certain place. With the Elves in LOTR, I know they are from Rivendell, and that gives them a certain majestic, ethereal feel. The Hobbits are a more down-home character, and I think the earthen homes and family oriented society help to shape the way we look at them.

So yes, location is key to any story. It shapes characters and gives readers something more to identify with.

Trains and Horses

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EL 266

"And neigh like Boanerges;
Then, punctual as a star,
Stop -- docile and omnipotent --
At its own stable door."
Dickinson, The Railway Train

I find it funny how both Dickinson and Thoreau compare the train to horses. I guess they have certain similarities, the whistle and the neigh, their speed and usefulness, but I never would have likened the two. I guess it is just because I do not have the same view on horses as Thoreau or Dickinson did.

Before trains were widely used, horses were seen as the main mode of transportation for people and goods. Once the trains came about, horses were still used, but trains were gaining speed as the second most popular mode of transportation.

Both Dickinson and Thoreau harp on the noise aspect of the train, from the "hooting stanza" of the whistle to the sounds it creates through the hillsides. Both poets enjoyed nature, so I am sure that any unnatural sound would have been very evasive to them. 


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EL 266

"The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more."

Dickinson, XIII

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.
Dickinson, XVII

Yeah, she was most definitely a recluse.  I think that this sticks out to me the most in Dickinson's poetry because that is her trademark characteristic as a poet. Poe is known for his horror and suspense, while Dickinson wrote hundreds of poems and kept herself locked away from the world.

But there is more to this.  Both of these poems have large hints of spirituality in them. In the first she mentions that the soul has shut itself away from the vast majority, yet an emperor stops by her door, brought there by a chariot. Using Foster's theories, I'm bound to believe that this emperor is Christ, stopping by at the door to Emily's heart. Typically when Emily Dickenson has referred to a chariot, she is talking about something spiritual. In "Because I Could not Stop for Death" she talks about the chariot taking the person in the poem away from the earth.  Also, because the narrator in the story has kept herself from the "majority" she remains pure, and Christ has come to reside there, kneeling at the mat of her door.

Now in the second poem, Emily is not only testifying to the fact that she has never been to the ocean, but she is also saying that she has faith. Her faith is in the unseen, and just as she knows that there is an ocean, she also believes that there is a Heaven.  I thought this one was much easier to grasp, mainly because she comes out and says it in the second stanza: "Yet I am certain of the spot, as if the chart were given."

Real and Imaginary Poetry

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EL 266

"And this ray is a fairy ray --
Did you not say so, Isabel?
How fantastically it fell
With a spiral twist and a swell,
And over the wet grass rippled away
With a tinkling like a bell!"
- Poe, Fairyland

"This wonderful plan, without danger or loss,
    Keeps your cash in your hands, where nothing can trouble it;
And every time that you fold it across,
    'Tis as plain as the light of the day that you double it!"
- Poe, Epigram for Wall Street

In the selections given, Poe talks about both real and imaginary worlds. Epigram for Wall Street and Ode to Science both describe the "real" world, while Fairyland and The Haunted Palace have imaginary elements to them.

In Ode to Science Poe makes it much clearer that the prefers the imaginary world to the real, because science has taken away the allure of the magical. He also brings this up in Fairyland when he is speaking of the moonbeams. Poe calls them "fairy rays," saying that they float down to earth with a twinkling upon the grass. Indeed he does mention the scientifically waxing and waning of the moon, but he does not dwell on this idea. In order for his romanticism to shine through, Poe chooses to represent the more magical elements of nature.

Epigram for Wall Street is most definitely a "down to earth" poem, where Poe discussing the benefits of Wall Street.   In this passage, I detect a hint of sarcasm where he says, "Keeps cash in your hands, where nothing can trouble it."  Since Poe spoke so lowly of science in other poems, I cannot imagine that he would be a fan of Wall Street. I most definitely believe there is something more to this passage.

The Raven: Good or Bad?

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EL 266

"Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door --
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                                       With such name as "Nevermore." (Poe, The Raven)

Throughout this poem, Poe says many uplifting things about the Raven, like he was "blessed" to have him above his chamber door, and the bird was "beguiling" him into smiling, which makes the Raven seem positive. Generally this black bird is seen as a bad omen, but I think the Raven was a much more positive symbol because of Poe's word choice.

On page 4, Poe writes that the Raven was sent by the angels to bring up memories of the lost Lenore. While this may have hurt at first, I think that the author was glad for the memories. Although directly after, he recants and says that the bird had to be sent from the "Tempter," I believe that he was more surprised than angry.

I guess this could really go either way, and there is overwhelming evidence that the Raven was a nuisance to the author, but I do think that we have to see his positive qualities as well.

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