MarieVanMaanen: January 2009 Archives

The Great Gatsby (Ch 1-4) (Fitzgerald)

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"The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic- their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose.  Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away.  But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground." (Fitzgerald 23)


I found this paragraph and the focus on the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg to be rather odd and interesting. I found it odd because Fitzgerald took so much time and detail to describe this advertisement. The advertisement has no importance concerning anything actually happening with the characters yet after reading the passage about the advertisement, the reader is left to think that there something important in the faded eyes. I think that perhaps these eyes are symbolic of God watching over everything that happens. It is said that Doctor T.J. Eckleburg's eyes watch over the "valley of ashes" similar to how God watches over us, even the ugly things that we do.  For instance, Doctor T.J. Eckleburg's eyes are watching each time that Tom goes to visit his mistress, just as God is watching.  The eyes are ever present though I'm sure that people in their hurry forget about them, just as people often forget about God's presence in our lives.


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Nothing Gold Can Stay (Frost)

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I think one of the main themes in this poem is that beauty is fleeting. Things that are undeniably beautiful, such as a bud or a sunrise, only last for a few moments. However, I think that the following three lines also indicate another theme regarding the novelty of something.


"Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf."


The first time we experience something, it is important and interesting. However, if we continue to look at or experience something, our interest seems to dwindle, and the novelty of that first time experience seems to wear off. The experience becomes ordinary. Eventually, it just becomes another experience; the same as every other experience we have encountered.

Perhaps that is why things that are truly beautiful only last for a short time. If a sunrise lasted all day, then it would become ordinary. Because we would constantly be exposed to the sunrise, it wouldn't seem to have the same beauty that it has when we only have a few minutes to experience it.


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How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Foster)

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"Mr. Lindner? That Milquetoast?

Right. Mr. Lindner the milquetoast. So what did you think the devil would look like? If he were red with a tail, horns, and cloven hooves, any fool could say no." (page xi)


When I first began reading this introduction, I wondered if I had picked up the wrong book. I was expecting an introduction that would immediately begin telling me what I could expect to find in this book. However, the introduction began with more of an example of how a literary professor reads a novel compared to how a student typically reads a novel. I thought this was a clever and interesting way to begin the introduction. I usually don't read the introduction of books because I find they are boring, and I fully intend on reading the book so is the introduction really going to state anything I won't find in the main text? The way Foster began this introduction intrigued me though to read the full introduction. The introduction on a whole has now interested me to read this book since I felt I could relate to his description of the professor's views versus the students views of a work of literature.


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After Apple Picking (Frost)

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I would like to start by noting that I am not a fan of poetry. However, I did like this poem because I liked one of the topics- sleep. I felt like I could relate to the feeling of coming to the end of a job or a long day and feeling sleep begin to take you over. I love how when you get to this stage you seem to take greater interest in little things that you have experienced all day and how these little things seem to invite you to sleep. For instance,


            "Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

             The scent of apples: I am drowsing off."


Frost has been smelling apples all day yet now their smell seems to take on a new meaning as he tires. Frost later mentions the sound of the apples being put in the cellar, and it seems that the constant rumble makes him even more weary.

Two other lines that caught my attention were:


            "One can see what will trouble

             This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is."


I thought that these lines were interesting because Frost sounds like he's talking about dreaming, but the word "trouble" makes it sound more like a nightmare than a good dream. It seems easy for that to happen.  Something that you have been working on continuously may not seem so bad at first but soon becomes troublesome and annoying.


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