MarieVanMaanen: March 2009 Archives

Keeping in Mind the Big Picture

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       I think Foster's chapter "Don't Read With Your Eyes" was a useful reminder.  I know that sometimes when I am reading a story or watching a movie, I get caught up in the fact that something happening is not practical.  For example, Foster mentions "Sonny's Blues" noting that, " is meant as a study of relations between brothers, not as a treatise on addiction." (Foster 228)  Sometimes it is easy to analyze the factualness of a story too much, and in the midst of that lose sight of the importance of the actions. I think this chapter really has helped me take notice that I should be careful not to overlook the bigger picture by over analyzing small details.

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From Fire Balloons to Armadillos

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I thought the poem "The Armadillo" by Bishop was very interesting.  When I first read through it I was not sure what she meant by the "fire balloons".  "the frail, illegal fire balloons appear." and later she says, "Last night another big one fell./ It splattered like an egg of fire"  At first I was wondering if she was referring to a firework.  Eventually, I got the idea that perhaps she was describing an asteroid.  After re-reading the poem with that idea from the start, I feel more confident that the fire balloon she is referring to is indeed an asteroid.  The poem describes the asteroid falling toward the earth, in a beautiful but dangerous manner.  I like how Bishop made the asteroid's effect focused on a few animals, the owls, the armadillo and the rabbit.  It acts as a reminder of how nature can be affected by such natural disasters while humans may not even notice.

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Insomniac....the story of my life

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I really liked reading the poem, "Insomniac" by Sylvia Plath mostly because I felt I could relate to it in some ways.  "The night sky is only a sort of carbon paper/ Blueblack, with the much-poked periods of stars/ Letting in the light, peephole after peephole-"  I thought this opening stanza was simply a very pretty and unique way of describing the night sky.  Plath continues with talking about scenes from one's life playing through one's head like an old film.  I know personally, that when I'm up late, there's rarely anyone else up, so a lot of memories are going through my head.  Especially, if you are simply lying there trying to get to sleep, your mind dredges up many old memories.  Plath continues with talking about pills, exemplifying how people sometimes try to use sleep aids to get to sleep.  However, as Plath mentions, these pills don't always work and the restless night continues.  Plath ends with the morning coming and the rest of the world waking up.  I like how the poem seems to continue this motion as if you are going through this long, sleepless night that Plath describes.  Overall, I just found that I could relate to many of Plath's examples with my own experiences.

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Portfolio 1: Reflecting and Taking a Closer Look

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This is a portfolio entry reviewing my progress on my blog so far in the course American Literature: 1915 to Present.  My entries have been separated into the categories coverage, timeliness, interaction, depth, and discussion.  I think that keeping a blog about the assigned readings has been a helpful way to express some of my thoughts on the literature.  With each entry I write on my blog, I am required to really reflect on what I've read and then express my thoughts to my peers.  Also, I think it has proved to be a useful tool in seeing how my peers have viewed the same literature.

I have included a direct quote and a link back to the course web page in all of my entries thus far, but these ones are just a few examples.
Symbolism Becomes Personal
Religion, the Universal Language of Symbols
The Great Gatsby (Ch 1-4)
One Story to Rule Them All

Up until the past two weeks, all of my blogs had been submitted on time.  These are just a few examples of some of the blogs posted on time.

After Apple Picking
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Young Woman Gets Biblical
Symbolism Becomes Personal

These are a couple of my blogs that seemed to spark some discussion.  While I did not write back to any of these comments, I plan to make more of an effort in the future to review the comments my blogs receive and respond to them.
Daisy = Paris?
One Story to Rule Them All


These are a few of my blogs that I feel I spent a little more time reflecting on and that I put more effort into.
The Great Gatsby (Ch 1-4)
Nothing Gold Can Stay
The Monster is Greed
First Signs of Humanity

These are a few of the blogs that I left a comment where several students became involved in discussing the topic.
Rosalind Blair: Love Again?
Chelsie Bitner: One Story
Andrew Adams: Quick Rebeginnings

First Signs of Humanity

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"Al said snarlingly, 'Goddamn it, Mae.  Give 'em the loaf.'" (Steinbeck 218)

It seemed almost like the point of this chapter and this event were to let the reader know that even amid all of the people taking advantage of the Okies, there were still some decent people who tried to help others.  The first half of this book constantly paints this picture of inhumanity towards others, but this event renews the reader's sense of hope.  One thing that I found very interesting about this passage was how the kindness of one person seemed to cause another person to perform a kind action.  Al told Mae to give the man the loaf of bread for only a dime.  Then Mae sold the two little boys two pieces of nickel candy for only a penny.  After that Big Bill left Mae a big tip which caused the other driver to also leave her a large tip.  This series of kind actions reminded me of a commercial.  Sadly I do not remember what the commercial was for, but in the commercial one person did something kind for another person, as little as holding a door.  Later the person who had been helped would see someone else in need and help them.  The series continued.  Like the commercial, I think with this section Steinbeck is showing that just one kind action can make other people do some kindness to the people they encounter. 

There was one thing about this seciton that confused me a little.  Mae tells Big Bill he has change and he responds, "You go to hell!" (Steinbeck 219).  I wonder if he says that because after watching her treat the traveler and his sons with kindness he now feels guilty and like he was obligated to do something nice for her.  It seems almost like Steinbeck is saying that yes there is still people who treat others with kindness, but sometimes people treat others kindly because they feel forced rather than just wanting to be nice to another person.  I was wondering if anyone else had any thoughts on why he might have said this.

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May 2009

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Recent Comments

Georgia Speer on Keeping in Mind the Big Picture: Marie, after reading you blog
Dennis G. Jerz on Portfolio 1: Reflecting and Taking a Closer Look: Good work, Marie, both on your
Jennifer Prex on First Signs of Humanity: It is possible. I had never th
Nikita McClellan on First Signs of Humanity: You bring up quite an interest
Jessica Bitar on Symbolism Becomes Personal: I also liked this quote. I ag
Rebecca Marrie on Young Woman Gets Biblical: I think that this quote, as we
Jessica Bitar on One Story to Rule Them All (Foster): I agree with you that there is
Rachael Sarver on Daisy = Paris? (Gatsby): Really good point! Your analo
Dennis G. Jerz on Daisy = Paris? (Gatsby): That's an interesting observat
Nathan Hart on Daisy = Paris? (Gatsby): This part of the story was rea