MeaganGemperlein: October 2009 Archives

Self-gratification or survival?

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"Huck's skills of play are productive only when used for survival, while Tom is able to dedicate his play skills entirely to the purpose of adventures and self-gratification." (Scott par. 6)

First of all, this whole critique kind of confused me. I was getting lost in the whole honor thing that he was trying to get across.

But the above quotation I think explains my frustration with Tom sometimes. When Huck plays a trick or decieves someone, it's generally to aid their adventure down the river and get Jim to freedom. When Huck does something crafty I kind of think "That was clever of him" and his journey with Jim down the river continues. Stealing food may be morally wrong, but they do need food to survive. On the other hand with Tom, I see exactly what Scott says in the quotation. Tom's tricks can be annoying and foolish. Granted, he knows that Jim is already free, but still. I feel like if he really wanted to put on a big show to free Jim, he could have been more serious. It would have made it more believible for the people around him.

I guess this goes along with any "adventure" though. Some are in it to do something that is good and makes a difference, while other are just concerned about themselves.

Life's What You Make It

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"By becoming, in effect, an author, Jim writes himself a new destiny." (Smith 364)

This quotation refers to the elaborate story that Jim created after Tom had hung Jim's hat on a branch while he was sleeping. You always here saying about people having control of their life and writing their own destiny, and this quotation follows that thought exactly. Smith points out that Jim is smart. He knew what he was doing when he created this story. Because of people's' superstitions, people believed Jim and wanted to hear this story about his hat. It brought attention to him.

This gave me a whole new view of Jim. I always thought he was an uneducated person just kind of riding the coat tails of Huck and Tom, but really he was using them (especially Tom) to his advantage, which is very smart. So Jim may not know history or math. but he knows how people work and how to use people's foolishness (Tom's tricks) to get attention from others.  It kind of goes along with what Heather had said about Huck and his education. It doesn't matter thay Huck or Jim know everything that you learn is a classroom because they know how to accomplish things that some people who know multiplication would not be able to figure out.

I think that Jim's power in the novel can be overlooked sometimes. I mean, the whole point of going down the river was for Jim's freedom. I know I always tend to be drawn to what Huck or Tom has to say and push Jim and his stories to the side unintentionally. The book is just as much the adventures of Jim as the adventures of Huck.

Two Worlds Collide

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"On the other hand, a too rigid instance on the fictive world corresponding on all points to the world we know can be terribly limiting not only to our enjoyment but to our understanding of literary works." (Foster 228)

It's so hard to separate our world from the world in a literary work! I think that I have given up on reading so many books because I couldn't find anything meaningful in it to me because the setting of the book was a totally different world. For instance, in high school I could not for the life of me finish The Grapes of Wrath because I just could not get into the time period of the novel and what was happening at that time. Even The Scarlet Letter was a struggle for me because it was something I was unfamilar with.

On some level, I think it is very hard to separate a fictive world from the current world. It's hard to but yourself in a time or place that you are unfamilar with and get an understand from it. I think that some of the best writers are ones that can take you into a world that you know nothing about and make you want to be in the novel with them It makes it easier to define the world in the book from the world you know.

I Should Tell You, I've Got Baggage Too

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"Real illnesses comes with baggage, which can be useful or at least overcome in the novel." (Foster 225)

I think the concept of overcoming and illness shows strength in a person or character. It also can show the strength of people surrounding them who come to accept that a person has an illness and what they do to try to help that person. Illnesses tend to bring people together or tear people apart, depending on the given set of circumstances. So illness come with baggage and can give a person more baggage at the same time.

I was not really that familiar with too many texts Foster talked about in these chapters, but when he mentioned AIDS, I automatically thought about the musical Rent, which is not exactly a novel, but is some form of a literature. Foster had mentioned in the text that the disease "should have a strong symbolic or metaphorical possibilies." (217) Most of Rent and all actions that happen in the musical stem from AIDS and how the characters are suffering with the disease. I'm sure if anyone is a Rent fan, they would agree with that. So Rent made Foster's points more understandable and familar to me.

Power of the People

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"...Clemens also thanked the library committee for it's "generous action" in having "condemned and excommunicated" his book, thus doubling it's sales." (Mailloux 48)

How hilarious is that! First of all Clemens response to the Concord Free Trade Club is fantastic. How clever of him! I think it just shows how confident he was in his work and wasn't going to let people bring it down.

Secondly, the fact that more people bought the book because it was controversial is so true about anything that is causing some kind of stir in society. Think of Jon and Kate Gosselin- there's drama and everyone wants to know about it and wants to be involved. Or it can go the other way around, meaning people think something is really good and it spread like wildfire. Just say the word "Jonas" to a bunch a tween girls (and maybe me too) and the walls will start shaking because screaming will be so loud.

Basically my point is that large numbers of people can make things happen very quickly and the things that are talked about the most are either controversial things or things that are considered "really good" to the general public. Because the some of the press was saying how suggestive Huck Finn was, people wanted to know, so more copies were sold. These libraries and newspapers really just set themselves up for disaster and encouraged people to read the book as opposed to staying away from it.

That's All Folks!

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"...and so there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it an ain't agoing to no more." (Twain 320)

When I finished the book, I actually read this line twice because I liked it so much. I thought it was a nice, somewhat humorous way to end the book. I thought it was funny because he said that it was so much trouble to write the book, but when you look back on all the trouble he went through to free Jim, writing a book is nothing. But I guess writing is less exciting than traveling down the Mississippi and having adventures. I also liked the line because there is some general truth in it. I know that I've started some things before and by the end I couldn't wait for them to be done.

Shortly after this line, Huck writes "...Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before." What's funny and and somewhat odd about this is that he knows he doesn't like being "civilized" but he's going to do it anyway. When I read it, I imagine him saying it in almost an "Oh no not again but I'll accept it" kind of attitude.


A Funny Thing Happened on Way to the End of Huckleberry Finn

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So I thought this was kind of funny and thought I would share...

This weekend I read the assigned readings, blogged, and so on as I usually do. So I go and start reading people's blog and looking over the section that Smith wrote at the end to find something someone had commented on and something didn't seem right. It was like I was missing a whole chunk of the story. So I went through the book to see if maybe I read the wrong chapters or something. And I read that right one's so that wasn't it. I was confused.

So here's the funny part. I started counting the chapters one by one and it turns out that the book I have skips pages 249-280! Literally, they are not in my book. At all. And it's a new book. So it's not like they were ripped out or anything, they just simply weren't printed. Fantastic.

Portfolio 2: From Lake Walden to the Mississippi River

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With half a semester of a college American Literature class under my belt, I've learned many new things about interpreting and writing about literature, as well as the usefulness in using blogs as part of a learning process. Listed below are reading discussed in ED266: American Literature from 1800-1915 from September 30, 2009 - October 21, 2009.

COVERAGE: Listed are all assigned readings with my corresponding blogs to each literary work.

Walden- Thoreau
Chapters 2 and 4
            Chapters 13 and 18

Poetry Selections- Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven
            Epigram for Wall Street and The Haunted Palace

Poetry Selections- Emily Dickinson
XVII: I never saw a moor
VIII: I have not told my garden yet

How to Read Literature Like a Professor- Foster
Chapters 13-15
            Chapters 18-20
            Interlude - Chapter 22

Aiken- Uncle Tom's Cabin

Clemens- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Chapters 1-10
            Chapters 11-35

Smith- Introduction to the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

DEPTH: The following blog entries are ones I thought had much detail and analysis or consisted of thoughts that were worthy of discussion with my course mates.  

Smith- Introduction to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Poe- The Raven
Poe- Poetry Selections
Aiken- Uncle Tom's Cabin

INTERACTION: The links listed below consist of some of my course mate's blog entries that I commented before our weekly class meeting.

Katie Lantz- "The Heart of a Child" (Aiken- Uncle Tom's Cabin)
Sarah Durham-
"A Day Just for Me" (Thoreau-  Walden)
Jessica Aspitch-
"It Shall Be Lifted Nevermore!" (Poe- The Raven)
Heather Mourick-
"It's your density...I mean Destiny" (Poe- The Raven)

DISCUSSION: The following links are my blog entries, as well as one of my course mates, that led to a discussion (both large and small!) either on the blog or during class.

Foster- Chapters 18-20
Aiken- Uncle Tom's Cabin
Smith- Introduction to Huckleberry Finn
Dickinson- Poetry Selections
Jessica Pierce- "Shiftless: An Analysis" (Aiken- Uncle Tom's Cabin)

TIMELINESS: Almost all of my blogs, give or take a few, were posted before the specified date and time. These three entries, however, were some of the first entries posted on the course site.

Smith- Introduction to Huckleberry Finn
Chapters 2 and 4
Chapters 11-35


Foster- Interlude - Chapter 22 : On this particular blog entry, I posted a link to another one of my blog entries because I felt the two of them related to each other. The second blog helped answer my questions asked in the first entry.

Clemens- Chapters 11-35 : When reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I often come across words that I do not know, but these two struck me because I thought I knew a lot about different produce items and what they looked like! But I had to go look up these two.

Jeremy Barrick- "The Silence of the Woods" (Thoreau Chapters 2 and 4) Jeremy posted a long, insightful blog about Thoreau's Walden, and I was the first and only one to comment. I thought it was a nice entry and would have hoped more people commented!

WILDCARD: The two links below are two blog entries that have nothing to do with the assigned readings in class, but rather comment on my frustration and/or success with certain topics of the class.

Reading with Dialects : The following blog details my frustrations when reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
An Update/Reflection of the Class : This is an update blog for a blog that I had previously written about  my struggles with the class


Update: The Art of Crying

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I had blogged before about my issue with crying over literature classes. As an update, I think I'm getting better...kind of. Basically, I've come to the realization that I can only do as much as I am capable of and reading and interpreting literature is not one of my strong points. Not to sound overconfident, but usually, some things just come easy to me, like math and sciences. When I come across something that I really struggle with, I get frustrated because I see others doing sooo much better than me and it gets me mad that I can't keep up.

So it anything, this class is a great learning experience for me, even though it might be causing me some great grief. I basically am learning that if you do your best, sometimes it's just the best you can do, even means not getting A+'s on every paper.

Reading a Book with Dialects is Blahhh

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Just as a general statement, I really, really dislike some of the use of dialects. Mainly Jim's. OK only Jim's. It takes forever to figure it out and even when I do, I'm still like "Wait, what?" It really interrupts my reading and takes me out of the story when I'm reading it. I understand why Twain would want to write in dialects and from my understanding he was one of the first writers to do it, and that's just great, but it doesn't work for me. I'd rather just read it normally and pretend that he has a dialect in my head.

I have a terrible tendency I just skip over anything that Jim when he talks a lot because I just it frustrates me. I figure out what he was saying from what Huck says afterword to him so I know what's happening in the story, I don't necessarily read it directly from Jim's dialogue.

So Maybe That's Why We Read Uncle Tom's Cabin...

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"The implied denunciation of slavery in Huckleberry Finn is more damaging than the frontal attack delivered by Uncle Tom's Cabin because Jim is so much more convincing as a character than is Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom, who is almost an allegorical figure- a Black Christ." (Smith 324)

I never really thought of comparing Uncle Tom and Jim. I didn't put the whole slavery concept together in both pieces. I agree- Uncle Tom is like a Black Christ, but I disagree with Smith when he says that Jim is a more convincing character making the issue of slavery in Huckleberry Finn more damaging. When reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, I felt more connected to the slavery issue and really felt bad for the characters. It really gave me a taste of how people viewed slavery. I got mad at some of the characters, like Ophelia, when she said terrible things about slaves and was siding with Eva and connecting with her thoughts. In Huck Finn, I often forget that Huck and Jim and escaping slavery. I'm always thinking "Oh they are just going on an adventure." Sure, it maybe be convincing that he's black because of the use of dialects, but otherwise, not so much.

Maybe it's because Uncle Tom's Cabin main point was to address slavery, while in Huck Finn, it may have been more of a subplot? Because at times in Huck Finn, the actions that are happening have nothing to do with escaping slavery, just Huck doing his thing that he's doing, which is mainly making up stories. And that gets old real fast.

Stealing...or Maybe Just Borrowing

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"Mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and borrowed a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind." (Twain 125)

I thought it was funny that he didn't steal the food, he just "borrowed" it. Because you can give back food once you eat it, right? Right after that quotation, Huck said his Pap said it's OK to borrow, as long as you give back and the widow says the same same things as stealing. So to compensate, they dropped the crabapples and p'simmons (probably two fruits that are not common to the everyday person these days) off the raft so they wouldn't be "borrowing" them anymore. The funny thing is that they got rid of the things that were not good or they didn't like, not the good stuff. I thought that was funny. I love when people try to justify things that they know are wrong. In the long run though, after you read about all the lies Huck tells, stealing some produce is really nothing.

I'll Make a Man Out of You

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"You're educated, too, they say; can read and write. You think  you're better'n your father, now, don't you, because he can't? I'll take it out of you." (Twain 86)

I'm sure that father-son relationhips differ now from the time this book is being written, but still, Huck's dad is a bit harsh on him. You would  think that he would want to best for his son and to have him educated. But instead his dad believes that his son thinks he is better than him. Whether Huck actually thinks he is or not is really not the point, but if i were Huck, I would think that I was trying to live a better life than my dad. I mean, he's a mean guy who's drunk all the time. Of course Huck is going to look better than that! It's not like his dad set a high standard for his son to live by. So of course he may think he's better than his dad because really, anything in comparison is better.

Comic Relief

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   No, he lives in New York. Do you know how he made his fortin?


   What is him fortin, hey? Is it something he wears?


   Chowder, how green you are!


Sar, I hab you to know I's not green; I's brack." (Aiken 119)

I like how Topsy is used as a comic relief sometimes. Generally speaking, Uncle Tom's Cabin is very serious and deals with important issue like human rights and so on, but it's nice to have something that makes you laugh when you are reading a play. Most of Topsy's humor comes from the fact that she is not that educated and misunderstands alot of things in common language.

Another things that is interesting about Topsy is that she thinks that she is bad because she is black, and if she was white, then maybe she would try. It just proves how people have manipulated her to the point where she thinks she is bad because she is black.

In Search of an Original

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"Don't bother looking for the originals, though. You can't find the archetype, just as you can't find the pure myths." (Foster 191)

This quotation goes along with something I had blogged about about before concerning wholly original pieces of literature. I had questioned if everything came from Shakespeare or the Bible, where did they get their ideas? And the answer...who knows. It's kind of a disappointing answer, but I'll accept it mainly because of logic. It would be rather difficult to find the orgin of an idea, nearly impossible. Especially because stories may have started out orally and never written down. So I'll just accept the fact that there is no specific start of certain themes in literature. I guess if someone really really wants to know, they can trace story lines back and find some possible starting point.


Life is a Highway

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"For about as long as anyone's been writing anything, there seasons have stood for the same set of meanings." (Foster 178)

I had never really but this particular observation together until now and now am finding examples of seasons representing things in many works I read before. The relationship between spring and youth became exceptionally noticable to me in the musical "Spring Awakening". I mean Spring in right in the title!

But what's more interesting to me is that we always have to relate or compare something to something else. Nothing is just plain black and white. I feel like it's so much of our culture. We have to use metaphors for everything. For example, your life just can't be your life, but it can be compare to a  journey or a highway or the seasons and so on and so forth. It get's a little annoying.

Make Sure You Talk To A Bee Before You Die?

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Emily Dickinson- VIII: I have not told my garden yet

This particular piece confused me very much. From my personal translation of the poe, she's not telling her garden or a bee or hillsides when she is going to die? Or is it rather she's just going somewhere and does what to tell anyone? Because there is a line that mentions "should have the face to die", which leads me to believe that she has a feeling when she is going to die. But why do you have a tell a bee you are going to leave? Do you think they would honestly care? Probably not.

Dear God, It's Me Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson- XVII: I never saw a moor

This poem interested me very much. From what I understand, the existance of God is being discussed, meaning you can't see God so does he really exist? And if so, is there really a heaven? A point is made that she never saw a moor or the sea, but she knows what they are and what they look like. So the argument is that she never spoke with God or has been to heaven, but she's certain that it does exist "as if a chart were given." I think that was a very clever way to make an almost abstract concept into something more related to our everyday lives, like the sea.

It's All About the Wordplay

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Edgar Allan Poe- Epigram for Wall Street

"Take a bank note and fold it up, and then you will find your money in creases!" ( Poe Line 3-4)

I couldn't tell you what this poem is actually about, but I thought this line was a great play on words. If you fold something, then the paper is in creases, meaning it has creases on it. But it could also mean that your money literally increase, as in the amount raises. How clever.

"And laugh- but smile no more." (Poe, The Haunted Palace)
"Render him terrorless: his name's "No More." " (Poe, Silence)

Like we saw in The Raven, Poe continues his uses of "nevermore" in these poems. It seems like he is really interested in existence and things being forgotten out of existence. I suppose it could tie into death somehow and since Poe is a horror author of sorts, it would make some sense. But I do not think death applies all the time.  But there's definitely a theme of "nevermore" happening in his works. May be just likes how it sounds? Or may be just could think of another word?                                                                                                                                

I've Got Rhythm

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Edgar Allan Poe- The Raven

"Thilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before." (Poe line 13)

I've read The Raven numerous times. What always impresses me about the poem is not the actually content of the poem, but rather the rhythm in the poem and the rhyme scheme. For example, the above quotation is so fun to say and it just sounds...well cool. Another one of my favorites is "Nothing farther then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered". Again, it just sounds fantastic!

I think that this rhythm keeps the poem going and keeps the reader wanting to know what is happening. Also, the "nevermore" at the end of each stanza (I think that's what you can call it?) keeps things easily connected and following.

On a different note, I wonder how long it took Poe to gets all these rhymes just right? Because they are perfect and I love them.

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