March 29, 2004

Bees and Peers

As we dicussed "The Secret Life of Bees" in class last Thursday, an interesting point was brought up in my specific group...

We had to come up with a question to ask the class about the first half of the book, and we came up with "How would Lily be different if her mother wouldn't have died, and how would her T. Ray be different?" ...and somehow that lead to the discussion of why Lily's mother ran away in the first place. It was because she was so isolated on the peach farm, away from everyone is clear that she was used to being a social butterfly, and T. Ray almost took her away from the world because he adored her so much.

"What made her so depressed like that?" I said.
"I don't know the whole answer, but part of it was her being out on the farm, isolated from things, married to a man she really didn't want to be married to."
(pg. 253).

Eventually, this made her so depressed and caused her to run away to August's house. Doesn't this sound familiar? It's almost the same situation as in "A Jury of Her Peers," when Minnie Foster gets depressed because of her husband secluding her on the farm, and no one ever comes to visit her. In class, we decided it was a form of mental abuse, and caused her to go crazy and kill her husband. Anyone else see the link here? Do you think that Lily's mother was mentally abused like Minnie was? Give me some responses ;)

Posted by MeghanKite at 9:36 PM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2004


Melissa Whiteman shared with us today her presentation on A Streetcar Named Desire..and what she found was definitely disturbing...

First of all, i invite you to read Melissa's entry. Ok, are you as appalled as I am now? heh. I never even took the time to think about what would happen to Blanche when she got shipped off to a mental institution. I just thought "Oh, ok, so maybe she will be better off there, there will be people who will actually have time to take care of her and give her the attention she wants/needs." Boy was I wrong. I failed to think about what the world was like back in the 40s. I was thinking about how she might have been treated TODAY...not turned into a vegetable. I think she was just a depressed person whose illness may have escalated a little bit to a mental illness, but I think if she would have just gotten some kind of counseling, she could have gotten much better. I find it almost appalling that they treated these people like lab rats, and literally took an ice pick to their brains to calm the 'misfits' of society. This just shows to me how far we have come in terms of medicine. This almost barbaric surgery (that was performed by someone who never even really did a surgery before!) seems, to me, to just be trying to rid the world of all of the problems by slowly killing off the people. You can't just do that. that's the easy out. and it's just messed up. I'm glad i didn't live in that era. Of course, I probably wouldn't think too much of it if i did...Kind of sad.

Posted by MeghanKite at 8:08 PM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2004

Death + Deceit = Blanche

I feel that this equation accurately sums up the character of Blanche in the play A Streetcar Named Desire...

It seems that death is looming around her in many ways, and everywhere she goes to try and escape it, she puts on some kind of show so no one will recognize the "real" Blanche. First of all, Blanche's fear of death is evident in her fear of aging and losing her looks. As can be noticed throughout the play, she refuses to be seen in any harsh light, so as so mask her true age. (ex. - Scene One, pg. 19). By deceiving the people around her by making them think she is younger than she really is, she is attempting to cheat death and return to the youth she felt before her husband's death.

Speaking of Blanche's husband's death, everytime she seems to be thinking about death, a Varsouviana Polka is playing somewhere in the background. This symbolizes the music that was playing at the dance Blanche and Allen were attending when he shot himself. Everytime Blanche is talking about her dead husband, she hears the tune in her head and goes crazy. For example (Scene 9, pg. 114):

BLANCHE: That music again...
MITCH: What music?
BLANCHE: The "Varsouviana"! The polka tune they were playing when Allan - Wait!
[A distant revolver shot is heard. Blanche seems relieved.]
There now, the shot! It always stops after that.
[The polka music dies out again.]
Yes, now it's stopped.
MITCH: Are you boxed out of your mind?

The message of Allan's death is that indulging one’s desire in the form of unrestrained promiscuity leads to forced departures and unwanted ends. This is exactly what happens to Blanche. This is realized in Scene nine, when the woman selling 'Flores para los muertos' (Flowers for the dead). This mexican woman is actually announcing Blanche's fate. In the end when she is being carted off to the mental institution, the polka is once again heard, when I feel that she is officially 'dead' to society.

There are many ways Blanche attempts to cover up her past and her desires. Some of the obvious ways are keeping out of light and wearing white. However, the less obvious is that she continiously takes baths. I feel that by taking baths all of the time, she is trying to cleanse herself of her past. As she bathes in Scene Seven, Blanche sings "It's Only A Paper Moon." Looking at the lyrics shows the way love turns the world into a phony fantasy.These lyrics sum up Blanche’s approach to life. She believes that her fibbing is only her means of enjoying a better way of life and is therefore essentially harmless. Ironically, Williams has Stanley telling Stella of Blanche's true nature while she is singing this tune (See Scene 7, pg. 98).

So what do you think? does Death + Deceit = Blanche? You decide...

Posted by MeghanKite at 9:23 PM | Comments (1)