November 2009 Archives

Think Again, Scrooge

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I've seen different adaptations of the movie version of A Christmas Carol, and I've never especially liked Scrooge. I never even found him justified in keeping his money or being mean in the movie version, but by just reading the first part of the story, I found myself thinking, "maybe he was right to keep at least some of his money." He may be selfish, and really people should give back to those who are less fortunate, but when I saw that Scrooge's life wasn't the picture perfect lifestyle that I had originally envisioned, I felt sorry for him.

"At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be" (Dickens).

It didn't seem like Scrooge was very happy at the place he was staying, until his sister arrives to take him back home a couple Christmases later. Then soon after, the reader sees that he becomes an apprentice and has to work hard. Sure, his life wasn't the hardest, but he wasn't born with riches. He had to earn them, and I think that that plays a huge role in why Scrooge has probably been hoarding his money. He just needed a little reminder to give some of it back to the community, which is what the three ghosts end up doing. In the end though, I didn't expect to find myself sympathizing with Scrooge.  

Just Words?

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"Studying English taught us how to write and think better, and to make articulate many of the inchoate impulses and confusions of our post-adolescent minds. We began to see, as we had not before, how such books could shape and refine our thinking" (Chace).

English has taught me how to think better, which I'm grateful for. It has also taught me why I really wanted to go into English: to reach people through written words. Maybe it won't change anyone's life, but it might make someone stop and think about something a little differently or realize like I have through reading that I'm not the only one out there that feels this way. We read books to feel a connection that we can't always get from the people around us.

So in a way, I'd like to think that other people are out there not always going for the money, but to change people. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what drove a lot of people to become English majors in the first place. Sure, money would be nice, but it really isn't that important to me. Something tells me I'll be rethinking that last statement though when I'm poor, but by then I'll hopefully have found some type of career doing something in English.

Easy To Say?

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It's always nice to get a little reminder about poem conventions, but I found myself thinking that some of the stuff I hadn't actually heard of before. For example that there was a term for good sounds versus bad. "Euphony refers to words containing consonants that permit an easy and smooth flow of spoken sound...the opposite of euphony is cacophony, in which percussive and choppy sounds make for vigorous and noisy pronunciation" (Roberts 193).

I guess I had never really thought about some words being easier to say and others not being. It was interesting to see how Roberts managed to tie this in to how important this may be in a poem where it may change the way the work is read.

Stormy Night

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So we've all heard the cliché "It was a dark and stormy night" which was originally the first line of the novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer Lytton. So where am I going with this? Well, the first few lines of Robert Browning's "Porphyria's Lover" immediately brought that line to mind. Lines "The Rain set early in to-night,/The sullen wind was soon awake,/It tore the elm-tops down for spite,/And did its worst to vex the lake;" (1-4) show the whole scenery aspect. This completely establishes that something horrible is probably going to take place.

Now, I know nothing about the original cliché that Lytton wrote and whether or not something horrible eventually happened in the story, but the reader immediately thinks something bad is probably going to happen at least in this poem. The tone actually stays throughout the rest of the poem and the reader just seems to get the chills when the speaker starts talking about the intimate details of this woman with long blonde hair. Overall, Browning does a great job of giving some foreshadowing or at least setting the tone that carries throughout the poem.

The Real Joke

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Not to go too in depth on this since I'll be givin my presentation on it tomorrow, but The Bear by Anton Chekhov deals with two people who hate each other and then eventually fall in love. I think the best part of the story is that there is an overall funny moment that takes place, when Smirnov finally realizes how much he truly likes Mrs. Popov. It's interesting that Smirnov doesn't realize he likes Mrs. Popov until page 390, but I think he really started liking her back on page 388, when they start talking about the differences between the sexes.

However the best moment and the true joke, I feel, is really when she says, "it's no mystery to you that he was often mean to me, cruel...and even unfaithful, but I shall remain true to the grave and show him I know how to love. There, beyond the grave, he will see me as I was before his death..." (385). The fact that one woman can still love a man who was so mean to her even after his death is a bit crazy to me. Still the best part is probably that the first man that comes along is also the one she ends up falling for.

My article that I'll be using is by Yuan Yuan called Representation and Absence: Paradoxical Structure in Postmodern Texts which basically talks about the abscence of certain parts of a story and how this can hinder the text. This paper actually goes against what I'm going to talk about. Therefore, I'll talk about why Chekhov does a wonderful job of using all of the elements he presents to make the jokes and overall inform the reader behind why the jokes are funny.

After looking at what we have to do for this assignment, I guess I'll say a little bit about how my research for this went. Basically, I looked up all the articles that may be related to Chekhov, like Carissa did, and found nothing. From there I knew I kind of wanted to talk about the structure of the story, which I had another hard time finding something that even semi-related to my topic. I ended up just picking one that kind of related, but it is a little bit of stretch to connect it. If I was writing a paper based on this source, I would not use it as an ideal source, but maybe something to counter evidence my original thesis.

Diving a Little Deeper

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"Ideas are not as obvious as characters or setting. To determine an idea, you need to consider the meaning of what you read and then to develop explanatory and comprehensive assertions. Your assertions need not be the same as those that others might make" (Roberts 121).

As you've probably noticed through most of my blogs, I tend to perceive things differently than most people, which is usually because it's more fun and interesting to not go with the norm while reading. This is especially helpful after you've read the same blog entries over and over again where the same ideas are coming up on the text we're assigned to read. Roberts explains that ideas are sometimes different than what other people might view them to be. I think ideas mainly bring out the importance of the overall theme of the story, which is sometimes difficult to pin down since most stories have more than one theme to go through. At the same time, some stories have one main theme or idea and a lot of smaller ones that do not necessarily get wrapped up in the end. Regardless, Roberts makes it a point to show the importance of ideas and how a paper can be written on them if a writer so chooses. I think not having the same view or idea of the text makes things a little more interesting. Sure there are answers that closer than others (which Jerz has been telling us throughout the semester) but some interpretations are fun to contemplate anyway.

Portfolio Three

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Coverage and Timeliness:

Authenticy of Mice - Part one of the Maus sections that we were to discuss. I look at how authentic the story is to the Holocaust, and how Art works hard to show the realism to a cartoon story.

Bunker Down - Part two of the Maus sections. I talk about the thoughtfulness of the bunkers Vladek and  his family built in order to hide from the enemy and how the images accurately depict the bunker.

A Ghostly Alternative - "The Masque of the Red Death" where I talk about the story possibly being about ghosts or at least told from the point where this event has happened over and over again, kind of like the people at the party's hell.

Accenting Everyone - Chapter Six of Roberts where I discuss how important the setting can be to the overall character with the example of "The Masque of the Red Death."

Finding a Life Line - Editorial that I looked at on the death penalty and how some people's veins are unable to be found and so their executions are put off for a different day because of this.

Woe and Moan - Shakespeare's "Sonnet 30" where I see the use of the words "woe" and "moan" are used over and over again to give the poem an overall looping quality.

The Puzzle - John Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" where I look at the confusion the reader has of his poem and how necessary the footnotes are to understanding the poem. I made a parallel to the way Keats felt about the translated versions of "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad."

Identical or the Same? - Chapter Nine of Roberts where I look at metaphors and similes for revival to a story, but that overuse of them can be boring. I linked to Josie's blog for further explanation of this.

Cracking Façade - "Miss Brill" where I look at the hidden identity she has when she puts on the fur as opposed to when she doesn't have it on.

Always Have a Purpose - Chapter Eighteen of Roberts where I looked at how you sometimes go fishing for quotes for your paper, but I tend to find more information out that helps in ways I hadn't originally thought of after looking at other sources and how important this is to enhancing my paper.

Simple Questioning? - Hughes "Theme" where I look at his use of questions and subtle wording such as "I guess."

Overstatements: This is the Best Blog Ever - Chapter Eleven of Roberts where I look at overstatements and how they work in other situations other than just humorous ones.

The Road Less Traveled - The first part of John Henry Days where I looked at his trip into West Virginia and the significance of this in connection to his job.

Let's Talk Light Bulbs - The second part of John Henry Days where I looked at the power that Lucien has not only with the list, but in getting jobs from new places such as representing a town for publication.

A Statue of a Man - The third part of John Henry Days where I looked at the significance of the statue J. buys.

Eye'll Erase My Name - The last part of John Henry Days where I look at what One Eye wrote in his message to Lucien.

 

Depth:

Authenticy of Mice

Bunker Down

A Ghostly Alternative

Finding a Life Line

Woe and Moan

The Puzzle

Cracking Façade

The Road Less Traveled

A Statue of a Man

 

Interaction:

But What Cometh Before Pride? - Josie Rush

-          Numerous people discuss pride in the story John Henry Days. I happened to dispute whether or not John Henry was all about pride with an example from the text.

Setting the Mood - Josie Rush

-          Karyssa and I help enhance Josie's theory about "The Masque of the Red Death."

The black and white, cat and mouse, Jew and German truth. - Josie Rush

-          I am the first of seven comments on this blog with a link to another holocaust book that Josie and other people may be interested in reading if they want a perspective from the German side of things.

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. - Brooke Kuehn

-          First of five comments to discuss and enhance Brooke's theory about Hughes' poem.

J. Better Come Through... - Cody Naylor

-          Aja and I speculate on the growth of J.'s character.

Discussion:

A Ghostly Alternative

Cracking Façade

Always Have a Purpose

Simple Questioning?

The Road Less Traveled

 

Xenoblogging:

The black and white, cat and mouse, Jew and German truth. - Josie Rush

-          This exemplifies my ability to link to other sources, but it's not necessarily an enhancing of the text. However, I was the first to comment and further the discussion.

Denial isn't just a River, it's a State of Mind - Kayla Lesko

-          First of four people to talk about "Miss Brill" and try to explain some of the things that took place inside the story as well as speculation about the almond. I helped start the discussion for this blog.

You are What You Hear. You are What You See. - Brooke Kuehn

-          I was the first to comment on this entry and other people followed, sparking an interesting discussion about Hughes' poem.

 

Wildcard:

Cracking Façade

-          I think this blog shows my ability to look at the text to come up with something interesting to say about it and make it work. Kayla also agreed with me on this after prompting for further explanation on my part. Carissa then went against the idea, where she had some good points, but we also differed slightly in some areas still.

Eye'll Erase My Name

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So One Eye manages to get back to his beloved list and erase his name from it. Triumph and glory have clearly gone to this man for managing to do something no one else has been able to do. However, there are still some lingering questions that I want answered. Mad Eye types "a two-word message, a verb-noun combo understood across the globe"(Whitehead 355). What does he write? At first I thought maybe he had written, "I won" or "I win," but then the paragraph afterwards talks about his eye patch. So I was thinking, maybe he wrote "eye patch" but that doesn't exactly seem right either. It has to do with something maybe eluding to fear since the text states, "Of course the average person must wonder exactly what is under there. The answer is, the eye patch secrets his fear" (355). So something in that line has to have something to do with the message he leaves for Lucien or at least I think it does. Still, there's no real lasting evidence that I can find for what he actually wrote other than the eye patch or the fears thing.

A Statue of a Man

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Was anyone else thrown off by the fact that J. decided to buy a statue of John Henry? I initially thought this was just something J. was using to connect with Pamela, but maybe he really does like the statue, since he's still hauling it around for the rest of the day. Plus, it happens to be pretty heavy and despite not really wanting to continue to carry it, he does.

I thought it was fairly significant when he was in the tunnel with the statue and thinking that "he has half a mind to set the statue down on the floor of the tunnel, make a puppet show of this scene. Diorama of the big day, the John Henry miniature making literal the scale of his competition" (Whitehead 321). It was as if J. was trying to present the real John Henry in some real form compared to all of the different and not necessarily true portrayals of John Henry that the John Henry days were showing. It was also as if J. finally found the connection between what he does for a living, the whole John Henry (whether or not he was a real person or not), and the importance of the past. It was like in the tunnel everything collided to make him finally understand himself or at least a partial understanding of himself.

The statue seemed to play an important role not only in this part of the story, but also the fact J. had to trade the statue to the guy running the sledge hammer game. This seemed somewhat symbolic. It made me think in terms of his relationship with Monica, the woman he seems to have an arrangement with, and how he interacts with Pamela. If J. is willing to give up something easy for something hard, then maybe he is also willing to take a chance on Pamela. In other words, the statue may represent his tie or anchor to Monica and how he wishes to break free of her. J. may end up on a lower scale or playing level with Pamela than where he was at with Monica, but he is essentially gaining something more meaningful with Pamela by taking this chance.

Let's Talk Light Bulbs

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"Your time is so valuable so I'll be honest with you. I sell light bulbs," (193) says Lucien to Mayor Cliff. He further punctuates his speech by saying, "They're very fragile. It's the filament. Fil-a-ment" (193). Not only is Lucien a man who knows how to do business, but his speech about light was incredibly impressive. The man starts out saying how light bulbs illuminate everything, but then he swiftly turns the conversation around to include coffee tables and still have it make sense. Still, Lucien manages to make a grand point that "Talcott is full of light...You have plans and ideas. I will give them the world. All I ever do is release radiance. This is light bulbs, sir, and this is why I say I am in the light bulb business. This is light bulbs" (196). Mayor Cliff can basically do nothing, but listen to this man and take it all in. It's no wonder that Lucien ends up out in West Virginia getting the scoop on the stamp collection and presenting the town to the world.

Not only does Lucien give all of these great examples of how good his company is at presenting the material they have to work with and how everything is connected, but this mastermind also holds the List. The key to the junketeers invite to places. It took until recently for One Eye, or anyone for that matter, to figure out who was the one controlling the list. Determined to go against Lucien, One Eye develops the plan to try to get some power over Lucien and the list. Something tells me that One Eye is going to have a harder time succeeding in this than he thinks, but I can't wait to find out what happens.

The Road Less Traveled

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 "All trees look alike to [J.]" (19) is just one of the observations that J. makes through his off the beaten path trip to the hotel he's staying at in West Virginia. I thought the whole section, pages 18- 23, illustrates a lot of background information on J. that would have been difficult to bring up otherwise. J. doesn't exactly seem very thrilled to be there writing about a postage stamp, but he's there because he's going for the record. Also that's where the story is that Time Warner wants him to do. It seems only fitting that traffic is blocking the road that would be easier to go on than the back ways, especially after thinking, "But a postage stamp? It seemed ridiculous even by their degraded standards. In West Virginia yet. J. just wanted to know if the world had progressed to the point where such a thing was possible. He just wanted to know" (20).

J.'s view on West Virginia is further backed up by the driver who says, "'the most northern of the southern, the most southern of the northern, the most western of the eastern, and the most eastern of the western" (21). It was at that point that I began to believe that J. was probably right about West Virginia. Maybe really nothing does happen there if that's the way the people from that area were going to describe it.

While the driver and J. are still winding around and "all J. can think [about] is content. It sounds so honest. Not stories, not articles, but content. Like it is a mineral. It is so honest of them" (21).  The use of the word "content" really made me stop and think about why he was so hung up on the word all of a sudden. Shouldn't he be honest in a news story? It kind of seemed that J. was a little out of his element for the piece he was going to do for Time Warner, which is further shown when he says, "Content is king, they say. Rape and pillage time for the junketeer willing to put in the time to make the contacts. A whole new scale" (22). It further enhanced the fact that J. was completely out of his element not only when it came to actually writing something honest, but also the fact that he was in West Virginia. Ultimately though, the whole car ride over to the hotel shows some of J.'s worries and helps develop his character further than just briefly what he's thinking about, but also through some of his views on writing and past events he's written about.

Overstatements: This is the Best Blog Ever

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Overstatements can be some of the best things to work with in a story or to even identify. "The words are obviously and inappropriately excessive, and readers or listeners therefore understand that the true meaning is considerably less than what is said" (Roberts 168). Although this is usually shown in stories (or even in the example that Roberts gives on 168) to be funny, it can also work to the author's benefit to exaggerate a situation to hide the pain of a situation or to downplay the true meaning in a way that causes the reader to question the true motivate behind what the character is doing. For example, if a character is extremely lonely, but does not want to show that she is lonely, she might say something like, "Everyone else has someone. I'm going to be the last girl in the world, and no one would still date me." Here the character is expressing an extreme exaggeration to illustrate how sad and lonely she really is without coming right out and saying it. In some cases this may seem funny, but mostly it just shows sadness. The same applies to pretty much any emotion such as anger or jealousy.

Simple Questioning?

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"I wonder if it's that simple?" (Hughes 6)

Langston Hughes' use of questions throughout his poem reflects the speaker's sense of wonder about life and the subtle demand for change. The speaker does not come right out and accuse people of anything, but simply states facts and leaves his/her opinions in the form of questions or uses words like "guess" that shows uncertainty or asks the reader to sympathize with the speaker about what is taking place.

"Me-who?" (20) the speaker asks in a way that illustrates that he/she is not the only one involved in what is taking place in the city or the overall tone of the poem which is about the color of the speaker's skin. Further along, the speaker questions, "So will my page be colored that I write?" (27). This line exemplifies the irony of the poem since previous lines show that the speaker believes he/she is the same as everyone else, but then questions whether or not other people will view the speaker in the same light.

The overall feeling that the poem leaves the reader is that everyone is connected despite their differences. Therefore, Hughes concludes his poem by saying "I guess you learn from me-" (38) to show that more has to happen in order to have equality, which is the ultimate point of the poem.

And after looking at Chapter eleven's essay, I can see that Roberts kind of took the questions in the poem to mean confidence. However, I think that it may illustrate confidence, but the tone, to me, showed that the speaker was a little less confident about his ideas and therefore put them into questions so as not to offend, but to have the reader think more deeply about the subject of the poem.

Recent Comments

Kayla Lesko on Not Always Necessary?: Sometimes when I read somethin
Carissa Altizer on Just Words?: I just read over this and real
Melissa Schwenk on Think Again, Scrooge: Josie, I definitely agree with
Josie Rush on Think Again, Scrooge: I actually laughed at the begi
Karyssa Blair on Stormy Night: Melissa - I feel like Browning
Melissa Schwenk on Just Words?: Jess - That's probably what I'
Gladys Mares on Just Words?: Thats the same exact quote I p
Jessica Orlowski on Just Words?: Waitressing... and starbucks..
Melissa Schwenk on Just Words?: I've read the book, and it hel
Carissa Altizer on Just Words?: I can't remember if you were i