O’Connor, “The River”

I am going to assume that Harry died in the river trying to find the Kingdom of Christ. Harry does not fully understand the meaning of religion, which shows throughout the story but especially when he keeps trying to find the Kingdom by going under water. This shows his innocence and ignorance of religion. I think it is interesting that faith led him to death and Christ died for faith/religion too. However, the difference is that Harry did not understand the entire situation, whereas Christ knew what he was dying for. Harry, I think, wanted to rid himself of uncaring parents so thats why he sought out the Kingdom. By having O’Connor make Harry die, I think she is making a negative spin on religion. I think she is saying that people blindly follow religion without knowing what it means. It might not cause physical harm to people like it did to Harry, but O’Connor is saying that some people give up so much for some things like religion when they do not even understand it to the full extent.

If I did not know that O’Connor was religious, I would have assumed that she meant to say through this story that religion is not worth the effort for the fact that is does not heal because the river did not heal Harry and because it caused him to die. However, I think that even though O’Connor might believe in religion, it doesn’t mean she can’t criticize it. For example, I might like dogs, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize the fact that I don’t like how some of them constantly bark. Being that Bevel is so young and his parents don’t give him much guidance, it is impossible to say that he would have turned out a different way if he had concerned parents or a proper lesson in religion. Kids tend to take things literally and that is exactly how Bevel took the river scenario. He drowned himself until he went to the Kingdom. The more I read O’Connor’s stories, the more I realize that her stories don’t focus on just religion. Religion is not the main idea. Bevel’s death was caused by a literal interpretation of religious acts, but with guidance, it might have been avoided, we don’t know though. Here, we could focus on the theme that O’Connor is bringing across the message that kids, at a young age, need guidance and constant explanations to understand their surroundings. Children are a good way of showing how complex religion and other topics are and how they can be interpreted in other ways.

Instead of just religion, O’Connor also focuses on the idea of losing identity within a large group. The three children of the woman that looked over Bevel during the day had no personality whatsoever. The merely followed their mother and did not act out in any way. They did what they were told. Children at that age are known to start developing their own personalities and identities, but since they are involved in this gathering of the river, its like they lost their identities.

via O’Connor, “The River”.

O’Connor, “A Good Man…”

After finishing the story, I had two lingering questions… One: Why was the wife only referred to as Bailey’s wife or as the children’s mother? Does that enforce the theme of the story that men rule and it allows the reader to focus on the men of the story rather than the women? Two: Why does the grandmother say “You’re one of my own children” to the Misfit? If this is true, does that possibly show that the grandmother blamed the Misfit, her son, for her possible killing of her husband, The Misfit’s father? Does this show a major theme that men are blamed for the wrong-doings in life by women? Men share more of the blame? Misfit keeps saying that he was accused of a punishment he did not do, so why not just do bad things. If all this is true, O’Connor is portraying a bad relationship between men and women. Also, the grandmother manipulates her other son, Bailey as well, which does not show her in a good light. The story portrays a pushy woman, the grandmother, but also portrays a passive woman, the children’s mother. Also, Bailey is pretty easily manipulated; whereas, Misfit calls his own shots and is forceful. With the contradicting characters within each gender, I am unsure what O’Connor is trying to say.

via O’Connor, “A Good Man…”.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Book Three, Ch 30-42)

What I found really strange about this section was the sex/ murder chapter because I felt like it was just tacked into the book. The incident with the man and Francie did not have any severe mental repercussions on her, which made the whole event seem unbelievable. Even though she was not raped, what she went through seemed like it would have been tough to handle mentally. This rape/killing event with the young girl could have happened in any part of a town, rich or poor. But making this happen with the sex talk makes it seem like Smith put it in there because of the social class they are in and it gave off the impression to me that poor people only learn from the extremes of society. That her future revolves around this low-slump way of life. Smith is taking things to the extreme or at least giving the wrong impression about poorer people. I do not think that it is fair to imply that rapists/murders happen just in the poorer part of town. Smith might not be implying this but not all bad things happen in low class neighborhoods. However, I think Smith probably put this in here because it gives Francie another reason to want to get out of the low status type of living. But I do not think Smith had to bring it to this extreme, especially when the event is kind of just randomly put in the book.

via A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Book Three, Ch 30-42).

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Book Three, Ch 15-29(

“‘My brother is next. His arm is just as dirty as mine so don’t be surprised. And you don’t have to tell him. You told me.’ They stared at this bit of humanity who, had become so strangely articulate.”

In this section that we had to read, humanity was a huge aspect. With schools and hospitals, poor people are looked down upon because of their filth and lack of necessities. The doctor talks in front of Francie about her filth, which makes her upset and causes the doctor to not want to treat her. It says he his from Harvard, which shows that class/status does not guarantee modesty and humility or even respect. In the school setting, the poor kids are put in the back, ignored by the teacher, and are not even allowed to go to the bathroom. Their treatment reflects how society segregates different classes. It is not humane to give more attention to the wealthy kids because they have money or are clean. Francie has proven herself to be a smart kid, and if the teachers want to rid themselves of these filthy kids, they need to teach them, so their kids have less of chance to be stuck in the same low class problems.

This humanity appearance in the book reminded me of The Book Thief because one of the main ideas in the book is that humanity cannot fully be understood. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is set before WWI and The Book Thief is set during WWII, which shows that humanity continues to be understood because of the cruelties (and the beauties) of the world keep occurring. Hitler in The Book Thief make it hard for Death and Leisel to understand their surroundings. Death even says that he “find[s] humans at their best and worst. [He] see[s] their ugly and their beauty, and [he] wonder[s] how the same thing can be both” (Zusak 491. After years, Death still does not understand the complexity of humans and how they function. Geisel is going through the same process of understanding humanity, which makes Death want to follow her. The treatment of people before WWI in the school and hospital that Francie has experienced shows that cruelty existed before Hitler and people are suffering because of it. Francie and Leisel both are learning how to read in these two books, and as they read, they better understand what is going on in the world. They are understanding the power of words and how they can use them to express what they feel.

“It showed her that there were other worlds beside the world she had been born into and that these other worlds were not unattainable”

This quote refers to when the book talked about Mr. Jensen. Mr. Jensen decided to switch jobs from teacher to janitor, which seems like a step down, but he actually got more respect from it. He even got more respect and attention than the principal. Francie is learning that if you step away from those who abuse their rankings, such as teachers, you can still be something great, like Mr. Jensen has done. She is also learning that the power of reading and writing can have great impacts upon what she understands. She is also learning imagination, which is helping her to lie. But her lying still needs to be tamed; she needs to find a happy-medium within the real world and her writing about lying. I think she can tell that lying is wrong because of the way she feels guilty after lying that her name is Mary to get the doll.

via A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Book Three, Ch 15-29(.

Portfolio 1

Depth: When it came to The Book Thief, I found it very easy to write a lot about the topics in each Part. Zusak chose WWII Nazi Germany as his setting; so, with Hitler’s reign, communism, hiding Jews, etc., it was easy to go into depth about those complex issues, especially since the Parts had a lot to say. After reading Part 7, I blogged about Max’s departure and the struggles of not believing in torturing the Jews. The Hubermann household were on the edge of danger the whole time Max was at their house in hiding, but his abrupt departure left much to be said. Also, with having most of the main characters against Hitler’s beliefs about Jews, it led me to discuss the struggles of living during WWII and having to hide your beliefs to stay alive. While reading Part 9, I blogged about the significance of Leisel not seeing her brother’s ghost any more. Her brother died suddenly early in the book and his death greatly affected her so I thought it was expected to talk a lot about him and their relationship. A third time when I wrote in depth was after reading Part 10. Throughout the book, the class questioned why Death followed Leisel of all people and I explained my thoughts on his choosing.

Riskiness: One blog that I would consider safe would be when we were assigned to look at the Poetry Foundation website and app. I did not go into depth about what I saw, nor did I analyze anything. I merely wrote how I felt about the Foundation

However, one blog that I would consider risky was the one on Part 4 for The Book Thief. Here, I analyzed the character of Rosa. She appeared to be just a nagging wife, but once Max shows up, the reader could really see that she is not a flat character; she is a round one. Another risky post was about Leisel’s brother after reading Part 9 of The Book Thief. I analyzed the meaning of her brother’s ghost not showing up any more, so I made a logical conclusion about what it meant for Leisel. The final example of a risky post I created was written about Part 10 of The Book Thief. I made a logical analysis of why Death chose Leisel to follow instead of everyone else. This is a risky post because Death does not explain his reasoning for choosing her, so based on what he has told the readers, I gave it a shot to explain why.

Intertextuality: In the Prologue of The Book Thief, I noticed how Death talks about the meaning of colors and how he does not hide irony. This made me think of two other texts I read and so I made comparisons between the two books and The Book ThiefI brought something I learned from another class into the reading of this book, which makes it fit under the intertextuality category. Another post that fits here is the post I wrote after reading Part 9 of The Book Thief. I remembered learning a common theme in a Literature of Warfare class that people in the books wonder why certain people live and others die, and this theme showed up in The Book ThiefI made a connection between something I learned in another class to something I read here.

Discussion: Esther and I always comment on each other’s blogs, which allow us to figure out some confusion of what we may be reading. Also, it helps to broaden my understanding of the concepts we are learning. For example, Esther commented on my post for the Epilogue of The Book Thief and our discussion helped me see that my thoughts on why Death possibly chose to follow Leisel was right. Plus, we further talked about the complexities of humanity that are talked about in the book. Another extended discussion was under my post for Part 3. Esther added onto my thought about perspectives in the book. She started to discuss that Hitler is seen as a monster, but Madeleine and her agree that Hitler was just a man that did horrible things. I said that Hitler’s actions added onto the complexity of humanity. A third post where there was extended discussion was under Part Ten of The Book Thief. Esther and I discussed the way in which Zusak manipulates the storytelling and how it affects the book as a whole.

Timeliness: I always write my blogs on time. One example is when I wrote earlier than normal though was for Lemire’s Chapter 10. The extra time allowed me to talk about the possible advantages of taking a minor that had nothing to do with your major. I also posted my blog about How To Write a Poem extra early. I posted earlier than normal for this one because I wanted to have extra time to write my actual poems.

Coverage: One post that I wrote on time but was not my greatest work was on Lemire’s Appendix IV, V. I talked about how surprising it  was that authors do not make much money, because I saw them being rich. Another post that I wrote on time was on Persuasive Writing. I wrote about my reaction to the fact that usually you have to cut two of the three pages of your draft because your idea or good analysis is not usually mentioned until the end of the last page.

Cover Post / Conclusion: For this class, I want to become more analytical of the texts that we read in class. Instead of merely talking about the texts’ themes, I want to take more risks to add into my riskiness category, because those posts seem to have more value compared to my others in terms of originality. To do this, achieving some of the course goals will help me accomplish my goal of being more analytical. Some goals are to demonstrate a high level  of research and writing skills and to examine a wide range of genres. To demonstrate a high level of research and writing skills, I think that will come when we do the final paper, but improving on the intertextuality skills will help achieve this course goal. I could make more connections between what I am reading to other texts I have read in other classes. By examining a wide range of genres, I will be able to notice different and similar styles in different works. So far, I think the only category that is giving me trouble is intertextuality. To improve on this category, I need to find quotes from other texts to back up my findings. I think I have a good start after doing this portfolio, but I need to work on making more connections.

via Portfolio 1.

Wilson, The Piano Lesson (Act 2)

Most of the characters in this play are male, and there is a part of the play that talks about the fact that women are nothing without a man in their life. However, I think the fact that Berniece has a say with the piano and the fact that she was able to play to stop the ghost and Boy Willie from fighting shows how strong women can be. Berniece has not played in years, but the one time she does play, it saves the people in the house at the end or at least stops the conflict.

With Lymon and Boy Willie going out to find girls, they act as if girls are objects, not people. However, when Lymon says to Berniece that he wants a meaningful relationship and then kisses her, I do not know if he meant that because the next day, you see him with Grace. He has said Grace is pretty and that he wanted her but did he just kiss Berniece to see where that would go? The men seem to test how far they can ‘play’ the women in the play without the women finding out. But the fact that Berniece stops the kiss with Lymon shows that she is stronger than most women. Also, her ability to play after so many years to stop Sutter’s ghost shows how powerful she is as a character and a woman.

via Wilson, The Piano Lesson (Act 2).

Wilson, The Piano Lesson (Act 1)

With the train and concept of travel, a common theme is motion/movement. Wilson lists several reasons why someone would use the train but people always run back into the same people. The setting of this story is near Pittsburgh, up North, so they clearly have moved away from where they grew up. However, despite the end of slavery, the family still is reminded of racial issues. White people are still not accepting of black people in this story. Sutter’s ghost still lingers around the house, and even though, we do not know if this is real or not, it shows that their past which shows the separation between races still exists. They cannot run from their past. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano, a reminder of their past, but even though, Berniece wants to move on, she keeps the piano. Boy Willie wants to rid himself of the past and the separation between races, but by keeping the piano, Berniece is reminding everyone that there is a continuing issue between races.

via Wilson, The Piano Lesson (Act 1).

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Book Two)

Book 2 is basically about explaining the characters’ backgrounds. For me, I have a soft spot for Katie and Francie because they are stuck in the position they are in. Katie chose Johnny despite his flaws, and must live with them because they now have children. His self-pity and reasons for drinking bring down the rest of the family. Katie’s harsh ways sometimes make sense because it would be difficult to stay with him since he is affecting the family in such a way. Also, Francie has both characteristics of Johnny and Francie, so I think part of the book will reveal whether she decides to be fierce like her mother, or cause downfall on herself by being like her father. I have a soft spot for her because Katie says once Neeley is born that  she will favor Neeley more than Francie, because she seems doomed; whereas, Neeley has good characteristics from the father but she will train to make the bad ones go away. But we learn that she can’t do that. Francie is also held back in school so that she go the same time as her younger brother and the other children do not want to be friends with her because she speaks incorrectly. The reader already establishes a sympathetic side for the girl, and I think the huge climax will be if she decides to break free from her ‘futured’ doom. She is already reading on her own, which shows that she has a willingness to educate herself and better herself. I think she will break free from the family and realize that her potential is not limited by her background. The trouble will come when she has to say goodbye to her family.

via A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Book Two).

Foster (Ch 8

In Chapter 9, Foster talks about rain, and the many ways it can be used in a story. First of all, when I was watching the movie The Great Gatsby where Gatsby meets Daisy again after so many years, its raining. I was asking myself why does it have to be pouring right now during their encounter, does that say that despite Gatsby’s efforts, not everything can go as planned? But after reading reading this chapter, one line stuck out to be that explained their ‘pouring-rain’ encounter at Nick’s house: “Rain can bring the world back to life, to new growth, to the return of the green world” (Foster 72). When Gatsby and Daisy first see each other and it is pouring, it is awkward and not much is said; however, when the rain stops, they are laughing and smiling with one another. A transformation has occurred and their old relationship is brought back to life. The rain shows this transition between them. The weather reflected their feelings of each other as well. Once the rain stopped, the sun was shining and Gatsby looked out at the bay and you could tell he felt comfortable again because his possibility and dreams of getting Daisy back looked even more hopeful.

via Foster (Ch 8.

Foster (10, Interlude)

Since we just read The Great Gatsby, it made sense to me to apply Foster to this book. Foster says “it stands as an example – or several examples – of the sort of surrogate fate that befalls heroes. And, alas, the people close to them” (Foster, 77). He says that the people close to the heroes of a story always fall down or die. For example, he recalls Patroclus in The Iliad. Patroclus was best friends to Achilles, but he eventually dies. In regards to The Great Gatsby, we know that Gatsby is a hero for following his dreams even though he does not succeed, which may be the reason he is seen as the hero. I do not know if I can say this, but since Myrtle dies, does that make Tom a hero? Tom does eventually get Daisy back and he survives the complications of the 1920’s, but does that make him a hero? Or does the fact that because of Gatsby’s doings it led to Myrtle’s death and so that makes Gatsby the hero? Gatsby’s involvement in the Buchanans’ lives cause two deaths: Myrtle and George Wilson.

Also, Foster brings up the fact that not every character every story is round; there are flat characters. Maybe since Myrtle, George, and some others did not have a background story that they were just there to support the fact that Gatsby was a hero. Their deaths made Gatsby have more value since Foster does say that people close to heroes eventually die.

via Foster (10, Interlude).