Monday, October 27, 2008

Memoir Metacognition

Lipstick Jihad
For my independent memoir assignment, I chose to make a new book cover for Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni. Almost every aspect of the cover was purposely placed on the cover because it has something to do with the memoir.
To begin, I made the cover red because it is the color most often associated with lipstick, which refers to the title. On the red cover, I hand wrote Arabic letters in yellow-gold ink. I wanted to place Arabic letters in the background since most of the story takes place in Iran and writing is such a huge part to Moaveni’s life since she is a journalist. The letters were purposely gold so that they would reflect how rich and intricate the Iranian culture is. The image I included on the cover is of a woman wearing her hijab (head scarf) as demanded by law. The irony, however is that even though the woman is following the rules by covering her head and arms, she is clearly breaking the rules by showing off her legs and red pumps. This alludes to an important theme throughout the story. Moaveni often writes about how so many strict rules lead the Iranian people to break them more. The Iranian people that Moaveni met in Tehran were all so thirsty for sexual contact because it was so forbidden. I thought that the image of the provocative woman would be a good example of the yearning Iranian women have to be free from all the social restrictions that are put on them.
On the back of the cover I placed a photograph of Moaveni since it is her memoir. I also included the line that is on the front of the book because it is probably the best way to describe what Moaveni went through; being Iranian in American and American in Iran. At the bottom I included a bar code to make the cover look realistic as well as the publisher’s information. In my description of the memoir, I made sure to include the word “struggle” In my last sentence since the word ‘jihad’ means struggle. “Lipstick struggle” refers to the daily problems that Iranian people (women specifically) face everyday. I also thought it was important to mention Moaveni’s vivid, mature, and analytical style since it is what makes the memoir so good. Moaveni has the ability to sound mature for such a young age (24) and yet her style is refreshing and easy to read. Overall I looked to the themes of the memoir in order to make the decisions about what to put on my cover.

Massachusetts Poetry Festival

This past weekend Lowell hosted the 2008 Massachusetts Poetry festival. The three day long event, which took place from Friday, Oct. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 12, was filled with poetry readings, art exhibitions, poetry showcases, and more.
Being that the various events throughout the day took place around Lowell, nice weather was important. Luckily, the organizers could not have chosen a more sunny and comfortable autumn day if they had tried. The day seemed perfect for walking around and seeing all that Lowell and the artists there had to offer. Local sandwich shops and coffee shops such as Olive That And More partnered with the poetry festival as they hosted their own open-mic poetry readings. Small crowds came in throughout the day, enjoyed a nice meal and listened to and shared their own writings.
Throughout Saturday, there was a small press fair at the ALL Arts Gallery at 246 Market Street. The press fair, which was curated by Bootstrap Press from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., gave festival goers the chance to meet editors and publishers from various presses and magazines as well as a chance to purchase any of their writings.
While the press fair was going on at the ALL Arts Gallery, there were many other events going on in Lowell throughout the day. One of those events was the poetry readings of Marjorie Agosin and Ed Sanders at the Lowell High School Freshman Academy. Born in Chile, most of Agosin’s poetry revolves around growing up there and all of her poetry is written in Spanish. At the reading, Agosin shared some of her translated works, including “The Obedient Girl”, “The President”, and a poem about a mother remembering her deceased daughter. Agosin’s soft, almost whimpery voice added to the poems’ romantic and nostalgic themes. Read in both English and Spanish, Agosin’s poems about Anne Frank hit a soft spot in the audience’s hearts. After a couple of other poems, the mood changed as Agosin read a humorous poem entitles “I Don’t Do Lunch” which mocked the uptight and proper lunch that often people meet to have as opposed to the freeing and warm hearty dinner most people enjoy. Most of Agosin’s poetry sounded better in its native language, Spanish. It had a lot more flow and vivacity; it got to the point with more passion. Agosin then closed her part with a quote both in English and in Spanish, “No hay otra luz que la que tu imaginas; recordar es reviver.”
With his completely different style, Ed Sanders took the stage next and read from hi book, Poems for New Orleans. The poem “Secret Poverty” told the truth about what poverty means for the people who were affected when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Its repetition of the phrase, “Let’s call it (fill in adjective here) poverty…” drove home the reality and seriousness and how the hurricane situation was handled. In a less serious tone, Sanders’ next poem, entitled “Send George Bush to Jail!” was humorous in a subtle way. Not only did the poem include many historical references, but it also included the audience; Sanders kept asking the audience to join in and say the chorus with him, “Send George Bush to jail!” Showing off his other talents, Sanders also played an instrument and sang a song. He concluded with William Blake’s laughing song which consisted of a few words, and as you might guess, lots of laughter. Sanders asked the audience to join in the laughing chorus, which was difficult to do without breaking out into real hysterical laughter. Once the poetry reading was done, many audience members rushed to talk to and take pictures with both Agosin and Sanders; they also had the chance to purchase and have books signed by both authors.
If the entire poetry festival was anything like the few events mentioned, then it was definitely a successful and a talent-filled event.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


It is a strange thing to stop and think about the way I think. When I began to write my style assignment, I found it harder than usual because I was not writing in my own style, but in Faulkner’s.
I quickly realized that I had to think long and hard about every word I chose and every sentence I created. In trying to mimic Faulkner’s style, I purposely made my sentences longer and more descriptive. I also took much of Hemmingway’s dialogue and made it into descriptive paragraphs by expanding on the smallest details in his short story. I had to make up a few of my own details about the characters or the setting but tried my hardest to keep in mind the plot and purpose of the story Hemmingway had originally written. In order to make sure that I was keeping true to Faulkner’s style I would go back to Barn Burning to see Faulkner’s style of writing. I also thought about what the class had discussed and had decided was the Faulkner style and what was the Hemingway style, which was important to keep in mind since my peers would be reading and editing my essay.
At times it was difficult to find a way to make Hemmingway’s shorter paragraphs and sentences much longer and more complex. I sat at the computer with a thesaurus so that I could use longer and more mature words since in class one of the critiques that the Hemingway group used against Faulkner was that he was too verbose. It would have been nice for me to have been able to think up longer words on my own but maybe that is something I need to work on. I guess the reason why I found the Faulkner style to be difficult to mimic was because my writing style is not really that mature or complex. I tend to be more straightforward and often use repetition, but rarely do my sentences contain as many commas and semi-colons as Faulkner’s do.
After my peers edited my paper, there was not much to change. There were a couple of minor spelling and grammatical errors that I needed to correct but other than that my peers said I did a pretty good job of reproducing Faulkner’s style. After I had made the corrections suggested to me, I re-read my essay and changed up a few sentences so that the flow of my paragraphs was a little better.
When I had turned in my first draft to my peers, I was honestly not confident in the work I had produced, but after I go the feedback I realized I need to give myself a bit more credit. It felt good to hear from my peers that I had “hit the nail on the head” when trying to copy Faulkner’s style but I still felt I could have improved my essay a bit more; so I did. My biggest strength would be that I managed to turn so much of Hemmingway’s dialogue into chunkier and verbose paragraphs. Another strength was that I managed to take one sentence in Hemmingway’s story and make it a more drawn out and overly descriptive paragraph. My weakness, however, would have to be vocabulary and flow. My beginning could have been stronger; I started out shaky but towards the end of my essay I got the hang out how to write in Faulkner’s style. I learned to trust my judgment a little more. As always, I needed to work on proofreading my work before turning it in. There are a couple of spelling errors that should not have been there. Overall, for my next writing assignment, I will work on developing a wider vocabulary, checking my work, and not taking so much time since on the AP test, we will be timed.

A Clean Well Lighted Place: Faulkner Style

A Clean Well Lighted Place: Faulkner Style
The moon was out, the clock read three a.m., and every soul had departed from the café except for the elderly gentleman who sat beneath the shade created by the leaves of the tree that blocked the light emanating from the filthy and old fashioned electric light fixture that hung from the ceiling. During the hours when the sun shone, the streets were overflowing with dust but as the time passed and day became night, the dew that formed made the dust settle; the elderly gentleman settled into the chair at the café and genuinely enjoyed it for he was deaf and during the night was the only time when he could sense true quiet really was. The two waiters working in the café that night knew that the elderly gentleman was somewhat intoxicated; he had been ordering brandy after brandy since the afternoon, becoming sloppier and more relaxed with each sip of the cool honey-colored liquid in the small glass. Although he was an excellent client, coming in regularly and never disturbing the other patrons, the two waiters knew that they could not let him become too drunk for he would end up leaving without paying his bill. The two waiters watched the elderly gentleman closely; eyeing the way he slouched in his chair, the glassy look in his eye, the way his words were beginning to become slurred each time he ordered more alcohol, and that reserved, almost lonely and forgotten look on his face. “Last week he tried to commit suicide,” one waiter said. The two men then began a quick conversation about the elderly gentleman’s attempted suicide. Back and forth they discussed the possible reasons why an elderly gentleman of his position would have the desire to end his own life. Possibly, the reason was the elderly gentleman’s lack of wealth, but the idea was quickly thrown out as the two waiters noticed the elderly gentleman’s newly polished brown leather shoes, which were each tied in a perfectly neat bow, the chain which connected to his golden watch with the family emblem engraved on it (most likely a family heirloom passed down from father to son to grandson and so on) and of course his lavishly detailed fall coat with the fur lining.
The two waiters sat at the round wooden table, whose polish was gone and legs were scratched from years of wear and tear. The table was up against the pale green floral wallpapered wall that led to the large wooden doors of the entrance and as the two men sat there, they would glance at the small and well kept terrace with its empty and clean tables all ready for tomorrow’s clients where the elderly gentleman sat forlornly at the small table beneath the shadow of the yellow, orange, and red leaves that were beginning to fall from the large oak tree that swayed back and forth slightly in the late autumn wind. Outside a petit almost mouse-like girl wearing a long pink pleated skirt with a silk trim and a white knit sweater walked with a flower in her hand; she was shielded from the cold as she walked in the arms of her tall and protective soldier friend in his uniform. The soldier’s brass number set on his collar shone as it reflected the light that came from the street lamp above.
“The guard will pick him up,” one waiter said.
“What does it matter if he gets what he’s after?”
“He had better get off the street now. The guard will get him. They went by five minutes ago.”
The elderly gentleman in the shadow suddenly began tapping on the silver saucer with the empty brandy glass causing the younger waiter to walk over, ask the elderly gentleman what he needed and then try to convince him to not have another brandy for at the point he was nearly inebriated. Realizing that the elderly gentleman could not be convinced, the young waiter stomped his way to the counter, mumbling that the old hag should have killed himself by now, brought back the brandy and poured it out for the old man while telling him that he should have completed the deed last week instead of still living and ultimately being a burden on the café. The elderly gentleman had no way of hearing, but the older waiter did, and this comment made him think, really think, and eventually realize that he empathized with the elderly gentleman. As the waiter sat staring at the elderly gentleman’s wrinkly and leathery hand tremble as it picked up the brandy glass and brought it to his mouth, he began to feel his own hands and face, simultaneously realizing that he is on his way to being old. The young walked back to the kitchen, leaving the elderly gentleman sipping his brandy and the older waiter thinking.
“Thank you,” said the elderly gentleman with a warm, poignant smile.

IND AFF- Setting

In Fay Weldon’s IND AFF, the setting of the story essential to conveying the theme about how just stopping to think for a moment in time can lead one to make decisions or come to conclusions that can be life-changing. While in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, the narrator and her professor/lover are at the spot where Princip shot and assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, ultimately instigating World War I. Analyzing the setting of the assassination and what was going through Princip’s mind as well as being in the setting herself, leads the narrator to come to her own conclusion about her love life. In IND AFF, Weldon’s parallel development of the setting both in Princip’s time as well as in the narrator’s time is inextricably linked to expressing the idea of how stopping to think for a moment in time can ultimately result in life-altering conclusions.
From the very beginning it is evident that Weldon’s use of setting is important to better understanding the atmosphere of the story. The narrator starts off by commenting that, “This is a sad story. It has to be. It rained in Sarajevo, and we expected fine weather,” (201). This passage is interesting and important for a couple of reasons. The fact that the narrator describes the story as “sad” is ironic since although a break-up may seem sad, it is actually a moment of enlightenment for the young student who later asks herself, “What was I doing with a man with thinning hair?” (206). The rain in the setting symbolizes not only the gloom in the atmosphere but also the change that is going to come. The persistent rain throughout the vacation washes away the affair that the student and professor once shared. The images of it “raining forever” and “black clouds” come up more throughout the story. In the beginning the narrator sees the rain as a bad since it is putting a damper on the vacation and impedes Peter from seeing Princip’s footprints well. Eventually, however, the narrator admits that, “that was how I fell out of love with my professor, in Sarajevo, a city to which I am grateful to this day, though I never got to see very much of it, because of the rain,” (206). The reader can conclude that if the weather had been any different (sunny for example), the couple would have gone about their site-seeing and the student would not have come to the conclusion that when she said, “‘I love you’…automatically, [she] was finally aware of how much [she] lied,” (206).
Also important to conveying the theme is how Weldon develops the setting during the student’s time and Princip’s time in a parallel way in order to compare the two events. Both the assassination and the break-up happen in Sarajevo, Bosnia during the summer. Both events involve a single person making a decision that will affect others; Princip’s assassination of Ferdinand leads to WWI and the student’s realization that she does not love Peter leads to the termination of their relationship). Interestingly and humorously at the same time, for both events it is important to remember not to “forget his wife: everyone forgets his wife,” (201). This of course, refers to the archduchess who was also assassinated as well as Peter’s wife, on whom “it was raining..too, back in Cambridge,” (202). Another similarity that connects Princip and the student is their age; Princip was nineteen when he assassinates Ferdinand and the student is also young when she breaks up with the professor. One final connection refers back to the title of the story; the student thought that she had an inordinate affection for Peter while Princip has an “inordinate affection fro his country,” (206). Ultimately, the act of analyzing Princip’s footsteps and actions helps the student come to her own conclusion about her relationship with Peter. Peter was having difficulty seeing the footprints and kept complaining but to the student, “they were clear enough to me,” (203). When discussing the assassination at the restaurant with Peter, the student feels she has to hold back for fear of being, “outflanked I debated the point,” (203). The student eventually realizes that she is not in love with her professor and decides to leave.
Had it not been for Weldon’s development of the setting at the beginning of and throughout the story, the message of the need to sometimes stop and just realize what is going on, would not have been conveyed. Weldon’s use of Sarajevo, its historical context and Princip’s interesting connection to the student ultimately leads to the student coming to an epiphany of her own. As the narrator looks back at her summer in Sarajevo, the “wisdom of [her] intent” is confirmed because she realizes she made the right choice. Not only does the narrator reflect on her own decision that day but she also concludes by offering her enlightened thoughts on Princip by saying that “If only he’d hung on a bit, there in Sarajevo, that June day, he might have come to his senses. People do, sometimes quite quickly,” (207).

Everyday Use: Characterization

Narrated through the eyes of Mama, Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” tells the story of Mama and her two grown up daughters through the passage of time. The characters Dee and Maggie are developed in completely opposing ways, not only as a symbol of their personalities but also as a symbol for their motives behind keeping their heritage alive. Mama’s view of each daughter remains consistent throughout the story until the point at which a family treasure is being claimed by each daughter. In “Everyday Use”, Walker contrasts between a superficial and a genuine way of expressing and celebrating one’s heritage by juxtaposing the motivations and personalities of Maggie and Dee Johnson as their mother realizes her daughters’ growing independence and differing views on preserving their traditions.
Throughout the story, Dee is portrayed by her mother as the golden child but beneath that perfect facade Walker reveals Dee’s superficial motives for expressing her heritage as she develops Dee’s character. As Dee comes back home to visit her mother, Mama flashes back to when her daughters were young and recalls that Dee had a few friends, “Furtive boys in pink shirts hanging about on washday after school. Nervous girls who never laughed. Impressed with her they worshiped the well-tuned phrase, the cute shape, the scalding humor that erupted like bubbles in lye.” The passage indicates that the boys liked her and the girls were intimidated by Dee’s looks and personality. A deeper look into Dee’s personality is showed to the reader as the narrator remembers that, “Dee wanted nice things. A yellow organdy dress to wear to her graduation from high school; black pumps to match a green suit she’d made from an old suit somebody gave me. She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts.” This passage clearly alludes to how materialistic and superficial Dee can be, especially once she comes back home to visit and asks Mama for the family quilt. Dee’s style has changed, she greats the family in Swahili, and she even asks to be called Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. Dee’s explanation for her new name is that she, “couldn’t bear it any longer being named after the people who oppress me.” The truth, however, is that the name Dee has been in the family for many generations. The situation becomes interesting when Dee asks for the quilt which was made by Big Dee (her grandmother) because she wants to hang them to preserve their heritage. How can Dee be legitimately interested in preserving the family heritage when she is not even proud of carrying on the family name?
In contrast to her thoughts about Dee, Mama describes Maggie in a pitiful way but ultimately learns that her daughter is a genuine person. Right away the reader is let know how Mama feels about Maggie as she comments on how, “Maggie will be nervous until after her sister goes; she will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs, eyeing her sister with a mixture of envy and aw. She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that ‘no’ is a word the world never learned to say to her.” It is clear that Maggie has always lived in the shadow of her sister and that Mama pities Maggie especially when Mama says, “Have you seems a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks.” Maggie is portrayed as quiet, slow, shy, and does not say much other than “uhnnnh” throughout the story. Only until the end does Maggie speak up and say, “‘She can have them Mama,’ like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her. ‘I can ‘member Grandma Dee without the quilts.’” At this point it is made clear that Maggie is brighter than she is described to be. Not only that, but she is giving towards Dee and can keep the memory of her grandmother and other traditions without greedily taking the quilts for herself. Maggie’s purpose for keeping the quilts would be completely selfish and sincere, unlike her sister’s artistic and superficial purpose.
Walker’s purpose to contrast superficial and genuine reasons for expressing heritage would not have been clear had it not been for the realization that Mama goes through towards the end of the story. Dee takes the quilts as if “they already belonged to her” and explains that “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts! She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.” At that moment, Mama realizes that Dee does not really care about the family heirloom but instead just wants to hang the quilts for the superficial reason of looking like she is genuinely concerned with preserving her roots. It all becomes more clear to Mama when she recalls how she “had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told [her] they were old-fashioned, out of style.” Evidently Dee only becomes interested in her heritage once she changes to this new Wangero person. The most ironic part is when “Miss Wangero” criticizes Mama for not understanding her heritage. At this point, Mama’s realization about each of her daughter’s natures and what it means to truly celebrate one’s heritage plays an important role in expressing the author’s purpose.
Walker’s purpose could not have been effectively conveyed had it not been for the way she developed Dee’s and Maggie’s character. Each daughter is vastly different and is seen in that way through their mother’s eyes only until the point when Mama understands that each daughter goes beyond the perfect or pitiful way she has always seen them. It is neither about which daughter is more beautiful or outgoing, nor is it about the quilt itself, but instead it is about who’s motives for keeping the family memory alive is more genuine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Point Of View Essay

Written by Katherine Mansfield, “Miss Brill” is a short story in which the narrator is a nonparticipant who sees into the mind of the major character. The narrator writes through a stream of consciousness point of view in order for the audience to see into the mind of Miss Brill as the story shows how lonely she is in the fake world she has created for herself. Mansfield uses techniques such as interruption, exclamation points, and segments that flow in order to show the way Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to convey the point that Miss Brill is lonely no matter how much she tries to fit in.

Beginning with the very first sentence in the text, it is clear that the short story is filled with interruption which is used to show how Miss Brill’s mind works. Through the use of dashes, the narrator inserts bits of information that add to the story and show what Miss Brill is thinking about on a particular subject. When talking about Miss Brill at the park, the narrator says that, “when she breathed, something light and sad- no, not sad, exactly-something gentle seemed to move into her bosom.” The use of interruption shows how the mind works, particularly Miss Brill’s mind when contemplating her true emotions. Not only does this passage show how Miss Brill is beginning to feel but it also foreshadows more sadness that comes later in the story. When the narrator is describing the band, he says, “that what they played was warm, sunny, yet there was just a faint chill- a something, what was it?- not sadness- no, not sadness, a something that made you want to sing.” Even though Miss Brill is surrounded with people and music, lingering behind all of that is something that keeps her from being completely content. As the members of the company gather to sing, it is clear that Miss Brill is very emotional as the narrator says, “Yes, we understand, we understand, she thought- though what they understood she didn’t know.” Miss Brill wanted to fit in with the crowd and to be accepted by them but where they really accepting her, or were they just understanding her desire to not feel lonely but to feel connected to them?

Another technique used to convey Miss Brill’s inner thoughts is the use of exclamation points and question marks. Most often than not, when there symbols are used, they signify a thought on Miss Brill’s part. A perfect example of this is when Miss Brill is looking at the band and thinks, “Wasn’t the conductor wearing a new coat, too?” In this passage and in many others, Miss Brill pays close attention to what the other people in the park are wearing. She mainly criticizes others with an air of arrogance as if she were better than most of them. Towards the end of the story, however, the reader finds out that Miss Brill is far from the wealthy upper-class woman she either portrays or would like to be. While sitting and people-watching in the park, Miss Brill looks at some people and feels that they are,” odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just some from dark little rooms or even- even cupboards!” This passage is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Miss Brill criticizes others for looking old when later on in the text, she is referred to as a “silly old thing” with an “old mug”. Second, Miss Brill looks down upon the possible living conditions of the other people in the park when in the end she goes home to “ a little dark room- her room like a cupboard.” Third, the exclamation point is symbolic of the way the human mind works; sometimes one searches for the right word when suddenly it comes to mind like a light bulb going off.

The flow of the words in the text also help show stream of consciousness as the narrator tries to convey Miss Brill’s thoughts and as the author tries to demonstrate how Miss Brill could be lonely while being surrounded by people in the park. One example of this flow is when Miss Brill is watching a couple in the park and the narrator says, “Oh she (the young lady) was pleased to see him-delighted! She rather thought they were going to meet that afternoon. She described where she’d been- everywhere, here, there, along by the sea. They day was so charming- didn’t he agree?” Not only does the text rhyme, but it also has a soft and tranquil flow; like that which a person in love might feel. As Miss Brill continues to watch the people in the park, her thoughts are expressed as the narrator writes, “Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she enjoyed sitting here watching it all!” In the first quote, the reader can feel that tranquil feeling Miss Brill gets as she watched the two lovers and in the second quote the audience can sense Miss Brill’s excitement to be people-watching. More important than showing her feelings, these two passages symbolize how needy and lonely Miss Brill truly is. She gets her pleasure not from talking to others but simply from watching them, which alludes to her loneliness. The fact that she criticizes some of them shows that she feels (or wants to feel) in the same place as the wealthier and more upper class people in the park.

In conclusion, Mansfield’s narrator uses stream of consciousness to let the audience in on
Miss Brill’s inner thoughts. Mansfield uses interruption, questions, exclamations, and a different types of flow to show how Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to demonstrate how lonely and needy she is. In the last sentence of the story, Mansfield writes, “But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.” This line demonstrates not only that Miss Brill finally understands that she is lonely but that she is finally accepting it and will stop trying to portray someone she is not. Ultimately, this alludes to a bigger idea that sometimes people have a need to feel connected to and accepted in society, only to realize that they may not be and having to face it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Remains of the Day III

Wow! so much to say.. so let's see if I can remember it all...

Well, to start off I must admit that this was my least favorite of the three novels. (100 Years of Solitude being number 1 [yay!] and Things Fall Apart being number two [slightly quieter yay])

Although I was not all that fond of the novel I should, however, point out its positives. I definitely enjoyed Stevens' cold and reserved tone throughout the novel. No matter what was going on, he seemed to keep this cool demeanor at all times. I also enjoyed the ending. Like many of you have already mentioned, The Remains of the Day doesn't have this "lived happily ever after" wrapped up ending. Instead, it is realistic in the sense that sometimes life 'just is'. Instead of always looking back at the past, "You've got to enjoy yourself. The evening's the best part of the day. You've don't your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it. That's how I look at it. Ask anybody, they'll all tell you. The evening is the best part of the day," (244). The way I see it, no matter how terrible your day may have been, what matters is what "Remains of the Day."

Another comment I wanted to make was that I totally agree with Mary in that this entire novel is an excellent example of the first chapter of How To Read Literature Like A Professor. Stevens not only takes a literal trip through England, but he also takes a journey. Stevens is the quester, the place to go is Miss Kenton's home, the reason to go is to see Miss Kenton, the challenges along the way are his car breaking down,getting lost, and just being stuck in the past, and finally the real reason for him traveling was to have his doubts answered or at least cleared up.

As many of you have already done, I also need to comment on the encounter between Miss Kenton and Stevens. It was clear that there was definitely some sort of tension between the two characters (old issues, old memories, attraction, regrets, etc.) When Stevens thought back and remembered Miss Kenton mentioning the marriage, I believe she did so not to make small talk but to bring up a response. I think deep down inside there must have been some sort of attraction between them (otherwise why would his actions and comments bother her and why would her image be such a prominent part of his memory?) Even thought it seems like they both wanted each other but never could say it, I doubt that relationship could have ever worked out. Don't ask me why, it's just a 6th sense I have.

The Remains of the Day II

Howdy..yes computer access at last!!

Well to start off I have to be honest in saying that this story is moving along quite slowly for me. I understand that the main point of Stevens' journey is to think back on his past but I would like to know more about what he is doing at the moment. Why is it that he is so troubled by his past that he cannot enjoy the present? Could it be that Stevens feels guilty for having served Lord Darlington...(after all, not stopping someone from doing something bad makes you just as much at fault as if you had done the action yourself). Maybe I have to keep reading further.

A few of you already mentioned this, but I also thought it was "interesting" how Stevens denied having worked for Lord Darlington. At first I was confused as to what was going on but then as I read further I realized it. If Stevens is all about "dignity" and pride in being a butler, then he should not have hidden the fact that he had worked for Lord Darlington.

Another thing that I have noticed (along with many of you) is that Stevens' character is unchanging. He continues to bottle up his emotions and even his employer, Mr. Farraday, has taken notice, such as in page 125.

One passage that really caught my eye was that on page 139. Stevens starts off the paragraph by saying, "But perhaps one should not be looking to the past so much." It is ironic that Stevens would say such a thing because throughout the entire novel, he dwells on what was rather than on what is. I think that maybe he is realizing something about his character and how the issues of the past or not letting him fully move on to the future.

One final part I wanted to comment on was when Stevens met up with some people in the village during his journey. Stevens was confused for a gentleman when in fact he is merely a butler. Why does Stevens not clarify the misconception? Is it because he would be ashamed if the people found out about his occupation? And if so, doesn't that completely contradict his entire "I take pride in being a butler" attitude?

The Remains of the Day I

Howdy everyone!

To start off I'd like to agree with some of you that this book is read much quicker than the other two. When I compare the narrator's voice to that of the narrators of the otehr two novels, I find that this narrator, Stevens, sounds a lot more cold and straighforward. In One Hundred Years Of Solitude the narrator would be so expressive and almost romantic in his way of describing characters and situations. I am not saying that this story isn't descriptive, in fact, I do have a clear picture of the characters and the situations. In response to Courtney's question, I don't think it is the most descriptive of the novel we read, but it is descriptive in its own cold and removed way.

Someone already mentioned (I think it was Kevin) that Stevens' tone comes from being English. Well it is true that the English are notorious for being more reserved and less able to express their emotions but I am not sure that is exactly the reason for Stevens' behavior. Moving on to Emily's question (mad props emily, that was a sick question) I think that Stevens' lack of social ability is due to his preoccupation with his job. Stevens' is so obesssed with being "a great butler" that he rambles on about dignity and devotes all of himself to his job. He is so socially awkard that eventually Miss Kenton wants as little to do with him as possible and only communicates to him through a messenger or notes.

As everyone else has already mentioned, Stevens has an interesting way of speaking. Some of you are not fans of Stevens but I definitly am. I love his need to be so proper with his comples sentences and I also love how the man has a drifting mind. He starts off telling us about a trip somewhere then goes off on a tangent about his father being a great butler, and in the end goes back to his trip. I have a friend (no names) who can't stay focused on one story and I kind of like that about Stevens.

There is something, however that I do not like about the character. I understand that Stevens needs to remain focused on keeping things in order during the conference, but it just bothers me how he shows no emotions towards his dying father. As shown on page 97 and other pages, Stevens' father tries to say his goodbyes to his son and Stevens pays little attention. Instead he seems to deal with the situation by avoiding it. Another passage that upset me a bit was on page 106 where Stevens' father dies and it seems like Miss Kenton is more affected by it that Stevens himself. In fact, Stevens continues to tend to the guests while Miss Kenton shuts the eyes of Stevens Senior. Stevens mentions that he remains calm and focused on his job to make his father proud but I am sure everyone would understand if he stopped to tend to his father for a while.

I understand that to Stevens dignity and being a great butler are important but to me, loyalty to family are a lot more important. I'd rather be a good son than a good butler any day. Family comes first.

One Hundred Years Of Solitude III

WOW!!! I finally have access to a computer. I finished ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE a few days ago and have been trying to remember everything I had to say so that i could type it now.

Well to start off I absolutley loved the book. Yes, it was long and at times confusing with all the characters' names, but I have to admit that I was glued to the novel. Marquez has this way of being so descriptive that the reader can easily imagine everything he or she is reading. Throughout the novel I often forgot that it was fiction and I becaame so engrossed in the lives of the characters.

Moving on to the topic of the banana company that otehrs talked about already: First off, I thought it was just another example of how outside forces slowly destroyed the town of Macondo. The banana company reminded me of the Dutch men who went into Africa during the age of Imperialism and made the natives pick rubber. The men would be overworked and underpayed and very often beaten for not meeting the day's quota. In the case of the novel, the situation was not so severe, but I just tied the two things together (because I'm a history geek). Another point I wanted to mention about that part of the book was when the massacre occured. How could it be that no one recalled the event? Only the one boy who was on Jose Arcadio Segundo's shoulders and Jose Arcadio Segundo himself rememeber that the guns went off and all the workers and their families were killed. From pages 302- 310, Marquez writes about the event and Jose Arcadio Segundo waking up in a train-car filled with the bodies of the 3000 dead people. Pages 306-307 remind me of stories of the Holocaust in which Jewish families were packed into train-cars and transported to camps or in the movie Hotel Rwanda where the dead bodies were being tossed into massive graves. How is it that the government got the people of Macondo to believe that the massacre never happened???

I also wanted to add on to what Mary already mentioned about how much the story changed from the beginning to the end. In the beginning Macondo was so alive with the people building thier new homes and starting new lives. I would easily ;picture the colorful houses and all the green around the town. By the end the town was so depressing and i picture it being all browna and dried out. In the beginning the Buendia family was growing with the town and by the end its lineage died just as life in the town was dying as well.

I wanted to bring attention to a passage in which Aureliano went crying and seeking help to Pilar Ternera because he was in love with Amaranta Ursula. Pilar asked the girl's name and "When Aureliano told her, Pilar Ternera let out a deep laugh, the old expansive laugh that ended up as a cooing of doves. There was no mystery in the heart of a Buendia that was impenetrable for her because a century of cards and experience had taught her that the history of the family was a machine with unavoidable repetitions, a turning wheel that would have gone on spilling into eternity were it not for the progressive and irremediable wearing of the axel," (396). In this passage Marquez does an excellent job of describing the legacy of the Buendia family and how their fates keep repeating. The image of the axel wearing out is an allusion as to the end of the Buendia family.

One final thing I wanted to comment on was the end of the novel. By the very end Melquiades' papers were revealed and they said that, "The first of the line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by the ants," (413). I found it sort of magical how Melquides pretty much new everything all along. He new the fate of the Buendia family and it was interesting how Jose Arcadio Buendia died at the tree and how Aureliano died being eaten by ants. It made me think about fate and destiny and about how much in life we can control and how much is already layed out for us. As much as the characters tried to do their own thing and follow different paths, they all had the Buendia fate which made them all alike.

Oh yes, one last thing (I promise). What does Marquez mean by, "races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth," (417)? Its such a poetic way of ending the novel (with the title in it) but what exactly is meant by it?

One Hundred Years Of Solitude II

I agree with everyone that Marquez uses repetition a lot throughout the novel. Not only does he repeat phrases such as "As he faced the firing squad", but he also repeats the names of the characters and their fates. I also noticed, as mary and nessa said, that the twins Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcadio Segundo both have the fates of their opposite ancestors. Aureliano Segundo is the one who has a wife and a concubine. He throws lavish parties for everyone and lives in excess just as Jose Arcadio had when he came back from traveling the world. Jose Arcadio Segundo, on the other hand, is more solitary and incapable of having emotions, just like Colonel Aureliano Buendia.

Vallygirl's comment about the need for affection is very interesting. I had not noticed how all the men, at one point need the affection of a woman. They fall in love and try to persue women to be their wives. Aureliano Segundo traveled far just to bring Fernnda del Carpio back home with him. Also, meny men have fallen victim to Remedios the Beauty's attraction. The women, however, seem to be a lot stronger. They withstand the wooing of so many men and most of the time end up raising their children and maintaining the household. Ursula seems to be like a strong force that through all the mayhem in her "madhouse" and in the town of Macondo, she managed to keep her composure. As Mary already said, Ursula got keener and saw more in depth, the older and blinder she got. It was ironic that she had the ability to really see and understand her children only when she was blind. One of my favorite passages so far is the one that begins, "She was sure of it..." on page 248 and ends with "Ursula had wanted for her line," on page 25. In this passage the reader gets a different perspective of all that has happebend and how times have changed from one of the oldest members of Macondo.

Within the passage I mentioned, my question was answered as to why Amaranta was so stubborn with love. It was, "a mortal struggle between a measureless love and an invincible cowardice...and an irrational fear" (249). I had predicted that it was pride or fear, so i guess I was half correct.

Another thought I had as I read this second part of the novel, was athat if there was going to be a climax. The story has so many ups and downs and characters but what i have not notuced was a clear plot. The way i see it, it just tells of the lives of the Buendia family and the town of Macondo. Maybe in the third part I will get what I am looking for, although I am not complaining about how the story is going so far.

One final thought is about the title itself, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. In the veru beginning of the novel i thoguth that maybe it would be about how the town of Macondo was secluded for others for one hundred years, but then the gypsies came and then the gringos, so my theory was wrong. Later on I thought that maybe the solitude refered to Ursula, who has lived over 100 years. It could very well be that Ursula will eventually be the only living person who was there when Macondo was founded and will be alone in being the only one who remembered how everything used to be.

Any ideas as to what the title means? I'd love to find out what others think.

One Hundred Years Of Solitude I

Cynthia here.

Thank you Mary for pretty much thinking the same things I do about this novel so far. I also really enjoy this book. I find myself just reading and completely submersing myself in the lives of the people of Macondo.

To start off, i find it interesting how Marquez jumps around from idea to idea, as a few people pointed out already. In one paragraph he will write about how Rebeca and Jose Arcadio had sex and in the next he will write about the war that is going on.

I agree with Mary that there is definitly a lot of sexual tension in this novel. So many of the family members are intertwined in odd ways. Ursula and Jose Arcadio Buendia are distant cousins, Jose Arcadio married his almost-sister Rebeca, and both Jose Arcadio and his brother had sons by the same woman (Pilar Ternera).

In reguards to Amaranta refusing to marry Pietro Crespi and Gerineldo Marquez, I think that it has something to do with pride. Amaranta was certainly attracted to both men and was madly (no pun intended) in love with Pietro. Amaranta was willing to kill Rebeca for Pietro and once she could have him, she did not want him anymore. I guess I might be able to understand why Amaranta is this way because I can also be stubborn and proud sometimes, but Amaranta forces it, as some would say. She would take it to the point where she would make herself sick (throwing up, fevers).

Another thing I thought about while reading this novel was about the type of community that Macondo was. As some of you already mentioned, it seemed like a kind of utopia for a while. All the people of the town worked together to establish it under the guidance of Jose Aracadio Buendia. There was no government, no need for police or anything of the sort beacuse the people just naturally worked well together. That is, until Melquiades arrived with the gypsies. With the arrival of new technology, the town of Mcaondo began to modernize itself and almost become corrupt. The people had lived fine with their old ways and suddnely with new technology not only did the Buendia family suffer (because of Jose Arcadio Buendia's obsessions) but the town also changed. Soon there was the town leader Don Apolinar Moscote and the town priest, Father Nicanor.

As the twon began to evolve a war broke out. I must admit that I am still confused about exactly what was going on with the war. I understand that Aureliano became a Colonel and that he was a Liberal. His father-in-law was a conservative. it was a civil war of some sorts but I am still not sure aboutthe specifics. (So if anyone can clarify that for me, that would be greatly appreciated).

I also wanted to comment on the repetition of the line "as he faced the firing squad". That was how the novel began and it was used throughout when talking about Aureliano and eventually about Arcadio as well. This line shows how the novel difnitly does nto go in order. It jumps around from time period to time period as it will focus on just one character for a while (completely ignoring the lives of the rest) and then moving on to the next character in the same fashion.

Things Fall Apart III

Hello there!

Well there is much to respond to. To start off i just had to say that i found the ending to be very surprising. Never would I have imagined that Okonkwo would have taken his own life. Although Okonkwo's action is surprising and definitly out of character, as many of you have noticed, it does go along with the theme of irony that has been going on throughout the novel. The one man who was so insistant on keeping traditions, being a man, and holding a title within the clan, was the same man who ended up taking his own life as seen in page 207.

I never thought Okonkwo would have hung himself and instead I thought he might die battling the white men. My favorite part in this third part is when Obierika and the other clansmen lead the white men to where Okonkwo had killed himself. The entire time Obierika remained calm as he explained to the white man that he would need assistance in taking Okonkwo's body down. Obierika made sure to let the white man know that " that man was one the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog." (208). Those few wrods wre so simple and yet they were so loaded with emotion. I could practically imagine Obierika's stoic face as he said the words but at the same same time a sad intensity in his eyes.

As other people have already commented, it is obvious in this third part why the book is entitled "Things Fall Apart". It is ironic that after having waited so anxiuously to return to Umuofia, Okonkwo came back home ot find it succumbing to the pressure of the white men and their religion. This leads me to think about whta would have happened if Okonkwo had stayed in the clan. Would he have been able to stop the influence of Christianity from spreading? Or would he have just been powerless to the influence like the other men in the clan?

One final thought that I wanted to mention was how in the very end the District Commissioner mentioned that he would write about Okonkwo's death in the novel he was planning on writing. It is interesting how he would not even dedicate a chapter to Okonkwo's death due to the white men taking over and yet here we are reading an entire novel about htis one man's life. Does anyone find it interesting how ironic it is? By having made that commen the D.C. was just showing how insignificant the lives of the tribe's people really were to the missionaries. All of this says something about perspective...but I'm not excatly sure what. Help anyone?

Things Fall Apart II

Hello, Cynthia here!

Well to start off i would definitly agree that irony is a reacurring theme throughout part II of Things Fall Apart. With everything that happened to Okonkwo, it seems that no matter how hard he tries, the man cannot catch a break.

Okonkwo had to go off to live at his motherland because he accidently killed a dead clansman's son. The same man who followed the clan's rules, was now a victim of its weird policies. Had the murder been intentional, the outcome would have been different. As if having to flee Umuofia was not bad enough, a few years after being in his motherland, Okonkwo and the Mbanta tribe had to deal with the arrival of the "white men". The whit men were missionaries determined to convert everyone to Christianity. To top it all off, they managed to convert Nwoye which led to Okonkwo disowning him. In Okonkwo's eyes his son was weak, as weak as his father who amounted to nothing and held no titles at the time of his death. The irony comes in the fact that Okonkwo worked so hard to have a better future than his father and in the end his own children were showing the same characteristics as his father. This way of thinking on Okonkwo's part was beautifully illustrated by Achebe on pages 152 and 153.

Going back to a previous comment, I also found it interesting how quickly time passed while Okonkwo and his family were in Mbanta. With each chapter another year would pass and things would change drastically. Okonkwo even had new children.

Moving on to another idea, i could not help but think back to history class as I read this part of the novel. The whole part about the "white men" coming just remind me of imperialism and missionary work. I found it every interesting how the two religions clashed as the tribe's people and the "white men" interacted. The beliefs of the two groups were so vastly different causing many problems. Some of the tribe's people began to see that maybe their beliefs and customs (such as killing twin children) were probably barbaric and not exactly correct.

Although I do not agree with many of the tribe's customs, I still did not like the fact that they were being converted to Christianity beacuse each person should maintain their roots and own beliefs.

I am very excited to find out how the story ends in the third part of the novel.

Things Fall Apart I

Hello, Cynthia here!
Matt, Matt, Matt...I could not agree more with your comments about this part of Things Fall Apart! I have also noticed the huge difference between the way men and women are treated within Umuofia and the surrounding villages. As much as i despice the mistreatment of women and children, sadly that is still the case in many places around the world.

One thing i noticed that really bothered me was that a man with no title in the community was called an "agbala", which is another word for woman. This use of the word implies that women are seen as inferior to men. Another thing I noticed was that the only reason Okonkwo was reprimanded for shooting at his wife was because it was the "Week of Peace". Had it been any other week, it would have been fine for Okonkwo to have beaten his wife.

A few times throughout the reading, Okonkwo has said that he wishes that Ezinma was a man. Okonkwo has aknowledged his daughter's intelligence and skills but is not proud of her or cannot show his pride beacuse she is a female. As a feminist, it does bother me a bit whenever I read about the way women are treated (ie. having to share a husband, basically being sold off to a suitor who gives enough palm wine, being beaten by the husand, and overall just having to be submissive).

In response to your question about how we feel about Okonkwo, I must admit that it's a difficult one to answer.

Okonkwo may be mean, cold-hearted stubborn, and at times too proud, but you have to aknowledge the fact that this is a man who started off at the bottom beacuse of his father's laziness, and managed to work his way to the top. He is simply an ambitious man who only wanted to create a better life for his family that he never had when his father was around. The man may be mean, but he does care for his children, as clearly seen in the scene where Ezinma was taken away by Chielo to see the Oracles of the Hills and Caves. Okonkwo was worried about his daughter and did not want to show it but in the end went to the cave to look out for her and Ekwefi. On page 112( the 5th paragraph) it is obvious how much Okonkwo does care about his children.

As for how he could do certain things such as go ahead and kill Ikemefuna: it may seem cold-hearted and barbaric, but we need to understand that these customs are all part of the Umuofian tradition. Okonkwo did not want to kill his step-son but had to in order to keep with customs and retain his title within the community.

Towards the end of the first part I definitly sympathized with Okonkwo's character because he had not meant to kill Ezeudu's son, but still had to flee the community with his family. Overall, Okonkwo may not be the best man in terms of compasiona nd heart, but his strength and determination overshadow that (at least in my opinion).