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).