Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reflective Essay

At the beginning of my senior year in high school I was sort of nervous, but excited at the same time. I was going into an honors English class, and I knew that it was going to be a very challenging course for me. I started off the year comparing some of my work with my classmates’ work, and I realized that if I wanted to improve my writing I was going to work harder.

We started reading books and writing essays and analyzing the text, and I felt like I was not going to do as well in the class just because it was hard for me. But nothing is impossible, and the year went by, my writing has notably improved. I can truly say this course and Mr. G. have helped me improve, not only my writing, but also my self- confidence.

By reading different types of books throughout the year, and by having all those class discussion, I have learned not only from my teacher, but also from my classmates. Now I am more opened minded, and I have different points of view toward different subjects in literature. I remember reading Memoirs of a geisha, and not agreeing to some of the parts of the book, and that was when I realized that there are not wrong answer when giving out you point of view about things. I really liked that book, and I was amazed by how quickly I read it. When it was time to give the book back, I had already finished it days before.

I also improved my reading skills. I now read, and actually think about what I am reading. I feel like I like to read more, and I am not afraid of taking a book and thinking that the book is to hard for me to read, because now I feel that I have skills that I did not have before, like know how to analyze the text a little bit better, which before I was very bad at.

I can honestly say that now looking back at one of the first essays that I wrote at the beginning of the year, and comparing it to one of the last ones I wrote, I get really amazed by how much my writing has improved. I would have never thought that I could write an eight page paper about a book, which even though for some people eight pages might not mean too much, for me was a challenge. I remember staying up until late reading over and over my James Joyce paper about Stephen’s guilty conscience, and even though is not an A+ paper, I felt proud of myself. I dedicated time to the essay, and I tried my best to try to analyze it the best I could, and I even realized that I had points of view about different subjects and things that I never thought of before.

I am very glad that I took this course, and even though it was challenging for me, I realize how much it helped me and how better my writing is now. I really thank Mr. G. for being a great teacher, and I know that he knows that this course, even though challenging, improved my writing a lot.

A prayer for Owen Meany test.

In the chapter “The Finger,” Irving bases the chapter with events that happen after Johnny cuts his finger. In the beginning of the book, when Owen brings back the armadillo to Johnny, after he has killed Johnny’s mom, the armadillo is missing a part of his body. Irving writes, “But my greatest indignation was to follow: missing from the armadillo were the little animal’s front claws…” (85). Johnny gets very mad when he sees that the armadillo does not look the same without his claws. Johnny does not understand why Owen has done this, but Dan tells him, “Don’t you see, Johnny? If he could, he would cut off his hands for you- that’s how it makes him feel, to have touched that baseball bat… It’s how we all feel… We’ve lost a part of ourselves” (86). Owen would do anything for Johnny and Johnny knows that. Owen trusted him a lot, and Johnny says that Owen has given him more that Owen has taken away from him (considering that he took him mom’s life).

Owen demonstrates how much he loves Johnny and how he thinks that he has been sent from God to the Earth to save Johnny and make him a son of God too. “‘I LOVE YOU,’ Owen told me. ‘NOTHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU- TRUST ME’” (509). Owen here expresses himself as a father caring for his son. When Johnny is bleeding from his finger, Owen is there to take care of him, like he has always done. I think that the meaning of the title is that, even though many things have happen between Owen and Johnny, at last Johnny has gained much more than he has lost. It did not matter if it was his finger or his hand, it didn’t matter what he could lose anymore because Owen had given him the faith and had brought him to the light.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Red Shift (fill in the blank) Poem.

Here I am at an unknown place, trapped in this frame
The air is burning inside my lungs,
On the way to fly to streetscape
I drink some red and thick liquid which pours
And runs down to have to go on and to get
In. The streets look for you or me. My heart
Can't take it anymore. It's
It, no more than that. Don't count on me. I go through it.
Them. As
The ground itself sipped on the rain now
And millions of years almost ago. And the man looking
In amazement and wonder, sharing. & telling.
Who would have thought that I'd be her. Nothing
To laugh at and. Everything
To mourn for. What have you done? Where
Has he disappear into?
Up in the blue sky I see it, see you. now
More than ever before?
Not that I miss him. not in those coat
Eyes penetrating with such intensity
& what in them. Not that kid. Fourteen. Who was
Going to have to go. Careening into the darkness so.
To look. & to discover things he would had never imagine
So to go. Not that man who from the very first meeting
I would never and never could had got
Into the treasure it was & so demanded
To discover & who will never leave me. Not for love. Nor for fear
Nor even for the greatest prize which is
Only our human lot & means everything. No. Not me.
There's a song 'When you're gone'. But no. I won't do that
I am 13. when will I die? I will never die. I will live
To be 112. & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
Who am always & only a cry. Despite this lonely. Spirit
Who lives only to remember.
I'm only flesh. & I am alive. & I didn't do it
Someone else did.
I came into you life to help you come out from there
But you didn't take it
So now & forever. That's your fate. Nevertheless
I will always remember that day
The world's eyes are on you, and only you can take them away.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2.

Act 1, Scene 2: Lines 71-80 + 87-92.

Queen: … Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know’st ‘tis common, all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Hamlet: Ay, madam, it is common.
Queen: If it be, Why seems it so particular with thee?
Hamlet: Seems, madam? Nay, it is, I know not “seems.”
‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, [good] mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
King: ‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever.

The queen talks like she does not even care about her husband’s death. She is telling him that it is normal and that it happens. Hamlet does not have another option but to say that it is all right. Then the queen asks why if he thinks that it is normal then why is he acting like that; why is he so sad?
Claudius instead tells him that it is so sweet. Sort of calling him a girl for crying over his dad’s death and for having feelings. And that everyone at some point losses a father and that’s normal. Claudius sounds like he has no feelings.

The Plum Plum Pickers.

In “The Plum Plum Pickers,” Raymond Barrio uses symbols and imagery to develop his story. Living in a foreign country is hard, but working in a foreign country under the orders of someone who even though shares someone else’s background and still treats his own people like they are servants, steals their food and only care about his own well-being is not worthy of deserving the title of human being. In this story of human suffering, Manuel Gutierrez stands up and fights to defend his rights as a human being and worker, not mattering that he had to pay for his undisciplined behavior after, because what he had done left a sense of pride that would give him strength to take what was coming next.

Repeating the same words and creating sentences that are one word long create a sense of tiredness and discomfort while it shows how the time at this point is passing by very slowly. On the setting of the story, Barrio starts describing a man who “stopped and walked to the farthest end of the first row for some water, raised the dented dipper from the brute tank, drank the holy water in great brute gulps so he wouldn’t have to savor its tastelessness, letting it spill down his torn shirt to cool his exhausted body…” (1). This description of Manuel makes him look like he is a prisoner, a type of machine that is already programmed to do what it is asked to without being able to show what its necessaries are. Barrio uses imagery to describe Manuel as an animal or machine who is used to follow orders and feels less valuable than others. Manuel shows this while saying, “Please to meetcha” (1).

After having lunch and regaining strength, the day should go on smoothly, but for Manuel there was not an advantage. Roberto Morales, the one in charge of the worker, “a real robber,” as his name suggests it, does not care about his own people even though “he grew up with them,” and “he’d suffered all the sordid deprivations with them.” Roberto does not only steal the workers’ money everyday after work, but he also steals the workers’ pride because they cannot complain or speak up and Manuel has “to force himself not to answer” every time he listens to Roberto saying how “there was a miscalculation” with his “smiling” face and “palms up.”

Even for the most patient person, there comes the time when nothing more can be hold back. Manuel felt that he had to do something to defend himself against Roberto. He felt he had to defend his honor and pride, so he exploded and heard himself say, “you promised to take nothing!” By using imagery, Barrio describes the two men “reaching for each other jugular,” like they were two animals fighting to defend their territory. Even though Manuel knew Roberto had the advantage because Roberto was more “powerful,” he did not let this intimidate him, and in a last effort to defend his pride as a human being, “Manuel lifted his foot and clumsily tipped over his own last bucket of cots. They rolled away in all directions around everyone’s feet” (2). Manuel did not want to continue being treated like an animal, instead he opted for defending his honor by showing Roberto that at last Manuel did have a voice and that he wanted to be heard. “He would have to pay for this, for his defiance, somehow, again, later. But he had shown defiance… and he had earned respect for his fellow slaves” (2). That was exactly how Manuel felt, like a slave, but for once in his life he had been able to defend his honor.

Barrio uses imagery and allusion to develop the purpose of the story. He does not let Manuel die without defending his honor and show how a human being should be treated, with respect. It could also be seen as Barrio giving life to Manuel because if men do not experience what pride is, “they were dead before they died.”

Stephen's Guilty Conscience in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce creates meaning through Stephen’s guilty conscience, which influenced by the diverse mother figures throughout the novel, make him feel guilty and unable to maintain a healthy and independent relationship with any woman. Stephen’s mother brings him to the world and protects him. With all this protection Stephen gets used to being treated in a sensible and understandable way. Dante, a feverous catholic believer, influences Stephen’s beliefs about the church, which will after convert into the reason of Stephen’s guilt. And the Catholic Virgin Mary which Stephen looks up at and sees his mom reflected on, she is also the one he goes back to after he has sinned.

After Stephen turns to a certain age, his mother starts to let go of him, and starts teaching him morals. At the beginning of the book after Stephen does something wrong “his mother said: ‘O, Stephen will apologise’” (Joyce 21). Stephen sees this as a maternal threat, perhaps the first one, and wonders how the same person that had been “a powerful and beneficent source of physical pleasure” (Henke 318), could now be the one “responsible for introducing him to a hostile external world” (Henke 318), where Stephen will have to learn how to face the consequences of his acts.

At this starting point of the novel where Stephen is just a little kid, he starts to develop, “established by Oedipus,… the idea of castration” (Brivic 281). This idea refers to the loss of eyes in Stephen, which represent the image the kid had of his mother before she forces him to apologize, and also the image that Stephen has of his mother after she becomes the source of embarrassment.

Stephen feels protected by his mother and feels that nobody can break the force of protection that surrounds him and that has been placed there by his mom, but certainly his own mother is the one that makes Stephen lose his old eyes, the eyes that viewed the mother as a loving and sensible person, and it is the same mother who makes him feel ashamed when he has to apologize in front of everyone at the house.

Stephen’s “‘Eagle epiphany’” (Brivic 281) makes him realized that the time for him to let go of his mother’s lap has come. It is now time for Stephen to go out for college and live there with the other boys, who even though are Stephen’s same age, seem to experience freedom away from their parents. While the other boys enjoy their stay at the college away from home, Stephen continues to mourn and misses his mother. In order to consulate himself Stephen creates an imaginary mom who he starts kissing every night before going to bed as he used to do when he was back at home.

Wells is now the source of embarrassment and guilt of Stephen who in front of the other kids asks him “Dedalus, do you kiss your mother every night before you go to bed?” (Joyce 26). “Reminded of his guilt, Stephen is reduced to importance and ‘does not dare to raise his eyes’ (Joyce 27)…” (Brivic 282-283). Stephen is now alone in the college and does not know how to protect himself, and this is the main reason for his creating an imaginary mother who he can kiss and feel close to him. Stephen feels a paternal threat when Wells laughs at him and Stephen feels less man than Wells and that is why he “does not dare to raise his eyes” (Joyce 27) to look at the boys’ faces.

While being at the college by himself, Stephen looks for the maternal warmth that he misses. He does not know where to find it, and he starts looking for it in prostitutes. The first time Stephen sleeps with a prostitute he starts:
… feeling the warm calm rise and fall of her breast, [and bursts] into hysterical weeping. Tears of joy and of relief shone in his delighted eyes and his lips parted though they would not speak. ‘Give me a kiss, she said.’ His lips would not bend to kiss her. He wanted to be held firmly in her arms, to be caressed slowly, slowly, slowly. In her arms he felt that he had suddenly become strong and fearless and sure of himself. But his lips would not bend to kiss her. (Joyce 99)

Stephen is inexperience and tries to find the warmth and comfort of his mother’s lap in a prostitute. He lets himself fall into the arms of this woman and that is when his torment starts. After this, Stephen starts condemning himself, and this is when everything he had heard Dante said and everything he believes and hears at church start making him feel shameful and as a sinner. The fact that he has transgressed his purity and the laws of the church start building up this feeling of guilt in his conscience for he has sinned and God did not like sinners.

At this point in the novel is when Stephen starts identifying himself and, “dreams of himself as Edmond Dantes, he identifies himself with a man betrayed by his friends and his mistress, unjustly exiled and imprisoned” (Henke 322). After Stephen sleeps with the prostitute, he feels guilty and does not dare to pray to God or to go back to church. In some way he feels betrayed by everyone for not understanding him. If he said a word to anyone, they would laugh at him again, like Wells and the other kids did when he was at the college. They would not let understand his necessities, either would they face him, instead they would all give their backs to him and take him to exile in the society.

He could not trust anyone, either could he go back to church because he was guilty and God would accuse him of sin. If Dante knew about his sin, she would make him feel like the worst of the men for letting sin get into his life, for Dante was a woman who could not tolerate sin or anything that would go against the church.

Stephen feels imprisoned because of his sin. The sin has put him against God, and only confession can take him back into the right path. But as he achieves contact with the mother through prostitution in the third chapter, the paternal threat arises, and soon Stephen feels himself pierced by the phallic force of the words of Father Arnall: ‘The preacher’s knife had probed deeply into his diseased conscience…’ (P 110); ‘The thought slid like a cold shining rapier into his tender flesh: confession’ (P199). As he wandered then in search of a prostitute, Stephen now wanders in search of a confessional, and he seeks the sheltering arms of the Virgin whose name is that of his mother. (Brivic 288).

After thinking about Father’s Arnall words, Stephen feels the need of running to the church and confesses to the priest all he has done wrong. As he used to do when he was a little kid, Stephen runs to the arms of the mother. Now that he cannot go to the arms of his own mother, Stephen looks for the warmth on the Virgin’s Mary arms. He repents and “he beat his breast with his fist humbly, secretly under cover of the wooden armrest” (Joyce 132) while he waited for his turn to confess his sin to the priest. Stephen finds forgiveness at the church that day, but this is just the beginning of his life and experience with women.

Joyce used this imagery of the priest’s words as being a sword that seems to cut right through his conscience and at the very moment when he thinks about being with the prostitute, the words of the priest and everything that the church had taught him come to play and make Stephen feel corrupted. At this very moment is when Stephen realizes in what darkness he is and that the only way to get out of it is confessing.

Stephen has his first experience with this prostitute, and this is when he starts discovering how his life and relationships with women is going to be. He meets other women and he meets Emma. Stephen’s sexual desires take him to make Emma the “object of masturbatory fantasy” (Henke 317).
Henke describes Stephen’s thoughts and says:

As the ‘jeweleyed harlots’ of transgression dance before the boy’s fevered imagination, he feels horrified by the realization that he has besmirched the icon of his beloved Emma by making her the object of masturbatory fantasy: ‘The image of Emma appeared before him and, under her eyes, the flood of shame rushed forth anew from his heart. If she knew to what his mind had subjected her or how his brute like lust had torn and trampled upon her innocence! (Henke 326).

At this exact moment Stephen feels ashamed for what he had done to Emma. He feels ashamed for his bad thoughts and for putting Emma’s image into such an impure situation. Stephen is not just using Emma without her knowing it, but he is making her his slave; the slave of his sexual desires and of his misleading fantasies.

Even though Stephen starts using Emma as the “object of his masturbatory fantasy,” in his conscience the image of Emma is telling him that what he is doing is wrong. In some way she is controlling the situation because Stephen feels guilty about it. This does not convince Stephen. In other for him to feel satisfied, he needs to first feel that he is in charge of the situation and of the circumstance. This is when Stephen realizes that what he needs is a woman without any feelings or thoughts of self-consciousness.

Stephen has a very low self confidence. Since he was a little boy his mom gave him everything. At the realization of the need for the “perfect woman” Stephen creates this imaginary bird-girl who Henke says:
…is represented as a fantasized paradigm of psychic cohesion, the Other whose realistic fragmentation would threaten the poet’s idealized aesthetic project. Because this female icon remains as mute, fetishized, and perpetually mediated object of desire, her difference assures psychological stability to the speaking/seeing subject, the authorial I/eye who frames and appropriates her figure. (Henke 330).

Henke describes this bird-girl as being “mute”. The image of a woman being mute shows Stephen’s need of control. By obtaining this control Stephen feels that his world is not controlled by women, like it used to be when he was a boy. In other for Stephen to be free and become an artist as he wants, he needs to be at liberty from the maternal control that reigns over him. The only way of doing this is having control over the relationships that he has with any woman.
Henke also uses the words “perpetually mediated object of desire” to define the image of this bird-girl. Any sexual characteristics that Stephen dreams a woman having are display by this imaginary woman. Stephen lives in a world where he needs to fantasize in order to make any sense out of things and in order for him to feel comfortable and satisfied. This is why “her [the bird-girl’s] difference assures psychological stability to the speaking/seeing subject [Stephen]” (Henke 330).

In difference to, for example, Emma, this bird-girl gives confidence and control to Stephen over the situation. The bird-girl does not talk, does not feel or see anything that Stephen is putting her under. This refers not to Stephen himself, but to his conscience. By having the bird-girl Stephen’s conscience does not feel guilty because he is supposedly not doing anything wrong for the girl does not feel or see.

Stephen did not know how to act or what to do in occasions when his mom was not with him or when he was with a woman. This is why he can never have a stable relationship with any woman. He feels less man and he feels that everyone could be better than him. He creates this imaginary woman who is always ready to do what he wants, who is there to ask no questions either to see or speak, and to whom he can do whatever he wants. This is the only way Stephen can feel that he has the control over something.

All the feelings that Stephen has at this moment and the guilt he feels throughout the novel are caused by the religious education that he was given by his mom, by Dante, and by the church.
Both the Psychoanalytical criticism essay and the Feminist criticism essay prove the guilt and embarrassment that Stephen experiences throughout the novel. With the use of imagery, Joyce creates a character that is influenced religiously by several female figures (his mother, the church, Dante, and the Virgin Mary), and who throughout the novel needs to learn how to take control over situations in order for him to success. Stephen’s lack of confidence take him to do many things that he repents of doing, but at last his purpose for all he had done was to become an artist, and his acts and experiences become essential part of his writing.

Assigment- VIII, The Wedding Dance in the Open Air.

Dancing Happily in the Woods.

In the poem, “The Wedding Dance in the Open Air” by William Carlos Williams, the author describes a scene where a group of peasants dance outside in the woods and everyone seems to be happy. Neither the bride nor the groom are described specifically, but instead a whole group of people is shown as having fun and being merry while dancing. The author’s choice of words and description transmit a view of happiness while relating in the poem how a group of peasants, who even though are away from civilization, feel joyous and excited while they celebrate a wedding by dancing together as a single group around the tress, while treating each other equally. The author explains through the description of the scene in the poem that people can be happy and have a good time without having to spend great amounts of money. The peasants were enjoying their time “in holyday gear” (line 4), and “a riotously gay rabble of peasants” (line 5) were dancing around. Even though they were in a place away form society, these peasants didn’t need a lot of money or knowledge in order to have a good time. Everyone seemed to know each other and the author describes them as “gear,” which means a “complete assembly,” and as “gay rabble,” which means happy tumultuous crowd” to describe them as a group dancing all together. By describing the peasants as being all together and not singling out the bride or the groom in the poem, the author makes clear that there are not differences between this group of people, not even when they are having fun. The peasants “prance or go openly toward the wood’s” not caring about anything else by dance. By saying that they “go openly toward the woods” describes them as being away from civilization or society, and that is the reason why there are not differences between them. Instead of creating this barrier that society creates between humans, the peasants just enjoy themselves and treat each other as if they are all the same; there is not even discrimination for who is or who is not the ones who should be enjoying the dance. In conclusion the author’s purpose in the poem is to let the reader know how everyone can have fun together as this group of peasants is doing. Society does not play any role in this dance, and everyone has fun together. The place does not matter either, so the author tries to say that there is not excused for treating each other differently or not having fun.