Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where did the semester go?

Reflecting on this blogging experience is bitter sweet. I truly enjoyed doing these blog posts. They really helped me think about what we were reading in class, rather than just reading it for enjoyment. While I still greatly enjoyed everything we read, blogging about it helped me to think critically about my favorite works that we read. For example, I loved the Edith Wharton stories we read, I loved them so much  that I probably wouldn't have thought about them as critically if I wasn't required to do the blog post. I also really enjoyed hearing other people's comments on my posts. They really helped me to think about other perspectives that I may not have thought about before. Keeping a blog was like continuing the discussion from class, outside of class. I also enjoyed being able to bring up things that I may have been too shy to bring up in class or we simply did not have time to cover in class. The blog was also extremely helpful for paper writing. It kept my writing and analytical skills working throughout the semester and helped me throw around some ideas for the short papers. I am so glad I decided to do the blog post since it is what helped me come up with my topic for paper 2 and the extension of the paper for paper 4.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Disillusionment of the American Dream

While reading Winter Dreams, I was thinking about Dexter's pursuit of the American Dream and the eventual disillusionment of that dream. At the beginning of part II, Fitzgerald says that, “Often he (Dexter) reached out for the best without knowing why he wanted it.” I think that the idea of the American Dream was deeply engrained in Dexter’s mind. Coming from a middle class background but seeing all of the wealthy people around him at work made him long for riches even more. A combination of the American Dream and his surroundings made Dexter want more in his life. While Dexter does obtain riches and does better for himself, his dream is still not fulfilled. Judy Jones seemed to be a symbol of the unattainability of the American Dream. She starts out as a great beauty and ends as “all right.” Devlin says “’Lots of women fade just like that,’ Devlin snapped his fingers” (Fitzgerald). Just as beauty fades in the blink of an eye, the beautiful things that one acquires fade as well. Dexter’s “Dream was gone” (Fitzgerald). He tries to bring back the images of his past that led him to where he is today but he is unable to recall them, much like Judy is unable to recall her beauty. Fitzgerald uses Judy to show the futility of obtaining material possessions or beauty. There are more important things in life like love and family. Devlin assumes that Judy loves her husband and she stays home with her kids, no longer caring about her beauty. Dexter can’t see that Judy could be happy with her new life, but rather is extremely disappointed that his dreamlike view of life is now disillusioned. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not.

            After reading Edith Wharton’s novel Summer, I couldn’t help but think about the thing I used to do as a kid where you would take a flower and pick of the petals saying “he loves me” or “he loves me not” with each petal that was taken off. Whichever you ended on would be the determining factor in your relationship with whomever you were thinking about while you picked the petals off the flower.  I can picture Charity doing this exact thing while thinking about her relationship with Lucius Harney. The highs and lows she goes through with Harney is like picking off a petal of the flower; every time he does something great, Charity says “he loves me” and every time he does something wrong, “he loves me not.” Charity and Harney meet each other for their secret rendezvous in old, abandoned homes. At first this seems romantic, a “he loves me moment,” but as time goes on it is curious why Harney doesn’t take Charity in public so now “he loves me not.” When Harney takes Charity to Nettleton he buys Charity a broach and they have their first kiss, the ideal “he loves me moments” in Charity and Harney’s relationship. When Charity sees Harney and Annabel together at the Old Homes Week in North Dormer, suspicions arise and yet another “he loves me not” moment occurs. Harney promises to marry Charity, yet then has to leave town for a while; “he loves me, he loves me not.” When Charity finds out she is pregnant, she never gets the opportunity to pluck the final petal from the flower, for she relieves Harney of his responsibility and just decides for herself, “he loves me not.” This story was tragically depressing. Charity emotions go through highs and lows as the story points to Harney’s deception throughout. While “he loves me, he loves me not” was just a game for me in elementary school, for Charity it was her entire, very real relationship with Lucius Harney which ended not by plucking the last petal, but my simply giving up. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sympathy for the Witch

After today's class, I really started to realize that even though Zeena is evil, she does deserve some sympathy.  Starkfield, Massachusetts is a boring town where it seems to be winter all year round. Zeena and Ethan don’t seem to be friendly towards each other, let alone love each other. Zeena basically lives the most boring life possible. She never goes anywhere, except the doctor, and she has no friends or people who come to visit her. Mattie, her cousin who could be a good friend to her, falls in love with Ethan, betraying Zeena in her own home. While it may be said that Zeena is faking her sickness out of boredome, if her illness is real, she is in pain frequently and no one really seems to care or understand. There are so many things in Zeena’s life that cause her to be evil. The town, her cousin and husband’s betrayal, her illness, and her lack of companionship and love from anyone all add up to make her into the evil witch she is portrayed to be. In the end of the story, when Zeena takes care of Ethan and Mattie, it is evidence that she really isn’t evil at heart, but merely out of boredom. When she has a task to do, such as taking care of others, she is a completely different person. The fact that Mattie basically transforms into a new Zeena when she can no longer leave the house and is ill, points to the fact that Zeena’s witchlike behavior was not simply because that is a facet of her personality, but rather proof that the situation she was in contributed to her behavior. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Frost's Apocalypse

When we were reading Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” in class, I couldn’t help but think of the apocalypse and how popular it is becoming. In one of my other classes, a class on Ecocriticism, we just got done discussing the apocalypse, which is probably another reason I could not stop thinking about these sorts of images while reading this poem… 

World ending in fire

World ending in ice

However, I’m not positive that this is what Frost is talking about. The thought brought up in class about this poem being about human emotions, rather than about the actual literal end of the world is more appealing to me. I also think that Frost is talking about one’s own personal world rather than the world as a whole. When frost discusses the world ending in fire, he equates it with desire. Desire is an all-consuming passion of wanting something to happen. Greed is one form of desire. I can definitely see one’s own personal world ending when their greed overcomes them. When Frost talks about ice he equates it to hate. When I think about hate, I think about anger. When one is angry at someone they would do anything to hurt that person, including trying to destroy them. While I like to think of the poem as one’s individual world ending, it could be turned to be discussing the world as a whole. Greed spreads like wildfire. There is not enough wealth to fulfill everyone’s greed though so the world would come to an end at the hands of greed. Hate on the other hand takes ahold deep down inside of own person and spreads slowly, freezing the hearts of the multitudes. Eventually these frozen hearts will lead to destruction, much like the Nazi reign in Germany did. I found this poem to be very interesting and enjoy the many ways in which it can be interpreted. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is Jack London racist, or just writing realistic stories?

            I really enjoyed Jack London’s short story, “The Mexican.” It reminded me of many of the modern day boxing movies. While the story does have some racist undertones, as we discussed in class today, I think that, overall, London portrays Rivera as the good guy in the story. Against all odds, Rivera fights for what he believes in and succeeds. After learning that Jack London was a firm believer in socialism, it is apparent why he makes Rivera out to be the hero in the story. The people fighting against Diaz in the revolution were fighting for a socialist reform. London purposely puts Danny and Rivera against each other to show the differences between American capitalism and socialism and to show that in the end, socialism will triumph. While many people may think that London himself is racist because of many of the things said about Rivera in the story, I think he writes these things only to make the story more believable for the time period. If London was truly racist, he would have wrote the story about an American capitalist and an American socialist to make the issue less racially imbued. However, the fact that he chooses to write about a Mexican man beating a white man shows that he really isn’t racist, but rather wants to keep things realistic.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Problems in "The Wife of His Youth"

            While reading Charles W. Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth,” I couldn’t help but let out a little “awwwww” at the ending. It was just too cute! However, just because the ending was adorable doesn’t mean there weren’t may things throughout the story that made me shake my head and say “WHAT?!”.

First off, the idea of the blue-vein society made my head spins. I understood while reading that this was a society for lighter skinned African Americans. Apparently the first time I read the story I missed the part about why blue-vein societies were called such, so I looked it up. These societies were called blue vein societies because member’s skin had to be light enough to see their veins on their arms. Now, when I was first reading I was thinking that blue-vein societies sounded like a form of discrimination amongst blacks. After reading why these societies were called blue-vein, I was appalled by these societies. Maybe it took me realizing that they actually had a measure for the ‘proper’ skin color to realize how discriminatory these societies were. The societies were originally formed to help maintain correct social standards among African Americans, yet nearly all of the members of the society could pass for white! These societies really didn’t give dark skinned African Americans an opportunity for advancement. I found these societies to be extremely problematic.

Another thing I found problematic in this story was Mr. Ryder’s reaction to the wife of his youth visiting his home. He obviously knew that this was his wife but he didn’t acknowledge it. He waited until he was at the ball to ask for approval from his friends before acknowledging his wife. I don’t know about you, but to me that was a low move. Mr. Ryder says he knew his friends would have told him to acknowledge her, yet he STILL waits until he knows for sure they will not shun him if he does so. While yes, in the end, Mr. Ryder does acknowledge the wife of his youth; he should have done so of his own accord and not because his friends said it was ok. While this story ends happily, it does not mean that it has no value as a source of social questioning.  “The Wife of His Youth” questions the value of blue-vein societies, showing how they can lead to heavy reliance on others in regards to what is right and what is wrong.