Thursday, April 19, 2012

I love sunrises

Truth be told, I had some difficulty getting through Hemingway's book because I kept thinking that there were so many unnecessary details that I would rather skip so I could continue reading about the debauchery. It wasn't until the meaningfulness of all of his details was pointed out to me that I realized he does have a purpose for every simple sentence he includes in his stories. I reflected on the large paragraphs describing their travels and paid close attention to the way in which he used color and direction to symbolize where he was going. The descent into Spain was particularly enticing because it reminded me of perhaps a descent into Hell, or something closely resembling it.
Also, Hemingway and Fitzgerald had a lot of similarities in their character development I noticed. I actually decided to write my paper on the two, comparing and contrasting their characters and what the values and codes of those characters reflected and what it meant for the author. Really interesting comparisons came up and I was glad I delved a little deeper.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

As Cold as Ice

Fitzgerald's "The Ice Palace" is great example of a modernist short story, which would make sense seeing how it was published in the early 20th century. It draws on industrialization in the North in contrast to the South. In doing so, Fitzgerald separates the working class from the lifestyle and values of the rich, which Sally Carrol was unable to adjust to. Sally was also unable to grow used to the weather which was described as cold and entrapping. The weather is symbolic of the way the North is in the story: cold and sober. Sally was finding it hard to connect to the area on a physical level (the cold of the winter) and an emotional level (the cold of industrialization). This story reminded me a lot of Wharton's work in that her characters tended to see the world in a way akin to "the grass is always greener. . ." point of view. This leads to hardships and the discovery of the true self and wants. Also, the ice palace was a great choice for the title because it is symbolic in the story. When Sally becomes lost and trapped within it, it's symbolic of her becoming lost in the life she is trying to lead whereas she could live a free life in the one she was so desperate to refuse back in the South. Being stuck in cold, death-like walls or returning to her roots--Sally made the right choice by returning home.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I like Edith Wharton

       Edith Wharton's Summer was one of my favorite reads ever to be assigned in class. In fact, I've had House of Mirth on my bookshelf for quite sometime and I took it down last night to begin reading it. Also, someone asked me after noticing me reading Summer, "Don't you find those old books a little dry?" I suppose I could understand since the conflicts in the story are so unlike our own in present day and seem to be miniscule in comparison to today's larger problems but I was still taken aback. I replied that the language was not only enticing but offered and change of pace in its heavily descriptive scenes and complex dialect. Also, Edith Wharton was a highly intellectual individual and her stories reflect her ability to form complete, complex thoughts.
       Another aspect of Wharton's story that I found particularly drawing was the way she conjured the feeling of the inevitable ending that we all knew was approaching, yet she allowed hope for a happy ending at the same time. Her play with inevitability on what seems like a joyous and unique encounter, how she draws the reader in with romance and the fleeting feeling of happiness, and her, what many would call, an unhappy ending is what made the book particularly special. If it would have ended with Mr. Harney coming back to marry Charity, I'm sure I wouldn't mind it but Wharton's ability to make a good ending out of a bad situation is what draws me in. Everybody likes a happy ending but Wharton takes a chance by giving you something else: the inevitability of failure.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Frost: Everyone's Preferred Poet

       The class discussion today was amusing because when it came down to the choice between Frost and Stevens' poems, everyone preferred to research Robert Frost. He is a widely known poet and we all like to feel comfortable with what we're researchin, I suppose. Anyway, the things that are on the internet today, making adaptations to their famous work, includes a vast amount of "creative" ideas. For example, we all did well on finding funny interpretations of Frost's famous words via youtube. My group was able to find a rather poetic video mimicking the actions displayed in Frost's words, however the example we chose did the funny internet world justice by revealing just how far people will go to make something that is already artistic, even more so.
        Also, interesting was that every group found something different in relation to the question of which of his works was most popular or most praised. Since all of his poems are remarkable put together, I can see why our sources were confused in picking a certain one that stood out. The thing that I quickly realized though is that everything depends on your search. If we are searching for "most popular Robert Frost poem" we may recieve different results that if we were to search "most praised/accomplished Robert Frost poem.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Acknowledgments and Willful Ignorance

        "The Wife of His Youth" posed many controversial two-sided "love"-in-the-context-of-society questions. At first, I completely--and accidentally--ignored the title of the reading which, according to other students' presentations today, I wasn't the only one. So when it came down to figuring out that Ryder had been 'Liza Jane's  husband whom she had been searching for for 25 years, I didn't make the connection until he proposed all the reasons why "Sam" may not have found her or made the effort to do so. Some of his reasons including: he had outgrown her by moving up in society, he had died a long time ago, ". . .time works great changes" and she may not recognize him, or he may have married another woman (Chesnutt 701).
      The story becomes painful to read when she insistantly pleas that her Sam would never do such a thing because he was so very fond of her. It gets even harder to bare when she insists that he must still be looking for her, too. My heart sank when he simply took down her address at the end of their conversation instead of acknowledging her as the wife of his youth. As I read on, I realized why he had done such a thing, other than the many reasons he had already proposed to her. It all becomes clear during the dinner at his ball when the toasts are being made. He recounts the conversation he had had with the old woman just hours earlier and asks his audience, including Blue Vein members and the woman Ryder was hoping to propose to that very night, what the man in the story should have done. His prospective bride-to-be is the first one to suggest that he should have acknowledged her and the rest of the guests follow in agreement. It's then that he introduces 'Liza Jane. My big question is, if they had agreed that he should have gone on being willfully ignorant of her existence, would he have introduced her still?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I kin't figger out how ta re'd dis

       This week's readings were a bit of a stretch for me to be honest. I found it difficult understanding the dialogue that Chesnutt was using. I even tried to figure out a way to read it that I could better follow; I tried things like trying to translate it into formal English as I read and trying to develop the accent to make it more fluent. They were both failed attempts so I just took my time and took breaks in between readings as to avoid frustration.
       Though the dialogue threw me for a loop, I did enjoy the change of pace and the overall message of the stories. "Dave's Neckliss" was particularly unique because nearly all of it was in dialogue and it took on an interesting point of view by, in a way, poking fun at the white characters in the story. He made the white characters seem gullible and at first presents them as giving by introducing the scene with them offering Julius some ham. It all seem very charitable until the author mentions that as Julius sat at the table, the couple left the room to the porch where they watched  him eat 6 slices, "(I kept count of them from a lazy curiosity to see how much he could eat)" (Chesnutt 501). They wouldn't eat with or around him, nor would they let him eat in comfort without being looked upon. Julius recognizes this and acts accordingly, allowing even a single tear to roll down his cheek. I think this instance is when the story took on a bit of humor that I did not see as being a part of the story.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Freeman's Got Style

       I have to admit that out of all the readings we did this week on Freeman that "Old Woman Magoun" was my favorite. She puts death and love together in a way that suggests they have always meant to be mixed together. This story was particularly enticing to me because of her ability to put different characters together in a way that not only helps the story function with ease, but makes it so that the built up excitement really POPS! when it is finally concluded.
        The character of Lily embodies every aspect of innocence (or innocence embodies every aspect of Lily), from how innocence presents itself to how innocence survives, which in most cases, including this one, it doesn't. Grandma's character was also very well portrayed as the preserver of innocence in the over-protective, controlling mother figure. Also, the Willises and the Barrys played an interesting role as the conspirers who sought to take the innocence from the young girl. Though Lily was nearly at an acceptable age to be married, her childish habits and her grandmother suggested otherwise. Upon finding out that Lily's father intended to take the young girl, Grandma saw it so unfit that she would rather see Lily's last day come before she be taken by her father who's been nothing but drunk and willfully ignorant of Lily's existence.
     The strongest point in the story for me was when Grandma and Lily were walking to Greenham and Lily stopped to admire some berries. She remarked on how lovely they looked and the Grandma says, "You can't have any now." The hidden agenda behind the words didn't ring until I read a little farther and found out what their business in Greenham was. Once their business had turned out to be a wasted three mile walk, I flipped back a page and read the sentence again. That's when I figured out that no way was Lily going to be taken by her father if she was never to get out of bed again.