Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Filler Page// Memoir Project

October 14, 2008

Assignment #2: Filler Page for “A Shot at It” and “Epilogue”

The Acceptance

El mono puede tal vez vestir de seda, pero el mono sigue siendo un mono.

Although the monkey might dress in silk, monkey it still is.

I didn’t sleep the entire following week, and Mami began to worry. All her remedies were foreign to my stomach. Day in and day out I felt more uneasy and my stomach knotted at the thought of the interview. It had been a cold, rainy week and I remember sitting at the window sill when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Que pasa, Negi?” Mami asked.

“Nada, I’m just tired.”

I looked at her. Her weary, sad eyes were replaced by bright, hopeful eyes. They had taken on that trance ever since we moved to Brooklyn. Mami became someone completely different from the Mimi I knew back home. The long house dresses worn with flip-flops and the long, black hair pulled back into a loose pony-tail were replaced with short dresses worn with heels and a tight, sleek that sat on her head. She wore make-up almost every, and I grew to hate her artificial look. Mami traded in everything she knew and had back in Puerto Rico, for the artificial life. She no longer smelled of the spices that I so loved and knew her by. If she ever did go out smelling like the Puerto Rican salchichas or sancocho, she would storm out complaining.

“Where I work, no one goes about smelling like oregano! Nadie! They look at me strangely when I arrive smelling like Puerto Rico!” she steamed.

I knew I couldn’t be too harsh on her. I was following in her footsteps. Many of the times, after she left for work early in the morning I would sneak into her room and steal a few sprays of perfume. I didn’t want the school kids to think I was any more different than I was already perceived as.

Mami sat down across from me on the window sill. She looked at the rainy day and her eyes filled with tears. I looked away, because I was almost crying too. This was my last chance to prove I was worthy of setting a good example for my younger brothers and sisters, that I could stand out from my siblings and make Mami proud. If I was accepted into Performing Arts High School I would be able to have Mami’s lap one last time. She would wrap her world around my success and I would finally see some good in coming to America. My redemption lay in the hands of the people that Mami said hated us most, the Americanos, but I hoped they would be kind to me this first and last time.

I was sitting in English class, my favorite class, when Mr. Barone called me into his office. I felt my heart squeeze and release, squeeze and release. I walked down the hall and into his office. The sun shone in and warmed up my face.

“Have a seat Esmeralda,” he directed me towards the seat in front of his desk, the same one where he told me about sending me to a private school. I sat, nervous and frightened at the thought that I might not have made it.

“How are you doing?”

“Did I get in?” I asked, without even remembering to respond to his question.

He sat back into his seat, put his glasses on his head, and smiled.

“Congratulations. They want you.”

I don’t remember exactly how everything went after that, but happiness flooded my body for the first time since I came to Brooklyn.

At home, Mami was in the kitchen cleaning. I ran up the stairs and threw myself into her arms. I started crying, shocked that I had been accepted into the school of opportunities.

“What’s going on, Negi?” she asked, pulling me back.

“I made it Mami, I made it!” I said in between tears.

She hugged me and together we cried, still holding onto that last strand of hope. We had uprooted from what we knew best, but this the beginning of a better life we had always wanted.

Ordinary Feelings// IND AFF

September 24, 2008

Ordinary Feelings

In this "sad," yet remarkable journey of a much-needed epiphany, the narrator of "IND AFF" experiences a realization that neither her feelings nor the affections in her life are permanent. Having an impulsive decision to leave behind her beau, a professor 21 years older, and continue her current life flying solo, the narrator comes to the reality that even though the circumstances of her life look gray now, it is sure to have sun in the future. Through the usage of rain on an unexpected summer day in Sarajevo, Fay Weldon creates an ironic atmosphere and ending for the young narrator in her short story.

The setting of this short story intertwines greatly with the atmosphere. The weather "black clouds swishing gently all over Europe" (202), is described to foreshadow the end of a once great love. Having a light-hearted conversation, the narrator sits inside a confined box that she calls a “restaurant.” Away from rain and the “too wet” (203) outside, the atmosphere between the narrator and her professor/lover is already tense. The professor is at a crossroad where he must decide if he wants to live the remainders of his days with the narrator or his wife. Adding to the tension of their relationship, the main characters are trapped inside buildings because it is raining consistently for the entire duration of the trip. The atmosphere, however, will soon change—the narrator decides that she really does not love her professor and gets up and leaves him empty handed. The narrator has an epiphany that she is too young to make such a final decision in her life, and realizes that like her feelings towards the professor, the uneasy situation will soon too change. The atmosphere ironically plays into the way the audience expects the story to end; because the narrator ends up content at her decision and that she has “come to [her] senses.” (207)

The history behind the city of Sarajevo corresponds to the actions of the narrator. Princip the young assassin, who started World War I, kills Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife is symbolic to the actions of the narrator. After her affair with her professor, she realizes that she is not “inordinately” in love with him. However, like Princip, she has already destroyed the life and family of Professor Peter through her decision to have a love affair with him. The history of Sarajevo states that Princip shot three times “starting World War I” and killed off a “whole generation, and their children, and their children’s children, and on and one forever” (207) Through the parallelism of the shots of Princip and the rejection of the narrator to the professor, Weldon allows the audience to realize that not even the strongest, most powerful people (Archduke and his family) or emotions (love) are ever permanent. Weldon, by using Sarajevo as the setting wants the audience to realize that though the narrators’ feelings are not permanent (nor are her decisions) she has destroyed a family and the family’s future generations. The history of Sarajevo, while similar to the destruction the narrator causes, is ironic to the ending of the story. At the end, the narrator is strangely thankful that even though she has acted like the Princip and destroyed an important relationship and figure, she escapes the fate of the assassin.

Like the narrator’s feelings, the weather and season are at constant change as well. Set during the summer on a rainy day, the narrator has a symbolic epiphany because of the rain. On the third day of her stay at Sarajevo, as if the rain washes away her sentiments and destructive ways, the narrator is filled with hope and dreams for her future. The narrator grasps the knowledge that letting her emotions (of love, parallel to Princip’s love of his country) control the best of her, she would imprison herself and not enjoy the rest of her young adult-hood. As a waiter gives her a smile with “even and white” teeth, the narrator gets a “different pang” which she describes as “the real pain of Ind Aff [inordinate affection]” (206). Like the summer, the narrator is still young and has many happy years ahead of her. This setting allows the audience to understand that seasons and weather change, as well as circumstances of life—nothing’s permanent. By using a summer setting, Weldon conveys to the audience that the narrator is young and inexperienced; unsure of her changing feelings. However, the unexpected rain clears her thoughts and permits her to see the many years of life she has ahead of her (parallel to the many days after the summer days).

The setting, in this short story, conveys the narrator’s views that not even the strongest feelings or things (love and family) are not permanent. Using the narrator to change her strong feelings of love towards Professor Peter to falling “out of love with [her] professor” (206), Weldon concludes in the belief that life is a matter of hello's and goodbyes—welcoming new ordinary feelings and decisions, as well as learning to change and accept changes of affection. The unexpected rain on a sunny day compares to negative feelings or decision that are followed by a sunny day—feelings, affections, and situations are always changing, but never permanent.

Everyday Use Essay

September 22, 2008

Everyday Use

The author of Everyday Use, Alice Walker, clashes two different cultures to portray the importance of knowing and experiencing one's heritage verses wanting to know about and be part of that heritage. In this short story, the flat character Maggie lives at home, is unattractive and excessively shy, but her culture surrounds her and her heritage is seen through her everyday. On the other hand, Dee, the round character, though much prettier and successful is not connected with her culture or proud of her heritage. The quilt that is originally made for Maggie keeps the quilt and therefore is well aware and proud of her identity as an African. Through her characters Walker creates a wall of difference that allows her to develop the characters through tone and diction, juxtaposition, and by comparing Dee and Maggie to convey her message of having an identity in one’s cultures and heritages.

Throughout the short story, Walker uses tone and diction to illustrate the differences between the two main characters. During the first half of the story, Walker describes Dee's arrival with a "nervous," "hopeless," and "ashamed," (91 Walker) tone. Her negative diction towards Dee's arrival allows the audience to expect a woman who feels superior to and no longer cares for her family, all of which Dee is. Though Dee wants to feel pride of her heritage and asks for the quilt that her mother and past generations have put together (representing the generations that it took to strive for and keep an identity), she once thought of the quilts “old-fashioned” (97) and “out of style.” Dee’s decision to reject and bash the quilts signify that she does not want the quilts for her personal use (for her comfort; for her pride in ebing part of that heritage), but wants to impress others. As an angry Dee leaves, Maggie is described as “happy” (97) with a “real smile” and “enjoying” the results of her sister departure. Because Walker uses a livelier tone fonr Maggie, the audience is aware of the culture and heritage pride Maggie takes in the quilts. Though Maggie is not the best looking person, she knows the honor of being part of her culture and never rejects her heritage or insults her culture. By creating an eerie and uncomfortable atmosphere for the arrival of Dee and a tranquil and content environment for her departure, Walker demonstrates

Walker continues to develop the characters of Maggie and Dee by contrasting their personalities and physical appearances. Walker describes Dee as “lighter than Maggie” (92) with even her feet “neat-looking” (93). Dee is dressed to look like she’s part of her culture with a dress that is “loose and flows” (930, the “bracelets” and “earrings… hanging down to her shoulders” and her hair “stands straight up like the wool on a sheep.” On the other hand, Maggie has “burn scar” (91) that covers her “thin body.” Though Dee and Maggie both visibly look like they are part of their culture, Maggie is the only one who really understand and has experience with living within her culture. Maggie was taken from her culture and brought to a school where she learns to be embarrassed of her heritage and her culture. Maggie’s personality, snobby, and self-centered, is the complete opposite of Maggie’s, too friendly, fearful, and shy manners. As Dee throws a tantrum of wanting the quilt Maggie calmly tells Dee that she can have it because she is aware that she does not need the quilt to remember her heritage or for others to know she belongs to her culture.

Lastly, Walker uses juxtaposition to ultimately show the characteristically differences between the two sisters. On page 92, Walker describes the outer figure of both sisters. Dee has the “nice hair and a fuller figure” (96) while Maggie’s hair is “smoking and her falling off her.” Walker goes on to juxtapose the reaction of the sisters towards the decisions about the quilt. Dee with her “temper” insults her sister saying she will have them in “rags”. However, Maggie stays calm and she can

Creating an eery and uncomfortable atmosphere for the arrival of Dee and a tranquil and welcoming environment for her departure, Walker is able to show the characteristic differences between the characters, and how the differences affect Maggie's and Dee's lives.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hemingway/Faulkner Debate Essay

October 6, 2008

Hemingway’s Style of Writing

The landscape sat underneath the pair and rolled on continuously. The afternoon sky was streaked with a brilliant rainbow, and the sun’s ray shone strongly over the tall city buildings in the distance. The air was chilly while the pair sat on a dry blanket, facing the buildings in the horizon. The duo was being monitored by a couple of acquaintances, making sure they never got too close. He and she, the duo sitting together, had been in Madrid for four days, and were waiting for the end of the week to return to Barcelona.

“Are you going to finish that beer?” he asked.

“No, you can have it,” she handed him the beer.

“Order me another round, would you?”

“I don’t want to leave you alone.”

“I’ll be fine, I swear.”

She stood up, looked down at him gazing off into the distance. His eyes were bloodshot and she knew he was far from reality. As she walked down the grassy slope of land, he kneeled on the blanket and vomited. The vibrant, green grass surrounding him was now a pale yellow.

“Sickening,” he said.

“What is?” she asked, handing him another beer.


“Nothing? Why have you been acting so strange lately?”
”I haven’t. I’m fine.”

“You’re distant from everyone.”

“I’m right here.”

“That’s not what I mean!”

“I want to live in those buildings over there, get away from everyone.”

“Did you hear what happened there?”

“A train was coming out of a tunnel and hit head-on with another going in.” °

“Tragic. Maybe I shouldn’t live there.”

“Why do you want to live there?”

“I just need to think… alone for a while.”

“You are married. Take your wife along.”

“No. She wouldn’t understand.”

“If you go live in the buildings, will she understand then?”

“She will never understand. No one ever will.”

“I understand.”

“Yes, but no one else will.”

“Be it, say it, and embrace it.”

“It’s not that simple. Es un lugar malo.”

“They will never understand.” °

“What will you do?”

“I just want to live freely like everyone else. Live open like this blue sky, bright like that rainbow, bold like those buildings.”

“Nothing’s stopping you.”

“Only the whole world and there judging eyes.”

“What will you tell you wife?”

“Nothing. Ella no comprende.”

“You always have me.”

She reached out for his hand and intertwined her fingers in his. He looked down at their hands and pulled away. He interlaced his own hands, dazing off into the horizon, sun shining on his eyes. She stood, glanced at him, then at the buildings, then at his wife and her husband, waiting for them in the distance. She looked at an upside triangle on a bill-board. For a long time, no one would ever understand or accept him.

“Let’s go.” She said, getting up.

“Help me up.”

She out-stretched her arm and pulled him up.

“The world awaits us. Will you be alright?”

“No. Never.” He bent down and took the last sip of his beer.

They walked together down the grassy field. He was nearing his wife, who he knew no longer trusted him, suspicion lingering.

“Walk straight. You’re walking all crooked, all over the place.” She said.

Metacognition for Memoir Project

October 20, 2008

Metacognition for Filler Page and Passage Explication

As opposed to the last metacognition I wrote, I dreaded this assignment. However, I did enjoy my book. To begin, I choose my book almost at random. I was open to any book cover and reviews that were appealing to me. As I walked into the Malden High Library section of memoirs, I was disappointed at the lack of variety we had. I looked over the few books we did have and five interested me. I glanced at the page numbers of each book and quickly discarded three that had either awfully small print or over 350 pages. I went up to Mrs. M (the librarian) and she suggested that I take one that I could most likely compare myself to. With my being a legal foreigner to this country (I am Brazilian-American, or generally speaking, a Latina) I choose to read When I was Puerto Rican, because the author was also a foreigner to this country and also a Latina.

I began reading as soon as I checked out the book, and was intrigued with the opening chapter—at times I felt just like the author, stuck between two worlds. On the larger scale, I could definitely relate to Santiago's story, and even with her syntax. The book was divided into small subchapters that resembled her (and my) flashbacks on her (my) childhood. Each story Santiago told grow more captivating and I was quickly absorbed in her changing life. I devoured the book, and though the ending was completely different than what I expected, I loved it.

The project, on the other hand, I was unsure of what assignment to choose, and where to even begin. Looking back, I realize that I feared the assignment so much, because so many of the selections had to do with imitating the author's tone. Although, I do, for the most part, understand the tone an author is trying to convey, I myself am terrible at writing with a specific tone. For almost half an hour I sat and debated on which assignment I would choose. The first assignment I chose quickly: Assignment #1: Design a Cover. My imagination flows freely when it comes to creating or inventing ideas for poster boards and mostly anything visual, so that was an easy pick. I really wanted to work with making CD's, but because we needed to bring in an actual CD and I would not be able to (I asked a few people, but none were willing to help), I had to cross off that idea. I chose Assignment #2: Write a Filler Page, next. I was aware that we needed to imitate the author's tone, but I knew that if I challenged myself I would eventually succeed somewhere along the road. I took the challenge and wrote Santiago a chapter in between her getting accepted to a private high school and her graduating from Harvard. Next, I debated on which assignment I would choose next. I ended up choosing the passage explication assignment, because I did not need to write while incorporating the author's tone. (Relief!)

For all the assignments, I had to overcome some kind of obstacle. For the cover design, my artistic "skills" are among the worst, so instead of drawing my picture myself I taped a blank sheet over the original picture and roughly sketched the outlines of the buildings (I did the same for the outline of Santiago). I had decided earlier that I wanted to have Esmeralda Santiago holding a Puerto Rican flag to her chest (close to her heart), and she would be facing away from the Brooklyn Projects behind her, but her body would be walking towards them. I am not sure how well I drew that, but had I done a good job, the cover would send a nostalgic, but encouraging, life-is-about-risk vibe. On the filler page assignment, I obviously had trouble imitating the author's tone. I tried to focus on words or phrases she would use (she used many negative terms, and her sentences were neither too long nor too short), and incorporated her syntax as much as possible. For the passage explication, I had trouble choosing a passage, and then I had trouble not repeating myself in the explication. I choose that passage, because it's really the only big gap she leaves in between chapters—all the other chapters were coherent to the previous chapter and were used as a starting point for the next chapter. After I chose the passage, I started writing, but it seemed that I said everything I needed to say in the first paragraph. I felt like I was constantly repeating myself, so I kept changing what I was saying.

All in all, this assignment was not one of my strongest—nor was it my favorite. But I did have fun with designing the cover, and with creating my filler page.

Memoir Project #2

October 14, 2008

Passage Explication Assignment

"Across the aisle, Mami's eyes were misty. She stretched her fingers toward mine, and we held hands as the plane rose above the clouds. Neither one of us could have known what lay ahead. For her it began as an adventure and turned out to have more twists and turns than she expected or knew how to handle. For me, the person I was becoming when we left was erased, and another one was created. The Puerto Rican jíbara who longed for the green quiet of a tropical afternoon was to become a hybrid who would never forgive the uprooting." (209)

In this passage, Esmeralda Santiago suggests that even though being seen as a jíbara in Puerto Rico is a morbid insult, she would have much rather preferred to have lived in Puerto Rico and fit in with a group of people like her (poor and living off whatever means they could), then have moved to New York, which was filled with opportunity, and lose her identity forever. After moving to New York, Santiago would never fully fit in with either the Americans or Puerto Ricans: for the Americans a barrier, perhaps speaking English or racism, would always be surrounding her, and because she was "Americanized" she would never be like her Puerto Rican friends back home who still lived without electricity.

Having lost her identity, Santiago expresses her tone of regret and nostalgia through diction and syntax. Using "eyes were misty" to represent the emotional connection Santiago had when leaving her country, and the powerful phrases, "never forgive" along with "the person I was becoming… was erased" illustrating that she would never learn to accept the changes her mother put her through, clearly demonstrates Santiago's emotional attachment to the country she received her identity from. In the small passage, Santiago reveals what the audience wanted to know about her the entire memoir: her feelings of being ripped out of the only place she felt safe in, Puerto Rico. Despite the fact that New York gave Santiago the privilege of attending Harvard University, she "be[came] a hybrid who would never forgive the uprooting" that never allowed her to understand her true Puerto Rican identity.

Through her writing, Santiago is able to look back at this crossroad in her life and meditate on how different her life would have been if decisions had been differently. In the passage, once Santiago realizes her identity is being torn away from her she undergoes a transition on life. In her passage she shows this by changing her tone from emotional to impactful. Before the line, "Neither one of us could have known what lay ahead," Santiago's tone is emotional, almost naïve: "we held hands," "the plane rose above the clouds;" and after her tone switches to bitter: "more twists and turns that she… knew how to handle," "the person I was becoming… was erased, and another one was created," and "The Puerto Rican jíbara… would never forgive the uprooting." This passage divides the book into two halves: the happier half where Santiago is poor, but is comfortable with who she is; and the second half where Santiago is resentful of coming to the US, but succeeds more than she ever would in Puerto Rico. Santiago's message is that, like her, life for most foreigners in the United States will be bittersweet: leaving behind a part of you that you know you will never again get back (your country's way of life and customs), but receiving a better opportunity in a country you will never fully be a part of.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One Hundred Years of Solitude III

(Due to technical difficulties I had, the blog post for One Hundred Years of Solitude Part III did not post... So, I'm not really sure what my original answer was.)

I enjoyed the book--not quiet as much as everyone else though... =/
In the final chapter, drastic change took place. One of the main reasons for such change can be symbolic to the heavy rain fall that occurred in Macondo. The rain that lasted many years in Macondo is similar to the flood of 40 days in the Bible. The flood in the Bible washed out humanity, except for the selected few that were considered worthy to live; the flood cleaned to earth of  the dirt and filth; and the flood gave life back to the earth after it ended, but with better hopes of surviving. Like the flood, Macondo's rain is meant to clean the city of the unworthy and conspicuous families, the dirt and scum that infested the lives of everyone, and after the rain, only the strongest and worthy would be able to enjoy the new land. 
Also like the Bible, where the downfall began with Adam and Eve, I ultimately believe that the destruction of the town was due to the first incest relationship (Jose and Ursula). Their relationship lead to the destructions of all the other relationships, people, and finally, the city of Macondo. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Different Point of View// Essay of how POV is used

September 15, 2008

A Different Point of View

Fictional writers tend to express reality in their imaginary characters. To reach an understanding with the audience, fictional writers will create character that the reader can relate to and convey their message through their character’s actions and attitudes. Katherine Mansfield, author of Miss Brill uses her character, Miss Brill, to portray society’s view on women and the pressure of fitting in with other women. Mansfield’s character wears a fur coat, which is symbolic to a women’s religion and beliefs in society, faces rejection at the end of the story, and through Miss Brill, Mansfield expresses her idea how society only gives women a voice or only makes women useful if she is with a man at her side. Mansfield incorporates limited omniscient and stream of consciousness as a point of view to portray her character’s resemblance to real life women in society.

A limited omniscient point of view allows the writer to tell her story through the eyes of a single character. In Miss Brill, the audience can only see what Miss Brill sees, hears, feels, and thinks. While Miss Brill is at the park observing other characters, she continuously notices couples together: “a fine old man” (34) and his “big old woman,” “two young girls” with “two young soldiers,” “a boy and a girl,” (36) and “a beautiful woman” (35) is lost and alone after her “gentleman in grey” walks away. Mansfield use of limited omniscience affects the reader in the sense that it concentrates on a particular character, making the audience feel for and sympathize with that one character. Though it offers a limited field of thought (only Miss Brill’s), a limited omniscient point of view is more closely related to how a reader would truly perceive that scenario in reality; making Miss Brill a easier character to understand and feel compassion for.

Mansfield also uses stream of consciousness as a point of view to imitate how women’s minds work (represented by Miss Brill). Throughout the story, Miss Brill continuously sounds rushed, with over-hyper reactions to situations. As Miss Brill enjoys the music, Mansfield goes on a wild exclamation-point rampage, shouting “how fascinating it was!” and “How she enjoyed it!” (35), then quickly changing the subject to how Miss Brill figures out she is “on the stage” and “part of the performance” of an acting career she’s always wanted to be on. Mansfield continues the use of stream of consciousness as Miss Brill comments on those around her wearing “velvet coat”(34) with “hands clasped over a huge carved walking-stick” and the “old beggar who had his tray fixed to the railings” and even the elders who Miss Brill thinks has just walked “from dark little rooms or even—even cupboards!” Mansfield use of constant overflowing, descriptive and thought-packed sentences demonstrates that Miss Brill is not taken seriously; she is just seen as a character who rambles endlessly about unimportant things she sees. Mansfield use of stream of consciousness ties in with her purpose of the story for the reason that women are often perceived as talkative and sensitive. By incorporating a talkative and sensitive woman, Mansfield can relate to her audience and send her message in a clearer, more precise way.

Together, the use of limited omniscient and the stream of consciousness point of view creates an almost real-life character. Because in this story the stream of consciousness does not include the use of correct sentence structures and is seen as the way a real mind would think and work, the reader is left to infer about Miss Brill’s emotions and future decision. Comparing this overflow of ideas to a limited omniscient point of view, where one character is allowing the audience to see and understand the story though her point of view, it does, in fact, create a perfect stereotypical woman. And because Mansfield wants to relate Miss Brill to other women, creating a story where the main character is too thoughtful, appearing too talkative, and is sensitive to what others think of her, she achieves the development of the human mind. By creating a woman, her story takes shape of how a women’s mind thinks and works. The stream of consciousness along with the limited omniscient produces a character the audience can relate to, and ultimately accept as a person similar to themselves.

In conclusion, the use of stream of consciousness and the limited omniscient point of view is to resemble the human person as much as possible. A women’s mind work in quick, scrambled thoughts and can usually only see the world through one perspective: her own. With the use of two points of view, Mansfield is suggesting that the audience, like Miss Brill, have thoughts that are all a mixture of jumbled thoughts and exclamation-point observations. And to see the world with a better, more positive outlook, perhaps a second, and different, point of view is needed. Mansfield attempts to set across the idea that with single point of view, one can never really understand a situation, whereas with two, the world is a much more acceptable place.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Rains of the Day// 1st Analytical essay

August 29, 2008

The Rains of the Day

When it comes falling down, rain is best known for its pure form and cleaning abilities. Symbolically speaking, rain washes, restores, and gives growth to character. Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, ends his novel with rain cleansing the protagonist, Mr. Stevens of his past emotions that have until then imprisoned him of being independent. However, the rain that is meant to symbolically restore Stevens to an independent person brings upon him the harsh reality of his situation, and with that the load and brutality of truth. Ishiguro ironically and metaphorically uses the rain to as a setback towards Stevens instead of a step to help him proceed.
Early on Ishiguro uses the rain to set the atmosphere for Stevens’ letdown. Upon seeing Miss Kenton, the previous housekeeper for Darlington Hall, Stevens describes the room as they were sitting in as: "extremely gloomy on account of the rain… Miss Kenton and I talked for the next two hours in the pool of grey light while the rain continued to fall steadily." (Ishiguro 232) Metaphorically, the audience expects the rain to be of good fortune; to cleanse the soul of Stevens. Nevertheless, Ishiguro uses the “gloomy” and “grey” setting to foreshadow the tragic ending. As the reader expects the rain to deliver hope and character growth, the setting suggests that Stevens’ end will not be of great triumph, but filled with darkness.

Heading home after the conversation with Miss Kenton, Stevens gets wet from the rain on three different occasions. Being immersed in water in three different situations has a strong symbolic meaning, which can be compared to a Biblical reference, baptism. More often than not, after a baptism a person is almost entirely changed. In his book, Ishiguro does all that’s necessary for Stevens to become a changed character. In the first encounter with the rain, Stevens writes, "We stepped outside together… large puddles had formed on the ground around where I had left the Ford, obliging me to assist Miss Kenton a little to allow her to reach the passenger door." (236), where soon a beautiful occurrence begins to happen—Mr. Stevens, who is excessively serious and secretive, begins opening up to Miss Kenton about his emotions towards her. Quickly, Ishiguro follows that scene with two more scenes of Mr. Stevens getting wet: "I leaned forward into the rain… I looked out into the drizzle again"(238), symbolically meaning that Stevens should be a changed person. But, ironically, Mr. Stevens admits he is heart-broken and even cries (!), drowning himself in guilt and regret for making decisions to benefit others instead of himself. Perhaps Stevens’ metaphorical cleansing did not work, because he was not completed submerged in water. Rather, only parts of him (heads and shoulders possibly) were completely wet. The rain that the audience expects to help Stevens overcome his emotion shyness ironically leaves him with more emotional stress.

Following his half-submergence, Stevens continues to live just as he previously had. He returns to his butler career, serving others first and foremost, even before himself. His emotions now revealed leave him with no secrets to hide. Just as the audience believes that Stevens is finally spiritually washed by the rain, Ishiguro has Stevens say:
"I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day… The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services." (244)
Stevens’s final words expose that he prefers to be in a happy in denial than living in reality and realizing that his past mistakes cannot be altered. Stevens insinuates his intense feeling of regret, but in the end, instead of becoming the independent, self-loving person that he regrets he wasn’t, he goes back to Darlington Hall—into the hands of guilt once again—and imprisons himself, this time forever. Symbolically, Stevens forfeits his one chance at escaping his dreadful life by refusing to let the rain restore him. Baptism, in metaphors as well as real life, will only work if the subject is willing open to accept it; otherwise, like in Stevens’ case, it’s no use.

In conclusion, Ishiguro uses rain to ironically devastated Stevens’ life. Though the audience hopes to see Stevens attitude towards himself change, Ishiguro makes Stevens submerge even deeper in his regret and shame. In the book, the rain while coming down is clean and clear. But once that rain hits the ground, it makes mud. Unfortunately, Stevens after making himself weak and vulnerable by exposing his emotions, symbolically falls into the mud. Now, not only does he have the brutal truth that he cannot turn back the hands of time, but metaphorical mud is covering his persona. Ironically, Ishiguro does not include rainbows at the end of the rain, which is ironic because after all rain showers rainbows come out. Having no rainbows represents no peace between the heavens and earth; Ishiguro is implying that Stevens is left with no peace. The rain serves as an ironic element in The Remains of the Day because the audience anticipates Stevens to come out a new and improved character, however he remains the same, even a little worse, for the remains of his days.

Things Fall Apart III

Well then...I was obviously expecting an ironic ending, but Okonkwo killing himself did surprise me. I mean, WHOA! Not only was his death a shameful way to die in the clan, but in a sense, Okonkwo died just as bitterly as his father. Like his father, Okonkwo died alone and in a disgraced way. What I found most ironic however, was the fact that Okonkwo dead body was cared for and buried by the people he hated the most--the people that broke up what he loved most, Umuofia. I do not believe that it was entirely the missionaries fault that Okonkwo killed himself. Actually, it wasn't there fault at all. It was the fact that Okonkwo bottled up so much anger and regret and embarrassment that pushed him over the edge. Because he saw it as "womanly," Okonkwo did not express the emotions which were killing him from within. (Anger to danger is only one letter away and Okonkwo couldn't tell the difference.) The passage that best illustrates Okonkwo's emotional state was on page 183, "Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umofia, who had so unaccountably become soft like women." The grief was for Umuofia and the men that he was once proud of. Now, Okonkwo felt helpless and trapped. Of course, suicide was his way of riding himself of his own pain and disgust with the clan; but I never cease to understand his method of madness. He CHOSE to die in an worthy way, full of shame and rejection, he CHOSE to end his life in ways that went against what he believed in, and he CHOSE to leave behind his family and friends, which proves that they did not mean as much to him as power and fame that he wanted in Umuofia. His death brought me back to the passage where his friend, Obierika, said to sacrifice himself or his son to him. Okonkwo would have been better off doing that back then. It would have spared him his shame watching his son leave his teachings to join a new God and would have spare him the insanity of killing himself. You would think that Okonkwo would die a noble death... I'm still surprised. So much for him being called the "Roaring Flame." Seems like that flame was blown out. I found it to be somewhat upsetting to see the missionaries divide the clan, and eventually destroy it. Umuofia lived in such a wrapped-up world of themselves that they were happy with their customs and lives. It brings me to reality where this actually happens and villages fall apart and people are killed, all because their customs and traditions are seen as sinful or inhumane. On the other hand however, the missionaries did help a vast quantity of people in the village (for example Nwoye and the thrown away twins.) I'm still have doubts about that missionary's book. He doesn't seem to understand the villagers at all, and not to mention he see things in "black and white." This also symbolizes the actual power between the white men and the people of Umuofia. Of course the white men are gaining ground and new converts. That's it for now.. no time for more!

Things Fall Apart II

Hey guys, Alinne again!To somewhat repeat what we all have been saying, yes the second part is ironic. However, I was not one bit surprised about the downfall of Okonkwo. Because his life was going so perfectly and the title of the book is "Things Fall Apart" we could only expect to have major disappointment in Okonkwo's character. I believe that his downfall began emotional, when he killed his adopted son, which is ironic, because Okonkwo never let his emotions get the best of him. I must say, however, that this second half was so satisfying. I was never fond of Okonkwo's character and to see him suffer a little was a relief. Okonkwo is so bitter, angry all the time, fearing to others that having an event happen that makes him devastated not only keeps the audience intrigued in the plot, but content that he got what he deserved. I had a similar question as Marrisa. What was up with the "Kill one of your sons... then kill yourself" offering that Obierika asked Okonkwo to do? Was he serious? I saw it as foreshadowing about how perhaps both Okonkwo and his son would somehow be sacrificed for someone else. My prediction of Nwoye was correct, if he stays with the missionaries until the end of the story, because in a sense he was sacrificing his beliefs, his lifestyles, and his family to join Christianity. I bet Okonkwo looks back and wished he had killed his son, because he would rather see his son dead then turn on him like a "woman." And lastly, Achebe stopped using the clan language as much in this section, and instead he uses words such as "Commissioner and the court messengers," "Holy Communion," and "society" to describe the circumstances of the clan. We can see, even through Achebe's word choice, that the Europeans have the upper hand and are more powerful than the clan. This foreshadows the destruction of the clan and Okonkwo's character and family; I'm so excited to see what happens!How do we feel about the invasion of the Europeans??The way I see it, the clan is so wrapped up in their world of fearing gods and fear of breaking of the rules that I see the missionaries as an escape. The people that are the quickest to convert aren't so much the only that believe in the white man's God, but because they are tired of living the way they do and want to see some kind of change (as Nwoye did). However, I believe that the Europeans come so unexpectedly that none of the villagers have time to react or think over what they are pushing at them, causing them to either really hate or really accept the new religion. And lastly, so much references to rain and food are made throughout this section. Since the rain is not washing away Okonkwo's regret and it's not cleansing his soul, the rain foreshadows muddy, difficult situations to come that will tear apart some roots and families. The food, on the other hand, shows the relationship between the kinsmen. They only gather for festivities or funerals, even then only the women cook. The men, Okonkwo for example, struggles emotionally to cover their past mistakes, regrets, and "womanly" characteristics. This symbolizes the difference between our society and the clans and how the villagers live among sexism and don't even realize it. I think this also applies to us, however, in the since that we live in a great deal of racism, sexism, and other "ism's" but most of the time we overlook it or ignore it or take it as "the culture." I believe Achebe is exaggerating the characteristics of the clan to portray how terrible our lives are. And just to add: Because next year I will be going to Niger, Africa to do missionary work with my church I found this section of the book extra fascinating! I loved how Achebe tells of the customs and traditions and the way of life in the clans. He allows the audience to grow with the village and even feel sympathy for them. We experience births, deaths, happiness, and sadness with the villagers and this allows the audience to have a connection with the people. When I go next year, I will keep this book in mind and remember how much different my way of living is different of other people's way of living. It's an eye opener, because I didn't see the natives of the land so wrapped up and fearful of their gods. Achebe did a great job of showing the normal lives of the clan, which added to the "No! Don't let it happen" emotion when we saw the clan falling apart. That's it for now folks! =)

Things Fall Apart I

Hey guys, it's Alinne! I'd like to first start off by giving my insights and then answering some of our questions...I did some research on Chinua Achebe's history and I was excited to learn that the people's names and the different clans of Umuofia were actual places in his motherland. He infused his heritage in the story, which gave it more meaning. The character that I least like, and almost hate, is Okonkwo! It's not because he beats his wives or is so violent and sexist (that is normal in their world), but because he has a fear of being portrayed as a woman (which, I know from experience that their is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that; it's actually very awesome!!) His fear is driving him to insanity, making him do extremes, even break the clan's rules. I detest entirely that Okonkwo does not show feelings. How honest is a man if he has to hide what is the most respected aspect of a human?Achebe makes him out to be such an inhuman character that we can't help but hope that a tragic event happens in his life. I lost my respect for Okonkwo's character when he took part in killing his adopted son, Ikemefuna. Not only did Ikemefuna respond to Okonkwo as a father, but he helped in the growth of Okonkwo's eldest son Nwoye. One of the elders specially told Okonkwo to NOT help kill Ikemefuna, and what did Okonkwo do? He helped kill him! To me, that is not a sign of a "man" but the epitome of a coward. I hoped that Okonkwo suffered more for killing a person he grow to like. As much as I do not like how Achebe incorporates all those different language words in the book, it sets the atmosphere for the book, and really helps us get into the "Umuofia Mode" as I call it. =)1. Why is it that one of Okonkwo's wife is always referred to "Nwoye's mother?" 2. It sounds silly to ask, but considering Achebe incorporates his own past experiences in the book, does a place like Umuofia really exist? I can never image it existing...And to answer the questions: To Marrissa: I feel NO sympathy for Okonkwo! I do realize he built his reputation from scratch, but the way I see it, any person could have done that. I do not see him as any better than any other character in the book; in fact, i see him in a negative light. Isn't Okonkwo the only character in the book that continuously beats his wives? And Okonkwo's character is so incredibly sexist. I really detest how he only shows angry feelings towards people. I tend to believe that people's good qualities usually out way their bad characteristics, but with Olonkwo, it doesn't. Whenever he speaks in the book, I feel that he's shouting at the top of his lungs to get his point across, and I just want to get into the book and tell him to SHUT UP; THE CHARACTERS ARE NOT DEAF! (LOL) I believe that the author chooses to do this for some irony at the end of the book... As for Unoka, Okonkwo's father, I feel somewhat sympathetic towards him. Of course, he couldn't maintain a family, and he was poor, lazy, and didn't try, but the fact that he was happy, caring, and had a good humor (he did find humor when that man came to ask him for the money he owed him!), proves that unlike his son, he did have good qualities. The author gives Unoka qualities and doesn't care to save any for Okonkwo, because he wants to emphasize Okonkwo's inhuman character. To Kris10: Okonkwo did not murder a female. The book says on page 124: "In the center of the crowd a boy lay in a cast... Okonkwo's gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boy's heart... The crime was of two kinds, male and female. Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been inadvertent. He could return to the clan after seven years." This means that Okonkwo killed a boy of 16, and because he did it by accident he would have to leave the clan and return in seven years. Later, Achebe writes that if he had committed a male crime, which would mean that if he killed a man on purpose he would leave the clan and never be able to return. To Katie: I also had the question of why Okonkwo wanted Ezinma to be a man. What I came to the conclusion of was that it wasn't so much that he didn't love his daughter, but he was disappointed in his son Nwoye's character. He wanted Nwoye, his eldest, to be like him. But instead he saw laziness in Nwoye and perceived him to be like a woman. On the other hand, Ezinma was seen as the perfect child. She was obedient, did her duties, and more, without complaining, was loved by many, and had beauty. To Okonkwo, Ezinma should have been a boy because she would not have embarrassed her father as much as Nwoye was; she would have lived up to his expectations of a "man."I believe Achebe uses the beating of wives, and other elements, to emphasize difference in our society and the clan's lives. I found it greatly insulting that the clan "throws away" twins, while in reality we (Americans) desire them. This, among other absurd rules of the clan, adds to the savageness of the clan. And to Matt: I do NOT like the main character, so I'm hoping we're not intended to! Achebe describes him in such inhuman and exaggerated, mean characteristics that if anyone out there possibly likes Okonkwo he either is from Okonkwo's clan or is sexist. Later guys! =)

Remains of the Day III

That was a good ending; filled with bittersweet-ness! A pretty decent book I must say!Mr. Stevens realizes that his “heart was breaking” (239) (emotion, YES!!) and soon Miss Kenton’s “eyes had filled with tears” (240). If only they realized sooner… The way I see this novel is a tragic love story, like Romeo and Juliet (When in doubt it’s from Shakespeare!! lol). Except that what’s keeping these two lovers apart is not death, but their past mistakes. Mr. Stevens regret of being too caught up in his work and putting his trust in someone who had the ultimate mistake has put him in a state of shame and regret. Miss Kenton wanted revenge on Stevens for not showing emotions to her when necessary, so she gets married. However, she lives unhappily because she knows she was meant to be with Stevens. No matter how hard they try and no matter how much they deny it, they will never be fully happy unless it is with each other. I loved the part where Stevens is sitting on the bench with the “cheerful fellow” and he just pours out his heart to this stranger. Stevens finally lets go of his burden: “Since my new employer Mr. Farraday arrived, I’ve tried very hard, very hard indeed, to provide the sort of service I would like him to have. I’ve tried and tried, but whatever I do I find I am far from reaching the standards I once set myself. More and more errors are appearing in my work… Goodness knows, I’ve tried and tried, but it’s no use. I’ve given what I had to give. I gave it all to Lord Darlington.” (243) And this is when he relieves his “secret.” He regrets having spent so much energy and time and giving his all to this man, who didn’t even care for him enough, and putting his trust in this man to only have it thrown away and forgotten. Stevens regrets not living his life the way he would like. He always waited on everyone else, but forgot about himself. Actually, the way I see it, he doesn’t even have an identity; he relies on the power of Lord Darlington to give him a name. Another line I loved was, “I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services.” (244) Stevens knows what he must do to at least enjoy the remains of his days (learn to talk more, laugh more, have a good time). This passage shows once again the feeling of regret (which he is no longer ashamed of showing); he didn’t take control of his life, but let others dominate it. It also shows that even though Stevens is forever changed by the fact that he gave his all to Lord Darlington, he is dependent on being a butler and therefore cannot take a totally drastic move to change his life; but he does take little steps to improve it. Speaking of improving… there was rain!! I was very excited that I got to interrupt the rain, and I choose to write my essay on it! That’s all for now!Oh.. I'm happy I read this book... =)

Remains of the Day II

The only reason I continue reading this book is because I want to know whether or not Miss Kenton returns (probably not… hence the title and cover) and how the conversation goes; oh and because it’s a grade. Stevens is such a monotone character; I bet he never heard of an exclamation point. The only parts that I find intriguing are when he writes about Miss Kenton and their encounters. Mr. Stevens denies working for Lord Darlington… do I sense some regretful or shamefully emotions creeping up on Stevens? My, my, this book may have some nice twists after all!To answer to Danny’s question about whether or not Stevens is a reliable character (and to agree with Dario): I do see Stevens as a trustworthy narrator. Perhaps he is a little sketchy-sketchy just because he does seem to have zero emotion (you can never trust a guy with no emotion… my momma told me), and when he’s explaining an event that has happened that may change our view of him, he gets into these extra (very extra) long explanations as to why he was motivated to do this, or why he did that the way he did, and his explanations somehow evolve into this completely different topic altogether. Because he goes to lengths to hide or explain simple emotions and desires it makes me believe that he’s hiding more than just simple emotions, and therefore cannot be trusted. But… the most powerful leaders of the country trusted him in the Darlington Mansion. They told secrets in front of him, and even to this day he does not give away their identity. If Darlington confided in him about decisions that would affect the country and he still hasn’t told the audience about all of them, I would consider this to be a very honest and reliable man. One event that completely made me not like Stevens as a character was when his father died and the attitudes he took towards him. Not only did he neglect his father in the last minutes of his life, but he seemed more interested in the lives of strangers! I was disappointed with Stevens decisions to let his father die while he was filling drinks to people that did not care for him. On the other hand, he can now live up to his father’s expectations; nothing can stand in the way (no circumstances or emotions) of him being the great butler he always strived to be. On page 139, Stevens says, “But perhaps one should not be looking to the past so much. After all, I still have before me many more years of service I am required to give… It is essential, then, to keep one’s attention focused on the present” which is completely contrary to what he does! This brings me to believe that Mr. Stevens is regretting a thing or two in his past—after reading this, I got the sense that his “secret” (as I put it) is not small, but a secret that is taking over his life. He keeps looking back and reminiscing on the better days he seemed to have. Which by the way, gets me thinking that because he thinks of Miss Kenton so much, maybe he has intense feelings for her… finally, I’m getting some emotion here! =)

Remains of the Day I

OMG Ms. Clapp.. "imitate his syntax" that's such a cruel and usual punishment! (I believe I won't like this book too much.. it resembles the main character's syntax in "The Catcher and the Rye," but in a more sophisticated, elegant way. And I hated that book...)Speaking of his syntax (which I would not be caught dead imitating), Mr. Stevens is excessively wordy in his way of speaking; not to mention that he always manages to get off topic. However, his very conservative ways go hand-in-hand with whom he really is. I can't accurately say who he is thus far in the book, but through his way of handling matters (emotionless to any comment or criticism made to him, direct, short-worded answers) I can tell that he is somewhat secretive and/or afraid or ashamed of a past event.Another proof of his “secretive” past is how he is always attempting to define "What is dignity" and "What is a great butler." Through various examples of his father, he comes up with the definition of dignity and what it means to be a great butler: "And let me tell you this, 'dignity' has to do crucially with a butler's ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits... The great butlers are great by virtue of their ability to inhabit their professional role and inhabit it to the utmost; they will not be shaken out by external events, however surprising, alarming, or vexing." (42) With all the examples he gives of his father, the righteousness in his manner of speaking, and the way he is somehow superior to everyone I sense that he wants us to trust him so that he can confide in us that certain past event that changed him. The book "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" states that every journey is a quest to find oneself (except when it’s not…). Even though Stevens is going on a short vacation (aka the journey) I believe he's not out to find himself; he knows who he is: a confidential butler, who takes pride in his job. But he goes out to reveal a mistake; to relieve himself of an agonizing emotion that is taking over him (perhaps a mistake that happened with Miss Kenton…?)In the “How to Read” Foster says that tall buildings symbolize male sexuality and landscape symbolizes female sexuality. Does this mean that when Stevens comments on “the English landscape seen at its best” (44) and says that “when one encounters them, one simply knows one is in the presence of greatness” of England, he’s really commenting on the women? I was hoping to find him in some kind of terrible un-butler like situation, but I believe I’m over reading the text… However, I do agree with Katie when she says that the landscape reminds her of Stevens because it “lacks drama.” So true!Commenting on Dario’s idea of “the butler in each of us”… I hadn’t pictured it that way, but the way you explained it does make sense. So, when we are submissive and respond to authority that would make us Mr. Stevens, and when we rebelled that would make us Miss Kenton (because she obviously left Stevens to pursue her own desires in life)? On the other hand, we are not servants or forced to be submissive. We do it to be respectful and polite. Stevens did it because it was his living, his means of getting bread and a roof over his head… he HAD to do it…Oh yes.. I’m really hoping for some rain in this book so that I can put my professor reading skills to work! Hahaha

One Hundred Years of Solitude I

Good God, this book is confusing… Macondo dwellers should try and be a little more adventurous/original with their names, no? You should hear me attempting to explain this book to my friend… “So Jose marries Ursula… then Jose marries Rebeca… Colonel Aureliano and his 18 Aurelianos head to war where Aureliano dies!!” HUH, right? LOLAnyways, I hear (or read) everyone blaming the gypsies for helping Macondo fall apart… but I would rather blame the villagers of Macondo instead. The way I see it is that Macondo is like a family. And the only way to destroy a family is if you are successful at weakening the family. If the family is a strong, united family however, the slow destruction of the outsiders towards the family is impossible. Macondo, though, is not a strong village, and therefore the gypsies are able to seduce them and slowly weaken them. I’m excited to see the development of the title in the book; I do notice that with every marriage (incest to the fullest… gross) there is a downfall. Perhaps this will go on for one hundred years… Ursula is the strongest character; while her husband is the weakest. (I wonder what happened to this family for them to be condemned to see their family fall apart…) Even through loss and destruction Ursula maintains a sane head, and sticks firmly to her beliefs. Jose Arcadio Buendia however, is easily swept into the beliefs and teachings of the outsiders, the gypsies. Perhaps because he is the head of the family and he does wrong by allowing the teachings of the gypsies to over take him this is what leads to the corruption of his family. By the way.. Procrastination is terrible. Don’t try it. Ugh!

One Hundred Years of Solitude II

Ok.. I loved what gypsyloo said! Great insight!! (about the ice compared to the Buendia family)And I cannot disagree more with stevie wonder ii (I hateee reading the previous blogs!)Ok.. So, so far Ursula continues to be the strongest character and she is also my favorite. (I can relate in various ways.) The way I see it, Ursula can be compared to Christianity. In being a Christian, you must be salt and light of this world; you cannot conform to the world; you must not let circumstances change your mind about your beliefs; and whatever happens, you must continue to hold your head high. Ursula in all aspects seems herself to be a Christian. From the beginning she did not conform to her husband's beliefs or ideas (thought she did give in to his begging... which can symbolize giving into temptation, which ultimately can lead to destruction...). Ursula was different from the rest of her family (salt and light); she cared enough for them to give her life (p13) and she sticks to her word. After her husband is tied to the tree, and her son and his wife (her niece/daughter… incest, gross I know) have a downfall, and she is caught in the middle of the war, Ursula continues to stand firm on her beliefs and not give in to the outsiders' peer pressure to want to change her (with Christianity it would be that non-Christians would try and change the minds of Christians, fall into peer pressure, and make them more like themselves.) How I see it is that others saw something good in the Buendia’s family and the outsiders wanted to destroy it. Eventually they did, but Ursula remained the dedicated to her beliefs she always was.