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.