Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reflection Paper

It’s hard to picture a day without English 12 Honors; every paper, every discussion, every laugh. I would have to say I grew the day that I stopped dreading Period 5. I knew English class was going to be hard the day I stepped in. I remember a student who sat across from me whispering to tell me, “I am so out of here, I’m changing this class because he’s crazy and the work is crazy.” There was a good period of time that I just really didn’t enjoy English class. I didn’t understand anything, I didn’t know what explicating was, and I didn’t understand how I could write papers about poems that were a few stanzas long which made no sense to me.

Ted Berrigan’s "Red Shift" really aggravated me. I never had to explicate anything before in my life. English class for me consisted of reading books, knowing vocabulary words, and being able to pass a multiple choice test. I felt like I was tossed into this classroom missing all this knowledge that I should have had. I was frustrated because I read the poem and I knew what the words meant, but altogether I didn’t know what it was about and I don’t think I could have passed a multiple choice test either. I read the directions for explicating over and over again to find a deeper meaning and I just made up what I thought the poem meant, supported it the best I could, and printed it out hoping for the best.

I must have printed a good handful of papers and handed them in while hoping for the best. Sometimes I feel like I just get lucky. My first quarter grades were saved from classroom discussion, notebooks, and vocabulary test grades. My paper grades were still inconsistent and I felt like it was my weakest point. I didn’t even notice that I was getting better at explicating. I just remember one day Mr. Gallagher said to me, “Kristin, your explications are improving a lot. Don’t you think so?” I had to lie and say that I knew exactly what he was talking about and that it did get easier. It didn’t get easier. I spent so much time on explicating but it gave me a boost in confidence. My analysis papers got a lot better. My papers went from 70's to high 80’s and even 90’s.

My favorite book that we read this year was James Joyce. I was really scared to read it because it was weird for me. My cousin read James Joyce for a summer reading book and she absolutely hated it with a passion so I was nervous over it. I think I value the experience of reading James Joyce because we read it together as a class and had classroom discussion. Together we took James Joyce layer by layer until we all understood the deeper meaning. I got to shine all the time when we started reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I was always prepared for class and I used so many post it notes to analyze every single thing. My notebook was full of notes and I just grew an appreciation for literature because James Joyce is so genius. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has so many things in it from Shakespeare to Sigmund Freud. I gained so much knowledge from reading that book because I learned how to take notes and analyze things. I did a lot of outside research and took into account the psychoanalytic and feminine criticism that we studied. Altogether, I created what I would consider my best written piece ever and my highest graded paper of the year. I passed my "James Joyce Critical Theory" eight-page long paper in with confidence.

I’m glad that I stayed in English 12 honors with Mr. Gallagher. The first day, I wanted to go along with the “He’s crazy and work is crazy” and change my schedule ASAP. If I did that, I would have probably never gained my confidence to write genius papers and grow as a reader and writer.

Mr. Gallagher you are one crazy person but thank you for everything.


This is a good chunk of my Hamlet notebook put together into informal essay that was used as a study guide.

In Hamlet's soliloquy Hamlet is angry and frusterated over his situation. He starts his soliloquy "O that this too too sallied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew" (129-131) I have a different interpretation of the lines then Alexander did. Hamlet is referring to his own body when he talks about "sallied flesh" Sallied is just something that is dirty. Hamlet
starts his soliloquy after he just found out about his uncle and his mom. He is disgusted over the situation because his mom moved on too quickly and that fact that is is his own uncle. Hamlet is so disgusted over the situation that he feels dirty for even knowing about it. He feels "sallied" and he just wants to "melt and thaw and resolve into a dew". Hamlet is
contemplating suicide. He wants to end his life and melt and turn into dew. The process of melting and turning into dew is evaporation and can also be looked at as a form of
disappearing. Hamlet does not like the situation and he wants to disappear or just die. He wants nothing to do with the situation he wants to be "a dew" which can also be a pun for the French word Adieu which means goodbye. In these few beginning lines we know that Hamlet is not happy about his uncle and his mother. He continues on his mini rant about it.

Hamlet goes on to complain about his mom not mourning long enough. He also adds a lot of drama to his soliloquy. Looking at the words that Hamlet chooses we can also further analyze his anger and frusteration. "O that this" (19) "O god god" (133) "O most wicked" (156) "Fie on't ah fie!" All these little quotes could be looked at as a pause in Hamlet's train of
thought. He goes on to talk about his mother and uncle then he stops to say "O god" and then continues and stops to say "Fie on't ah fie!" it just heightens the anger and frustration. We know that Hamlet is really distraught because he is so angry that he cant even think straight.

Note: Hamlet calling his uncle a Satyr is not just calling him a half man half goat mythological creature. The satyr is known for its sexual promiscuity. Calling his uncle this just lowers the uncles standards compared to his Hyperion sun god father.Hamlet does not understand why his mother would move on so quickly because his father was such a great man and he also doesn't understand why she would downgrade to his uncle. Besides comparing his dad to Hyperion and his uncle to a satyr Hamlet also compares the comparison of his dad and uncle to the comparison of himself and Hercules. "married with my uncle, my father's brother, but no more like my father that I to Hercules" (150-153) The comparison between Hamlet and Hercules is a huge jump because Hercules is the strongest man in the world and no other person can look strong or great next to Hercules just like Hamlet's uncle is nothing compared to Hamlet's father.

Hamlet doesn't understand because his father treated his mother so well. He doesnt understand why his mom would move on and why she would do it so quickly. "so loving to my mother that he might not besteem the winds of heaven visit her face too roughly" (141-143). Hamlet's father would never let harm come in his mother's way yet she would disgrace his fathers memory by moving on so quickly and not mourning long at all. "O most wicked speed: to post" (156) This quote just clarifies that Hamlet is angry at his mom for moving on quickly-- Post like a post office that sends stuff out right away.


This is my open response on the English midterm which had a passage from a novel about the narrator reading letters of his grandmother named Susan Ward.

"How does the narrator characterize Susan Ward's attitude towards her life in Milton? Please support your response with specific details from the text"

War of the Titans

War of the Titans

My poster on the Titans vs. Olympians is inspired by Henry Ferrini’s “Polis is This.” The movie is based on the views of Charles Olson and the changes that are occurring in Gloucester. Newer traditions were replacing old ones. Newer buildings were being built over old buildings and Gloucester seemed to be changing for the worst. Charles Olson didn’t want to be part of Gloucester because it changed so much. “My memory is history in time.” Just as new technology and taller buildings took over the older traditional Gloucester, Zeus and the newer Olympian god’s took overthrew the Titan’s rule over the world.
The Titans were gods before the Olympians took over. During their rule they were mostly associated with the planets. They were children of Uranus, the god of the heavens, and Gaia, goddess of the earth. Gaia was Uranus’s mother and mate. She had a deep hatred for Uranus because he imprisoned her youngest children in Tartarus so that they would never be seen. Uranus felt like they were hideous since they were gigantic abnormal gods because Hecatonchires had one hundred arms and Cyclopes had one eye. Cronus, who was one of Gaia’s children, envied his father power and with encouragement from his mother and support of his brothers he revolted against his father, killed him with a sickle, and threw him off the face of the earth. As Uranus was falling off the earth he called his sons “titenes” which means straining ones. He called them that because they crossed the line and thus comes the name Titans. Before Uranus was overthrown he prophesized that one of Cronus’s sons would overthrow him as well just as he has overthrow his father so to prevent that from happening Cronus would always swallow all this children whole.
Cronus’s wife Rhea secretly had her 6th child, Zeus, and hid him away from Cronus. She gave Cronus a rock wrapped in a blanket instead and Cronus swallowed that instead thinking it was his son. When Zeus grew up he was given a potion to give to Cronus which made Cronus vomit up all the children that he swallowed including Demeter, Hera, Hades, Hestia, and Poseidon. Together with Zeus and they were known as the Olympian gods and for an eleven year time period they fought with the aid of Cyclops and Hecatonchires against the Titans in a series of battle and wars known as Titanomachy.
In my poster I tried to incorporate things that I learned from my research into the poster such as images from the myth of the Titan wars but as a parallel to that I also drew into my poster a picture of a fishing boat riding on a wave, trying to overcome the new trains and the buildings. I drew it this way because new changes are occurring in Gloucester and there is conflict between old and new almost like a war. For the section of my poster that includes mythology I drew the earth and stars around it to represent Uranus and his wife Gaia. I also drew a picture of Rhea handing over a blanket of rocks, Zeus, Cyclopes and some weapons from the sickle to Poseidon’s trident. I drew all of these things with a huge fire in the background to emphasis the conflict between the new gods and old gods.
Charles Olson showed remorse for the changes happening in his hometown. He also felt “remorse for the nature of mankind when he saw the bombing of Hiroshima.” He spoke wisely about “never putting yourself in a position where you would have to go backward.” Charles Olson himself wished that he could go back to the time of the Titans and Olympians to change the way everything would work out in the future of humanity.

Memoirs of A Geisha (Cover page Design)

Chiyo Sayuri is taken from her home as a young child forced to live in slavery. Memoirs of a Geisha tells an unforgettable journey of a young girl and her journey through her life of becoming a geisha. Through social skills, art, music and dance and the enchanting life styles of a geisha Sayuri realizes that destiny is not in her own hands but in the hands of the wealthiest men. Living and having to accommodate to perplex Japanese’s cultural ways where women are looked down on and true love is impractical Sayuri tries to find herself. Truly a captivating and moving autobiography of a girl struggling to put her destiny in her own hands.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Stranger (blog)

In the first discussion it was kind of like a practice round and opinions were not as in depth and explained throughly but Ashley shared her opinion about the meaning of the book and the meaning of the title. “The Stranger” she commented that it was about how Monsieur Meursault did not have a close relationship with his mother and how that makes him a stranger. Many students agreed with her opinion saying that it didn’t seem like he had a relationship with his mother and that the reason why he killed the Arab was because of the inner feelings of anger he had for the lost of his mother . I would have to say that I disagree with this. Although some of the opinions given about this subject in the first discussion was not really referred back to quotes Ronald and Shawn disagreed as well commenting that “Meursault was a stranger to society and it has nothing to do with his mom” and “the book doesn’t mention relationship with his mom it is mostly because of the way the character ways of living irrationally.” completely agree with Ronald and Shawn’s input. I don’t think that “The Stranger” is about the lost of a mother and how it leads to murder. Doing further research on Albert Camus and the book itself I learned that it is based on the beliefs of existentialism which many students touched upon explaining that humans define their own reality and how existentialism is the opposite of rationalism and it emphasis importance of freedom of choice and individual existence. Monsieur’s meursaults peculiar personality throughout the book and how he reacts and his look to life and inability to analyze his actions makes him a stranger to society not a stranger to his mother. “To be honest, I knew that there was no difference between dying at their years old and dying at seventy because, naturally, in cases, other men and women will live on, for thousands of years at that.... It was still I who was dying, whether it was today or twenty years from now.” (pg 160) Meursault in this quote states that he doesn’t feel like he can escape death and that no matter what it is going to happen. It also shows his existentialistic look toward life.

The American Dream

In the poem Red Shift, Ted Berrigan suggests that the “American Dream” is nothing but a false goal because in the end happiness is not achievable. Throughout the poem Berrigan’s negative attitude and anger toward society is reflected and is also intensified towards the end of the poem.

The speaker of this poem does not have a positive feeling about the American lifestyle. The poem relates American life to “American poison liquid air which bubbles and smokes” (line 4.) Poison is something that can be harmful and life threatening to those who come in contact with it and it is used to help support what Berrigan feels toward American way of life. The meaning of life has changed over time due to changes in society. Berrigan references to years back when “the man smoking is looking at the smiling attentive women telling.”(line11) And then to “the calvados is being sipped on long island now” (line) which clearly helps the readers picture the change that has occurred, for the worst, in society.

The living to achieve the American Dream is something that can not sustain true happiness. The speaker of the poem says, “Who would have though that I’d be here... nothing wrapped up, nothing buried, everything love, children, hundreds of them, marriage, ethnics, a politics of grace” (line 13-15), which shows that the American dream was achieved. Although the speaker had everything from children, marriage and love the outcome of the dream was not what was expected. It was something that he dedicated himself to work toward, “We both vanish into the thin air that we signed up for” (line 25) but in the end happiness was not there.

Finding out that happiness was not the outcome of living out the American Dream caused anger and negativity toward society. “There’s a song,” California dreaming” but no I will not do that” (line 30.) California dreaming was a popular song back in the 1900’s that was about living a carefree happy life full of hope and youth. The quote shows the speaker feels that he will not be able to live down the life that is sung about in the song “California dreaming” and that he won’t be able to live a carefree happy life. He talks about the “world’s furious song flows through my costume” which is interpreted as the anger the world has and he is the person that is speaking out about it.

When setting a goal and achieving results are often satisfactory such as setting a goal to win the race and then taking home the trophy but in this poem the goal is reversed. The speaker of the poem set his goal and lived to achieve the American dream and in the end he was unable to find happiness. Therefore, in the eyes of Berrigan, the dream is false and that it leads to utter disappointment.

Women, Experience, and Art in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce develops the character of Stephen Daedelus through the use of language and symbols to heighten the conflict of his view toward women, drive him to seek women as an instrument of knowledge, and initially transform him into a man who learns from what he lacks.
In the first chapter Stephen is put in a situation where he is under the paternal threat of Well’s and other kids that are in his school because they tease him about kissing his mother. In this passage James Joyce suggests that Stephen Daedelus is striped of his innocence and in times of discomfort Stephen reverts to the thoughts of his mother. This is related to Sigmund Freud’s oedipal complex that a boy has repressed unconscious desires to be with their mother and want kill the father figure or paternal threat in order to accomplish the maternal goal.

O, I say here’s a fellow says he doesn’t kiss his mother before he goes to bed. They all laughed again. Stephen tries to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right way to answer the question? (27)

By laughing along with the kids, Stephen is trying to accept their jokes and be more like them as if he were included but that is impossible because they are teasing him and he is being emasculated, or castrated for not knowing the correct answer when asked if he kissed his mother. Stephen tries to not give in to the paternal threat by laughing along but in the end he is let down and mad a fool of. “He did not dare raise his eyes to Well’s face. He did not like Wells. It was Well’s who shouldered him into the square ditch… and how cold and slimy the water had been” (27). Well’s can be looked at as the paternal threat in this passage that Stephen is in conflict with. The fact that Stephen can not meet the eyes of Well’s is related to the idea of castration and Oedipus complex. Oedipus gouges out his eyes in realization of sleeping with his mother and it is marked as a symbol of making himself less of a man similar to how Well’s has made Stephen feel less of man for kissing his mother before he goes to bed. The dislike that Stephen feels towards Well’s makes the competition more obvious to the reader and makes it easier to know that Well’s is a paternal threat. Stephen is almost instantly thrown into confusion and embarrassment under the masculinity of others, under their eyes, and under their laughter.
There is imagery in the environment of the square ditch that Stephen is pushed into by Well’s. “The cold slime of the ditch covered his whole body; and when the bell rang for study and the lines filed out of the playrooms, he felt the cold air of the corridor and staircase inside his clothes” (27). The cold slime is imagery of a mother’s womb. Stephen longs to be comforted by his mother. He mind wanders back to the thought of his mother at times of discomfort because his mother is initially the first thing that Stephen has ever experienced as physical pleasure and comfort. The womb is not warm and comfortable though in this passage because in the ditch it is cold, and damp which signifies Stephen’s deeper confusion of his thoughts about his mother because he has been forced into this ditch by a paternal threat so that it is no longer a warm comfort. Stephen could feel the cold air inside his clothes. The feeling has been absorbed into his clothes and he could feel it now and it was really cold almost as if it was an awakening. At this point in the story Stephen innocence is shattered and he realizes his current thoughts before may be wrong due to the reaction of others.
James Joyce tries to help the reader understand Stephen Dedalus’s feelings without straight out telling the reader. Joyce’s does this by allowing the reader to connect stories and feelings from the present and past by the use of flashbacks to further show the height of confusion and embarrassment; the present feeling of hotness from embarrassment opposing with the past feeling of the coldness of the ditch.
Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did it mean to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight … Why did people do that with their faces? (27)

Joyce’s style of writing in this passage makes it seem as if Stephen is really troubled. Questions are asked over and over, repetition is used to show the readers the distortion of Stephen’s thoughts. Throughout the novel Stephen comes into contact with a paternal threat while he is trying to reach his maternal goal.
Stephen struggles by trying to balance the image of a woman between a strumpet and a virgin. Stephen creates his own fantasy similar to the story The Count of Monte Cristo and in the romantic adventurous fantasy Stephen pictures himself with a girl by the name of Mercedes. The fact that Stephen creates his own love fantasy can be a way that he displays his love as defense mechanism or sublimation. This can also be related to idea of displacement, when ideas are shifted to be less threatening and more acceptable through dreams, fantasies, and ideas and not actual acts. In his fantasies Stephen is can do whatever he wants in the story because it is his story. There is no paternal threat present and Stephen is in complete control of the women in his story therefore he feels that he is the paternal authority in his fantasies.
Stephen does not view Mercedes as an object of sexual desire but more as an instrument of knowledge. He refuses her offer of muscatel grapes (67). The grapes are symbolic of sexuality and a way to be free by means of ecstasy and his proud refusal shows that he is not interested in Mercedes that way. The refusal of the grapes may also be symbolic of Stephen refusing to give in to his desire for women. Grapes are associated with Dionysus who is also known for youth, healing, joy, and freedom by madness and ecstasy just as how drinking a large amount of wine can relieve thoughts and free the mind.
He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him… He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how. (69)

When Stephen thinks of Mercedes he gets excited and aroused. It is kind of a sexual thought when he thinks of Mercedes. Stephen wants this dream of his to be real. He feels like he needs to experience his fantasy because he is still not experienced and the lack of this experience holds him back from being a successful artist. In order to create art and language there must be some level of experience and Stephen feels like he lacks this. He longs and aches for some type of experience but he does not know where to find it.

But a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst…They would be alone, surrounded by darkness (69)

The idea that “They would meet as if they had know each other” ties into Mercedes being symbolic of a mother figure. Stephen feels as if they have known each other before he is referring to the idea of his mother. Stephen knows that he does not have to do anything in order to have this experience because “without any overt act of his it would encounter him”. Without looking in terms of sexuality, this passage is referring to the things that a person may learn from a motherly figure as far as from what is right and what is wrong. Stephen feels that he can learn a lot from a mother. A mother teaches a child many things from the time of their birth, a mother figure is the nurturer and sense of comfort in a child’s beginning life. In the fantasy of Mercedes, Stephen longs for Mercedes to teach him just as a mother would therefore viewing Mercedes as a pure virgin-like figure just like how he views his own mother. Stephen longs for his mother in the fantasy that he longs for Mercedes which is tied back to the oedipal complex. The darkness that surround Stephen and Mercedes in his fantasy brings out the secrecy of his thoughts. Stephen’s thoughts of Mercedes is essentially thoughts of his mother and therefore they must be secret because having feelings for his mother is not socially acceptable. Repressed feelings are feelings that have been filtered by the ego by society and morals and therefore put into the unconscious mind. Usually darkness is associated with uncertainty and can symbolize Stephen’s struggle of knowing what is right and wrong as he grows up.
And in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then. In a moment he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall form him in that magic moment . (69)

Stephen feels that in a moment he would turn into something that is difficult to perceive and understand and that he would change. In that moment Stephen would learn and be experienced and therefore be capable of changing and transforming into the artist. The weakness and timidity and inexperience that fall from him can also be interpreted as the loss of self. The technique of using dreams to bring out all these unconscious feelings is related to the ideas of Freud how dreams and language are just projections of our unconscious desires that are being masked and revealed through interpretation and analysis. (263) Stephen feels that when he comes in contact with a woman he will no longer be weak timid and inexperienced. Therefore it is revealed to readers that Stephen feels that women are strong, don’t fear anything, very confident, and experienced. Stephen feels that when he is with a motherly figure that he will learn to be more like them and gain experience so that he may produce art.
In Stephen’s final stages of maturity he feels the need to flee from the mother figures in his life such as his real mom, the church mom, and mother of Ireland.
The image of woman metonymically absorbs all the paralyzing nets that constrain the potential artist ...Stephen resolves to detach himself from “the sufferings of women, the weakness of their bodies and souls. In casting off the yoke of matriarchy, he asserts his manhood in filial collusion with the Daedalus, his classical mentor. (Henke 331-32)

Stephen’s art is an outlet for his emotions. The constant struggle between reaching the maternal goal with the paternal threat, and the back and forth conflict of different views of women confuse Stephen’s emotions therefore can be seen as “paralyzing his art.” In this passage there is imagery of Stephen taking off the yoke of matriarchy. The yoke is essentially a device or frame that is placed on oxen so that they can be enslaved and controlled to pull a load of materials. The image of Stephen taking off his yoke that has been set on him by a matriarch, mother figure, shows the freedom that Stephen will accomplish once he flee from Ireland.
By getting rid of the yoke that he feels has been place upon him by the women in society he is trying to take away the power and effect that women have on him. In psychology Karen Horney developed the theory of womb-envy to counter the theory of Sigmund Freud and the penis envy. The womb-envy theory states that women are only envious of men because of their status in society but men have an unconscious jealousy of women because of their capability to bear children and create life. “The artist must successfully usurp her procreative powers” (332). Stephen Dedalus must successfully take away the power that women are able to carry children. The only way that Stephen would be capable to do that is if he was capable of impregnation as well. Stephen takes his art as a form of impregnation. His creation of art makes up for the fact that he cannot create life. Stephen relates this to the Virgin Mary’s impregnation of the Holy spirit and he imagines his own impregnation which results in his art and poetry.
Henke’s choice of wording “filial collusion with Daedelus his classical mentor” shows the real intent of James Joyce’s choice of naming the main character after the tragic hero in the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. The idea that removing his yoke of matriarchy and how it asserts his manhood in relation to Daedalus opens a comparison between the two characters that are similar in many ways. Stephen Dedalus, like Daedalus/Icarus both are imprisoned and they are both trying to escape whatever is trying to hold them back. Stephen feels like the women in Ireland hold him back so he tries to escape that and Daedalus/Icarus feels that his imprisonment holds him back so he tries to escape by flying away on wings. They both reject authority into their lives. Stephen’s rejection of authority may also be looked at as rejection of fear.
“I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too” (218)

In this passage Stephen is depicted as a fearless person because he does not fear what most people are fear. Fear can be capable to hold a person back from acting. Fear can bring out the cowardice in a person but Stephen is not afraid. Stephen is at the peak of his maturity and feels that he can not achieve his potential if he was to remain in Ireland. He needed to break free from the things that hold him back from experiencing and open up in order to become an artist and dedicated to art. He is aware that women inspire his art but now that he feels that he has learned to be less timid, more experienced, and strong Stephen feels that he just needs to get away and fulfill his destiny of being an artist.
James Joyce develops the character of Stephen Dedalus as the artist as a young man. He follows up the experiences that Dedalus goes throughout his lifetime that initially lead him to his an illuminating discovery, realization of his own nature as the artist.

Monday, March 31, 2008


In The Stranger, Albert Camus creates a character named Monsieur Mersault who is living an absurd lifestyle. Although many would confuse Meursalt with Camus, Camus’s purpose is not to represent himself through Meursault's character but to use Meursault’s nature and actions in the book to help back up his own beliefs on the absurdity of life. Throughout the book, Camus does not directly state Meursalt as an absurd character, but in certain passages of the books, the key beliefs of absurdity are touched upon.
Absurdity is the philosophy that states people who try to find meaning to the universe will ultimately fail because the world is irrational and has no meaning. Trying to rationalize things in ways such as religion is henceforth a downfall in human nature. “Speaking very quickly and passionately he told me that be believed in God, that it was his conviction that no man was guilty that God would not forgive him but in order to do so he must repent…he was waving his crucifix over my head. To tell the truth, I found it very hard to find his reasoning, first because it was hot…also because he was scaring me…from across the table he had already thrust the crucifix in my face and was screaming irrationally, ‘I am a Christian’…I was almost surprised that I had ever enjoyed anything other than those moments when the judge would slap me on the shoulder and say to me cordially ’that’s all today Monsieur Antichrist” (69-71.) In this passage, Camus reflects ideas of absurdity through the character interaction between the priest and Meursalt. He also brings up the idea that religion is an opposition of absurdity just as the priest is an opposition to Meursault.
Camus uses the adjectives “quickly" and "passionately” when describing the way the priest speaks about God. Those adjectives help to further understand the priest’s belief in God and how it is a strong belief because he is so passionate about it. The priest tries to explain to Meursalt how God works and how he will forgive those who repent and therefore trying to manipulate or push the religion onto Meursault. Camus sets the priest as a character that has opposite beliefs of Meursalt, which is in turn setting up the conflicts between religion and the absurd. The crucifix is a symbol of Christianity and used as a symbol of opposition of Meursault’s absurd way of thinking. Since the philosophy of absurdity is overall saying that if humans try to find a meaning to life that is pointless and meaningless, believing in God to try to rationalize the world is ludicrous and a very irrational thing to do. When the priest was “screaming irrationally that he was Christian,” it further showed that Christianity or any attempt to explain the meaning of life is irrational in means of the absurd.
As the priest is speaking to Meursalt, Meursalt states that he has trouble paying attention. He is only taking notice to the physical aspects of the situation, such as how the atmosphere around him is hot. The hotness is used as a symbolism of the intensity of the situation. As a character that only takes notice to nature and the physical parts of life, Meursault is characterized as a heartless and uncaring person because he is so indifferent. Camus’s plan is to set up such an odd character to bother the readers. Meursalt and the thought of absurdity is opposite of what most people expect. Meursalt lacks remorse for his mother’s death and has such negativity toward the thought of trying to make sense of the world. Camus achieves giving the readers a taste of the absurd by introducing the character interaction between the priest and Meursalt who is referred to as “Monsieur Antichrist” towards the end of the passage. In the courtroom, Camus demonstrates both looks on life. The irrational way: looking to God, and the rational way: looking to nature and physical things and living through experience and taking things as they come.
Camus also uses his beliefs in the absurd in many other instances in the book. Although Meursalt does not represent Camus but rather represents absurdity, the thought of the absurd is brought into the way Meursault’s character was created. Rationality versus irrationality is constantly in conflict throughout the book. “He was expressing his certainty that my appeal would be granted, but I was carrying the burden of a sin from which I had to free myself... I told him that I did not know what sin was. All they had told me was that I was guilty. I was guilty and I was paying for it and nothing more could be asked of me…’you are wrong my son more could be asked of you and it may be asked…every stone here sweats with suffering I know that....’ I said I had been looking at the stones in these walls for months. There wasn’t anything or anyone in the world I knew better... I’d never seen anything emerge from any sweating stones... what did other peoples deaths or a mothers love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose of the fate they think they elect matter to me when we’re all elected the same fate.” (118-121). The irrationality of religion is brought in conflict with rationality of Meursault’s view toward life.
The chaplain is put into the conflict as Meursault’s character tries to push religion onto Meursault just as the priest did in the courtroom. The chaplain tries to tell Meursault that he can be free of his sin but Meursalt does not even understand what sin is. The inability of Meursault’s absurd character to understand the concept of sin shows that he does not give meaning to life and that he does not believe that by sinning he will live an unhappy afterlife. The chaplain gets frustrated with Meursault’s incapability to seek for God in his current situation saying that “he has seen suffering in the sweating stones” and how “a face emerges from the stones”. Camus’s uses personification by saying that the stones sweat. The personification of the stones and how a face emerges is a representation of God and religion. The chaplain tries to show Meursalt and teach him that in prison many people suffer and in the end realize of God’s presence and turn to him. Meursault’s absurd way of thinking enables him to not care about where his life is leading him to and he has an inability to care about consequences of his actions. All that Meursalt knows is that he committed a crime and that he was paying for that. He didn’t turn to God. In prison, Meursalt says there is nothing he knew better than the stones and he didn’t try to rationalize the irriational pathway of life “I’d never seen any face emerge from any sweating stones.” (119) in this passage Meursault’s thoughts are clearer. He states that the death of others, the love of his mother does not matter to him and that there is no point in trying to turn to God for a different fate because in the end there is only death. Death can not be escaped because no matter if death comes early or late, death will always come. So since death is binding and can not be escaped all lives are meaningless because in the end it will all result in the same fate which is death.
Camus uses character interaction between the main characters Meursalt to help readers understand the idea of the absurd. Oppositions to absurdity and existentialism would be anything that tries to rationalize the irriational way of life such as religion and any belief in Gods. The only rational thing about life is nature, which is brought up many times in the book along with other physical aspects of life. The society that Meursalt lives in is constantly trying to rationalize life and find meaning to it. In the courtroom and in the prison cell with the priest and the chaplain are characters that represent irrationality. Although in Meursault’s case, the prosecutors try to execute him based on logical reasons of why he killed, the fact that Meursalt did not have a reason is just to show the irrationality of the world. Meursalt refuses to fall into any belief that society offers to create rational order in life. Camus’s purpose of writing The Stranger is to open ideas of irrationality and absurdity in the world.

Plum Plum Pickers

In the story from Plum Plum Pickers’, the author Raymond Barrio suggests that men have to experience a point in their lives where they have to stand up for what is theirs and have integrity in their beliefs. Barrio suggests that men are built for this quality and that if men don’t stand up for what is rightfully theirs then “They are dead before they die” (2.) The main character in this story, Manuel, stands up for his hard-earned money against Morales who is trying to rob Manuel and his fellow workers.
The opening paragraph gives the effect of a big train of thought. The paragraph is written fast pace. Sentences in the paragraph are short and choppy. Barrio writes in a style that imitates the way a machine would process its information. The machine would process information and information and then it would end with a simple clean answer or sum up of all the information. “There had to be an end. There had to be. There – trapped. There had to be a way out. Locked. There had to be respite. Animal.” (p. 1) the way the whole first paragraph is written Barrio introduces the main character to the reader as more of a machine and animal more then as a human. Barrio wants to establish this to the reader to emphasize on the plum picker’s work style and find Manuel as a sympathetic character. “Drank the holy water in great brute gulps so he wouldn’t have to savor its tastelessness” (p.1) in this sentence there is symbolism in the “holy water”. Holy water is used in religious practices for things such as healing the sick but in this sentence holy water is seen in a negative way suggesting that religion is “tasteless” or lacking many answer’s to Manuel’s problems.
Lunch time comes and in this paragraph the lunch break seems as if it is very quick and short. “He felt his spirit swell out again like a thirsty sponge in water. Then up again.” (p.1) in this paragraph describing lunch Barrio chooses to use complete and full sentences. The sentences seem more relaxed but this is only in the first few sentences of the paragraph then the style reverts back to repetitive sentences. The repetitive sentences suggest that Manuel is back to work. The sentences also lack in verbs. Verbs in a sentence act as the action of the subject and since the sentence’s lack in action there is no movement forward which gives off the feeling of repetitiveness. “A ray of enemy sun penetrated the tree that was hiding him and split his forehead open. His mind whirred. He blacked out” (p.1) The sun is used as symbolism for torture, hell, or burning in this sentence. Barrio chooses to portray the sun as a negative symbol because it adds to the setting of the story. In this paragraph another character is introduced and that is Roberto. Roberto’s first words are “whatsamatter, can’t you see straight pendejo?” Barrio’s placement of Roberto’s dialect is directly related to Manuel’s spoken words in the begging paragraph, “Please to meetcha” These two quotes help establish characterization of the two characters and how they differ from each other. Manuel is portrayed as a more friendly character and Robert Morales and portrayed more as a mean character. Their names also impact the way they act because in Manuel’s name there is the word “Man”. Essentially Manuel is the symbol of a man. In Roberto Morales’s name there is the word “moral” and “less” so Robert is a man without morals. Barrio puts these two characters in opposition to each other to create a character conflict of good versus evil.
In the next paragraph there is a lot of detail on Roberto Morales’s character. “A real robber. A Mexican general. A gentlemanly, friendly, polite, grinning, vicious, thieving brute.” Barrio phrases this sentence to show the layers of Morales’s personality from outside to inside. On the outside Roberto is gentlemen like but on the inside he is a thieving brute. “he was actually the shrewdest, smartest, richest cannibal in forty countries around” (p.1) Barrio chooses the word cannibal to describe Roberto but not in a sense that he literally eats human beings but in a more in a sense that he “eats” at them to get what he wants. Roberto uses others and feeds off other’s work to benefit himself. Roberto is a man is a man of great power. Barrio shows the reader Roberto’s power by demonstrating how at first nobody speaks up against him when he wanted to take money from them. “Yes everyone understood. Freezing in place. After all that hard work.” The character conflict between Roberto and Manuel is intensified when Manuel spoke up against Roberto. “The two men, centered in a huge ring of red-ringed eyes, glared at each other. Reaching for each other’s jugular. The other exhausted animals studied the tableau” (p.2) There is a lot of imagery in this. The whole paragraph and description of what is going on is very vivid and intensifying. The reader is able to distinguish the beginning style to the style of the climax.
Roberto and Manuel circle each other while everyone else is watching in anticipation of who is to the make the next move. Manuel then kicks over his bucket of fruit and with the support of everyone else who “moved toward their own buckets still standing beside them on the ground awaiting the truck gatherer and took an ominous position over them, straddling their feet over them” Manuel was able to claim a power over Roberto. In turn, Manuel has his “moment of glory” that Barrio suggests that all men should have.

Myth of Sisyphus

In Camus’s essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus introduces the possibility that life is meaningless. Camus’s interpretation of the myth reflects of the idea of absurdity and how giving meaning to life in ways such as socially of religiously, is inevitably pointless because in the end death is terminal. Camus’s suggests that happiness arises from absurdity when one learns and accepts death. Although Sisyphus’s futile punishment is meant to be eternal and torturous Camus’s is able to help readers view Sisyphus as a happy man because he was able to come to terms with his punishment.
I agree with Angela’s thesis statement. I think it’s very true that Camus’s uses imagery of the rock as suffering. I don’t really agree on the point that she was getting at on how Camus’s tries to show that suffering must be felt in order to feel happiness because I feel that he was getting more at the fact that death must be accepted as an “end all” type of thing. Happiness is achieved when life is accepted to have no meaning because living no matter what kind of life is led the fate of life is death. Although I don’t agree on how Angela chose the word “suffering” I understand at what she was trying to say because she does a great job at backing up her thesis.
I was not in class for the class discussion section but things that might have been talked about would probably be quotes on how Sisyphus’s punishment of rolling a rock up a mountain can be directly related to absurdity. “One sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone . . . at the very end of his long effort . . . purpose is achieved…then Sisyphus’s watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world” (2) In this quote the stone that Sisyphus is pushing symbolizes how people struggle through life to find meaning. The stones heaviness and the burden it takes to push it up a huge mountain shows how hard and troubling it is to find meaning. All the end of trying so hard to push the rock up the mountain as soon as it reaches the top the rock just falls back down. The rock falling back down is symbolizing how finding meaning to life is pointless just as how rolling a rock up a mountain is pointless because in the end the rock just falls again, death is final. Sisyphus finds his happiness in acceptance of his situation “One must imagine Sisyphus as happy” (5). He accepted his fate because he made himself the master of his fate “His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing” (4). By taking death into prospective and accepting his punishment he eliminates the suffering and torture that comes with his punishment. “The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory” (3) In this quote the crown symbolizes accomplishment. It is clear that the reason for his punishment was a result of his wrong-doings. Another reason for his punishment, when taken into his own view and put into his own mindset can be set as an accomplishment.

Tom Philips

On page 301 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips suggests that music and visual images enhance the emotional experience by the choice and placement of words and punctuation. The words chosen educe feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. The word choice gives open access to the emotions that Philips is trying to express in the image. Philips uses solid and distorted colors and patterns. He uses straight lines to detail the solid empty room in order to make it a definite reality. For the red orange silhouette of a person Philips outlines with a wavy line to emphasize on the instability of the person’s state of mind.

The first thing that stands out is the red orange colored distorted image of a person. It stands out because it is a dark solid color in the painted against a pastel purple and yellow wall. The image is one dimensional in a three dimensional room and the character is sitting on a white chair isolated from everything. There is nothing around the chair or in the room and gives a feeling of emptiness or displacement. The person is staring out a window as if they are thinking, waiting, or longing for something and the isolation suggests that the character wants to be alone to figure things out or is depressed. The fact that the person sitting in the chair is a red orange color symbolizes feelings of pain. The character is hurt emotionally and is sitting in the chair. The chair is white and may symbolize a feeling of cleanliness because white is a symbol of purity or sanitation and by sitting in the chair and thinking over emotions the character anticipates on alleviating feelings of pain and hurt. Until the thoughts are lost in the fuzz of the floor and the character is bombarded with feelings of being alone.

The walls are complement colors of yellow and purple and help bring out the brightness in each other and making the room have an uplifting positive feeling but the empty red orange shape of a person contradicts the feelings that the colors of the room try to bring out. The bright colors may represent the opportunities and happiness that is present and around but the character is in a separate world where there is no happiness to be found. The color of the wall and the color of the figure in the chair represent a struggle to get over these sad emotions and be happy. The figure is looking out the window but it is not bright outside it is dark. The sky is midnight blue and the grass is forest green. The word that is placed on top of the dark grass is the word “shriveled”. Grass is a symbol of rebirth and growth. The shriveled grass can be looked at as an image of the death of youth, happiness, wealth, or wellbeing. The dead grass could also be looked at as an end to a road where there is no longer rebirth and new beginnings.

The floor of the room is the only portion of the image that is not a solid color. The floor of the room has a fuzzy texture and is made up of a bunch of words that are scrambled up and is a combination of the colors red, orange, black and brown. These colors are symbolic of the season of autumn which is a season of death because in autumn the trees die out and prepare for the cold loneliness of winter. Also a floor should be something that is stable but since the floor is the only part of the image that is a mixture of distorted colors it symbolizes instability and may also suggest insecurities.
The words are placed in bubbles around the image that are similar to thought bubbles. The words chosen help build ideas about the person in the image. It is almost as if the words have been taken from the characters actual thoughts. The first bubble at the top of the image says “only toge” and it drags into a bubble that says “alone.” It seems as though the thought began to say something about being together but before finishing the word “together” the drag indicates a new thought or a realization of being alone. Things are no longer together for the person in the picture but the person feels alone. The next bubble says “loneliness is the throb of my watch, long shriveled aspiration,” it suggests that the character in the picture grows lonely as he watches for something out the window for so long that his desire for it is getting old. “Shriveled Aspiration” is a dead desire because when something is shriveled it has been too long and started to die. The thing that the person is waiting for can be a lost love or maybe just a purpose to live in life.

The last bubble of text says “I have something left, two things left.” and that indicates that something has been lost which is why the character is so and lonely. “First – my viola the other thing your image I cannot get rid of it.” This furthers the feeling of loneliness and lost of everything in life. It evokes feeling of despair but the words in this bubble gives off the idea that there is two things that this person still has and it is the viola and an image. The viola is a representation of music and the image is a representation of a memory which cannot be forgotten. Music may cure, heal, clean, purify, or be used as a form of expression. Music can also help recall memory, reduce stress, and lessen depression.

In this picture the character feels that after everything is lost all that can be done is to sit around and be hopeless. In this image music is not healing the emptiness that the character feels but making the emotional experience stronger and the memory of the lost more vivid and hard to forget. Therefore the music and the images that are in memory deepen the pain and make the outpour of emotions harder to bear because once something is a memory it can not be erased or forgotten.

Realization & Appreciation

I felt miserable the moment I stepped of the plane. The humid air made it hard for me to breathe. The crowds of people scrambling to get their luggage gave me a headache. As soon as I got out of there and onto my cousins motorcycle I made myself a promise. I promised myself that I would try to make the best out of this trip. As the wind blew through my hair and he drove me through the dirty streets of Vietnam I embarked on new journey.
This past summer I spent some time in Vietnam. The living conditions were the complete opposite of what I am accustomed to. My small bedroom with pink walls and my twin size bed is like a 5-star hotel room compared to my sleeping quarters in Vietnam. I was also confronted with altering my Americanized diet of French fries and hamburgers.
My family traveled all over Vietnam so I had the opportunity to experience different ways of life. Life in the city was filled with technology: computers, television, and air-conditioning. Life in the country was a whole different experience. Farm animals running around were a household norm and if luck was on my side, a toilet could be found. My grandma lived in the county. She is very old fashioned and lives in a tiny house with a garden in her backyard where she grows melons, lemons, aloe plants, and many other fruits and vegetables. In the morning she wakes up before sunrise to walk to the market to sell some produce and make little cash. Her floors were made of cement and her roof was made of a material that is similar to that of an aluminum trashcan. When it rains, the roof leaks.
My grandma is actually a very wealthy woman. With all the money she has, she could probably buy a mansion in Vietnam and live in the city. She could even come live in America if she wanted. For some reason, she picks her lifestyle over a new one. I was never quite able to grasp why, but I loved being at my grandma’s house just because she was there. I didn’t mind sleeping on the floor and I didn’t mind the pitter patter on the roof when it rained. My dad said I could learn a lot from her. Although she occasionally lectured me on my education and importance of religion and obedience to my elders, I feel that what I learned from her was far more than just that. It didn’t take words, books, and excessive research to learn about her simple lifestyle. Growing up with more than just the pure necessities has numbed my appreciation for simple. I don’t need brand name clothes and purses.
I didn’t have an appreciation for what I had until my trip to Vietnam because so many people had less. Finding money was hard. Kids as young as age seven woke up early mornings to find work. Instead of going to Stop and Shop to buy chicken we would have to run and catch a wild one. People slept on street corners and cement floors. As I boarded my plane to head home I had a new outlook on life. When I arrived home to my pink room, I had a new appreciation for my bed.
Spending a nice portion of my summer in Vietnam helped me appreciate all the simple things I have like my family, education, health, and even all those extra things like clothes, and all the gizmos and gadgets from my ipod to my laptop. So many people don’t even have the simplest things. Some people don’t a family and money or an education or good health. That is why I would like to go into nursing and care for people that are sick and have less of a physical capability than I do. I feel that since I came into realization of the things that I have and the things that I am capable of that can use that to make a difference and help people.

Grapes and Wine in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce uses grapes and wine as a symbol of the opposing inner feelings that Stephen Dedalus experiences as he matures. Grapes and wine can be directly related to the blood of Christ, which represents Stephen’s religious view towards life, or to the Greek god Dionysus who is known for his dual nature between joy and unthinkable rage.
Readers witness Stephen Dedalus maturing throughout the book and how he opens his eyes and starts seeing the world for what it is. As a young boy Dedalus is completely naïve about the world and about how people are. Dedalus is seen as an innocent young boy who lacks information and experience. In the passage on pg 48-49 the author suggests that Dedalus’s innocence is shattered by the new information that he overhears from a group of kids his age. “You know the altar wine that they keep in the press in the sacristy? … well they drank that and it was found out who did it by the smell… A faint sickness made him weak.” (pg 49) The wine in this passage can symbolize the blood of Christ and his suffering that he has done for mankind. In Catholic religion the wine is very sacred and is symbol of the sacrifice that Jesus’s made for the sin’s of the world. The fact that these young children went into the church and stole this wine and drank it can symbolize how easy it can be for someone to come in and step all over the Catholic religion. The stealing of the wine can be looked at as a mockery of the religion and this sickens Stephen.
He recalls back to his youth in the church, “He remembered the summer evening he had been there to be dressed as a boatberer, the evening of the procession to the little alter in the wood. A strange and holy place.” (pg 49) The alter and the Catholic setting is seen to Stephen as “strange and holy.” Strange usually is a word that would describe something out of the ordinary, something that has not been experienced, bizarre, or even not natural. Something that is holy has to do with spirituality or God. The fact that Stephen sees the alter as something strange and holy shows that Stephen is really inexperienced and unsure about his beliefs. He knows that the alter and church is religious and holy but he has not been educated or been able to experience it or he has not come to terms with his religion and he is questioning it. He refers to the sacristy as “Dark and silent” (pg 49). The sacristy where the wine and sacred items are kept is a dark place. Usually darkness is associated with uncertainty and can symbolize Stephen’s struggle of knowing what is right and wrong as he grows up.
Stephen almost doesn’t want to listen to his fellow schoolmates talk. “The fellows were all silent. Stephen stood among them, afraid to speak, listening… how could they have done that?” (p 49.) Stephen feels guilt for how morally wrong this act is. Although he took no part of it he feels guilty. The wine that is stolen can also be symbolically relating the to the Greek god Dionysus. Dionysus is the god of wine, agriculture, nature, fertility and art. Dionysus is also know as Baccheus and he is capable of bring joy and ecstasy but can also bring unthinkable rage and anger. The two sides of Dionysus can symbolize the confusion of the two sides that Stephen is caught up in between. This incident marks a growth period in Stephen’s life when he realizes how religion is based in his life and how people are capable of being sinners and having a bad side that opposes the good side whereas before Stephen was not aware of this characteristic of humanity.
Stephen relates himself to Edmond Dantes who is the protagonist in The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. (p 67) James Joyce brings this story into the context of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young man to put Stephen’s character into contrast with another in order for the reader to understand the similarities between the two. Edmond Dante is seen as a heroic character and the Count of Monte Cristo is known for being an adventurous tale of betrayal and revenge. The story has a lot to do with danger and changes which is the same idea for Stephen. Stephen’s view to life changes through the book his innocence leaves him as he goes into his teen years.
Edmond Dante’s fiancé is Mercedes and in his imagination Stephen pictures Mercedes as this sensual magical beautiful being, “and in his imagination he lived through a long train of adventures, marvelous as those in the book itself, towards the close of which there appeared an image of himself, growing older and sadder; standing in a moonlit garden with Mercedes who has so many years before slighted his love, and with a sadly proud gesture of refusal saying: -Madam, I never eat muscatel grapes” (p 67.) Stephen imagines this scene of himself getting old and sad. Stephen feels that as he grows he will miss out on something and regret it therefore being sad in the future. He pictures himself standing in a moonlit garden with this woman named Mercedes and he refuses her offer of grapes. The refusal of the grapes is symbolic of Stephen refusing to give in to his desire for women. Grapes are associated with Dionysus who is also known for youth, healing, joy, and freedom by madness and ecstasy just as how drinking a large amount of wine can relieve thoughts and free the mind.
Mercedes offering these grapes can be looked at as a form of seduction towards Stephen. Mercedes is just symbolic of women in general and she “slighted his love so many years before” which means that she didn’t take his love as something important and in result to that he refused her offer of grapes. This imagined setting shows that Stephen wants to be desired by women and that he feels that women can free him. This desire that burns within him is part of growing up but he feels that it is impure. This situation sets up the struggle that Stephen has with his desire for women and the Catholic religion.
Stephen refuses Mercedes offer of grapes “sadly and proudly.” Again Stephen is sad for picking the more Catholic approach to his problems. He is sad for giving up love and sad for refusing and giving into his desire and fulfilling his wants, but he is also proud . Proud of himself for maintaining his pride and not giving into sexual desires. James Joyce often describes Stephen’s feelings having two sides: sad but happy. It is related to how Dionysus the god of wine is also known for his dueling nature and how at a certain moderation wine can be a good but if it is abused the outcomes may be bad. The two sides of wine reflect with the two reactions that Stephen have to the offering of the grapes.
Symbolism of grapes and wine in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are used as a tool to add more meaning to the changes that Stephen goes through as he learns and experiences new things that he can not explain. The wine and the grapes symbolize his desire for freedom of his mind versus the teachings of the Catholic church. The struggle between being pure and impure is a struggle that Stephen Dedalus goes through.

Thursday, March 6, 2008