Saturday, March 15, 2014

Is Alice Wonderland's Morrie?

My horrible brainstorm web thing.

Here's my train of thought. I've been considering the role that the "Morrie figure" plays in other literary works. Many works have a figure like Morrie--the guiding force, the supremely wise one with compassion for the younger, more inexperienced characters. Gandalf and Dumbledore are prime examples of Morrie figures in literature. So I started considering who that figure is for Alice. The more I thought about it, the less I was sure that Alice even had a Morrie. But THEN I realized that maybe Alice is the Morrie of the Wonderland stories.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Sara Book 1:

Why do they keep bothering me? I don’t bother them!”
Well, Sara, this is the way it works. In every moment, you have the option of looking at something that you want, or at the lack of it. When you’re looking at something you want—just by observing it, you begin to vibrate as it is. You become the same as it is, Sara. Do you understand?

“You mean that just by watching who is rotten, I’m rotten too?”
Well, not exactly, but you’re beginning to understand. Imagine a light board, about the size of your bed.
“A light board?”
Yes, Sara. A board with thousands of little lights, like little Christmas tree lights, protruding up from the board. A sea of lights. Thousands of them, and you’re one of these lights. When you give your attention to something, just by giving it your attention, your light on the board lights up, and, in that moment, every other light on the board—that is in vibrational harmony with your light—lights up, too. And those lights represent your world. Those are the people and experiences that you now have vibrational access to.
Think about it, Sara. Of all the people you know, who does your brother, Jason, tease and harass most?

Sara answered instantly. “Me, Solomon. He’s always bothering me!”
And of all the people you know who do you think is most bothered by Jason’s teasing? Who do you think their light board in vibrational harmony with these rascals, Sara?
Sara laughed, now beginning to understand. “It’s me, Solomon. I am most bothered. I keep lighting my light board by watching Jason and getting mad at him.”
So you see, Sara, as you see something you do not like, and you notice it and push against it and think about it—you light your light board, and then you get more of that. Often, you’re vibrating there even when Jason is nowhere around. You’re just remembering the last thing that happened when he was around. The nice thing about all of this, Sara, is this: You can always tell, by the way you’re feeling, what you’re achieving vibrational harmony with.
“What do you mean?”
Whenever you’re happy, whenever you’re feeling appreciation, whenever you’re noticing the positive aspects of someone or something, you’re vibrating in harmony with what you do want. But whenever you feel angry or fearful, whenever you feel guilty or disappointed, you’re—in that very moment—achieving harmony with what you don’t want.
Remember, Sara, if you let the conditions that surround you control the way you feel, you will always be trapped. But when you’re able to control the way you feel—because you control the thoughts you offer—then you’re truly liberated.

Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "otherwise you wouldn't have come here."
Alice didn't think that proved it at all: however she went on. "And how do you know that you're mad?"
"To begin with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?"
"I suppose so," said Alice.
"Well, then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."
"I call it purring, not growling," said Alice.
"Call it what you like," said the Cat.


When I was reading Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, it reminded be somewhat of Sara. This sense of familiarity dawned on me when Alice was conversing with the Cheshire Cat. There is a kind of logic in what Cheshire Cat says, yet it is difficult pin-point just what he means. Solomon’s conversation with Sara seems at first rather unbelievable, yet there is a kind of logic we can perceive from his analogy. Both Cheshire Cat and Solomon offer an analogy that triggers our mind to make sense of something we normally consider irrational or strange.

Now, the question. Do you find any similarity in these two texts? What do you think?

I’m planning on circulating this through Kakao Talk (a texting application) and Facebook to my other friends.

The Law of Attraction...

As you read this post it will be a good idea to go back to my previous post, Miracle, to understand.

Current Thinking: What is ‘the Law of Attraction’ and how does Solomon’s  (the owl Sara converses with throughout the book) wisdom help me understand things that are difficult to comprehend, something difficult to make sense of it in a logical way? Is this just fantasy? Or is it more?

Key Passages:

o So, if you do not need your eyes to see, you also do not need your ears to hear.
o We are birds of a feather, you know? / People use that expression to point out their awareness that things that are like one another come together. That which is like unto itself is drawn.
o Actually, a better name would be ‘the Law of Attraction.’ The Law of Attraction says: “That which is like unto itself is drawn.”
o As you begin to notice more things that you want to see, more of those things begin to become part of your experience.

Ella En-control

I've been thinking a lot this week about a character's control of their surroundings and the things that happen to them in the novel Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. What are characters in control of in a text, and why? The main character, Ella, starts her journey with very little control over her decisions. She is bound to the desires of those around her. Yet she drives and controls the flow of the novel. Her happy ending is achieved when she regains control over her own decision-making. My question then is what does this mean in connection with the men in Ella's life? The two men I am most interested in writing about are Ella's father, Sir Peter, and of course, Prince Char? What do they do to support or conflict with the feminist themes in the novel?

I am going to circulate my new ideas on Goodreads and a Facebook group I am still a part of from a class last semester. Feel free to comment!

The Role of Feminism in Colonialism

Creative Commons Flickr
Both The Poisonwood Bible and Alice in Wonderland ask the question: “What role does feminism play in colonialism?” Colonialism and imperialism are typically movements attributed to men—not only colonizing and conquering new lands, but also figuratively conquering women themselves. However, both texts figure women as colonists, though unsuccessful ones. They are not aggressively conquering the new lands they come in contact with, but are rather displaced females who are disoriented and confused by the shift from the values and doctrine of their patriarchal homeland and the things they have learned in the new world. Do these texts make a point that women are not conquerors, but absorbers? Are they saying that women are primarily interested in having empathy for and understanding new people and practices rather than overcoming and replacing them? 

"What are the words which we have lost?"

Helen Keller with her tutor, Anne Sullivan, 1888
I remember as a child watching a film depicting the early life of Helen Keller. Born deaf and blind, she grew
up without language of any kind. She behaved savagely, grunting and screaming and grabbing fistfuls of other people's food with animalistic instinct, until her tutor, Anne Sullivan, taught her to behave, but more importantly, how to use sign language. When Keller finally understood the connection between the objects and the signs for them that her teacher showed her, she had a revelation. And from there, she was able to progress and grow and become an inspiration for many.

After the film, I remember wondering how someone who is blind and deaf--someone who has never been exposed to language--would form thoughts in their mind. Would it just be a haze of fleeting instincts and flashes of tactical perception? I couldn't imagine trying to think without the essential element of language.

Next Question

I have found myself hopelessly checking my blog for comments from classmates just as much as a teenager checks their Facebook page for "Likes" on the more recent selfie they posted.  I craved for acknowledgement!  For feedback!  For a 'good job' or even a 'yeah.. that made no sense'.  Anything.  And then... a miracle happened.  I clicked... it uploaded... and there they were!  Not one comment, BUT TWO! [hallelujah chorus fills the air].  Shout out to Jose and Chelsea.  Sure, their comments were simple, but they got me thinking again. (Thanks y’all!) 

I hadn't considered "Why Do YOU Read?" a thought provoking question... But it was enough of a question to continue to bring in answers.  
Like evolution, the question and answers have begun to change.  I no longer get comments about WHY they read, but passionate posts of WHAT they read.  

Is there a correlation?

Is there a correlation between WHAT people read and the reason WHY they read?  

You always hear the tragic tail of the high school cool kid that read the first sentence of a great book, found it boring and never returned to the magical land of literature again! 
But just as frequently you get those "the universe as aligned" moments and the perfect book lands in the hand of the perfect person and an eternal bond was made between inked pages and yearning imaginations.

Now, keep up.. this is a Spaghetti moment
Do people generally pick up a book for the WHY or first for the WHAT?
When I asked the question for “WHY do you read?” a large part of the answers consisted the desire to escape, adventure and the thrill of new worlds.  Is that the driving force behind reading?  
Or do people more pick up a favorite genre, a familiar story or recommended novel and then, secondarily, find joy in the journey and other wordily transportation?
Are books happen chance or do we 

What comes first (generally) the WHY or the WHAT? 

And between those two things, 
What in your mind makes a GOOD BOOK? 

~ that's my next question to the masses!  
Stay tuned for the results.

>>Next step and question, how does a "good book" become defined by its generation?  

Open Casting Call For Peers!

Do you love to congregate and share in the collective knowledge and intelligence of other people?

Do you love to think about deeper issues or thoughts beyond the pretty colors soandso wore?

Do you find it hard to find people to talk about your ideas with?

Do you fear ridicule for expressing ideas that are not the boring norm?

Do you want to create a network of profound intelligence?

Then look no further.  Richard Boyce, and Richard Associates (ie Richard himself), is looking for peers to share ideas with.  He is looking for people that are equals for all intents and purposes.  And, he isn't even sure if he has anybody that considers him a peer so he is scared to approach people about it.  If you are in need of a peer, or feel like helping him find a peer, look him up... or just talk to him.  He probably would be more than happy to talk... about anything and everything and then some more.

(Sorry about the cats, folks.  Seemed kind of funny to me.)

War: Can it ever bring good?

In Chickamauga, by Ambrose Bierce, we follow the story of a young boy pretending he is a soldier. The boy wanders from his home into the woods, and eventually falls asleep by a stream. Upon waking, the boy finds himself in the aftermath of a real battle, but doesn't grasp the magnitude of his own fantasy made reality until he finds the twisted, burning wreckage of his home. Despite the brevity of the story, Bierce raises questions about the nature of war, and the realities that surround our dreams and fantasies. My question to readers is: can war ever bring glory?

I'm hoping to share this idea with my English teacher friends back in Washington, as well as some of my English major friends here in Utah.

A Closer Look At The Princess Bride

Here are some literary aspects of The Princess Bride that really stand out to me:

Creative Commons 2.0/Jake Bouma

1. Sentence Fragments

“All was gone. Hope? Gone. Future? Gone. All the driving forces of his life. Gone. Snuffed out. Beaten. Dead.” (271)

In this particular case, he is trying to display Inigo’s terrible hopelessness when he finds the man in black dead. The fragments supplement the desperation. There is no need for extra flowery language here. The emotion behind the words is more striking when it’s a skeleton.
2. Dialogue

This bit is a mixture of colloquialism and onomatopoeia. For instance, when a character’s jaw is broken and therefore wired shut, of course he will not be able to talk normally. No, instead he’ll say things like “Zz’z zzzzz zz zz zzzzzzzzz” (143). Or an old man who unintelligibly mumbles, “I’ve beee mumbbble mumbbble Humpmummmble engamumble” (71). Or a clergyman with a speech impediment? No problem. “wuv wiw fowwow you fowever” (301). It’s another wonderful aspect of hearing it read aloud or reading it on the page.

3. Playing with the Setting

Throughout the book, the reader is given hints about when this story took place. The thing is they don’t make sense. For instance, in the first chapter there are many parenthetical phrases that tell us things about the time: “(This was after mirrors.)” (36) or “(This was after Europe.)” (40) or even “(This was after taste too, but only just.)” (41). Those may make a little bit of sense, but I reveled in their strangeness. My favorite parenthetical interjections are: “(This was after stew, but so is everything. When the first man first clambered from the slime and made his first home on land, what he had for supper that first night was stew.)” (42) and “(This was after taxes. But everything is after taxes. Taxes were here even before stew.)” (44).

4. Narration Form

He uses figurative “middle men” to tell the story for him. They allow Goldman to add his own commentary whenever he wants, which enhances the novelty of the story. I've said this before, but my favorite insert that Goldman put in his book is directed to children:

“Look. (Grownups skip this paragraph.) I’m not about to tell you this book has a tragic ending, I already said in the first line how it was my favorite in all the world. But there’s a lot of bad stuff coming up, torture you’ve already been preparing for, but there’s worse. There’s death coming up. And you better understand this: some of the wrong people die. Be ready for it.” (210)

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride. New York: Random House, Inc., 2003. Print

Why Tell Stories?

In A Little Princess, Sara Crewe is always imagining something and often tells stories about what she imagines. She even sometimes seems to see the things she imagines as being real in a way. Although many of the other students are fascinated by her stories, many people also say that this tendency is strange. My question is what exactly is the good of fictional stories? Clearly there is a good to them. They help Sara survive her hardest times, and they help real people too. There are people who would say that a belief in impossible things can even be unhealthy. So, are stories, especially the truly unrealistic ones such as Sara’s fancy of rats being people or Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, unhealthy or do they do a lot of good? Why?

I plan to circulate this mostly through Goodreads, but I may also give Facebook a try. I also have a couple of past English teachers that it might be good to contact.

Point of View

In The Phantom Tollbooth, after taking the scenic route to Point of View, the boy Milo and his companions stop and take in the sight of the green valley stretched before them.

Creative Commons License 3.0
Credit to Dcrjsr
"'Isn't it beautiful?' gasped Milo.
'Oh, I don't know,' answered a strange voice. 'It's all in how you look at things'" (102).

The voice belonged to a boy named Alec Bings, who was standing three feet above the ground in midair. Alec explains that in his family, every person is born with his head exactly where it will be when he is an adult, and he grows toward the ground. 

"'You certainly must be very old to have reached the ground already,' [said Alec].
'Oh no,' said Milo seriously. 'In my family we all start on the ground and grow up, and we never know how far until we actually get there.'
'What a silly system.' The boy laughed. 'Then your head keeps changing its height and you always see things in a different way? Why, when you're fifteen things won't look at all the way they did when you were ten, and at twenty everything will change again.'
'I suppose so,' replied Milo, for he had never really thought about the matter" (105).

The Lost Generation: A Loss of Identity

Ernest Hemingway (Wikipedia)
For those of you who are not familiar with Ernest Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises,' I'll give you a little rundown and then expound on how it relates to my thesis.

The story takes places in Paris, France some years after the Great War. Set in the mid-1920's, the world is new and different from the old fashioned pre-war world. The main characters are all American or British expatriates living life to the fullest extent. Due to the deflation caused by the war, American and British money goes a long way which results in a decadent lifestyle of partying and adventure. The main character is Jake, a former soldier and newspaper man. He suffered a brutal injury that has left him impotent. He is surrounded by his opulent friends, the most attractive and lively being Lady Brett Ashley. She is the life of the party and the most provocative (i.e. she gets around). Ironically, she shares a mutual affection for Jake, but is aware of his injury and knows that he could never satisfy her needs. It's a sad story about how these lovable characters suffer at the hands of their circumstances. Their new world leads them to question their identity. The search for themselves in all the wrong places. Eventually, their search results in a loss of innocence.

Edmond Dantes: Playdough or no?

Within the first chapter of the book, Edmond Dantes has everything taken from him—his career, his fiancé, his father, his good name. However, through his time in the prison and with Abbe Faria, he learns so much more about the world, and also gains the knowledge of a vast fortune, more than anything he could have amassed as a Captain of a ship. Miraculously, he escapes, and then begins his violent and ingenious crusade of vengeance. This will to avenge becomes the sole motivator of his life. By the time he returns to France, the narrator of the book no longer refers to him as Dantes. The narrator refers to him as “the Count” or sometimes even just “the man,” and describes him no longer as a humble, earnest person, but a “Avenging Angel,” who holds “deep in his heart a roar which would have made (people) flee in terror to hear it.
Creative Common 2.0/ Jake Gamage
Dantes clings to the idea that if you “examine (his) past and present, and try to guess the future” you can decide whether or not God shaped him into one of his “instruments.” So here’s my question, do you think Edmond Dantes’ story proves that he was made to be an “instrument of God,” and if so, do his actions accurately reflect that?                                    
In addition to this blog, I’m planning on asking this question to some of my coworkers who’ve read Count of Monte Cristo, some of my past English classmates, and also reviewers on goodreads.

Cinderella: The Anti-Feminist

I have been exploring Cinderella and the novel Ella Enchanted and how the latter is much more rich and realistic. There are several parts of Ella's story that teach an opposite lesson than the classic fairy tale Cinderella. This leads me to my latest question: What role does feminism play in how beauty, success, happiness is defined in Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine? 

What makes a woman beautiful?
Creative Commons License 2.0

"I collapsed on the stool next to the stove, sobbing so hard I couldn't catch my breath. Then Mandy's arms were around me, and I was crying into the ruffles along the neck of her apron, where I had cried so many times before for smaller reasons. A drop landed on my finger. Mandy was crying too. Her face was red and blotchy. "I was her fairy godmother too," Mandy said. "And your grandmother's." She blew her nose. I pushed out of Mandy's arms for a new look at her. She couldn't be a fairy. Fairies were thin and young and beautiful. Mandy was as tall as a fairy was supposed to be, but who ever heard of a fairy with frizzy gray hair and two chins?" -EE

Ella asks the question, "Who ever heard of a fairy with frizzy gray hair and two chins?" and the rest of the novel answers it. Mandy is beautiful because of who she is not because of what she looks like. Dame Olga, Hattie, and Olive are all ugly because of the way they act more than their physical appearances. Lucinda, the fairy who cursed Ella, masks her true nature with make-up, perfumes, and beautiful clothing in an attempt to stand out and appeal to people. Her shallowness make her instead, very unappealing. 

Feminist message: Beauty is not dictated by how society, particularly men, think women should look in order to be "beautiful", rather, beauty is being yourself and not altering your appearance for the sake of a man.

In the story we all know, Cinderella does little to nothing to fight against her very unjust living situation. While she is treated as a slave and denied all that she could ever want, she simply takes it, crying silently to herself until magically she is rescued because of a few tears. It always bothered me that all Cinderella did to summon her Fairy Godmother was cry. Didn't it bother you a little too? When I have throw-myself-on-my-bed moments I have never been rescued by a fairy godmother or given a pretty dress.

Ella has no choice but to obey. 

“If someone told me to hop on one foot for a day and a half, I’d have to do it. And hopping on one foot wasn’t the worst order I could be given. If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I’d have to do it.” -EE

Ella is required by her father to go to finishing school where she is taught to eat, sit, sew, sing, and dance "properly" as a young lady should. Ella makes a great comment about how she doesn't "want to be finished" and disagrees that there is one way a lady should behave. Ella can't sew very well, but she is very skilled at picking up foreign languages quickly. She gets scolded for letting a conversation distract her from her sewing while at finishing school. Ella is even more constricted than usual with teachers and students telling her why she isn't a "proper lady". 

Feminist message: Women aren't solely homemakers and objects to be used for their elegant skills. If a woman is skilled with construction, linguistics, law, or business, they should have equal opportunities for these professions and not expected to learn the more "womanly" skills. 

In the classic tale, the fairy godmother comes, and gives Cinderella everything she's ever wanted.
Which is what, exactly? To go to the ball, to be with people, make friends maybe. It is interesting to me how all it takes is a pretty face and dress and boom, she has landed a high place in society and that is the end goal. Yay. Now she has everything she wants. So it seems pretty shallow and empty when I look at the story like that. I think we all realize how shallow and empty it is and maybe that's what makes Ella Enchanted so wonderful.

Ella’s Fairy Godmother doesn't come and rescue her in her moment of need. Instead, she is there all along, quietly encouraging and teaching her how to accept and deal with problems. Ella does not passively accept all of the demands of her odious stepfamily members.

Feminist message: Women don't need a man (or anyone) to come and "save" them.  Women can save themselves and create their own happiness based on the choices they make, not a shift it class because they "married up". 

SOS! Tweethis Going Under!

Okay, so I need some serious help! I have been thinking about The Count of Monte Cristo and what
my options are in terms of research. I have hit a lot of dead ends, and I need some feedback. Don't worry, I haven't quite abandoned ship yet, but I would really appreciate any ideas on how I can save this.

Last night, in the midst of my frustration, my darling fiancé talked with me and basically had me tell him the entire story of The Count of Monte Cristo and why I liked it. Then we had a pretend argument about whether or not the Count was justified in what he did.

We talked about the Abbe Faria as being a Christ figure, because his death brings about Edmond's escape, his new life in a sense. And it is through the Abbe Faria's teaching, treasure, and death that Edmond Dantes dies and The Count of Monte Cristo is born. But that begs the question, does Edmond/The Count represent us? Are we all born good, like the original Edmond, and then we choose evil and become corrupted by circumstance? Or perhaps Dumas is trying to illustrate agency misused?

Edmond Dantes is inherently good. I think everyone could agree on that. He is good and kind and loves deeply. But is the Count of Monte Cristo good? Some may argue yes, because he does many "good" things, but are they really good? It seems to me that everything he did was for revenge, even the good things. Even his merciful acts are used to manipulate, and he essentially takes upon himself the role of God. Then, finally, when all of it is over, what does he have left?

I think the real question at the end of the book is Is the Count happy? I would say no. He has spent too much of his life and energy directed towards revenge and bitterness, claiming it was the "justice of God," but all along hardening himself to it. In the end, he keeps his name, The Count of Monte Cristo, effectively proving that Edmond Dantes has died. When the revenge is complete, he has nothing but emptiness.

This is my argument, and I would like to turn it into a research paper. Tell me what you think before the ship goes down!

The Effects of Parenting on Children: The Bundrens

Because a fellow can see ever now and then that children have more sense than him. (125)
In Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the Bundren children are dwindling in poverty, selfishness, and animosity. However, in each child’s narration of the story, there can be found deep insight into human nature, which contains more prudence and virtue than that of their parents. Yet, they are at the mercy of their father, Anse, whose lazy nature causes them to work harder than necessary, and whose stubbornness brings about injury, pain, and mental instability. They are also at the mercy of their mother, Addie, whose dying wish to be buried in the town of her people instigates their terrible and tragic journey from one town to the next.

What is the effect of these parents’ selfishness and manipulation on their children? Do the actions of Anse and Addie Bundren cause problems such as anger, passivity, despondence, and mental illness in their children?

I plan on contacting people who have reviewed As I Lay Dying on Goodreads, as well as contacting people who have blogged about this book, and topics about the affects of specific types of parenting.

Why Death?

“At that moment, you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up). You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I’ll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps.”
- Death
If The Book Thief is a story about a young girl in Nazi Germany who steals books, learns to read, and eventually houses and befriends a Jew with her adoptive family, why is it narrated by Death? How does Death’s narration make the story better? What does Death provide that a first person narration or an unknown omnipresent narrator could not? In short, why Death?

To get feedback and assistance with these questions, I plan to ask my coworkers. I work at a library, so I think I will definitely gain a more helpful literary perspective from them.

"Children Have More Sense:" Evidence in the Text

Whenever I sit on the couch, get snuggled in my blanket, and open As I Lay Dying, I immediately regret not first grabbing a pencil. There is so much verbal gold in this book, and it makes me go a little highlight-happy.

One such passage is a brief comment from the character, Vernon Tull. He says,

Because a fellow can see ever now and then that children have more sense than him (125). –Tull

This will support my thesis as a statement of insight from a minor character. This shows Faulkner’s focus on children and their value. This shows that adults should not manipulate children in the way that Anse has manipulated his, because his children are significantly wiser than he.

They are two passages that stand out to me from Addie Bundren’s chapter, Anse Bundren’s wife and mother to five children. She has already died in this part of the novel, but her commentary gives us insight into what kind of mother she was and how damaging that has been to her family. 

I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time. And when I would have to look at them day after day, each with his and her secret and selfish thought, and blood strange to each other blood and strange to mine, and think that this seemed to be the only way I could get ready to stay dead, I would hate my father for having ever planted me. I would look forward to the times when they faulted, so I could whip them. When the switch fell I could feel it upon my flesh; when it welted and ridged it was my blood that ran, and I would think with each blow of the switch: Now you are aware of me! Now I am something in your secret and selfish life, who have marked your blood with my own for ever and ever. (155) –Addie

I will talk about how people parent the way they have been parented. Addie’s father was emotionally abusive, so she becomes abusive as well.


When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride, who never had the pride. I knew that it had been, not that they had dirty noses, but that we had had to use one another by words like spiders dangling by their mouths from a beam, swinging and twisting and never touching, and that only through the blows of the switch could my blood and their blood flow as one stream. I knew that it had been, not that my aloneness had to be violated over and over each day, but that it had never been violated until Cash came. Not even by Anse in the nights. (158) –Addie

This is Addie’s attitude toward motherhood. I am still analyzing, however, whether this is completely negative, or partly positive. Addie wants her aloneness to be violated. That’s what she was seeking when she tried to make her students “aware” of her by whipping them. So, does that mean that she loves being a mother?

On Your Own

“It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.”
The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a teenage character who was not very outgoing. It was his first year in a new school which can be pretty intimidating. He didn't really have friends and kept to himself. Who could blame him? Being a freshman in high school is tough. It's hard trying to make friends among so many different people. It may be easy for some but can be difficult for others. Not being able to find where you belong usually leads to loneliness. Being alone is something all of us are probably familiar with. Like Charlie, we have all been at one point on our own. Reading this book, Charlie seemed like a past version of myself: introverted and conflicted. He was so easy to relate to and I could really feel his struggle. Why is it that being alone is such a common feeling? Why do we feel lonely even if we have others around us? Can this feeling be amended?

I plan to talk to peers from my other classes in person. I rarely talk to them but I'm curious to see what they have to say. I like discussing this with strangers and acquaintances because it helps me get a sense of who they are. It also bring up so many unique insights and opinions that I had never heard before.

The Consequences of Wielding Providence

So I’ve let myself pause and re-evaluate where I’m really going to go with the Count of Monte Cristo these past couple days. The major aspect of the book, that I wrote about before which draws me into it, is the question of whether Edmond Dantes will really find happiness and peace after all the horrible and fantastic things he’s done. His drive to act for Providence gradually evolves for substituting himself in the place of Providence. I think I want to dig into his need to control and manipulate life, the resulting displacement of God and the consequences of that. I think I could even connect it to Alice (Hurrah!) and her desperate attempts for control over her Wonderlands.
Creative Commons 2.0/ Tony Delgrosso

Key Passages:

“Each time he pressed down with his foot, a jet of blood spurted from the man’s throat. Franz started backward and sank half-fainting into a chair. Albert remained standing, but his eyes were closed and he clung tightly to the window curtain. The count was as erect and triumphant as the avenging angel” (Dumas 143).
“ ‘I have always heard of Providence yet I have never seen it or anything resembling it, which makes me think it does not exist. I want to be Providence, for the greatest, the most beautiful and the most sublime thing in the world is to reward and punish’. But Satan bowed his head and sighed. ‘You’re mistaken he said, ‘providence does exist, but it is invisible; you have never seen anything resembling it because it works by secret springs and moves in hidden ways. All I can do for you is to make you one of the agents of Providence.’ I made the bargain with him; I may lose my soul because of it,” (213).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Thousand Splendid Friends on Facebook

Queen Rania of Jordan with Michelle Obama.  H.M. Queen Rania is one
of my role models, being a very progressive woman in the Middle East.
Creative Commons 2.5
Due to Western thoughts and ideas, feminism has progressed far in this nation and in other westernized nations. However, in countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, and other Middle Eastern nations, the idea of feminism is all but foreign to them. The book I am studying, called A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, states, "Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman." (7) Do you find this to be true in American culture still? What about Middle Eastern culture (if you are a MESA major)?

I plan to circulate this on a private message forum on Facebook. Originally, I was a Middle Eastern Studies / Arabic (MESA) major, but I have since changed to English. However, I still have many of those friends in my friend group, but haven't talked to them in a long while, so it would be good to reconnect. Many of these friends have been to Jordan, Afghanistan, Syria, etc., as part of their major, so it would be good to get some insight. Furthermore, I plan to include some of the people who responded to my original post on Facebook to see what they might say, since they have already demonstrated an interest.

However, what about you? Do you think that women are often used as scapegoats for male accusations, which may or may not be entirely sound?

What would I do without you?

(From Wikipedia)
When I heard that I was going to have to branch out of my comfort zone in order to develop a thesis statement for my critical analysis of Ernest Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises,' I was very apprehensive. Sending out my ideas is always hard for me. I never know what I'm going to get in return.

I started out by asking a few of my friends on Facebook what they knew about feminism, Ernest Hemingway, and 'The Sun Also Rises.' Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with what I got in return. Let's be honest, I didn't get anything from Facebook. So, I decided to 1) ask the one person who I knew would hook me up with something, and then 2) I would rely on feedback from my classmates. This strategy seemed to work well because I got some constructive criticism that has helped me develop my thesis and my paper as a whole.

The Great We (with a side of jam)

Language has always been one of the most interesting things to me about literature. It's actually really interesting to me in general, and something I've been thinking about lately is how language correlates with thought and one's perception of reality.

In Ayn Rand's Anthem, for example, everyone's thoughts appear to be controlled by their language. In part one, Equality 7-2521 states the following:


We repeat this to ourselves, but it helps us not. These words were cut long ago. There is green mould in the grooves of the letters and yellow streaks on the marble, which come from more years than men could count. And these words are the truth, for they are written on the Palace of the World Council, and the World Council is the body of all truth. Thus has it been ever since the Great Rebirth, and farther back than that no memory can reach.

The mantra of the Great We, that states that there is "only the great we, one, indivisible and forever" eradicates the concept of the individual. Equality 7-2521 states the mantra as "truth," and he believes it at this point in the story because this is what he has always been told. He can't even conceptualize the idea of the individual. And the reader must remember that every other character in the story is also one individual human being, yet they support this idea of the Great We with religious zeal: "There is no crime punished by death in this world, save this one crime of speaking the Unspeakable Word."

But Anthem is not the only story in which the language controls the thoughts and reality of the characters. For example, in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Alice experiences a linguistic  impasse with the White Queen when the discuss the conditions that Alice would experience under her hire: "Two pence a week, and jam every other day." 

Alice tells the Queen that she doesn't want any jam that day, and the Queen tells her that she couldn't have any jam anyway, because "It's jam every other day: to-day isn't any other day, you know." The language controls them: it will never be possible to eat jam, because it will always be today, and therefore never a jam day.
Creative Commons License 2.0 / Image by Brent Miller

Death, the Grim Reaper, and Thanatos

Creative Common 2.5
One of the most interesting aspects about The Book Thief is the narrator, Death. Death presents himself as a very different representation of Death than we are accustomed to. He isn’t terrifying. He’s sympathetic. He doesn’t have a black robe or a scythe. In fact, he mentions how silly those things seem.
“By the way – I like this human idea of the grim reaper. I like the scythe. It amuses me.”  
He’s more humanistic. He expresses his feelings, his concerns, his frustrations, and his exhaustion. He’s cynical. He also doesn’t particularly enjoy his job, it’s stressful, tiring, and he doesn’t get a vacation. However, while he may occasionally act like a human, he can never experience life like a human. He’s an outcast.

Now my question is, how have the typical representations of death (the Grim Reaper, the various gods that represent death in mythology, etc.) helped to create the more modern and sympathetic character of Death in The Book Thief. What characteristics have carried over from historical representations to create this character?

No Quarter

 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

In the fantasy world of books, anything can happen. Events can be as wild and fantastic as the imagination that is willing to foster them. Reality, on the other hand, is quite different. In the real world, it seems far more common that we find opposing forces pitted against one another. It's a dog-eat-dog world where no quarter is asked for, and none is given; you have to fend for yourself. Why is it this way? What is it about human nature (or animal nature as the case may be) that has the world fraught with so much turmoil when there is so much more benefit one can receive comes from cooperating with others?

“He fought because he actually felt safer fighting than running.”

-Watership Down pg. 467

Hatred is Blind

The Count of Monte Cristo is my absolute favorite novel of all time. Just about every theme you could possibly think of is found in that book. I am having a difficult time trying to figure out what I would like to research with this novel, but right now I am aiming towards looking at the religious and possibly the political side of the novel. Particularly with the morals that are presented in this novel.

Nothing says it better than this:

"Fool that I am...that I did not tear out my heart the day I resolved to revenge myself."

The Count of Monte Cristo features a man who gives way to bitterness and hatred, holds the greatest grudge ever known to mankind, and eventually loses himself in revenge. Everything he was before, all of his innocence is now gone, not necessarily because of his misfortune, but because he chose to give it all up and become someone else--he chose to be hateful.

"Hatred is blind; rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught."

This proves to be painfully true for the man who was once Edmond Dantes. In his bitterness, in his insistence to hold a grudge and get revenge on those who wronged him, he loses himself. He acts the part of God, doling out mercy and justice as he sees fit. He loses his chance at the happiness that was once available to him.

Spagetti and Waffles

I once had it explained to me (by a man) that men are like waffles and

girls are like spaghetti.  

Let me explain.

Men have the fabulous ability to compartmentalize in their mind.  They have the work waffle divot, the school waffle divot, the relationship waffle divot, sports waffle divot etc.  Thoughts can stay as separate as they want them.

Woman are spaghetti.  We have one thought that gets tangled into another thought that is lost in another completely different thought.  Gossip of school intertwines with the stresses of work which affects the level of patience we have we our friends and pretty soon you have no idea where one thought or feeling began and where another ended. *

Ever since my last post my mind hasn’t been able to settle down with everything I want to do to gather in information!  I want to create quiz lets and google polls!  I want to survey campus, friends, family, strangers, everyone!  I want to talk with students, undergrads, graduates and professors.  I want to ask the world : WHY, no really, WHY do you read?

My Spaghetti mind has some unraveling to do before I think I’ll be able to pick my next direction… but until then.  I NEED HELP from all you other Waffles and Plates of Spaghetti!
This is what I am considering for a claim:

The definition of a “good book” is subjective to an individuals generation and is influenced by the books physical and textual aesthetics, character development and dialogue as well as moral lessons found within the book.  

Stay tuned for how I’ll work myself up to this point! 

If you can't figure out if your mind is a waffle or spaghetti.. it's ok! 

*Disclaimer: I understand that not all individuals are like this nor will ever be like this nor have the desire to be like this… but hey, it’s fun none the less! 

Who's Your Morrie?

My own Morrie (my dad)
 keepin' it real with Paul Revere.
(Boston 2012)
Mitch Albom, the author of Tuesdays with Morrie, was an undergrad when he met Morrie Schwartz. Morrie was just his sociology professor, but as Mitch progressed through school, Morrie became more than that. To Mitch and many other students, Morrie became a source of reason, encouragement, and advice. Most of all he was a friend. In my life, my own father is a sort of Morrie to me.

So I have a question for anyone interested--who's your Morrie?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Do I Read?

On my way to school this morning I was talking with my fiancé.  With the usual mischief in his voice he confessed that he woke up extra early that morning just so he could finish a good book that he was reading.  (Yup, He’s an English Major’s dream). “I love fiction!  Reading fiction evokes the child-like feeling that every moment of life can be an adventure.”  As he gushed about the delightsome nature of fiction, my mind began to race.  
What is it about books that people love so much?  I know when I read it is quite the experience: I am transported to other worlds, I meet new people, I simply get away!  I love the smell of books.  I love getting so consumed by words on a page that I don’t realize that I am reading anymore — the picture in my mind becomes so vivid and real.  But do all people who have at least a tolerance for books have a similar experience?”

Why Do YOU Read? 
My curiosity was peaked, and I wanted to know!  It was time to go to the masses… well as far as my Facebook friends go.

Tall Boy: “They are a portal to get away from reality!”

Long- Ago Classmate: “Reading books is like experiencing other people's adventures.”

Bearded Man: “Reading [a book] is like hanging out with an old friend. They're comforting, exciting, and can make me feel a wide range of emotions. Books are my favorite"

New Mom: “I love the sound of turning pages, the feel of the paper, the tangible ness of real books. I love the chance to learn about the world and myself, to see things through another's point of view, learn new words, and to just enjoy a good story.”

Recent Acquaintance: “I LOVE historical fiction.  It's a great way to learn about different kinds of people and experience life through their eyes! Books can help you experience things that you normally wouldn't have the chance to”

Books awaken is us a sense of adventure, intrigue, curiosity, courage, sympathy…

What Do Books Do for YOU?

Take a glimpse how one book sparked the flame of courage and confidence in me and helped me begin to rise above social prejudices of a new town.