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Nov. 12th, 2010

Teen Books, The Nook and Very Little Else to Talk About

Feb. 27th, 2010

Still Watching the Watchmen

Dec. 29th, 2009

Isms in Fandom and the On Going Meta-Fandom Inspired Debate

I'm probably going to royally mess this thought stream up, but I'm going to go for it anyway.

I read metafandom fandomroundup and a ton of fannish related stuff all the time. I rarely comment but I still read comments too. It sort of comforts me and reminds me of an edgy more modern lit class. I like when people tear things to bits and point out flaws and praise and explanations and all that goodness. It's what I've always loved about reading, it's what's got me loving tv and other media we're all viewing together at the moment.

I really only started fandom about two years ago and at that time racism, feminist, sexuality, gender issues ablism and so on where huge in fandom (or in the fandom I was reading anyhow). It seemed to be a new and fresh development that everyone was wading into. It clicked as a familar element from a ton of feminist blogs I was reading and couldn't get enough of and seemed both welcoming and interesting to me.

People spoke about how these issues would get old. How we should soak up praise while we could because the silencing would move in. The trends would change and heck no one would care about the isms any more. I was familiar with the thought. Bitch and other magazines examined this in aspects of feminism all the time. How book publishers are only interested in one variety of minority story at a time and once they move on, those stories disappear. How in the movement there is silencing, racism, fear, and in some cases what looks like hatred. Feminism isn't perfect and in many places it's as mean and ugly and dark as any aspect of the "rest" society can be. It takes part in the same crimes it complains of to different groups of others and whether feminism wants to talk about it or do something about it comes in little inconsistent circles too.

Anyhow, it seems to me that isms have finally become "old" in fandom, at least for the time being. The sheer number of posts either defending or declaiming their right to write and share in common spots really says all that needs to be known.

Its odd for me because I feel like I've been on both sides of this argument before. Acknowledging and discussing problems in out media is important. Awareness can go a long way to not stepping on someones toes, at least not doing so on purpose. Fandom is a nice safe place to do that because the people and the actions are all fiction and no one should be personally involved in what's happened/happening.

Beyond that, I like the balance between serious real world conversation and hey do you think a Topher Boyd slash would be insanely yummy or are they too clashy to be slashy?

On the other side I can see where people feel like they are talking about non-ism issues and feel burdened when it's "imposed" in the conversation. Like if we were listing the pros and cons of Topher/Boyd and then someone jumped in with some "you know what they say about black quys" like thing, and someone rightly jumped on the "that's racist" bandwagon and suddenly we've got a slash pairing post all about the constructs of power and how if Boyd is in the more "feminized" position for sex that has to do with racism or it could have to do with racism or in some cases it definitely does have to do with racism where others get it right and so on and so on.

Personally I'm all about those convos, they parallel convos about female characters and sexism so closely that I feel like it's the same conversation with different words. I generally know where I stand but love when people present that which I haven't thought about.

For me my hot button is in cultural approbation convos. We're all talking about anime this or manga that and suddenly we're told the whole media is racist. To be fair I know that animes and mangas are Americanized. I do like talking about the differences in Japanese to American versions and what those nuances mean or don't mean. Sometimes I can tell before it's pointed out to me where stuff was changed and it didn't sit well. Likewise, I know the big round eyes and weird hair colors sometimes white wash over race, sometimes I can't figure out gender from the sketches even.

I get that some people take this for granted. I get that I probably don't see exactly how bad this is and some of not seeing it might be my refusal to look or acknowledge it. I do what I can from where I am in my own life. Cultural approbation seems like one of those things that being aware of it isn't enough but there isn't anything I can do about it either. I can't stop it, my refusal to purchase it stops my enjoyment from the watered down bit I can get but won't shut down an industry or show disapproval.

Heck stopping real world approbation doesn't help. From what I've gathered on open cultures (closed cultures is another story) it's not that white people eat their food, wear their clothes, or partake in their activities that's the problem. It's that people of the culture who choose to partake in their own culture are seen as outcasts and picked on for what is cool and chic for white folk to do. It's not that white people like and know something about the culture that's the problem, it's that sometimes they romantized, get over zealous, and correct actual people born and raised in that culture that's the problem.

How to I stop or counter balance that? How can my awareness be enough when the damage is done long before I get on the scene? How would my not enjoying aspects of said culture help the problem and how could I encourage environments where natives of said culture could return to their practices if they wanted to without penalty? It's too big and makes me feel too helpless.

So when I want to talk about Naruto and someone comes in to tell me the whole premise is a race fail, I don't know what to say. "I know" seems as if it would dismissive or imply that I didn't care at all. I care, I just don't know what to do. I know magna for many people is the straw that broke the camel's back. There is so much media bombarding them with ism and this one media was too much.

I get that. I have that one media being "too much" problem too. Right now the existence of Avatar is my "too much" media. A sci-fi where the white men come in and destroy hapless sentient natives because they are "in the way" even though it's those people's planet what they know and want is irrelevant and meaning less because they aren't really people -- it is too much. That white guy becoming the native and having a Pocahontas like romance where he betrays but doesn't the female lead is too much. I can't see that movie no matter what the might be awesome is in it. I can't deal with conversations that seem to skim over the many many many problems with the basic plot. I'm sure some maybe most of the people who partake in those convos know where the problems are, I bet some of them aren't trying to ignore or talk around them, they just don't want to have to deal with them head on all the time when they talk about the movie either. My going in there to throw a "this is wrong" fit will not help those people and it probably won't reach those who really don't think there's anything wrong.

To conclude this rant: people who think there's too many isms posts should avoid them and spend less time complaining and more time actually writing new and interesting (or old but still worthwhile) posts on topics of their choice.

People who are all about an ism camp or at least partially involved in one, where do you stand on saying something within a less serious fannish about x ism? Do you jump in full force immediately as soon as the topic isn't addressed? Do you look for a pattern of comments or one particularly nasty comment to address? Do you say something all the time or are you silent most of the time?

For people who want just a fluff post or a fluff conversation how do they phrase or moderate such a conversation to minimize ism outside of the story arch?

For me personally I prefer an acknowledgment within the first post that shows awareness of potential ism and serious material but clearly states that this post is for discussing specific area X. That there is a lot surrounding it that deserve their own posts for discussion but you want to focus on x today. This kind of focus lets me write my own post about my ism issue and usually steers commenter clear of murky hurtful waters.

It helps if the journal owner keeps tabs on the conversation too. When someone starts veering, putting the convo back on track and immediately shutting down hurtful trends that sometimes occur. If focus is shifting too much either starting a separate post for it, directing someone to another persons post on it, or encouraging others to make a post on it.

Thoughts, feelings, concerns, stuff I skipped or did badly at?

Nov. 9th, 2009

1984 Thoughts so Far

"V for Vendetta" both the movie and the graphic novel did it sooo much better. "1984" is one of those books that so far (I'm only a fourth of the way through part three) could have benefited from major editing. I mean this tome goes on and on and on on on about doublespeak. I got the concept the first eighty times. Seriously, the book dedicates over twenty pages and two separate sections to the idea of doublespeak.

Also, I love a good metaphysical discussion as much as the next person, but how long can a dude talk about the realities of history? Some of it might just be that I don't think our current history records or our current reporting styles are so pristine that I can get too worked up about the Ministry of Truth's work. It's bad sure, I don't know if destroys objective history (as such a thing doesn't exist) or if it would bring every aspect of my life and personal thoughts into question.

Whole swaths of women's history and non-white people's history is still trying to be pieced together and learned. Whether or not we know it or understand it doesn't change that it happened.

In the neo-pagan movement one of the many questions that has to be faced if you want to use British witch-craft as a source or Wicca outer court material is whether the history matters. After all, the creations there are new with faked older lineage. If the material is valid regardless of age the good for you and if it's not good, then it's just not going to work with you.

Winston is horrified by something that we all deal with to a certain degree. Maybe it's just one of those horrors you have to be there to really understand-though if that's the case then maybe 1984 shouldn't have relied so heavily on it.

On a completely different note, how come all these super controlled societies are run by men and questioned only by men? I know what you're going to say, Juila is the catalyst for Winston's true rebellion. Without her, Winston would have just gone on being unhappy and frustrated and probably would have one day given himself away without ever experiencing any of the joy of rebellion.

I like Julia. She sneaks around eating good food pilfered from the elite's store. She sleeps with whomever she pleases. She knows where the safe areas are to go to talk or relax. She knows how to hide in plain sight and she can pick out others who are probably doing the same. Why the hell didn't we start the book off with someone who was frustrated with society and doing something about it the way Julia was? Seriously Winston is just a hopeless little whiner before Julia comes along and he would have stayed that way without her.

What gets me the most about the whole situation is even though Winston "loves" Julia and even though he would be nothing without her, he still looks down on her. She doesn't "care" about The Party's motives or larger goals. Julia doesn't get into a froth over who the party is at war with. She's not surprised that they go back and change information to suit their goals and needs, but she's not horrified either.

Of course, Julia doubts the reality of a war at all, something Winston never even considers. She believes The Party is a bunch of liars but she just doesn't care about what the truth is as it doesn't affect her. Julia believes these things are nebulous and far away compared to immediate concerns over the quality of life.

Winston is on such a high horse about the big issues. Something has to be done. The truth has to be preserved. Would he even care if his quality of life hadn't been impacted?

Beyond that, realistically what is Winston going to do? What can anyone in a society set up as Oceania do? Julia is smart enough to see that her acts of rebellion are probably the limit. You could escape into the proles maybe and then create unrest among them strong enough to cause a revolt, though it seems unlikely as Winston doesn't have the skills or the understanding he'd need to do that. You could stand up publicly in the middle of Oceania against Big Brother and be taken and hope other would follow you example, hope somehow that enough people would protest that the thought police couldn't take them all.

It's a hopeless scenario, sometimes surviving and surviving with some private joys has to be enough.

Another thing why would you trust Charrington? Seriously has Winston ever been in another party building without a telescreen? Did he really believe that The Party let people choose to install them and you know Charrington never found the time or didn't have the money or something?

And why wouldn't Charrington have brought Winston in when Winston first bought the journal or when Winston came back for the paperweight or the first time he and Julia met in the room? How much thought crime did he have to show before he got busted? I thought these people just pulled you off the street for looking at people wrong and now they take their sweet time messing with Winston before they take him in. Heck why didn't O'Brien bring him in at his apartment? It all seems really pointless to me.

Winston seemed far too afraid of pain to really be interested in a change. He cowers at the sight of the thought police. He obeys them even though he knows death and pain are unavoidable. I guess fear can do that to you, but all those words about going down swinging and doing anything to attack at the party seem really hollow when he won't even show rebellion or resistance in the face of what is certain death. How long has he been insisting that he is the dead already only to be suddenly afraid all over again when he has to face it?

Some of the torture seems uninspired and I think that Orwell didn't give human resistance enough credit. He made the human spirit's will to live unbelievably strong and yet it's ability to resist change through brutality is unexplored. I don't know, maybe Orwell was on the ball and people completely collapse all the time the minute torture is implemented. I've been led to believe that torture doesn't work partially because people won't give up correct information or any information even.

One thing Orwell did really well was talk about how once someone breaks they will tell you anything to stop the pain. I liked that Winston just confessed and confessed and confessed. I also like the scene where the one emaciated dying man begs to avoid room 101 and says he will tell them anything so long as he knows what to repeat to them.

It's still a chilling read and it's worth the time, I just think it could have been edited some is all. The book really only has 150 pages of plot and general thought in it worth reading the rest of it seems be be repetition because Orwell thought we should be beaten over the head with a concept that is easy to grasp.

Apr. 28th, 2007

Rasin in the Sun Character Development

One thing that Raisin in the Sun does really well with is building tension within the play to keep the viewer interested in what's going on. There are two main ways tension is built.
One way the play manages this is through maintaining one point all the characters world's revolve around. For Raisin in the Sun the key element is money. Every character, though their drives, desires, and personalities are drastically different find the need for money to be a key motivational tool. That they are all fighting over what to do with a limited amount of money in a time sensitive venture, brings the tension up to full volume. Right away we are thrown into a family situation that is on the edge of having a complete break down.
The second key element in maintaining tension in Raisin in the Sun is having a diverse amount of subplots. Everything might boil down to when the family is getting the money, what the family will do with the money, and what happens when the money is lost, but the distinct feeling of rising need also comes from having several characters with several different motifs running through. From the very beginning of the play it is established that the viewer is seeing a family with tight resources that is about to get a lot of money, but they are also seeing several individuals who all have separate dramas and trials that require vastly different things to get what they want. Each of these characters seems to be at the end of the rope and most of them need not only a chunk of the money Mama is getting but they also need the understanding and acceptance of the rest of the family.
In the beginning of the play, Ruth is exhausted and pinching pennies everywhere she can with the very distant dream that she might one day get to move out of their current home. She is always working at home or out doing the same for other families. She does all this work in the hopes of creating a happy and healthy family. A large part of what hinders Ruth's dreams are the family's lack of funds, but an even greater part of what hinders Ruth is Walter. Ruth can't be happy until Walter settles. She can't understand why he can't just go to work and come home like she does. Ruth sees Walter's friends as loudmouth trouble makers, and Walter's dreams might as well be unicorns to Ruth. She understands his need to have better, but where Ruth is motivated to do better in her relationship with Walter and quality of life at home, Walter wants to do better economically and socially. He wants a better job that can offer his family better things. Really both wants are often close at each other's heels but neither can have the other without the money coming in the mail and without the other's support.
The conflict between Ruth and Walter could be a play all on its own, but there are other people with other connections who also come into play. Benetha also lives with Ruth and Walter, and like them she has some stake in the money that is coming tomorrow. Benetha, much like Walter, wants to better her standing in the world. Unlike Walter she realizes that to move up in the world, she's going to need to know the rules to play and win. Another difference between Walter and Benetha is that Benetha is looking to find herself. Instead of shunning what she feels should be her “blackness” and wanting just to become even with the white people, Benetha wants to reclaim the good things about being black. She wants the African culture and she wants to be a doctor. These differences, rather than Walter and Benetha's similarities are what meet and clash most often between the two. Walter in some ways resents Benetha's school and Benetha looks down on her brother's ideas of escape.
Another part of what Benetha must fight against is how little she can communicate her needs to her family. Part of this is the family's lack of education, but part of this is Benetha allowing herself to get to be pretentious. Benetha sometimes gets carried away in ideas too much to see the reality in front of her. This makes her come off as both pretentious and condescending to Ruth and Mama. Benetha is still looking for the line and there are very few people at home who can help her gauge how far is too far.
To add one more stress to the apartment, Mama lives with them in their rented space where she rules as matriarch. Mama's power over the family keep Walter from taking what he feels is his place as the head of the household and create an immediate conflict. Mama's tendency to align with Ruth as they are both family oriented only make a larger wedge in Ruth and Walter's relationship. Often Mama's alignment to Ruth creates more instead of less work for Ruth because she is the one who has to deal most with both Walter and Benetha's negative reactions. Mama's true aim is to make her children happy and give them a future. Unfortunately she is often so locked into the old way and the old problems she has trouble seeing how her children in front of her struggle with new problems her generation would dream of having the right to fuss over.
The money itself can't actually solve any of these problems, though each character makes the mistake of believing it could. Even after the money is divided and everyone has a bit of what they want, there isn't a lull in the tension until we see that Mama has made efforts to understand what Benetha is looking for in a man and Walter has taken steps to repair his marriage with Ruth. The money made these corrections possible, but the people themselves is what relieves the tension.
The end of Act Two keys the tension up again by making all the money gone. The family's doubts and disapproval of Walter are thrown back onto him. His leadership is undermined by his own poor judgment. Benetha's college efforts are in jeopardy, and the house that Ruth and Mama have waited so long for might have to be sold.
That Act Three ends with the family moving into their new home without any money and with some semblance of unity shows that while money may have been the catalyst what the viewer is waiting for is the end to the individual dramas and not the end to the money.

Apr. 28th, 2005

Lit Themes Journal Final and 4th Part

“I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen pg 367
I am really angry at this mother, when I finish the story. Why did she have other children? She had a chance to fix the gap between here first and herself, and instead she only made it worse and foisted responsibility onto Emily too young.
I see the mother's pain and hurt in the early years, and how often she did things she did not want to because she had to pay for food and a home somehow. I can understand some of her difficulties and I sympathize with her plight, but for me where she really messed up was when she had Susan, why didn't she embrace Emily now that she had the time? Why did she leave a five year old home a lone in a bad part of town? How could anyone think that is old enough to leave a child home alone. How could anyone just give up on one of their kids? I think that the narrator did not fulfill her obligations to Emily as best as she could.
Certainly some of the mistakes were not her fault. At that time, one was supposed to listen to the officials on how to raise a child, so her timely breast feedings and her sending her child away to a home could not necessarily be helped. Also there were certain pressure for food that forced the mother to put Emily in temporary care situations.
In a lot of ways too Emily is a very strong and good kid. She will get through tough things that the other children will break under. Emily is used to hardship and she will be able to blaze her own path in a way the other children won't. Still I can't help be resent Susan. Part of that is because Susan has everything Emily doesn't and she gets the better cut of everything, and the other part of it is because in a lot of ways Susan and Emily's relationship is a lot like my sister's and mine. I was the quieter child who stayed in the back ground while Emma was the one to grab others attention and mesmerize them with feats and songs. Emma, much like Susan, could never keep her hands away from her my things, even though we had pretty much the same of everything, only Emma would break her toys and then take my toys and break them too. I would be livid at her and I can understand some of what Emily might have felt. It wasn't enough that Emma was center of attention, but then she would have the nerve to rifle through my toys and break them.
I also find it unacceptable in many ways the the mother has given up on Emily reaching her full potential. She has so very much to offer. She is very precious and a wonderful person, why wouldn't the mother do her best so that Emily could become her best. How is “Well, we didn't quite make it, sorry, it was fun trying.” an appropriate answer?

“Oedipus the King” by Sophocles pg 495
Ah such a long work, with soooo very many themes. I could go one forever, but I”m not going to. I'll try and tackle what will be most pertainate to this class without too many side tangents.
Family wise Oedipus is fascinating. There is a huge resemblance between family members. For instance bother Oedipus and his father have the same pig headed stubbornness and fiery temper. Who fights to the death instead of yielding way to the road, seriously? I mean depending on the importance of what I was doing, but I would never actually get into a fight. Why didn't one just yield to the other, probably because each had a strong sense of self importance and a stubborn streak in them. Certainly Oedipus' dad was on a very important mission to the oracle, but I bet that he waste more time arguing with his son than he would have if he had just yielded the way to him. As for Oedipus, what was his rush? Didn't he remember the prophecy that he had just been told by the oracle, that he would murder his father? Shouldn't he have made some sort of vow to not kill anyone, that would certainly keep him from killing his dad wouldn't it? No instead he gets into a heated fight with some guy on the road and kills him so he doesn't have to wait for his party to cross first.
As for the likeness to Jocasta, that is rather uncanny as well. Both have same sort of arrogance which makes them believe that they can defy the Gods. Jocasta jokes about fate and the will of the Gods and how easy it is to escape fate, all she had to do was kill her child and all Oedipus had to do was run away from home. Even as the two praise the Gods and pray to them for favor they place their own abilities and talents ahead of the Gods divine will.
I also think it is interesting how distrusting Oedipus is of everyone surrounding him. He thinks the worst of everyone and at first I wondered why. Then I realized that he is power hungry scum of the earth and he probably believes that everyone is as arrogant and as cut throat as he is. If that were true, I guess a lot of his accusations and jumped conclusions about people wouldn't be too far off.
Everything Oedipus does is to excess, this is especially true with his emotions. He is really awesome or really terrible and no one can sway his mind once a decision is made. Oedipus' judgments are also a lot like this too. For instance in the beginning of the play he very much talks about how much he loves Jocasta and how much she loves him. He talks very publicly about how he and the previous King are almost like brothers because of how much he loves the Queen and how much the Queen loves him. This line is rather sickening for the readers because we realize that the sexual reference is disturbing more because the previous King and Oedipus are actually father and son, and Oedipus' Queen is actually his mother. Though later we see how fickle love and loyalty are to Oedipus when he seems to turn on the Queen and accuses her of loving him less because Oedipus could have a low birth. That was far from Jocasta's meaning and it shows that Oedipus' version of love is weak and only there for convenience. We also see confusion of love because his wife is also his mother, which is just strange.
Also, while Oedipus claims that his love for his two daughters is strong and unerring we see how he never thinks of their well being or his parental duty to help provide for them. He selfishly and impulsively gouges out his own eyes and demands that he be banished from the town. Never does Oedipus worry about his children until he can do nothing to help them. Even then, instead of comforting them and trying to give them strength is curses their miserable lives and puts fear into their hearts with dark words and warnings. It isn't enough he has left them to fend for themselves, he must tell them of exactly how damned the two children are. It is also interesting the Oedipus is completely disinterested with his male children. He has no wish to see them or have them cared for, and considering what happens in the Antigone perhaps he should have worried more about his boys than he did. Oedipus' disinterest in his own sons echoes the disinterest that his actual father showed in him in some degrees, because as Oedipus' father literally cast his son out of his life and sentenced him to death, Oedipus casts his sons out of his heart to die at each other's hands later.
As far as fate goes, this play and its lesson of fate have interesting connotations to work. If one really can do nothing to change one's fate and it will happen one way or another then why work? What does struggling and fighting mean if one is ruled by fate? Is anything really a reward or punishment, can anyone earn anything under such a system? In my own opinion fate doesn't exist. I could never see a world where everything happened out of my control, and if one day I found out that fate miraculously really does exist, I would be rather disillusioned and OI would probably stop all efforts immediately because I would know that the work had no meaning and that whatever happened would happen no matter what I did.

“Araby” by James Joyce pg 828
I want to like James Joyce because one of my favorite English teacher really had a strong appreciation for him, and I want to be able to see what she sees in him, but we generally don't get along. Regardless, this short story is interesting in many ways, one is Joyce's signature attempt at stream of consciousness. The story is written from the perspective of a man looking back on an event that happened to him as he was ten. He tries to maintain the feeling of a ten year old narrator, but interrupts himself often to explain things that the en year old con not have with sophisticated language.
I don't take the story to really be a love story, as the main character is not in love with anyone in the story. He claims to be in love with “Megan's sister”, but he doesn't even know the girl's name, and if he does know it, apparently her name is not important enough to include. Also the boy doesn't know much about the girl at all, only that she is pretty, and it seems that even with his small infatuation with her he doesn't really pay attention to her.
As far as Megan's sister goes, I don't think that she knows the narrator exists. She seems to be a common little girl. The only time we ever hear her talk she seems whiny and bitter. She wants to go to the Araby but can't and she is annoyed about it. The ten year old boy doesn't notice this, and I can see a sullen look on her face as she talks about an annoying convent trip and I hear the whine in her voice as she tell the narrator “It's well for you,”.
The narrator is in love with the idea of love much like Romeo he want to play the knight in shining armor on an epic quest. He sets himself up a mission to get her something at the Araby, and then he prepares himself for it like a knight readying for battle. The adults who forget about the fair and just don't understand his needs are his dragons that he must battle with so he may go to the fair to get a token for his love.
The kid has built up this quest larger than life, and he comes to the fair in a rush ready to finally win his girl's affection, and when he gets to the fair he is completely disenchanted. Its the end of the fair, the grounds are probably dirty and everything has been picked over. Everything is probably gaudy and cheap looking. The people there are probably drunk and dark looking. As he approaches a both the stall girl their probably is about the same age as Megan's sister and she is flirting with other men when she turns to him with disinterest and asks if there is anything he wants the boy probably just looks at her and shakes his head weakly. He realizes that his quest is all an imaginary game and silly folly. He sees that Megan's Sister probably isn't slightly interested in him and doesn't care if he exists. The narrator grows up a lot in this short span of time and suddenly he is completely disillusioned with his sense of “love” and “loyalty” to this girl. He realizes that he wanted this sort of nice accessory so as Megan's sister as an ego boost and status marker. He wanted some knight in shining armor fairy book fake that just doesn't really seem to exist in the real world.

“Somewhere I Never Traveled” by E.E. Cummings pg 815
This could be taken many ways. One could take this poem to be first love which is fragile and precious and must be taken slowly and carefully cause the love could be easily scared off. It also goes through the phases of love with the good times and and bad times.
This could be taken as more negative poem, where instead of “fragile gestures are things which enclose me,” as in all her tender gestures wrap the speaker in love and peace and goodness, it could be taken as the girl being like “but I need you and I can't go one without you and your owe me this...”. Instead of the “slightest look easily enclose” the narrator might mean that he worries over her disapproval because he doesn't want to hurt her. Instead her look of disapproval weakens the narrator and threw him out of her range filling him with dread and unraveling his ability to actually function. What worries me most is “or if you wish to close me, i and/ my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,” and it worries me about the narrator's help. I am afraid that the narrator loves the girl to the point of excess where she can abuse him and hate him, but if she ever left him he would kill himself. That sort of relationship worries me and makes me worry about his health and the health of their relationship.
Parts of this poem also confuse me, like how can fragility be a power? That also worries me to, because it makes me think that one is trapped under his weaknesses. That doesn't sound healthy and I hate the idea of being trapped by anyone. It sounds to me as if this woman has power through manipulation, weaknesses, and faults.

“Immature Love” by Nathaniel Branden pg 964
This piece was really interesting from many perspectives. After all, it is Ayn Rand's lover. I have to agree with all these immature view on love. I know so many people who use love to try to use love to complete them and who do stupid immature things in love. In “Love of My Life” their love was immature and poor. They two of them were trying to be movie couples and act as a couple should instead of showing genuine features of love. I also have a friend who wanted her boyfriend to take away all her problems and take care of her, which made me angry. I've also know people in clearly verbally abusive relationships who just allowed the significant other to continue a abuse them insisting that they “love” the other person and that their significant other has been misunderstood and is hurting inside.
I don't understand all these people with partial feelings of love and that he or she doesn't come to terms with his or her own problems. F someone just fixed their own life first he or she could have genuine love and feelings for the other person.

“The Ache of Marriage” by Denise Levertov pg 1006
This is an interesting poem. When I first read this poem I thought that the term “ache” had negative connotations. I thought that this person had built up expectations of marriage and had gotten married for the wrong reasons and now she was unhappy and angry about it. I saw the beginning part to be talking about how kisses, communication, and sexual relations are heavy with this ache or unhappiness. I took it to mean that something was wrong in the relationship and that the person didn't know what to do with it.
In the next stanza I thought that the use of communion was a religious reference, where in the Christian religion one receives the “body” of Christ and becomes one with gone and complete. So I thought that like in “Immature Love” this narrator was looking for completion in her partner and this connection and feeling of oneness only to be turned down. I also thought communion could be a reference to the marriage ceremony and how even during the marriage the completion the narrator was looking for was missing. I also considered that the narrator might be talking about actual communion and connection with God. Since she has been married she had been unable to seek this connection to God, so the marriage is so bad that even God has turned her away.
I thought of Pinocchio at the reference to the leviathan and how the two were trapped in this monster of a commitment searching for the fabled “joy”, only to find there was none.
At last, I saw the ark as a religious reference for complete reference. Yes, the animal chosen two by two to go on the ark we saved, but they were became the only ones of their kind and even more isolated and unable to back out.
I thought the occasionally use of the word “beloved” was possibly sarcastic, or maybe it was a last ditch attempt to hold onto this idea of what the narrator had.
Though, in class a new idea was presented that I found interesting, where the “ache” of marriage is really the longing to get married. That the woman loves this man and for whatever reasons she can't get married to him. He loves him and as she searches for a communion with him she is turned away. She wants to be consumed with the responsibility and know the secret joys of marriage, and she wants to be saved. She aches for passage onto the ark with her love.

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver pg 976
Everyone has different idea on what love is. I think what is most amusing about this story isn't each person's opinion on love so much as who believes what. I think the fact the Mel has a divorced wife that he wants to die, but at the same time he claims to be a love expert is hilarious. He lets his hatred of his wife keep him from seeing and talking to the kids. I think its funny that his last marriage went so far south that his last wife refuses to get married again out of spite to Mel, and she has him paying child support through the nose. I wonder if maybe she doesn't do it for spite so much as she forces him to pay the child support in attempt to keep him tied to his children, that he apparently hasn't seen in forever. I also am confused about how someone can go from loving another person to hating them. Mel seems insistent that all the people in the table are in love, but if the other died then the people would move on and go on to love others. He was so callous about it, it almost sounded like he wouldn't care if Terri died. Even has Mel talked about his love for Terri he continued to insult and bicker with her.
Terri's idea of love is also messed up. I don't think that loving to the point of not being able to go on without them is a good thing. Suicide over break up=unhappy and immature love. Terri seems rather childish in general. I wonder if Mel married her because she was so simple and he was tired of working for love. Terri doesn't seem to care about how Mel treats her or what she says and does.
I found the story depressing in that everyone at the table was divorced at least once. I also thought it was depressing that Terri thought her abusive boyfriend loved her, I was surprised that she found that a kind of love. I also was surprised that she wanted to sit with him as he died. I would never have anything to do with someone who tried to kill or just me. I think that I am a very low matainence kind of girl who is easily pleased and lets a lot slide, but I draw the line a physical and emotional abuse.
The old couple was cute, but I don't know exactly if that is how I would classify love. I think that if I was in love with someone and I died and would want them to continue to live life to the fullest and be happy, I wouldn't want them to be sad for me and I wouldn't want them to kill themselves for me.
“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold pg 1073
My discussion about Matthew Arnold in high school has lead me to certain preconceived notions of “dover Beach” which may or may not be accurate. I feel that it is a poem filled with inner and outer turmoil. Arnold does not know what to make of the world and its changes. In the beginning he starts the poem out with this beautiful description of the ocean and the shore line, but certain word choice begin to underlay the peaceful feeling of the poem. “grating roar”, “pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling” “The eternal note of sadness in.”. These sounds are not happy or positive sound grating makes people shudder at the noise, fling has an angry child like frustration to the word, and eternal sadness is somewhat self explanatory.
Arnold brings a feeling of eternity into the depths of the poem as he talks about Sophocles' time and even then the ocean was a sea of “human misery”. In the next stanza, Arnold ties the feeling of spirituality and religion that was in the first stanza by calling it the “Sea of Faith”, and even here there is some significant sadness and loss as it was “onces. Too. At the full, and round earth's shore/....But know I only hear/ Its melancholy, long withdrawing roar,”. People are losing their faith in religion. They are losing a connection to God and the beauty and enchantment that was once in the world.
I've always taken the next stanza to be a sarcastic “Ah, love, left us be true” as if mocking the situation. I thought Arnold is talking about how the world we once knew is receding and leaving us faithless and lost in the sharp reality of what is. Even in Sophocles' time there was this foreboding feeling of the truth behind illusion, but now the truth has been revealed we see the ugliness of the world without the protection of faith and belief in goodness, truth or love. I don't think that Arnold is pleading with his love, I think he already knows that she is deceiving him and that he is mocking his once trust in her, saying how can we be in a world with “neither joy, nor love, nor light/ Nor certitude, nor peace nor, nor help from pain;”. In a world without love, Arnold has broken his own plea. How can he have love in world devoid of it? I think Arnold believes there is no saving the world and that this illusion that is the ocean has been pulled back. For the first time people see what is beneath that dark ocean and they see their own darkness, and the lies that their happy perceptions once were.
Arnold is appealing to the loss of what he would have called love. He is also talking about the love of illusions and that love in God and faith is nothing more than a love of lies and deception.

“A&P” by John Updike pg 833
I think the kid was stupid for quiting his job. This is another kid without confidence who is looking for someone else to complete him and raise him to a level of prestige and self respect. No one can make one respect oneself. I don't know why one would quit one's job over those girls. I don't think they were upper class like the narrator thought. I think they were some scuzzy girls who were too lazy to put some clothes on before going into a store. I would NEVER go into a store in just my swimming suit ESPECIALLY if it was only a bikni. Its just bad taste to run into a store, unless its a beach shop right on the beach, in just one's swim suit. Haven't they ever heard the phrase “no shirt, no shoes, no service”, seriously what did they expect.
I also thought it was really stupid to quit for those girls because he couldn't decide whether or not he liked them, he just thought they were better than him At first he calls all the girls pretty and regal and compliments their looks. Then one of them becomes fat and even the one he calls Queenie loses some of her appeal at some point in time.
I think that this story and the narrators quiting really didn't have anything to do with those girls, and everything to do with his own self love and self image. It was a class deal, like these upper class people have fancy pool parties and matching glasses, while we have these rinky dink cartoon mismatched glasses. They have fancy food and we have burnt hot dogs. They are so rich and privileged they feel they can come into a store in just their bathing suits without repercussions. They probably don't need to work a crappy summer job for money, in fact they probably have a great car while I have to work this low class crap job and I have a crappy are, or no car at all. They have the privilege of affording friends who will sympathize and understand them while I am stuck striving for some artistic and spiritual accomplishment that no one understands or respects.
The worst part is that as the narrator tries to make his stand to say “I deserve better and I am important and worthy of respect as I am”, he simply confirms that he is out of step with his peers and trapped in isolation. The girls don't care about him and he loses them. His boss will get a replacement in a week or so and he won't even be missed. No one will understand why hie quit and he will be teased and mocked for it. Quiting had no impact on anything and it only helped to reassert the “they are better than me” feeling as well as the “what I think, feel, an am has no affect on others.”

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot pg 851
Man this was a long poem... alright that's off my chest on to actual meaning. There seems to be the feeling of apathy in the beginning of the poem as if to say “well ok then lets act like lovers”. So they go through the actions of walking down these abandoned streets and sleeping together in cheap dirty hotels. They do it all without thinking, feeling or concern. The narrator actually tells his lover “Oh ,do not ask, “What is it?”? Let us go and make our visit.” He avoids the whole topic of what love is and what is the meaning behind their nightly escapades.
The tone goes from this seeming apathy to a much darker and depressing hue where the narrator is quick to judge himself and the abstract of love. I'm pretty sure that the narrator has a very bitter view on love. He doesn't feel that there is to be any love for him or that there is love for others. The courtship act is simply one that men go through for sex and women go through to enjoy themselves without being looked down on by society.
He becomes especially harsh on himself when he states he is not Hamlet, but Polonius. Polonius is a stupid no nothing jerk who gives bad advice and can do nothing for himself, while Hamlet is the lead in the play, Prince of Demark, and filled glib remarks that are far too witty for the dim witted Polonius to get. I personally hate Hamlet, but if I had to be compared to Hamlet of Polonius I know that I would want to be like Hamlet, at least he has some good qualities and isn't just a babbling pawn of the King.

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner pg 969
Emily is insane. Who kills someone and then sleeps in the same bed with their corpse? Really who does that, and that black servant, he never said anything. If I were working for someone who slept next to a dead man nightly and I ever found out, you can gaurentee I would NEVER go back, in fact I would call the police and convince them to go up and at least take a look. How could you not know she had killed him? One day he's walking around town and occasionally chilling with Miss Emily and then one day he just stops coming into town and no one sees or hears from him ever again... that is really just strange. The servant must have know, I mean he spends the night in Emily's house and then never leaves the bed room again, that's messed up.
Who sells an off kilter woman poison anyway. The guy knew the Emily was a weird shut in, and she refused to tell him what the poison was for. It was far too strong for just rats, he must have known something was up. Yes, the town thought it the poison was for suicide, but did the town really want to aid in the intentional death of a woman? I'd be afraid that she was really insane and going to poison the town water supply and take us all down with her. I would insist in knowing a reason why she wanted the poison. I mean seriously, she can't think of a good lie? Where is her tact? I want to know how she ever roped any guy at all with that lack of social finesse.
I bet the father didn't chase suitors away out of possessiveness, but because he knew his girl was crazy and wanted the burden some poor guy with her. I bet she was a shut in by choice, crazy weirdo. Poor father has this reputation as some sort of mean cruel guy, when really he's just trying to take responsibility for this girl.
I don't think that Emily loved her “finacee” you don't murder people you love. The town probably loved talking about Emily and her eccentricities because if they hadn't love them they wouldn't have enabled her continue to live in that big house without contact with people and without paying her taxes and all of that jazz.

“Night Ferry” by Mark Dotty pg 1075
There is a lot of darkness in this poem. I think the “night ferry” is really the fabled boat that carries people from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The narrator is seeing someone off on the into death, and he is saying his good byes. He will eventually see him again, but it will be a long time from now, and he knows it. This is the love to let go of those we love. It is the strength to go on with life after a tragedy. It is a sign that even through sadness one is going to live his or her life to the fullest. It is the love to wait to be reunited with a loved one, and it is a love of patience. It shows the timeless unstoppable blindness in love to cross worlds and wait years.

“To Speak of the Woe That is in Marriage” by Robert Lowell pg 1005
This poem is interesting because the narrator of the poem is a woman where the author of the poem is a man. I don't think that Lowell created a woman that made any sense. If I knew my husband was doing drugs and going to prostitutes instead of me, I would leave him. I would not stand it, and our love would not last through unfaithfulness or willful addictions.
Though admittedly some of the poem is quite humorous. I think its funny that the wife keeps the ten dollar and the car keys with the whole sort of “I know you're going out to get cheap ten dollar whores and if you want it to continue you need to come to me for the keys and money”. I like how she tries to force control back to herself, even though I think it only highlights how she has no ability to even shame him into faithfulness.
I don't like the alternate interpretation of the reading of why to keep the ten dollars and car keys in which the wife is prostituting herself out to the husband to force him to perform his duties. I would never degrade myself in such a way. I would be humiliated to have to stoop so low to get my husband's attention. If I didn't do it for him then why did he marry me as I think sexual attraction is part and parcel of any healthy marriage and I would not settle for less than a health marriage. When he married me he promised to be faithful and that's really all there is too it.
The elephant metaphor just made me laugh. All I could think of was “trying to pretend the elephant in the room doesn't exist”. Then I thought about having someone stalled over me like an elephant and I realized how annoying that would probably be. I mean if an actual elephant stalled at, there would be no way to get it to move again, one can't push it out of the way, one can't go through it, it would be hard to go around or over it depending on where one was. One would just have to wait until the elephant felt like moving again. Then I thought of how the wife seemed to know all of this and I thought that like and elephant, she would never forget how he stalled over her and was unable to perform his duty to her that he was running into the arms of prostitutes to satisfy. If that was my husband I would kick in the balls and then divorce him fast. Leave him to the whores I deserve and will have much better.

“True Love” by Wislawa Szymborska pg 816
I love this poem ^_^. The narrator questions and demands things about true love in such a way that i places it even higher on a pedestal and makes it even more precious and desirable.
To answer rhetorical questions placed into the poem. True love is perfectly normal and anyone who looks for it will find it. Soul mate love of one's perfect other half may or may not be serious, it really depends on the person. When I find my soul mate he's going to have a good sense of humor and we're not going to be too serious about anything, because being able to laugh is really the key to happiness and all of life. As long as ones still has humor, one has the single most valuable tool against the world's evils. True love practical? Please nothing could be a larger indulgence and less practical and insane than true love. It is out there waiting and one day it will just grab a person out out nowhere and consume their very being. It has no rhythm are method to it at all.
The world gets two happy people with their own unique view on things. Others are drawn to happy couples and enjoy seeing them because we are attracted to that sort of positive energy and we want that kind of relationship for ourselves. We are happy for people we care for when they find that special someone because we want those we care about to have someone who recognizes how special and valuable that person is and cares for them as they should be cared for. We also want our friends to be happy and it pleases us to know that they are happy.
My favorite paragraph has to be at the peak of the narrator's own seeming bitterness. She seems to despise other's happiness demanding that those in love fake a little depression and use less clear language to express their feelings. This is rather amusing because what more does anyone want in a relationship than happiness and clear communication. What she is denouncing about true love is what most people want most about it.
As for the destruction of religion and poetry, just because one is in love doesn't mean that the world is all peachy roses. Even the closest couples fight, and have their moments of anger and questioning. Not everything would be the same happy boring work there would be a lot more happiness in the world if everyone had his or her soul mate, but I don't think that this would destroy poetry and art. People can still be in love and bad things can still happen. One's love can die or be in an accident. Some people will still be poor and mistreated while others will be rich and privileged. People will still be bigots and prejudice, there will still be plenty of pain and torture, but there would be more comfort and love. I would think that having one's soul mate by one's side would give something to really believe in. The whole someone did create me with a divine plan and I have a perfect compliment to myself, there must be a God out there to do this for me sort of belief. Besides someone would still have to be blamed for the death of those we love and some form of afterlife comfort would still need to exist, so religion would really only be helped to be proven if everyone suddenly had his or her soul mate.

“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell pg 849
I have mixed feelings on this poem. It is funny because its this big come on to some poor girl that probably doesn't even know this guy's name. Its funny how little men have changed in all these years, they are still only after action. I can just picture some desperate guy going around and saying this every girl in the desperate attempt to get some action.
For example the narrator starts of with the whole, if I had all eternity I would court you forever. I would spend a hundred years talking about your eyes along and we would take the whole thing as slow as you wanted to. It would be romantic and wonderful and everything you wanted. Even in the beginning here he throws in a dirty joke with “vegetable like love” referring to how his erection would grow “vaster than empires” but their actually sex would last longer than the rise and fall of such empires.
Of course he can not keep up this sort of talk for long, because of course the two do not have eternity, they have only this one life to live, and time is moving fast. Soon this girl is going to get old and if she hesitates to have sex now because of old fashioned feeling about virginity, then worms will be the only thing trying it, which if you ask me is just gross and doesn't belong in any sort of love poem. Then again, men are crude and think those sort of images are funny.
So then the rest of the poem is a come on about how since the two are short on time they should have sex right now and “get it on”. This amuses me quite a bit especially when I picture some guy going around and repeating this poem to every single lady in court trying to persuade her. I can't help the laughing.
On the flip side this poem is also somewhat dark. The last part is vicious and violent in the word choice. It have the classic rape psychology with the you know you want it I can see it in your blush, which could just be a blush of embarrassment. I don't think that the poem is supposed to imply the potential of rape of significant pressure on the female, and this attitude is undoubtedly the domineering attitude of the time, but it still has some menacing undertones. I would not want this as a love poem, it might be a funny joke if I really knew my partner and knew that he was joking with me, but beyond that I would feel a little scared and threatened if someone seriously presented this poem to me as a love ballad.

“Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald pg 986
Most of Fitzgerald's characters are confused on what exactly they want and Dexter is no different. He becomes obsessed with this really mean girl who is twelve at the time he meets her and he is immediately star struck. This girl was a brat, she tried to attack her nurse, she threw temper tantrums and believed herself to be better than everyone else. It was the fact that the girl treats everyone poorly that attacked Dexter to her in the first place. He quits his job so he won't be considered an inferior, but simply because he would never treat anyone as badly as the girl treats people, he will never be of “equal” class and she will always look down on him as “lesser” because she won't have the proper attitude.
I don't know why one would be interested in that brat, and i don't know what about the misuse of power attracts people so much to others. I guess part of what it is is that the misuse of power better illustrates the exact degree of power one has and this measurement of perceived attracts others. A reoccurring theme of these short stories seems to be that men do not know what they want in women and they chase women to have objects, place holders, symbols, and standards. How come there aren't more stories of a similar nature where the woman is the main character? I think that part of the reason is that women are less likely to fall into the classic Romeo trap as easily as men... perhaps it is just taboo for a woman to talk about being sucked into a love for the wrong reasons.

“The Storm” by Kate Chopin pg857
This is an interesting story. It seems to imply that cheating on one's husband sovles everyone's woes. The wife is calmed by the interlude and does not yell at her husband and son for messing up their clothes and leaving her home alone. Meanwhile the lover allows his wife to stay on vacation with the children longer because he wants his house empty a while still. I want to know if they continue to keep on having an affair. How long do they think it can go on before they get caught? What will Calixta's husband do when and if he finds out? What will happen if Calixta gets pregnant with Alcee's kid.... is Bibi Aclee's kid. It was unclear to me whether or not the last time Claixta and Alcee met they just messed around or they had sex. Its new that the woman cheats on the man, usually one hears about the cheating husband leaving his knocked up wife and five year old kid high and dry while he runs off with some floozy. So Chopin's take is new and interesting. Has Calixta been attracted to Alcee for a while or was it a heat of the moment thing? Do Alcee and Calixta love each other? Why did they marry other people if they wanted each other?
Doesn't Calixta's husband wonder why she is acting so strangely? After all, he seemed to be expecting tirade, but instead he just got a woman happy to see him and her son home safe.

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin pg 862
Ha that's actually really funny. They think she died of happiness, but she died of sorrow. She had tasted freedom and lost it. It was too much for her to have all this new hope and joy removed from her so quickly. She had been trapped by his tyranny and control too long, that at first being free was a pleasant shock, then just as she was recovering the shock and really beginning to enjoy her life and praying for a long one she moves down the stairs and sees her husband enter. The cruelty of it all, he's supposed to be dead! Its not fair he can not rise from the dead to come back and continue to control her! I wonder if the husband was even upset by his wife's death. I wonder how they make such a mistake to start with?

“Desiree's Baby” by Kate Chopin pg 864
That was great, I love the twist ending. That guy is a huge jerk. He's the one with “tainted” descent and he forced he wife to be the one to endure the cruelty and torture of being accused of having tainted bloodline.

Lit Themes Journals Part 2

“Four Secretaries” by Ted Kosser pg 72
This poem is about the sort of caring community these four women have created around there jobs. The four female secretaries have created is caring atmosphere in the office. Where they gossip while they work and they fight with each other as well as comfort one another when in pain. IT occurs to me that this is a rather unprofessional way to act in the office, even if one is a secretary, which is a lower job. I would probably talk with my co-workers if I was in the same position, but I would do it in beginning hours before work or after works or during break. I wouldn't want to slack on my job. IT sounds like the central thing these secretaries do is gossip, I wonder if that's why there are four of them. I would like to think that these women could do their work and gossip, but I wonder how less affective they are because they gossip, fight, and cry when they should be aggressively typing at their jobs instead of stacking bills and papers to the side while idlily talking.
At the same time the question of persecutors comes in. The narrator is clearly an outside to the group. Whether he is another secretary who is left out of the group and sort of jealous, another office worker with a near by cubical or if he is the boss is hard to tell. I think that he is probably another worker in the same office who doesn't have direct jurisdiction over the secretaries, because I would expect more professionalism from my secretaries than these women seem to have. Then again I guess setting plays a large role in this too. A smaller company where people are more friendly and supportive or a school where the secretary position is taken a little more lightly may make the secretaries behavior more acceptable and appropriate, where a large high powered office would expect a higher level of discipline form their workers.

“The use of Force” by William Carlos Williams pg 80
It is a beautiful story. I love the way the narrator speaks. The whole scene is very realistic, with the mother apologizing and to the doctor and admonishing her child but doing nothing to help and the father trying to help, but his own emotions and worries getting the better of him, so he hinders the doctor almost as much as the child. What really makes the story is the child in all her savage wild beauty. I can just see this picture perfect child, who's eyes are glassed over from fever, and her body is covered in perspiration as she sweats wrapped in blankets and her father's warm arms. I can almost feel her unreasonable defiance, and her hatred for the doctor. When I was little I had strep throat a lot, enough so that every time I was sick I had to get a throat culture, for fear that it was strep. I always hated them, and I knew the moment that I fell ill I would have to take one. I used to go one for weeks pretending I was fine, just so I could avoid the doctor and the throat culture. I can remember actually collapsing a few times in class from sickness, because I had not told anyone I didn't feel well, in a blind hope I could avoid the doctor.
Unlike this girl, I never fought the doctor over a throat culture, but I used to fight the doctor tooth and nail over shots. Once I actually hid around the office for a half hour in attempt to avoid the on coming shot. When they found me it took three nurses and a doctor to get me out and administer the shot and I was screaming blood murder the whole time. I spooked over half the office, and all the babies were crying when I left. My mother was furious, ashamed, and appalled by my behavior.
I was shocked when the child in this story screamed at her father that he was hurting her when he held down her wrists. I couldn't believe that the child would sink so low. That must have ripped the father apart, and hurt his heart. I know children who do this, I just had always thought of them as spoiled monsters. I was caught completely off guard by her attack on the doctor, I would have never been so bold as her, and my parents would have hit me for something so in excusable.
I was also really surprised by how into it the the doctor was becoming. He wanted her to struggle and fight. He wanted to hurt her. That's the kind of doctor that children have nightmares about. It was amazing how quickly a grown man can sink down to the level of a child. She is growling and kicking and screaming at him, and instead of backing down and trying to calm her and the parents, he is fighting back with her, holding her down and snapping at the parents and forcing the child's jaw open with his hands. In his fervor to get a diagnosis he abandons the Popsicle stick and goes for a spoon that the mother provides. I was like “woah, doctor using an potentially unsanitary object to get his outcome, I didn't know doctors did that”.
The doctor was somewhat condescending from the beginning though. He puts both the mother and father in a very bad light. He scolds them for not getting their kid to a doctor sooner, he looks down on them and the fact he has to make a house call. He winces inwardly when the mother tells the child that the doctor won't hurt them thinking to himself that the child may never have thought of that possibility without the mother's prompting, and while that may be true to some extend, at that age most kids know doctor=some minimal pain.
"A Visit of Charity" by Eudora Welty pg 82
This was a disturbing story. It hits so many places in my heart. I remember the first time I went to visit the elderly. I was a daisy and we went to sing to the old folks as a whole troop. Even then I had been scared of the old people, and I knew I would never go there alone or talk in depth with any of those people. I was afraid someone might try to talk to me, and I was petrified at the thought that one of them might touch me. I wanted to leave the moment that stepped into the home.
Nursing homes depress me. They aren't as well kept as they should be, and the people are physically frail and mentally failing. It's embarrassing to see them in such a dilapidated state and one knows that if they had any presence of mind they would be humiliated to be seen in such condition. I hope I die before I get like that. I want to die the moment either my physical or mental health fails me perminatly. If my body gives out it means I'm not meant to continue on in this realm, it's natures way of telling my soul that I have finished my journey here.
The old women in this story were scary. One was angry and bitter, while the other was overly friendly solely in the hopes of gaining money. It made the story sadder, than none of these people really wanted the girl there, and the girl didn't really want to be there. She was only there for her own personal gain, and the whole situation is sick. The girl should have never gone to the nursing home for such childish reasons. The elderly are people not some animal at the zoo that one get credit for seeing, and shame on the child for acting that way.
Part of what I liked best is that there was no act of charity in the whole short story. The title had one looking for a turn around in the main character's personality, maybe some kindness from the nurse, maybe if some sort of kind act from the old ladies, but none of that is true. The girl goes on the pretense of charity, but it is all about her getting the needed points to move on to her next badge. The nurse could have been kind and given her some sane older ladies, but she gave her a volital pair of women, and then instead of staying with the girl to make sure that the old ladies are a good match and the girl is comfortable and well settled, she just leaves. The old women could have been kind to the younger girl, but they were horrible. It was funny just how terrifying the two of them are together.
I love how the girl hides the apple in the bushes before she goes into the nursing home. Its just shows exactly how selfish in that she leaves the apple outside because she does not want to share it with anyone. The apple also has a Alice in Wonderland feel to it the sort of “eat me” thing and normalcy of some altered state of reality. In this case the apple is sort of used as a transition form the reality of the nursing home and the idea that the girl will probably one day be in a nursing home and also she is escaping her personal ordeal in the home.
"The Gift of Sweat" by Rebecca Brown pg 86
A touching story. This could be my Grandfather's cleaning maid, and the old man could be my grandfather one day, and that thought scares me a lot. I really like the narrator a lot, she's very compassionate, and I am immediately drawn to her and her warmth. I also like Rick, he's a sweet old man, who is either a hippie or very religious. I wish I knew which, not that it really matters, either way he is a suffering human. I want to know what his disease is, I thought it was AIDs, but the story never really tells us. I want to know that Rick lives and comes back to him home. It feels like a small piece of a much larger story, and I fear that Rick dies, or even worse, Rick lives, but he has to go to a home. I don't want Rick to go to a home.
I could sympathize with the narrator's hesitation to go into the kitchen. If I were her, I wouldn't know what to do. I wouldn't want to eat the breakfast, but I wouldn't want to not eat it either. I might have cried at the sight of it. I might have left the meal out, as disgusting as the meal would get, reluctant to either eat it, or leave it. The idea of Rick struggling down so early in the day towards Hostess' to get the best sticky cinnamon buns for the narrator and himself at the risk of his health, and then for Rick to get sick... it is just so sad. It shows how trapped he really is in his own home. How this kind and fragile man just wanted to do something small to show his greatfulness for the her company, and how something so small can be so large to someone else.
I like the cleaning lady's courage too. I'm not sure I would have it in me to hug Rick. I'm awkward in those sort of situations, unsure of how to give comfort but wanting to all the same. I tend to hover over people nervously when they are sick trying to get them things and encourage them to sleep and what not. I'm not good at knowing how to talk to people when they are hurt or how to allivate their pain. I think that I only intensify it by being nervous and pacing and what not.

"In Crever Coeur, Missouri" by Rossanna Warren pg116
Roar I hate all this sad poetry! WHY?! I don't like it, so this photographer is going around following incidents and trying to get a good picture of tradgety, and then the fact that he submits this picture of a young naked girl being pulled from a fire is dying, and he doesn't the decency to respect the privacy of her last few moments. The photographer exploits this intimate painful moment for his own gain, and there is something primarily wrong and corrupt with that which no amount of artistic value can justify. The sick words of the narrator as he calls the event a fine surprise, when is a fire and the death of a young child ever a "fine surprise" its very sick and wrong. The narrator describes the child as a "laundry pulled too soon from the line," and its so dehumanizing. The reason the photo is good is the fact this girl is so sad and moving and she pulls at one's heart strings, but the very humanity that makes this picture touching should keep a photographer from using it in a contest. I just think exposing others, especially in such personal moments, like their last, to a group of people is a wrong and unforgivable act.
The idea of going into the picture is interesting. After all the picture is just one single shot, and the story going around the making of the picture can not be seen from the view's perspective of the picture. It helps to shift the reader int between the scene of the photograph hanging in a gallery on display to to the actual night that the photo was shot. I wonder how young the photographer was. How could be be so cold as to get a shot of this young girl in her last moments and have felt nothing towards it? I bet her parents were screaming in the background, calling out her name, reaching out to her, and screaming in terrible agony as they slowly watch their child die, and here's a photographer snapping pictures away as if the scene has no affect on him.
I wonder what Dagny would think of this photographer. As much as the lack of respect of the young girl's life bothers me, I'm sure the photo would be very moving. I bet that the photographer has been training forever to try and get some sort of shot. I suppose she would like the work and admire its quality, and she probably wouldn't mind him entering the work into a contest, after all Dagny values quality and money, not human life without a will of its own and joy. We can not tell if the girl was once willful or not, she seems to have once had joy from her description, but still now she is a lifeless little shell of what she once was.
"We Did Not Fear the Father" Charles Fort pg116
Well this poem is interesting. I guess that the speaker is one of the children and he is reflecting on his childhood. Perhaps people were talking about when and why they were scared of their parents, and this speaker stopped and realized that for the most part, he had always loved and cared for his father. His father had always been a kind and friendly man. During the day he worked in a barber sharp with a strict regimented stance on work, and when he closed he taught his son how to clean shop and filled his pockets with licorice treats. With this act we see that the father is really a kind and good man who balances work with reward. He cares for his children mental and economic well being. The man goes on to talk about how he doesn't fear his father as the head of the family because he was a good man and they all worked together to improve the house. I can picture a man with a huge genuine grin on his face hard at work next to his son as they work to improve the house. In the last stanza, the tone changes into a darker sound. The speaker talks of the one time that he feared his father, and it was not for expected reasons. The speaker doesn't fear his father's yelling, rage, or discipline. He is fearful when his father's will seems to be broken, through a night job at a factory, where inhuman machines make ungodly noise, and the man fears the dangers of the job. The speaker fears for his father's health, he fears for his father's exhaustion and the bent state he comes back in. The boy is also scared because these machines are the “future” and he will probably have to work the same kind of job as his father. He will have listen to the noise up close while avoiding the maiming claws of the things there.
"What Work Is" by Philip Levine pg 117
Its a confusing poem. The tone starts angry and hostile, the narrator speaks directly to the reader, and he tell us that if we can read we are old enough to know what work is, and then he goes on to say we may not work, which seems to make the narrator feel an irrational anger that we may not work or we may not need to work or that we may be too lazy to work, and he feels this sudden intense disgust where he pronounces "forget you". I like the line, it reminds me of a lot of my teen years, where a lot of times I would start to tell my parents something calmly and slowly explaining and detailing, and then they would suddenly ask a question, or perhaps it would just be the look in their eyes and I would realize that they don't really understand a word I'm saying and that they will never understand what I'm trying to get across. I never actually said "forget you" but in my head I would think that, and I would be filled with this sudden irrational anger at the loss to communicate and for one to comprehend what I wanted to make clear.
When the narrator talked of the light misting rain, I couldn't help but think of Niagara Falls and how it had been when my family went. I wondered if Ford Highland Park was like that. I wondered where Ford Highland Park was, and I wondered what time period the poem was written in. Its clearly a time when many people were jobless, and my mind automatically wandered to the great depression, but the date says 1991, so perhaps not.
I wonder what the poem is about and how exactly this man does not know the meaning of work. Does he not know the meaning of work because he's never held a job, or because his brother works harder. Does the narrator hate the Wagner because his brother works so hard for it and it makes him tired or does he hate Wagner because he has differing taste in music? I don't know why one would need to know the meaning of work to tell a sibling that they loved them, and I don't know why one couldn't give their sibling a kiss. Is it the guilt that the brother works so much harder, or a feeling of uselessness because he can't get a job, or guilt because the brother supports both. My understanding seems to be lacking, but I think that most people know the meaning of work because there are all sorts of work and even if one hasn't held a job, one knows about work. I also think as long as one is putting in the most effort that they can, then they haven't failed or let anyone down. Perhaps I am mistaken in my thinking though.
"Singapore" Mary Oliver pg 118
Ok, maybe I'm the only curious one, but why is this woman washing ashtrays in the TOLIET as part of her job? She could at least use the sink, and don't they have some sort of back room cleaning type area in an airport. It brings a whole new level of general grossness to the idea of smoking for me. I didn't know that they allowed smoking in airports in 1992. This woman also seems slightly obsessed to me with what a poem should be. Poems aren't all about flowers, and if they are then the material we've been reading and calling poetry in this class is highly unusual in the world of poetry. These trees and flowers and rivers she talks about aren't real, they aren't poetry, she blends the two together in a beautiful way that I know I couldn't possibly understand in any coherent form. Sometimes I'm just at a loss to say. This narrator's use of light and dark are interesting in that the darkness was "ripped from my eyes" what an interesting way to say it. The light and dark reference is echoed again in the last stanza where the narrator tells us that light can only shine out of a life, what is she saying? Is she telling us that this run in with a woman cleaning ashtrays in a toilet suddenly brought light to her life, is she telling us that Kingfisher's definition of poems that are filled with flowers and trees are meaningless because they hold no humans and therefor no light? Or is she trying to say that light leaves a physical person but that no person can take in this light, and in this way we are all slowly going dark and dead? Or are the flowers a metaphor for beauty and within this poem there is something beautiful about this chance encounter with the cleaning lady where she is washing the cigarette trays?
Why was this one woman her focus? How does one woman doing such an odd job make such a profound statement and create so much light?
"Blackberries" Yusef Komunyakaa pg119
I remember picking berries when I was little with my mother in the summer. It was one of my favorite pastimes. At that age I loved fruit more than candy, so picking berries was one of my favorite pastimes. There were always two for me and one for the bucket, and I still managed to fill my bucket with the sweetest most delicious berries. I loved those summers with my grandmother, mother, sister, and brother. We were out in fields picking either blue berries, black berries, raspberries, or strawberries. When I was little the call of pies and baked goods was less, so there was nothing better than spending a day in the warm sun eating my fill of berries.
I don't really seem to understand a lot about this poem. There is some interesting religious symbolism, but I am still confused on how the poem fits itself together. He narrator has some sort of guilt that is articulated when he taste that his hands are stained like a imprinter's thief that has been caught and fingers have been blotted by the police. IT makes it sound like there is something corrupt about eating the blackberries, little the apple in the story of Adam and Eve. He talks of earthly pleasures as “Terrestrial sweetness”, but tat the same time he talks about “The damp ground was consecrated,” Is this some sort of reference to the consecrated ground of Edan, where the apple grew, and that's fruit's sweetness drew Adam and Eve into corruption and more dark earthly pleasures? Then there is the garland of thorns, and all I think of is Jesus and the crown of thorns he wears when he was crucified.
There is a lot here going on I don't understand. I don't know why the boy needs forgiveness. I can not seem to learn what he did wrong. I know that he has guilt and I know that something about the blue car makes him really nervous. There is a sense of what he wants is out of his reach. Is that because he does not have all the privileged of the children in the back seat of that car, is he stealing the berries that he is trying to sell. Is he trying to run away or has he run away from home with just those berries to make money off of?
"The Mill" Edwin Arlington Robinson pg 120
Um... ok. This poem sounds like it should have been written a long long time ago. I was thinking 1800's, but apparently it was written in 1920. Robinson must have been going for a style sort of thing. He is talking about a miller and his wife. The miller felt for work and we enter in on the poem with the miller's wife waiting up for the miller to come home. She had been waiting a while and was nervous, the miller had said earlier that day that there was no long a need for millers. The wife is of course nervous and disturbed by her husband's destination and odd behavior so she goes to the mill and sees her husband hanging from a beam on the ceiling. So the miller's wife, decided to drown herself in the river so that she would not have to suffer alone here.
It is an interesting thought about work, that there is no longer use for the services one provides, one is better off dead. Is this a warning of what technological advancements will do to society, take jobs and drive ex-workers to suicide? Will families die as the price of advancement? Perhaps the author wanted to demonstrate the price that we have paid in the past for advancement, or maybe he wants society to begin to help support displaced workers so that they do not feel the need to resort to suicide.
The time the piece is written in is interesting, the roaring twenties. Decadence everywhere, but the depression follows its heels, the poem is almost a foreshadowing of massive job loss and starvation... though the industrial revolution is not what is to blame.
"Many Rivers to Cross" June Jordan pg157
This was a horribly sad story and it just left me asking "why?". Why would they put up with this in the book ? I don't like stories with family problems in them that are some how brought on by the child's actions. There are several things I don't understand either, for instance why did the father hate the daughter so much? Did she get pregnant with another man's child, is that why her husband wanted to divorce her, because she was cheating on him.
Initially I got the impression that the husband went to grad school and started to cheat on his wife, and before long he fell out of love with his wife and filed for a divorce. It was my impression however that the wife had one of his children and was pregnant again? Was that with another man, or with the husband as a last attempt to get him back, or maybe I read that entirely incorrectly, time jumps a lot in this story.
I suppose the father could be angry at the daughter for the divorce and blame her for it, though it makes limited sense to me, still it could have been a different time. Its unfair to take the anger out on the child and on his own sickly dying wife, that was horrible of him. Why wouldn't he love and help his own flesh.
I don't understand the mother's suicide either, its just one more painful thing for the daughter and one more reason for the father to hate his daughter. She did not seem unhappy in the story. She had just finished playing with her grandson. Yes, the mother was in pain and dying slowly, but there was no indication that the mother planned any form of suicide. It was cowardly of her to end her life in that way. Her daughter had a baby and another one on the way. She needed her mother's help and support. Certainly neither her daughter's ex-husband nor her husband seem willing to help. I don't understand why not. IT isn't the daughter's fault she is pregnant, and the woman is doing the best that she can to get back up on her feet, but she needs help.
Why isn't the narrator's ex-husband helping her? Doesn't he have to give child support for his children? Doesn't he feel any sort of responsibility for HIS children? Doesn't he want to see them and know how they are doing?
As for the father, how could he not know whether or not his wife was alive or dead? Why would he subject his daughter to that sort of discovery? Why didn't he immediately call 911? What did the wife have in her will that would have made the father so angry? How could the father not have visited his own daughter in the hospital, and how could anyone blame the daughter for being in the hospital? Did the daughter have an abortion in the hospital illegally while her injuries were being tended, did she have a miscarriage because of the attack on her person, was there any sort of loss of baby involved or am I seeing something that isn't there?
I think that this whole piece is the narrators explanation of events that happened in the past that were overwhelming and now she is still hurting and struggling to make sense with them. She was burying her mother and explaining why and how she died as well as learning how to cope with her mother's death
"In Search of Our Mother's Gardens" Alice Walker 163
Clearly I have missed the point to this piece. I have trouble relating to this story partly because it is about black oppression and one's need to break from oppression and spread one's own thoughts and creativity. Of course we should all spread our creativity regardless of one's history. Perhaps if I have the ancestors as a slave somewhere I would feel I had a greater need to share my own voice and force myself to be heard for the sake of all those years of silence. I would want to show my view on the world and I would want to stand up for my forced silent mother and father. Perhaps I would try to call others to do the same so that our woes and experiences in all their beauty could be viewed and shared by those of all races. Words and art do give power and understanding to others. Writing can release someone from his or her own mental prison and it can help to self actualize one's own rise in the world.
However I find nothing particular moving in this piece. There is nothing that does not seem self explanatory or thought provoking with in the work. The truth is that in all of history there is an oppressed race and while the people may have been over flowing with talent, male or female, they can not respond as they wish. This is just the way it always has been throughout history. It is sad, and its not fair, but its not unusual either.

“To Be of Use” Marge Piercy pg180
The narrator is expressing her like for strong hard workers in the poem. Her word usage is very interesting . I like how she used “jump” instead of “dive” or “hop”. Dive is to precise and perfect, while hop doesn't have the energy charge that jump has. I can just picture someone doing a big belly flop into the water from the word.
The whole swimming metaphor is really interesting. I liked how well swimming worked for one cutting through the bulk of work. Instead of getting hung up in details or “dallying in the shallows” one presses right by and swims right out of sight. I can see an office employee getting caught up running around in little office games and getting access to everything instead of cutting through the water games of marco polo, splashing kids on rafts and swimming out to the big fish. I can see the stroke of a pen coming down as decisively and efficiently as the stroke a stroke of a hand in water. Some people might even claim to have “oceans of work”.
I also like how the author compares people to seals and not to sharks, or dolphins. IT stays to to the idea of a person jumping into work as they do water. Also seals aren't considered fierce or mean, but playful and generally friendly. I like the idea that one can be a good hard worker but not be a cruel human being. I also like the idea that fun is incorporated into work. I think that most work is fun if its done correctly, and certainly that feeling of success if wonderful.
The next image of a beast of burden is very different than the last. This part of the poem talks about the less enjoyable aspects of work. There are always less pleasant tasks of a job that any person must slog through to reach success, and I really like the idea of someone being an oxen pulling the heavy cart. I used to feel bad for oxen because of the heavy loads that humans had forced them to carry and the whip used liberally on some of the animals backs when the oxen couldn't manage. I couldn't help but think of the game “Oregon Trail” that I used to play when I was little . It was a game about crossing the prairie on wooden wagons, and I remember a lot of my oxen would fall sick or die over the course of the game because I packed in too much weight or forced them to cross muddy river banks. I liked the image because, just as that sort of work is not fun, the image of an oxen isn't flattering. Very few want to be a big lumbering beast trudging through the muck with a heavy weight in toe, and yet a really dedicated worker must eventually endure some sort of strain and unpleasantness for the sake of his or her work.
The next paragraph doesn't hold the same steadiness of an image, but it does remind me of a few different kinds of work. At first I thought of traditional rice harvester. The women wade into the water to collect the grain, and then I considered a fireman who passes the bucket from person to person until it reached the fire where it is dumped out onto the fire.
I think my favorite lines in the poem are the last few where the narrator tells us “But the thing worth doing well done/ has a shake that satisfies, clean and evident./ Geek amphoras for wine or oil,/ Hopi vase that held corn, are put in museums./ but you know they were made to be used./ The pitcher cries for water to carry/ and a person for work that is real.” The beginning echoes my own feelings on work , where I believe that if one is going to go through the effort to do anything, then it should be done well, otherwise why would one bother. It seems such a comfort to me when the narrator talks about how good jobs really do last throughout time, it makes me smile and gives me hope that my hardships will withstand storms and be there for my later use. Mu favorite part though must be when the narrator states that all human beings really want to do work that “is real” or has meaning to them. For me there can not be a more trues statement. One of the ways that I show something is important or it means something special to me is that I do something for the cause. This narrator makes much more sense that Milton, who thinks that even those who stand and wait get salvation, this author tells the reader that all of us call out for work that has meaning to us personally.

Lit Theoriy Journals Part 1

“Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” by James Wright pg 3-4
This land probably doesn't belong to the speaker, because the title shows that it is “William Duffy's Farm”, not “My Farm”. So he is relaxing on someone else's property, which maybe he's paying to stay there for vacation, but the fact that it is a farm sort of suggests that the narrator is slacking or possibly sneaking onto the land.
The color of the bronze butterfly is significant in that, bronze is the color of the third best place. Third place hangs over the narrator's head out of reach. Then the use of asleep on a black trunk seem to indicate the death of the butterfly. Sleep is often a metaphor for death and black is the color of death, sickness and evil. In this the butterfly might not just symbolize the narrator's rank for more, but also his hope and freedom to achieve as butterflies commonly symbolize freedom, beauty, spring, and good times.
The fact that the butterfly is being blow around like a leaf could show the careful random path of the butterfly, but this sort of travel is also purposeless and futile. It shows a lack of control and a life like animation after the passing of the creature. The shadow brings in the idea of darkness, close to light, sort of a depression while being surrounded by affluence or perhaps a teetering on the edge of life and death or good and bad.
The next line about a ravine and an empty house seem to repeat this feeling of emptiness and uselessness. A ravine is a drop off in the land or a hole in the earth, and then an empty house sort of speaks for itself. Either there is no family or they have all left the narrator. Maybe they are working while he is resting. It could be, since in all likelihood the speaker doesn't own the land, that he is some sort of vagabond who waited until the family went off to Sunday church or all went out to work in the fields so that he could sneak onto the land and sit here in someone else's hammock. It's unclear, but I know that many are often depressed and afraid of being alone. Maybe this symbolizes how other's passed him by.
Far off we hear the first sign of life beyond the speaker and the butterfly. It isn't human voices of even animal sounds, but cowbells. In some ways I think that adds to a feeling of lonely isolation. There are no people, not even animals in this world that the narrator is describing. It is a still world on the edge of light and dark. Even these cowbells can be heard in the distance moving away from the speaker until they fade into the distance, as the next line of the poem clarifies for us.
I think when I first read this poem, it was here that the feeling of dread and nervousness for the poem broke into all out concern. I had felt something off kilter in the poem prior, but when the narrator talks about “The droppings of last year's horse” I knew this couldn't possibly be a happy poem. Feces is not a topic of happy poems, especially when all that is in the field are droppings. Where are the horses? Have they died, are then in for the day, where are they?
I was expecting all sorts of things to be in the field highlighted by the sun, but poop had never crossed my mind. The fact that the narrator calls the droppings “golden stones” sort of shows that his “gold” is cleaning up horse droppings. Maybe this is a hint as to who he is, he is a farm hand, who should be working cleaning horse droppings, and instead he is resting. Maybe he is happy about the horse droppings because they symbolize work for him to do and that he is still needed or maybe he is happy for the droppings because they are older droppings that indicate that the horses have died or been sold. Its very sad, and for me it was sort of alarming too.
The next line is about darkness over coming him. He leans back, which sort of made me think of those trust building games where on says “falling” and your partner responds “fall away” and then you lean back and begin to fall and you need to rely on the other person being there to catch you. I was always worried that when I fell I wouldn't be caught by my partner, and here is the narrator leaning back, and we already know that there is no one else there to catch him. The darkness coming on makes me think of the shadow extending and reaching out to consume him into darkness, which could symbolize death. As a kid, in the summer when the sun began to set and the shadows would slowly grow over the law I would try to stay in the sun as long as possible, and I'd play a game where crossing over into the shadows was dangerous, perhaps this is part of what the author wants the mindset of the reader to be like.
For me a chicken hawk is sort of a meaningless bird. It would be cool to see up close, but beyond that, its connotation falls a bit flat on me. Though I do see how it could be a bad omen for farmers, who have to protect their animals from the bird. The idea that even a negative creature is lost and looking for a home.
To me the narrator has wasted his life by not striving for his best. He didn't go after success, and he settled for what he had. He was to afraid of failure to even make an attempt and not that he has lost everything and is sitting on someone else's farm, he sees what was missing in his life. He knows he could have had and been more. He sees too late the error of his life and what living in fear of failure brings. He wishes that he had more than poop and that he had tried for greater accomplishments.

“Dear Micheal, Love Pam” by Michael Lohre pg10
As far as I can tell this poem was originally a letter written by Pam to Michael, which Michael turned into a poem in response to her request at the bottom of the letter.
The narrator here is female. She works most of the time, it sounds like she does some sort of overnight shift, where she needs to fit in odd hours of sleep. She still tries to go out and have fun with things like Swing Dancing lessons. She is a divorcee, and while she hopes for love, she thinks the actuality of it is very slim for her. She is writing to her brother about her life. Her brother seems better off and more educated. While the narrator seems like a blue collar working person, her brighter seems to have gotten higher education. She alludes to the fact that he is a poet, and we also see that he is sending her poetry to read. The reaction to the poems he sent are intense and largely appreciated, which shows potential in the narrator to do more. One wonders why she is working what seems to be a cruddy job. Did she get a bad settlement with the divorce? Does she have children to think of?
The poem takes place maybe late January to early February. This holds minimal significance, only that on Valentines Day Pam is going out to eat with a chemical salesman, though she's wary about the date.
What is really interesting and significant in this poem is Pam's view of “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”. Pam doesn't think the narrator wasted his life sitting in a pastoral area and admiring the scenery. Perhaps when she read the poem she thought of herself sitting in the hammock after a busy day reflection on her life. I know at least for me, in those sort of quiet times when I am reflecting on my life my feelings are mixed. Sometimes everything is wonderful and my life is the best, other times I feel very melancholy and I wonder where all the time has gone. Pam, may take “Lying in a Hammock” as one of those moments where one is filled with regret and bitterness over how one has spent his or her time. She thinks he hasn't wasted her life partly because he is worried about it and has realized his past mistakes. If one recognizes past errors that means one is conscientious about how one behaves, which indicates that more often than not that the person probably does the right thing. She also wants to go easy on the narrator of “Lying in a Hammock” because she doesn't want anyone else to judge her life as a waste.
Perhaps the most important part about the poem though is why the author wrote it. This is presumably a letter that Lohre got from his sister that he alters the format and make it into a poem. Lohre's motivation in this endeavor seems to be where Pam asks him to write something for Charlie, a local entertainer who died and she feels the need for something to be said about him. She says “I don't know how all that poetry stuff works.” Lohre's response seems to be a resounding “yes you do know how it works”. He turns her letter around into the words that he wrote for Charlie. Though, I feel the words are much more for Pam then they are for Charlie. In the poem she has taken in inferior position to Michael in education, understanding, work, and social standing. She feels she has a lesser job and a lower understanding of poetry. It sounds as if she wouldn't even read any poetry if it wasn't for Michael sending it to her. She continues her inferiority feeling when she talks about her date for Valentines day, and her hope that Michael is doing better. At the end of the letter, she professes that though Michael doesn't even know Charlie he could write something about him better than she could.
In some ways Michael is continuing the theme of Wright's poem, to not settle for the place one is in. No matter one's background one can create art and one can better oneself. He doesn't want his sister to sell herself short, and he doesn't want her to look back and think that she wasted her life.

“The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake pg 18
Blake does a great job showing the horror of a working child's world with very little description. I like that a lot because it gives the reader a chance to imagine his or her own fates. The only action mentioned specifically is that Tom Darce's curly blond hair was shaved off and he cried over it.
The rest of the poem is really dedicated to a dream sequence where all of Tom's friends are dead and locked into their coffins before and Angel with a bright key comes and lets them out. Then the boys start to leap in green fields and the could wash in the river and be happy. The boys rise into the clouds naked and clean. The dream finishes with the Angel telling Tom that good boys go to heaven and are eternally happy.
There is a lot of interesting imagery in this dreaming portion. The fact that the boys are in dark coffins, which probably resemble the chimneys that they clean for a living. It is also interesting that the coffins are locked. Does this indicate that the rooms the boys stay in at night are locked so they can not escape? The color change is also significant because the darkness in the poem would coincide with the dark soot that the boys work in, and the green field would be a strong difference from London's regular background colors. The washing in the river may also be a symbolic washing away of pain and hardship as much as it is supposed to wash away the soot. It is cold and harsh in reality, but in the dream things are soft and warm.
I think the poem isn't about Tom or the speaker of the poem. The focus is on neither Tom or the narrator but on Tom's dream, and the bittersweet message found in it. It tells all boys to work hard and be happy because while all their life they will suffer, death will come swiftly to them and release them. This is a morbid thought that there is no joy in life, only in death can these boys discover happiness. What perhaps is worse is that this dream really seems to encourage the boys to work hard. Its sick to think that the world can hold nothing but the escape of death.
I think that Blake does not endorse this dream at all. I think Blake scorns the dream's message and doesn't believe in it. Part of the irony of the poem is that everyone knows that Tom's comfort is the sick and twisted truth. The point of the poem is to make others feel bad for these children and their hope for a swift death where they may finally be freed their hardships.

“Hard Work” Stephen Dunn pg 19
This is a a wonderfully sad poem. It seems to be a sad sort of warning to not grow up too quickly. The author has been disillusioned about the nature of work and what it really takes to make a man.
At first we hear about how the narrator's friends are all at camp, and he wishes he could have gone to camp too. The narrator tries to comfort himself even now by stating that the money was good and that “hard work, my father said,/ was how you became a man”. There is an immediate switch in the next line from the set up of the narrator's situation to the reality where he says “I saw a man for no special reason/ piss into a coke bottle”, his use of the word man is significant here. When one thinks of the word man one generally thinks of the fatherly figure who goes out to make the money for the family and sets family policy. This is also the kind of man that the narrator's father was talking about when he said that hard work created him. The narrator though, talks about another kind of man in the next line though. One that seems to also be made out of hard work, only this man isn't a protective provider but a bitter and angry.
He talks of this job as a soul stealing joy wrenching lifeless job, and he talks about how the job makes him hunger for companionship to stop and aching sense of lost isolation. He talks about the idea that he and others from his work purposely break bottles with a conspiring glance. At first, he couldn't understand these hostile actions, but it was not long before the monotony of the job wore at the narrator. He feels rage at the meaningless task that fills his day. He quits the job before the summer is over, and the money that was good pay and took him two months to make is squandered in one month.
The poem has a sense of helplessness, and unchanging in it. This comes part from the fact that all of his “hard work” is gone in a month and it also stems from all the acts of destruction he and his coworkers participated in that affect nothing. However, most of this feeling of hopeless work comes from the change in topic when the narrator discusses how his job is probably phased out “though someone for sure/ still does the hard work of boredom”. He speaks of how technology actually further trapped people into work because they can no longer show their personality through the destruction of some of the product.

“What Work I Wouldn't Do” by Dorianne Laux pg 20
The speaker is very preoccupied with a job that gives a service to others. Her first job her working at a fast food joint. She served people meals and while not all of the customers were effusively showing their greatfulness to her, she was providing a wanted service to others. In her next job at the laundromat she was again providing a needed and wanted service to customers through giving them quarter that were needed to start the machines. Even when the speaker worked at the bakery and interacted with many of her customers she was still providing a needed and useful service to others through making donuts. He job calling people as to try and sell telephone books was not a desired job. People didn't come to her wanting what she had to offer, she pestered them from their usual life to try and sell them something.
I think the narrator is too sensitive. She couldn't stand to hear the hope in other people's voices that she was someone important? That's sort of a silly thing to have a problem with. A minimum wage job is a minimum wage job, and really its an in between work until one can get something better. There are reasons to quit those sort of jobs, one has a better job, the pay isn't good enough, the co-workers are really mean, etcetera. I'd understand if she was being paid commission and she wasn't selling enough phone books to make the bills. I would also understand if she didn't like talking on the phone as she probably got yelled at a lot by people and taking that abuse daily would wear on anyone, but to quit for such a silly idealistic reason... she must not have really needed the money.

“Shoplifters” by Maura Stanton pg22
This was a funny poem. There were a lot of different ways to look at it. On of the first things I had wondered was where did she get all this information about the shoplifters. At first I had considered that perhaps she was making everything up, as that is one of the wonderful things to do with first person narratives, make up everything that goes on in them. Some of the things are so random that I wondered where she had gotten the ideas. I also wondered if anyone was stealing anything or if was just a slow day at the register and the narrator was creating interesting musings to keep herself entertained.
Eventually I thought that her ideas are too random and strange to be just pretend, so I began to wonder where she had heard the information. I thought maybe she was one of the people who had to watch for shoplifters and bring them into the security room to talk with the managers. I could see some people breaking down in frantic confessions begging for forgiveness and I could see other people stating with conviction that they needed and deserved the goods. I could see other people asking what harm one less can of tuna would be while others would blush in shame and admit that they had no money.
I like how the manager is watching everyone at the end and his intensity is so strong that he makes the narrator nervous. I wondered why the manager's glare would make the narrator nervous. Was she allowing people who were shoplifting to get away with it? Was just the intensity making her nervous? Was she suspected of stealing something or had she been stealing from the store and now she is afraid she will be caught? I remember that we had a Christmas employee we had suspected of stealing cash from another employee and we watched the man like a hawk and fired him at the first chance that we had for a stupid reason.
I also know that people shoplift all the time, and I personally don't do anything about it. What do I care, I'll be paid regardless of whether or not some toys are stolen, so why should I risk my personal safety for the sake of a corporation's wealth?

“When I consider How My Light Was Spent” by John Milton pg37
Ick, alright, I'm done venting my feelings now on my supreme dislike of this poem, now down to actual analysis. This was a very difficult poem to try and find meaning in. I don't agree with this poems basic values and beliefs, and perhaps this is why I had such trouble trying to read through it.
The narrator was a preacher who had spent his time reading and writing God's work, and now that he is going blind he doesn't know what to do. His contrasts and symbolism between light and dark are interesting. The first line “When I consider how my light is spent,” could refer to many things. People don't have a literal light built internally into them. Often we refer to the good in people as the “light” sometimes it is a reference to the soul contained within one's body. In this case light could symbolize his life, or it could symbolize his talents, or perhaps light symbolizes time in. The next line talks about how half of the narrator's life was spent in “this dark world and wide,” which is an interesting phrase. Is it half of the narrator's entire life, as in “I'm twenty right now and I will only live to forty. These first twenty years I have been protecting and spreading my light through the dark world” or does it mean “I'm twenty and ten of those years were spent in me traveling the dark perils of this world”. Also what exactly is this darkness, is it evil or Satan, is it death or disease.
The next two lines really just confuse me more. I don't know what talent that only death can take, perhaps it is one's ability to do what is right or one's ability to struggle with the devil in this world. What I consider talents can often be easily lost. The ability to read through blindness, to be a good speaker could be lost through some vocal cord damage and so on. Even the powers of the mind could be lost through brain trauma, and many believe in death one is able to still think and act as an individual being, so death could not take away the power of the mind or soul. Maybe the narrator is referring to the body, as in death one does lose its body, and in a Christian belief system one is never restored to another body but remains for all eternity in Heaven or Hell. Still I don't know how spreading half of one's life in the darkness of the world could be a talent that death could take away, one will have still spent half of one's time living in the world's darkness.
However I understand in the next line that one of the narrators strongest talents will soon be trapped within him and useless to the world. He is suffering from this knowledge and he will suffer from the loss of his special talent. The narrator wonders if God will still expect him to do His work when his “light” or his talent is gone. The narrator does not know what to do or how to continue on. He reminds himself that God does not need anyone's talents or gifts to do his work, which I guess is part of really annoys me. If God doesn't need preachers and He really won't care one way or another if he has them, they why do that sort of work? Why not go somewhere where one's efforts will be appreciated and desired, forget some crappy God who is so pompous to think that He doesn't need his shepherds or followers. Show him who's really in charge. I have no love or interest in working for someone who doesn't value me.
What might annoy me most is the last line “They also serve who only stand and wait.”, no they should not serve those people. No one should just wait for things to happen. When I want something I make a plan and I go after it. I do stop and think about what I want, and I stop to evaluate my progress and the effectiveness of my plan. On occasions all one can do is sit and wait, but if one's key to salvation is just to sit and wait for God to save them, then that person is sorely mistaken and should not be saved. Doing nothing should be the same as doing evil. One can start out with good intentions and bungle them, but to sit in fear or laziness and do nothing is more wrong than those who actively go out to hurt. There is so much one could do and so much one could be, why waste it all? Why would any God reward someone of being wasteful?

“Night Waitress” Lynda Hull pg 40
This poem is about a woman who is a night waitress. She is an older less attractive woman of ethnic descent. The language is wonderful. “pies/ look like clouds drifting one my shoulder”, its such an odd image. I would never have thought of pies as cloud like, and yet its is a wonderful way to illustrate the way that the pies are floating on the top of the tray that the woman is serving. It also gives the poem a dreamlike quality.
Its also interesting this theme of self consciousness that is brought up in the beginning of the poem when it states “I'm telling myself my face has character,/ not beauty.” Many people would prefer to have beauty and not character. Most woman I know would immediately argue with the narrator insisting that she is a least pretty, even if she is hideous. Its one of those strange female vanity aspects that seems to be turned on its head in this poem. Though the narrator spends a great deal of time in this sort of self conscious negative image of herself. Later in the poem it says “At this hour the men all look like/ as if they'd never had mothers./ They do not see me.” Again she is making herself unimportant and unworthy of notice. Before she had “character” but no beauty, and now she has nothing at all worthy of notice. Later in the poem the narrator again brings up how invisible she is in the world around her “I would not stop him/ if he touched me, but its only songs/ of risky love he leans into.” The narrator is so invisible that this man does not pay attention to her. Also the idea that she would not stop a strange man from having his way with her shows how little the narrator thinks of herself. She believes that this work and this world as a night waitress is the best that she can do. Perhaps the most poinagnt part where one sees the waitress' feeling of low self worth is when she leaves the restaurant and goes out into the daylight. “”I'm fading/ in the morning's insinuations/ collecting in crevices of buildings,/ of frail machinery.” The speaker feels she does not exist in the world of the sun. She realizes that her job is sleazy at a bar and that there are all sorts of whispers and implications about what a woman would be doing working at night. No matter how innocent the job may truly be someone else will always have some sort of dirty thoughts on it.
I also loved how she worked in her culture and family in the poem. All the transitions are so subtle and meaningful in this poem in general it is wonderful. Where she brought in her mother was particularly poinagnt for me. She made her sound as a Slavic woman who had just gotten off the boat and went into the first place she came to for work. I saw this haggard old woman working the same restaurant her daughter now works. I could even seen the two of them working side by side. I saw the mother on her hands and knees washing and muttering Slavic prayers as her daughter walked by with a tray of coffee and pie for the customers. I can see the daughter frowning as her mother ages and wrinkles. She must ache from the process of stooping and scrubbing the floors. I wonder if the job is better than what she could have had at home. I wonder if the pay actually gets her more here than her last job. I wonder if what the mother really wanted for her daughter was to go into the same line of work. I am also curious about the narrator's seeming lack of faith. Her mother seems to be fairly religious as the image of her that the narrator conjures up of her has her praying, but the daughter does not seem as faithful. She calls her mother's god “her god of sorrows and visions” which seems to tell me that this god is not the narrators. It is also interesting that the narrator compares her mother to “the Black Madonna”, which she capitalizes, but then the narrator does not capitalize the word god when she refers to who her mother prays to. Also using sorrows to describe the god seems to imply that this faith and loyalty brings nothing to the mother but hardship. The daughter also states in the poem that this god is not present tonight. Usually when god is not present is considered to be a bad thing, but I wonder if with a “god of sorrows” if this could be considered a good thing instead.

“The Solitary Reaper” by William Wordsworth pg 46
It is an interesting poem. The narrator is passing by on is way to some other area when he hears the beautiful melody. It is coming from this young woman who is singing in the field as she cuts and binds grain. He is just amazed with the incredible song this girl is singing while she does this difficult work. Cutting and binding grain must be really hard. I imagine that a sickle is sort of unwieldy and that the grain is probably hefty once one binds it up. I can just see her smiling and singing this song and laughing almost as if instead of work she were at play. I think of the term “whistle while you work”. I also wonder about the disposition of the narrator. Was he weary from his journey? Where is he coming from? Where is he going. Is this like a journey into town or is he just traveling around the country side?
This girl seems to have a lot of meaning for the narrator and I don't know why. She's just this girl going about everyday work. She's probably lower middle class, and she is probably singing some folk song from her town, which suggests to me that the narrator is from out of town. I mean its great that the song is really neat and so all encompassing, but that seems like a little journal entry personal thing not an idea for a poem that actually can be sold for monetary compensation.