Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Growth as a Writer

This year for me as a student and in my personal life has been a struggle. I do believe my personal conflicts reflected onto my work. I have always been well prepared for my English courses and this year it seemed as though I could never find myself and get settled into the class. Looking back at my work, the explications and the analytical essays from the beginning of the year, my true writing talents are not displayed. This class challenged my reasoning and thinking process in ways that they had not been before. Looking back on my papers such as the “Red Shift” assignment I see how most lack strong thesis and analysis. I believe that instead of challenging myself and attempting to understand the concept of the assignments in more depth, I completed them without receiving a better understanding and skill that could have been acquired through my best efforts.

After receiving a “D” on my report card for 2nd quarter, I was more than disappointed with myself. My morale being at an all time low during that time reflected onto my effort and work in the class. English seem to always come natural to me and staring at the “D” on my report card represented defeat on my part. I let situations outside of school control my work inside of school, and my lack of effort was evident.

However, I do believe I wrote something of significance 2nd quarter, my college essay. During the time I wrote my college essay I was suffering both physically and mentally which brought me back to a specific time in my life. Though I was hesitant to write about my experience, I believe the vulnerability I experienced help me grow as a writer and a person. Even here in this essay, I am being honest with myself and the reader, writing about my process of thinking and how it has developed. I am able to see my faults and weaknesses through writing. This tool that I have developed this year will help me throughout my life. By writing my mind set and thinking process I will be able to determine the sources of my weaknesses or strong points.

By writing my college essay I had overcome uncertainty and fear, by doing so I was able to share it, even if it was only with one other person. This is why literature is so important. Anyone can write how he or she feels or specific beliefs and even when he or she is gone, their text will still be available to those who wish to read it. Books, sentences, and words can open one’s eyes to possibilities and theories which they never experienced. While reading the novel, “The Stranger”, it forced me to ask myself many questions. Characters so intriguing and different like Mersault make people wonder about truth and reality. Looking beyond the words and connecting them to one’s life can have a significant impact and change one’s reality.

Literature has the power to excite, to make one upset or laugh depending on the individual. For me, literature is a way to enter a different world, or time especially when the present becomes frustrating, which can be more than often. Books and plays like “Hamlet” cause the reader to find symbols and hidden meanings throughout the book. This is a tool that can be helpful in life. At times I wonder the motives and actions of people, just like one would question Ophelia’s motive behind killing herself.

This year, although it was a struggle it also benefited me as well. I forced myself to work harder, even when it seemed impossible and hopeless. I broke through my barrier of vulnerability and wrote about a personal experience. Also, this year made me face a harsh reality, that I was becoming indifferent to my work and also myself. After receiving the “D”, I put more effort into my school work and began focusing more on bettering myself. I would not consider my growth throughout this year trivial. I now have the power to step back from life and self evaluate. Even though I might be wrong at times, now I have the power to admit it. Though my class work is maybe not a true representation of my best efforts consistently, it definitely represents growth as a writer and a person.

"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving

In the beginning of the chapter “The Finger”, Irving builds up the significance of the symbol with war statistics and updated casualties. Owen tries out for the army but is denied. More deaths had tolled at the end of the chapter, “7,000 Americans had been killed” (503). Then the narrator receives a draft letter in 1967. Because the narrator does not want to go to Vietnam, he must make a choice. Either he must injure himself or run off so the government cannot find him, or go to Vietnam. Owen cuts off the narrator’s finger so he will not pass the physical and would not be sent to Vietnam. All it took was “a little courage” (506), which Owen instilled in him.

The significance of the finger is that sacrifice may lead to a more rewarding outcome. The narrator puts his faith in Owen and because of it, he does not have to go to Vietnam. Owen represents a Christ-like figure, which is also shown when he plays baby Jesus in the play. “The Finger” signifies trust and faith in which John has in Owen. Owen saves John’s life.

In the chapter, “The Shot”, the title signifies the ultimate sacrifice Owen makes, his life. Irving builds up this event by depicting Own as a Christ-like figure throughout the book. Just as Jesus died and suffered on the cross to save the lives of Christians, so they would not be dammed to hell, Owen also makes a sacrifice to save the lives of others.

When in the play, the teacher chooses Owen to be baby Jesus. Although she chose him because of his babe like size, this also has significant meaning, that Owen is a Christ-like figure. Also, when John visits the Meany’s, he learns of Owen’s conception. Mr. Meany tells John that Owen was conceived, “like the Christ child” (536), meaning Owen was born to a virgin mother. This here also signifies Owen’s Christ representation throughout the book. Owen possesses Rev. Merril. During the possession Reverend Merril admits to John that he is his father. Owen shows truth to John, even in death.

The last pages of the book reveal how Owen died. “The Shot” represents the move him and john would do while playing basketball. The fatal “shot” saved the lives of everyone in that bathroom. “The Shot” shows Owen was an instrument of God. His whole life led up to that one moment of ultimate sacrifice. He saved John, the children, and the nuns. He instilled faith in many that day, just as Christ instilled faith in Christians. John believes Owen did have a purpose while at the funeral. If Owen wasn’t born a dwarf, John never would have been able to lift him up. His dwarfism made him “easy to lift up” (616). His purpose on the earth was to save the lives of many, and instill faith in those who believe they have no purpose. Though Owen was severely handicap by his dwarfism, it also allowed him to save many lives. He was a “miracle” (616). The title “The Shot” signifies the one shot he had to make a difference, his whole life, his dwarfism, all led up to that one moment of true sacrifice.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Filler Chapter for "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs

Filler chapter

Chapter 15

Me and Natalie were watching T.V. in the living room eating cold nuggets we had brought home from McDonald’s on are way home from a movie. Suddenly, Poo Bear emerged naked. He looked at me, smiled, then urinated on the carpet in front of us. Natalie laughed obnoxiously, spitting chewed up nugget on the front of her shirt. “Did Poo make a little accident?”, Natalie cooed. Agnes yelled from the kitchen, “Natalie, what do you mean accident, what did he do?” Natalie yelled back, “He pissed all over your floor, now shut up hag I’m trying to watch something.”

Agnes appeared in the doorway, “Oh no, look at this mess”. She left the room and within seconds she appeared with paper towels and cleaning solution. She began scrubbing the floor, blocking me and Natalie’s view of the T.V. Natalie was furious. “Move hunchback, your blocking my view.” Agnes, still scrubbing away at the floor said, “Well somebody’s got to clean it”. Natalie threw the remaining nuggets she had on the ground. Agnes began to yell, but Natalie ignored her. “Come on, lets go. I can’t stand being around this pitiful woman any longer.”

It was late, and I really wanted to read this magazine I found while me and Natalie where out earlier. It caught my eye while walking . It had in bold letters, “How to Get that Salon Look”. I figured I could read it then maybe later Hope would let me practice on her. “I’m kinda tired. I think I’m going to go to bed soon.” Natalie shot me a look of disgust and stomped out of the room into the kitchen. Five minutes later, after hearing loud banging noises and cabinets being open and slammed shut, Natalie yelled from the kitchen, “Agnes will you make me some frozen fish sticks?”

Later that night I was in my room reading the magazine, when Neil appeared at my door. “Go away, I’m not in the mood for you tonight.” I really knew the reason why he would come to my room in the middle of the night, I didn’t feel like another Queen Helen’s Cholesterol experience tonight. “Please Augusten, I need you”, he said pathetically. He made me sick to my stomach. “Listen you pedophile, your presence at my door is making me sick. Your not pulling this with me tonight.” He shut my door hard, I heard him slam his head against the wall, and stomp hard down the stairs.
I was glad he left, he really is starting to worry me.

I continued to look at the hair article in the magazine. There was a picture of a woman with a shag hair cut. The article told you how to cut and style this particular cut. I wished I could be in the magazine, like a model. They probably would never book me though. All the men I see in magazines are so masculine and muscular with lots of body hair, all that I lack.

I went to the window and smoked a cigarette, making sure I blew all the smoke outside. After I finished, I laid on my bed. I looked around my room. Beauty products all over my room, some with liquid oozing down the sides. Dirty clothes were all over my floor. Just as I was about to close my eyes to go to sleep, I could heard Natalie scream downstairs, “Rot in Hell, Hope. I really hate you.”

I don’t know how much more of this house I can take. Then I heard Dr. Finch yell from the bathroom, “Hope grab the spatula, this one is remarkable”

Notebook entries on "Ghetto Nation" by Cora Daniels

p. 63 -- “About the only thing these books tend to be missing is the services of a copy editor to fix the grammar, spelling, and typos.”

Here, Cora Daniels is speaking to ghetto lit, such as “The Coldest Winter Ever”, which happened to be on a list of my sophomore year and junior year recommended independent reading list. True there is crude violence, “foul language, bullets, drugs, and in-your-face sex”(63). However books like these show the realities to people that haven’t seen these horrors. I believe these are stories that need to be told, just as the novels “Night”, “Lucky”, and other graphic tales. “Night” has a scene in the book where babies are being thrown into the air and shot, which people need to know, no matter how graphic it is. I feel that it is unfair for Cora Daniels to bash such an established person as Sister Souljah for her literary work. Yes, Sister Souljar profited off her very realistic account of a “drug dealer’s daughter”, but Cora Daniels is now getting money off the fact that she is bashing the book, which I believe is worse.

I disagree with Cora Daniels in how she discredits many artists whether it be rappers or novelists. Yes, I believe that people do have their right for their own opinions, but I feel as though her whole book is based on other people’s ideas or works of art that she completely disgraces.

Red Shift

Stability By Ted Berrigan

Here I am at State Street looking in the window frame The air rough, ice lines the bumpy gravel On the way to destination streetscape I drink some private stock which burns And walk hesitant but blend In. The streets look for my purpose, or me. Eyesdodging, smells of filth linger, its almost 9:47 pm. Worry on me. I push Though it. Them, as Black coffee is being sipped on the Harbor now Three years almost ago, and the man lonely Smiles at his many mistakes, & telling Who would have thought that I’d be here. Nothing Went right. Secrets and lies, everything Will come to the surface sometime Up in the starless sky. Now More than ever before?Not that girl in a green coat. Eyes penetrating through the crowd, on Chauncy St.& waiting in the cold. Not that girl with the curly brown hair. Fifteen who was Going to have to go, careening into adulthood so,To yearn. & to never escape reality but to keep imagine So to go. Not that accountant who from very first meeting I would never & never forgetInto the dark we fell. You & so demandedTo be there & who will never leave me. Not for culture, nor tradition Nor even for convenience which is Only our human lot & means conformity. No, not this time There’s a song, “Wicked Game”, but no, I wont do thatI am to young. When will I die? I will never die. I will live To be 142. & I will never go away & you will never escape from me Who am always & only a dream. Despite this life. Spirit Who lives only to please.I’m only memories, & I am not free, & I didn’t knowIt was so fast I came into your life to show you true life True feelingsYou didn’t except it Weary & tired. Unexpected fate, nevertheless I slowly turn the corner The world’s biggest mystery

Notebook entries on "Ghetto Nation" by Cora Daniels

p. 2 -- I’ve spent more than three decades becoming an expert on ghetto, both ghet-to and gh-e-e-e-e-e-et----to-o-o-o--o-o. My training? My life.”

I find it interesting how Cora Daniels would describe her life as “ghetto” and then bash the lifestyles of many who would also consider themselves ghetto. Cora Daniels tells the reader on pg 13. “I am ghetto. The running joke among my friends is that the only stuff to drink in my fridge is a Crayola-bright color and comes in two-liter bottles”. In that sentence Daniels stereotypes herself into that persona “I’m ghetto and I drink kool-aide, eat chicken, and watermelon.”

Throughout the novel, Daniels discredits many of those who profit off the idea of “ghetto”. People like 50 cent, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. However, she is also profiting off the idea of something being “ghetto”, whether she agrees with it or not. If she wants to write a book about her ghetto-ness or non-ghettoness and make a profit off that, why can’t 50 cent write a song about being shot 9 times? Both are similar in the way that they make money off of the idea of “ghetto”. Her book is titled, “Ghetto Nation”. People will buy the book because of the ghetto Uncle Sam on the cover and the words “GHETTO” in bold red. She is making a profit off each book she sells because of the concept of ghetto. I think her book is filled with her hypocrisy. “I am ghetto. / I am not ghetto” (22).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Plum Plum Pickers"

Morals of Man

In the passage from Raymond Barrio’s The Plum, Plum Pickers, Barrio shows through conflict that all humans posses an innate pride, which separates the human race from wild animals or even machine. At first, Barrio uses one word sentences, such as “Brute” and “predator” to set a primitive tone. He does this to show the similarities between human and animal, to show how Manuel’s tedious work is animal-like. He uses symbolism in the names’ of the characters. Manuel symbolizes man, and Roberto Morales represents no morals or a robber. He uses great imagery to describe the hot weather, and one word paragraphs to show the briefness of breaks that Manuel receives. He does this to show the harsh animal labor-like conditions Manuel must endure. Barrio compares the rows of trees to jail bars to show the audience how Manuel is almost “trapped”.

Barrio changes the his style of writing when Manuel speaks out against Roberto. The sentences are more flowy, and less primitive. This is to show what separates humans from all other walking species of the earth. He shows the pride that humans posses, that animals do not. Manuel fought for those few dollars Roberto tries to take, which an animal could not do.

Barrio shows through his contrast in writing style, and the conflict between Manuel and Roberto that all humans contain pride within them, which is what it means to be human. That humans, as a race, are separate from all other organisms because humans have pride, and can voice opinion and gather as one. Barrio thinks that if you do not exercise these feelings of pride then, you are dead before you die.