Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blackberry Eating by Galway Kinnell

                Kinnell paints a raw, harsh picture of blackberry eating through the use of his diction and imagery. He first establishes that he goes out to eat these blackberries in late September which establishes that it is that time of year when the air becomes brisker. Also, he eats these blackberries for breakfast which means he is picking in the cold of the morning. He characterizes the blackberries as “fat, overripe, icy, black” (2). This shows us a clear picture of the blackberries, they are overripe, yet they are still firm and icy. I imagine the blackberries having dew on the sides. His diction is imperative here because he paints a clear picture of these fat overripe blackberries. He uses harsh, hard words such as icy and black which shows the tartness of the blackberries. He is definitely not eating a sweet fruit. He goes on to personify the blackberries.
                He describes them as having prickly stalks “for knowing the black art” (5). He personifies the blackberries as evil. Through this personification, Kinnell shows that the blackberries are tart and harsh, but the speaker still eats them. To continue this argument he describes the how the berries “fall almost unbidden to [the] tongue” (8). The word choice here is significant here because the word unbidden means the blackberries are coming in the speaker’s mouth uninvited. These are powerful objects with a life of their own. These blackberries or “one-syllabled lumps” (11) are nothing like the sweet taste of an apple. Kinnell uses diction imperative to the poem in line 13 when he describes the speaker as “squeeze[ing], squinch[ing] open, and splurge[ing] well”. The alliteration here makes the poem rhythmic which shows that the blackberries are a beautiful fruit, but they are not 100% sweet. Also, the words utilized here have a hard clamor to them, meaning that these words are not light and airy. This exemplifies the harshing of the blackberries. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Poem Explication "To a Daughter Leaving Home" by Linda Pastan

              “To a Daughter Leaving Home” is a poem that relates a girl slowly biking away from her mother, to a grown woman who is leaving home for good. The poem is written in run on lines to create a rhythm. When the daughter first learns how to ride a bicycle she “wobbled away […] on two round wheels”. Also the mother is “loping along beside [her]. The words wobbled and loping symbolize childhood and fun. Yet, now the scenario is still the same because the daughter is leaving home and the mother wants to walk beside her, but not there is no more wobbling and loping. The mother is surprised by the daughter’s will and skill: “my own mouth rounding in surprise when you pulled ahead down the curved path of the park”. This shows that the mother does not know how great the capabilities of her daughter are. Also I believe this shows the difference between childhood and now. The daughter is only going down the curved path which goes easily back to home, but now she is not going on the curved path again.
                As the poem goes on, the language becomes less childlike. As the mother sees the girl in the distance she is “screaming with laughter”. The daughter is no longer wobbling and she is living life. Yet she still has “hair flapping” which shows that some part of childhood will always be with her. She is excited to move on, grow up, and experience the world. The run on lines not only create a rhythm but they also demonstrate the childhood feel of the poem. Everything new that happens is a surprise that occurs on the next line. The last line compares the girl’s hair to a “handkerchief waving goodbye”. The use of the word handkerchief shows that this departure is bitter sweet. She is waving goodbye, but it is like a handkerchief which is associated with crying. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poem explication "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We                          5
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die Soon.

                In this poem the speaker ironically shows that being cool comes with many dangerous deeds. He emphasizes this idea through the use of repetition and rhyme. Each line ends with We. This shows that the mob and gang cultures arises in a group. It is not just one person. Many people may do it because they are followers of others as well. The rhyme in this poem is sing song like and light, this rhyme contrasts with the actions that are actually taking place in this poem. Although it sounds sing song like, “sing sin” and “thin gin” are not actions that are light and airy. In this poem there is end rhyme and alliteration. This artistic nature of the poem contrasts with the nature of these deeds. It is ironic to think of gangsters as singing sin. This poem is a good piece of art because it shows truth about life in a way that the reader will remember. The poem is beautiful to read, and it says truth so it is likely readers will learn a message from it.
                She starts of the poem by comparing cool and school in the same stanza. Right of the bat he shows that leaving school is cool in these people’s eyes. But throughout the poem the speaker questions this idea. Is leaving school actually cool. Leaving school is associating with “lurk late”, “strike straight”, “sing sin” and “thin gin. These are not “cool” actions. Those that leave school get involved in the crime life. They may be “cool” in their minds, but these people are not advancing at all in life. The last line is the most powerful line of the poem. It says that these actions of leaving school and hanging out with you friends will lead to death soon. This line is scary for anyone reading it. Many would think that leaving school and playing hooky is not big deal, but it actually is.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"And of Clay Are We Created" by Isabel Allende

                This short story describes a man, Rolf Carle, who desperately tries to help a girl Azucena who is stuck in clay after a volcano eruption. The themes I predict is this story are repressed memories, feminism, and corruption of society. Rolf tries to help this Azucena for 3 days straight while his significant other stays home and watches him on the television. She watches him from the sidelines. Rolf even says that he comes to love this girl more than his life partner, the narrator: “Rolf assured her that he loved her [Azucena] more than he could ever love anyone, more than he loved his mother, more than his sister, more than all the women who had slept in his arms, more than he loved me” (Allende 366). Although Rolf does not seem to be close to the narrator even though she loves him more than anything, Azucena helps his deal with his repressed pain.
                Rolf lives through the lens of his camera, but when he meets Azucena, he associates closely with her because he feels trapped in his life and memories like she is trapped in the clay. He remembers the time his father beats him and his sister. Allende also writes of an abusive husband in the other short story. This could mean something about Allende’s life. Also, Rolf’s sister was retarded which brought out even more hatred from his father. When Rolf is with her he remembers all his painful memories and he hurts more than Azucena does. Although Rolf looks courageous on the outside he suffers immensely which I believe shows that he is actually not superior to his wife who waits for him.
                In addition, this story shows the corruption of government. Rolf believe all he needs is a pump to help save Azucena’s life, but he cannot get a pump. At first it may seem because the whole town is devastated from the tornado. Yet, the town and government is not focused on saving Azucena, they are focused on creating a story out of her. She is constantly on television and camera crews come with new technology to record her: “More television and movie teams arrived with spools of cable, tapes, film, videos, precision lenses, recorders, sound consoles, lights, reflecting screen, auxiliary motors, cartons of supplies, electricians, sound technicians, and cameraman” (Allende 361). All this new technology comes to witness Azucena, yet the pump does not come. The town clearly has enough money for the pump though if they are investing in all these camera supplies. Also, the president comes to praise Azucena, but he does not deliever a pump either. This shows that the town and government are focused on the giving a media a good story rather than saving a life. This of course is extremely hyperbolic, but that is how Allende gets her point across.  

"The Gold of Tomas Vargas" by Isabel Allende

                This short story describes a selfish, abusive, cheap man Tomas Vargas who has a wife and kids. Another girl comes along saying that her baby is his. At the end of the story Tomas dies with all his gold in a swamp, and his two women live happily together. The possible themes I predict are justice and karma, money, and feminism.
                Tomas’s wife Antonia Sierra still holds her head up high even though she has grown ugly throughout the marriage widely due to abuse. When Concha Diaz comes to town Antonia no longer is able to hold her head up high, and she blames everything on Concha. Yet, with some time she starts to be a proud mother to Concha. She suffers abuse from her husband until Concha’s baby is born. This time she shows her strength even though she is a woman: “Her husband made a move to whip off his belt to give her the usual thrashing, but before he could complete the gesture, she started toward him with such ferocity that he stepped back in surprise. With that hesitation, he was lost, because she knew then who was the stronger” (Allende 79). Antonia exhibits her strength and wins. She has the power the stop her husband’s abuse and superiority.
                Tomas is a rich man because he keeps all his gold buried, and he is the cheapest man alive. He would not even pay for Concha to go to the hospital. Although he is rich and has had good fortune with money, “his good fortune did nothing to mitigate his miserliness or his scrounging” (Allende 72). Money does not make Tomas happy and it just contributes to him being an awful person. Tomas is such a horrible person that in the end he dies in the swamp with his buried gold. Allende writes his destiny purposefully and with the idea of karma in mind. Tomas’ destiny was shaped from the beginning. Something horrible is predicted to happen to him because he is such a horrible person at times it is even over the top because Allende writes hyperbolically. All he wanted in his life was his gold, and he is dies with his gold. Thus, he gets what he wants, but he dies meaning he loses. The women win in the story because they get his gold, even though Tomas dies with it. This shows the theme of karma because Tomas did horrible deeds, so he lost all his gold even though he died right next to it. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crossing the Bar Explication by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

                Lord Tennyson describes a the approach of death on his life. He starts off the poem saying that death is “one clear call for me” (2). The speaker is ready for death to come and retrieve he or she. The speaker also wants their to be “no moaning of the bar” (3). The speaker is not going to put up any fights to say his or her life. The speaker is ready for this passage of life to come. In the next stanza, Tennyson personifies the tide to show how death can be relaxing when the speaker is ready for it. He says that “But such a tide as moving seems asleep” (5), the tide is so peaceful that it seems as sleep. The tide is a metaphor for life because it brings life and then turns back: “When that which drew from out the boundless deep/ Turns again home” (7-8). The tide brings in life from the “boundless deep” and then “turns again home”. Tennyson describes the passage of life as serene if it is looked at from afar.
                The speaker is ready to approach his or her death and wants “there [to] be no sadness of farewell” (11). The speaker has come to terms with death. He or she does not believe that life should be lived the longest. The speaker wants to approach death with open arms. The speaker then describes life as “our bourne of Time and Place”(13). A bourne is a small flowing stream. Life can be related to this because it is a small flowing part of the huge world. Also, life is a part of Time and Place. Tennyson capitalizes Time and Place here to personify them. By personifying time and place it emphasizes life being part of the whole vibrant, alive world. The speaker wants “the flood [to] ear me far” (16). The flood signifies the whole world of people which can bring a bourne places. The speaker explains that the whole world can bring a person through a wonderful life. Tennyson uses water and personification to explain this. The speaker finishes the poem with “I hope to see my Pilot face to face/ When I have crossed the bar” (15-16). The speaker is ready for death and to see who controls life. The speaker cares about the big picture of life and the whole flood rather than just one life which is the stream. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dubliners “The Sisters” What themes do you anticipate based on the 1st story?

            The theme gossip vs. truth is prevalent in “The Sisters”. In this story Father Flynn dies and his legacy is made by the gossip and talk of others, not of his actions and what he thought of himself. The story starts with the protagonist describing an instance of the Old Cotter in his house. The Old Cotter speaks of Father Flynn negatively. He says he was one of those “peculiar cases” and that he “wouldn’t like children of mine […] to have much to say to a man like that” (2). The narrator becomes infuriated at Old Cotter but buries his anger inside of him. Old Cotter frowns upon the narrator having a relationship with the late Father Flynn. It is unknown what Old Cotter knows of Father Flynn that make him have these negative feelings, but these feelings of him contribute to the father’s legacy.
            Another theme in “The Sisters” is action vs. inaction. The narrator faces both the Old Cotter and Eliza speaking of Father Flynn in ways he does not agree with. Yet, the narrator takes no action against this. The narrator buries his anger when he hears Old Cotter disgracing his relationship with Father Flynn, “I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to my anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile” (3). Also the narrator feels a paralysis after the death of Father Flynn. He can only think of the word paralysis when he passes the Father’s window. Also, the narrator does not act here when he simply passes the house even those he longs to go inside to see the Father. The narrator’s inaction contrasts with Father Flynn’s action. Father Flynn shows his feelings through breaking the chalice and spending his time in the church “wide awake and laughing-like to himself” (11). This shows that action may be related to death whereas inaction is necessary to staying alive in this society. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

"On the Sonnet" by John Keats and "Sonnet" by Billy Collins

                Keats describes an idea that in the sonnet the poet is bound to a structure, but they should make the poem original and be inside that structure. Collins instead believes that this poetic form is extremely easy and does not convey much by itself.
                Even though sonnets force the poet to write “dull rhymes [that] our English must be chained” (1), he believes sonnets help the poet find originality. He believes sonnets help us “inspect the lyre, weigh the stress of every chord, and see what may be gained” (7-8). He believes that through sonnets poets have a chance to find themselves. They can “see what may be gained” (8). He also describes that sonnets make “Misers of sound and syllable” (10). Sonnets lead poets to become selfish because they want the structure for themselves only. He also compares the poets who write sonnets to Midas who was a greedy king and was given the power of turning everything he touched into gold. Sonnets are comparable to Midas because the turn dull words into gold. He believes that sonnets make any old words beautiful. The structure of the sonnet does not allow the imagination of the poet to run free and it cover the words “with garlands of her own” (14).  Keats believe that sonnets disguise any words into something beautiful, but they do not allow the imagination to roam free.
                Collins believes that sonnets are extremely cliché and does not do anything to the poem. This differs from Keats who believes that sonnets can make any dull words beautiful. Collins shows that he thinks sonnets are easy by describing that 14 lines is all there is to it. He says you can get “Elizabethan and insist the iambic bongos must be played and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines” (5-7), but that is not necessary to create a sonnet. He says that in “the final six where are will be resolved” (10). This shows that Collins believes that sonnets are cliché and superficial because they are have a sweet, loving resolution at the end. He does not agree that every poem should have a happy ending. He does not end his sonnet this way. He instead mocks Petrarch for writing these sonnets about Laura. He says Petrarch should “put down his pen, [and] take off those crazy medieval tights” (13-14). He mocks Petrarch for continually writing cliché sonnets about his lover Laura.
                All in all the beliefs of Keats and Collins differ because Keats believes that sonnets mask the words and create something wonderful while Collins believes that sonnets cause words to become cliché with a happy ending. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blog of your choice: Analysis of ending in relation to fantasy v. reality

                Marlow’s encounter with the Intended shows that fantasy of Kurtz will live on rather than the reality of Kurtz. When Marlow visits Kurtz’s finance she mourns as though Kurtz died yesterday. She has an unwavering love for him, and she believes that Kurtz was a pure, virtuous, perfect man. I believe she looks up to him as a god like figure. She believes “it was impossible to know him and not admire him” (161). In her eyes Kurtz was a man of perfection.
                She wrongfully believes that she is the one that knew him best and that he confided everything in her: “I had all his noble confidence. I knew him best” (161). Yet, Kurtz never mentions his finance in the novel. As the girl speaks of Kurtz as godlike describing how his words and example will live on, Marlow begins to grow angry. He becomes angry because this girl is so disillusioned. Marlow instead knows that Kurtz is an “eloquent phantom” (163) an evil man whom everyone is drawn to. In this scene Marlow’s anger turns to pity for the finance. His pity shows that the girl is living in a fantasy and has no idea of the true man Kurtz was. She has barely any confidence of him. Kurtz was a suffering man who last words were “the horror, the horror”, and the girl knew nothing of that. When Marlow lies and tell his finance that in his last words he spoke her name, he allows her to continue her fantasy which she knows Kurtz well and he is perfect. Marlow wants to spare the girl of the darkness that lay inside of Kurtz. By doing this, the girl will not know the truth.
                Conrad shows that this girl lives in an absolute fantasy, and Marlow cannot bear to tell her the truth because he pities her. This shows that the fantasy of Kurtz perfection will live on as his legacy. Conrad shows that the truth is sometimes very difficult to find because it is usually very dark and depressing. This relates back to the Congo Free State. Many people did not know the truth about it because it was not published in the open. The truth about what happened is not commonly known to this day, and the truth is absolutely horrid. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Siren Song by Margarent Atwood Explication

This is the one song 1
Everyone would like to learn: the song
That is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons 5
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret?
and if I do, will you get me 10
out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical 15

with these two feathery maniac,
I don’t enjoy singing
This trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you. 20
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas 25
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

            In this allusive poem the speaker describes how the relationship between men and women is too artificially based on beauty. This poem alludes to the Siren which are sister who lure sailors to rocks to their deaths by singing a beautiful tune. The speaker describes the song the sirens sing as “irresistible” (3). It forces men to forget what they are doing to find the women singing. The men “leap overboard in squadrons even though they see beached skulls” (5-6). The men forget about the death ashore because they are following this beautiful sound from the women. They are too focused on the sound that they forget about the rest of the world.
            Also, the speaker alludes that the women do not enjoy being coveting for their beauty. The speaker says, “I don’t enjoy it here/ squatting on the island/ looking picturesque and mythical (13-15). The speaker does not enjoy alluring men to her with her song. She wants something deeper than that, something that does not rely completely on outside beauty. She calls the sirens “two feathery maniac” (16). This depicts the sirens in a negative way. She then goes on to describe the sirens as “fatal and valuable” (18). The sirens are fatal because they lure men to their deaths, but they are also valuable because they grab the attention of men. The speaker believes that the irresistible song is the only thing that were lure men to women. Women have to go through so much artificial effort to get the attention of men. Men will not listen or come near a woman for her inner beauty.
            This song is a horrible thing, it is a “cry for help” (22). The speaker is crying for a man to help her end this irresistible singing. She wants a man to notice her for something more real and deeper. The speaker persuades the reader to come near and near until they are close to death. She finishes the poem by saying “Alas/ it is a boring song/ but it works every time” (24-25). This song that is irresistible is described as boring. If the men looked more critically at the song and used their brains in that situation, they would not be brought to their deaths. It is merely a boring song. The speaker wishes men and women could use their intelligence when they are together. She wishes that men would not be so easily lured to a women by the sound of her voice or by another time of artificial beauty. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Research on Congo Free State (1885-1908)

               The Congo Free State was an area in Central Africa controlled by Leopold II who was the King of Belgium. Leopold became the leader of the international committee on civilization for the Congo. He also became the head of the humanitarian committee in central Africa which had a goal of science and peace. He used this power in these committees to convince the international committee to allow him influence in the Congo Basin. His only goal in Africa was to make a state for commercial gain, and he had a secret plan to make a trade route for ivory in Africa.
                When Leopold II was given influence in Africa he promised to stop the slave trade and keep free commerce. He pledged that he had a philanthropic and scientific agenda. Once he gained power, he did the complete opposite of his agenda. He began to limit the natives land and trade because he wanted to make money off the mineral resources and ivory. He developed a monopoly over the ivory in Africa. He also encouraged the East African slave trade because he wanted more workers for free. Plus, imposed duties on the native. Although he broke all the promised he made when he assumed power, he began a genocide when the commercial state was not doing well financially.
                He eventually forced men to work for him without pay so that he would make more profit. He would exploit the men and prosecute their families if they did not make certain quotas. There were some rebels, but Leopold’s army easily put them down. He would kill the families of men if they did not reach their quotas in ivory or other minerals. Many Congolese people were enslaved during this time as well. The Congolese population dropped rapidly due to murder, starvation, and disease. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Metamorphosis p.37-38 AP style close reading

            When Gregor first sees his father after his transformation he first believes there is a dramatic difference in him, yet his father has not changed to such a degree. His father has gotten new clothes and a job, but he is still a weak old man. His father is an extremely dynamic character because he is “furious and happy at the same time” when he sees Gregor (37). He is furious at Gregor and what he has become, yet he is happy because he believes that since he is not the man in the house with the job, he is stronger than his son. In this excerpt there is a contrast between the two sides of his father, the weak and the strong. He wants to show that he is strong, but the old side of him which is weak disables him from doing this completely.
            Gregor notices a huge difference in the mannerisms of his father which he say may be because “he has been so preoccupied by the new sensation of crawling around” (37). He wonders if this is actually the same father would used to “lie wearily, buried in his bed” (37). He father now appears strong and energetic in contrast to the man who was extremely slow when they used to take walks together. Gregor sees a huge difference in the way his father is dressed and the way he is standing. He wears a “high, stiff collared” jacket, but his “pronounced double chin unfurled” (37). He wears this uniform which creates pictures of a strong man going to work, yet his double chin which shows laziness is still pronounced. While Gregor is amazed at this transformation, the lazy father he used to know is still there inside.

            His father wants to fight Gregor because Gregor has become a burden to the family, yet he cannot muster himself to do that showing that he really has not undergone much of a transformation. Although he raises his feet to possibly kick Gregor “he most likely himself had no idea of what he intended to do” (37). As he continues to try to fight Gregor, his old self begins to overcome him. His father becomes extremely short of breath and “for every step his father took he had to execute a number of movements” (38). Although his father wants to fight Gregor and show his strength over the family, his weakness disables him from doing so. In the end he ends up throwing fruit at Gregor. Although the fruit has a detrimental effect on Gregor, his father only threw it weakly. It is a bit comical that he is throwing fruit because that shows absolutely no strength because any human could do that. He father did come close to killing Gregor with the fruit though, and his mother had to “beg[…] him to save Gregor’s life” (38). Although he wounded Gregor and exerts his strength over the family, his weakness that Gregor remembers does not go away. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Explication and Reflection of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer 5
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 10
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, 15
And miles to go before I sleep.

Although the woods do not belong to the speaker, the speaker describes how beautiful the woods are when you simply admire them without any purpose. The speaker takes a ride with his horse through the woods that “fill up with snow” (4). These woods are not his though, they are someone who he “think[s] [he] know[s]” (1). The speaker stops “without a farmhouse near” and “between the woods and frozen lake” (6-7). There is no reason to stop in that place. The speaker merely wants to stop there to admire the dense woods fill up with snow.

While his horse questions why the speaker stops in the random place in the woods, the speaker listens to the only other sound “of easy wind and downy flake” (12). The woods are extremely peaceful and quiet which the speaker loves. He wants to stay in these woods and admire the beauty. Unfortunately, he cannot admire the beauty for long because the speaker has obligations and “promises to keep” (14). In addition he has “miles to go before [he] sleep[s]” (15). This sentence is repeated twice which emphasizes the daunting task he must complete. The speaker has to go these miles even though he wants to enjoy the spacious woods.

I chose this poem because it symbolizes how our lives can carry us away from what we truly desire. I believe the speaker and many of us humans take actions that do not lead us to our goals. The speaker wants to stop in the woods and admire it, but he has promises to keep and miles to go before he sleeps. He is unable to enjoy nature because of the obligations of the journey. This relates to many people who forget to enjoy the pleasures in life because they are so caught up in their tasks and jobs, which they many not even like. We have miles to go to complete the daunting tasks that we do not want to complete. Yet, we still complete these daunting, unenjoyable tasks because they are the “right” thing to do. I believe the poem shows that we should enjoy the woods that are “lovely, dark, and deep” instead of keeping these unfulfilling promises. Frost tells us to enjoy nature and your passions before it is too late.