Sunday, September 28, 2008

IND AFF: Setting

IND AFF: Setting

There is a saying that people should think twice before they act. This saying well-adapts to the story of Fay Weldon IND AFF or Out of Love in Sarajevo. The story is told by its main character, where she is telling the audience about her trip with her “lover”, Professor Peter, and telling the incident that caused World War I. Both the character and the History Professor are in their trip around Europe (currently in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia), at the exact place where Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Weldon decided to place the characters in this setting in order to find similarities in the decision both Princip and narrator chose at the end of the story.
The narrator opens up the story by talking about weather, “The rain filled up Sarajevo’s pride” (201), which refers to the two outcomes that were about to take place. In this story, rain symbolizes three major factors war, death, and love. First, the outbreak of the war. Due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, World War I began. Second, the death of the Archduchess and the millions of people who died during the war. And lastly, love. The two main characters seem to be in love but at the end, it was just a bad decision just like the one Princip decided to take. Rain indicates that there are problems that must be solved. It is not only raining in Sarajevo but also “it was raining on [Peter’s] wife, too, back in Cambridge” (202). This demonstrates that their wrong actions are damaging those around them. It is important to be aware of these signs because just like the narrator mentions, it “filled up Sarajevo’s pride”. In other words, the assassination of the Archduchess caused this place to be an immense tourist place, where the narrator, thanks to this event, happens to make a decision that will most likely change her life for the better.
The narrator constantly keeps bringing up the cause of World War I. According to her, “He [Peter] liked to be asked questions” (205), but behind her curiosity to analyze more this incident, Weldon wanted the audience to learn a bit more about this historical event but also to see how the decision of Princip to assassinate relates to the narrator’s decision to maintain a relationship with a married man. As the couple sits at a restaurant in Sarajevo, the narrator converse with her lover about World War I. While she continues to analyze Princip’s story, she realizes that her life is not so different to his. The narrator comments on Princip’s age, “Princip was nineteen – too young” (204); she does not only mention his age as part of the story but to reflect on the age difference between her and her partner. She figures that she is also too young to be expending her life with someone who is “forty-six” (203) while she is “twenty-five” (203). The narrator continues to feel pity for Princip, not realizing that she was feeling pity for her self as well. She comments on how Princip died for the “love of a country” (204) which once again relates to her life. She is dying for the love of an old professor-married man.
As their conversation continues in the restaurant about the Archduke’s assassination, the narrator continues to realize that her relationship was a mistake. From the beginning of the story, the narrator emphasizes the term “wife” in various occasions. On page 201, the narrator introduces the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and then in parenthesis highlights “(Don’t forget his wife; everyone forgets his wife…)”. Later on in the text, when she decides to leaves the professor, she states that his head smelt like chlorine and “may have come from thinking about his wife so much” (206). This demonstrates that through out their “holiday” trip, both have not forgotten about the wife. The narrator uses Franz’s wife as a method to cover the guilt she feels for doing such thing to Peter’s wife and Peter, deep inside, is constantly thinking of his “twenty-four years” (202) of marriage.
The narrator wanted to demonstrate how a quick decision can change one’s life forever. The narrator “was finally aware how much [she has] lied” (206) when she said “I love you” to Professor Peter. Due to their trip in Sarajevo and its past history with Princip, it helped her realize that she had made a mistake, a mistake that she regrets. The narrator states that she is “grateful to this day” (206) with the city of Sarajevo because it taught her a lesson. She continues to relate her “silly sad episode” (206) with Princip’s silly and sad decision. She feels sympathy towards Princip because at such of young age, he ruined his life, similar to her. Their only difference was that she thought twice before she continue with this false romance that was not going to take her anywhere in life.
Weldon use of setting made this story meaningful. Sarajevo’s sad history changed the characters life for the better. Weldon wanted the audience to see that a quick decision is not the best choice to take; it is better to think twice and perhaps the second choice would have a better ending. The narrator also highlights this at the end of the story, “…If he’d just hung on a bit, there in Sarajevo, that June day, he might have come to his senses. People do, sometimes quite quickly” (207). She refers to herself and how she took her time to think about it, to relate her story to young Princip, and at the end, took the best decision for herself.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

May-dum Characterization Essay

“May-dum” Characterization

In The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran, the author creates this want-to-be youth woman, who is kind, and wealthy; also known as May-dum. Sankaran creates this character in the country of India, where is most known about its traditions and beliefs. This causes the character to come out as a rebel against her country’s culture and the behavior of a wealthy woman.
Sankaran begins the story introducing a character called T.R. Gavirangappa, who becomes known as Raju. Sankaran introduces this character in the story to enable the audience to see the character of May-dum. Unlike May-dum, Raju is a hardworking male, who is responsible to “support his parents, his sister, his wife of four years, and their little daughter” (1). Raju meets May-dum when he applies to be her driver. Raju had a different concept about May-dum. He thought she was going to be the typical middle-aged wealthy woman, who feels no pity for others, with proper manners. But May-dum had a different character. She was wealthy but she was kind to those who work for her and those who needed her help. But she was also a teenage at heart in a middle-aged woman’s body. She wore clothing that characterized her as a “prostitute”, she also “curses, jokes, comments and conversation of a frankness” (5) that Raju was happy he could barely follow the English language. Raju was introduced in the story so the reader can learn about the traditions in India, and see the difference between a hardworking man who follows his culture and a wealthy-middle-aged woman who follows her own rules.
May-dum can be portrayed in two different ways; either as a sympathetic woman or a woman that just cares about fitting-in. May-dum likes to help her servants. They look up to her and felt well-treated by her. Instead of her servants gossiping “to see who had it worst” (5), they all just “traded hard-luck stories” (5). From this perspective, the audience can perceive that May-dum is a great woman and a great boss. Sankaran wanted to include these testimonies from May-dum’s servants so the reader can see another side of May-dum. Deep inside, May-dum cares for others, she cares for the luck of those who helped her get through each day. Another action that contributed to May-dum’s sympathetic personality is when she went to meet Raju’s family and she paid Raju’s daughter education for a whole year (10). Sankaran knows that the reader would have never expected this from May-dum. The purpose of the creation of such character is to expect the unexpected.
Sankaran also created another side personality of May-dum, which she only reveals to the outside world. From the way she dresses to the way she acts, is an informal way of a middle-aged woman to be acting. The audience gets to know this side of her once again from Raju’s thoughts. He describes her behavior as “unacceptable” and “immoral” (6). This personality makes the audience confuse to see how a kind woman can act this way. This “May-dum” demonstrates the universal theme of “fitting-in”. May-dum dresses and acts this certain way to maintain her friends. To prove this, on page 11, May-dum meets her friend after coming back from Raju’s village (where she was actually dressed as someone of her class) and her friend, surprise comments right away about her “elegant dress”. This demonstrates that in front of her friends, May-dum does not like to show formality and elegance. She only wants to fit-in. What Sankaran is trying to prove is that May-dum deep inside shares the culture of her country, she also wants to create that good “first impression” on those who she does not really know. But with her friends, she wants to be this rebel going against the rules and creating her own rules. Sankaran purpose of creating May-dum is for the reader to see that just because people expect you to act a certain way, you have to. May-dum somehow proves this wrong. She does like to create good impressions, but she also likes to live free.
This short story gives back to the reader a wide range of thoughts and doubts. The development of the characters creates the meaning of this story. The characters do not change, but they do make this story meaningful by contributing their personalities and actions. Both Raju and May-dum had something in common, they both needed each other. Both pretended to be a different person to please one another. May-dum changed her informal behavior to a high-class woman, and Raju pretended to not dislike May-dum’s behavior. This was Sankaran’s purpose: to prove how in every day life, people pretend to be someone else to please others, to fit in.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Miss Brill's Point of View

Miss Brill’s Point of View

In Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield, the author demonstrates how the narrator can describe a character to the audience by using the character’s thoughts. Mansfield uses impartial omniscience in the story by presenting only Miss Brill’s thoughts and actions, giving the reader the opportunity to see the difference between reality and imagination.
Mansfield decides to use a narrator that is intimately close to Miss Brill, someone or something that knows Miss Brill’s steps, likes and dislikes. The audience gets to know Miss Brill through her thoughts; they get to know Miss Brill through her conscience. Her conscience speaks to her and to the reader. It lets everyone knows the setting and what is around her, what is important to Miss Brill like her “fur coat”, and what others think about her “…stupid old thing…” (36).
Mansfield wants the audience to see how an old lonely woman gets happy with the most insignificant things in life. From the narrator perspective, the audience sees Miss Brill’s loneliness and her hunger to find a meaning for her living. The narrator describes Miss Brill’s routine and observations, “Sunday after Sunday, and –Miss Brill often noticed- there was something funny about nearly all of them” (34). The audience can tell that Miss Brill observes and critics others but does not focus on her own self. Miss Brill tries to ignore that she is an elderly woman. When she begins to think of herself as old, she brushes that thought away. She tries to create happiness in every thought or situation. She has tingling in her hands and arms, but says to herself, “It must have been from walking – she supposed.” (33). Miss Brill does not let herself think these thoughts because then that would be evidence to her that she was old. Miss Brill constantly changes her mind when she begins to realize that she is lonely and old.
The story has two narrators, one for the use of Miss Brill to tell herself about the world around her, and another narrator for the audience to see the life that Miss Brill is living. Miss Brill is her own narrator; she wants to make herself believe that she is living in a whole different world. This is the purpose of Mansfield use of point of view, she wants the audience to really live the life of this old woman, to think the way she thinks, to observe what she observes, to create an image with the help of her thoughts. But at the same time, the reader is not only observing what Miss Brill is observing, the reader is actually beginning to get to know Miss Brill through out her thoughts. The reader begins to feel sympathetic towards this character; they begin to see that instead of being a happy woman she is actually lonely and is trying hard to find a meaning for her life.
The story is written in the third person point of view for a purpose: to not show Miss Brill’s fears. Mansfield decides to use Miss Brill’s thoughts as a narrator to hide the real purpose of the story. She wanted to reveal Miss Brill’s character through this point of view to make the story more meaningful. Mansfield decides to keep the point of view limited to Miss Brill and also exclude the others characters thoughts in order for the reader to center all their attention to Miss Brill. The narrator does not judge Miss Brill and does not include his/her thoughts into the story. The narrator focuses just on Miss Brill in order to make the story an effective one. Mansfield wanted to tell the story from a third person narrator to show the difference between Miss Brill’s imagination and the reality of her situation. It is clear that what the narrator is trying to prove how Miss Brill uses her imagination to hide some of the pain that reality might have caused her. For example, on page 36, Miss Brill states that everything was “a play”, that she plays “an important role in the play” and that she has been “an actress for a long time”. This demonstrates how Miss Brill wants to find any way to believe that she is still useful and important to someone.
Mansfield successfully uses the third person omniscient point of view. She shows how Miss Brill was trying to hide her loneliness without feeling sympathy for her own self. The use of creating illusions also contributed to the story since it was another method to hide Miss Brill true emotions. At the end, Miss Brill faces reality and the narrator creates a distance from her in order to show Miss Brill point of view and so the reader is able to know her thoughts and feelings from her own self.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Remains of the Day (III)

The ending was a surprise to me. I really wanted Miss Kenton, or Mrs. Benn, and Stevens to become a couple. Like I stated previously, I thought that something happened between them that made Stevens shameful and made her leave. I see the ending as ironic because Stevens even cries in the end. Of course he is not the happiest person; he feels that his past was lost, but he does appear to take it well. After he finishes crying, he states that he will do something different for a change and make new friends and will have “bantering” more often. Though he does regret his past, he somehow find comfort in knowing that he has a second chance (which is the complete opposite of the book “One Hundred Years of Solitude”) with the new American owner. I would have liked Stevens to go through a complete new identity change, but he still remains the stiff, awkward butler he started out as. The only difference is that he has learned to move on and try new things.

The Remains of the Day (II)

In Stevens trip there seems to be nothing big happening. But like Danny I go back and forth about whether or not to trust Stevens. At first I thought I could trust him, because he didn’t let his emotions interfere with his work and life. But now he seems to be hiding a past he’s shameful of. Even though Stevens speaks in a sophisticated way and worked for a very powerful leader, I don’t think I want to trust him. I don’t like the fact that he explains himself so much, that he’s afraid of showing his emotions, and that he is over taken by his work—everything he says and does involves him and his work. He’s too attached in his work to not be hiding a secret.

About Mr. Stevens and Miss Kenton, maybe it’s too early to say this, but I think that she really left because there was a strong attraction between her and Mr. Stevens. I think Mr. Stevens made her leave and now regret it and wants to bring her back.

The Remains of the Day (I)

Mr. Stevens is very sophisticated in the way he talks and acts. I think he is hiding something from the audience to reveal it later. Kevin mentioned Mr. Stevens’ comment about the scenic landscape and how Steven saw it as beauty and calm. I think that Stevens is conceited more than anything. He sounds very confident in what he states and does, but he has a reason to. He’s worked for Lord Darlington for 30 years and Lord Darlington trusted him when he had meetings with powerful people. I agree with Carla when she says that he’s over concerned with his work because he’s avoiding inner conflicts. I believe Stevens is hiding a deep dark secret about Darlington from the audience. I also think that Miss Kenton is the opposite of Mr. Stevens, which is why they can work so well together, yet still get into so many silly fights. The fights however seem to symbolize that they do care for one another.

Things Fall Apart (III)

Well..I am as surprise as everybody else. The third part of this book was unbelievable chaos! Okonkwo life had changed alot. Even his son Nwoye left him for the new missionaries; "...he was happy to leave his father"(152). Christianity, the missionaries, were the way Nwoye found to finally escape from his father. This new religion gave him the strength to finally leave the dark shadow of his father. Okonkwo knew that he could not relied on his family anymore to fight against the white men. So he turned to his "clan". He wanted to start a war to take over his old village, "And they had listened to him with respect. It was like the good old days again, when a warrior was a warrior"(192). This is what first of all got Okonkwo in so much trouble and when he starts feeling superior, we know that something horrible is going to happen to him. This is the hint of more problems to Okonkwo. And once again to prove my point, Okonkwo decides to kill a white man and his old clan turned their backs on him. The only way out he saw was to committ suicide: "...they come to the tree from which Okonkwo's body was dangling"(207). It was an ironic ending for Okonkwo. Okonkwo contradicted his words with his actions. A minute ago, he was the spokeperson, the leader, telling his people to fight for their beliefs because their Gods were "weeping"(203) and the next minute, he committed suicidal which pretty much is against all of his beliefs. This demonstrates how not of a strong man he was.

Things Fall Apart (II)

Heyy people!!

Well towards the end of part one and beginning of part two, this novel began to twist or should I say "fall apart". Okonkwo's world is ready to take a new path when Ikemefuna became so close to him. When Okonkwo was told that the kid was to be killed, Ezeudo told Okonkwo to stay out of the murder because "that boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death"(57). If Okonkwo participated in his death, he will be killing the innocense of a child, of his son. But since Okonkwo never listens and tries to do everything his way, his life will be miserable after Ikemefuna's death. And to prove my point, Okonkwo began to have serious thoughts about Ikemefuna's death, "Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed"(65). He can not believe that he killed a child, almost like a son, and now he is lamenting his actions like a woman. But this is nothing compare to his exile. I agree with Marrisa when she said that this was like a payback to all the killings he has participated in. This was a huge change for Okonkwo, to be sent to his mother's land, almost like a humiliation for him since in this new land nobody saw him as the "GREAT MAN" he has been used to. Instead, they told him how he really was, a child who only pretends to be tought; " you are a great man in your clan. But you are still a child..."(134).

Things Fall Apart (I)

hey guys!!!!well while reading "Things fall apart" and all of your comments I came to a dilemma between both marrisa's and katie's views on Unoka and Oknokwo. I agree with both opinions but it is kind of difficult to chose a side because as katie said "He was 'lazy and improvident and was quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow" (4) all the way up to his death. But also I sympathize with Marrisa's comment about Unoka being "a man who loved to live in the moment, enjoying the present and not stressing the future. He is not a saver, but rather a spender..." Both opinions are great so I came to a conclusion that it is not so important to focus on Unoka's personality but instead on Okonkwo. Oknokwo demonstrates to be a tough men who many fear, even his own son, Nwoye. His personality foreshadows trouble for him and his family as he contines to not had "patience with unsuccessful men" (4) and "laziness" (13). Oknokwo feels so superior from everyone else that it will get him in trouble very soon, risking his prosperity and his family. The way he understimates everyone around him may cause him a big surprise in the future, for example his own son. Oknokwo sees Nwoye as a lazy kid and he is constantly "nagging and beating" (14) him. And instead of correcting him, Oknokwo might be creating a monster worse than him.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (II)

In the second third of the novel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses repetition of events. From my perspective, the reason why Marquez uses repetition is because the characters itselves are always remembering what their old lives used to be before technology was introduced to Macondo and also before the war. The arrival of new groups to this village have changed the Buendia's family so much that they are stuck living in the past. Like Mary said, "repetition in life of all Arcadios, Aurelianos, Remedios, Amaranta, etc" proves the point of how the family is and will always live in the past.

Also, I agree with steph and her observation. Macondo was a small village where no one has ever died and now Macondo is a war erupting city where many have died. As for Ursula. She is the only that still represents the old Macondo with its beliefs and culture. While everybody else got caught up with technology and power. For example, Jose Arcadio Buendia, her husband. Now he is spending the last years or days of his life tight to a Chestnut tree as all his family falls apart(89).

One Hundred Years of Solitude (I)

I agree with Paul's observation of Jose Arcadio Buendia's changed of personality. Some of my thoughts were similar; Jose Arcadio Buendia demontrates to be a man who doesn't trust many people, "...not believe in the honesty of gypsies"(2) leaving him at a disadvantage by trading valuable things that his wife and him needed for just ideas that he has created in his mind. This somehow foreshadows Jose Arcadio Buendia's future; a dreamer who only believes in himself and most likely will end up losing many more valuable things because of his distrust towards others. Buendia rathers trust the "new technology" than the wisdom of those around him.