Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frederick Douglass


I would like to start of by saying that this is the longest piece of work that I have read in a while where they repeat themselves over and over.  I want to say that I think he makes some serious points that really makes the American mind think. In the beginning of the text he celebrates the "founding fathers" and talks about how wonderful and smart and brave they were. As I was reading I found myself thinking that he really is commending them in their actions and efforts. I was waiting for him to come out and say that he hates them and that they were all liars, but he never did. Well.. instead he just goes on and on about how brave they were. Then he presents a question to the readers that I believe is noteworthy, on page 8 right before he has the insert about the evil that men do he has a paragraph about claiming that so and so is "our father" and makes a reference to the bible and Abraham. He basically is saying that we call on our founding fathers and claim to "in relation" to them, but do not act as they do.

Then he starts the long process of talking about slavery. He poses another question that really makes one think.. what is July 4th to a slave? While we are all celebrating our freedom, slaves get to sit there and wonder.. well what the hell is really going on right now? Everyone is celebrating freedom, yet these slaves are living in this free America and aren't free.  At this point, learning about the history of America has really put a damper on my patriotism. Douglass uses his language and his skill as a writer to portray an America that is very hypocritical. Again, we are reading two different stories like Stowe.. Where in the beginning you think of happy things and happy endings then we are slapped in the face with reality.

Lastly Douglass talks about religion. He basically is saying that religion is just as to blame because they didn't do anything to stop it as well. He says to bring on the atheism, etc because it serves to confirm more infidels.

It all goes back to the nature of man and the American identity. The nature of man is clearly TERRIBLE. In this time frame America wanted freedom and made all these claims against "The British Crown" for being a terrible government then we turn around and put people into slavery.

Question: what does he mean by this on page 20: "To palter with us in a double sense: And keep the word of promise to the ear, But break it to the heart." He quotes this in his work.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Harriet Stowe

In this text, I have found that I enjoy this type of "writing" better than the previous works we've seen. I say this because as we read we get to really look through the text and see the underlying message that Stowe was trying to portray.

In the first "story" we meet these young children playing and doing work for the family. Dick talks about liberty and giving up everything for liberty. As Grace throws her cap in the air, the wind takes its. Dick says that this is okay because it is in the name of liberty. I think this is significant because it shows the American mind-set and how they wanted to have freedom and would give everything  for it. The scene where all the family is at home and sitting around waiting for the dinner to be ready, they talk about the letters from their dad (or husband, son, etc) and in these letters he instills in them the practice that they should give everything they can sacrifice for the name of liberty. I think one of the scenes that sticks out in my mind is the little girl giving her stockings over to the men even though they know that no one can wear them.

I think that this particular story is significant because it shows the America as a united whole. I feel like this viewpoint of America really makes me proud and kind of sad because it is shining light on a positive side of America rather than a negative side (as compared to the next story). I think that also this story sheds light on the fact that women run things in the household when the men are away. It doesn't go into too much dept about that, but it is obvious that the women is the man in the household while the man is out fighting a war. This story (in my opinion) sends the message that Liberty and freedom were taken seriously during this time period and the Americans were fighting for it on the battle field and in their homes as well.

The second story completely contradicts the first story. In all honestly my heart broke when I read this story. I did not see the ending coming at all. Stowe paints this pretty picture of how wonderful their lives are and everyone is happy and praising God then BOOM. It all ends. I think that this is a part of American history that just tears my nerves to pieces. I want to defend the men that were this evil to other human beings because they are Americans as well, but at the same time I want to disown anything that I have in common with them, but how can I? I think this goes back to our discussion in class about how far are you willing to go for what you believe in? These men found justification for their actions and people let it continue. It is just mortifying to think that this way going on our backyard. I think that cruel, evil and insane are just a few words that flow to mind while reading the ending of this story. Our past keeps reiterating how there is no happy ending in our lives. It's very negative.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Civil Disobedience: Thoreau

This will be the second time I have read Civil Disobedience by Thoreau. I think that this time I have a better understanding of what he was saying. Question: Was Thoreau the guy that went in the woods and out of society for a year or so to write? I believe it was him and if so it made sense because he did talk a LOT about nature. So I realized I could just Google this and I did and yes it was him, thank you Google.

In this text, I get the idea that he (Thoreau) greatly dislikes the government. In the first line he says: "That government is best which governs least." I could stop right here and say that is all that needs to be said because it does pretty much sum up the text, but if you take a closer look I think that Thoreau is calling out to be people to take action rather than just talk about what you want to do. For example in Part 1 in section 10 towards the end ("There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery...") he says basically that if you say you disagree with slavery, that's cool and all, but you have to take an action against it so that people will hear you.

One thing that I'd like to point out is that the title of this work is called "Civil Disobedience" and Thoreau definitely tells people to go out and break the law. I found that rather humorous, but of course he said if the law caused you to cause harm on someone else then don't do it, but if you look outside the context clues, it's kinda like hmm.. really? He goes on these tan-gits in the text that are strictly in question form normally towards the end of a section. These questions are quite thought-provoking elements that enhance the overall tone created by the author for the reader. 

While reading this, I pictured this guy in my head that was standing around smoking a cigarette just rambling on and on about the government and how they are behind all the bad things happening in the world. I got this sense of "smart-ass" (excuse my French) from him, especially in Part 2 page 8 and 9, "..The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, have neer made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find a complete list." How funny is that? At least I giggled while I read that. 

Lastly, there is one thing in here that reminds me of Emerson, in Part 2 towards the end he says, "I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society." That just sounded so much like Emerson when he was talking about giving a dollar to the poor. 

Lastly, #2: At the end he says "If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies: and so a man." Now my question is what is a man's nature?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Elizabeth Stanton

In her text she takes the time to really push her points across, but not in a manner that you feel as if she is just "complaining." She uses her literary wit to inform the readers of the problems of the woman race. I think that this text is interesting because she really challenges the readers. For example, she presents an argument that was made to make women look bad or look like the enemy and then turns it again and forces the reader to look at something from a different angle.

I think that I liked this work because I didn't feel like she was just talking to be talking. I'm not quite sure how to word this, but for example , "They do not divide heads according to sex but they call all the fine heads masculine and all the ill shaped feminine, for when a woman presents a remarkably large well developed intellectual region, they say she has a masculine head, as if there could be and the affections inordinately developed they say he has a woman's head this giving all glory to masculinity." When she writes her use of choice words radiates her beliefs in a positive manner, yet still firm. I think that this part of the text is a great start for the rest of her text because it sets the mood like, "Okay, you want to play with fire, well be prepared to get burned!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harriet Jacobs

Blog: Harriet Jacobs

To begin: I want to remember to talk about two things: Flowers and women

I think that this might be a long blog for me just a little warning. Anyway- To start my thought process off I want to say that this text was terrible. Not in the way you might be thinking, but it broke my heart into little tiny pieces. I hate reading about this time period only because it shows Americans as terrible people. How could someone treat someone so poorly? I really just find it hard to fathom, but then even today there is still racism alive and booming and it literally kills me on the inside. This text really takes an in-depth look at what WOMEN as a group (not mentioning color yet) went through and how far we have come. If we take a step back and look at this text from a different standpoint, we have made great steps in how women are perceived in the world, but at the same time some of these qualities that she and the “mistresses” possess are still going on today. For example, the mistress marries her “husband” and thinks that life is going to be all “flowery” as Jacobs said, but then finds out that life is nothing but dealing with their husbands’ cheating and looking away as they do it and get mad at the slaves (craziness).  Today we have that same problem where women turn a cheek as their “successful” husbands betray their marriage vowels or where women want to blame other women for their men’s mishaps.  Also, men like Dr. Flint still mentally and physically abuse women today and the women stay because they are brainwashed or whatever the reasons may be. This text does shed some light on the matter that these “practices” (for lack of a better word) are still being used today.

Secondly, this piece of work really shows how heartless mankind can be, but how strong we can be as well. I think that my opinion has changed after reading this text that mankind is innately mean. I say this because even with rules the people who were in charge used their power to take advantage and savagely ruin other peoples lives.  This text gives the readers an insight as to what life was like on all levels. I think I would love to have an account of Dr. Flint for he was a very important character in this text. Though throughout the reading I could feel the sorrow and the guilt that possessed Jacobs I never really felt hatred, except for when she actually said it. I think that if she were to "run into him" nowadays she might just say a prayer and keep it moving. I find her strength in this text very moving. I think that her courage for writing this was enough to inspire other women to make a stand, no matter the reason.

Things I wanted to point out: Jacobs brings up an element in her work which is her association with "flower." When she uses this word she is almost always referencing a white or "fair" women and her marriage or a happy moment in life. I think that this is significant because I feel it shed light on her feelings of happiness and how she see's what she wants in her happiness or in her marriage. I am not sure if that made sense.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Walt Whitman Blog #6

Blog: Walt Whitman
Songs of Myself

To begin: I had quite a few questions. In the first section at line 12 he said:
 I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.
What does he mean? Before these two lines he talks about “creeds” and “schools” being in a state of temporary disuse. So is he talking about schools not being in session? 

Also, line 121&122:  I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out their laps. A few lines later he says that they are alive and living well, during this part of the poem I really started to get confused as to what he was referencing. 

Lastly, in section 9 he talks about big doors of the country barn and then he says he is there he helps, but what is he helping? 


I really enjoyed this poem. I remember reading Leaves of Grass, but did not focus on it that intently, but I am really regretting that I didn’t. Whitman gives such a portrayal of what he sees in America. As I was reading it I felt that he was not talking down as I did with Emerson.  I think that his vision of American is as one mass. He talks a lot about being “one.” For example in the second line of this poem he says “And what I assume you shall assume For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” It makes me think of Emerson because he didn’t agree with this, but yet him and Whitman are both transcendentalist. I think they had the same idea just different ways to reach it because Whitman throughout the poem makes these scenarios of all kinds of people.

He talks about slaves a lot and how “I” the narrator helped him get clean and on his feet so that he could continue his travels to the north. So I am assuming that he was against slavery. When he is in the midst of his descriptions he uses language that is not demeaning as we have seen in other works. For example when he talking about the “negro” who holds firmly the reins of his four horses, he says that his “blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast” and he says “his glance is calm and commanding.” In all of these descriptions he doesn’t use belittling language, if anything he is talking about how strong physically and mentally is this man.
My favorite line of this poem is in section 3 line 52: Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.  I feel like that is a very relatable quote. To begin, I think that he saying (from the context around it) is that he is clear and sweet, but at the same time he is not. He’s heard what the people have been saying about the beginning and the end, but he talks nothing of it. He is content because he sees, dances, and sings. 

I had a question as to who he was talking to in this text, but I think that he was talking to everyone or talking for everyone. If you look on line 82 he says:  I believe in you MY SOUL…”  

Lastly, in section 15 this is the section where he talks of all different walks of life, but yet they are all doing the same thing; living their life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog #4 Emerson

"I would write on the lintels of the door-post, Whim." Is he referencing Martin Luther? 

"All men have my blood, and I have all men's." I found this sentence to confuse me a bit because he talks about being your own person and not being affliated with "poor men," but then says that he has the blood of all men. 

While reading this excerpt I found myself slightly cheering him on as if he were preaching. I almost wanted to start clapping my hands. Some arguments that he presented I did not agree with though, but some of them I did. For example, when he was talking about these groups of people/charities that would ask him for money or whatever, he said that he would succumb sometimes, but basically called it a dirty dollar.       "-though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold." 

The title of the text really tells it all. Self-Reliance, individualism, etc. As a transcendentalists he believed in the inner knowledge that made him almost better than others? At least that it was I took away from it. Not necessarily that he felt he was better then others, but that he and others that believed this concept as well were at a higher thinking capacity then the others who did not believe this way. 

In this work it felt as if he were fighting for people to see the world how he see's the world and join him in being an individual. I think that is kind of an oxymoron because he talks that masses are bad and lame, but I feel that he is preaching to everyone that if you aren't thinking about yourself or thinking as an individual you are wrong. 

In his rant about memory starting at line 164 on page 6, I did find myself quite confused as to what he was trying to convey? Don't rely solely on your memory "but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day." This does confuse me quite a bit. 

Lastly, through this text I feel a sense of rebellion. Almost like, I'm going to do what I want and no one is going to tell me otherwise. I think that when it comes to the government Emerson would be the one protesting because it didn't fit in his "transcendentalism" view point. 
"High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight, that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself, that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others!" I found this quote worthy of putting in here because it pretty much completes my argument that he would rather be in control of himself rather the government. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Romanticism Blog # 3

Romanticism is an era in which an artistic revolution set up camp and began the movement of change through artistic abilities, intellectual abilities, and literary abilities. While, when we see Romanticism, we think- oh, lovey dovey stuff, in truth the word, Romanticism, and what one may conceive is not one in the same. Though some of the characteristics of this era to meet the romantic concepts. For example, a lot of this era deals with aesthetics or the senses. In my other classes we are talking about William Blake and the French revolution. He is a romanticism writer and through his poems you really can hear the political messages he sends, but at the same time he exercises the senses and also has an underlining tone of "change."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anti-Federalist/Federalist #2

Anti-Federalist Papers #1
Despotism? 1. The exercise of absolute power, esp. in a cruel and oppressive way
But remember, when the people once part with power, they can seldom or never resume it again but by force.  Is the author referencing war?

Throughout this reading I think that the author is very passionate about what they believe. I think that this is because whenever I am reading something, the voice in my head is excited and enthusiastic, whether or not the author intended this; however, the main point the author wanted to get across was whether or not the 13 States (at that time) should be under one "Republic."  The author proposed this question after a brief introduction about the convention created with the 13 States already creating a constitution that could either be a good thing or create a "despotism" government, which means that the "absolute" power would control everything in a negative manner.

"History furnishes no example of a free republic, any thing like the extent of the United States. The Grecian republics were of small extent; so also was that of the Romans. Both of these, it is true, in process of time, extended their conquests over large territories of country; and the consequence was, that their governments were changed from that of free governments to those of the most tyrannical that ever existed in the world."

This quote from the text can pretty much sum up the viewpoint of the author. If under a one republic that was free, we would end up like one of the countries mentioned above.  Throughout this reading, I found it difficult to understand at times and I would re-read it a few times to make sure I was taking away the correct viewpoint. Sometimes I wasn't sure if he were for the one republic or against it, but then after coming to the end it was clear his opinion and thus the quote above.

The Federalist #51
usurpations? trespass: entry to another's property without right or permission
I just love how towards the middle of the text he talks about if men were angels then we would need no government and that if the angels were to govern the men then there would be not need for "controls." In this work the author makes clear their point of view,but in a way very hard to understand. At the end of the text he gives the two "considerations" about the federal of America. One of them being that the rights of the people will be broken up into the two sections of government that will control each other and itself all at once. (Which sounds really tricky) Also, his number two consideration is that majority wins. At first when I was reading this I thought he was talking about dividing up societies. Was he really talking about that? I think that he was just using that word phrase in a bad part of the sentence. I'll ask this in class tomorrow.