Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Langston Hughes

Theme For English B/Harlem

Langston Hughes

Both of these poems are simply structured as compared to the other authors we have read lately. I personally love Langston Hughes so I am partial to his writings.  I used Theme For English B as an ancillary material for a unit I did in another education class. I think that poem is an amazing piece of writing. He is 22 in his classes in Harlem and he is the only black person in there. His assignment is to write a paper, just write and let it flow so “it will be true.” He takes Harlem and connects himself to it. He says Harlem I hear you. He says he likes the same things that people who are not of color like. He presents a complex argument, which is partially while I love this poem; he says that if this paper is a part of me then it will be black, but when you read it, it will become a part of you and you are white. Then he says, “That’s American.” Bam. He just took away color all together and made a category in which they are equal, American. He shows us that we learn from one another and because of our different backgrounds we bring something different to the table.
In the poem, Harlem, I don’t quite understand the title and the significance to the poem, but I think that because he went to school is Harlem is relates back to “dream” he had of being educated or something along those lines. I think that he might be saying that a dream that isn’t pursued will dry up into nothing or it will keep bothering you like a sore. I think these references are very graphic because they are easy to imagine, “rotten meat” and “crust and sugar over.” Then he ends with “does it explode?”  I find this to be a little wild and absurd because your dreams can’t explode, but at the same time it is very dramatic.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Countee Cullen

Yet Do I Marvel

I think that Cullen is playing with the concept of justice and what is right and wrong. He is playing with the power of God by saying, I doubt not God is good, well meaning, kind,etc BUT he made me black and a poet AND I'm getting my work out there.

He is bringing up examples of these "Gods" that did wrong and had to suffer for it. I think that this is significant because it makes me think that Cullen thinks God should suffer because he made him black. I am not sure if that has anything to do with it. Cullen may not even be referencing to the color of his skin, but I think it has something to do with the significance of this poem. 

His references threw me off and half the words I had to look up, but after googling them it started to make sense. He is quite different then Eliot, but both authors portray meaning to society, uprising us to really question what is going on.

ALSO- I'd like to point out that in the second poem, Heritage, he says that he has no ties with "Gods and Goddesses" or people who worship the devil, yet he sure does talk about these other Gods in his works. Just saying.... (haha)


Because this poem was a little longer, it got really confusing. I want to say that he was talking about his past in Africa, but I feel like duh that is exactly what he is saying. In each stanza we find a different piece of information about him. In the first line he talks about the sun and the people and the colors of everything. In the second stanza he talks about the animals and the drums that he doesn't want to hear, and it goes on. I think it is a pretty poem and a nice ode to what he believes is his heritage, but towards the end he changed his adjectives to darker sounding words, for example, dark, mortal grief, quick and hot and anger, etc.

I have a few questions, what is the significance to the last stanza in italicizes?  Also, the first two stanzas end with a few lines in italicizes. What is this significance?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

So just in case you weren't confused with the other poem by T. S. Eliot.. he wrote this one.

Basically we have this guy and he is very insecure. He contemplates the many decisions in life that we make to either LIVE life or watch life walk on by. In his case.. he let's life walk on by.

Many times he is asking the readers, is this worth it? Eliot presents this poem as if it will have a meaning in the end that encourages people to live their life almost like a carpe diem, but he doesn't actually end like that. He simply says "till human voices wake us, and we drown." Ha-Ha.. oh oops this isn't funny. Okay wait what?!

I need an explanation because I am struggling here. I have read this poem so many times that I can almost recite it, but ask me to analyze it and I draw a blank.

I get it that he is chasing after this woman or the idea of love, but he never actually steps up and actually makes the move. What is this suppose to signify? Well if we consider the quote from Dante in the beginning of the poem then we can infer that Alfred is opening up to the readers because we have no one that we can tell. He says the line, In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. I think that he is saying here that the women aren't giving him a time of day or talking about him at all.. or are they?

I think that he thinks that all these people are judging him, but as life as taught us, we are our own worst critics (say that five times fast).

The Waste Land: T.S. Eliot

Weialala Leia
Wallala Leialala

T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," is like a square trying to fit in a circle, it's just absurd. In this poem, we find the many faces of the world that have been exposed to one thing or another. He puts this poem in sections, each with a different title that may or may not relate to what is actually going on in that particular section. He opens with the seasons (which btw, I love this first section) and personifies them with humanistic values ( Spring was cruel, Winter kept them warm, Summer surprised them, etc).  Then leads straight into an interaction among the "narrator" and another character. This humanizes the poem for the reader which allows the reader to be able to connect with the poem.

Sometimes while reading, I got so lost. I re-read sections probably 3 or 4 times just to get some kind of inclination as to what in the world he was referencing. Then, I realized.. he isn't really referencing one thing.  I'm sure that the had something specific in mind while he was writing this, but as with every writer, it is open for interpretation (okay.. maybe not EVERY writer).

Beginning with line 43, Madame Sosotris, Eliot is talking about an encounter someone had with this clairvoyante. This section in particular sticks out to me because it draws out what is to happen with this person. Every situation this person will encounter is going to be "deadly" or so it seems. That is the impression in which Eliot gives off as he does with the rest of the poem. It holds a "gloomy" and "eerie" feel over it, as if you are reading it under a gray cloud.

Another section that caught my attention was under the section II. A GAME OF CHESS. He describes this women using phrases and words that incorporate your senses, especially smell. He talks about her satin cases poured in rich profusion and vials of ivory and coloured glass. This kind of writing puts the words on the reader, meaning that they can experience the poem rather than just read it and see the words, they can feel them and smell them etc.

Though T.S. Eliot writes in crazy circles and sometimes makes no sense at all, at the end of it all he brings it back together making the reader cognitively think and yet still appealing to the senses.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Twain: Huck Finn (31-43)

Huck Finn: Twain
Section 3 (Chapters 31-43)

After a while, we all get tired of Tom, we’ve established that. I do think though that Tom has good intentions, but he’s just a boy with an imagination. He doesn’t realize that his “imagination” is affecting the real lives of Huck and Jim. Jim being sold into slavery by the con artists shows the readers that those men were bad from the start.

Twain uses these last chapters to really do some human being damage. What I mean by that is, throughout the entire story, humanity has been put on a pedestal and mocked. It has been shown how cruel and terrible Americans were to people. Humanity does not exist in this world for Jim and Huck and Twain does a good job of making the readers really feel the pain. After we learn of the softer side of Jim, we see he has HUMAN emotions, which for people back in those days, these didn’t think that slaves were even human (which is just crazy because they were living just like them).  

During the time when Tom is helping Huck get Jim out, I realized how stupid Tom is… he yells at Huck for doing or stealing stuff, but yet he steals all this stuff for the “adventure” even though they do not need it because Jim is not guarded.  I don’t know if Twain is just playing up the story here or really what he wants us to gain from this section of the novel, but I start to really despise Tom and literally start cheering for Jim and Huck.

So to fast forward, Tom goes above and beyond with trying to free the already free Jim. When he gets shots and disappears the family (Phelps) are sad. I am confused here because I thought this was all made up.  Either way, they see Jim and a hero because he helped to save Tom. Jim is again given human like feelings and is finally considered a “man.”

I love how Twain ended on a happy note. I think that if this story had ended any other way it would not have been affective. I think that Huck and Jim being the “underdogs” help great importance to the overall “affect” of the story. I can understand why this novel would have caused trouble during its era because it really opens your eyes as to what the American life was like. Twain dibbled his fingers into every lifestyle during this time and showed how fake it was or how “unreal” is. The only real people in this novel were Huck and Jim and yet they were the most uneducated and less respected persons of the entire plot. Crazy huh? Kudos Twain.. Kudos.

Twain: Huck Finn (16-30)

Huck Finn: Twain
Section 2 (Chapters 16-30)

Okay, after reading all this… all I want to say is… WHAT?  To sum up everything… they meet these two con artists and the next few chapters are them taking over revivals and working at a printer store? So I had to keep telling myself that this is the “adventure” part of the book. This is actually a sad section of the novel because it shows how ridiculous the American society was during this time and also how naïve people are.

Huck and Jim get separated for a little while and poor Jim is left to fin for himself while Huck is living at the Grangerford house.  Then it jumps to another scene where they meet the “Duke” and “Dauphin” who are the con artists. So basically, this is where I wish I could instant message Twain and ask him okay, what? Haha, He threw me off here.  Honestly from this chapter on I didn’t really enjoy the book that much.  Partially because Huck gets theatrical with his descriptions, but these two men just start running things in a bad way. I want to tell Huck and Jim to get away quickly because these bad men are going to get caught up with. Especially when the men take over the revival and get all that money from those people. It just shows the joke in which Religion is to Twain. Like we’ve read in other stories throughout this semester, if the Religion was filled with true believers rather than imposters, than this story would have been a lot different.

Okay, so I want to talk about Sherbern.  He goes on about the mob-mentality of these people and how they are not going to lynch him because they are cowards. He goes on his long thought of mob-mentality which is a common theme in our classroom.  These people are going with the flow of things. Sherbern killed a drunken man who was being obscene and rude. Though, killing him may have been a bit extreme, he was just the town drunk. Only his daughter will really miss him. And Sherbern knows this and he points this out in his little “tangent” about the mob-mentality (which many of the writers we have seen so far have talked about) and basically everyone is like, well yeah you’re right, and leave.

Twain is an interesting writer.  These few chapters remind me of “realismo magico” which is associated with the Boom in the Latin-American writing culture.  Basically this is where the line between reality and fantasy blurs and no one any longer can see the difference. Twain does that here. He goes from the river to these strings of events that lead Huck and Jim into terrible circumstances.

But wait, then Twain throws up back into reality. Huck learns of Jim’s family and his love for his family. This shows us the softer side of both, Huck and Jim. Allowing Huck into his life, Jim is building a relationship with Huck in hopes of him understanding him more. Though Huck doesn’t understand how the black man could love as much as the white man. As we discussed in class, this is crazy because Huck’s dad beat him. He wasn’t loved at all by his white father. Twain really does create some serious oxymoron’s that allow the reader to think, to really think.

Twain: Huck Finn (Chapters 1-15)

Huck Finn: Twain
Section 1 (Chapters 1-15)

In the first few chapters of the book we are given some pretty important information. We meet a bulk of the characters. When you read the back cover of the novel you learn that “Jim” is one of the main characters to partake in this adventure with Huck, but in the first few chapters, Jim is not around. At first I was confused because it gives a lot of information on Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and the gang and Huck’s dad, etc., but the only mention of Jim is through his “encounters” with witches, etc.  I feel like Twain did this on purpose. He wanted to set up the “confidence” we have in Huck.

Let’s dissect Huck for a moment: In the first few lines we (the readers) can see that Huck is not “sivilized” as others wish him to be and his writing skills are less than par, but that is what sets Huck a part from the others (like Tom Sawyer).  One of the major turning points for me in this novel was when Huck saw the markings of his fathers shoe in the snow.  The fear he expressed made me realize, this “little” boy is all alone in the world. Even when the boys were talking about their gang and they said that the rules can’t apply to Huck because he doesn’t have any parents. It breaks my heart a little bit because this boy has no support system or love (or so we are led to believe).  Again, I think this is all a ploy (not in a negative way) from Twain to gain the readers trust for Huck.

In the chapters 9 and 10 or around that area, Jim and Huck are on the peaceful island away from society. This section of the novel shows the readers the connection between Huck and Jim. They are both running away from the society in which is hurting them; Jim getting sold, Huck getting beat up by his dad. In these sections, Jim portrays his adult/father figure towards Huck. Jim uses his wisdom to “protect” Huck from bad things (the dead man in the houseboat).  The dead man reminds them the ugliness from society and that even on this island they can’t break away from what society can do to people.  Jim can’t use his wisdom to hide that fact from Huck though. 

One thing that got to me was the morality of Huck. He would do something bad and instantly feel bad for doing it and then in return give something back. This is explored in the chapters 13 ( i think). They are on the river and they steal things, but they feel bad so they give back. This is Twain again building the character up (of Huck). Twain is using time to let us know that even though Huck and Jim are technically fugitives (sort of) they are still human beings. This goes back to what is a man? Twain is giving human qualities to Jim and Huck, allowing the reader to feel something towards them.

In this first section of chapters, over and over again Twain uses the innocence and "childlike" personality of Huck to allow him to get in trouble with puts in danger his life and the life of Jim. This is again proven when Huck goes on the boat of the robbers. I think that the "fatherly" attribute of Jim starts to stick out because Jim and Huck get into a little argument when Huck plays yet another trick on him about being separated. I think that Huck is realizing that he is wrong (again the play on the morality) and says he is sorry.  I think that Jim feeling a some kind of "love" for Huck, forgives him.

This first section really opens the eyes up on which Twain uses his characters to make some really interesting points. As we've talked about in class, the separation of society while on the river and while in civilization. This is repeated over and over as Huck and Jim start their journey/adventure.