Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reflective Essay...My Senior Year with Mr. G

This year has been an extremely overwhelming year. I began my senior year in complete confusion, I didn’t know what to expect. I had previously heard many things about your class that kind of scared me. Everyone who asked me who my English teacher was, anxiously awaited my reply and after I said your name all I got in return was “Ohhh no! Get ready for the hardest class you will ever take!”. That scared me a lot. I still remember how petrified I was when I walked into your class the first day of school. Luckily my opinion quickly changed.
I remember the first explication we did on “Red Shift”, I felt as if I had some what of an advantage over some other students because my sophomore year teacher made us explicate almost every week! It was a bit insane if you ask me, but I guess it worked out for the better. My favorite assignment was re-writing the poem, it was our first some what creative assignment. It gave me an opportunity to use my own ideas to create something that meant a lot to me. I still hold a copy of that poem. As the year continued I started enjoying your class even more. Every assignment was fun in my opinion. I think the only time my grades started slipping was when my computer crashed. It was difficult for me to spend as much time as I wanted on all the assignments. When I owned my own computer I did not feel the need to rush on all my assignments. So that is why at one point my grades were not as good as they were when I started the year.
As the year progressed the stress of applying to college began to fall on me. One big thing that caused major amounts of stress was my POSSE interviews. It caused me to be really upset and edgy for a while. Luckily I was able to come to you and vent when I needed the little extra push (thanks a lot for that Mr. G). With the over abundance of work that I was getting from other teachers, I still found myself doing English homework. I don’t believe I ever skipped a homework assignment just because I did not want to do it. I enjoyed doing my English homework throughout the year. All the assignments helped me write better and even tap into my creative mind.
The books that we had to read this year were great too. Although A Portrait of an Artist as a Young man was a bit difficult to read, I found it to be interesting. I liked the class discussions that we had too. I did not find myself speaking during all the discussions as much as I should have but I found them to be really worth it. They helped me understand what was going on better, and they also helped me express my deeper thoughts on the novel. The discussions allowed me to voice my opinions easier, since I am normally shy when it comes to public speaking it was a challenge for me to speak in front of the class. As the year went on I found myself becoming more comfortable with speaking. Another thing that I was introduced to this year was critical essays. It was extremely interesting to read those essays, it opened my eyes to different aspects of the novels and why the author chose to do certain things. It also helped me gain a more concrete opinion on what I thought about the books. Another book that I found great was The Stranger. That was my favorite book of the year. It was a great read; I think that is why I worked so hard on the final essay. It was probably my favorite piece of work that I did this year.
Something that I gained from this year was organization and time management. With this English class, since there was so much work I had to learn how to complete my work on time and on my own. I am used to having a set date for everything. I felt overwhelmed because I am used to having homework daily and I was on my own this year with staying on task. Luckily I did not fall to much behind I caught up quickly and learned time management. This is a skill that I am going to need forever. So in closing I want to say that this year has been a stressful, but awesome year not only because I had a GREAT English teacher but I learned so much about myself through the writing assignments I had to do. Especially my college essay! So, finally I say thank you so much for making my English 12, H class memorable.

P.S. Thank you so much for writing my college recommendation letter! As you know it was a great success.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Stranger...

"Maman died today or yesturday

or maybe, I don't know. I got a way.

telegram from home: "Mother

deceased. Funeral tomorrow.

Faithfully yours" That doesn't

mean anything. Maybe it was

yesturday" (pg. 3)

Camus begins this novel in an interestig way. The first paragraph in this novel explains Meursault's knowledge of his mother's death. Meursault was not aware of the specifics of his mother's death. All he knew was the fact that she died. I find it a bit shocking as to how he was reacting. In a blunt manner he declares the death of his mother. This sets up the character of Meursault for the reader. At the begining the reader senses Meursault's character as being straight forward and honest. He also shows indifference making him seem to have no feelings in a sense, because he didn't seem hurt by his mother's death. In my opinion the first few pages of a novel tells a alot about the author and how he/she wants the novel to be perceived. Camus' choice to begin the novel in that manner caused me to quickly infer that Meursault (the narrator) was a very emotionless character from the way he reacted to his mother's death. Also the words Camus choices, and sentence structure played a huge role. Meursault's short sentences made his character seem dull and "feeling-less". So Camus' choices in the beginning of the novel caused me to quickly see how he wanted the main character to be understood.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Road to Becoming a True Man...Plum Plum

In Raymond Barrio’s “The Plum Plum Pickers”, Barrio conveys the idea that a man must obtain a sense of pride in order to fully be seen as a true man. Through his strong description of the main character, sentence structure and word choice Barrio exemplifies that in life a man must have pride before being recognized as a true human being.

Raymond Barrio begins with repetitive sentences; this conveys the dull aspects of the main characters life. Barrio without naming the main character gives the audience a quite vivid description of the character and the setting. The setting is organized in a “maze of apricot trees, as though forever, neat rows of them, neatly planted, row after row”, this gives the setting a mundane look. With this mundane look comes along the character’s description of being “locked” along with the maze-like setting the character has a feeling of captivity. Barrio’s effectiveness shows through his short one-word sentences. These sentences all include descriptive words that define this nameless character. He uses powerful words including “brute, beast, and savage” to convey t that this character is a senseless being. In some cases Barrio describes this character as though he is some kind of animal. This makes the reader sense the unimportance of this character.

The next paragraph is just one word; “lunch”, the continuation of one-word sentences gives the reader a sense of organization. This organization is in the life of labor workers, more like a day-to-day schedule that gives life no essential meaning but to go through the same motions everyday. Barrio’s nameless character is now given a title in the third paragraph. His name is “Manuel” in Spanish but if pronounce in English it sounds like the word manual, which means physical work. Barrio chooses this name for his character purposely; doing this reveals to the audience that Manuel is a manual laborer, which in society is not seen as high class. Manuel being a laborer answers the long standing question as to why he was described in previous passages as being an “animal”; an animal to labor and his master.

Throughout the next few paragraphs Barrio continues with the short sentence structure that he began with, keeping a steady pace to Manuel’s dull life. Manuel’s master is introduced as “Robert Morales”. Once again Barrio chooses to give another character a symbolic name. If Morales is pronounced in an English dialect it sounds like “moral less”, which is what he is conveying. Robert Morales is characterized as being rude to his workers without having remorse. He is described to have a “crude, ignorant manner” being the headmaster; Barrio wants Morales to have this attitude of being superior to his workers. His rude nature has an effect on this piece of literature gives Manuel a lower position and Morales takes advantage of this fact, as he demands to take the money that his workers rightfully earned.

As Morales stands in front of his workers “smiling and palms up” he asks to take money back from his workers. This angers Manuel and with “widened eyes”, he responds in an apprehensive manner reminding Morales that he “promised” that he would never take anything that they already earned. This is a big step for Manuel only because Morales is in higher standing than him. Seeing Manuel’s determination to stop Morales from taking the money the other workers stand strong behind him. This is the moment where Manual is seen as having depth; this intense climatic moment reveals Manuel’s true personality. He is no longer seen as an “animal” but as a person with an identity. The feeling of “power courses through his nerves” as Manuel stands up for himself and the other workers, which is a feeling that he has never had before.

Manuel’s character begins as being just another worker. He does not have an edge, but instead continues on with his life as a labor man. Having low self-esteem and no sense of pride is what Manuel is seen as. When he realizes his true potential he stands up for himself in a rough setting. Barrio mentions that “men are built to experience a certain sense of pride and honor”, Manuel reaches his state of pride after he speaks his mind to Robert Morales. This is what Raymond Barrio is conveying through his short story “The Plum Plum Pickers”; a man is not a true man without obtaining the ability to understand his own dignity and pride.

The Truth Behind Achieving Happiness...Explication of The Stranger

The author Albert Camus emphasizes the idea that in order to achieve complete happiness one must suffer. In the novel The Stranger, Albert Camus wants the audience to comprehend that there is never a positive without a negative; they go hand and hand. Camus uses both long and short sentence structures in order to convey both struggle and happiness.

In this novel the main character, Meursault, undergoes many difficult times in his life. He grows up without a father; his mother dies and he is sentenced to death for murder. Meursault having an imperceptive attitude causes him to disregard all these happenings in his life. It takes a bit of time before Meursault realizes how much he has suffered throughout his life. Meursault comes to this realization when he is on his way back to prison after his trial. Camus’ word choice and structure of long sentences and Merusault’s list of memorabilia during his ride to prison aids the reader to understand how quickly he is going through all of this in his mind. He mentions in the van on the way to prison that he “recognized for a brief moment the smell and color of the summer evening” (97). Meursault is now recognizing all that he does not have “in the darkness of my mobile prison” (97). With the knowledge that he will be put to death Meursault is in deep agony, he knows he is truly suffering because he remembers the times when he “used to feel happy” (97). He goes through a list of different things he does not have anymore including, “birds in the square, the shouts of the sandwich sellers, the screech of the streetcars turning sharply through the upper town” (97). With the quickness of Meursault’s language it causes the reader to realize how nervous he is, giving him an anxious yet sad position. All these things he never paid attention to before are now being noticed, on his way to his main place of agony; his cellblock.

Meursault then transfers into his stage of realization. He understands that he will not have what he used to take advantage of before being convicted. It is now clear to Meursault that he is locked in this cell; Meursault goes “back to his cell that he went to wait for the next day” (97). He thinks about what he has to endure while in his jail cell, while recognizing the realness of his future suffering and soon death. Meursault wishes that prison would be “familiar paths traced in summer skies could lead as easily to prison as to the sleep of the innocent” (97). All the aspects of free life that Meursault does not have cause him to begin his true stage of agony. He now has to live with the fact that he is living in prison and it now becomes real to him. Meursault’s distraught tone in this passage conveys his sadness and acceptance of being in prison.

Camus also conveys the opposite of the previous passage in many different ways. Unlike the previous passage, Meursault grasps the importance and value of true happiness. After the death of his mother Meursault has no idea as to why people mourn for her. He realizes his mother concluded her life happily and “Maman must have felt free” (122). After all his suffering he feels “ready to live it all again too” (122). He wants to live it all again because he understands how to be happy and wants to feel the affects of happiness once more before his death. Meursault has a revelation about his mother’s life and is conveyed in a great way by his tone of excitement.
Meursault’s tone changes and is enthusiastic after his revelation. He decides to open himself “to the gentle indifference of the world”(122). With this he is now open to worldly emotions he now sees himself like a “brother, really” (123). Meursault assures the reader that he really feels like a brother. Camus wants to emphasize Meursault’s change by using clarifying language and his choice of punctuation aids in this as well. Meursault then goes on to say, “I had felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again” (123). Meursault’s indifference as to why his mother wanted to die happy has now changed into assurance. It takes Meursault a while to fully understand the impact of happiness after he undergoes an abundance of suffering.

Camus wants the reader to comprehend that in order to truly understand the value of happiness one must suffer. Meursault endures pain and sadness. After undergoing all these trying times, before he is executed Meursault is happy and gains the ability to feel the side effects of happiness and dies happily.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Succeeding Through Strife...SAT style!

"If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again", a commonly used phrase, used to encourage those who feel like failure has come there way. In my opinion it is a great aspect of success to have the ability to overcome any obstacles thrown in your direction.

There are many opinions as to what success really means. To some success maybe obtaining a really high paying job, getting an outstanding grade on your report card or even earning enough money to go to college. Success can be seen in many different ways, but to be able to reach the point of success is where the value truely lies. In our world today success is seen as after gaining the required knowledge of higher education, obtaining a good paying job and fulfilling your dreams. Does the ability to succeed come without obstacles and challenges, no, of course not. To truely hold value to success the road taken to reach that point is important.

A great example of this in media today are current music artists. For instance the raper Sean Combs also known as Diddy has reached a higher level of success that most people fantasize about. Combs had a tough life before he became a music artist. Growing up in tough neighborhoods all his life and having family issues didn't stop him from reaching his set goal. To get to this point he went through many difficulties in life, from leaving home, to watching his best friend die right before his eyes. Typically, situations like those would discourage people from continueing on with their dreams of being successful, but it didn't stop him. So now he holds an abundant amount of pride because he knows he has overcame tough situations which cause his amount of success to be more valueable to him and the people around him.

My mother finds herself extremely successful not because she has degrees, or a good job, but because she has managed to raise three children on her own. This to me is great success because a huge challenge that she went through was losing her husband. This maybe the biggest obstacle someone has to go through with three children to raise. In the end she succeeded and made it through. Challenges are essential to success because with success comes failure, and in order to fully succeed you must have the ability to pick up the pieces and head toward your dreams of succeeding.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Invisible Man...My Filler Chapter 16.5

I sat in my room and thought about all the just happened downstairs with Tante Lou and Miss Emma. I had mixed emotions about it all. What was I trying to accomplish? Why was it so important to them that I help Jefferson? He was going to die anyway. Truthfully I was ready to give up. They kept interrogating me about what was going on during my visits with him, why didn't they just go and help him themselves. I sat up and looked through the window and thought deeply. Jefferson really didn't want me to go and see him, so why was I waisting my time. He got the chance to accept me into his life once again and he shut me out. I honestly don't see the point anymore. The last time I went to see him; I didn't see a difference in him at all. And is that my fault? Why are they taking their anger out on me? They act as if I am the one to blame about Jefferson's conviction. I was not with him when he decided to go into that store, I wasn't with him when he made the move of taking the money, and I certainly was not with him when he drank that free whiskey. I was not there! I kept saying this over and over to myself. Trying to find an answer to all this nonsense I continue to glare out the window. Maybe there was an answer beyond me out there that could appear before my eyes. So I waited, waited and waited some more and nothing came.

That night was a very emotional night for me. I wrote a letter to Jefferson trying to let go of the anger within me.
Dear Jefferson,
So this is the way it is, I am trying to help you out and you keep shutting me out. Why is that? Why do you continue to waste my time? You understand that Tante Lou and Miss Emma give me grief over your low self-esteem. You should feel grateful that an educated man like myself is giving you the time of day. Instead of spending time with my dear Vivian or setting up my plans for my school house, I am with you waisting precious time. I don't know if you will ever understand the sacrafices that his family has done for you. From taking you in after you were abandoned, dealing with your rough childhood we supported you in your trial and stuck with you. So the least you can do is give us the gift of accepting our good graces. I wish you could see how you are tearing away at our family. I wish you could witness the tears that have been shed in this house over To be truthful I don't believe you are worth all the pain. If it was up to me I would just let you go and die they way you are. But we are all doing you the favor in trying to boost you up, try to make you respected and not give up. You are not a "hog" that's what we are trying to get past you. You need to realize that we are all doing this, goind through blood, sweat and tears FOR YOU! I want you to know this. I don't plan on trying for much longer to understand that you need to open your eyes and take us in with all your heart. I'll be seeing you.
I wrote this letter out of pure anger and hatred. I hated Jefferson for all he has put me, Nannan and my aunt through. He had no idea how much we have done for him.

This is when I noticed that I wasn't really mad at Nannan or my aunt, I was frustrated at all the hard work I was doing and not getting through to him. He wasn't realizing it at all. I wanted to get my job done, he needs me in his life right now and he has to understand this. I then knew I had to continue my work. Despite all the angry he had brought about in this once peaceful home, I was determined to finish my duty. I was on call to do a job and I will fulfill it and make my family happy. He just needed to get used to my presence because I wasn't going anywhere. I am a fighter. I left the window pane in contentment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Invisible Man...I Love this Book!!

Post 1
So I guess I’m going to have to start this one off. My first impression of this book was that it was about a typical black man trying to fit into this segregated world. This is along the lines but I find it more than just that. I say this because it is about a black man trying to stand out and not fall into the stereotypes that the whites had put them in, but he does it in a different way. Instead of just fighting everyone and everything around him, he goes along with the system. Which is a bit different because I’m used to stories of them fighting against it all but he fights in an intellectual sense. I really like this book J.

This reading is a bit more intense than I thought it would be. So the first couple of pages were a bit interesting. All right so it starts off with like this “royal rumble” thing I guess and the way Ellison words it is very descriptive. It was an embarrassing moment for the blacks; they were blindfolded and were told to fight until the last one is standing. All the while drunken white men were watching and getting hits in as many times as possible. It was some sort of entertainment to them. In the ring was a lady dancing around and she had no clothes on and she is described in a very vivid manner. I found this really capturing because of his choice of words (which he does in most of what I have read so far). He says certain parts of her body is like the “domes of the East Indian Temples” (22), I found this so effective how he uses such great words to describe little things. It gives the book more depth and it helped me also to pay attention more and visualize what was going on.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book is the intensity of the character. For instance he is an African American male trying to “find” himself. What I find most interesting is that although he is not respected because of his race he moves past that and continues on with his life. When he was in that ring fighting for his life he still kept the words of the speech he would be saying, shortly after in his mind. In my opinion I think that is the only reason he continued fighting. He kept going even though it was really degrading what was being done to him and all the other African Americans. In the end his fighting paid off because he got a scholarship to a four-year college (and of course this was a big deal back in the day).

Post 2

Amy you and I have very similar views, so I totally see where you are going with this “black unity” thing. I mean he and the other characters in this novel are getting together to form some kind of alliance. I believe this is so because they want to stand up against the world which they live in; the world that has neglected them. I do not remember what page it is on but I do remember when the main character (who is still nameless) is given a new name. This is a very important time in his life. I feel as though once he got this new name and joined this group, who were trying to help the neighbors who got evicted he started to feel like a real person with a purpose. Not having a name like we explained before is rough because it is as if he is not a real person. For example now that he is being recognized as somewhat of a leader he has the ability to stand up for what he believes is right. I doubt he would have done this if it was at the beginning of the novel only because he was still young and trying to find himself.

So Amy you talked about all the unity that this novel is portraying reminds me of some other books that I have read regarding African American unity. I feel as though the unity is their way of fighting against their enemies. Connecting to the real world, most protests do not work with only one person. There needs to be a group of people in order to follow through with what has to be done. Like in this novel after the African American couple is evicted it stirs up anger in the hearts of the other African people. Which is completely normal; it always takes one man to stand up for what is right and surely enough people will follow. And that is what happened in this case, the eviction was just another raciest problem that needed to be solved.

Back to his name issue, it stuck out to me how it was after during all this he is granted a name by Jack (a member of the Brotherhood) in chapter 14. This chapter stood out to me the most. I’m happy that he is granted a name and is finding a sense of belonging to the brothers in the Brotherhood. Answering your question about the whole unity thing, I do believe they should have unified in order to fight those who were against them. I do feel that they all defended the couple just because they were black. In my opinion I think it still goes on today for example any race is quick to aid another member of their same race when in trouble. It’s only normal to want to help your “kind”. It went on in the civil rights movement as well and even in today’s war on terror. If an American sees a soldier in combat the fellow American feels pain. Its human nature to feel for people with problems; especially if there is a connection to the other, no matter what it is.

Mary is another character that showed a great amount of importance. Mary took him in and treated him like family. This can also relate to the unity aspect of this novel. She saw him in need and quickly came to his rescue. Mary to me was like a close female figure to him; kind of like a mother to him she didn’t ask for money and fed him all the time. It is also ironic how they are both from the south which is like a connecting factor. Not only are they both black, they are from the south which is probably why she is so welcoming; somewhat like southern hospitality.