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.