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Monday, May 16, 2011

Journal #44

Forrest Gump exemplifies Postmodernism extremely well. It is told by a first-person narrator as he remembers and recounts the multiple adventures of his life. He starts his tale while sitting at a bus stop many years after its end. In the beginning, little Forrest was a crippled child. His legs were underdeveloped, and walking was hard enough for him that he needed metal braces on them. Then, one day, as he was being bullied by a group of kids from school, his best and only friend Jennie yelled, "Run, Forrest, run!" and that really put the fire on his butt. So, he began running; he ran and ran as fast as he could, and despite the braces, he ran very fast, just as fast as the bullies chasing him in a truck. He ran so fast, in fact, that those metal braces broke right off his legs, and he was able to make a clean getaway. Then, as his life continues, his mental disability brings him into the army. Quickly, they send poor, unknowing Forrest into the deep of war in Vietnam, where he meets a new friend, Bubba, an equal in mental ability but separate in color, who is a shrimp fisherman back at home, and Bubba invites Forrest to come fishing with him some time. Fighting erupts quickly, and Forrest finds himself in the position of rescuer for multiple wounded soldiers, including his commanding officer, Lieutenant Dan. Later on, Forrest receives commendations for his heroic efforts of the day, and he gets to meet President Nixon at the White House. While there, Forrest unintentionally exposes the Watergate scandal, forcing Nixon's resignation. More time passes, and he finds himself at an anti-war rally in Washington D.C. He is mistaken for a supporter of the anti-war effort and is forced to give an awkwardly unprepared speech into a microphone that is not plugged in. But, while on stage, his lost love Jennie runs into the reflecting pool, and Forrest runs out to meet her where they kiss passionately while the crowd cheers excitedly. Finally, Forrest goes on a run - a very, very long run. He runs for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours, nonstop. Along the way, he gains companions to run with him, and when a truck splashes mud in his face, he creates the iconic smiley-face t-shirt. And for the entire movie, Forrest is recounting everything as it happened in his life. The movie crosses a fictional plot line with real world events, such as the war in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, and the smiley-face t-shirt. It is also conventional in his use of common storytelling.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Modernism Project






Works Cited:

Anderson, George Parker. "modernism." In Anderson, George P., Judith S. Baughman, Matthew J. Bruccoli, and Carl Rollyson, eds. Encyclopedia of American Literature, Revised Edition: Into the Modern: 1896–1945, Volume 3. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= EAmL1234&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 24, 2011).

Byrd, Steven. "Modern America, 1914." The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

"Exploring the Function of Heroes and Heroines in Children's Literature from around the World. ERIC Digest." ERICDigests.Org - Providing Full-text Access to ERIC Digests. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

Fox, Robert Elliot. "About Ishmael Reed's Life and Work." Modern American Poetry. The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, 1997. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

"John Steinbeck Biography." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

"John Steinbeck Biography". Nobelprize.org. 26 Apr 2011. .

Lathbury, Roger. American Modernism (1910-1945). New York, NY: Facts On File, 2006. Print.

Lorcher, Trent. "Modernism in Literature: What Is Modernism?" Bright Hub. Ed. S. Forsyth. 26 Dec. 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

Porky Pig That's All Folks. Photograph. WIT Work. Comp. P. Hafford. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. .

Reed, Ishmael. "Beware: Do Not Read This Poem." Poems on Poems. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

Reed, Ishmael. "Jacket Notes." AfroPoets Famous Writers. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. .

Steinbeck, John. “Breakfast.” PDF. (accessed April 24, 2011).

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Books, 1976. Print.

Taylor, Karen L. "modernism." Facts On File Companion to the French Novel. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CFN346&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 24, 2011).

Werlock, Abby H. P. "Steinbeck, John." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CASS777&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 24, 2011).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Journal #43

The first small section in the beginning has been the only part to really give me anything inside my head, and it is currently at about three minutes. I imagined a sad man slowly trudging through some sort of grassy knoll or snowy field. Then for the next two and a half minutes, there was a long series of seemingly random notes being played very fast and consecutively. It was certainly very impressive, but it was doing nothing to give me a picture of what the song is feeling or is about. Right now, there is a trumpet blast of power, but there aren't real emotions in random noise. I guess I just do not have the appreciation for this kind of music. All it reminds me of is either a set of elevator music because it does not stop or slow down but coherently combines multiple instrumental solos to make a very long piece of music or an old jazz club like I see on television sometimes. They are always full of piano and drum music because they are the main driving force to most of jazz music. If this guy tried to describe his life, I am pretty sure he failed because it was not interesting, and it changed mood twice. But, also, jazz is supposed to be upbeat and exciting, which, hopefully, accounts for most of the random series of notes going on throughout the "song." Jazz itself is a genre usually in awkward places, such as an elevator or a lobby of some sort, where people are there and wanted to be there, but no one wants to talk to anyone else because it would be extremely awkward. Ugh, I hate it when I just start rambling, there is nothing I can really do about it. There is just nothing I want more than to be done with this horrible blog entry. Oh! this song can remind me of a bumbling hummingbird because of the random, sporadic sets of notes, jumbled together in crazy compilations of sound and rhythms.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Realism and Modernism

Realism and Modernism are definitely two interesting times in literary history. Realism, when we were studying it, was a very boring time. I did not really like the pieces we were reading, if we were even reading literature, which I cannot remember. Modernism, however, is much more like how I would like to read and write. Modernism writing is still popular in many authors today because it is using more common dialect, not as dull or boring as many of the Realism pieces. Also, the philosophies themselves vary drastically when you really look at them. Realism deals mainly with a general attempt to depict subjects as they are considered to exist in the real life. Realism writers would take a beautiful garden scenery and turn it into a small patch of land, containing disgusting little insects falling all over the colorful plants. To me, it seems like making an real point of view involves searching for the little, pointless things to bring down or negate the wondrous effects of beauty on the human body and soul. Modernism was a revolt against the Realism movement, which had gotten too boring and monotonous for many of the people who liked to read current literature. Now, keep in mind that revolting in literature is not the same as revolting in, let me say, the streets. Creating a riot is actually pretty easy when you have the right opinion and the right amount of shut down against those with that opinion. That would be an example of a public revolt. A revolt in literature, more or less, is a somewhat subtle change in how author's write. For example, one author, let me name him Alfred, would say to himself, "wait a second, this is dumb. Why do I need to keep writing like this? People have changed the way we write before, so why can I not change it just one more time?" So, then Alfred would start creating his own writing style in whatever ways he wants. Later at some time, he would go down the street to get a cup of flour for the loaf of bread he is making, strike up a conversation with his friendly neighbor, Mr. Spenner, and chat with him about his new philosophy of writing literature. Then, Mr. Spenner would say something like, "Oh my, that sounds peachy keen! I think I want to write like that, too! Thank you, neighbor Alfred, for telling me all about your brilliant new plan! I will tell all of my other friends!" But, unfortunately, Mr. Spenner does not have any other friends, but then people would be able to read these kind of works from a multitude of sources. Eventually, more and more writers would be using this technique, and that is how a literary revolt comes about. Of course, there are various versions of how a revolt comes, but that is just an example. Modernism no longer depended on real perceptions of stuff during the day, but it made a brand new concept for writers to take their own spin off of.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Job Shadowing Reflection

I thought being a structural/civil engineer would be exactly the same as what it turned out to be. Honestly, it was all pretty boring, and it takes a certain brand of person to do the job because it just looked like an eight-hour workday of torture. Everyday, the person who I shadowed, Mr. Megginson, comes to work in his drury second floor office and deals with the same line of work. His job is to approve bridge drawings and send them to IDOT to be approved. His smaller-classed workers would have made the plans, and then the IDOT plans would be sent to a contractor. His position is more that of a manager and not really a leave-the-office person. This really does not seem to appeal to me because I really would not like to sit in an office doing literally the same thing every day of a twenty, or more, year section of my life. Also, I have already done some research into what I want to do, and mechanical engineering would be more along the lines I am looking for. I did learn about the life of a structural/civil engineer, though, and how I do not want it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Journal #42

Honestly, I would much rather be forced to write my own bad poetry than have to read any of the poems from either Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman. Whitman is super crazy in the topics that he talks about because he uses all sorts of random and ridiculous philosophies that he made up in his early years that no one really understands. There might be some people who think they can "decode" Whitman's writing, but they are clearly all a bunch of liars. His Everyman concept told of the godliness in every man, creating a new level of where godliness would be acclaimed, resetting that no one is a god at all. They have honestly become nothing more than a regular person, and gods would be, in turn, reset on a new level of godliness. Dickinson is just annoying because all of her poems have double-meanings or even more than just two meanings. It makes a lot of confusion among interpretations given by various people. For instance, heavily Christian critics would, most likely, give a spiritual meaning in all of her work, despite her accidental involvement of a relationship to Jesus, even if it is an implication of his name. Honestly, I think my poetry would deal more with my life and how I feel, mainly about the things that happen in my life and my reactions to them. I do not feel like it would or could have a double-meaning, and I strongly dislike both of these authors for their numerous poems using double-meanings. I need to invent a time machine for multiple purposes. I need to go back to slap these authors in the face for writing such poetry that I just do not like. Of course, there are a few more people and places I would need to go back to to solve problems within the United States and its international affairs. But, if I still had to choose, I think I might have to pick Dickinson to be forced to read.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Going to Heaven"

So, here I am about a month and a half after this was due, starting to write it. I already put the poem into the post, so I know what this is supposed to be about, but I do not know who wrote this... Oops. Anyway, after rereading this, I think I really like the first paragraph the most because everything is so true. I do not know how my life will end or what it will feel like to die because I have never experienced death. And, if I do go to something like Heaven, I could only hope it be as beautiful as what people think it might be. But, when the author says, "how dim it sounds," that should resonate in everyone's heart and mind because the thought of death really is a bleak outlook. I cannot imagine how it could look like or how it would smell or feel like physically. Then, in the second paragraph, the author is talking about how death could just be like "eh yeah sure it happened, but we can both be there together, and everything will be alright." I really think this is a shared dream of everyone because no one wants to be lonely in death. That's just a boring thought. I mean, who wants to go somewhere all alone but not in search of someone to spend the time with? Um, I think that answer would probably be no one. But, in the end, we will all be friends in Heaven because we all have nothing left to do with our lives, literally. Then, in the last line, the author claims that we are all back home in death because, according to Christianity, we all came from God, and when we die, we will all be returned to his glory. But, in the last paragraph, the poem just really loses me. I do not understand what the author is not believing, and my whole life is confusing, and I think my confusion in everything else is making me confused in multiple things at once, and I just wish it would all go away and I could be done writing this blog now. But, since I have to keep going, I would also like to continue looking around this ground because I am not ready to die. Although I am curious what it feels like, I do not think I would be happy in the end if it were all to end. It is a true shame that people are taken away from us. What if no one died? Well, that was a stupid question because then the world would get overpopulated, and people would die because the earth would run out of resources extremely quickly. I do not think we could last together on Earth, but I also wonder, if it is real, about the population in Heaven. What if God has too many people to look after, and he ends up dumping people off to the side because there's no more room for them? What would happen to their "souls?" And would more people still be admitted, causing more and more people to face the same fate?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Journal #41

Emily Dickinson wrote many poems of varying lengths in her secluded lifetime. There were many, such as "Faith is a Fine Invention," written to be interpreted in a multitude of equally varying ways. In this four line, one stanza poem from Dickinson, faith itself is the main focus. Not only does she attack faith, but she does so by picking apart the flaws in faith using scientific evidence in the shape of the implementation of the microscope. Now, as some people may not know, I do not like overly examining pretty much anything. And, sadly, Dickinson is famous for making poems that cause the reader to examine them from multiple points of view. So, instead of taking on the points of view of multiple people, all of which are clearly not me, I think I will stick to my own perspective on this poem. First of all, I hate Dickinson...a lot. Faith, in my opinion, is not a fine invention because it honestly only creates difficulties among people. Each set of religious views is different from the others in many ways, let them be ranging from very small to a complete change in deity. You never really know. And when those followers of certain religions clash with those of others, some people do not take lightly to the idea of another religion being more suitable to the other person. Hate crimes are just as common for religious views as they are for race or color. Next, faith really gives people places to rest their aggression. After all, in times of trouble, what would people exclaim other than "God dang it!" or a variation, which still contains the same implication of a god. When something bad happens, they ask God for a way out because they are too afraid to "man up" and take control of the situation, despite their ability of regaining control - if you cause the problem, you should be able to figure out a solution. Oh, hey, look! I'm done!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Journal #40

Throughout all of Whitman's poems, there is a central idea of exploring a concept he made up which deals with inner struggles and emotions. I feel like this Self idea is more about the introvert within all of us than anything. Not only are his poems about subjects that had not been studied yet, but they are usually just plain weird. For example, I analyzed Whitman's "We Two Boys Together Clinging." In that poem, Whitman suggests his homosexuality in that the two boys mentioned in the title are forever bound by love. Few writers, if any others, were homosexual in this time period, and it was even more unlikely that one would write about his or her homosexuality in general writing. Whitman helped move more and more homosexual writers into publishing their works, but his beliefs also crossed against Christian views. Homosexuality is viewed commonly as unchristian because God did not include any accounts of homosexual acts in the Bible, being interpreted by many as considering homosexuality a bad thing. I think the Self should not consider the opinions of others in anything. The only really important voice to listen to should be the one inside yourself because you are the only one who actually knows what you want out of life. Furthermore, I think the Self inside myself is always right. I should stand up for what I believe in, and that belief should be represented in the ways I think. Also, the Self is very condescending in that it says gods are within all of us. I do not think it is fair to assume this from Whitman's Self because not everyone holds high society roles, and many of those people without those positions are not looked up to by anyone. They tend to take advantage of the system, an ungodly trait, and lie to get what they want. Keep in mind, this whole time, I should be saying "we" because I am also a victim of these thoughts. But, a god is something to be admired - something beyond special and not anywhere near a mere mortal's grasping.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"An Army Corps on the March"

I think I like this poem the most out of the ones I have read from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. "An Army Corps on the March" was probably the first one I fully understood without the use of a criticism to help explain it to me, and honestly, I enjoyed reading it. I think it might have had something to do with the obvious subject, as opposed to the confusing topics of love and random thoughts in many of his other poems. The basis of the poem is an army division's march into battle. Gunshots are spread all around them, and dust and debris are in the air, but the brave warriors do not stop or slow down (Whitman). This is a true testament to the bravery that must be in the hearts of soldiers to knowingly press onward to certain death. Whitman makes the situation sound so bleak and hopeless because of the specific word choice he employs in this poem. "Glittering dimly, toiling under the sun—the dust-cover'd men, In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the ground" (Whitman). A dim glitter from the soldiers' uniforms sounds like a brief glimpse of hope because the sun is reflecting off the men in a bright and sparkling way. Toil is a form of great hopelessness, however. Essentially, the men are seeking a way out of the battle or an easy win, but, no matter what they do, there is no easy way to get out of the army at this point. Dust covered, the men are tired and exhausted, and they have certainly not had good, restful sleep in a long while. In other words, this sentence reads, "Exhausted, the soldiers press hopelessly forward into battle but are easily deterred by the shaking in the ground from heavy artillery fire." However dim the situation appears, there is still nobility to be found in entering the battle with a high heart. The final four lines of the poem suggest a peaceful enough surrounding, despite the troop being under heavy enemy fire (Oliver). This is also truly a story of the American Hero because he is one who stands bravely, whether alone or among brothers, and fights for what he believes in. All of these men, if still alive today, would receive high honors for their glorious conquest in this battle, which is reported in a very Realistic way. Whitman is believed to be the segue into modernism writing, but his writing style in this poem appear to have come from previous years of writers. Again, his word choice is precise, so that there is no stipulation of meaning, unlike many others of his writing. It was not necessarily made for the examination of the Self, nor did it implore the use of Whitman's everyman concept. But, his understood characters represented an elite group of American citizens, one that is rare and usually unseen. In other words, this poem could hardly fit in with any of works I have read from his Leaves of Grass book. It is so radically different, both in concept and writing styles.


Works Cited

Oliver, Charles M. "'An Army Corps on the March'." Critical Companion to Walt Whitman: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CCWW023&SingleRecord=True. 8 Mar. 2011.

Whitman, Walt. "An Army Corps on the March." The Walt Whitman Archive. http://whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/1891/poems/160. 8 Mar. 2011.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"As Adam Early in the Morning"

Like many poems from Walt Whitman, "As Adam in the Morning" is no exception to Whitman's usual writing topics of Christianity, free verse, and the everyman, but he also implores sensuality in this explicit poem. The Adam fellow that is in this poem is clearly refering to Adam in the story of Adam and Eve, in which these two people are the first ones on Earth, and they are charged with the task of populating the planet. Although it is very short, being only one stanza, this poem is still able to capture Whitman's thoughts without shorting on emotions or passion. Some of the most commonly used themes from this great American poet are present yet again in "As Adam in the Morning." To start, free verse is, basically, the only way Whitman ever wrote his poetry. Rather than creating a beautiful rhyme scheme to complicate the word choice, Whitman wrote much of his poetry, like this, without regular patterns or rhymes, as if it were meant to be read as in a normal conversation. However, the passion is still strong because of the talk of sensuality and love between the speaker and an unknown recipient. Sexuality is a also a common theme in much of Whitman's writing, including his Leaves of Grass. Whitman addresses man's sensuality as being one of the most important driving forces for good in the world (Oliver). The last two lines of the poem, "Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass, Be not afraid of my body," (Whitman) illuminates the passion in Whitman's writing of this poem. Along with sensuality, Christianity is another common theme in pretty much all of Whitman's writing. Literally interpreted, Adam is the same Adam from the Garden of Eden, mainly because the name Adam is used in the title and beginning line. However, just like a lot of poetry in general, there is still another direction from which to view the poem because, in one line from "As Adam Early in the Morning," the speaker says, "behold me" (Whitman). True, this is something any mere mortal could declare, but "God" might be more likely to say a more pure command (Huff) than a humble Adam. This viewpoint would change the entire meaning of the last two lines from being of sensuality to being a Christian calling. The physical touching is a more obvious and popping explanation of the lines, but this new concept would make a more significant meaning of accepting God into your life. Finally, the everyman is an enormous concept that Whitman frequently touched upon. In this case, Adam is seen as the average person and so is the recipient of the speaker's message. Afterall, who could be better at representing the world than the one who helped start it, according to Christian beliefs? His ideals are very prominent in this poem from Leaves of Grass. This free verse poem, which includes the everyman concept, parts of Christianity, and sensual writing, includes characteristics that represent the renowned Walt Whitman.


Works Cited

Huff, Randall. "'As Adam Early in the Morning'." The Facts On File Companion to American Poetry, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CPAP0028&SingleRecord=True. 6 Mar. 2011.

Oliver, Charles M. "'As Adam Early in the Morning'." Critical Companion to Walt Whitman: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CCWW026&SingleRecord=True. 6 Mar. 2011.

Whitman, Walt. "As Adam Early in the Morning" for Leaves of Grass. The Walt Whitman Archive. Online. http://whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/. 6 Mar. 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Journal #39

Whitman's poem, called "Bardic Symbols," is a classic example of themes like America, the everyman, and Christianity and spirituality, but, simultaneously, the poem is very difficult to understand and confusing due to the multiple symbols he uses. Basically, the speaker is walking along the shoreline, and some sticks wash up onto the beach before him, and he tries to study the useless garbage to find a hidden meaning. But, this task is extremely difficult because he is just unable to put his finger on what it might mean. And, by thinking of these sticks, the speaker also begins searching for the meaning of life. This same confusion is mentioned in William Dean Howells' criticism of "Bardic Symbols." Essentially, Howells says that no one can interpret this oddly twisted message because it is not their right to simply infer what Whitman's message is because only Whitman himself could know the true meaning. Whitman also, somehow, incorporates his ideas of the everyman, Christianity, and America into this general concept. First, the everyman is portrayed with the random "Joe Shmoe" walking on the beach because it is a very common place for people to go. Next, Whitman creates this little world in the poem, reflecting America as a whole. The ocean is America, and its job is to give out great wonders, represented by the sticks, in this case. It is like the ocean has secrets for the passerby, and this particular man happens to notice them. But, unfortunately, these secrets are not defined as absolute. In fact, they are nearly impossible to explain, even to begin scratching the surface. Their meaning is not just written down, and that is where all of the troubles come from in determining what to think of Whitman's writing. Whitman's views of Christianity work in the same basic manner. This "God" is an inanimate character who provides his best followers with a mysterious salvation in the alleged afterlife. Similar to how man does not know what happens after death, the speaker in the poem does not know what to do after the sticks have washed up on shore.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"We Two Boys Together Clinging"

This is most likely the easiest poem to understand from Whitman's collection, but having a criticism to back me up is still retty nice. In "We Two Boys Together Clinging," a dynamic duo of young boys goes parading through various towns of the North and the South, taking part in numerous loud and obnoxious activities such as dringking, thieving, and enjoying public power; all the time, the boys never left each other's side (Whitman). Then, however, with the last line, the speaker reveals that the two boys are homosexual and that they have been marauding places for food and to see the shocked faces of the people when they recognize their homosexuality (Oliver). Normally, Whitman would write about the "self" or the "everyman," but I do not believe either of these are strongly involved in "We Two Boys Together Clinging." The story itself is not really self-enhancing because the speaker does not refer to anything that sets up a sense of fulfillment. The boys merely travel from location to location, scrounging for food and laughs, but they do not lead full lives. In fact, their lives are hallow and lacking, and they should be, at least, trying to build a solid relationship with each other to base their adventures less on necessity and more on friendship. The "everyman," however, is slightly prevelant in the people the boys visit, like the priests, because religion was a large basis for the lives of the common citizen (Whitman). Men worked for food or money and took their family to church every week. Society, also, is extremely important in this poem because of the places the boys go. The reactions of the regular people are presumably over the top if the boys get so much joy out of watching them. In the real world's society, homosexuality was not so highly viewed because it was so radically different, like how African Americans were only beginning the fight for equality in rights, schooling, and freedom. But, still, homosexual rights are not even established today to the fullest. There are still many active social groups for the advancement of homosexuals, so it is obvious that these boys in "We Two Boys Together Clinging" do not receive equal treatment because of the reactions of the public. Now, seeing that I have exhausted every topic that has come into my mind, I would like to say that this poem, "We Two Boys Together Clinging" is actually a decent poem. True, it has not rhyme scheme or purpose for its writing, but I like the boldness of the topic. Homosexuality is hardly ever a topic in works we cover in an English class. Whitman captured the real reason behind why the boys were traveling so much in a "beating around the bush" kind of way, too. Also, I had to think a little, but no too much, to figure out that the boys were gay and that they were literally loving each other like the story says, and not just dancing through life in a lovely fashion.


Works Cited

Oliver, Charles M. "'We Two Boys Together Clinging'." Critical Companion to Walt Whitman: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CCWW566&SingleRecord=True. 02 Mar. 2011.

Whitman, Walt. "We Two Boys Together Clinging. (Leaves of Grass [1891-1892])." The Walt Whitman Archive. Ed. Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. 1995. Web. 02 Mar. 2011. .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Journal #38

Well, honestly, I do not really see actual examples of how the "everyman" or Christianity is placed in "As I Watch'd the Ploughman Ploughing" at all. The poem is dumb, and Whitman is not the amazing, super-awesome poem every English teacher thinks of him as. Basically, Whitman is creeping on this guy minding his own business, working in his field, and Whitman compares him to life in the ploughing land and death in the harvest he reaps. Seriously, I do not see any connection to the "everyman," unless I am supposed to consider the man being a farmer to be the relation to the average person. But, if I were not a farmer at this time, I would probably not have a relation to this poem because it is entirely about farming, and I would obviously need to know what "tilling" is, which is a term used in agriculture. Then, there could also be a small view from which spirituality can be seen because of the life and death in each side of the same thing. Obviously, life and death act in a cycle because death is always at the end of life, and life, therefore, could be assumed to follow death as well. With the tillage, new soil is brought up from the ground, and it is able to bring wonderful new life to the crops it holds. As the harvest is taken, however, the farmer must cut the plant from its source of life, resulting in the death of the plant. I feel like I am just rambling in circles, but I also think it is Whitman's fault because of the paradox of logic he implores in his writing. Finally, society of the time is strongly reperesented in this short poem because the character is watching the average person, a ploughman, and he has also seen a sower and harvester. This must be evidence that those people are in abundance during the time, which is true because much living of the time period was based on subsistence farming, which employed everyone in agriculture to be able to feed the family.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Whitman’s Self and Song

Describing the Self is a difficult topic to complete or even complete to the fullest. It is sometimes awkward to focus entirely on one’s self, not only in writing but also in normal speech and conversation. However, Whitman captures himself in an apparently great way because, in his poem from his Leaves of Grass collection entitled “Excelsior,” Whitman asks question after rhetorical question wondering who could be more proud, happy, or benevolent, as examples, than he. Whitman does not show himself modestly, not even in the least. He thinks of himself as an almost godly figure (Whitman, “Excelsior”). He describes his persona as loved and lavished in friendship, wealth, and absolute perfection (Whitman, “Excelsior”).

In “O Captain! My Captain!,” Whitman examines another aspect of his Self by including sorrow in the story. The poor man, the narrator, is so excited to be landing once again after a dangerous trip out at sea because they have accomplished their goal, which is not specified. However, when the small commotion of coming into the dock settles, a gathering of eyes had settled on the lifeless body of the ship’s late captain, there on deck (Whitman, “O Captain!”). His Self is interfering with the common reaction to such a situation because the Self is mainly concentrated on the personal feelings and outlooks on life. Whitman is still overly excited about their success out at sea, but he needs to feel remorse for the loss of his trusty captain alongside the rest of his normal crew. In the final stanza of the poem, Whitman declares, “The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won” (Whitman, “O Captain!”). Clearly, his mission out to sea was victorious, and it is fair that he is happy of its success, but there is, literally, a dead man lying there on the same boat he is on.

Song is a factor of the common poem because of the rhyme scheme and the way the lines flow together. The meter with which Whitman writes is hardly ever common among each poem, despite being collected together in Leaves of Grass. For example, in “One Song, America, Before I Go,” Whitman uses absolutely no rhyme pattern or similar length of each line, but the song of which he speaks is of his love for the country as a whole, which slightly disagrees with his other poem, “Excelsior.” But, his Self seems to incorporate the song of some of his writings as well. His few rhymes match others in different lines and in varying places, and the point of his work with the Self is to analyze and focus on the personal being. This being has also created the poem itself, so song, in a sense, is the same as the Self. The song gives a poem its beauty, while the Self relies on harsh reality, much like the views of Realism. Without one another, the Self or song in the poem cannot stand up as a single, good poem. They actually rely on each other.


Works Cited

Whitman, Walt. “Excelsior.” 1900. Online. 24 Feb. 2011.
Whitman, Walt. “O Captain! My Captain!” 1900. Online. 24 Feb. 2011.
Whitman, Walt. “One Song, America, Before I Go.” 1900. Online. 24 Feb. 2011.

Journal #37

Oh, my goodness, this might have been the most difficult piece to understand, but, after trying to read it multiple times (trying), Whitman's Language of the Self reveals an extremely egotistical side of Whitman. Why would someone elect to write fully about himself unless he is simply in love with himself, or narcissistic. Many scholarly works give hint to Whitman's obvious self-absorption and the great effects it has on his writing. The main point of his writing is to define the "self." Unfortunately, however, his "self" only includes his own self. His attempts to portray his self led to much self-imposed conflict about how he could possibly be a respectable figure. It was not that he had some sort of spectacular writing ability, but he just chose to talk about a new subject, and, apparently, that subject is no longer interesting to audiences of today. His comparisons to God of how "I" am God and how God is myself make a sense of impossible circularity in that, then, everyone would be a God, and who would really be a God if everyone is a God. I think "God" is a relative term because a "God" should be a figure that has more power or significance than other people, but if we are all godly, then we are all on the same level of significance again, and no one is truly godly anymore. Also, how can he just assume that he is a God? I would neve just assume that I am that amazingly important to the entire world because I know a lot better than being that stupid, honestly. It seems just disgusting to think Whitman could be that in love with himself to think that he is so much more amazing than any other part of humanity. It just is not fair. Also, like I said, this criticism was very difficult to read, but it is still very credible because the author is clearly well versed on Whitman's views of his writing. There is a lot of support, and it is very evident just on first glance because of its immense length. This support was embodied enough for me to really dislike Whitman, not only because we are no doing a "unit" on his writing, but also just because he is so wrapped up in himself, and it is really just not respectable.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Journal #36

I love food so much. It really is not even funny, but the problem with loving food so much is that I really do not have a specific "favorite meal." No, wait, I think that might be false. I am sorry. I believe the best thing I have ever eaten is my dad's chicken cordon blue. He begins with raw chicken breasts, plump, pink, and slightly firm, and he whacks them a few times with a sleek, shiny, silver hammer to make the meat tender to the tongue. He gets out a sharp knife and runs it through the breast of the chicken to make a sort of taco shell shape. He then stuffs the chicken with freshly heated, thin cut ham strips, almost to the consistency of melted butter. When the ham cooks, an aroma wafts into the air - one of the sweet smells of downhome, country cookin'. The crackling of the grease is enough to make me want to eat it there. Meanwhile, he gets a large pot of water boiling for the pasta to start cooking. Just when the pasta is put into the rolling boil of water, my dad crusts the stuffed chicken with cheesy breadcrumbs and cooks the popping chicken in the same skillet that holds the delicious remaining juices from the ham. This combination infuses the flavor of ham into the chicken to give it a double punch of ham. He melts a combination of Swiss, cheddar, American, and provolone cheeses over each juicy piece of chicken in the skillet. When the pasta is cooked to just over al dente, which is soft but slightly firm, it is taken out of the pot and steam bathed until the chicken finishes, too. Each ooey-gooey helping of chicken is plated over a fresh mound of pasta and topped with even more breadcrumbs and melted cheese, creating an explosion of flavor in your mouth for your delightful enjoyment. Oh, I love food.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Journal #35

Well, first of all, it would probably be extremely dangerous to be on the front lines with the troops if I were only a news reporter, primarily because I would die - instantly - since I would not have a weapon or anything to defend myself. That, just by itself, would be very scary, too. Wow. I hate technology so much. I actually just finished typing 348 words from that point, and then Blogger decides to go all jank mode on my life and make me restart. Again, thanks, Blogger. But, if I can remember any of what I just rambled about, my life would probably end in like 51 seconds if I were actually in the middle of a war. I mean, why would I intentionally put myself out in the way of harm for a stupid job? I could probably just get a different job - one that does not wish to kill me. However, if I were to survive longer than 51 seconds and make it through the entire battle, that would be really awesome. All of the glory that comes with being a veteran of a war and all the normal money that comes in from having a steady work force job would be in my possession. How perfect, right? Honor and riches are the two points of the American Dream, afterall. So, now I am a war hero and a multi-millionaire. Is there really anything better in life? That would make for a pretty darn good story to tell the grandkids, you know. Also, I would not have to go through any of the training like a soldier, and I would not have to be yelled at (too much) by officers, unless I am blatantly standing in their way with my obvious lack of knowledge of what is happening around me. Then, if I did so choose, I could just quit after a few articles, when the going gets tough for the army, and I will still be alive and look freakin' awesome to everyone. So, yes, I think that was 325 words.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jack London - "To Build a Fire"

Naturalism is a huge understatement for Jack London's "To Build a Fire." With a focus entirely on nature and the human interpretation of it, this subgenre of Realism relates to Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest" (Werlock). London's "To Build a Fire" tells the story of a man and his Huskie exploring the Alaskan wilderness in the depths of winter, where it is very, very cold. The poor man's basic survival instincts are diminished by the dog's amazing sense of protection in this epic battle between life and the harsh cold of a deep Alaskan winter (London, 603-614). There is so much the reader can assume from the title of the story, alone. At first, it is apparent that the story must teach some sort of wilderness lesson, such as how to actually build a fire, but it can also be assumed that the wilderness puts the main character in some sort of survival situation in which he will need to learn to cope with the situation, despite its bleak outlook. Naturalism is truly a large concern here this concept deals with the interaction between man and nature and the overall survival, which brings out his most primitive instincts (Werlock). As the unprepared man travels out to Alaska in search of gold, his mind is not set on the signs of increasing danger, such as the immensely growing cold weather (London, 603-614). Still, as taken from the title, the reader is able to assume that the character will have to comply with some sort of struggle with nature. However, as the story picks up, nature does nearly nothing of drastic proportion to halt the man and his dog, but it just keeps up with the well below freezing temperatures, making the man lose his care about gold eventually (London, 603-614). The main focus of the short story is to bring out the man's, and dog's, instincts to the point of where the man is hardly even a functioning human anymore, but his bodily instincts take over his mental toughness in order to ensure survival. Darwinism plays an enormous part in Naturalism, as well (Werlock), and this theory is illustrated well in "To Build a Fire." The main character is not really fighting against another being to stay alive, but his fight is against his body and will (London, 603-614). Next, to cover the remaining topics, society is fairly unimportant in this story because the focus is all about the human nature of the main character. Religion is useless in this story, too, because the man mentions no references of God even throughout his entire span out in the difficult wilderness. Also, government does not have anything to do with "To Build a Fire" because the government is not strong in Alaska since it covers such a grand expanse of land. Finally, the American Dream and the Hero are not quite as present in this story either as result of the bleak situation the character and his dog are placed in. And, finally, the language is extremely simple, almost modern, hinting at a new shift from the Civil War era's Realism to a much more modern style of writing.


Works Cited

London, Jack. "To Build a Fire." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 603-614. Print.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "naturalism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= Gamshrtsty0501&SingleRecord=True. 15 Feb. 2011.

Edwin Arlington Robinson - "Richard Cory" and "Miniver Cheevy"

In Edwin Arlington Robinson's two poems, here, entitled "Richard Cory" and "Miniver Cheevy," there is a simple story of chasing the perfect dream. Each individual has his own idea of what their American Dream is, but each one also finds it impossible to achieve. In "Richard Cory," the character, presumably Richard Cory himself, is described as a well-off man of perfect stature and whom everyone else wants to be (Robinson, "Richard Cory," 575). His life is oh so wonderful because he is the perfect gentleman and a noble citizen of the community who is envied by all for his grace, elegance, charm, and vast riches, to boot (Robinson, "Richard Cory," 575). Unfortunately, Richard Cory was apparently unhappy with his life because, on one summer night, he went back to his house and shot himself (Robinson, "Richard Cory," 575). Here, Realism is harsh. This poor man finds all of what the American Dream has to offer, but he does not want it; he does not want the attention of the whole town. His life was meant to be regular, so he was very unhappy with it. Realism is characterized in this piece because Cory is described so bluntly. The same story happens in "Miniver Cheevy." Cheevy is imagining all sorts of different and fantastic places and people he could be. He dreams of being a knight in Camelot, being a member of the Italian Medici, the time of the valiant warrior, and the art of the Romance (Robinson, "Miniver Cheevy," 576). All of these magical instances are of beauty and amazement, but they are all only in his dreams. When his fantasies sound just so perfect, he comes back to reality, drinking alone in a bar (Robinson, "Miniver Cheevy," 576). Problems with society are present in both of these stories because the other people, whether in the town or in dreams, push each character into the ending of both stories. Cory commits suicide because of the envy the townspeople have over him, and Cheevy can only dream of the places he could be because society has dropped him off at the bar, probably leaving him no money source or anything else to do all day. Once again, religion and government have nothing to do with either of these poems from Robinson. Nature is unimportant, also, even though it touches it briefly in "Richard Cory." Human nature, however, is important in both stories. Richard Cheevy is driven to the point of madness because of the suppressing atmosphere in which he lives. He is admired by so many people because of the things he had, but he does not like it or want it to continue; in general, huaman nature is difficult to describe in "Richard Cory." However, it is certainly natural to dream of the best possibilities, even while knowing they would be impossible, like Miniver Cheevy does. His daydreams are only the cause of alcoholic sorrows, but it is always nice to put yourself in the shoes of someone who you would love to be. Finally, the Hero could only be death for both people. In Cory's case, the Hero comes to "save" his life, but Cheevy's Hero could only end his life. In the "afterlife," it could be said that Cheevy's spirit would search the world for the perfect resting place, never to find it, but keeping him held out of drinking and longing for the chance to search.


Works Cited

Robinson, Edwin Arlington. "Miniver Cheevy." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 576. Print.

Robinson, Edwin Arlington. "Richard Cory." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 575. Print.

Paul Laurence Dunbar - "Douglass" and "We Wear the Mask"

Paul Laurence Dunbar's poems "Douglass" and "We Wear the Mask" exemplify the natural perception of Realism in poetry. Realism is such a broad topic for having to be so "dumbed down," but these two works contain the characteristics of Realism, such as the thoughts of rationalism, views of the middle class hero, and focuses on the psychological plays of all sorts of different people. All of these ideas are fulfilled in just two very short poems, which are still full of simple poetic devices like repetition to get the thoughts of a group across to the reader. Also, both of the poems deal with the African American population and how they are reacting to social movements, such as the antislavery movement and the treatment of equality for men, women, blacks, and whites. Psychology of the people, caused by a change of scenery, control, or other social shift, is a common topic in Realism works (Quinn). This is incredibly present in "We Wear the Mask" because this peom is about the way African Americans act in comparison to how their emotions are actually running. In the opening line, Dunbar says, "We wear the mask thaat grins and lies; it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes" (Dunbar, "We Wear," 571). They are putting on their "happy faces" because they cannot show their true feelings yet since the they have yet to gain any rights as citizens. And, in "Douglass," the idea is suggested that all of the African Americans are afraid of something and just want to be comforted (Dunbar, "Douglass," 570). In both poems, the concerns of the brains of African Americans are crucial. Realism concentrates so much more on the everyday, run of the mill, generic sort of person who is placed in a marvelous situation that forces the character to learn from the experience. Both of these poems also include this character of simplicity. In both poems, the subject is on the African American population and how they feel about their overall treatment or, rather, mistreatment. "Douglass" has confused people looking for hope in their impossible situations ("Dunbar, "Douglass," 570). The last lines are about how they are in constant search of someone to "give us comfort through the lonely dark" (Dunbar, "Douglass," 570). Also, in "We Wear the Mask," the image of a broken group of people, trying to contain their broken hearts and sad faces, sets this same mood of mistreatment over many of the past years. Simple language is used to imply the message the author tries to get across to the reader. The rhyme pattern is simple, making it easier to read, but they are also complex in the messages they convey. This simplicity is common in Realism because it expresses the message of the story in such stark reality. The middle class, just like the rest of the works discussed in this project, is the only real focus of Realism because it is the average person. Dunbar does a fantastic job of showing the characteristics of the genre in these two poems, "Douglass" and "We Wear the Mask." Both poems have feelings and emotions of the African American population which had been subtracted to common humna nature by way of fear of sadness and bleak outlooks, which exemplify Realism quite nicely.


Works Cited

Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "Douglass." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 570. Print.

Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "We Wear the Mask." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 571. Print.

Quinn, Edward. "realism and naturalism in American literature." A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Online. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= Gfflithem0707&SingleRecord=True. 15 Feb. 2011.

Chief Joseph - "I Will Fight No More Forever"

Chief Joseph, the leader of his tribe, the Nez Perce, wrote this speech to try to salvage the broken remains of his tribe, and Realism is still a good genre this work can fit in. The simple structure and word choice do not detail what he talks about, but the subject matter itself is able to make this piece have a very powerful message. Chief Joseph is pleading to General Howard for him to end the war that is occuring between their men (Joseph, 533). He has seen too many great men of his tribe fall victim in this battle, and it is sad to him to watch families break up in such a manor over just land (Joseph, 533). This message is slightly diverted in the letter because of its amazingly short length and his frank, simple vocabulary; this shortness is a common theme in Realism because having too much example makes the reader lose interest, and concise words create a better feel for exactly what the author wants to convey. Realism is also prominent in the Hero of the story, Chief Joseph. Just like all the other Heroes of the time period, he is an ordinary man placed in an extraordinary situation - to lead his tribe through such difficulties as the crumble of the tribe (Joseph, 533). Normally, Chief Joseph would have simply been doing his normal, easy duties of being a tribe leader, but this battle with General Howard is making those daily duties quite difficult (Joseph, 533). His urge to cease fighting is heroic in itself because he is willing to sacrifice his land, the land his tribe has owned for decades, for the better of his tribe as a whole. It shows that he is very passionate about his people and cares deeply about them. Speech, just like every work of literature, is very important in "I Will Fight No More Forever," not only because he is clearly not educated extremely well, but because a short, passionate, and direct to the point word choice sounds more professional and effective. Effectiveness is a large piece of Realism because words are just as powerful as actions, and, because of his simplicity in life, the Chief would not be successful by trying to make his writing more interesting by putting eloquent words in his work. Also, the plain simplicity is important in this. Many writers from the Realism time period used such simplicity because they were able to relate their story to the audience they were talking to. If their audience does not understand the big words the author is using, no one will grasp the point of the speech as well as if the speaker were using simple words like those in "I Will Fight No More Forever." Also, Realism is a depiction of the real life, and simplicity is key. The tribe's government is essentially Chief Joseph, so the government has a huge importance in this piece because he is making the final decision on trying to solve this problem peacefully. The human nature is present in that Chief Joseph is attempting to make a deal with General Howard to cut his losses before it elevates too high. And, finally, religion and nature really had no important roles in "I Will Fight No More Forever."


Works Cited

Joseph, Chief. "I Will Fight No More Forever." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 533. Print.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Edgar Lee Masters - from Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters certainly gained accredation for this collection of almost 250 shorts excerpts spoken by a variety of people from beyond the grave in a cemetary in a fictional western Illinois town, Spoon River, on the real river, Spoon River (Pinkerton). The discontinuity of the set of monologues creates individual life stories, all working together as sorts of ghost stories, trying to also teach a moral or lesson to the readers. Spoon River Anthology was a revolt from the village movement, which was trying to show the idealism in a small town because of its apparent heavy religious base (Pinkerton). Each monologue involves scandals and strife ranging from prostitution to bribery, prejudice to valor, and involving anyone from unknown criminals to high level elites (Pinkerton). Regionalism is the largest aspect from which this series would blossom. The small town is full of its own unique individuals who all had led various sorts of lives from grand to boring and everything in between. And, because of their different backgrounds, each person has an equally different point of view on why they died and who to blame for their deaths, but each one also shares one same thing: death. This mistifying quality sets up a feeling of strange but eloquent boldness because it is so different than any other writer's style. It makes Realism writing much easier because the dead have an obvious nothing to hide because they can no longer feel the consequences. Furthermore, the late citizens also cohesively use the common vernacular, much like the ohter works studied so far, of the Midwest. Setting is also important to the erie feeling in Spoon River Anthology because it sets up the reasons why each person is in the location they are. The cemetary is not described thoroughly, but Masters does a wonderful job of setting up a town that incorporates parts oof each of his characters. Such is the story of Archibald Higbie, an artist in Rome who can only manage to paint the face of Abraham Lincoln, an Illinois icon, in his work (Masters). Also, setting is a good way of determining the defferences between Realism and a more specific Regionalism. As the poem moves, the setting, including both time and place, becomes more revealed to the reader, and it becomes more important and relevant to the story as a whole. A theme that branches from the setting is almost always categorized as Regionalism because the setting inadvertently changes the story, due to its changing location, which is a huge factor in Regionalism. Government is unimportant, as is a Hero or the American Dream because the poem is a collection taken from dead people. Then, under the setting and characters themselves, there is a theme of the difficulties involved with life in America during the early 1900s, which also helps the work fit into Realsim because of its multiple glimpses of society from a broad variety of people (Masters). Realism writing frequently details the society of the time, no matter how tough or subtle the author chooses to be.


Works Cited

Masters, Edgar Lee. "Spoon Rivers Anthology." Bartleby: Great Books Online. 2011. Online. http://www.bartleby.com/84/index.html. 14 Feb. 2011.

Pinkerton, Jan, and Randolph H. Hudson. "Spoon River Anthology." Encyclopedia of the Chicago Literary Renaissance. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CLR801&SingleRecord=True. 14 Feb. 2011.

Mark Twain - from "Two Views of the River"

Realism is an understatement for Mark Twain's "Two Views of the River." The story does an excellent job of using Realism guidelines to describe a harsh reality. It is a story of a river and the correlations it has to his life as the captain of his steamboat sailing down the Mississippi River, which had always been a dream of his (Twain, 504-505). However, after he reaches his dream and has captained his boat for a while, he feels like there is something missing from his life, like there is no more love between the river and himself. This unfortunate feeling eventually leads to the depiction of real life as the sadness and depression it truly holds. This passage describes the basic topics of nature, in that the main character relates the events in his life to the parts of the river, human nature, in that Twain's life is reported in such real simplicity, and the American Hero, in which he fulfills his dream of owning his own leisure ship (Twain, 504-505). Realism is portrayed throughout this story because Twain realizes the character's extended dream of having his own boat. The man has clearly taken much interest in the Mississippi River, almost to the amount of love, and his lifelong dream was to captain a boat down its mighty currents. But, after having achieved this goal, what else can the man do with his beautiful but cruelly useless boat? The river became mere water flowing through the land; the boat simply became a mode of transportation; his dream became only a beautiful thought that once was (Twain, 504-505). This just goes to show that not everything is how it sounds when it ends. It is good to want something and great to be able to get it, but, sometimes, as proven in this passage from "Two Views of the River," that great thing dies and turns out to be just another memory. Basically, Twain describes a cruel situation in which the character gets what he has always wanted, but, as it turns out, it is not that great. Twain makes a comparison to a doctor and his wife that go through this same situation. Initially, the doctor loves his wife like mad because she is so beautiful. But, after doing his job all day long, the doctor sees many other equally beautiful women, so he sees his wife's beauty as the same as the other women's beauty (Twain, 504-505). This sort of thing happens so much all throughout life, so Twain decided to write this story to show how important thought is in life. Twain wants readers to think about the outcomes before proceeding blindly into a passion. Twain constantly describes the beauty and amazement in the river itself and his spectacular draw to it, and he describes the various parts of the river and its surroundings, relating them to various parts of his life (Twain, 504-505). This nature is typically used to describe Realism, even though nature itself is not the main focus of the story. Again, religion and government are not outstanding topics in this section. Finally, although the story ends in a flop, the character lives out the American Dream by acheiving his goal of owning a boat and sailing it down the mighty Mississippi River. This, while it sounds like a failure, is his Heor form because he came to his own rescue. Unfortunately, however, once again, the protagonist loses his own struggle.


Works Cited

Twain, Mark. From "Two Views of the River." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 504-505. Print.

Mark Twain - "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County"

Mark Twain always did a wonderful job of writing humor into his stories. "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County" is disappointing to the point of tears, but Twain creates a sense of humor that distracts the reader from the main plot. Still, Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County" continued along the same path as the definition of Realism, but, more specificly, Twain was very good at writing Regionalism pieces, such as this short story and his ever-lasting classic novel, Tom Sawyer, which tells of a boy, Tom, and his friends who travel through life encountering numerous wonderous tales that are full of strife and danger. In this story, though, Twain depicts Calaveras County, another small town full of complicated and confounding situations. Naturalism should certainly not be used to describe "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County" because, even though a reference to animals, frogs, is listed in the title, the human characters are not truly compared to them (Twain, 498-502). The frogs' and human beings' lives are led completely differently, and there cannot really be too many connections between the two as it is (Twain, 498-502). Yet, that does not detract from the overall description of Regionalism because dialect is hugely important in all of Twain's works. Once again, the natural vernacular is only the beginning of describing the dialogue the characters have in most, if not all, of his works. The Southern accent is enormously prominent in "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Cavaleras County." For instance, Twain writes, "And Smiley says, sorter indifferent like, 'It might be a parrot, or it might be a canary, may be, but it ain't - it's only just a frog.' And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this way and that, and says, 'H'm - so 'tis. Well, what's he good for?'" (Twain, 501). Society is also an important role in Twain's work. His characters try and try their very best to keep a steady form of income, but sometimes it just feels too difficult. Smiley, however, musst have had some trouble finding work because he makes his money in only one fashion, by gambling. Luckily, though, Smiley has "practiced" so much that he wins most of the time, so, for him, this "work" really pays off (Twain, 498-502). Wheeler, another character in "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Cavaleras County," talks about Smiley's success at horse racing, dog fights, cat fights, cock fights, bird fights, and finally bug fights, listing them in descending order by size, and how Smiley also bets on Parson Walker's preaching and his ill wife's chances of recovering (Twain, 498-502). Clearly, religion is part of this story because he is even able to make bets against God himself. But, other than the mention of God, religion is not important in this story's main plot. Still, government is not useful in this short story, either, and a Hero is never really established. But, human nature and the chase of the American Dream are both important because Smiley reaches the shared goal of gaining riches by doing what he knows best. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, or a talent for gambling, make lemonade, or go out and beat the system. He accomplishes the American Dream by using his talent to make himself happy (Twain, 498-502).


Works Cited

Twain, Mark. "The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 498-502. Print.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stephen Crane - from The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane's classic novel, The Red Badge of Courage, tells of a story of a man who faces the most difficult decision of his life in the strongest heat of battle (Crane, 493). Being a member of the army during the Civil War, Henry Fleming enters the battle as a regular, run of the mill soldier going in to fight for a brief while and, most likely, die in a few minutes, but he survives much longer; in fact, he sees another brother in arms, the standard bearer, fall and chooses to take his place himself at the front of the front lines (Crane, 493). In this specific excerpt from Stephen Crane, the main character, Henry Fleming, is already in battle, trying to fight but being stopped by his fears and thoughts (Crane, 493). "Presently he began to feel the effects of the war atmosphere - a blistering sweat, a sensation that his eyeballs were about to crack like hot stones. A burning roar filled his ears" (Crane, 493). His anger swelling, Henry rages not against his opposition in the physical battle but against his rifle for being unable to kill a larger number than only one man at a time (Crane, 493). This indignity comes to a "wish to rush forward and strangle with his fingers" (Crane, 493). Human nature is a huge portion of this work because there is a longing feeling to turn back and give up on the battle, but he wants to stay true to the fight for the honor and glory of victory, and he still also wants the battle to just end. The nature of man is to run away from a bad situation, which is what Henry initially does, (Crane, 493) but he is quickly and abruptly halted by another soldier who hits him in the head with his gun because he did not know what side Henry was fighting for. So, there are actually two examples of human nature in this small action. Henry acts out of instinct because he is afraid of death, and the other soldier reacts to the blurry sight of an armed soldier running franticly at him (Crane, 493). Naturalism is the more predominant description of this work as opposed to simple Realism. This everyday man is placed in an extraordinary situation and heroicly braves his way through to the end of the battle and keep his honor in the process (Crane, 493). Society throughout the entire book is lacking because his life is now on his own in the army, just like all the other soldiers. Government and religion still have no importance in this excerpt. Nature, however, is slightly important here because the fighting style of the time was accomplished by taking cover behind an object, like a tree or in a bunker, and firing a shot once it is loaded. America's Dream is fulfilled in this book as a whole with the beginning of its run starting in this section. Henry is only barely capable of restraining himself from leaping out of hiding and charging to attack with his bare hands (Crane, 493). This readiness would be "only in his dreams," but that dream would bring a great honor bestowed upon him, an honor for having faught and died nobly in the heat of purposeful battle. Finally, his heroic decision to continue through the battle turned out to make himself his own Hero because he somewhat saves his own life by not turning back or staying hidden in safety (Crane, 493).


Works Cited

Crane, Stephen. "from The Red Badge of Courage." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 493. Print.

Kate Chopin - from The Awakening and "The Story of an Hour"

No, Realism, do not do this to me. I thought you would never turn into a "chick flick" on me! But, anyway, this is definitely a different side of Realism than anything else. Both of these stories are about a woman, presumably Kate Chopin, the author, who is crying (well, sobbing uncontrollably) in different situations. In the section from "The Awakening," the character is actually just sitting outside in a village, well into the night, on a chair, crying her eyes out (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491). What reason does the author give to why she is sitting in the dark, completely alone? "She was just having a good cry all to herself," (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491) though it does hint at the recent death of her husband. Also, in "The Story of an Hour," the woman cries over the loss of her husband (Chopin, "The Story," 554-555). This exemplifies the perfect definition of Realism, which is "the attempt to depict life as it actually exists, not as the author wants it to be in the present or the future, or imagines it was in the past" (Werlock). Obviously, Chopin is living in the "now" in both of these stories because she does not pervert the story in any way: they are both simply about a woman crying because she feels the need. There are no references to the past or glimpses into the future because the story has more meaning and effect as told like it is. Also, the passage from "The Awakening" could fit into Naturalism because of its outdoor setting in nature (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491). Not only is the action taking place outside, but the darkness and complete silence she is sitting in creates an erie feeling, one that sets the tone of death and despair and is later confirmed (Chopin, "The Awakening," 491). Shifting to a different sort of nature, it is only natural to grieve over death. The loss of a loved one is difficult to deal with. However, people do not like to watch others cry, usually, so they take it upon themselves to make the crying person feel better. In the short story, "The Story of an Hour," Josephine, the character's friend, plays the part of the consoler, but the character does not wish to speak to anyone because it is human nature to shun others away when one is not "held together" (Chopin, "The Story," 554-555). Much like an increasing number of these stories, neither of Kate Chopin's works here have anything to do with religion or government, sadly, although I think religious ties could have been made in "The Story of an Hour." So, I now come to the American Dream, which is so widely interpreted by so many authors. The basic American Dream, once again, is to live a happy and full life, which would prove to be very difficult in both of these stories. The husband dies, leaving the wife to grieve uncontrollably, and, in "The Story of an Hour," her extreme sadness winds up being the death of her as well (Chopin, "The Story," 554-555). A Hero in "The Story of an Hour" could only be a godly being, coming to bring back to life the body of the character's late husband. This would, of course, be heroic because it would mean life again to the man and would keep the woman from dying of her poor, broken heart.


Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. "from The Awakening." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 491. Print.

Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour. Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 554-555. Print.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "realism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. . 13 Feb. 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Willa Cather – from O Pioneers! and "A Wagner Matinée"

Willa Cather, here, did a great job of staying with the Realism period, just like all the other authors I have talked about in the last few blogs over this Realism project. It sounds as if both pieces are written like how normal people would talk, called the natural vernacular of the time. Realism, more specifically Regionalism, is a characteristic of both pieces because Cather talks about issues with farming and rural life in the passage from "O Pioneers!" (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489) and about some bumbling travesties in "A Wagner Matinée" (Cather, "A Wagner," 521-526). These stories are not so much part of the subsect called Naturalism because they had nothing to do with nature's beings or how they interacted. So, Regionalism is still the best description to give to Willa Cather's works here. The section from "O Pioneers!" is focused on these Bergson boys and the harsh and unfair ways they had to live. These boys were farmers on new, prospective land out of the city, but the harvest had not been good, causing many of their fellow, neighboring farmers to declare bankruptcy and forclose their land to try to cut their losses (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). The boys themselves were also facing the same difficulties but were slightly more optimistic after the first bad year, but that turned out to "bite them in the butt" because the following years proved to be no more fruitful (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). Society in "O Pioneers!" is a very important part of this section. Not only does society fail on top of the Bergson boys (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489), but it is also simply and plainly discussed. The common person was meant to have "a steady job, a few holidays, nothing to think about, and [he] would have been very happy" (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). That was the basic American Dream, also - to have an average life without problems or troubles with a steady source of income and happiness throughout the household. Unfortunately, the Bergson's American Dream would never be fulfilled in this passage from "O Pioneers!," and they had no choice in the matter because they were dragged out into farming as children (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). Honestly, "A Wagner Matinée" just did not capture my attention, but, from what I read for comprehension, society was not as prominent as it was in the section from "O Pioneers!" Apparently, Realism is also all about using the natural diction of the writer. There are no big, fancy words in any of the pieces I have discussed in this and my previous blogs. But, that can also be blamed on the region from which the Realism movement is based because the Midwest and western New England Regions do not have distinct accents. Heroes are not quite as up front in either of these works, but one can assume he would be a father who brings his family out to a new land to explore different options of living and find prosperity, joyeous prosperity, to create immense wealth for his family. Finally, because I am forced to talk about this, and I do not remember if I already did, government and religion have no impact on these stories whatsoever.


Works Cited

Cather, Willa. "from O Pioneers!" Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 489. Print.

Cather, Willa. "from 'A Wagner Matinée." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 521-526. Print.

Robert E. Lee - "Letter to his Son"

For obvious reasons, Robert E. Lee was an extremely important figurehead during the Civil War. He was the commanding general of the Confederate army, not only because of his rise through the military ranks, since he first began as a national officer, serving the United States, but also because of his intelligence and rich, prestigious background (Wilhelm, 382). Lee firmly believed in a country of unity and one that did not require force to withhold itself (Wilhelm, 382). At the start of secession, President Abraham Lincoln asked Captain Robert E. Lee to command his Union troops as Army General, but, due to his family heritage in Virginia, which was also talking of secession and would soon follow take part, he decided to take another offer in 1862from the state of Virginia to command the Army of Virginia (Wilhelm, 382). This decision led to much internal conflict with Lee, making him give up, in a sense, on what he cares to say and how official it sounds. His almost uncaring feelings make this letter fit into Realism because of the time period and the frank reality of which he speaks, like when he talks about the uselessness of trying to stop the impending war by saying, "...I can do nothing to hasten or retard it" (Lee, 385). He finds no difficulty in telling this to his son because even he would have had nothing to do to try to solve the problem, either. This letter also talks about the tremendous aching he felt over the splitting of the United States (Lee, 385). He could only watch as his beloved country fell into shambles right in front of his eyes. Realism, as I said, is obviously the main subset this work could bee put into. Naturalism has pretty much nothing to do with it because it does not evaluate or study people as a direct outcome of his ranting, and nor does it really evaluate the events of the past, although one could also argue that, by talking about the Constitution of the United States, he did mean for it to evaluate and ridicule the so called framers of the Constitution (Lee, 385). There are many topics to cover, but hardly any of them really are important in this piece, such as the Hero, religion, nature and partly human nature, in a way. Speaking absolutely, religion and nature had nothing to do with this letter. Government is really only mentioned, too, because Lee talks about how if a war were to errupt, the government would fail to prove a useless and laughable force (Lee, 385). The American Dream, however, did only appear in the form of an uncatchable dream. Lee has seen an America of peace and hopeful prosperity, and his Dream is for that beautiful America to show itself to the world (Lee, 385). The word choice he uses, however, has little effect on the overall message or meaning of the work because he is not trying to make a point or win over its reader. So, Lee was quite free to speak how he wished to speak, which happened to be in the common vernacular of the time.


Works Cited

Lee, Robert E. "Letter to his Son." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 385. Print.

Wilhelm, Jeffrey. "Meet Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 382. Print.

Sojourner Truth - "And Ain't I a Woman?"

An excellent speaker, considering her background, Sojourner Truth was also a very influential figurehead of the time because she was an African American writer who was also a woman, which, for one, was totally unheard of, and created a snowball effect for other female writers to start publishing their works under their own name. Because she was a female African American writer, she was more influential than both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Her ability to speak so well led to helping equality blossom. She spoke of how many men were thinking that women were so delicate and that they needed help getting in and out of carriages and over puddles of mud; her main point in this is that she was also a woman - why had she not received any help from big, strong men like the white men (Truth, 370)? She had worked in the fields and done all the difficult work, even more than other pity women, and she had never received anything in return (Truth, 370). She showed the world that she did the jobs, like working in the fields, that no white man of the North could do (Truth, 370). The difference between the Northerners and herself was that she had no choice to be a slave and do all that hard work. The main reason this work fits into Realism is because she concentrated so much more on looking to the future and living in the now than searching in the past for all of life's answers (Truth, 370). The focus, however, had nothing to do with religion, but was mostly on government and its issues at the time. Truth's two largest goals were for equality among races and between sexes. The government, however, was segregating the people and "allowing" slavery to continue and was giving fewer and fewer rights to women because they did not work and played such belittling roles in society, anyway. But, equal rights was still the highest priority for Sojourner Truth, and, to do that, she was forced to disobey the government's laws, like she is talking about in "And Ain't I a Woman?" (Truth, 370). She thinks that the government suppresses the Negro because of their alleged lack of intelligence. She asks rhetorically, "What's that got to do with women's rights or Negroes rights?" (Truth, 370). Human nature and nature itself do not arise much in this particular work of Realism, but one could argue that, because she tries to change the ideas of other people to benefit herself and people like her and in the same situation, there is some human nature in the speech. And, the American Dream is huge in "And Ain't I a Woman?" because the basic American Dream is to have what everyone else has, which, in this case, is freedom and equality. Not only did she fight for her own rights, Truth was an icon for all the slaves and people looking to have the same rights as their neighbors. Figurative language was not so much part of this work because of its nature, and the Hero is only a person that might come in later but is not in this speech. A Hero to Sojourner Truth would have been a person who comes to take her to salvation and a life of happiness (Truth, 370).


Works Cited

Truth, Sojourner. "And Ain't I a Woman?" Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 370. Print.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Anonymous – "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Go Down, Moses," "Keep Your Hand on the Plow"

Freedom was a main topic to speak of in African American writing during this time period of Realism. Songs were probably the most popular versions of expressing their wanting of freedom because they were able to memorize the songs quite easily because of their constant repetition and simplicity in how they are written, as proven in "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Go Down, Moses," and "Keep Your Hand on the Plow." Also, these songs were not directly made to talk about freedom because, if the slaves were talking about running away and lavishing themselves in freedom, the white slave owners would kill them before they even had the chance; instead, the songs would talk about Biblical stories, such as the story told in "Go Down, Moses," where Moses goes into Egypt to take the slaves across the River of Jordan to their freedom ("Go Down," 346). African American slaves were known to be heavily into religion, while their white owners hardly had time to attend church service, so it was very easy for slaves to discretely discuss their plans of escape without their guards or owners understanding what they were really talking about. Each song is written for the moment, usually involving either stories of escaping ("Go Down," 346 and "Swing Low," 348) or stories of perseverance ("Keep Your Hand," 347). The United States' government played little to no part in the way of freeing slaves that are talked about in any of these slave songs. Each one focused mainly on running away, as opposed to what the government might have been able to do, which basically included writing useless bills for Congress to pass, putting into effect a rule that says something along the lines of "no more slaves," but those laws do not have as large of an impact on the plantations as the slaves' plans in their songs. As the saying goes, talk is cheap, and that was all that Congress was doing - talking. These songs are the true testament to the unrelenting will people have. Even in the most difficult times of hardship, the slaves were able to sing gracefully about their trust in the ever-loving God ("Swing Low," 348) because they knew they would eventually be led out of the hell they were living by a miraculous spirit, like Paul and Salis were set free by an earthquake ("Keep Your Hand," 347). Nature is also a part of the songs sung by the slaves for two reasons: one, they are working outside, for the most part, in the fields, and keeping their plans under the noses of their owners is important, so relating their work to rivers and fields is first-hand for them; two, the stories of the Bible discuss miracles and amazing feats of nature, such as Moses' leading the Egyptian slaves over the River of Jordan in "Go Down, Moses." America's Dream is not so much important in these songs as it is in many other works during the time period, but the black man's dream is to simply escape through a heroic feat of wit, such as the "breakout" in "Go Down, Moses."


Works Cited

"Go Down, Moses." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 346. Print.

"Keep Your Hand on the Plow." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 347. Print.

"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 348. Print.

Abraham Lincoln – from "Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865" and "The Gettysburg Address"

Abraham Lincoln is most notably remembered as the sixteenth president of the United States, so it is odd to consider him part of the Realism movement in American literature. Lincoln was president during the Civil War, which was also the basic time frame for the creation and duration of Realism. Also, when one thinks about it, Lincoln gave a grand multitude of speeches and addressed so many people at various gatherings, such as his first and second Inaugural Addresses and The Gettysburg Address after the bloodiest battle on American soil. His amazing speeches, instilled with reality and doubled with the feelings of guilt, were written for the common man's inspiration and to wake up the public to the problems the budding nation was going through. Exemplifying these problems is the passage from the "Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865," in which Lincoln claims that the troubles in America, including slavery and the war, are at the fault of God and that they will and can not cease until God wills it to happen (Lincoln, "Second," 339). Of course, these problems are the fault of the general public because the South believes their economy will fall if slaves are free, but the North is extremely against slavery because they see how horrible it is, so a huge expansion of hate between the two sides of the nation is erupting all over the growing land. Lincoln wants to awake the population to the swelling problem by blatantly coming out with what is wrong with America, which is a Realist characteristic, and the basic society understood the problem but was too caught up in what was happening in their lives to realize what could eventually happen to their lives. The Second Inaugural Address also deals with the incorporation of God in the decision that will affect the nation forever, slavery (Lincoln, "Second," 339). He tells of the chance the country has to heal itself, but the country must make its own decisions (Lincoln, "Second," 339). Human nature comes in play here because the public is being forced to choose between what is right and what is wrong, essentially. Next, Lincoln does not include problems in the government as part of the blame in either of these speeches because he would be blaming himself for the problem, and very rarely do people make such exclamations. Language, however, is possibly the most important part of his speeches to remember because of the bold accusations he makes by blaming troubles on such a high power as God and on the public in general. In both speeches, his version of the American Dream involves achieving a country without slavery. Again, the common white man is the only one who can change anything about this large issue, and, in a heroic sense, he must relinquish his slaves and cause peace between the races. This truly is the only way to end the war because of the increasing troubles between the North and the South over this never-ending slavery debate. Lincoln's Realistic ways of delivering his speeches kicked the civilization into overdrive, creating just what was necessary to find the end to the war and slavery.


Works Cited

Lincoln, Abraham. "Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 339. Print.

Lincoln, Abraham. "The Gettysburg Address." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 402. Print.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Frederick Douglass - from "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro"

Very many of the works of Frederick Douglass fall in the category of Realism. In this small section of on of his great works, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro," Douglass goes well beyond the simple level of reflection on the day-to-day events and norms of the social system he lived in; in fact, he incorporates sections of the ideas of Realism directly in his writing and word choice. "Realism is the attempt to depict life as it actually exists, not as the author wants it to be in the present or the future, or imagines it was in the past" (Werlock). Douglass' realism in this story serves a powerful purpose as he tries to convey the fruitlessness of celebration for African Americans on the Fourth of July. Douglass is upfront about the subject, and it shows that he is passionate enough about his people to imply a sense of stupidity about which African Americans should celebrate the day. Essentially, Douglass states that white people are allowed to falsely celebrate the Fourth of July for their "freedom," despite its being stolen, in the sense that we merely ran away from our original English heritage, but African American people should and can not celebrate a freedom on the day because they, still being in technical slavery, are bound by their masters (Douglass, 337). No matter how African Americans of the time celebrated the Fourth of July, Douglass puts those people to shame for having the audacity to deliberately defy what they were fighting for and to make mockery of the efforts of salvation of rights to the enslaved population. Such bold accusations were quite common in thematic structures of Realism works because showing the harsh reality pushed more people into action than did simply implying a fact that could just as easily be taken out of context. What is possibly the most powerful connection Douglass has is at the end of his first paragraph when he says, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn..." (Douglass, 337). Not only does this refer to the obvious fact that he does not believe in the African American celebration of the Fourth of July, but he is also implying a call to action for the government and religious leaders. He wants for the government to realize the moral wrong that is being carried out by allowing African Americans to join in the celebrations. It is not a day of thanks for them, but it should be a day of sorrow to mark when their fate was sealed into slavery because America then would have its own decisions to make, and slavery was one issue that was accepted at the time of creation of the country, on July fourth, 1776. Furthermore, religious officials should be weeping for the injustice being served by the wrongful celebration of the day because it was their job to see the world in the same perspective, one in the alleged "eye of the Lord." They were the messengers of God, but they had failed by allowing segregation and slavery to continue. Psychologically speaking, Douglass finds it impossible - unprecedented! - to allow such a naturalistic travesty as slavery to unfold; Douglass speaks of the white man's vanity in his thought of national liberty, heartlessness in rejoicing, and mockery in claims of equality because he thinks the nation is now "free" (Douglass, 337). Both the American Dream and Hero in his speech are given from the lack thereof, in which the American Dream is being let down and a Hero is never present (Douglass). A sort of hatred of his audience is even heard in his voice at his closing words, "There is not a nation on earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour" (Douglass, 337).


Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro." American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 337. Print.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "realism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= Gamshrtsty0575&SingleRecord=True. 11 Feb. 2011

Realism Project: Regionalism

"Local color or regional literature is fiction and poetry that focuses on the characters, dialect, customs, topography, and other features particular to a specific region" (Campbell). Regionalism is mostly thought of as a combination of American Romanticism and Realism because of its frequent stray from the ordinary to "distant lands, strange customs, or exotic scenes" and retention of the original accuracy of the human being through small, yet unknowingly important details (Campbell). Regionalism also incorporates a lot of "reliving the glory days," which hints at the Romanticism era of literature. Furthermore, there are many small details about the land and area that show signs of Realism (Campbell). The end of the Civil War brought the beginning of this new time period, which was very popular with those removed from old seats of power, including Midwesterners, African Americans, immigrants, and women as opposed to those in seats of power, such as white urban males, who were judged as realists (Campbell). Many critics have also argued that the Regionalism period played a major contributing factor in the reunification of the United States after the end of the Civil War (Campbell). Also, Regionalism created the identity of the new America after the war and at the end of the 1800s (Campbell). Usually, the setting of a Regionalism work involves nature, like Realism and Naturalism, and the difficulties and restrictions of nature; many settings are in totally remote or inaccessible locations that would more than likely not occur in real events (Campbell). Outside narration was also popular in Regionalism works, and the narrator was typically a well-educated observer who learns something by watching the characters' misfortunes from a safe, yet sometimes ironic, distance to avoid wrongful intrusion (Campbell). The narrator often acted as the middleman, working as a sort of interpreter between the "languages" of the rural citizens in the story and the urban audience to whom the story was told (Campbell). It has also been concluded that the stories of Regionalism have plots that go nowhere and are boring in nature because most plots revolve around tales of the community and its normal routines (Campbell).


Works Cited

Campbell, Donna M. "Regionalism and Local Color Fiction, 1865-1895." Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 10 Feb. 2011.