Sunday, May 22, 2011
1. Would you have confessed if you were Dimmesdale or would you have run away?
2. Do you think it was a fair punishment for Hester to have to wear the 'A' on her at all times?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The book starts off with Ishmael, a young lad who turned to the sea because he's all lonely. He decides to journey with a whaling boat after some merchant marine experience. He becomes good friends with this chill dude with tattoos named Queequeg. The two fellas join aboard a vessel named Pequod whose captain is quoted as a "grand, ungodly, godlike man." The captain is the famous Captain Ahab who got his leg bitten off by a whale and in it's place is a whale bone. Although the crew wants to hunt whales for their oil, Ahab wants to hunt down the whale called Moby Dick, the one that bit off his leg. The crew and various boats that have had injury and even death warn Ahab about attempting to get his revenge on the whale but they are close to it now and he persists in his revenge. After a 3-day pursuit one crew member is already dead yet Ahab "madly" seeks out revenge. He throws 2 harpoons at the whale, the second of which tangles Ahab to the whale and he is subsequently dragged down to the depths with Moby Dick. All of the ships are destroyed by Moby Dick and everyone dies except Ishmael who uses his dead bro Queequeg as a buoy to float for a while until another ship rescues him.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
1. In English society, it was a custom for women to be married off, especially to statuses of their own or higher in order for their family to have a good name. If they married someone who was of lower status, it was a disgrace to their family name. Seeing the marriage situations back then, how do they differ today?
2. In your own opinion, do you believe status is important? Why do you believe this?
Would you follow a totalitarian government if it meant that you were able to lead a "normal" life?
Considering the time period it was written do you. Thin Orwell was pulling from anything in particular when he wrote this book?
Santiago, a Cuban fisherman, has had a streak of bad luck and has not caught any fish. On the 84th day without a fish Santiago returns to land to find that he is being ridiculed by other fishermen for his bad luck. His apprentice, a young boy named Manolin, also tells him that his father will no longer allow him to fish with Santiago because he has no luck. Throughout all of this hardship, Santiago remains optimistic. The two return to Santiago's shack and Santiago offers to make dinner for Manolin. He declines, knowing that Santiago has nothing and will go hungry for the day. The two then talk about baseball. When the boy finally leaves, Santiago goes to sleep and dreams about lions and the beaches of Africa which he once saw as a boy.
The next morning, Santiago goes to the boy's house and wakes him. The two take Santiago's fishing gear to the boat and Santiago leaves the boy to go out to sea. When Santiago gets to the point at which he can no longer see the shore, he finally gets a bite. The giant marlin begins pulling Santiago farther and farther out to sea. He is pulled throughout the night and into the next morning. The next day, as Santiago still fights with the fish, a small bird lands on his line. suddenly the marlin begins pulling harder and the bird leaves. Santiago notices that his hand is cut from the line. He then decides to eat the fish he caught the previous day in order to gain strength for the fight that will most likely go through the next day. he also decides to put out another line so that he may catch another smaller fish to eat. as he does this, the marlin jumps out of the water and Santiago sees it for the first time. It is almost two feet longer that Santiago's boat. The marlin then begins slowing down. Later that evening, Santiago catches a dolphin on his second line and is able to pull it in and kill it while holding on to the marlin. That night he is able to sleep. he is woken up by the marlin pulling the line. He can tell that the fish is making his final stand against Santiago. after a few more hours of fighting, Santiago is finally able to pull the marlin to the boat and harpoon it. He cannot put the marlin in the boat because it is too big. as he is returning, the marlin is attacked by sharks. by the time he returns to the harbor, there is almost nothing left of the marlin. He takes down his sail and returns home to sleep. The next day, other fishermen gather at Santiago's boat to see what is left of his fish. they measure it to be 18 feet. He talks to Manolin who tells him that he will fish with Santiago again regardless of what his parents say. Manolin then leaves and Santiago goes back to sleep.
1. Santiago is very optimistic after going nearly 3 months without catching anything. If you were in his situation would you give up or would you keep fishing as he did?
2. Do you think you would be able to fight a fish for nearly three days as Santiago did or would you give up before you could catch it?
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The novel Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson involves a murder mystery and the difficult decision of good moral judgment over prejudice. The story starts off in a courtroom on San Piedro Island where a Japanese-American fisherman named Kabuo Miyamoto is on trial for the death of an American fisherman and WWI veteran, Carl Heine. This novel takes place right before World War II, and during this time there were many prejudices about the Japanese. The Americans felt the Japanese were lower than them and placed them in internment camps, and the Japanese hated them for treating them this way. Because of this, Kabuo feels it would be very unlikely for him to receive a fair trial.
It goes on to describe that San Piedro is a small island where the people that live there know about everyone's business. Ishmael Chambers, another WWI veteran, is the editor of the newspaper there. He seems very outgoing by what he tells others about his life, but he keeps one thing to himself; he never tells anyone about his relationship with Hatsue who is now Kabuo’s wife. He never understands why one day she decided to leave him for Kabuo for no apparent reason and without ever telling him why, and then she treats him coldly afterwards.
Throughout the trial, Kabuo has many flashbacks about his childhood. He thinks about how Carl’s father had informally promised to sell a plot of his land to Kabuo’s father. However, when he was almost finished with his payments, Kabuo’s father was sent to an internment camp. When Carl’s father had died and Kabuo returned from war, he went to try and get the land back, but Carl’s mother had already sold it to an old white farmer because she didn’t like the thought of someone of Japanese descent owning her husband’s land. When the old farmer was sick and decided to sell the land again, Kabuo rushed to make an offer for it as soon as he heard, but was disappointed to find that Carl Heine had already bought it. The two had been childhood friends so Kabuo hoped that Carl might have the heart to let him own the land his father before him had spent so much time trying to earn, but Carl had developed some prejudices against the Japanese after he had got back from the war.
One foggy night while still trying to decide whether or not to sell the land, Carl goes fishing. He gets into some trouble, but is saved by Kabuo. Because he was so kind to Carl, he decides that it would be best if he sold him the land. Later that night, however, Carl is killed when a large ship creates a large wave that shakes Carl’s boat. Carl is knocked down by this force, hits his head and becomes unconscious, and drowns in the water. When authorities began to investigate, the coroner noted that the wounds on Carl’s head were a lot like marks made by Japanese soldiers that were skilled in martial art. Because these people didn’t know of the agreement that Carl and Kabuo had made and they knew Kabuo was a Japanese soldier in the war, it seemed like he had both the motive and the skill to be the murderer.
There doesn’t seem to be any proof that Kabuo is not guilty until the reporter Ishmael comes across a logbook in the lighthouse. It showed that a large ship had been lost the night Carl had died. There was a record that the ship then passed through the area Carl was in just five minutes before Carl’s waterlogged watch stopped after falling into the water. It is evident at that point to Ishmael that the ship was the cause of Carl’s death. This lucky find leaves Ishmael with a difficult decision. He can either come forward with the truth and do the moral thing in his situation, or he can keep the information to himself and get the revenge on Hatsue that he had been trying to get for a long time. He knew it would hurt her to see her husband locked away and thought of as a murderer. During the trial, he didn't tell anyone about what he had found out and all but one of the jurors insisted on Kabuo's guilt. Later, Ishmael decided to do the right thing and let Hatsue know about the information he had found. Kabuo was able to return to his family and the charges against him were dropped.
1. 1.Prejudice was very common in the early 1900’s. Is prejudice still relevant today? How?
2. 2.When people return from war, their personalities sometimes change. Why is this so common for people to come back almost as a different person?
3. 3.Like in the novel, it can be very difficult to choose between making a good moral decision and getting revenge. Why is it so hard sometimes to just do the right thing in the first place?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The only complete novel ever written by Edgar Allan Poe, the most world-reknown Dark Romanticist of his time. The story starts with a young man named Arthur Gordon Pym as the title infers. He is living on a whaling ship named the Grampus. He goes through various misadventures, including cannabalism and shipwreck. Arthur and his fellow crew member Dirk Peters continute the journey, in which they come across hostile natives and the novel ends with them heading towards the South Pole. The novel has been criticized up and down, left and right. Most people have listed it as the number one book on their list of Worst Novels of All Time. The story line is confusing and extremely hard to follow. Poe had always had trouble writing full length novels. However, in July 1838, he published the first complete copy of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. I guess he should just stick to poetry and small tales.
- Why do you think Poe's novel was written so poorly and criticized to the extent it was?
- Do you think Poe would have continued with his publication of full length novels if he had lived longer?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee is a novel about the adventures of several children and how they see, through their naive minds, a trial of a man accused of rape. The story starts off positive, exploring the many adventures of the children of a lawyer, Atticus Finch. Scout Finch, the protagonist, has many adventures with her older brother, Jem. The children find many ways to entertain themselves, from annoying their neighbor Boo Radley to acting out stories with a friend they meet over one summer named Dill. Scout then starts school for the first time only to find that she does not like it very much. Meanwhile, a black man in their community is accused of raping a white woman. Atticus believes that he is innocent, and is the only one who sticks up for him and eventually is his attorney in a trial. The children are unable to understand this racism, and are confused when people disrespect Atticus and themselves. In the trial, Atticus tries his best to show that Tom is innocent, and makes a very strong case. To see how the trial concludes, and find out what happens to the children, (because there is an element of danger in the end for them) you will have to read this novel for yourself. I would highly recommend reading it if you are looking for something to read. It starts off slow, but picks up in the end.
Monday, May 9, 2011
East of Eden, written by John Steinbeck, is centered around two families: The Trask's and The Hamilton's. Primarily set in the middle of the Salinas Valley in California, Steinbeck covers three generations spanning roughly sixty years.
At the beginning of the novel, Steinbeck goes into great detail about the Salinas Valley including sights, sounds, colors, and smells. The story unfolds by switching back and forth from the Hamilton and Trask family describing many love interests, financial troubles, and family problems. (I feel if I give any more information about the characters that it will spoil the novel because each character and family intertwines.)
The novel is thought to parallel many biblical events, mainly those of Cain and Abel due to the fact that there is often anger, vengeance, and violence. The novel, "was not well accepted by the critics of its day, who found it heavy-handed and unconvincing, especially in its use of Biblical allusion" (Wikipedia). Although many people disliked it, it soon became a bestseller and known as one of Steinbeck's greatest achievements.
1.) Throughout the novel, Steinbeck displays what it means to be a good person and what it means to be a bad person. What do you feel makes a person good? What do you feel makes a person evil?
2.) There are often cases of violence and vengeance within the book, often due to jealousy. Do you feel these are good ways to handle jealousy and personal problems, or do you think they should be dealt with peacefully?