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?
Sunday, May 8, 2011
The story begins with a prestigious, prize-winning boar named Old Major calling for a meeting among the animals of the farm. Old Major gives a speech explaining a dream he had had of all animals on the farm being free of oppression from the humans. He said that if the animals worked together then this dream of his could become reality. 3 days after the meeting, Old Major dies, causing 3 young pigs (Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer) to take his place and further his philosophy throughout the farm.
1- How do you feel about man made belief systems, like religion?
2- Do you believe that any idea or set of stories, no matter how irrational or unrealistic can really be deemed true and important after a certain length of time even when their truth isn't tested?
1) What would you do if you were chosen to receive a 'handmaid' into your marriage or chosen to become a handmaid yourself?
2) How would you feel if you knew that you had children out in the world being raised by other families or that the child you are raising is not yours and you are raising it as though it were?
Staying true to her other novels like To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves is not told through conventional methods. The Waves is a story about six individuals as the go from being children to adults. Like in her other novels, however, the main focus of the novel is not the physical actions of the characters but rather the individual consciousness and how they interact with the other characters. The entire book is written and told through soliloquies given by the six characters Bernard, Neville, Jinny, Susan, Rhoda, and Louis. Each character's consciousness reveals their desires and their personality; Louis is a misfit who seeks his own place in society; Neville desires to be loved and to love; Jinny is a socialite who bases her opinion of herself on the opinions of those around her; Susan rejects the modern city and returns to the countryside to become a mother; Rhoda constantly doubts himself, causing him to seclude himself from others. Percival, the final character, is the flawed hero to the other characters in the novel. He dies before the end of the novel and never speaks. Therefore, the reader is left to learn about him from the other characters. Woolf's novel follows these characters from their childhood days to their adult lives, allowing the reader to see the troubles and challenges that each character, each having their own strengths and weaknesses, deals with in life.
1) Throughout the novel, each character struggles to define themselves. Neville, for example, defines himself by opposing society and its conventions while Jenny defines herself by society. How do you define yourself and is their a right or a wrong way to do so?
2) In her novels, Woolf typically uses a stream of consciousness technique rather than focusing on the physical when writing about a group of characters' struggle to define themselves. Why do you think she tells her stories this way instead of via a more conventional approach?
Saturday, May 7, 2011
1. People sometimes think that the government has too much control over what the people of its country do. Do you think this holds true in America? Consider things that affect kids our age (drinking age, driving age, curfew, etc) and explain why think so.
2. In your opinon, is it better to have an extremely strict government that keeps order or a loosly thrown together government that lets havoc occur without interfering?
3. At the end of the novel, O'Brian tortured Winston in Room 101. O'Brian tells Winston he plans to face him with his worst nightmare - rats - by strapping a cage of them to his face and letting them eat it off. Winston, however, begs that O'Brian does this to Julia instead. If you were in this situation, would you have faced your worst fears or would you have sold out someone you loved to avoid them?
Friday, May 6, 2011
1) Do you think you would be able to keep faith and survive facing the severe cruel treatment Jews had to endure throughout the Holocaust?
2) How would you feel if one day like Eliezer you were separated from your family knowing you would never see them again?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
1. If you were the last of mankind, would you try to find more people, or would you take the easy way out?
2. Death is one of the main themes of the novel. Why do you feel authors use death as a main struggle that their characters must overcome?
At Smith's work, he meets Julia. They begin their love affair when she gives him a note saying that she loves him. If they are caught having this affair the consequences are severe, relationships between Party members is strictly enforced against. Julia and Smith try to be sneaky by renting a room above a shop owned by a man named Mr. Charringtion where they believe it will be safe to meet each other.
Soon after, a man by the name of O'Brien gives Smith his address so that he and Julia can come visit him. Smith is very intrigued by this, O'Brien is a high up member in the Party and very rich. Smith has always suspected that O'Brien is secretly against the Party and may be a member of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is the party that works secretly to try and overthrow Big Brother. When Julia and Smith go to O'Brien's he makes them members of the Brotherhood. Once they leave, Julia and Smith go to their rented room where the Thought Police come rushing into their room. It turns out that Mr. Charrington is a worker for the Thought Police and O'Brien was just setting them up to commit a crime against the Party.
Julia and Smith are both arrested and taken to the Ministry of Love. At the Ministry of Love, O'Brien is the man who wants to take charge of "fixing" Smith so he is acceptable for society. Smith is tortured and brainwashed by O'Brien. The final step of Smith's torture was facing his worst fear. O'Brien put Smith's head in a box full of rats. O'Brien was going to let the rats eat Smith's face until Smith begged for his life and wished that it was Julia facing this fate instead of him. O'Brien released Smith at this point because he got what he had wanted. Smith had betrayed Julia. Smith no longer had feelings for Julia and was released into society to live as a brainwashed man until the Thought Police will put him to death. Smith was successfully brainwashed into accepting Big Brother.
1) The power the government in 1984 has over its people is overwhelming. People are not even allowed to think freely in this society. The Party even alters history to conform to its ideas. Do you think that a society this controlling could ever come about today or in the future?
2) Smith tries to rebel against the Party by writing in a diary even though he knows it is illegal and could be executed for it. He also tries to join the rebellion group called the Brotherhood who works to overthrow the leader of the government. If you were in a society that had complete control over its people would you be brave enough to rebel even if it meant possible death?
1. If you were a black woman having lived your life up through 2011 with full rights of an american citizen, do you think you could survive going back into 1815 and encountering slavery?
2.Would you conform or fight?
3. As happened to Dana and her husband, "if" you were somehow magically transported to another year with someone and THEY returned home, but you were left behind, would you stay forever in the same place, waiting hoping they'd come back, or would you leave and try to go on with your life knowing it could be years and years before they ever returned?
This is an AWESOME book. It took like 3 days to read, i absolutely couldn't put it down. When Enlgish class is over and we're done with all this Hamlet nonsense everyone should read this book, even if you don't like to read....during the summer..
The story starts out in Sighet, Transylvania and takes place during World War II. The narrator is a thirteen year old, Jewish boy named Eliezer. Elie is part of a well known family that practices strict Jewish customs. He lives with his parents and three sisters. In his free time, Elie studies the Talmud and the Cabbala under his teacher, Moshe the Beadle. Shortly after, the Hungarians create laws that expel some Jews, and Moshe is forced to leave. Moshe returns and tells everyone in Sighet about the Gestapo, and how they forced the Jews to dig their own graves, but everyone thinks that he’s crazy. Rapidly after Moshe returns, the Jews become more and more oppressed and eventually, they are compelled to live in ghettos. After living in the ghettos for a short time, the Jews are transported to Auschwitz and told that it is a labor camp and all the people will be able to stay with their families. This is done to keep the prisoners calm and orderly on the train. Then they arrive at Birkenau to be sorted into groups of who is able to work and who is not. Here, Elie and his father are separated from his mom and sisters and never sees them again. After they are separated they meet a man who advises Elie and his father to lie about their age so they aren’t deemed unable to work and immediately killed. They are also advised to keep their faith and not rebel against the Nazis. This is important because after being in Auschwitz, many of the Jews are discouraged and feel hopeless. Later on, Elie and his father are transported to Buna. At the new camp, Elie becomes a different person and instead of focusing on his faith and keeping hope, he cares more about his own survival. He even gets mad at his dad for getting beaten by one of the officers at the camp. Also, Elie and the other prisoners witness a small child being hanged and Elie wonders how God could exist and believes that God was hanged with that child. Later, the Jews are transported again, but this time they are forced to run in the middle of a blizzard. Once they arrive at their new location, Elie meets a Rabi who is trying to find his son. Elie lies and says he hasn't seen his son, even though he saw his son abandon his father during the run when he didn't think his father would make it. From this point on, Elie vows to never leave his dads' side. Unfortunately, about three months away from being liberated, Elie's dad dies from dysentery and being beaten to death. The story does not have a happy ending, it ends after his dad’s death and being liberated. This novel is about keeping your faith and never giving up hope even in the most desperate times, because those are the things that kept Elie and his father alive for so long. This book is also meant to remind people about the tragedies the Jewish people faced on a daily basis in these camps so they did not die in vain.
1. If you were in this situation, do you think you would be able to keep your faith and survive?
2. The story, Elizer gives his dad some of his food, but other people in the camp discourage him and tell him to let his father die. Would you sacrifice your chances of survival for someone you loved?