Saturday, March 26, 2011
Robert Jordan is an american professor who enlists in the spanish republican army during the spanish civil war. He is sent by General Golz to meet with a group of guerrilla fighters in the mountains. His task is to wait until the general's attack starts and then blow up a fascist controlled bridge. Jordan meets with the guerrillas and finds that many have become lazy and no longer wish to fight. Many are completely opposed to blowing the bridge because it means that they will be discovered and would force them to move from their hideout. A schism forms within the group with The band's leader, Pablo on one side and Jordan and Pablo's wife on the other. An argument occurs in which Jordan almost shoots Pablo but eventually things get calm and the group goes to bed. The next day, Jordan and Pablo's wife Pilar go to speak to a neighboring group of guerrillas led by a man named El Sordo. They agree to help blow the bridge and suggest that they can get some horses for the attack. As they return to camp, it begins snowing. They return to find Pablo drunk. He begins provoking Jordan and arguing about the bridge. Again Robert is prepared to kill Pablo, this time, however, he learns that he has the entire band on his side and that no one believes Pablo is still a good leader. Pablo leaves before Robert gets the nerve to kill him. Several minutes later he returns saying that he no longer wants to lead and that his wife, Pilar should. The group then turns in for the night again. The next morning Jordan wakes up to a Fascist patrol walking through the camp. He kills the man and realizes that El Sordo had tried to steal horses from the Fascist camp and were followed into the mountain by their tracks in the snow. The group gets ready for a large scale battle but the patrols pass by and attack El Sordo. Jordan realizes that neither group stands a chance so they must hide and watch as all of Sordo's men are killed. When the battle is over Jordan attempts to prepare for the next days battle with even less men than he thought. And to make matters worse, Pablo has left with the dynamite needed to blow the bridge. That night, however, Pablo returns with another neighboring band of guerrillas. The battle begins early in the morning, and Jordan has no problem blowing the bridge. Though he does lose a few men. During their retreat Jordan is on a horse. A bullet hits the ground near him and his horse falls on and breaks his leg. He tells the group to leave him. He sits alone contemplating suicide and waiting for the Fascists to find him. Several feet away he sees a Fascist officer. He takes aim, and the novel ends.
1. Robert Jordan is an american who has never lived in Spain. Would you ever fight for a country other that your own just because you believed in the principles of that country?
2. Robert is told by the general that he is essentially on a suicide mission. Would you ever go on a mission like his knowing that you were most likely going to fail and possibly be killed?
Friday, March 25, 2011
The opening of the play begins by stating that the armor of Achilles will go to one of the men in the army. Both Odysseus and Ajax are men that have proved themselves throughout the war as being strong and courageous. It is left to Agamemnon and Menelaus, the leaders of the army, to choose who would receive the armor. When Odysseus is picked to have the honor of having Achilles’s armor, Ajax goes into a jealous rage. He believes he was the better of the two and that one that should be picked.
As Ajax’s anger builds, his mind starts to darken. He thinks about killing the men in the army with Menelaus, Agamemnon and Odysseus at the top of his list. As Ajax is contemplating these thoughts, Athena the god of wisdom begins to play with his mind. To save the army and protect her champion Odysseus, Athena causes Ajax to see the cattle and herds as men. Through the night he starts slaying and capturing animals believing that they were actually people. Ajax keeps a few animals tied up with the intention of torturing them before he murders them. These animals that he keeps are ones he believes to be the three he most hates.
As morning breaks news gets out as to what Ajax had done. The spell cast onto him by Athena lifts and Ajax is upset by what he has done. He speaks about how going after weak animals means nothing and gives foreshadowing as to his future actions. While this goes on the chorus and his wife Tecmessa beg him to live and do what is right.
1. Do you believe it is wrong for the Greek gods to interfere? Why or why not?
2. What do you think brought on Ajax's anger? Pride, jealousy, both, or something else?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe is a collection put together by the company Barnes & Noble Inc. It contains every single piece of literary work that Poe had ever written. Including his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, which sadly ended up being one of the worst novels ever published. However, I decided to read several of his poems, all having a related theme: The death of a beautiful girl. I chose the following poems: "The Raven," "Eldorado," "To Helen," "Deep in Earth," "A Valentine," "Annabel Lee," and several other poems. They all hold the central plot of either a beautiful girl dying or the lost of a love one. Sub plots include simple reflection on Romance and the feeling of loneliness. Poe has commonly been looked at as been a Dark Romantic, which is a somewhat accurate description of his writings and beliefs. However, when you deeper into his work, the reader begins to feel sympathy for this man and begins to understand why so much of his work is seen as almost depressing in some cases. The poem "Annabel Lee" is usually connected to the death of his beloved wife, Virginia Clemm, who died while they were young. And "The Raven" talks of a man who has lost the love of his life and feels no need to live a happy life anymore. "A Valentine" is one of his only poems that contains no signs of depression or darkness. It's a simple, yet elegant love poem; possibly for Virginia. It should also be noted that Poe's idle, a mother of a friend, died when he was still in his younger years. This definitely contributed some grief to the hopeless romantic. Overall, his love was anything but amazing. However, the reader must keep in mind that not all great writers come from a great past. If that was the case, there would be nowhere as much amazing literary work than there is today.
1. If the love of your life died, would you be able to accept his/her death? Or would a piece of you feel broken for the rest of your life? Would you be able to fall in love again?
2. What are your views on Poe? Do you like his work? Why do you think his only novel flopped?
3. Would you consider Poe to be an 'old school emo?'
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
When young Jane Eyre's parents die of disease, her kind uncle, Mr. Reed, takes her in and promises to raise her as his own. However, when he passes away as well, his wife shows that she does not feel the same way about Jane. Jane goes through her childhood unfairly being cruelly treated by her aunt and three cousins and never feels like she fits in or is respected. Even the maids disrespect her saying, "Yes, if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that" (Bronte 22). One day when her cousin bullied her for no reason, her aunt believed she was lying and sent her to be punished in the "red room" where her Uncle Reed had died. She believes she sees her uncle's ghost while in there and faints in exhaustion and fear. When she awakens, she is happy to find that her aunt has agreed to send her to school. However, once she gets there she is disappointed. At Lowood School, headmaster Brocklehurst does not treat Jane still with the respect she deserves. When Mrs. Reed was talking to Brocklehurst about getting Jane into the school, she explained to him, "...this little girl has not quite the character and disposition I could wish: should you admit her into Lowood school, I should be glad if the superintendent and teachers were requested to keep a strict eye on her, and about all, to guard against her worst fault, a tendency to deceit" (Bronte 30). He tells everyone that Jane is a liar at her school and she is shunned. Jane does manage to make one good friend, Helen, who is the ideal Christian. Unlike Brocklehurst who says one thing and then does another, Helen truly lives up to the standards expected of her. Many children get sick while in school, and Helen ends up dying of consumption. When others find out about Brocklehurst's mistreatment of the children, he is replaced. Jane stays at Lowood to teach for a few years. When Jane is ready for a new pace, she accepts a governess position at Thornfield manor and teaches a young French girl named Adele. Here, Jane secretly falls in love with her employer, Rochester. She even saves him from a house fire which was supposedly started by his drunken servant Grace Poole. However, Poole continues with her job, so Jane knows that there must be more to the story. Jane is upset when Rochester brings home a beautiful woman, but he ends up proposing to Jane. On the wedding day she finds out that he had already been married to a woman that is locked up on the third story because she had gone insane and that he had hired Poole to keep her under control. She leaves Rochester and is taken in by the Rivers family where St. John Rivers finds her a new job. He finds out that they are cousins and that their uncle John Eyre left her a large sum of money when he died. When St. John decides to go to India as a missionary, he asks Jane to go with him as his wife. Jane decides she doesn't love him so she doesn't marry him. When Jane goes back to Thornfield, she finds that the house had burnt down with Rochester's wife in it. Rochester lost his eyesight and one of his hands from the fire, but Jane agreed when he proposed to her again. At the end of the novel, Jane writes that she is happily married with a son and that her and Rochester enjoy perfect equality in their life together.
1) Jane grows up as an orphan in her disapproving aunt's house and is mistreated throughout her life. Jane was still family to the Reeds though, so what might be some reasons she was treated differently than her cousins that she lived with?
2) Jane decides to marry Rochester even after he is blind and has only one hand. If someone you loved became handicapped, would you still chose to marry them like Jane did if she didn't have to? Why does Jane chose him over St. John?
3) What would you do if you found out on your wedding day that the person you were about to marry was already married? Even if the person they had married had gone insane?
4) Although during the era this novel was written women were known to be subservient to men, Jane felt that she didn't want to marry Rochester until after proving her self-sufficiency to herself so that she wouldn't feel she was dependent upon him as her “master.” How is marriage thought to be today compared to back then?
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes."
This paragraph begins our story about a traveling salesman named Gregor Samsa who awakes to find himself transformed into an insect. He briefly lays in bed wondering how this happened to him. His thoughts lead to his job and the fact that he's already late to work. He's never been late in 5 years, so it would look suspicious if he were to be late now. Noticing that Gregor hasn't awakened yet, his mother comes to his door, to which Gregor answers her but notices something rather strange. His voice is changing. His father and sister Grete who also realize he's still home try to enter his bedroom but he locked his door the night before so they couldn't get in.
Gregor eventually gets out of bed when he realizes his boss sent the chief clerk to get him since Gregor was late. However, Gregor still refused to open the door for his family, insisting that he's ill. However, the shocked family can't understand a single word that Gregor says because his voice has changed to that of an insects. Concerned, they call a doctor and a locksmith. Gregor, however, manages to finally open the door himself.
The sudden appearence of Gregor frightens his family and the chief clerk. His father was so upset that when Gregor tried to explain himself, he kicked him back into his room when Gregor got stuck in the doorway and injured him as well. As the novel progresses, Gregor's sister would come into his room and bring him food. She would also clean his room for him as well. His family moved the furniture out as well, trying to give him more room since he liked to crawl around on the ceilings and walls. But Gregor wanted the furniture, so he came out to save a picture. The sight of him made his mother faint and when Gregor came out of his room to follow Grete to help his mother, his father started to throw apples at him, hurting him in the process. This injury, however, makes the family be more accepting of Gregor and they leave the door open.
However, as time goes by, the family begins to neglect Gregor more and more. Grete doesn't bring Gregor food anymore and when they housed lodgers, Gregor scared them to which the lodgers refused to pay the rent for the time they stayed with them. Grete believes they need to get rid of Gregor because he's nothing but a nuisance to the whole family. Gregor realizes shes right and goes back into hiding in his room, waits til sunrise, and dies.
The family is happy but also mourn for his death. They take off work and go for a stroll. Happy with their future to come, they realize their daughter is growing up and need to find her a husband. At the end of their trip, Grete is the first to stand up and stretch.
1. Gregor suddenly changes overnight and doesn't have a clue as to what happened to him. His family is unwilling to help him and neglect him. If a family member of yours suddenly changed, like they were a whole new person and you really didn't like it, would you neglect them? If not, what would you do? If so, why would you neglect them?
2. At the end of the novel, it says Grete is the first to stand up and stretch after the family's stroll and day off work. What do you think this means? Do you think it's in any way significant?
1. One of the main themes of the novel is based on the morality of cloning. Do you think cloning humans for organ purposes is moral/immoral? why/why not?
2. Another theme is that because clones are not "original" humans, this means the clone possesses no soul. Do you think clones are just copies, or should clones be considered human with their own soul?
1984 is a remarkable book in which George Orwell predicts what the future off governments around the world will become. Big Brother, the leader of the party, sees, hears, and knows everything. An act as innocent as purchasing a diary is now a crime and can be punished by death. Even though Winston works for the party, he does not agree with what they stand for and he hopes to expose them as the frauds they really are. He begins to suspect an officemate of his, O’Brien is a member of the group that plans to over through Big Brother and his manipulative government.
One day at work, Winston receives a note from a lady whom he had originally thought was an informant to the party. The note reads, “I love you” and she and Winston develop a relationship that must be kept a secret from big brother. Even though Winston is sure he and Julia will be caught for their relationship, he continues to stay with her and resents the party even more as time passes.
O’Brien decides to have Winston and Julia over to his house to confide in them his hatred of the party as well. However, while the three are at the apartment, the party police break in and arrest all three of them. But as it turns out, O’Brien is a devoted member of the party who has be assigned the task of getting Winston and Julia to complete an act of open rebellion.
The Story ends with the “break-up” of Winston and Julia, due to the brain washing Winston was subjected to. While it appears as though the hero has lost in this story, Winston’s acts will lead to more rebellions just like his, which will help gain control back from the party.
1) Do you think that George Orwell was at all accurate in his depiction of what governments can develop into?2) If Our government were as controlling as the one in 1984, do you think you would be able to recognize it and stand up for your rights, or do you think you would fall for the manipulations of the party?
The Dashwoods move into their new home and are welcomed by the Middletons. The Dashwoods meet a variety of people, including Colonel Brandon, who quickly falls in love with Marianne. Marianne, however, has no interest in him, calling him "grave and dull." She instead falls in love with John Willoughby. She has ups and downs with him as she realizes that he is not quite as great as he initially seems to be.
Elinor also has a love interest in a man named Edward Ferrers. He seems to love her too, but Elinor finds out that he has a secret engagement to another woman and he feels like he cannot break his promise to marry.
In the end, both girls marry to men that will give them happiness and financial stability, which are important to both of them.
1) If you were poor and had the option of marrying for love or money, which would you choose?
2) Both of these girls have a lot of pressure from the people around them to get married as soon as possible. Is that pressure still felt in today's society?
Poe is widely known for his literature in the genre of horror. We will be discussing three of Poe's masterpieces: "The Raven", "The Cask of Amontillado", and "The Tell-Tale Heart", each containing its own unique way of making the reader feel uneasy.