Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Glass Bead Game

The Glass Bead Game takes place in the future where the intellectually gifted are raised to play this game. The Game is supposed to combine history, mathematics and art. Only select individuals are allowed to play and they live in a fictional European province called Castalia. The only two functions of this province is to educate males in various subjects and to teach and nurture the Game. It is a very complex game and the rules are never precisely laid out for the reader. The main character Joseph Knecht becomes the "Magister Ludi" or head of the whole order that organizes and maintains the game. In order to obtain this position you must be the best at the game. Knecht become the master in a way that is sort of abstract. He visited the outside world and went on missions for the church among other things and learned as he went as opposed to in a boarding school. Knecht finds the order sketchy and questions his own loyalty. He eventually drops out of his position which has never been done and he tutors his friend's child until Knecht eventually drowns in a lake.

1) Do you think that a society could ever exist where the intelligent are appreciated like the super star athletes are today?

2) If you worked your whole life towards a goal and then realized there are flaws to it, would you leave and form a new goal as Knecht did or would you try to fix the flaws?

A Tale of two Cities

In England, Charles Darnay is on trial for treason. His lawyer needed his drunk freind to help acquit Darnay. Meanwhile Javis Lorrey escorts Lucie to her father Dr. Mannette in Paris. Marquis Evrémonde hurries home running down peasonts with his carriage to meet his nephew Darnay. After meeting Darnay, he is angered to find out that his nephew is disgusted with the way the aristocracy treats the lesser classes. Marquis Evrémonde is then murdered that night, the only clue left behind was a note left by the revolutionary Jacques. Both Darnay and Carton pledged themselves to marry Lucie. Jerry cruncher, snuck into a graveyard to steal and sell Cly's body Darnay ends up marrying Lucie and revealing his true identity to her father. Darnay and Carton end up becoming friends. The french revolution begins, and aristocrats are murdered byt the poor. One such aristocrat, Gabelle, writes to Darnay asking to be rescued from prison. Darnay is arrested for being an imigrant and Dr. Manette shows up and uses his influence to get him an aquittal. Darnay is arrested again. Cartonvows to save and rescue Darnay. During the trial, Defarge uses a letter found in Manettes cell to condemn him for his familys crimes. Darnay is senteced to death. Mamam Defarge is shot by Miss Pross for trying to arrest Lucy. Carton switches places with defarge and dies by the guillotine.
Do you think the French revolution went to far?
Is there a limit to what rebels should do to overthrow an oppressive government?


Happy Sunday everyone!

1984 by George Orwell

1984 is possibly depiction of what George Orwell believed the world would be like in the future. This book as written in the year 1949, so since 1984 was almost 40 years into the future, many people, including Orwell, had different ideas about the possible future, and this novel shows how easily the world can be changed and the future effected.
At the beginning of the novel, the setting is introduced. It's the year 1984 and everyone and everything is ruled by a dictator known as Big Brother. The current government is overly protective and watchful over all the citizens of Oceania. The government has put cameras and telescreens all over the city and in the rooms of people's houses so they can monitor and know everything that is happening during every second of the day. Nothing goes unseen from Big Brother since he can watch anyone at anytime. Privacy means nothing to the citizens since it was taken away by the government. The Party even goes so far as to read and listen to people's thoughts and any thought of rebelling against the Party is seen as illegal and punishable. The story follows Winston Smith, a member of Oceania. He's been living under the rule of Big Brother and wants to try and escape the totalitarian government system since he no longer has any freedom. This becomes very important to him when he meets a girl named Julia. He falls in love with her and they start a relationship together. But he must keep there relationship a secret since the government forbids sex and anything else that would allow him to express himself or his individuality.
Winston later meets a man named O'Brien who he believes is a member of the dictatorship Party. O'Brien eventually convinces him that he is against Big Brother and his controlling ways. It is later revealed that O'Brien really is a spy and his main job was to force Winston to admit to wanting to rebel against the government. Big Brother eventually gets his way and transforms Winston into a follower.Big Brother was an insanely watchful and over protective government leader.

Do you believe that our society is becoming anything similar to this in any way? Is the government we have today becoming to over protective and are they taking away certain rights that we as citizens have or are they just doing what they have to in order to keep everything organized and under control?
This book was written in 1949 and the society in this novel takes place forty years after that in 1984. It is said by many people that this was Orwell's prediction for the future. What do you think the future will be like forty years from now? Is it possible that one day?our government really could be as watchful as Big Brother.

Going After Cacciato

The novel Going After Cacciato, is a war novel set in the turbulent jungles of Vietnam. The story focuses around the thoughts of a U.S. soldier, Paul Berlin. Berlin is the leader of the squad, and as such he carries the responsibility for his group of men. The main conflict arises when Cacciato, one of Berlin's soldiers, decides to desert and run off to Paris. Desertion is a crime in the military, so Berlin and his squad are forced to try and track down Cacciato. Ultimately they cannot find Cacciato, but the story continues in Berlin's mind as he daydreams up a fantastical plan where he and his men travel half way across the world in order to find Cacciato. The story is more set in a series of vignettes as was The Things They Carried, focusing more on the emotion of war than any sort of plot. As such by the end of the novel, one is left with a better understanding of a Vietnam soldier's experience rather than any political or moral opinion of war.

1.Berlin uses his mind to escape the reality of war by daydreaming about going after Cacciato. Do you think that it is dangerous to lose focus in war, or merely a way to stay sane?

2. Cacciato deserts the war in order to go to Paris. If you were drafted to fight in a war that you did not want to fight, would you desert? Why/why not.

The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a story of a father and his son's journey over a post-apocalyptic world. The mom kills herself cause she does not want to get eaten. They are heading south to find warmer weather. The world has been ravaged by some unidentified disaster and most resources are gone. Some people have begun eating other humans as a source of food. At one point they find a dead baby roasting on a spit which is pretty messed up. The boy and his son reach the south but its not any better than the north. The dad eventually dies and leaves the son alone. The son is found by a man who takes him in and protects him. The father tells his son to carry on the light of civilization once he dies.

1) Do you think the boy will succeed in reviving civilization?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a novel that will keep its reader on the edge at all times. The main characters are a father and his young son who are battling the catastrophic event that took place in the world. They are the only two beings left that they know of that is not a cannibal. The father is upset because the boy's mother, also his wife, killed herself after the event took place. This great novel tells the tale of the father and son's journey through the aftermath of the world changing event that took place. Through out the novel, they are hiding from the "bad people" and are in search for what the son calls the "good people". At the end of the novel, the son finds these "good people" that he was searching for. Unfortunately it was with out his father. The son has to face the new challenges of surviving without his father by his side.


1) In the novel, both main characters are unnamed. Why do you think that is?

2)If you spent the time staying alive with a parent, like the son did, then was forced to move to another family, how would you feel? Would you be open to this change?

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

Lucy Honeychurch is young and single. She is on a trip to Italy with her chaperone and cousin, Charlotte. While in Italy they meet the Emerson's, an elderly gentleman and his son George. Mr. Emerson quickly tries to switch rooms with Charlotte and Lucy when he finds out they are displeased with their view and knows the view from his own room is much better. The Clergyman, Mr. Beebe, says of Mr. Emerson, "..he is not tactful; yet, have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time -- beautiful?" (14). Charlotte is unimpressed with the men and suggests to Lucy that she stay away. While Lucy is off on her own, touring the sites, she runs into the Emerson's and learns more about them. She soon is whisked away to Rome when Charlotte finds out that the younger Emerson has kissed Lucy while on an outing. Finally, after completing her adventure, she returns home to become engaged to Cecil, an outgoing, higher class young gentleman whom her mother adores and her brother does not care for. She soon runs into George again, however, when he and his father move into the cottage next door. Freddy and George quickly learn to enjoy one another's company and Lucy sees more and more of the young Emerson. In the end will she remain with her fiance Cecil or will she break off the engagement in search of something more? 1. Do you think that someones social standing still has a large influence on who someone chooses to marry? Why or why not? 2. Although not main characters in the novel, clergy members seem to have a large influence on Charlotte and Lucy's mother, but only serve as mild advisors to Lucy. Does a pastor's opinion still have a lot of infuence on people's lives today? If so, what choices do these opinions majorly affect?

The Handmaid's Tale By Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale, is a story about a handmaid named Offred in the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America. In this future nation, the reproduction rate has decreased significantly because of pollution and radiation. In order to increase the reproduction rate, the leaders of Gilead order women to bear children for powerful families that could not bear children of their own, like the handmaids in the Bible did for their masters. The rights of all women, not only the handmaids, are restricted. They cannot hold jobs, have their own money, and even reading and writing is forbidden. The rules for the handmaids are even more restricted. They can only leave the house on their daily shopping trips, and they must speak to one another in either the "appropriate" greetings or in a hushed whisper when no one is around. The handmaid's names consist of the word "Of" and then their Commander's first name, making it so the handmaids don't even own themselves. Offred's story is a mix of present day actions and flashbacks. While telling her daily activities, she slips into flashbacks that tell the events leading up to the story. She explains how The Republic of Gilead came to power. Using the military, the founders of Gilead killed the president and the congress on the same day. They claimed they were taking power temporarily but they seeon suspend the Constitution and take away women's rights. The reader learns that Offred was married to a man named Luke, and they had a child together. Her family tried to escape over the border to Canada, but they were caught anf she hasn't seen her husband or daughter since. After she was captured she was taken to the Rachel and Leah Re-Education Center, in order to learn how to be a handmaid. At the center, the handmaids in training are told that a woman's main purpose is to bear children. Offred's best friend Moria is also brought to the center, but she escapes and Offred doesn't know what happened to her. Offred is assigned to the Commander's house, and settles into a routine. She takes her shopping trips with another handmaid named Ofglen, and does the "Ceremony" with the Commander and his wife Serena Joy. During the "Ceremony", Offred and the other household members are read the Bible by the Commander. Then Offred must go to the Commander's bedroom and have sex with him while lying in Serena's lap. Every month, Offred must visit the doctor and be checked for any problems. During one of her visits, the doctor offers to have sex with Offred to get her pregnant, saying that the Commander may be infertile. Offred refuses because she believes it is too risky. After a "Ceremony", the Commander's gardener and chauffer Nick, finds Offred at night and tells her the Commander wants her to come to his office the next night. Her visits become part of she routine. During her visits they talk, play Scrabble, and he allows her to read. At the end of each visit, she must give him a goodbye kiss. Time passes and Offred isn't getting pregnant. Serena suggests that Offred should have sex with Nick to get pregnant, and then they can pretend the baby is the Commander's. Serena schedules a meeting between Nick and Offred. On the night of the meeting, the Commander surprises Offred by sneaking her out and into a club called Jezebel's. Jezebel's is a club where the Commanders meet with prostitutes. While at the club Offred sees Moria, and they secretly meet in a bathroom. Moria fills Offred in on her escape. She was caught just before making it over the border. After the night at Jezebel's, Offred never sees Moria again. Soon after she returns to the Commander's house, Serena get her and takes her to Nick's room. Offred and Nick sleep together. Then Offred begins to meet with Nick regularlt without anyone knowing. She finds out that Ofglen is part of an underground orgainization called "Mayday" that is trying to overthrow Gilead. Offred gets so caught up in her and Nick's relationship, that she ignores Ofglen's request for information from the Commander. One day, Offred meets a new Ofglen for their shopping trip. The new Ofglen is not part of "Mayday" and tells Offred that the old Ofglen had hung herself when she saw the Eyes, Gilead's secret police, coming for her. When Offred returns from her shopping trip, Serena confronts her about the night at Jezebel's. She sends Offred to her room promising punishment. Offred watches out the window as one of the Eye's vans pulls up the driveway. What will happen to Offred? You'll have to read to find out.

  1. The secret organization "Mayday" sneaks many people to safe houses, and then over the border to Canada. How is this similar to the Underground Railroad?

  2. What do you think Margaret Atwood is trying to say through her novel The Handmaid's Tale? Is it too late to change? Explain.

Robinson Crusoe

In 1651, the main character, Robinson Crusoe, sets sail against the wishes of his parents. His first voyage is cut short by a storm, but Crusoe decides to give the sea another try. This time it is not a storm that ruins his journey, but pirates. Crusoe is then put into slavery for 2 years, but escapes and finds himself guess where? The sea. This time he lucks into finding a ship with a powerful captain from Portugal, who is able to set him up with land in Brazil. But once again the passion for the sea gets the best of him, and he joins the slave transporting business. But once again, suprise, his ship wrecks and he is the lone survivor stuck on an island he calls the Island of Despair. The experience with owning land back in Brazil helps him out now because he can grow his own food, and he was able to salvage some weapons from the ship so he can hunt also. During this time, he also becomes very religious because the only book he has to read is the bible, which he follows during his time on the island. A band of cannibals come to the island every few years to eat prisoners they have captured. One manages to escape, and is named Friday by Crusoe. Another tribe of natives come to the island and the two kill most of the tribe and save two prisoners, one happens to be the father of Friday. The other man tells Crusoe that there are more men who have shipwrecked, and he leaves with the father to go get them and bring them back to the island. However, before the return, another ship shows up. This ship intends to leave its captain on the island, but the two men side with the captain and some members still on his side and take back the ship. Finally after many years, Crusoe returns to England. He becomes wealthy off of his land down in Brazil which he eventually sells on a trip to Lisbon. After around ten years back in England, Crusoe's love for the sea gets the best of him, and goes back out to sea as a trader in the Caribbean, where he visits the island he was stuck on for so many years.

1- If you were stuck on and island for multiple years, what would keep you fighting for your life? At what point would you think about giving up?

2- At what point would you give up on a dream/passion? Crusoe failed miserably and almost died multiple times, why do you think he kept at it?