Saturday, April 23, 2011
1. In the story social class has effects on the decisions that some of the characters make, such as when Catherine decides to marry Edgar. Do you believe today that people marry just for social class and security rather than real love and happiness? Is it right to do so?
2. Do you believe revenge is the right thing to do, or should you just move on with your life in given situations?
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is a Latin American novel following the Trueba family over the course of four generations. The novel begins with an emphasis on Clara del Valle. Clara has paranormal powers, predicting the accidental death of her older sister Rosa. After seeing the autopsy, Clara stops speaking, mortified of the thought that her prediction may have caused her sister’s death. Rosa’s fiancé, Esteban Trueba, channels his emotional grief into the restoration of his family’s hacienda, or farm. He is successful in turning the farm around, but soon is unable to control his grief, raping several of the peasant women working on the hacienda, one woman giving birth to Esteban’s illegitimate son, Esteban Garcia. Esteban Trueba briefly moves back to the city to take care of his mother and upon her dying wish, he goes to the de Valle house once again, seven years after Rosa’s passing, to ask for Clara’s hand in marriage. Clara agrees to marry Esteban, already having predicted the proposal two months prior. This is the first time Clara speaks in seven years. Esteban builds a large mansion for the family and Clara begins to focus her energy on further developing her psychic powers. Clara and Esteban bear three children, the eldest Blanca and twin boys Nicolás and Jaime. The family stays at the hacienda in the summertime and Blanca soon befriends the foreman’s son Pedro Tercero. An earthquake occurs, causing the family to take permanent residence at the hacienda. Blanca and Pedro become lovers. The family gets along fine at the hacienda until Esteban banishes Pedro for his revolutionary communist ideas. Blanca continues to visit Pedro until her father finds out, resulting in him beating Blanca and his wife Clara severely. Clara moves back to the Trueba mansion with Blanca, reclaiming her maiden name and vowing never to speak to Esteban again. Esteban blames his troubles on Pedro Tercero, eventually hunting him down and cutting off three of his fingers. Blanca soon learns that she is pregnant with Pedro’s child, but is convinced by Esteban to marry a French count, being told that Pedro has died. At first the arrangement between Blanca and her new husband is bearable, but she leaves him when she finds he is having several affairs. She moves back home until her baby daughter Alba is born. Esteban eventually moves back to the Trueba house also, developing a relationship with little Alba, however still not speaking with his wife or daughter. A few years later, Clara dies peacefully without being on speaking terms with Esteban. Blanca is reunited with Pedro Tercero, who is now a revolutionary songwriter and when Alba grows up she meets her lover, Miguel, who is also a revolutionary man. Esteban runs for the senator position of the Conservative Party. Esteban represents the conservative government and the opposing revolutionary views of the family clash, resulting in a military coup brought on by Esteban against the communist revolutionaries. The coup causes the death of Esteban’s son Jaime and sets Alba as a primary target. Esteban Garcia, the illegitimate son of Esteban Trueba also comes back into play as the leader of the opposing communist force. Esteban Garcia rapes Alba, in spite of her privileged lifestyle and eventual inheritance of his illegitimate father’s money. This action of rape completes the cycle that his father Esteban Trueba originally sets in place by raping his peasants in his grievances for his dead fiancée Rosa. Alba takes the terrifying event to heart and loses her will to live until she is visited by the spirit of her grandmother Clara who inspires hope. Esteban Trueba and Alba’s lover Miguel eventually come to save her. Esteban dies peacefully with Alba and the spirit of Clara holding him. The novel is ended by Miguel and Alba expecting a daughter in which Alba describes as the "daughter of so many rapes or perhaps of Miguel, but above all, her own daughter."
The “daughter of so many rapes or perhaps of Miguel, but above all, her own daughter." In Alba’s quote we see a progression of her moving on from her past to her future as the mother of her child. Do you think it is important to keep the past in mind as we move on to the future, or do painful memories hold us back from appreciating the present?
Clara believed her older sister Rosa died due to Clara’s prediction, do you believe in predictions and psychic powers, or is it all just coincidence we find after overanalyzing a situation?
Clara and Esteban’s grief over Rosa’s death represent the two extremes of coping methods. Esteban’s response is to lash out, raping his peasant workers, while Clara decides to keep to herself, never speaking a word for seven years. One could argue that each extreme is an unhealthy form of coping, but which had the better idea in mind? Taking action in anger or casting self blame for something no one had any control over? Is there a happy medium in dealing with personal grief?
Laura Esquivel, author of my research paper book The Law of Love, also wrote another fantastic novel Like Water For Chocolate that highlights the Mexican culture as well. The novel is about the youngest daughter in a mexican family, Tita de la Garaza, who falls in love with a man named Pedro Muzquiz. However, the two are prohibited from marrying due to an old family tradition upheld by her mother, Mama Elena, that states that the youngest child in a family shall not be married. In order to circumvent not being able to see her, Pedro marries Tita's older sister, Rosaura, so he may be able to live on the ranch and see her every day. The novel is written in twelve sections, one for each month so the reader is able to see how the story progresses.
Friday, April 22, 2011
1. Why is it wrong for a government to use technology to spy on it's citizens? Are there times when it is acceptable?
2. If you were in Winston's position and about to be tortured, would you betray the person you loved?
3. 1984 is a political novel that aims to show readers the dangers that totalitarianism presents. What are some of these dangers, and is it important today to know them?
Thursday, April 21, 2011
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill another animal.
7. All animals are created equal.
Soon the animals develop a plan to run the farmer off the land and once they do, they change the name of the farm to "Animal Farm". With their new found freedom, they begin to run the farm in a very efficient way. Napoleon and Snowball are the leaders of the farm, and together they defeat the farmer a second time when he returns to reclaim his farm. Snowball and Napoleon continue to run the farm together but fight over how to run it more and more as time passes. It reaches a climax when Napoleon and Snowball clash over whether or not to build an electricity-generating windmill on the farm. Napoleon attacks Snowball with his trained dogs and runs him off the farm. Napoleon then takes full control of the farm and builds the windmill that he told Snowball not to build. Napoleon behaves increasingly more like the humans he once despised as the power of controlling the farm makes him feel like he is above all the other animals. He moves into the farmhouse, drinks alcohol, and begins to walk on two legs. He also begins to teach all the other pigs to do the same. Eventually the other animals cannot distinguish the pigs from the humans that they invite over and the seven commandments become one:
All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
1. Are some men (or animals) born to be overly proud or does power make them that way?
2. Is it really better to have checks and balances or would a ruler with complete power get more done?
3. What do you think George Orwell is trying to say with this novel?
Love is hard, for everyone. But just imagine living in a time when money and status controls everything. In the novel Persuasion written by Jane Austen, Anne is the middle child of her family. Ignored and treated badly by her father and her older sister Elizabeth. They have control over her whole life. When she falls in love with a man named Frederick Wentworth. They were engaged and ready to be married, but her family had other plans. Because he was poor, had no fortune and nothing going for him they took it upon themselves to stop the engagement. With her heart broken she Anne called the engagement and hurt Wentworth when she did. They after this part ways.
But fate brings him back to Anne, but as a well off captain with a fortune of $25,000. Throughout his time with her, he believes her hurting him stopped him from loving her, but when she saved poor Louisa he realized that he still admired her and his affections appeared again. Thinking he is engaged to Louisa, and he getting jealous over a man named Mr. Elliot made their love for each other come out and they knew they were still in love. If you don not want the ending dont read the next few lines... :) in the end they confess there love with each other and get married with the blessings of her father.
1) Do you think parents should have that much control over the life of their children especially
when it breaks their hearts?
2) Persuasion is the main idea of this novel, do you think you can be persuaded into doing something you don't want to do? Even if its from the people you love the most?
In Emily Bronte's only novel, Wuthering Heights, the theme of true love versus marrying for wealth and status is observed. The story begins with a man named Lockwood wishing to visit his landlord, Heathcliff. Lockwood lives at Thrushcross Grange and Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights, which are quite a ways away from each other. Upon finally reaching Wuthering Heights, Lockwood is extremely tired and very ill received, as his landlord was not expecting him. Eventually, Lockwood is able to stay the night, but has an odd supernatural experience which makes him want to leave, despite the crazy storm raging outside. Against his better judgment, he leaves anyway, and, while recuperating at Thrushcross Grange, asks the housekeeper, Nelly, to recount her version of Heathcliff’s life story, as she has been there throughout his entire existence.
Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw and their two children, Hindley and Catherine live at Wuthering Heights. One day, Mr. Earnshaw must take a trip and he is gone for about a week. Instead of bringing home the gifts that his children and Nelly asked for, he brings home an orphan, who they christen Heathcliff. Catherine absolutely loves Heathcliff, because both are passionate young children; however Hindley hates Heathcliff due to insane jealously at losing his father’s attention to this orphan boy.
One day, while playing in the moors, Catherine and Heathcliff come across Thrushcross Grange and the people who live there. Mr. and Mrs. Linton (and their children, Edgar and Isabella) take Catherine in, but turn Heathcliff away, prompting thoughts of revenge. The Linton’s keep Catherine for a little over a month, attempting to turn her into a proper young woman, and, because of this, she spends an increasing amount of time with Edgar, making Heathcliff very jealous. When he overhears Catherine telling Nelly that she cannot marry Heathcliff because he is below her, he leaves Wuthering Heights and does not return for three years.
While Heathcliff is gone, Catherine marries Edgar, but they do not stay happy for long and when Heathcliff comes back, the tension in their relationship builds even more. Heathcliff must stay at Wuthering Heights (with Hindley and Hindley’s son, Hareton) which, at this point, has been passed on to Hindley after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw. Tensions run high because Heathcliff and Hindley are enemies. Eventually Edgar’s sister, Isabella, becomes stupidly infatuated with Heathcliff and the two get married. Soon after the idiotic marriage, Catherine has a daughter, Cathy, and Catherine dies.
Heathcliff, at this point, is deranged by vengeance against anyone who kept Catherine away from him. In order to execute his revenge, he does not care who he hurts. He wants to gain control of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and anything Edgar cares about. Also, he wants to make Hindley hurt for all the horrible things that were done to Heathcliff in his childhood. He has a son with Isabella, named Linton, simply to use as a pawn in his scheme. After waiting 17 years to put his major plan into motion, he kidnaps Cathy and forces her and Linton to marry. Hindley has passed so he now owns Wuthering Heights, and with this marriage and Edgar’s death, he owns the Grange. Heathcliff’s son, Linton, is a very frail and feminine boy, who can hardly do anything Cathy wants. In her time at Wuthering Heights, she begins to fall for Hareton, Hindley’s son. After Linton’s death, the two are able to be together. In Heathcliff’s death he is able to get what he wanted; he was united with Catherine in the afterlife.
1.In this story, true love conquered everything, even life itself. Do you believe in that? Why or why not?
2.Revenge dominated Heathcliff’s entire life. He only married Isabella to be in line to receive the Grange. He forced Hareton to be a slave and punished him for his father’s wrong-doings. Is this right? Should anyone waste time on revenge? Is a little bit of vengeance healthy?
3.Cathy and Hareton break the cycle of social status having influence on marriage. How important is that? Should status have any effect on a marriage?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The protagonist of the novel is a man named Orlando, and the story covers a time period of three hundred years (1588-1928). Despite this large time span, Orlando only ages to a mere thirty-six years old while also undergoing a gender change from a man to a woman. In the beginning of the novel, Orlando pretends to cut off the heads of Moors just like the men in his family have always done, for he is too young to fight yet still loves to experience adventuresome situations. On one particular occasion, Orlando ventures out into the woods in order to write poetry; however, he falls alseep and wakes up to the incredibly loud sound of trumpets. He realizes that the sounding of the trumpets is to signal that Queen Elizabeth has arrived. Orlando immediately leaves the woods to return home so that he can properly prepare himself for her presence. When he finally meets her, the Queen is very much impressed by him. Two years after their initial meeting, she summons for him to become a part of her highly prestigious court. Orlando experiences the positions of a steward, treasurer, and even becomes romantically involved with the Queen, thus allowing him to have a great degree of social status. Nonetheless, Orlando still chooses to spend some time with people considered to be of a lower class and even engages with a number of younger women. He eventually becomes bored of this newly acquired lifestyle and thus returns back to the court under King James I due to the fact that Queen Elizabeth has died. The novel incorporates the events of the Great Frost in which a carnival extravangza exists on the frozen river. It is here that Orlando meets the Russian priness named Sasha; they plan to run away together, but their plans fall through when the ice eventually breaks, thereby causing the ships to leave. Later on in the novel, King Charles II decides to send Orlando to Constantinople to serve as an ambassador. One night, Orlando brings a woman into his room and falls deeply into a trance; after seven days, he awakes from the trance transformed as a woman. Orlando cannot decide which gender is more suitable to her desires and experiences a number of relationships with various men. She eventually marries a ship captain named Marmaduke Bonthrop Shelmerdine. Towards the end of the novel, Orlando goes to London for her writing and is unexpectedly struck ten times on the head by a very bright light. She has been struck by the present and is thirty-six years old. The novel ends with a scene involving the return of the previously dead Queen Elizabeth in addition to the arrival of her husband.
1). Because this novel endures a time span of three hundred years, there is a transition from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth century. Orlando experiences the gender change into a woman during the beginning of the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century was a time in history when women were more widely recognized and able to aquire more freedoms, so what do you think is Woolf's purpose in having Orlando undergo a gender change? Does Orlando seem to be too deeply affected by this change? Why or why not? How do you think that you would react?
2). This novel also focuses on social statuses and the importance of conforming to society as it changes. What is the importance of a social status, and do you think that these rankings are as emphasized today as they were back then? Why or why not?