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Literature

Response Essay(A Story of an Hour)

           The piece of literature “The Story of an Hour”, written by Kate Chopin, is a very important, and layered short story about a woman who receives news about her husband’s untimely death, and her immediate thoughts afterwards. Louise, the main character, is informed by her sister that Louise’s husband had been killed in a tragic train accident. After she immediately begins crying, she runs upstairs, seemingly to be by herself and lament the death of her husband in peace.

            While contemplating the implications of his death near an open window, she becomes very aware of one thing. Although she definitely loved her dead husband, named Brently, in some sense, she was having trouble suppressing an overwhelming feeling of happiness. At first unexplainable, the author paints a vivid picture of the open window and a breeze, clearly used to illustrate the new freedom Louise was envisioning for herself. A married woman was very often subject to the will of their husbands, regardless of love or a lack of love. This idea of freedom overwhelms her, and she is actually happy at her new life. She dreams of all the prospects and doors now open to her.

            Tragically, when coming downstairs with her sister, he seemingly dead husband walked through the door. This caused an immediate stress reaction, and Louise had a heart attack, and was pronounced dead. Chopin was clearly trying to illustrate the extent that women were subject to men unfairly.

            The poem “Woman” by Nikki Giovanni, however, is very empowering with regards to women. When Chopin seemed to show despair in the character of Louise, by the time Giovanni wraps up the poem a very different message, tone, and idea is conveyed–showing a strong woman as a whole.

            The entire poem is about a woman clearly seeking approval, or in some way needing it, from her love interest or significant other. It is clear that the man in her life does not support her in her ventures and decisions, and she seems to be codependent on him in some sense. Much of the poem is a descriptive narrative of different true and metaphorical ways the author attempted to grow as a person, and was stunted by this man, as well as her attempt at cultivating a real relationship with the man. He was clearly not receptive to any and all of her advances, but the final stanza illustrates the theme of the poem as a whole.

            Giovanni says that although the woman decided to be a woman, and the man refused to be a man (possibly with regards to maturity), the woman was okay with that. She was content with herself, and her identity as an independent woman.

            The short poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks gives a different social perspective, though related. Ms. Brooks, a black woman whose life-span was literally the 20th century, frequently wrote poems describing difficulties as a woman, and specifically a black woman.             The poem “We Real Cool” specifically outlines the small African American culture of which she was a part of in Chicago. African-American culture, in many ways, emerged as its own counter-culture. Brooks’ descriptive words illustrate much about the antisocial behavior blacks were attracted to as a product of the injustices they faced daily.

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Literature

The Immigrant Experience

Tomas Rivera, born in 1935 to migrant farm workers in Texas, went from incurring regular racism in his difficulties getting published to becoming one of the most prolific Mexican-American writers in history. Mr. Rivera used upward social mobility to eventually become a published writer, as well as a renowned literary professor, by using his own education as an advantage.

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Literature

Sandra Cisneros’s Eleven

The story Eleven by Sandra Cisnernos is, at first glance, an epistolary short story about an eleven-year-old girl and her journal, or diary entries. At closer examination, however, the clear intent, purpose, and means of achieving such, become more and more apparent throughout the story, highlighted by an uncanny tone and voice.

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Literature

Anna Quindlen’s A Mother’s Day Message

Anna Quindlen, a very well-known an well-respected American poet and essayist very frequently uses her own children as inspiration for her works. Her very telling and descriptive narrative “A Mother’s Day Message” is no exception–this time describing at length watching her children grow up, as well as the challenges that go along with motherhood in general.

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Literature

“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

The poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks is iconic, timeless, and relevant in many different ways. Born in the early 1900’s, Brooks grew up in an age before the Civil Rights Movement as a black woman. This is reflective in much of her poetry, and is particularly apparent in her short, descriptive poem entitled “We Real Cool”.

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Literature

Apartheid in Mother to Mother and A Dry White Season

The concept of apartheid represents a very large stain on the pages of British and Dutch history books, where Britain’s is not even otherwise clean. Although it’s socio-economic implications were typical of global thought at the inception of the system, the fact that it continued until being quashed by none other than Nelson Mandella in the 1990’s is appalling. The classification of people into racial groups, and segregating them as a government policy dates to the 1940’s, however its informal practice has roots in the original colonization of Africa by Western powers, dating back centuries.

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Literature

Antigone and Creon

The tensions between Anitgone and Creon make up the central narrative of Sophocles’ play Antigone: Creon, King of Thebes, after political struggles against his opponents, decides to enact revenge on his political opponent Polynices by refusing Polynices a proper burial after death. Antigone, engaged to Creon’s son, and also sister of Polynices, decides to violate the King’s order and bury her brother: this leads to her own punishment, being sealed off in a cave, where she ultimately takes her own life.

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Literature

Case study of Apartheid in South Africa

1.

At the beginning of the film “A Dry White Season,” school teacher Ben du Toit, who is white, is approached by his gardener who is asking for his help. The gardener’s son has been beaten by police, and the gardener asks Ben to help him. Ben declines, believing that the son must have done something to deserve his punishment. It is clear that Ben does not see the Apartheid system the same way that the gardener does, and seems content to believe that the system is a good one. After the gardener’s son later dies in police custody, Ben’s feelings about the system begin to change, and he takes up a legal battle on behalf of the gardener’s family. The film serves as a coming-of-age story for Ben, as his growing awareness of the brutality and unfairness of the Apartheid system drives him deeper into his legal fight while also driving a wedge between Ben and his family.

As Ben enlists the help of an attorney in his battle, the distance between himself and his family grows wider. It is clear that his wife and daughter do not share his changing views, although his son does support his cause. Ben becomes more and more disillusioned as his career and his family life are torn apart by his involvement in the legal battle. In the end Ben pays the ultimate price for having fought against the system, as he has lost his job, alienated himself from his friends and lost most of his family. This is a difficult thing to watch, and is hardly a happy ending. The film shows that standing up for what is right can be dangerous and will not always turn out for the best.

2.

The first line of the novel “Mother to Mother” says simply: “my son killed your daughter.” It is written from the point of view of a mother whose son commits a terrible crime, and the opening introduction to the novel reads as if it is a letter written from the mother of the killer to the mother of the girl he killed. After the brief introduction, the story’s perspective shifts backwards in time, before the young girl was killed, but maintains the point of view of the mother of Mxolisi, the boy who kills the young girl. The story picks up two days before the events that end in the girl’s death, and describes both some specific details about the way Mxolisi and others in the book spend those days as well as offering insight into the mother’s life as she grew up under the system of Apartheid.

The structure of the story allows the naarator to reveal her feelings about the murder, about her son, and about his victim, slowly and deliberately. While she has already acknowledged to the mother of the young girl who she is, and has also acknowledged her son’s guilt, she does not offer significant details about the murder itself until near the end of the book. This is done for two reasons: the first is that it fits within the narrative of telling the events of the story as they unfolded from the narrator’s perspective; second, it allows the drama and the tension to build up over the course of the book. Both mothers in “Mother to Mother” are well aware that the murder has taken place. By waiting to recount the events of the murder until the end of the story, the Mxolisi’s mother has a chance to offer some insight into what her life and her son’s life have been like under Apartheid. This may not garner any sympathy for her or her son, but it does at least give her the chance to explain some of the factors on their lives that led Mxolisi to become the young man he became, and to do what he did.

3.

In “Mother to Mother,” one of the central themes of the book is the effect that the system of Apartheid had on those who suffered under it. At the beginning of the story, after Mandisa has addressed the mother of the young girl directly, she describes what it is like to start the day in her home while also imagining what the girl’s day was like. At Mandisa’ s home, she struggles to get the children fed and ready for the day, knowing that she will soon have to leave for work. She also knows that she will be home long after they have finished school, and she warns them that they better be inside when she gets home. As she is preparing for her day, she describes the young girl waking up in her home, and taking a leisurely shower and eating breakfast before returning to bed where she settles in to do some reading and studying.

It is immediately clear, even before Mandisa offers any details about the events of the coming days, and her discovery that her son has killed someone, that white people and black people in South Africa lead very different lives. The girl has a life of relative privilege (even though she has dedicated herself to causes she feels are important) while Mandisa has a difficult time feeding and caring for her family, and must take a job working long hours for a white family to make ends meet.

Throughout the story, Mandisa offers examples of the suffering she and the people of Guguletu endure at the hands of the police and the government. Mandisa had dreams of getting an education, but these dreams were interrupted by her pregnancy, and she soon found herself trapped in the same cycle of poverty that trapped everyone she knew. She also realized that her children were just as caught up in this trap as she was, and that there was nothing she could do about it. Mandisa recognizes that what her son did may almost have been inevitable; when she claims that the “resentment of three hundred years plugged his ears,” she was describing to the readers –and to the other mother- how her son was just one small figure swept up by the centuries of oppression her people had suffered.

 

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Literature

Murder in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Macbeth is also perhaps one of his most violent; although the plots of these tragedies often revolve around a murder, there are three murders in particular that stick out to compare and contrast with regards to justification and honor–Lady Macbeth’s orchestration of the murder of Duncan and the following murders of the chamberlains by Macbeth himself would be by Shakespearean standards dishonorable, however, the suicide of Lady Macbeth herself can be seen as an honorable murder.

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Literature

The African Characters of Okonkwo and Mister Johnson

Though both stories, Things Fall Apart as well as Mister Johnson, have a similar setting, similar themes, and illustrate similar ideas, each piece of work has very distinguishing marks that make them individual. In many ways the main characters of both pieces of work, Okonkwo as well as Mister Johnson, are similar–they are both tragic figures in their hard work with regards to social and racial injustices, however the main differences lie in the way they handle the conflicts; Okonkwo through violence and impulsiveness, compared to Mister Johnson’s almost ignorance of it–often including himself with the British people he himself served.

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Literature

Since I know that I’m going insane, I must not be… Right?

Poe toys with the idealism within the first-person narrative versus authenticity or essence in this short-story, The Tell-Tale Heart (1843). It toys with self-delusion, more than anything, first in the eye of paranoia-induced-insanity and then the process of this character’s psychological retrogression. Case in point, “Hearken! and observe how healthily – how calmly I can tell you the whole story” (1). Upon taking note of this mental back-and-forth, that quote becomes quite shady, or not at all reinforced, as this story progresses for this narrator and his brotherly-love (Koine Greek word being Philo or Philia, rather than Eros or Agape) for the old man, a person whom this narrator violently murders and dismembers. But soon enough this love progresses and then becomes evident as Agape – unconditional love, the strongest of the three.

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Literature

Study Questions: “Mister Johnson” and Things Fall Apart

While the main characters in “Mister Johnson” and Things Fall Apart are very different in terms of the cultural practices that they adhere to, they have some similarities as well. The most obvious is that each character ends up dead at the end of the story; along with that, both characters display selfishness and a lack of concern for how their actions affect others. One of them ends up dead because of a criminal penalty, while the other commits suicide. At the end of his life, Johnson has been convicted of murder by the very government he revered so greatly. After his suicide, Okonkwo is rejected by his own people, who will not even touch his corpse; they leave that up to the district commissioner to deal with.

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Literature

A Long Way Gone and Blood Diamond Essay

Blood Diamond, the critically acclaimed blockbuster that dealt with the bloody Civil War over diamonds that took place is Sierra Leone is a work of fiction that centered on Danny Archer–played by Leonardo DiCaprio–a mercenary soldier turned diamond smuggler. By comparison, A Long Way Gone, is a true memoir written by Ishmeal Beah recounting the exact same Civil War. Due to paralleling themes, the extreme element of truth in Blood Diamond, as well as paralleling experiences, both works were equally effective in projecting the theme of Civil Wars in Africa fueled and funded by child soldiers.

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Literature

What Makes Gatsby Great?

The Great Gatsby was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous story- written in 1925. The tale tells the story of a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby after being inspired by the lavish parties and high-end lifestyle of some of the people he met in New York. Jay Gatsby, the main character of the story, is a young, mysterious millionaire with shady business connections and a luxurious lifestyle. The story The Great Gatsby is “about the breakdown of class differences in the face of a modern economy based not on status and inherited position but on innovation and an ability to meet ever-changing consumer needs” (Gillespie, 2010). Gatsby is a complicated character whose his greatness lies in his ability to throw lavish parties, attract mass amounts of people to his mysterious mansion, and deceive many through his false personas and multiple personalities.