Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Yet do I Marvel"--Countee Cullen

I think that this poem is kind of a contradiction because Cullen starts out by saying that he doesn't doubt God is good, but then he makes a list of certain events that say otherwise. He brings up  events like that of Tantalus and Sisyphus which were Greek characters that got eternal punishments. With these, he maybe was trying to say that how did God allow the punishment of these people and why didn't he do anything to stop it? In the third to the last line, he says "What awful brain compels His awful hand." and with this said he kind of makes the statement that how could God have the mind that he has and also the power that lies in his hands.
Cullen also mentions at the end that God made him both black and a poet which to him where bad things. This could be seen as him saying that he still felt that being colored was bad and that it was even worse because people didn't like when they spoke their mind in poetry. This really shows how alienation was very big during this time period, which must have been really tough for many rising poets.

"Heritage"--Countee Cullen

This poem started out by describing an Africa that seemed perfect, such as the copper sun or scarlet sea, but once Cullen starts describing it further on, his true vision of Africa comes out. I think that he wants to describe Africa as a good humble place, but at the same time he can't because he hasn't ever been there. Like in the third section, he says that Africa is only a book that he looks through, which to me seemed like he only would read about this country, but since he was torn from it he never truly found out what it was like.
Also, throughout the poem he makes himself seem like he has been "Americanized" because he names things like birds being barbaric. Also,he doesn't feel like he can identify himself with Africa because he doesn't have an emotional tie to it. Like in the third stanza towards the end he says, "What is last years snow to me,/ Last years anything?" With these lines, he tries to say that he doesn't belong to Africa, but he doesn't belong to America either. He is sort of caught dead in the middle of the two countries he knows.
Cullen also mentions that he wishes that God could have been of his color so that He could have related to him easier. This could also show that even in religion, colored people didn't really have  a choice in what they believed in because everything was already set down in rules and customs. He also dares to question whether God has done right with all the things of the world and he also doubts himself towards God. To me he seems very segregated from everyone even when slavery had been done away with already. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

T.S. Eliot--The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

The poem starts out by the narrators imagination of how things could be with his lover. I think that he is in love, but the woman doesn't respond with the same feelings. Also, I get the impression that the man doesn't have the courage to confess his love because he doubts himself in many instances. For example, in lines 38 and 39 he says
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
. Also I think that he holds himself back because he doesn't feel worthy of his love, as described in lines 40-45. I also think that he describes his past "loves" and compares them to the one he has present and finds no comparison because his present love is like no other.
I don't really understand the lines in between 100-110, maybe they are more background details??? 
Towards the end again he brings up the fact that he is getting older and may never have the chance to be with his love. The lines that I found saddening were line 124 and 125 where he says: 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
Eliot's poems seem very depressing and full of mixed emotions and they are pretty tough to understand!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

T.S. Eliot--The Waste Land

The Burial of the Dead--
At the beginning, it starts out by talking of the memories that Marie has as a child. She describes that she goes off to have coffee with her cousin. In the lines 20-30, it talks about a shadow under a red rock. This could be a temptation that has come across her and she takes decides to take it because in line 40, she says "living nor dead and i knew nothing" which I think she was maybe depressed and didn't want to live anymore.
The paragraph after, speaks of a woman that is the best at fortune telling and of how she reads Marie's future. I think that she probably tells her that she must be careful because she see's her death coming. Then in the last paragraph, I think they find Marie dead and they have her funeral. Everyone morns her death, but she still speaks as if she was there. Maybe her spirit is still roaming because she tries to speak to her brother about a corpse he planted.

A Game of Chess--
In the second part, the scene is described as a woman sitting by a window that is rich and in a room full of strange synthetic perfumes. She seems to be thinking of her past and starts to speak to herself. She says that her nerves are bad and this could probably be that she's going nuts or something!
Afterwords, he starts speaking about a woman that is waiting for her husbands return. She is scared and doesn't know how he will take the fact that she didn't buy her teeth like she had promised, but instead she used it for drugs. Also, I think that she had an affair and doesn't know how he will take her disloyalty.

The Fire Sermon--
This part sort of got me to think that Eliot was describing the narrator as being in a solitaire graveyard. Also, he says that he speaks not loud or long but still hears the rattle of bones and chuckles, which could just be his conscience getting the best of him.
Around line 215, he starts talking about the encounter of two lovers. The woman awaits in her hotel room for this man, which makes it seem like they are having an affair of some kind. In line 240-243, he says "exploring hands encounter no defense; His vanity requires no response, And makes a welcome of indifference; with these lines, it seems to me that the woman is no longer in love and feels like its just an obligation to have this encounter with the man.

Death By Water--
This part describes the death of Phlebas. Phlebas finds his death at sea, but is described as having lived his life. The whirlpool could signify the way that life is and of how it brings good and bad to one's life.

What the Thunder Said--
I didn't really understand this last part because it speaks of rocks and water, but isn't very clear. The rocks could signify life and the water could be the good things of life. He says that if there were rock and water then there could be  a pool among the rock which could mean tranquility. Also, when he talks about the third person walking, does he try to say its death? The conversation at the end is also very confusing and not clear at ALL!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

Mark Twain start out The War Prayer by setting the towns people in a church where they are praying for the protection of their soldiers. Everyone is wishing the best for all the soldiers and they hope to win the war against their enemies. The emotions of everyone seem to be flying everywhere and they are just full of excitement because they all want to experience the war with a positive outlook.
The sermon was being given to the people when all of a sudden a man interrupts the whole church. He is a man that claims to a messenger from God, and the says to have a message for everyone. His message starts out by saying that everyone should be happy for their husbands and sons that are going to be at was because they are fighting for a freedom that they have. Also, he says that their nations glory and happiness will only come at the expense of another nations misery and pain. He also mentions that why should they worry of children are left parent less or if a mother is left to suffer for herself and her family.
He also says that God is only answering their prayers because that is what they ask for and that is what they shall receive from Him. Their prayers are asking for a blessing for themselves, but at the same time they are asking for a curse for their fellow neighbors. To me, this makes a lot of sense because why should we all ask for what is only best for us? Shouldn't the people stop and think that maybe they are helping themselves, but at the same time they are hurting many others? Like in any war, the people will want victory for themselves, but they never see the other side of the coin.

Huck Finn

Huck Finn is a novel written by Mark Twain that tells the adventures of Huck and Jim as they travel to the free states. Huck is a young boy that comes across a large sum of money with his friend Tom.The money that they come across, is what causes Huck much agony and suffering. After being placed under the guardianship of the Widow, Huck starts the process of being "civilized". He is sent to school, church, and is obligated to dress properly, which he doesn't like. He finds time to sneak out and go on adventures with his friend Tom, but gets himself into trouble.
After a night of fun and laughter with his friends, he goes back home, but finds his father waiting for him in his room. His father had been away for a while and was the towns drunk. Huck feels fear and anger towards his father and tries to avoid contact with him. After seeing that he can no longer run from his father, he is taken by him and they hide in the woods. After several days of being with his father in a cabin, Huck decided to make a run for it, but forever. He plays out a murder scene and escapes with everything his father has, hoping that he will never have to see him again.
Huck makes his escape easily and makes his way up the river, but along the way he finds Jim. Jim is the slave of the Widow, but has also decided to run away. He feared that he would be sold and would never get to see his family again and so he decided to take the risk of fleeing. Huck and Jim stick together and decide to help each other get to the free states. Along the way, they come across many difficulties such as sickness, storms, and people. The people of many towns have already been informed of Jim's escape, so everyone is now on the look out for Jim. This makes it more difficult for their travel, but they continue their path.
At the end of their trip, they make it to Tom's aunts home, but Jim is trapped and thought to still be a slave and Huck has to play the role of Tom. Once Tom arrives at the home, he helps Huck free Jim, but he already knows that Jim was a free man. Tom makes an elaborate plan for the rescue of Jim, but ends up getting hurt himself. Jim shows that he is a person with a heart and decided to stay and help his friend, even though he puts himself at risk as well. The whole mix-up gets cleared up and Jim is finally set free. Huck then decides to go to the Indian Territory where he wants to start a new life.

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's first line "That government is best which governs least" is to me the most significant line in Civil Disobedience. It is straight forth and to the point because the government at this time was trying to control many aspects, if not all, of the society and Thoreau comments on the many ways the government could change.
He speaks of the people not being ready for a government that rules everyone as a whole and that the people have their own ways of living, which can not be controlled by anyone. This comment pulls out many questions of how the government could possibly benefit everyone. For example, he says that the country could have gotten farther in their settling or in their education if it wasn't for the government that got in the way. The controlling of where and how to move just wasn't in Thoreau's mind, which makes me believe that he really did not like the government as a whole.
Around paragraph 3 part one, he says that he doesn't want no government, but instead a better government; a government that will take into consideration the thoughts and wishes of everyone. He supports this statement by saying that the government already works for the people and that the people are the one's that should hold the majority of the power and say of the government. Also, it wouldn't hurt for the government to let the people have a say because after all, they are the strongest ones for the job.
I could agree with Thoreau in many aspects of his writing because the people should get what benefits them as a whole. Also, I think that the people were willing to cooperate with the government if only they started to see change in their country.

Frederick Douglass- What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

The 4th of July to the Early America was very important. It signified the many years that they had had of freedom and of all the sacrifices they had made in order to get their freedom. Frederick Douglass was the main speaker at an assemble that he was invited to and he got the opportunity to say what the 4th of July really meant to him.
He starts out by commenting on how proud all Americans should be of the liberty that they have and of how they are so joyful when it comes to this festivity. Also, mentions that they should be proud of their 76 year old country because it has brought many great things to them. Through out the beginning, he never mentions that the American country was his as well and this was made very obvious by Douglass.
He later gets in to the fact that slavery is still being held as an honest and rightful act of the Americans. He says that since this still continues, America only belongs to those that are free, which excluded the slaves and himself. He feels that when the 4th of July comes, the slaves have a remembrance of the freedom that they wish to have and maybe never receive. Also, it brings back the memories of how much they have already suffered.
I found interesting when he speaks of the hypocrisy that the nation has because he points out that the they all have fought many wars against different countries and people and that they still live in a society were not everyone is seen as a person. This caught my attention because in a way I would have agreed with him. How could the Nation say that they are free and have equality when they still held slaves under their power? Even Douglass being a free man, he still felt like he was under the same category of the slaves, but the only difference was that he was educated.

100% American

Ralph Linton starts out on commenting how a typical American starts out their day. He tells of all the materialistic things that we depend on in order to get ready for our day. Also, he comments on the different customs that we have grabbed from others such as shaving from the Sumer or Ancient Egypt.
Afterwards, he comments from the clothing that an American uses to where he gets it from. A chair from southern Europe, garments from the skin clothing of the nomads of the Asiatic steppes, and a tie worn by the 17th century Croatians are all examples of how he describes the way Americans have said to be unique, but that at the same time they have borrowed customs from others.
Linton even comments on the food and money that the Americans use. He continues to show the life of an American and how it is full of hypocritical ideas and creations. I think that Linton was only trying to make people look at their reality. Also, he might have just wanted to make other realize that they should maybe give credit to others for the things that have made their lives easier.
When he says at the end that the American man claims to be 100 percent American, he makes the Americans seem like they are playing a joke on themselves and that they rather cover the fact that they are not original than to say that they have taken everyone else's ideas.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet's layout of The Two Alters is basically that the stories are divided into two parts. They each tell of the stories of two families that go through a difficult time.
The first story talks of liberty. There is a young boy and his sister that are on their way collect wood chips and the young boy gets caught up in wanting to play. He claims that he is only trying to do the same that his father is doing in the war, which is place the American flag on a hill top. He does this and then goes back home where he comes to find out that the family must send items to the soldiers. The whole family is devastated, but happy at the same time because the man of their family is helping fight the war. They all collect stockings and blankets so that they will be sent off to the soldiers.
This shows the patriotism and loyalty that the people had for their country at the time. The mother could be seen as a hero herself because she has to sacrifice her husband and maybe even her sons because of the war. The children do not understand what is truly going on, but they think that they must follow what their parents have done because it will bring great things for them as well.
In the second alter of the story it starts out with a colored family getting ready to receive their father in their happy home. They have prepared a great and luxurious dinner and wait anxiously. Once the father, George, arrives at the home, they all sit and talk about how well they are doing economically and emotionally. They have dinner and make plans for the family's future, but it all gets interrupted by an unexpected visit of the police. The police take George away and only say that he is a run away slave that is going to be taken back and sold to slavery. The family is dumbfounded and only say that George has been free for ten years, but its not enough for the police men that take no consideration for them.
The family gets split apart as well as all their dreams and plans. The story itself shows how the people still maintained their hatred towards the colored people and how no one ever had true consideration for them. The two alters are a complete contradiction of each other and they show both sides of the reality that the people had to live through in the late 70's.
Having to be placed in either situation could have been very difficult, but in the first alter, I think that the family placed themselves in that situation and had it easier on them when compared to the family of the second alter. Every story had their twist to them, but I think Stowe was trying to show everyone that not everything in society is morally right.