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Final Blog: Global Literature

When choosing the required courses for my English major I have a habit of just choosing the course number and not looking at the description of what the course is about because I figure I’ll end up learning what the course is about when I start attending the classes. And that does happen but I feel like I learn what the course was about subconsciously after the course is done and then I piece together how what we learned in class relates to the topic of the course itself. In this course towards the end, the last few books that we started to read; Persepolis, The Sound and the Fury, Drown, Dreams from my Father and The Woman Warrior is when the term “global literature” started coming alive for me. The poems of T.S Elliot and W.B Yeats definitely had something they wanted to say from T.S Elliot’s “Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock” who wanted to show how his insecurities manifested when he wanted to talk to women, to W.B Yeats whose poems though a little hard to understand, did sometimes have subtle hints to the turmoil of the time period he lived in. In The Heart of darkness by Joseph Conrad, the author, even though he might have been a racist himself, he showed readers the racism at the time. I feel like for me the book as a whole and the ways it showed racism, and greed at the time through Marlowe was something that spoke out more to me then it being a book that really made me think of the term “global literature.” I was more drawn to thinking about whether or not Conrad was a racist, and if the way he talked was to show the racism at the time, or if it was something unconscious.

Maybe it was the succession and the order that we started the reading the books in, starting from Persepolis and ending in The Woman Warrior that made me start thinking about the final blog and how everything fits so perfectly into the word “global.” Persepolis was such a different perspective and view from the poems and the books that we had been reading. It really showed how different life was for a young girl living in Iran during the Iranian revolution whose parents weren’t as religious as the nation itself was. When thinking about the word “canon wars” and trying to answer the question if whether this book would classify as something that would be considered canon literature I would say yes. Even though this book may have been put into a comic book type of format and some would argue that because of this it could not be classified as literary canon, I think this element is what added to the novel what a written format would not have been able to. Like in one of my blog posts I talked about how Marji’s pain and suffering for the death of her friend was expressed in one blank (totally dark) frame, and how it really showed me her anguish better.

When thinking of the term “global literature” I feel that family and the lifestyle of an individual in that place, area or time has a big thing to do with it, because it shows not only the different lifestyles and customs of that global region but it somehow helps the reader “connect” with the individual in ways they might not realize that they could. Especially if they themselves have parents who are not originally from America like myself. And that’s why I feel that these books Persepolis, The Sound and the Fury, Drown, Dreams from my Father, and The Woman Warrior are more “global literature” to me because they hold this family aspect of tying in the reader who might be in one part of the world to another because of a small similarity.

Although, I would put The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner as something that would be classified global literature I feel that it was one of the novels in terms of writing style I did not enjoy. In the time period it was written in, it gave the same perspective as Persepolis in showing how a family coped with the way life was at the time. William Faulkner makes it seem like the reason for all the problems in the family is this character Benji who has a disability, and because of him there is a lot the family cannot do, but as the book nears its end the reader realizes that Caddy, Quentin, and Jason are their own people and their problems have nothing to do with Benji. They are their own people and the lifestyles they choose for themselves are strictly of their own choosing even though they would like to blame the other. Dreams from my Father showed how a young black man survived in a time period in which racism was prevalent, and how he tried his best to make life better for himself and his black community. I felt this worked better than Heart of Darkness in defining “global literature” because it showed Barack’s life from when he was a young kid to him growing older and how his family and the decisions they made and the way they thought affected what he wanted to do in life.

Drown was probably my favorite book in the course. The word style and the simple but poignant wording is something that I have always enjoyed in books and this book had so much of it. Not only did Yunior talk about the tough times that his family had to go through because of their shortage of money, but he always added his own jokes and side comments that made the book even more relatable to someone from the same background. I would consider Drown and The Woman Warrior also part of canon literature because of the way just like Persepolis they are all stories that someone could maybe learn something from. I know there are standards for classifying something as “canon literature” and I probably am not using the right terminology when I am defining what “canon literature” is according to “scholars.” But I think that canon literature is anything that is well written and anyone can read and say that this story has a bigger picture. The Woman Warrior through the little stories that the narrator made up in her head showed the reader how indirectly Maxine wished to escape from the life she lived and how she hated a girl because she saw all the things she hated about herself in that girl.

Overall, I really liked the whole blogging experience and it was something completely new and unexpected for me. I have never had to blog for any of my other English courses and after taking this course I really wish that all English courses could be like this. Blogging really opened my mind a lot better and helped me free write in a way I don’t think I usually would have if it had to be in a paper form. When I write a paper I feel the need to make sure that all my ideas are in the proper order, and all my ideas connect with the sentence I am about to write; and this sometimes stops me from saying things I otherwise would have said. Blogging I feel opens my mind up a little more and I really enjoyed the experience.

The Woman Warrior #3

“A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe” for blog: consider either madness or silence–both have been thematic in other sections and have an important place in this section which is the one most about Maxine herself

The section “A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe” I feel reveals the most about Maxine as a person. In this section, Maxine goes to Chinese school in America, a lifestyle so different from the lifestyle her parents have enforced on her. I think this is one of the reasons for the fact that Maxine doesn’t speak. It’s because she is intimated by the way her voice sounds so different from the “ghosts” or Americans around her. As Maxine grows older she realizes how different the mannerisms, traditions and way of thinking is in American compared to her Chinese parents. In one example a delivery boy happens to deliver the wrong medicine to her household, and her mother goes crazy. She says “Revenge. We’ve got to avenge this wrong on our future, on our health, and on our lives. Nobody’s going to sicken my children and get away with it.” She thinks that this is done on purpose, and that her house has been tainted with “sick medicine” and that in order to remove this taint Maxine has to go to the drugstore and get sweetness. Maxine is sullen and refuses to go, but in the end when she does end up going she can hardly get the words out to say what she wants to say because of the shame. She knows that the owner will only look at what she is saying as something completely different from what she is trying to say. “See? Said our mother. They understand. You kids just aren’t very brave. But I knew they did not understand. They thought we were beggars without a home who lived in back of the laundry.” Another reason for Maxine’s silence in school, I think, is because all that she is forbidden not to say by her parents. Her parents are so afraid of what the police might do to them and how they might get sent back to China they tell her not to say so many things. “We have so many secrets to hold in…Sometimes I hated the ghosts for not letting us talk; sometimes I hated the secrecy of the Chinese.” “Don’t tell, said my parents.” These factors, even though Maxine might not understand it herself, I feel stop her from talking or expressing herself the way she wishes she could.

It’s interesting the way, Maxine bullies a girl in her school, makes her cry and then ends up crying herself. I feel that Maine sees herself in this girl, and everything that she tells the reader she hates in the girl is what she hates in herself. While bullying the girl she tells her to talk and threatens her with violence if she doesn’t, but in the end she beings to beg with the girl and says that she’ll give her presents if the girl would only say one word. When she says the lines “And you, you are a plant. Do you know that? That’s all you are if you don’t talk. If you don’t talk, you can’t have a personality. You’ll have no personality and no hair. You’ve got to let people know you have a personality and a brain.” I feel like she’s talking more to herself then to the girl. She’s trying to tell herself to open up and not make the “duck” noises she usually makes when someone tells her to talk.

The Woman Warrior #2

“Shaman” and “At the Western Palace” for blog: comment on the enormous difference in Maxine’s mother in these two sections?

The story of the mother in Shaman talks about a younger version of herself. The Western Place talks about when Maxine’s mother is older and how she reacts to Moon child or her sister coming to live with them. The difference between the mother in these two sections is that I feel the mother has become more realistic and harder as a person in The Western Place. In Shaman, the mother goes off to college and is known as the smartest girl and is looked up to over there. She tells the other girls “ghost stories” and makes up little adventures about herself meeting a ghost and how they must all go through a process to rid the dormitory of it. “The danger is not over. The ghost is listening to us right now, and tonight it will walk again but stronger. We may not be able to control it if you do not help me finish it off before sundown.” This line is a line that I can’t imagine her saying as the person she is now in Shaman. She washes, cooks, and sews but nowhere do I see her thinking about ghost, dragons and adventures crossing a bridge again. Moon Child, her sister comes to live with Brave child in America after thirty years. Moon child has a husband who married her in China, and then left her for another wife in America. Maxine’s mother (Brave Orchid) demands that her sister go to her husband and order him to take her back. She constantly demands that Moon Child do this, and Moon Child keeps on saying she’d rather not. Brave Orchid says “He’s living in Los Angeles with his second wife, and they have three children. Claim your rights. Those are your children. He’s got two sons. You have two sons. You take them away from her. You become their mother.” This section shows that her attitude has changed. She is so much more of a bolder and more aggressive person.

Brave Orchid ultimately ends up making Moon Child visit her husband, and the visit ends up shocking Moon Child to the point that later on her life she becomes insane. She constantly thinks that ghosts are watching her and will kill her. “Don’t come see me because the Mexican ghosts will follow you to my new hiding place. They’re watching your house.” She is ultimately put in an asylum because Brave Orchid, herself can’t cure her. I feel that Brave Orchid should have just left her sister alone when her sister said that she was happy not seeing her husband. Moon Child herself said that she was happy living with her sister, grand-daughter and grand-children. But, Brave Orchid did not leave her alone till she did, and Moon child ended up being put in an asylum.

The Woman Warrior

Consider the statement on page 53 “The swordswoman and I are not so dissimilar.” On the basis of these first 2 sections how can Maxine claim to be a woman warrior?

The first two sections show the life of a Chinese women who doesn’t seem satisfied with the way she has been bought up, and the life she currently lives. Section 1 talks about how she is told not to talk about her pregnant aunt who became pregnant out of wedlock and the village destroyed her house, and any future she might have had. The aunt ends up killing herself and the narrator is told never to bring disgrace to their family the way she did. After reading this section I feel that the narrator resents the way her aunt has been treated and is not in happy with the way she (aunt) is never to be spoken about in her household. These lines “My aunt haunts me her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her,” show that even though to her family her aunt is someone forgotten, to her she is not. The narrator, to me, seems as if she is against the way women are treated in her culture. In “White Tigers” her mother tells her story of how it was a woman who invented white crane boxing, and she holds on to this throughout the rest of the story, inventing an imaginary story in which she fights in an army and saves a village form destruction. She says the reason women have to have their feet bound is because they are dangerous “We could be heroines, swordswomen. Even if she had to rage across all China, a swordswoman got even with anybody who hurt her family. Perhaps women were once so dangerous that they had to have their feet bound. It was a woman who invented white crane boxing only two hundred years ago.”(*)

In “White Tigers” the narrator lives in an imaginary world and in reality. She obviously doesn’t like her American life she says “My American life has been such a disappointment.” I feel she’d rather live in the imaginary world that she has made up for herself then live in her American life. She tries to figure ways to mix the worlds together but because they are two such different worlds she has trouble. “I could not figure out what was my village. And it was important that I do something big and fine, or else my parents would sell me when we made our way back to China. In China there were solutions for what to do with little girls who ate up food and threw tantrums.” The line “The swordswoman and I are not so dissimilar” is something that I feel she means to say that in heart they are not dissimilar. She wants to do big things with her life. She thinks that if she got the chance she would no hesitate to choose the life the girl in her story choose for herself. But in reality, her life is not like the swordswoman’s life at all. In parts of the story she admits it herself. “Once I get outside the house, what bird might call me; on what horse could I ride away?” And then sometimes she switches back to her daydreams to force herself out of reality “If I could not-eat, perhaps I could make myself a warrior like the swords woman who drives me. I will-I-must rise and plow the fields as soon as the baby comes out.”

* I bought this book, through my kindle on my computer, and it doesn’t have page numbers so I can’t quote them. sorry

Dreams From My Father

It’s hard to read the book “Dreams from My Father” without looking at a type of stepping stone for furthering his political agenda not just because a person has that in mind when they open book, but because the whole book I feel centers around the theme of change which was Obama’s logo when he was running for president. I definitely believe that Obama did have an innate sense of wanting to good for the world, but it’s hard to believe that every second of his life revolves around this concept and every action he does somehow leads back to him needing to change the world. There was a particular line on pg 229 that reminded me of Obama’s change logo “Life is short, Barack,” he would say. “If you’re not trying to really change things out here, you might as well forget it.” Ah yes. Real change. It had seemed like such an attainable goal back in college, an extension of my personal will and my mother’s faith.” Obama continuously works as a community organizer helping to organize black people at the grass roots. He talks about his friends, family, and co-workers being skeptical about the idea. As the book progresses, people who had heart at first become skeptical like Angela, Mona, and Shirley. They want to quit but Obama urges them on. I think this is one of Obama’s strong points when he reveals to the reader that there are times when he himself feels like there is no hope but he never actually quits.

I definitely enjoyed Obama’s writing style, no matter what agenda this book might have had; Obama has a way with his words. But it’s hard not to look at this book as a type of book which is not written by a politician. The book basically centers around Obama’s thoughts of how he needs to change the environment around him. This book did not come off as a real autobiography of his life to me, and while reading it I definitely could not shake off the feeling that this was written so that the lower class might connect with him, and that he kept in mind, the fact, while writing the book, that this would help his political future and present.

John Stippell – Hard to choose.
Egzona Kelmendi- Mom will kick your…
Caitlin Machicote- Drown

Junot Diaz #2

Last five stories. For blog: your favorite and why

I would say that my two favorite stories from the book Drown by Junot Diaz would be Aurora and Aguantando, because to me they told me a personal side of Yunior’s life that was sad but interesting to me at the same time. The story of Aurora talks about how Yunior doesn’t go to school anymore, sells drugs, and is with a girl who just seems to pull him deeper into that category. He even shows the reader that he could be in danger of getting AIDS but it doesn’t matter. “Cut says he heard us last night, rides me the whole time about it. I’m surprised the AIDS ain’t bit your dick off yet”, he says. “I’m immune I tell him.” Yunior shows the life he lives by showing how close his chances are to getting AIDS. This story showed a sad side of Yunior life, and it seemed that he readily accepted the way his life was sinking. A line that I was intrigued by was “One teacher, whose family had two grammar schools named after it, compared us to the shuttles. A few of you are going to make it. Those are the orbiters. But the majority of you are just going to burn out. Going nowhere. He dropped his hand onto his desk. I could already see myself losing altitude, fading, the earth spread out beneath me, hard and bright.” This line is from Drown, but I felt that it had everything to do with the story Aurora. It’s also sad the way that as you read the next stories in the book, you see that Yunior and his girlfriend’s relationship went nowhere. Yunior’s girlfriend ended up leaving him for a rich white man named Dan.

The reason I also liked the story Aguantando was because it gave rich details of Yunior’s personal life and the simple way that he lives. He talks about, like I said in the previous journal entry the way his mother struggles to feed three kids, and how she comes home tired but he still finds ways to bond with his mother. A line that I liked was “She ironed cheese sandwiches in paper bags for our lunch, boiled platanos for our dinner. Our dirty clothes were pounded clean in the concrete trough on the side of the outhouse.” The cheese sandwiches are ironed to melt the cheese; maybe it’s cheaper this way? And clothes are pounded clean through the concrete, rather then washed. When times get stuff, Yunior’s mother sends Yunior and Rafa away to live with her relatives so that they will have enough to eat. Yunior is usually sent away to a place called Boca Chica. A line that described the place accurately to me was “On the ride to Boca Chica I was always too depressed to notice the ocean, the young boys fishing and selling cocos by the side of the road, the surf exploding into the air like a cloud of shredded silver.” The story is simple but I felt that it said the most about Yunior’s general life as a young kid.

Junot Diaz

First five stories. For blog: comment on Diaz’ style, the voice of the narrator.

Junot Diaz’s style in the book “Drown” is very unique and it keeps the reader interested in finding more about the narrator’s life. I feel that he always seems to perfectly describe a scene or setting that he wishes to portray using language that is simple but poignant. Like in the story “Ysrael”, the narrator’s mother always ships his brothers Rafa and him out to the campo for the summer. And I feel that when Yunior describes this campo its seems very clear in my mind even though not many words are used “Rafa and I stayed with our tíos, in a small wooden house just outside Ocoa; rosebushes blazed around the yard like compass points and the mango trees spread out deep blanket shade where we could rest and play dominos” (Diaz, pg 1) That line is one of my favorite lines from the first five stories not only for the simple way that it is written, but because it helps sets the back round for where the story Ysrael takes place. Diaz’s also has a way of saying things that are so truthful and yet hilarious at the same time. It’s almost as if he isn’t saying the things that make the reader laugh to be funny, but to just make a causal statement which ends up being funny. An example of this is in the story “Aguantando” in which the narrator is describing the tourists “The weeks couldn’t pass quickly enough. At night I went down by the water to be alone but that wasn’t possible. Not with the tourists making apes out of themselves, and with the tígueres waiting to rob them.” This sentence is funny, but so true.

Yunior also has various ways of showing the way that someone his age entertained himself and lived at the time. “Unlike Rafa, who hid his shit well, I was always in trouble. From punching out Wilfredo to chasing somebodys chickens until they passed out.” Its funny the way in this sentence he chases the chickens not until he gets tired and decides to leave them alone, which I think most people would do, but till the chickens themselves pass out. I had to read this line again because I thought it was so funny. Another example of Diaz’s ability to be simple but beautiful at the same time is when in “Aguantando” the narrator is talking about the work that the mother has to go through because there is no father and she needs to support three kids. She gets up early in the morning, works and hardly gets any money from it. And she still seems to be stuck on their father who left her. After showing the mother’s brutal life, Yunior says “We could never get Mami to do anything after work, even cook dinner, if she didnt first sit awhile in her rocking chair. She didn’t want to hear nothing about our problems, the scratches we’d put into our knees, who said what. She’d sit on the back patio with her eyes closed and let the bugs bite mountains onto her arms and legs. Sometimes I climbed the guanábana tree and when she’d open her eyes and catch me smiling down on her, she’d close them again and I would drop twigs onto her until she laughed.” This sentence paints such a peaceful and serene picture in the readers mind and shows the small ways which Yunior bonds with his mother.

“April 8, 1928”

For your blog: your reaction to the ending

After the book I ended, I felt that almost everyone in the book got what they deserved except for Dilsey and Luster. Jason finally loses the money that he has hoarded unjustly, Quentin runs off with someone she loves, with the money that was hers in the first place, and Caddy is living the life she has made for herself. Quentin, because he was scared to live, wasn’t scared to die, and Ms. Compson is left alone in her house with only Jason to hear her self-pity. This section of the novel, I felt, showed how strong of a person Dilsey was. Jason’s treats her with no respect, even though over the years it should only grow, and Ms. Compson is always siding with Jason in arguments even if Dilsey is right, simply because Jason earns the money in the house. There is one part in the story in which she says “Hush Dilsey. It’s neither your place or mine to tell Jason what to do. Sometimes I think he is wrong, but I try to obey his wishes for you all’s sakes. If I’m strong enough to come to the table, Quentin can too.”(pg.278) I feel like Jason is more like her father then her son. Dilsey sticks with the family, because she has no where else to go. She feeds the family and tries to create an environment where everyone is treated justly, no matter how unjust the oldest members of the family are. I would have wanted a more stable family to live in for Dilsey because of her good character. Luster, although he has his downsides I feel that he never experiences anything in his life but the daily routine of looking after Benji.

When the book ended, I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in the way the story was finished. I understood that Luster and Benji were visiting a cemetery and Luster deviates from the normal way and this causes Benji to start bellowing. He stops screaming when Luster goes back to the normal way that he goes to the cemetery. But I feel that the book left you hanging on what happened to Caddy, and Quentin. I expected something on larger scale to happen so that the reader could be satisfied with the way the story ended, and it didn’t seem like the end of another chapter. To me it seemed like the end of another section in the book and the next one would start in a few pages.

April 6, 1928

I didn’t have to read to far into Jason’s section to realize that Jason has a very cruel personality. Jason’s section was the easiest and simplest to understand, but his anger isn’t. He is unreasonably cruel to Caddy’s daughter Quentin, who likes to skip school and maybe enjoys the company of men a little too much. ““What are you going to do she says?” she says. You wait until I get out this belt out I’ll show you, I says, pulling my belt out.”(pg.184) I said I an earlier blog post that I was surprised at the willingness of Jason, to whip Quentin (who I now understand as Caddy’s daughter) for missing school. It’s understandable that some of Jason’s anger towards Quentin is probably because of Caddy and what she has done with her life, but as grown man I feel he should know not punish Quentin for Caddy’s mistakes. There is another short but simple paragraph which shows that Jason isn’t just mean to people he knows but people he doesn’t know. “All well. Q writing today.” “Q?” the operator says. “Yes” I says. “Q. Can’t you spell Q?” “I just asked to be sure,” he says. “You send it like I wrote it and I’ll guarantee you to be sure.”(pg.193) Jason is talking to an operator in these sentences and is spelling something out to him. But I feel like he is pretty nasty in trying to communicate his information for a wire by saying “Q. Can’t you spell Q?” There have been a lot of events that have shaped Jason’s life which were not his doing. His job has been taken away because of Caddy, and he couldn’t go to college because of Quentin. But I feel that he really doesn’t have a reason to lash out on the rest of the world in the way he does in the book.

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