Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blog #4 Sethe

Blog #4 Sethe

Blog #4

Sethe is the heart of Beloved. I believe Sethe represents all of the mothers who were in slavery. These ladies had to be strong and endure so many hardships that is really beyond our comprehension. Sethe’s real since of being was challenged by the treatment she received from Schoolteacher. Sethe already knew the savagery that slavery held but she met it head on with Schoolteacher and his nephews. She knew that they already thought of her as an animal. Beloved gives us a small view of what life was like for a woman slave. Sethe was a protective mom that loved her children dearly. Her later actions do not sound like it but she did what she felt like she had to do. She was terrified when Schoolteacher and his nephews found her and her children and she knew they would go back to the plantation and if they did she knew from her painful experiences. One experience was when Schoolteacher let his nephews hold her down and sucked the milk from her breast when she was pregnant. As a woman I can not begin to imagine the pain and humiliation she felt. They were brutal to her and as I said before they thought of her as an animal. Then when they opened up her back, oh my gosh, can you imagine the extreme pain that would have been to have left scars. I have some small scars and when I was cut it hurt real bad but to have been purposely cut open and you know it did not heal right without the proper stuff to keep it clean, it just upset me to think about all of it. Anyway, so she was their with her children and all she could think about was getting her children out of the hell hole called slavery and the only way she could think of doing it was killing them and letting them go to a better place. Do I think this was rational thinking, no, but nothing about the situation was rational. When she killed her daughter she had to have been hysterical with fright and worry for her children. So, she killed the one child and the others survived. She no doubt is tormented by what she has done. Eighteen years pass, Baby Suggs, Sethe, and Denver are living at 124. Strange things keep happening in the house. Dishes break, glass breaks, and things move. It is not unusual for slaves to think about spirits because that was a belief from Africa. This spirit or ghost seem upset. Because of what Sethe had done people did not like her nor her daughter so Denver stayed at home. Denver sort of befriends the ghost. When Sethe becomes reaquainted with Paul D from Sweet Home Plantation we see the ghost get upset and get angry. Paul D. shows her how to feel like a woman again and shows her he cares for her. The jealous ghost becomes flesh and shows up to destroy her relationship with Paul D. Sethe feels so guilty about her past that she treats this person called Beloved as a queen, buying her things when the money should go for food. Sethe comes very close to loosing her mind, which many slaves did. If it had not been for Denver leaving 124 and letting someone know what was going on, Sethe would have completely lost her mind. She was letting Beloved run her life to the point that she was exhausted. Paul D. had caved in and had a sexual relationship with Beloved and Beloved told him what Sethe had done eighteen years ago. Paul leaves. Here is Sethe very fragile. The women from the community come and it sounds like some type of excorcism was done when they sang in the yard of 124 because Beloved just disapprears from sight. Of course this could have been a good what to leave the story open for the next book by Morrison. So, when Beloved leaves, it seems Sethe is able to begin to heal and Paul D. returns to her. I am so thankful that Toni Morrison wrote Beloved. Slavery was a dark part of our history and I think we really need to understand all we can about it so we can prevent something like this happing again. We must also be informed about the countries that still have slavery. We can not keep our heads in the sand. With the foreign countries that approve of or turn their heads the other direction, we have to be so careful not to become one of their tools to keep the trade going.

Modern Day Slavery


US Department of State report for 2005:

pastedGraphic.pdf The U.S. Department of State issues a Trafficking in Persons Report on a yearly basis. Their web site states:

Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, involving victims who are typically forced, defrauded or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. It is among the fastest growing criminal activities, occurring both worldwide and in individual countries. Annually, at least 600,000 - 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide, including 14,500 - 17,500 persons into the United States.

People are snared into trafficking by various means. For example, physical force is used or false promises are made regarding a legitimate job or marriage in a foreign country to entrap victims into prostitution, pornography and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation or slavery-like labor conditions in factories and fields. Victims suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and physical restraint.

The State Department rates most of the countries in the world on a three tier format. They rated 14 countries at Tier 3. These are countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the U.S. federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and are not making significant efforts to do so: Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kuwait, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.


Non-profit groups working to combat slavery:


Anti-Slavery International, Thomas Clarkson House, The Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London, UK, SW9 9TL. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7501 8920. Fax: +44 (0)20 7738 4110. E-mail: info@antislavery.org


Free the Slaves, 1326 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Telephone: 1.866.324.FREE. and 202.588.1865. Fax: 202.588.1514. E-mail: info@freetheslaves.net


Site navigation:

Home page > Religious violence > Slavery > here

or Home page > Christianity > Slavery > here


References used

  1. "What is modern slavery?," Anti-Slavery International, at: http://www.antislavery.org/
  2. The text of the "Slavery Convention" is at: http://www.hri.ca/
  1. The text of the "Protocol amending the Slavery Convention signed at Geneva on 25 September 1926," is at: http://www.hri.ca/
  2. The text of the "Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery" is at: http://www.hri.ca/
  1. Steven Greenhouse, "Migrant-Camp Operators Face Forced Labor Charges," New York Times, 2002-JUN-21, at: http://www.freetheslaves.net/
  1. "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000" at: http://www.freetheslaves.net/ You need software to read this file. It can be obtained free from: pastedGraphic_5.pdf
  1. "Slavery flourishing despite strong laws," The Toronto Star, "Rights Watch" section, 2003-JUN-22, Page F4.
  2. "United Nations meeting reveals slavery's global scale," Anti-Slavery International, at: http://www.antislavery.org/
  1. "Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Action to End Modern-Day Slavery," U.S. Department of State, at: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/
  1. "Trafficking in Persons Report," Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, 2005-JUN-03, at: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46606.htm


Copyright © 1999 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-JUN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

Blog #3 Schoolteacher

Blog #3 is about Schoolteacher. We see in Beloved, a character that was beyond evil. This character is called Schoolteacher. He managed Sweet Home when the owner died. The owner’s wife had to let Schoolteacher take over the plantation when she was sick and could not take care of things. That is when his “Hitler” type ideas took hold. He was a racist full of hatred for men and women with color. He treated the slaves worse than animals. I can not help but think of the defenseless Jews that were tortured and the displacement of thousands and thousands of families would were never to see their families again, live or dead. That is what it was like for the slaves. They were beaten, tortured and even killed because they were thought of as pieces of property. This is the way Schoolteacher treated the slaves. He orders Sixo tied to a tree and set a fire at his feet. Because Sixo kept singing, Schoolteacher told the others to shoot Sixo. Something else he permitted was allowing his nephews to hold down Sethe while she was pregnant and let them take milk from her breast. To be put down as an animal and have men do that to her is enough to push anyone over the edge. Morrison was able to show some of the savagery that many slaves went through. So much was never discussed. Sethe’s back was opened up and when it was healed looked like a tree growing on her back. Slaves were dismembered, burned, shot, stripped from all of their dignity, and separated from their babies, children, husbands, wives, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, ect...Schoolteacher just seemed to be satisfied only when he caused as much fear and pain as he could. This type of behavior was repeated many, many times during slave times.

Blog #2 The Character Beloved

Blog #2


The most interesting character in Beloved, is Beloved. We learn about her during one of the flashbacks in the book. This book is full of flashbacks which at times can be a little confusing to the reader. Beloved was killed by her mother, Sethe when she was only two. Her mom was so terrified that her children would be taken back to the plantation by Schoolteacher and would live the tormented lives as slaves that she decided to kill them. The two year old daughter was the only one she succeeded in killing. We jump to about eighteen years later to 124. Beloved’s grandmother, Baby Suggs, Sethe, and Denver, Beloved’s sister are living at 124. To begin with we see things happening in the house that are unexplained and later it becomes more noticeable that something or someone is not happy in the form of a spirit. She breaks things, leaves baby handprints, and breaks dishes. Sethe and Denver have accepted the spirit in the house. The two sons who had come to 124 could not handle it and they went away. Slaves from Africa brought with them the ideas that there were spirits of others that would come to their homes so when this “ghost” showed up they did not think it that odd. So, Paul D. arrives on the scene and the “ghost” is not happy. Worse things happen and then all of the sudden a girl shows up. She is about twenty, and Beloved comes to 124 as a being of flesh and bones. When she comes her voice is scratchy from possibly not being used for so long. Her skin is soft like a baby’s skin. Beloved (or so it is thought to be) is having problems with the way she walks and is a little clumbsy acting. I love how Morrison brings the “ghost” or spirit to life. The little girl who was murdered in the past then becomes jealous and then her spirit changes and shows up there at her moma’s house. She is jealous because she sees this man getting her moma’s attention, Beloved can not stand that. When she was a spirit her sister, Denver views her as a sort of friend. Denver becomes even closer to her when she shows up at the house. There are so many details I know I have missed in this because I had to read it so quickly and plan to read it again when I can take my time and really let everything sink in. Back to Beloved, ok, so at this point she wants to get rid of Paul D. so she seduces him. He gives in, which is exactly what Beloved wanted. Sethe had spent her savings on extravagant things for Beloved which forced Denver to go to work. While at work Denver talks to others about her homelife. At this point, Beloved is apparently pregnant or at least looks that way.

“Ella. What’s all this I’m hearing about Sethe?” “Tell me its’s in there with her. That’s all I know.” “The daughter? The killed one?” “How they know that’s her?” “It’s sitting there. Sleeps, eats and raises hell. Whipping Sethe every day.”

The ladies decided something had to be done about Beloved. Again, Morrison impressed me with how she wrote this part. The women go to remove the spirit or Beloved from 124. The women went to 124 with their “Christian faith - as a shield and sword.” The women continue to sing, Ella is in the midst of them and Denver and Sethe join them. Beloved disappears from 124, “Disappeared, some say, exploded right before their eyes.” I was shocked at the ending of Beloved and her stay at 124, but thought it was perfect. I never would have thought that for her demise, if it was actually her demise.

I feel that Beloved stood for so many people who died at the hands of others from the slave passage through to the days of slavery which takes place even today in other countries. To me Morrison may have wanted us to think of their voices that were silenced but wanted their stories told.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blog #1 Denver

Blog #1


In Beloved, I feel the strongest character was Denver. She had to be the strong one especially when everyone one else seemed to be falling apart. The beginning of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Denver is hidden behind her mother, Sethe’s shadow. Denver is the only child Sethe has after she has murdered her older daughter when she was small and the boys she had, ran away. Because Sethe can not let her past go, Denver lives a life as a recluse with her mom at 124. She does not have any friends and does not socialize with anyone. At the beginning she had her grandmother, Baby Suggs, but she later dies. Her brothers had already ran away so it just left Denver and her mother, Sethe. Denver’s place away from death and sorrow was in the boxwoods behind her house. There were boxwoods in a circle and with the perfume she wore made it seem peaceful and safe. The light from the sun shining through the boxwoods caused and emerald appearance to her. This was her refuge. She grows up with her hiding place, “First a playroom (where the silence was softer), then a refuge (from her brothers’ fright), soon the place became the point. In that bower, closed off from the hurt of the hurt world, Denver’s imagination produced its own hunger and its own food” (Pgs. 31 and 32).

If she had not had her own place away from the hurt, pain and confusion, she would have likely went mad.

There was a ghost at 124, “Full of baby’s venom,” who wanted her self know to Sethe, Denver, Baby Suggs, and later, Paul D. The ghost throughout does things to let herself be known but not until Denver hears her crawling up the stairs does she know the ghost must be that of a baby climbing the stairs. After that takes place the ghost becomes mean. The ghost was something of a being that Denver could relate to. In the book it said Denver would take the ghost over Paul D. who she felt was trying to take her place with her mother. The ghost would later come out of the water as Sethe’s daughter, Beloved. Now, Denver knew it had to be Sethe’s murdered daughter and took her as a friend. It was easy for her to get close to Beloved since she really did not have anyone remotely close to her age to communicate with. Beloved begins to suck her mother dry by becoming so dependent on her, Denver sees that her mother is quickly losing ground and her mental capability is slipping, because of this Denver is forced to make a change within herself and become dependent enough to go out of her house to seek help. This is a major challenge for Denver since she had not ventured out and was going to have to communicate with others in order to save her family. So she goes to a school teacher and tells her story. That lady and others help with food. Denver is the strong hold of the family. She has to gather food, clean and do clothes. Her mother becomes unable to do the simiplist things and Beloved will not do because she knew she did not have to. This is basically what Sethe did when she killed her daughter and tried to kill her sons, she was trying to protect them from the hardships of slavery and to do that she had to step outside of herself. What Denver did really was not the same as Sethe but what I am talking about is, she had to make a decision to step out of what was comfortable to her to help her family. Her family was starving and needed help and Denver went to get help.

To me Denver is an example of those who kept the slaves moving to freedom. I think she was very strong and had her family’s best interest at heart, just the way someone on the Underground Railway would have.


Thanks Dr. Griffiths for choosing this book for us to read. I have heard of it before but had never read it. WOW! I am posting some interesting info.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

I believe Plath and Anne Sexton both had problems finding their real place in the world. As I wrote about Sexton, times were changing for women and they struggled to find their true identity. Plath was on an emotional rollercoaster partly because of her husband’s infidelity. She was so bright and had so much to offer as a writer. I still question why did so many choose suicide as the answer to their struggles. Her piece, Ariel is full of suicidal thoughts. The word choices she used, darkness, nigger-eye berries cast dark hooks, black sweet blood mouthfuls, shadows, deead hands, dead stringencies, suicidal, into the red eye , the red cauldron of morning, all of these words to me point toward someone who is very depressed. I am not saying you can not write dark poems unless you are suicidal but when someone already has a problem with depression writes lines like these, one tends to get the idea they are ready to take their own life. Now when I heard the interview below, I did not get that feeling, it is only when I read her work that I see depression. I feel she wanted to be free and I think that is where Lady Godiva comes into the poem. The freedom to ride her horse and feel free from whatever it was that was binding her. I find it so sad that the two women killed themselves but really had so much to live for. I feel like they were both tormented inside and wanted to get away from that torment and the only way as far as they were concerned was suicide, how sad...


Anne Sexton

The 1950’s and the 1960’s were decades of change for women. Their roles were beginning to change. The housewives of yesteryear were becoming more independent. Some accepted the change and others did not. Women in general had problems feeling important or feeling like they had a place in the world. For some reason I think Anne Sexton was a lot like that. When reading “Her Kind,” it shows a depressed almost dark side of Anne. She had a wonderful gift of writing but I just don’t think she ever really appreciated her talent and what it meant in the world of Confessional Poetry.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/UfvS_fgbuDI-rare-film-clips-of-poet.aspx This was a great clip that I found. It gives me goosebumps to hear her voice and to realize she took her own life.

Frank O’Hara


Until I read, “These things are with us every day even on beachheads and biers,” I was not sure where this poem was going. After reading it through several times it appeared to me this was dealing with Normandy Beach. The war was raging and the things things were tough in the US. Kangaroos, I am not sure of, but chocolate sodas, sequins, harmonicas, jujubes, and asprins were things that people desired. Guys and women in the service at the time would have loved any or all of these luxuries. The beachheads and biers could have been Normandy Beach, and I wonder if the mention of Pearls, could have meant Pearl Harbor.

Theodore Roethke

My Papa’s Waltz

This can be read in different ways, but I think it is a man who possibly has a drinking problem and his daughter is always there for him to romp with. I am thinking this is a man who did not have a son and is treating his daughter rougher than he should. She loves to dance with him for his attention but he does not realize or does not care how rough he is. Sometimes little girls like the attention they get from their dad even if it is bad. These little girls will usually become abused in their relationships with their boyfriends or husbands. It can become a vicious cycle, never ending... Roethke made me think on this one.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


John Berryman’s 29

Berryman had a way to twist and turn his writings to make them very interesting. In his 29, Berryman seems to show a very dark picture of life. The thing that was so heavy on Henry’s heart to me was the new starts he was trying to have but seemed to never get. The mention of the, “grave Sienese face,” tells me it is a very sullen time. He mentions the woman’s body is hacked up, but no body is missing, shows me that someone has died and they were not even missed. How powerfully sad this is.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

of DeWitt on his way to Lincoln Cemetery

This was something I found on Youtube that I liked, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBHBabdNsas

I loved the feeling that was put into this poem. I could feel what the writer was saying and when I listened to it read with the paintings and art work, it helped me really get into it. No matter what he did or where he went, he was still, “a plain black boy.”


Claude McKay

The Negro’s Tragedy was published and you can not help but think of WWII. Those were very turbulent times for many people. The blacks were not given their rights and were still treated as second rate citizens. In this poem, “Only a thorn-crowned Negro and no white man can penetrate into the Negro’s ken,” made me think about Jesus because of the “thorn-crowned Negro.” The mention of the “shroud of night,” again made me think of Jesus. I believe McKay was saying at the end of the poem that our country was going to other countries to help the oppressed people but here in the United States we were overlooking our own. I thought it was a great poem, it will be one I will use one day when I start teaching.

William Carlos Williams

The Widow’s Lament in Springtime by William Carlos Williams

This poem made me think about a widow’s life. This widow had been married thirty-five years and seemed not to know what to do. I see a lot of despair. “Sorrow is my own yard where the new grass flames as it has flamed often before but not with the cold fire that closes round me this year,” new grass is green and lush and should be enjoyed but with the widow she does not feel the softness of the lush grass but instead feels cold and indifferent. She describes the trees that through any other’s eyes would be beautiful but I just don’t think she can feel the beauty anymore since she has lost her husband. She goes on to say,”...but the grief in my heart is stronger than they for though they were my joy formerly, today I notice them and turn away forgetting,” she seems not to want to see the beautiful flowers. The widow’s son tells her about the “trees of white flowers,” that at the edge of the heavy woods. Could the heavy woods be the grief that she has felt and the, “trees of white flowers,” would be the healing after the pain? I am thinking he wants her to heal so she can learn to enjoy life again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Robert Lowell, wow, what a writer! I really am partial to Lowell because of his love of history and his love of preserving it. My favorite of his writings is, For the Union Dead. I had to re-read my history to understand the depth of this poem. Lowell had a connection to this poem he wrote because of one of his ancestors had fought in the Civil War at the same time Colonel Shaw was serving with his Black Regiment. I was amazed at how Lowell felt about the “old South Boston Aquarium.” The whole section was sentimental to him, the aquarium and the park where the bronze relief of Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment. When they torn down the aquarium it was as if they were taking apart of Lowell’s history away. It just seemed so sad to read, For the Union Dead, Lowell was watching the aquarium being destroyed and bulldozed away and the bronze relief of Colonel Shaw was propped up with a stick, this was hard for him.

Lowell was called the “Father of Confessional Poetry,” because he was tired of the same old, same old poetry and called poetry, “raw and cooked,” he met Allen Ginsberg one time while he was in California. Ginsberg had opened up a whole new world of poetry to young people several years before. Lowell took the lead to form a new type of poetry along with Sylivia Platt, Anne Sexton, and John Berryman. What a group they were. Lowell inspired them to become great poets.


When reading They Dream Only of America, I felt like John Ashbery was talking about wanting the freedom to be himself in public. I could be off on this one but I think he was talking about people in America that were homosexual and how he wanted the curtain to open so they could be free to be who they really were. Now, why did I think it was about the homosexual movement? Well, several things in his poem stood out to me, one being, “And hiding from darkness in barns, they can be grown ups now,” and another one was, “The lake a lilac cube.” I looked at these two sentences at someone who had to hide who they were and they had the feeling of being boxed in with no way out. The last two sentences, “For our liberation, except wait in the horror of it,” and “And I am lost without you,” here I think he is saying how he wanted to be free to tell the world who he was but was afraid of what would happen to people if they did. The last sentence I think was quite clear, he was lost with out being with his friend.

They Feed They Lion

I came across this from http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/transcripts/2003/feb/030211.sillman.html

Mr. PHILIP LEVINE (Poet): There's no reason why a great poem can't be political, absolutely political.

SILLMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Levine says by its very nature, great art is political.

Mr. LEVINE: I don't think a great poem is likely to be a poem that urges you to vote for your state senator, but insofar as you champion, for example, the lives of trees and the purity of the air and water, you've already entered a political arena. It's almost impossible not to write a poem that is political if you are a person who loves.

SILLMAN: Thirty-five years ago, Levine often read his work at rallies against the Vietnam War, specifically this poem about what he says was the disproportionate number of young black men sent to die in Vietnam.

Mr. LEVINE: "They Feed They Lion." `Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter, out of black bean and wet slate bread, out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar, out of grass, out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies, They Lion grow. Out of the gray hills of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride, West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties, mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps, out of the bones' need to sharpen and the muscles' to stretch, They Lion grow.'

I read that 5000 anti-war poets were getting together the next day to protest against the war in Iraq. I did not see this as a political type poem dealing with war but with racism.

Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers

The part of this writing that hit me the hardest was the descriptive words about the ring on Aunt Jennifer’s finger. I have had friends that were married for a long time and they went through a lot during those years but had never thought about their rings’ weighing heavy on their finger, hmmmm, that made me think a little deeper on this one. It seems she wanted us to know that life goes on even though someone dies, “The tigers in the panel that she made will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.” Whatever she had been through, Rich wanted us to realized it followed Aunt Jennifer to her grave. I wish she had written more but that is what makes a great writer, when the reader is left wanting more.

My thoughts...

My thoughts...

I am glad I do not have to choose my favorite time section for this class because I have found one is just as powerful as the another. I love history and reading these author’s works has been very intriguing. I know I will use some of these in the future when I teach. I feel it is so important for the students to enjoy learning and showing them different types of literature can open up a new window for them, it has for me. Each week we have read new authors, and each week my window has become open further. Only with a few exceptions, I have liked what I have read and I have felt challenged.

Go Espada

“The Bully,” by Martin Espada is a piece of historical criticism. This piece brought the past into the present with the use of cultural criticism. I love history as I have blogged before and this piece was added to my, “I Like Collection.” Espada’s description of the school was excellent. Espada put a lot of feeling into his writing. He was born of Puerto Rican parents so I feel this could possibly be classified as biographical criticism, what do you think? When reading this I kept thinking about the little guy getting the prize at the end of the race. It may have been a small thing to some but was tremendous to those who disagreed with what took place during and after the Spanish American War. I could write a small book on this issue, anyway, as it turned out there were territories that became American Territories. These people wanted their freedom from Spain but did not want to be controlled by another country. Theodore Roosevelt was viewed as one of the leading forces of this movement. In this writing the school began as a school named after Theodore Roosevelt for his heroic ride to free Latin America from Spain. There was a statue in the school that had remained there since the beginning. As time passed the school received a new name, Hernandez. Espada wrote, “Puerto Rico has invaded Roosevelt with its army of Spanish-singing children in the hallways, brown children devouring the stockpiles of the cafeteria, children painting Taino ancestors that leap naked across murals.” Wow, if that is not pay back at it’s finest. I know there are those that would disagree but it seems that our country has at times in the past taken away the rights of the minoritys who were not strong enough to stand by themselves. This piece has a strong political statement, good job Espada!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scalp Dance

Scalp Dance by Spokane Indians

When reading this I could feel negative energy from the speaker. She seemed to be angry at how the Spokane Indians were treated by the artists that came to paint them. It reminded me of how it had always been with the Indians. White man swoops in gets the good stuff and leaves them empty handed. She shows her anger when she says, “When you see me now in that painting dancing with the scalp, you must realize that I didn’t have a husband, that I never danced without a smile, that I never sat still for Kane.” Kane only painted her from memory but to this day people look at the painting and believe she was an angry Indian woman whose husband was killed and she danced with the scalp of those who killed her husband, when it was so far from the truth. Alexie brought out how the speaker wanted the truth to be known. The way Alexie wrote made me angry. I know how the Indians were treated but had never heard or even thought about this type of mistreatment. I found it very odd that Kane was the last name of the artist and the name of the Indians were the Spokanes, so did they feel that this was something else that was taken away from them???

Adrian C. Louis

Adrian Louis’ Dust World, is about a forty year old man visualizing his surroundings and seeing it as it really is. The first thing that stood out to me in this writing was the TBird. Indians viewed the Thunderbird as strength, powerful, and energy of a thunderstorm. Louis chose the man in the writing to drive a Thunderbird because it gave the man power, “...I suck in my gut and lay some rubber.” Throughout this piece he keeps referring to the dirty, ugly, welfare world. The “three teenage mothers,” he keeps refers to are symbolic of ones who preferred to party than to work and make something of themselves. He makes a point of talking about how they flirted with the man even though he was forty years old. Louis mentions, “This is the land that time forgot,” which tells me he thinks of it as desolate or isolated away from civilization. “Here is the Hell the white God gave us,” to me this is saying the white man took everything that was good and left the dirty and bad for the “redskin.”

I like reading Adrian C. Louis’ works, I could see what Louis was describing through out, Dust World.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Evolution by Alexie

Evolution by Sherman Alexie

Sometimes the truth hurts, in this writing it is full of truths. We tend to think about the African Americans and how they were treated when their ancestors were brought here from African to be slaves in the new land, but do we really think about those who were already here when England and other countries sent their ships full of people for a new beginning? Alexie did a wonderful job using Buffalo Bill and a pawn shop in Evolution. The Indians sold their possessions many times to buy what they needed. So much of the Indian’s stuff was taken and not sold buy the Indians. I found it ironic how Alexie used, “The Indians pawn their hands, saving the thumbs for last, they pawn their skeletons, falling endlessly from the skin and when the last Indian has pawned everything but his heart, Buffalo Bill takes that for twenty bucks closes up the pawn shop, paints a new sign over the old and calls his venture THE MUSEUM OF NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURES charges the Indians five bucks a head to enter,” the Indians lost it all to the white man and then in the end to see their ancestor’s possessions, they have to pay a museum to enter, how sad. Not sure how others will view this one but I see it as tragic.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Louise Gluck is another one of the poets I have not encountered before. I read Penelope’s Song and was pulled into what Gluck was saying. I felt drawn to the words in this poem. I envisioned someone who had a life with secrets tucked away and the narrator is finding out the truth. The use of the spruce tree, I thought was exceptional. I had not looked at a spruce the way she was describing but they do have shelf-like branches. I felt this was a descriptive way of telling the reader about the sentry or look-out. Does this person gather information? Is it in the best interest of the person to continue what they are doing?I think this person must think highly of themselves because she writes,You are not completely perfect either; with your troublesome body you have done things you shouldn’t discuss in poems. Wow, if it could not be discussed in poems, it must have been something regrettable or something no one should know about. So, I wonder what it was? There is passion with in this poem and the mention of demonic appetite makes me wonder in what direction this is going in. She uses the tree again at the end of her poem, ...you must shake the boughs of the tree to get his attention, and... but carefully, carefully, lest his beautiful face be marred by too many needles. I can not wait to discuss this one. It seems so full of possibilities. I found another poem I liked that Gluck had also written, The Fear of Burial , I found it very open with honest type feelings. I really like the way she wrote this. It is sort of sad how the spirit just sits beside the body. I sat for a minute after I read this and shut my eyes to see what she was saying. I noticed at the end she wrote about the heaviness of the door, milk, and bread. I was thinking of the sorrow the ones who were left behind were feeling. I really like her style.

The Fear of Burial

In the empty field, in the morning,
the body waits to be claimed.
The spirit sits beside it, on a small rock--
nothing comes to give it form again.

Think of the body's loneliness.
At night pacing the sheared field,
its shadow buckled tightly around.
Such a long journey.

And already the remote, trembling lights of the village
not pausing for it as they scan the rows.
How far away they seem,
the wooden doors, the bread and milk
laid like weights on the table.

from Descending Figure. © 1980 Louise Gl├╝ck. Online Source

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sea Oak

Sea Oak by George Saunders

Yuck, you rarely hear me say that about something I have read, but yuck. I am sure there are people who like reading such as this but not me. It is out of my box. Out of all of the writings I have read, this one is my least favorite. Sometimes slang language adds to the writing but in this one, to me it took away from the story. Actually, the subject matter was tacky. To get a full view of writers and their works I understand we have to read short stories, poems, and books that we disagree with the content. This one is most definitely high on my disagree with content list. I have to add, now I have been exposed to readings I would not have normally have been exposed to.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Raymond Carver

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

So with this story, I felt as if I was sitting in one of the chairs listening to the four talking about love. One of the first things I noticed was how Carver used the sunshine in the window all through out the whole story. At the beginning of the story, the sunshine filled the kitchen. You notice the four talked all day and into the night until the room went dark. I think there is something there. Carver did not put that in the story just for us to know what time of day it was. I am thinking it was about life in general. I know the story is about love but it is also about life and how we live it. Carver hit some heart strings with the story about the elderly couple. In this story he shows several types of love. The deep unconditional love an old man had for his wife and how he had become so depressed because he could not see her because of the wrappings on his face. Then you had the dangerous type of love that was described by Terri. I was appaulded at the idea that she could still care about Ed eventhough he tried to kill her and had threatened her. Actually, that is sort of an unconditional love in itself, stange as it may seem. Anyway, the four are sitting around drinking to the point where the day was gone and the Gin was also. They kept talking about going out to eat at a better place. I had to wonder if they were really taking about eating or were they talking about Heaven??? I guess, Carver knew the answer to that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Balloon by Donald Barthelme

I wish I had the time to really go through this one paragraph by paragraph. I can tell there is so much in the piece. The balloon starts off at Fourteenth Street in New York City. There is some personification involved with the balloon, “But experiencing a faint irritation at stopping...” The balloon continues through different sections of the city. At times children were jumping to catch it and then there were people who thought it was “interesting.” Hostility was mentioned and I wondered what type of balloon were we reading about? It evidentually was not for kids and it talked about the hidden gas valves. For some reason I am thinking we were in a recession at the time this was written. So is there a connection??? I think the “heavy feeling” might have been from the state of our country at that time. Could the protagonist be the people of NY and the antagonist be the economy???

The Man-Moth by Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop’s, “The Man-Moth”

Right off the bat with this one I can see there is a connection between man and the life of a moth. As I read I could see the relationship between a moth and a man. The man who is lonely and wanting to be loved, "He does not see the moon; he observes only her vast properties, feeling the queer light on his hands, neither warm nor cold, of a temperature impossible to record in thermometers." This sounded like someone who might be depressed; maybe just getting by. The Man-Moth is looking up at the moon,“He thinks the moon is a small hole at the top of the sky, proving the sky quite useless for protection.” I am thinking this is someone who is looking at the moon as a goal to shoot for, but the moth falls. “But what the Man-Moth fears most he must do, although he fails, of course, and falls back scared but quite unhurt.” This is why I am thinking he is, trying for something and just can not quite get to it. Even though it talks about the Man-Moth, I think it is talking about people in the subways going to and from work, "Each night he must be carried through artificial tunnels and dream recurrent dreams." Can't you see people getting into the subway going home at night dreaming of what they could do and wanting to do it? The line, "Then from the lids one tear, his only possession, like the bee's sting slips," this is a strong statement but I am still trying to figure this into the reading. I can not wait until tonight so I can hear other's ideas and comments on this one!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

John Updike's A&P

“A & P” by John Updike

This is another piece that I could look at as actually taking place. Here this guy is doing his job at the A & P when suddenly he notices these girls coming into the store. He immediately knows they have come from the beach which is not too far from the beach. The rest of the story is about how he and others notice the girls and the bathing suits they have on. Usually, I see the antagonist somewhere in the beginning or at the middle, but with this story the antagonist comes toward the end of the story. Mr. Lengel did not approve of the girls attire in the grocery store and was ready to let them know. Sammy was the protagonist who was standing up to Mr. Lengel and in the end gave up his job to prove he did not like how the girls were treated. I think to begin with he thought maybe the girls heard what was going on but they just walked out. So why did Sammy go ahead and give up his job? Was it pride or did he feel some type of justification by doing what he did. I tend to think it was a little of both. Throughout the reading we see very discriptive words, for example, “Do you really think it’s a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glassjar?” This is a simile. Another simile is, “...this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light.” Updike used discriptive language to keep the reader’s attention and boy did he do a great job. Updike suprised me when he had Sammy say, ”All of the sudden I slid right down her voice into her livingroom.” Wow! That got my attention. That was a great way to transition to another place or another thought. This was another great read!!

Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing"

Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”

This one tugged at my heart. Being the mother of four children, I could really feel for the mother. It is hard when you have small children. My first one was four when the second one was adopted and then we adopted two more at two years apart. A mother feels stretched; she feels exhausted and tired. This story really bothered me. The mother was going from work to taking care of children and then back to work. When I began reading this reading I could not understand the first line, “I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron.” Now, I understand that as she irons she is thinking about the past with each stroke of the iron. The story follows the life of the woman’s daughter, and the regrets the woman has had due to the distance (physically and mentally) that has been placed between her and her daughter. This is all due to living in a time and place where poverty was common place. “I Stand Here Ironing,” really bothered me. It troubled me to read it. I feel the antagonist in this piece is not a person but poverty. I have always looked at the antagonist as a person, animal, or another type of living thing and not a situation. The speaker or narrator would be the woman. We seen flashbacks throught out this piece which helps us understand what the woman, daughter, and the other children went through.

Why I Live at the P.O. by Eudora Welty

“Why I Live at the P.O.”

Eudora Welty was able to capture a small town family in an exceptional way. There is so much drama in this story. I have to wonder, was there incest? When Sister mentioned how Shirley T looked like Papa-Daddy, she must have thought there was a sexual encounter between her dad and her sister, Stella-Rondo. No one jumps out to say anything about Papa-Daddy as far as incest is concerned. Wouldn’t you think someone would have made a “stink” about that if it were not happening???? Could Stella-Rondo have been pregnant with her daddy’s baby when she left and really never married Mr. Whitaker? Oh, and the pearl necklace, that sounded strange to me. It did not say her mom and dad gave it to her, it only said Papa-Daddy. Hmmm, sounds suspicious to me. What about the sentence, “Stella-Rondo just calmly takes off this hat, I wish you could see it?” Why doesn’t Welty say, “her hat?” What is up with that??? There has to be something there.Could this mean her past? Maybe she took it off and put it behind her, just as someone might put their past behind them. Once Stella-Rondo came on the scene, life for Sister changed. She could see how her family thought the sun rose and set on Stella-Rondo. I cannot help but think about the Prodigal Son in the Bible. He went off and lived it up while the others stayed home and worked. When he came home there was a feast and excitement from his father. I see the Post Office as Sister’s refuge. In this story the antagonist would be Stella-Rondo. The protagonist is Sister. The conflict is easy to see in this story. We see it as soon as Stella-Rondo comes home. The point of view must be Sister’s because the story is told from a first person view point.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Zora Neale Hurston did a tremendous job with, "Sweat." I felt like I was right there with Delia. Delia went through so much trying to keep a roof over her head. I can imagine what she looked like when she and Sykes got married. Over the years the hard work and the beatings he gave her had robbed her of her youthful beauty. I believe this piece falls into the gender criticism category. Gender played a big part in this piece. Sykes was the antagonist but the snake could have also been the antagonist. Sykes was going to use the snake against Delia but it backfired. Once I started reading this piece, I could not put it down. When I can, I plan to read more of Zora Neale Hurston's works.

After the discussion on, "The White Witch....."

After the discussion about, “The White Witch,” I have thought a lot about it. There was a lot of discussion about who the antagonist is. The fact is we know whoever it is, the person(s) is/are white. Maybe it was about white America, but I still think is the white woman. White America was dangerous for the black man. When I read this the first time I did not notice the red, white, and blue in the piece. Not until class did I see that side of “The White Witch.” But, I still think it has to do with the dangers of looking at the white woman. Maybe it was the dangers of looking at the white woman in white America.

Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"

Faulkner’s, “Rose for Emily” is a short story full of flashbacks. The story begins with the death of Miss Emily Grierson. I found it so sad that no one had been in her home in ten years except the black man that had worked for her. At the very beginnning I felt sorry for her. I appreciate her fiestiness when she stands firm that she is not going to pay the taxes. There is some forshadowing in the next section. “So she vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell,” I missed what she was saying the first and second time I read it. I should have picked up on the smell part. Of course, later I did. I have read this story four or five times, and each time I read it, I find something else new. Throughout the story it is said, “Poor Emily.” She had some type of mental illness and the reason I think this is, she could not admit her dad was dead and left him there in their home for several days before she finally had him buried. When she bought the rat poison, people thought she would kill herself with it. This is probably why the man at the store did not what to sell it to her. When she was seen with Homer Barron, people thought it was shameful. After a while Homer disappreared. Emily and the black man grow older. I found it odd when it described her hair it was, “pepper-and-salt iron-gray,” and then described as, “vigorous iron-gray.” What does this mean? I am thinking that until she died she was still firm in who she was. Faulkner really left the reader wanting more by ending the story with Homer dead upstairs after all those years. I wonder if Emily could not accept Homer’s death just as she could not accept her father’s death. I had some confusion about who’s point of view this was written from. On one hand I thought maybe the cousin’s point of view and then on the other hand I thought it could be some of the town’s women. Faulkner did an excellent job keeping my attention.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wallace Stevens

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens

There are so many different ways to view, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” The first thing that I thought about was how this piece did not flow. To me it was in segments that did not relate. Really, I think that was what drew me into it. Sometimes a piece is read without thinking it through because it flows like a river and you just get caught up in it and keep going. With this one you are not on a river, you are stepping on one stone at a time. You have to think about each step. With this piece there are thirteen steps. The reader is able to see Bibical imagery throughout the piece. The ‘eye of the blackbird,” to me meant God as He looks over the mountains. The three minds could be the Trinity. In Four where it mentions the man, woman and bird are one, I’m not exactly sure but this reminds me of the Garden of Eden when Adam, Eve, and God were in the Garden together. The “golden birds,” remind me of idolitry in the Bible. One thing I am wondering is the last sentence, “In the cedar-limbs,” could this be the cross? For some reason I am thinking the cross was made out of cedar. Not sure on that one, but was thinking about it. Stevens did a remarkable job. I don’t think anyone will be able to really pin point exactly what each section is about.

Robert Frost

I read several of Robert Frost’s poems and kept seeing a common thread, nature. It is easy to see how much nature meant to this poet. I especially enjoyed reading, “ The Need of Being Versed in Country Things.” The description of the chimney standing after the house had burned down was exceptional. Who would think of a pistal of a flower after the petals fall off, being compared to a lonely chimney after the house is gone. I thought that was a perfect description. This poem made me think of the old barn my family owned. I remember the old barn with it’s rustic personality. The boards were so worn and old. Sometimes I would just stand there and think about what life was like when it was first built. Then one day it was knocked down. It was not the “will of the wind,” but the will of man that brought down our family barn.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

White Witch

This was one of the strongest poems I have ever read about black men. They had to be so afraid to even look at a white woman because of the pure hatered some had for them. Black men were treated like savages thought of less than an animal in some cases. In "The White Witch," Johnson is writing about the evils of the white woman. I can not wait to hear the discussion on this one tonight. I thought my post had posted but had not. I lost the whole post so I had to rush to put this in.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Great Book for Middle Grades Harlem Renaissance

At school today I had a friend mention a book about the Harlem Renaissance. The name is Harlem Stomp by Laban Carrick Hill. This is a wonderful book with many pictures and interesting info about that time in Literature. I feel a book like this could be used in English and in Social Studies. It is a great book for not only middle grades but could also be used in high school. I wanted to mention it to you all because I feel this is a book worth having as a resource in the classroom. I plan to purchase a copy for my collection. I have not checked Amazon but plan to this weekend.

Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance is my favorite period of the class. This is the time when African Americans' voices were finally being heard. I love history. There are a number of times in our history that I find extremely hard to understand. How human beings can treat other human beings like they are property is beyond my comprehension. As we look back in history we can see where little by little things were accepted until one day what was once repulsive is now viewed as acceptable. The Harlem Renaissance is a time when blacks were able to use different mediums to voice how they felt about their past treatment and the way they were still being treated. One poem by Langston Hughes, "Negro" describes what life was like for blacks. In "Negro" we see the beginning and the ending of the poem are the same. To me this shows how proud he was to be black. This poem tells us about the slaves building the pyramids. I can not begin to imagine the back breaking job of hauling the stones for the pyramids. Their treatment was at times barbaric. They were victims but throughout it all they were, "Black as the night is black, black like the depths of my Africa."

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Hills Like White Elephants," by Ernest Hemingway

In reading Hemingway's, "Hills Like White Elephants," I can see there was a very hard decision to be made. I read it several times to see if I could figure out what the decision was. Absinthe is a very strong drink and since she mentioned it, I knew the decision had to be a life changing decision. The man kept saying over and over that the operation was a simple one but then again he also kept saying she did not have to go through it. I think in the girl's mind she felt she would loose the man if she did not go through the abortion. When she said, "Once they take it away you never get it back," was she refering to the baby? There are several things that stand out in this story, the first being the beaded curtain. The other thing that stood out is how she said she was fine at the end of the story. Do you think the abortion took place before the train came. I was thinking with all of the drinking she had done, could she have passed out and woke up and it was all over? What do you think???

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

20th Lit

Wonderful day on of class!