Adichie’s speech

I am really moved by Adichie’s speech. In a very simple, well-organized speech with a healthy dose of humor, she expresses her feelings regarding stereotypes that all of us are prone to. She touches some other themes such as poverty, racism, and dignity but in a very sharp, inoffensive way. One of her powerful quotes that I particularly like is “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” This could not be truer! The real issue here is that we are so quick to judge others based on very little information provided (sometimes not even any but based on someone’s physical appearance only; be it a skin color, big nose, height or weight). If we only were willing to invest some time and learn more about each other, a lot of tragedies or at least hurt feeling would be prevented.
While I was listening to her speech, I felt embarrassed. I was grateful that no one was next to me to see me turning red ashamed of my own ignorance. Just like the roommate she talks about in her speech, I associate Nigeria with poverty, people dying either from AIDS or starvation. Why? Partially because of my exposure to what she calls “ a single story” and that’s what we hear about most of the time but also because of my own ignorance and failure to find out the other stories and get a more complete picture.

 

Being a foreigner in America, I felt the strength of human bias on my own skin and therefore, I can identify with Adichie. Coming from what the Americans refer to as one of the “second world countries,” I’ve been often asked ridiculous questions such as if we watch TV in Serbia…

 

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Response to in-class workshop

Professor Pope,

 The last in-class workshop was absolutely great! Not that I didn’t know how to use sources and incorporate them in research papers, but your detail analysis was very constructive. I used to think that repetitive sentences make an essay look bad, but now I have a much clearer idea about how to repeat or better said “restate” the same thought using slightly different vocabulary.

On a plus side, I don’t think after that class that anyone can come up to you and say that they don’t know how to find or use research material.

You made it simple, easy, and clear!

I honestly have only positive criticism about it!

 

Thank you!:)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes the mental state of a person who in my opinion suffers from what we call today “postpartum depression.” The person is also the narrator and throughout the story it becomes evident that her mental health gradually worsens. What sounds like a complete paradox is the fact that her husband John, “a physician of high standing”, fails to see that the therapy he prescribes is in fact detrimental to his wife’s well being. He is deaf for her pleas for help. He treats her as a child, not as his equal. He even talks to her in a very infantile way. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, he says to her, “What is it, little girl? Don’t go walking like that–you’ll get cold”. She is even given the room in the house that used to be the nursery. John displays a very superior and controlling behavior over her. Even though she expresses her feelings and communicates her needs for writing and socializing, her husband along with the other members of the family does not acknowledge them. Again, he is a doctor and his ego plays an important role. He cannot possibly be wrong!

Being isolated and idle most of the time, she becomes obsessed with the pattern of the wallpaper. What she makes out of it basically indicates her state of mind. Towards the end of the story she appears almost insane. The author does a great work on describing the pattern and the woman’s behavior. The reader gets completely immersed, all of his senses stimulated.

The narrator identifies with the lady behind the bars who tries to escape. I believe that the narrator herself subconsciously wants to escape from isolation, and potentially her controlling husband, and let her suppressed imagination and creativity lead her back to recovery.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “The Disappearance”

The first interesting fact about Divakaruni’s short story, “The Disappearance” is that the story is told from the husband’s point of view. Surprisingly, he does not realize that he abused his wife for years prior to her disappearance. In fact, I wonder if he does not realize it or simply doesn’t want to admit the truth?

The husband is portrayed as a very traditional Indian male. He is conservative, patriarchal, and very old-fashioned. Being in an arranged marriage, his wife doesn’t have much choice but to obey and play by her husband’s rules or leave their home. Reminiscing about the day he first saw his future wife, he says, “But when she’d glanced up there had been a cool, considering look in her eyes. Almost disinterested, almost as though she were wondering if he would make a suitable spouse”. These two sentences foreshadow what we learn later in the story, that she is not kidnapped or murdered. She simply doesn’t love her husband and feels abused in her marriage. Her husband even says how she would always find extra chores around the house when their son goes to bed to purposely avoid getting in bed with him. However, being selfish and focused exclusively on his own needs, he would force her to have sex with him. Sounds almost like a “legal rape”, doesn’t it? The fact that she leaves her loving boy as well indicates to what extreme she suffers in their loveless marriage. She decides to sacrifice her motherly love to escape from her own “imprisonment.” I cannot blame her for her actions after learning the details from their marriage. I can only imagine the horror she experiences living in a modern American society but being forced to live as if she never had left Calcutta. She is torn between the two cultures, essentially very different.

Research Journal # 3

1) The 3rd article I chose has to do with the irony of the setting in “The Cask of Amontillado.” The author says, “During carnival, identities are destabilized and traditional social hierarchy and etiquette collapse; the poor may be elected carnival kings, bishops and popes, whereas the representatives of the upper classes may disguise themselves as peasants, servants, or fools” (Elena V. Baraban).Along the same lines, Fortunato is dressed like a court jester which ironically foreshadows his fate; he is going to be fooled by Montresor. Montresor carefully chooses the day of Fortunato’s execution. None of his servants are around and everyone eats and drinks excessively. Fortunato is pretty drunk himself when first encounters his murderer, so he becomes an easy prey.

2) The article “The Motive for Murder in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe”, written by Elena V. Baraban is credible. The author is recognized among her peers and Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association publishes the piece.

Also, the article is found on jstor.org which is a digital library and  has over 1,500 academic journals, books and primary sources.

3) The article is nicely written, and is perhaps one of my top choices so far. The words are carefully selected and her ideas expressed in the text flow smoothly.

I think the arguments she uses to support her statements are reliable and convincing.

4) The article is a “gem” and I can’t wait to tie it into the rest of my paper. The way she writes is easy to understand and yet, her word choice very effective and sophisticated.

Works Cited

Baraban, Elena V. “The Motive for Murder in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature (2004): 47-62

 

Research Journal # 2

1) In my 2nd research journal I will be using the article “Poe And The Gothic Of The Normal: Thinking “Inside The Box”, by Elaine Hartnell-Mittram as a reference to support the use of irony in “The Cask of Amontillado”. Both Montresor and Fortunato  use the same wording to discuss whether Montresor is a true mason but the wording represents two completely different realities.

“You are not one of the masons.”

“Yes, yes,” I said; “yes, yes.”

“You? Impossible! A mason?”

“A mason, I replied.

What’s ironic in this dialogue is the fact that Montresor’s words are taken literally unlike Fortunato’s, who speaks metaphorically. In her article, Hartnell-Mottram says, “And of course Montresor does indeed turn out to be a mason, though not a member of a Masonic lodge. He is – or will be – a practical stone mason who will use the trowel he produces from under his cloak to wall up his victim. “ Poor Fortunato fails to see apparent signs of his predicament. While all of the Montresor’s true intentions are secret, when he says that he is a mason, he is ironically telling the truth for once.

2) The source is credible since found in Academic Search Premier database and is published by Liverpool Hope University.

3) The piece is well written and most importantly, contributes to the major topic of my essay which is the use of irony in “The Cask of Amontillado.”

4) I plan on using the reference to support the irony in dialogue between Montresor and Fortunato.

5)

Works Cited

Hartnell-Mottram, Elaine. “Poe And The Gothic Of The Normal: Thinking ‘Inside The Box’.” Gothic Studies 12.2 (2010): 42-52. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Oct. 2013.

Research Journal #1

1) The article I plan on incorporating into my 8-10 pages research paper focuses on further explanation of irony in the names of characters. John Gruesser, the author of the article, “Poe’s the Cask of Amontillado,” says, “Tresor comes from thesaurus, meaning a storehouse or hoard; Fortunato derives from fortunatus, translated as made prosperous or happy. Although fortune can refer to money or wealth, it can also be an abstract term referring to luck, fate, and destiny in a way that the more concrete treasure cannot”. In other words, Fortunato is more “fortunate” than Montresor even in death.

The article also depicts the moment of Fortunato’s “crucifixion” as his final victory over Montresor. Gruesser notices that “by responding with the words, “Yes . . . for the love of God!” and going through with the murder, Montresor boldly defies God, damning himself for all time”. Ironically, instead of “earning” peace after Fortunato’s execution, Montresor seals his own fate.

2)  The article is credible because it is written by a reputable professor John Gruesser who teaches English at Kean University and is very well known and respected in his field of study.

3)  I think that the piece is well written and supports my previous statement about the irony in Fortunato’s name. In fact, it helps me elaborate on the same topic while providing new information. The arguments provided are convincing and I think they would blend in well with the rest of my previously used arguments.

4) The piece is definitely useful because it supports my arguments related to the use of irony in “The Cask of Amontillado”, and I plan on incorporating it into the paper.

 

 Works Cited

 

Gruesser, John. “Poe’s The Cask Of Amontillado.” Explicator 56.3 (1998): 129. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.

 

Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies”

Jhumpa Lahiri in her book “Interpreter of Maladies” reflects on the importance of communication in relationships. None of her characters can really communicate their thoughts and feelings, and that’s what ultimately drives them away from each other. The Das family is a prototype of a modern American family. Even though they are of Indian descent, they have preserved very little of Indian culture. The ways they dress, talk to each other, discipline their children and behave in general imply their deep assimilation into American culture. The parents have no authority over their own children and appear to be disinterested in correcting their behavior anyway. They are very self-absorbed and are greatly unhappy. The children are unruly and ignored for the most part. When little Tina needs to use the bathroom, none of the parents is willing to take the responsibility but rather start arguing. The narrator says, “ Eventually Mrs. Das relented when Mr. Das pointed out that he had given the girl her bath the night before.” When there is no love between parents even taking a child to the bathroom feels like a chore.

The reader can’t but notice that the Lahiri’s characters have distorted pictures of each other. Symbolically, they see the world around them through the camera lenses, sunglasses, mirrors and visors. They fail to see reality as it is but rather sit in silence and fantasize. Sadly, Mr. Kapasi sees in Mrs. Das a companion who could tend to his needs to be heard and admired for what he is. His extreme loneliness makes him vulnerable and he appears to be naïve for believing that he could establish any kind of relationship with someone as self-centered and selfish as Mrs. Das.

Kate Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby”

Kate Chopin’s short story, “Desiree’s Baby” is poignant and very well written in my opinion. The twist that she provides at the end of the story leaves the reader guessing; does Desiree really kill the baby and herself because of her husband’s rejection?

I find Armand to be an unsavoury character. It makes me wonder how can someone  be so intolerable of a different race when his own father seems like a good man who doesn’t disrespect the blacks, and treats them well. To show Armand’s rigidness and cruelty, Chopin says, “Young Aubigny’s rule was a strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master’s easy-going and indulgent lifetime.” In other words, poor black people who work  for Armand are mistreated as if they were a different species. It’s paradoxical to me that Armand who has “black” genes in his blood expresses so much hatred for the same group of people to which he belongs. In a sense, Armand’s racial prejudice towards the blacks reminds me of the Hitler’s animosity towards Jews. Hitler kills millions of Jews while his grandfather, his own blood is Jewish. Unlike Hitler, Armand is not aware of his African-American heritage until he finds out from reading his mother’s letter, “But above all,” she wrote, “night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.” Chopin ends the story here but leaves it to the reader’s imagination to draw conclusions. Looking back at the Armand’s actions and the way he treats the people he “loves”, my best guess is that he probably commits a suicide upon the revelation of his heritage. He is way too pride of his name and the status he enjoys in a patriarchal society to handle the fact that he is not better than his slaves.

Charles Chesnutt, “The Wife of His Youth”

I really like the twist in the story when a very dark-skinned and toothless Liza Jane shows up at Mr. Ryder’s door looking for her long lost love. Interestingly enough, the man whom she describes as her husband from twenty-five years ago earns the reader’s respect and sympathy since the reasons for his disappearance seem very plausible. She helps him run away just to be back and buy her freedom. The whole chain of unfortunate events ruins their plans but Liza Jane, even though weak in her appearance never stops believing in his return. This makes her the character of an incredible virtue. She has remained true to her “colored” roots, and beliefs. On the other hand, Mr. Ryder, even though a man of virtue and respect, shows a lot of prejudice towards the blacks. He speaks perfect English, is well educated, reads British poetry and aspires to marry a young widow named Mrs. Dixon whom he describes as “the palest lady he expected at the ball, and she was of a rather ruddy complexion, and of lively disposition and buxom build.” The word “pale” has a huge impact on Mr. Ryder since his ultimate goal  and the goal of the “Blue Veins” society is to make it very selective and as close to a white society as possible. He indirectly suggests that this could be achieved through mixed marriages.

Mr. Ryder’s words, “With malice towards none, with charity for all,” we must do the best we can for ourselves and those who are to follow us. Self-preservation is the first law of nature” remind me of Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest.” He is basically saying that the “Blue Veins” members should restrict their search for a mate to their equals within the society instead of including people with dark skin and taking a “backward step”.

cheswife288

Even though he represents the opposite of everything that’s depicted in the character of Liza Jane, the reader still finds the main character appealing because of his loyalty, devotion and a great sense of responsibility.