Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blackberry Eating by Galway Kinnell

                Kinnell paints a raw, harsh picture of blackberry eating through the use of his diction and imagery. He first establishes that he goes out to eat these blackberries in late September which establishes that it is that time of year when the air becomes brisker. Also, he eats these blackberries for breakfast which means he is picking in the cold of the morning. He characterizes the blackberries as “fat, overripe, icy, black” (2). This shows us a clear picture of the blackberries, they are overripe, yet they are still firm and icy. I imagine the blackberries having dew on the sides. His diction is imperative here because he paints a clear picture of these fat overripe blackberries. He uses harsh, hard words such as icy and black which shows the tartness of the blackberries. He is definitely not eating a sweet fruit. He goes on to personify the blackberries.
                He describes them as having prickly stalks “for knowing the black art” (5). He personifies the blackberries as evil. Through this personification, Kinnell shows that the blackberries are tart and harsh, but the speaker still eats them. To continue this argument he describes the how the berries “fall almost unbidden to [the] tongue” (8). The word choice here is significant here because the word unbidden means the blackberries are coming in the speaker’s mouth uninvited. These are powerful objects with a life of their own. These blackberries or “one-syllabled lumps” (11) are nothing like the sweet taste of an apple. Kinnell uses diction imperative to the poem in line 13 when he describes the speaker as “squeeze[ing], squinch[ing] open, and splurge[ing] well”. The alliteration here makes the poem rhythmic which shows that the blackberries are a beautiful fruit, but they are not 100% sweet. Also, the words utilized here have a hard clamor to them, meaning that these words are not light and airy. This exemplifies the harshing of the blackberries. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Poem Explication "To a Daughter Leaving Home" by Linda Pastan

              “To a Daughter Leaving Home” is a poem that relates a girl slowly biking away from her mother, to a grown woman who is leaving home for good. The poem is written in run on lines to create a rhythm. When the daughter first learns how to ride a bicycle she “wobbled away […] on two round wheels”. Also the mother is “loping along beside [her]. The words wobbled and loping symbolize childhood and fun. Yet, now the scenario is still the same because the daughter is leaving home and the mother wants to walk beside her, but not there is no more wobbling and loping. The mother is surprised by the daughter’s will and skill: “my own mouth rounding in surprise when you pulled ahead down the curved path of the park”. This shows that the mother does not know how great the capabilities of her daughter are. Also I believe this shows the difference between childhood and now. The daughter is only going down the curved path which goes easily back to home, but now she is not going on the curved path again.
                As the poem goes on, the language becomes less childlike. As the mother sees the girl in the distance she is “screaming with laughter”. The daughter is no longer wobbling and she is living life. Yet she still has “hair flapping” which shows that some part of childhood will always be with her. She is excited to move on, grow up, and experience the world. The run on lines not only create a rhythm but they also demonstrate the childhood feel of the poem. Everything new that happens is a surprise that occurs on the next line. The last line compares the girl’s hair to a “handkerchief waving goodbye”. The use of the word handkerchief shows that this departure is bitter sweet. She is waving goodbye, but it is like a handkerchief which is associated with crying. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poem explication "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We                          5
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die Soon.

                In this poem the speaker ironically shows that being cool comes with many dangerous deeds. He emphasizes this idea through the use of repetition and rhyme. Each line ends with We. This shows that the mob and gang cultures arises in a group. It is not just one person. Many people may do it because they are followers of others as well. The rhyme in this poem is sing song like and light, this rhyme contrasts with the actions that are actually taking place in this poem. Although it sounds sing song like, “sing sin” and “thin gin” are not actions that are light and airy. In this poem there is end rhyme and alliteration. This artistic nature of the poem contrasts with the nature of these deeds. It is ironic to think of gangsters as singing sin. This poem is a good piece of art because it shows truth about life in a way that the reader will remember. The poem is beautiful to read, and it says truth so it is likely readers will learn a message from it.
                She starts of the poem by comparing cool and school in the same stanza. Right of the bat he shows that leaving school is cool in these people’s eyes. But throughout the poem the speaker questions this idea. Is leaving school actually cool. Leaving school is associating with “lurk late”, “strike straight”, “sing sin” and “thin gin. These are not “cool” actions. Those that leave school get involved in the crime life. They may be “cool” in their minds, but these people are not advancing at all in life. The last line is the most powerful line of the poem. It says that these actions of leaving school and hanging out with you friends will lead to death soon. This line is scary for anyone reading it. Many would think that leaving school and playing hooky is not big deal, but it actually is.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"And of Clay Are We Created" by Isabel Allende

                This short story describes a man, Rolf Carle, who desperately tries to help a girl Azucena who is stuck in clay after a volcano eruption. The themes I predict is this story are repressed memories, feminism, and corruption of society. Rolf tries to help this Azucena for 3 days straight while his significant other stays home and watches him on the television. She watches him from the sidelines. Rolf even says that he comes to love this girl more than his life partner, the narrator: “Rolf assured her that he loved her [Azucena] more than he could ever love anyone, more than he loved his mother, more than his sister, more than all the women who had slept in his arms, more than he loved me” (Allende 366). Although Rolf does not seem to be close to the narrator even though she loves him more than anything, Azucena helps his deal with his repressed pain.
                Rolf lives through the lens of his camera, but when he meets Azucena, he associates closely with her because he feels trapped in his life and memories like she is trapped in the clay. He remembers the time his father beats him and his sister. Allende also writes of an abusive husband in the other short story. This could mean something about Allende’s life. Also, Rolf’s sister was retarded which brought out even more hatred from his father. When Rolf is with her he remembers all his painful memories and he hurts more than Azucena does. Although Rolf looks courageous on the outside he suffers immensely which I believe shows that he is actually not superior to his wife who waits for him.
                In addition, this story shows the corruption of government. Rolf believe all he needs is a pump to help save Azucena’s life, but he cannot get a pump. At first it may seem because the whole town is devastated from the tornado. Yet, the town and government is not focused on saving Azucena, they are focused on creating a story out of her. She is constantly on television and camera crews come with new technology to record her: “More television and movie teams arrived with spools of cable, tapes, film, videos, precision lenses, recorders, sound consoles, lights, reflecting screen, auxiliary motors, cartons of supplies, electricians, sound technicians, and cameraman” (Allende 361). All this new technology comes to witness Azucena, yet the pump does not come. The town clearly has enough money for the pump though if they are investing in all these camera supplies. Also, the president comes to praise Azucena, but he does not deliever a pump either. This shows that the town and government are focused on the giving a media a good story rather than saving a life. This of course is extremely hyperbolic, but that is how Allende gets her point across.  

"The Gold of Tomas Vargas" by Isabel Allende

                This short story describes a selfish, abusive, cheap man Tomas Vargas who has a wife and kids. Another girl comes along saying that her baby is his. At the end of the story Tomas dies with all his gold in a swamp, and his two women live happily together. The possible themes I predict are justice and karma, money, and feminism.
                Tomas’s wife Antonia Sierra still holds her head up high even though she has grown ugly throughout the marriage widely due to abuse. When Concha Diaz comes to town Antonia no longer is able to hold her head up high, and she blames everything on Concha. Yet, with some time she starts to be a proud mother to Concha. She suffers abuse from her husband until Concha’s baby is born. This time she shows her strength even though she is a woman: “Her husband made a move to whip off his belt to give her the usual thrashing, but before he could complete the gesture, she started toward him with such ferocity that he stepped back in surprise. With that hesitation, he was lost, because she knew then who was the stronger” (Allende 79). Antonia exhibits her strength and wins. She has the power the stop her husband’s abuse and superiority.
                Tomas is a rich man because he keeps all his gold buried, and he is the cheapest man alive. He would not even pay for Concha to go to the hospital. Although he is rich and has had good fortune with money, “his good fortune did nothing to mitigate his miserliness or his scrounging” (Allende 72). Money does not make Tomas happy and it just contributes to him being an awful person. Tomas is such a horrible person that in the end he dies in the swamp with his buried gold. Allende writes his destiny purposefully and with the idea of karma in mind. Tomas’ destiny was shaped from the beginning. Something horrible is predicted to happen to him because he is such a horrible person at times it is even over the top because Allende writes hyperbolically. All he wanted in his life was his gold, and he is dies with his gold. Thus, he gets what he wants, but he dies meaning he loses. The women win in the story because they get his gold, even though Tomas dies with it. This shows the theme of karma because Tomas did horrible deeds, so he lost all his gold even though he died right next to it. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crossing the Bar Explication by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

                Lord Tennyson describes a the approach of death on his life. He starts off the poem saying that death is “one clear call for me” (2). The speaker is ready for death to come and retrieve he or she. The speaker also wants their to be “no moaning of the bar” (3). The speaker is not going to put up any fights to say his or her life. The speaker is ready for this passage of life to come. In the next stanza, Tennyson personifies the tide to show how death can be relaxing when the speaker is ready for it. He says that “But such a tide as moving seems asleep” (5), the tide is so peaceful that it seems as sleep. The tide is a metaphor for life because it brings life and then turns back: “When that which drew from out the boundless deep/ Turns again home” (7-8). The tide brings in life from the “boundless deep” and then “turns again home”. Tennyson describes the passage of life as serene if it is looked at from afar.
                The speaker is ready to approach his or her death and wants “there [to] be no sadness of farewell” (11). The speaker has come to terms with death. He or she does not believe that life should be lived the longest. The speaker wants to approach death with open arms. The speaker then describes life as “our bourne of Time and Place”(13). A bourne is a small flowing stream. Life can be related to this because it is a small flowing part of the huge world. Also, life is a part of Time and Place. Tennyson capitalizes Time and Place here to personify them. By personifying time and place it emphasizes life being part of the whole vibrant, alive world. The speaker wants “the flood [to] ear me far” (16). The flood signifies the whole world of people which can bring a bourne places. The speaker explains that the whole world can bring a person through a wonderful life. Tennyson uses water and personification to explain this. The speaker finishes the poem with “I hope to see my Pilot face to face/ When I have crossed the bar” (15-16). The speaker is ready for death and to see who controls life. The speaker cares about the big picture of life and the whole flood rather than just one life which is the stream. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dubliners “The Sisters” What themes do you anticipate based on the 1st story?

            The theme gossip vs. truth is prevalent in “The Sisters”. In this story Father Flynn dies and his legacy is made by the gossip and talk of others, not of his actions and what he thought of himself. The story starts with the protagonist describing an instance of the Old Cotter in his house. The Old Cotter speaks of Father Flynn negatively. He says he was one of those “peculiar cases” and that he “wouldn’t like children of mine […] to have much to say to a man like that” (2). The narrator becomes infuriated at Old Cotter but buries his anger inside of him. Old Cotter frowns upon the narrator having a relationship with the late Father Flynn. It is unknown what Old Cotter knows of Father Flynn that make him have these negative feelings, but these feelings of him contribute to the father’s legacy.
            Another theme in “The Sisters” is action vs. inaction. The narrator faces both the Old Cotter and Eliza speaking of Father Flynn in ways he does not agree with. Yet, the narrator takes no action against this. The narrator buries his anger when he hears Old Cotter disgracing his relationship with Father Flynn, “I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to my anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile” (3). Also the narrator feels a paralysis after the death of Father Flynn. He can only think of the word paralysis when he passes the Father’s window. Also, the narrator does not act here when he simply passes the house even those he longs to go inside to see the Father. The narrator’s inaction contrasts with Father Flynn’s action. Father Flynn shows his feelings through breaking the chalice and spending his time in the church “wide awake and laughing-like to himself” (11). This shows that action may be related to death whereas inaction is necessary to staying alive in this society.