Tuesday, 19 November 2013

GINS & Consumerism mashup


For my global issues novel study I am reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, a thrilling fictional novel about a society where possessing books in punishable by death and firemen start fires instead of putting them out. The main global issue being discussed is government censorship/government control. The question I have today is what role does consumerism play in this fictional universe? Through indirect evidence shown throughout the novel, I have come to the conclusion that the characters are living in a communist/dictatorship-like society (except we do not know who is making all the decisions). Through this observation I know that the government provides many services and that the government is very involved in the well-being of individuals. When Mildred attempts suicide, Montag takes her to the hospital where she is given treatment for free- public healthcare. I think a lot of this is meant to keep the citizens ignorant and subdued, a very effective method to maintaining control. Because of the vagueness of the information provided about the society throughout the novel (at least so far) it’s very difficult to make accurate inferences/analyses. I will add more to this post once I finish the novel and can add more accurate information!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

Global Issues Novel Study Introduction

       We have recently started our global issues novel study and were asked to choose a novel which discusses a global issue we are passionate about. I decided to read Fahrenheit 451, a fictional novel by Ray Bradbury. Here is an website where you can read the synopsis to help explain what it is about: 

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/451/summary.html

       I chose this book to study as I was captivated by the plot as well as the social implications caused by both the burning of the novels as well as Montag rebelling against the society's controlling and manipulative demeanour. As I have began to read the book, I  have so many questions! Warning: SPOILER'S AHEAD! Here are the main one's:
  • Where is Clarisse?! She disappeared without so much as a word or explanation. I want to know why she suddenly disappeared. 
  • After Mildred is healed after her attempted suicide and wakes up remembering nothing of it, I wonder if the government uses this method or a variant of it to keep  it's citizens subdued. 
  • Why exactly are books considered an illegal commodity? I have a hypothesis but I wonder if it will prove correct. I'll share this in later analysis of the novel.
       There have been many gripping characters introduced, here is a quick synopsis on them and their importance to the story:
  • Guy Montag - The protagonist of the story, he is a 30 year old fireman who (at the beginning of the book) enjoys his job. He is married to Mildred. As he begins to talk to Clarisse, he realizes how utterly colourless his life really is. 
  • Clarisse - Eccentric and mysterious, she is a 17 year old girl whose family moves next door to Montag only to disappear about 15% into the novel. She has a perspective Montag has never even thought about and opens his eyes to the world and society they live in. 
  • Milred - Montags wife. It is discovered she is depressed and attempts suicide. Her marriage lacks any depth or real emotion. 
  • Captain Beatty - Montag's harsh fireman leader, he is the first definitive representation we see of social conduct in this society. 
       At this point, the main issue being addressed in Fahrenheit 451 is government involvement in personal lives and the concept of social censorship. On this topic I know a little bit, but not enough to make an accurate inference on how this impacts the lives of other's in foreign countries. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Litspiration challenge

This term, we were asked to do another litspiration challenge. I chose to do word art for a few of my favourite books. As you know, I absolutely love The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I also chose to do the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I chose key/iconic images from the novels to make the center quotes the focal points of the piece. I chose the center quotes because of their importance in each of the writing pieces.



Monday, 30 September 2013

Bamfield Writing Analyses

        Hello! Last week we were given the incredible opportunity to go to the Bamfield Marine Biology Centre. During our 6 day stay here, we were given the task of reading 2 writing pieces and analyzing them. The First was "The Sea Devil", which is a short story written by Arthur Gordon, the second of which was the first 2 chapters of Whale Story by Cheryl Tardif

Analysis of "The Sea Devil":

       In reading "The Sea Devil" the first thing I noticed was the author's choice to establish the main character's (for lack of better term) character very quickly and very strongly. The impressions I got from the unnamed protagonist was that he is unhappy with his life and is given a characteristic of masculinity. Being a teenage girl, I found it very hard to identify with this character as he had obviously had many experiences I have not, and talked in a manner I could not empathize with. I could not reciprocate his emotional standpoints at the beginning, but as he struggled I could see a glimmer of myself, as I think most people can, in his willpower and spirit to prevail. 
       Considering I read this story at Bamfield where there is a plethora of profound life and wonderful marine creatures, and I have been to Florida, I could visualize the setting of the story (off the Florida coast) pretty well. "The man" was never given an actual idenitity, which led me to infer that it is possible symbolism for the human race- how the fire within us drives us towards survival and prosperity. After I finished reading this short story, my take on the theme was that of self discovery & discovery of the human spirit. Overall, "The Sea Devil" was a foreign read- not something I would have picked out for myself- but was interesting as I got to experience a new perspective of the world. 

Analysis of Whale Story:

       When beginning to read The Whale Story, I found that-unlike the previous writing piece we were asked to analyze- I could identity with the protagonist very well. An 11 year old girl full of ambition and a hunger for knowledge and exploration, Sarah reminded me of myself at that age. Having been through some of the things the novel was focusing on, I could totally understand all of her emotional reactions and actions throughout the 2 chapters. The developing theme seems to be one slightly similar to "The Sea Devil", that of self discovery and overcoming fears. 
       There is some foreshadowing shown to us at the beginning of the book about possible occurrences that will happen further into the book. The foreshadowing included a story of a 14 year old boy who attempted to swim out to a island off the coast of Bamfield, yet supposedly drowned due to his over-confidence. Since this story was set in Bamfield, I did not have any issues visualizing the brilliant views described in the novel. After all, as conveyed through The Whale Story, I too was overcome with captivation and interest of the hidden yet apparent beauty of the place. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Update


Hello readers, long time no blog. I’m now back and will be posting new content. First on the list is telling you about my summer reading!

            My summer reading consisted of reading all of the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. Yes ALL of them. I read all 5 books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and the first 3 books in the Heroes of Olympus series- and am anxiously awaiting the fourth installment The House of Hades (coming out October 8th). I first found out about them after watching a non-spoiler review of The Mark of Athena (don’t judge me for skipping, I was curious). I was really intrigued and began the first book, The Lightning Thief within an hour of watching the review. I’ve always been very interested in Greek Mythology and things of that sort so I was completely enthralled to learn that Rick Riordan did his research applied so much of this mythology to the story.
            The characters in the first series are all wonderfully developed and relatable in some shape or form. Percy has, without a doubt, rightfully earned a spot in my top three favorite fictional characters of all time thanks to Riordan’s brilliant character development throughout the first and second series. Other characters like Annabeth, Tyson, Percy’s father, Leo, and Piper are great as well. I found myself invested in every character’s story line, which you rarely find in novels.
The plot lines for both series (the plot of the first series leads into the plot of the second series) are so great and well thought out that I was never bored. Did I say how much I love that Riordan incorporated so many small details and stories from Greek mythology because I really, really love it. The author mixed mythology and modern culture perfectly. These books are so different than anything I’ve read before and are definitely some of my favorite books of all time. The latest book (Mark of Athena) ended off on the biggest cliffhanger I have ever read and I can’t wait for the next books to come out!

I am currently reading Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite- The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan. It’s about the scientific origons of monster mythology in a bunch of different cultures. I’ve been really enjoying it so far, and will post an update once I finish the book!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Connections to real world issues


The House of the Scorpion touches on many different issues that are still relevant in today’s society from slavery, to dictatorships, to child labor. I will be discussing the real world issue of oppression with you today. Oppression is a very broad subject, as many different cultures and races have been oppressed throughout history. In The House of the Scorpion, Matt is born a clone. From his young age, he has difficulty comprehending and understanding why people were treating him differently from the other children, why was he shunned? This quote from the book describes Matt’s reaction when he reflects on the scene where he is first revealed as a clone:

“What was it Rosa had called him? A “filthy clone”. Matt had no idea what that was but he recognized an insult when he heard it. Rosa hated him, and so did the fierce man and the doctor. Even the two older children had changed once they knew what he was.”

Throughout the novel Matt is oppressed by the society he is in, and directly by other characters all because of a slight difference from the rest of the population- and this is also the case with other examples of oppression throughout history. These differences do not make us lesser or more important than the other. Examples of oppression in modern day include homosexuals and, to a minor degree, women. People today are in the same type of situation as Matt- shunned because of something they cannot control. Directly relating to the oppression of gays: homophobia. Throughout the world, there are still many homophobes, but luckily that number is dropping every year. In the end of the novel, Esparenza reveals that Matt was always human, just given the label of “clone”. It was this superficial label for which people and society judged him, but that is just the surface of him as an individual.

 Martin Luther King once said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We are all human beings; no one person is of greater value than another because of superficial projections, and a day should come when everyone realizes that.

Characterization


I’ll be discussing the different characters of the novel and their development throughout the story. First of all the general character development Farmer was implemented was very mysterious and elusive. She fed us information bit by bit- satisfying our want for character background, unanswered questions, and character depth- but not explaining too much too quickly to diminish our curiosity of the story and our investment in the characters. I’ve picked my three favorite characters form the book to discuss with you.

Matt

Matt is the protagonist of the novel- constantly dynamic and growing more round throughout the story. Matt’s character development fascinated me throughout the book, from start to finish. At the beginning of the novel during the exposition, we learn barely anything about him. As the story progresses we learn more about Matt and his purpose as heart-donor for El Patron. I found myself empathizing with Matt and his isolation/rejection, understanding how lonely and frustrating a situation like that can be and the toll it can take on someone mentally (his loss of speech, repetitive behavior). Matt learned to hate himself as a coping mechanism to deal with everyone treating him as scum, and again felt myself sympathizing with Matt. Matt’s dialogue often shone light on the fact that he had a lot of pent up emotions, and no way of releasing them (his behavior towards Tom). Although I’ve used this quote as evidence in a previous post, I’ll use it again to prove my point:

“… the Alacrans will have me put to sleep like an old dog. I’m a clone in case you’ve forgotten. I’m livestock.” (Page 366)

Maria

Throughout the novel I believed Maria’s character a metaphor for purity and innocence.
All of her actions throughout the novel were based on her personal moral, which differed so much from the other characters of the story. Her personal beliefs and thoughts about right and wrong were not as influenced by the society she grew up in as everyone else in the upper class (in Opium). She is relatively static throughout the novel, her views on Matt never being completely wavered by others’ opinion of Matt:

“I love you,” Matt said.
“I love you too,” Maria replied. “I know it’s a sin and I’ll probably go to hell for it.”
“If I have a soul, I’ll go with you,” Matt promised.
(Farmer, page 222)

I found Maria’s character very likable and relatable throughout the novel. I think I became more invested in her character than anyone else’s because I connected with her attitude, perspective, and reactions to scenarios presented throughout the book! Throughout the book she is a round character, we know most things about her from when she is first introduced except what happened to her mother, and that is explained further in the novel. Maria was, in simplicity, innocent.

El Patron

To me, El Patron is the most intriguing and complex character of the novel. From his personality traits that evolved throughout his lifetime, to his impoverished upbringing and his rise to power, El Patron is the underlying mystery and menace of the story. I personally believe El Patron was a static character. Throughout the book, his mannerism did not change nor did his malicious and controlling behavior, not even after his demise:

“Listen to me,” said Celia. “El Patron had ruled his empire for 100 years. All that time he was adding to his dragon hoard and he wanted to be buried with it. Unfortunately-” Celia stopped and wiped her eyes- “Unfortunately that dragon hoard included people.” (Farmer pages 375-376)

I think as the story continues, more depth to his character is revealed and he becomes rounder. Though others may disagree, I don’t think El Patron is the antagonist. He just happens to be a very evil character that did very heinous things. During the time he was alive, he does not want to thwart Matt, he wants him to succeed (until he is needed as a heart donor for El Patron). After finishing the book, I tend to think that society is the antagonist of the novel. The society Farmer has implemented into the story has a blind prejudice and distaste for clones like Matt because of the idea of what clones should be (disgusting, uncivilized animals), and this and the limitations that come with it is what thwarts Matt throughout the book.

Narrative Structure


Hello! In this post I will be discussing the narrative structure of The House of the Scorpion.

The exposition begins in the very first chapter “In the Beginning”, but is most prominent in “The Little House on the Poppy Fields” where you are first introduced to Matt’s life in an elusive and lonely manner (Celia repeatedly telling him she is not is mother, his longing for social interaction). I thought there was a lack of information about Matt and was slightly disappointed as I was not invested in his character from the start as I should have been. We also get a first impression of the setting and it’s importance in the novel. I found the exposition very short-winded with the Rising Action beginning in the end of the second chapter. As the rising action ensued, you became engrossed in the mystery and confusion of Matt’s situation, his isolation as a clone, and what it all meant. As the rising action continued, we gained more knowledge about the setting and figured out Matt’s true purpose causing more tension set in by Farmer’s minimalistic yet substantial writing technique.
Though there are several sub-climactic points throughout the story (strategically placed to keep you interest peaked), The climax of the story occurs when Matt returns to Opium and the Alacran estate at the end of the book. I felt that this was a suitable and momentous occasion with Matt accepting his “duty” per say, but really he was doing an act of great bravery and selflessness. The end of the book was both expected and unexpected at the same time. The notion that “once El Patron owns something, he never lets it go” is a reoccurring idea throughout the book and mentioned by multiple characters. Though you understand it is an important element of El Patron’s character, you never anticipate how literal the sentiment is until the end of the novel. I found the resolution and falling action too short and story lines left unexplained. I’m glad that Farmer is finally coming out with a sequel, I’m curious to see whether she will talk about previous minor story arcs or focus on the main arc as the ong thing I definitely disliked about the falling action and resolution was that no minor story arcs were revisited/resolved. What about Tom and Maria’s engagement? How did Maria find her mother? This was the bitter to the slightly bittersweet ending of the book.
One last thing I would like to talk about is that I thought it was curious how Farmer categorized the events of Matt’s life in age sections. In chapter 19 titled “Coming-of-Age” we see Celia and Tam Lin celebrating Matt’s growing up and while reading this scene, we become vaguely aware that perhaps they are celebrating this birthday with an undertone of preparatory mourning and/or grief. As I re-read and analyzed this chapter, I thought that it was conceivable to perceive that maybe the reason it was so momentous for Matt to live to 14 was because he wasn’t supposed to live long at all- and that was why it was called his “old age” in the contents. It then became clear that the categorization of the story by age (or Matt’s progression in his perceived lifetime) was a huge hint Farmer gave to the reader from the get-go- something that surprised me and made me love the novel even more.