Letter to ____

No, not
the end of your world
or theirs;
that’s a misconception,
wildly untrue.

The end is when
you reach for something
no longer alive, and
in the reflection of
their eyes you
see that death, its
mystical suspicion and
brilliance, is
forever.

The end is when you
reach and reach and
nothing seems to break.

That, that
there is no coming back,
that this decision is fatal,
that nothing exists afterwards
but the left behind
and that legacy will always
be judged by its last moments.

You are a harbinger, and
like diseases spread
through nations,
you cover the aching
sensations of the world
with an unfixable confirmation
of its most depressing
circumstances
your choice is final
and its ripples unfurl
forever against the
world’s best waves

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Breakfast at Sea

A late-afternoon family breakfast in the middle of the ocean,

Where the life was quite inviting and the food was mighty delightful,

We ate soggy sea chips with soggy seafood, then in our comfort departed.

It was two a.m. and the waves floated in on a darkening cloud,

Carrying shells and seaweed with grace to the awakening shore –

Since forever it seems that nothing has changed -, then the waves floated back.

At three a.m. the family made its arrival and expected adventure,

With alien eyes and alien bodies to the great island before us,

The sky strolled on foot and then rained its confusion, then we danced in the mist.

Once the palm trees started to bend we knew it was best to stay inside,

For the shower of coconuts shined like the moon arriving in an apocalyptic blaze,

Like the end time but more pleasant than the Christians had imagined, then we laughed.

After it reached four a.m. we sensed trouble on the horizon,

As a pirate ship sounded off and barged in with a “BOOM!,”

Taking the family for prisoners and the island for their kind, then sipping on rum.

Then in ten minutes time the family had boarded the dangerous vehicle,

Since we braced for the worst, we knew the worst was yet to come,

But they sacrificed little sister Rita to their captain, then anchored off.

At five a.m. the sky unglued itself from the dark of the dawn,

And the mist had rose around the pirate ship to their dismay and commotion,

So the family devised a plan which would surely work, then we cheered.

Once it reached six a.m. the sun had taken his watch over the land,

Peering through the crack in the sky that it crafted especially for him,

Such that the moon could rest for a while in his spectacular light, then awake again.

When the clock tower struck seven and the birds rose in the east,

It was time to unleash our plot upon the dastardly pirates and surprise them,

So with great ferocity and coordination we struck them with steel, then with iron.

We escaped the ship in a bang as the cannons fired after our tracks,

But in the ocean we were protected among the coral reefs and fish galore,

And we enjoyed a nice meal with them in the distant shade,

Then at eight we finally awoke and forgot the great dream we had shared.

 

#34: Easygoing

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Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

Careful, you’re up pretty high; the sky is looking down on you, the world is above you, the ground is below you, everything is as it needs to be. Be still, be like water. Wait your turn, walk in, introduce yourself, sit down, and talk briefly about yourself. Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to fear here.

Living an easygoing lifestyle is difficult. A bit ironic that a word with “easy” in it happens to be the exact opposite. Achieving “easy” living is about as easy as racing up Mount Everest, something I’ll likely never ever be able to do in my life. It’s easier to write about living an easygoing life than it is to actually achieve it, which is partially why I haven’t made as much progress in doing so since becoming a regular blogger and writer on here. The progress I have made, which has been wonderful, hasn’t exactly lifted my body from the depths of depression, if you catch my drift; it’s helped in some small ways, while leaving me bereft of help in others. It cannot be overstated how difficult it is for an anxious mind to let go of their anxieties, even when faced with the consequences of them head-on.

Easygoing. Going easy. Life is most worth living when it’s easy, when it’s care-free, when it’s free. Liberate your life by making it easier on yourself. Break free from self-imposed anxious chains. Make something meaningful of what’s within you, what’s so powerful about you.

There’s a lot to appreciate about everyone, regardless of who they are (except fascists). I’d like to take more time appreciating those small things, and then maybe more people will learn to live life more easily in the future. It is within our reach, if we let it come to us.

#20: Dresden

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Photo by Jens Mahnke on Pexels.com

The city of Dresden was bombed during World War II, near the end of the European campaign, in an attack that many military experts consider to have been unnecessary and inhumane. A vicious attack on non-combat civilians. Does war necessitate atrocities like this? Should the ethical problems caused by new technologies, such as firebombs and nuclear missiles, endanger their everyday use? Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five approaches this topic through the perspective of Billy Pilgrim, a boy who got “unstuck in time” and flits through various episodes of his life in non-chronological order. His PTSD seems to be one of the primary causes of his timeless condition, and the book explores the dramatic mental degradation that can result from a series of traumatic experiences in the past.

I once taught this book, and in order to introduce it, we studied historical contexts during the 60s — music, fashion, protests, the war, and UFO sightings. The UFO sightings project was mostly for entertainment and curiosity’s sake more than anything else. We discussed the Vietnam war, how American citizens were powerless against the draft, to die fighting in a war they knew had no point to it. Vonnegut addresses this idea of powerlessness against larger forces in Slaughterhouse-Five; Billy is scooped up by a Tralfamadorian spaceship and transported into their zoo to live as an exhibit, and this memory comes back to Billy as he fights in World War II, on the brink of death. He connects the two situations in order to draw parallels between them.

As Billy ends up a prisoner in Dresden, so too is Kurt Vonnegut, the author. Vonnegut speaks to Billy, and even prefaces the book with a chapter on his journey through writing the book you are currently reading. The book gets weird like that. I recommend reading it for yourself, in order to get a handle on the oddities and craziness here.

#13: The Scientific

photo of person typing on computer keyboard

Photo by Soumil Kumar on Pexels.com

As part of an AP Biology independent research project, I had the opportunity to learn more about AI technology, mechanical augmentation, and the transhumanist revolution brewing underneath us. This project gave me the chance to showcase what was inspiring me at the time, and I’m grateful for having done it. Sometimes you listen to a podcast and it changes your day’s focus, and sometimes you do a project in high school that makes you think more clearly about the world.

I never was much for math or hard science, even when I was taking an Advanced Placement course with more teacher freedom over activities in the curriculum. Chemistry, again, was my least favorite subject the year before, and I know that I wasn’t the only student feeling this way. A part of my wonderings about the future are about what life would be like had I been taught by a brilliant and creative science teacher and then pursued a science degree rather than an arts one in college. It’s a far stretch, but I wonder it sometimes. You never know what life would be like otherwise, and I think I’m old enough now to be able to ponder “What ifs?” without judgment.

Despite this, my interest in scientific studies has stayed the course. In video games like Deus Ex, the narrative reckons with deep existential questioning related to human technological advancement: the idea that all progress must be good, that the arc of the moral universe always points towards justice. This interest in these questions from a scientific perspective rather than a philosophical approach originates from video games as artistic outlets. I remember watching Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” series, listening to talks by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and exploring heated debates on internet forums. To me, there needed to be a correct answer to the questions I had about the universe, and as I watched, listened, and explored, I was an impartial observer, emotionally invested in the state of humanity but nothing too personal.

Montage Lit Reading

Hello, great people!

I’ve just returned from what was one of the more interesting events of my life, to say the least. For the second time, I’ve been asked to read some of my poetry in front of a crowd. Although both events happened on a small, almost personal scale, never in my life did I expect something like this to happen.

Allow me to clarify.

Never in my life did I ever think that I would be reading something so personal and emotional for me, to a group of people.  It’s surreal, and amazing every time.

I also applaud anyone and everyone who continues to read and write poetry and/or prose in a society that doesn’t appreciate it all as much as they should. But, I digress. That’s a topic for another day.

When people laugh with the funny stuff, and seem moved by the depressing stuff, I know I’ve taken at least some of them on a journey, and that’s ultimately what art is all about. To move people.

Until next time,

Anthony

Story of the Week: “The Awakening”

Hello fellow bloggers! I ought to stop calling it Story of the Week if I haven’t been writing an entry every week, right? It’s a catchy title, though, and it’s fun too.

Today, I will take a look at The Awakening by Kate Chopin. As a feminist and proud supporter of women’s rights, this novel strikes a chord in me. Published in 1899, it functions as a wondrous starting point for the literary theory of feminism, as well. Feminist studies, as they developed and grew in prominence through the 20th century, owe some of their significance to Chopin, whose novel attracts readers of all perspectives through its strong protagonist in Edna Pontellier. However, it would be a crime against the novel’s intrinsic greatness to study it solely as a piece of feminist criticism. With that said, I will be discussing The Awakening as a psychological piece, as the psychological side of the novel tends to also attract readers.

After the break, I will begin with some feminist criticism.

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The Awakening‘s protagonist, Edna Pontellier, is the focus of the novel, as she partakes in an internal journey to “awaken” from the social structures that she, and thus by relation women of her time, have suffered through by the  patriarchy. Thus, the narrative largely focuses on Edna’s journey of enlightenment, and how she reaches that point. Ultimately, the way in which she becomes enlightened makes the story so sensational and intriguing. The plot details add to the social commentary that Chopin is arguing.

Edna first moves to New Orleans with the hopes of escaping a familiar structure that would normally force her to live and survive on a farm for the rest of her life in Kentucky. She realizes that that kind of life is not ideal for her, so she makes a change. She marries Leonce Pontellier, a man whose social status attracts her. In reality, Edna harbored no love for her husband, Leonce, and wanted to escape the monotony of Kentucky in the only surefire way.

By the middle of the novel, Edna is experiencing some mental difficulties, so to speak. Leonce begins to worry for his wife, who begins to distance herself from New Orleans culture and society. While New Orleans is usually depicted as a partying place with happiness and carelessness abounding, the novel takes a secondary perspective of the city. In a similar way that Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire analyzes New Orleans, The Awakening focuses on the outskirts of the city, and the depression that comes from underneath. Edna begins her transformation here, while she distances from society. It is while she is away from the world that she realizes how much control society has in enforcing its norms and standards. Thus, Edna serves as a feminist icon for trying to alter the societal corruption of females.

Edna undergoes a series of tests that ultimately serve as stepping stones on her journey of enlightenment. Most importantly, Edna learns to swim. By learning to swim she is learning to survive in a world separate from society, the natural world. Edna’s ultimate ending once again pays attention to Edna’s learning to swim earlier in the novel. It is a sort of reciprocal ending, but even the most uninsightful of readers can realize that her suicide of sorts is a symbolic way for her to finally escape society, through water and nature. By drowning at the end, Edna manages to escape the patriarchy. Otherwise, she would not have been able to live the way she wanted to, which was her “feminist goal.” Being able to do whatever she would want to would prove to the reader that she has achieved freedom and equality. However, Edna realizes that it’s impossible for her to achieve that desired freedom. For one of the first feminist novels, Chopin really shines and illuminates the struggle that late-19th century had to endure to achieve basic human rights, the kind of rights that white men have had for centuries.

One of the biggest conflicts for Edna involves her marriage to Leonce. Originally, she had married Leonce to escape Kentucky and head to a more lively place where she could live a vibrant, free life among the party-people of New Orleans. Unfortunately, her ties to Leonce burden her ability to be free. She first experiments with a known-womanizer named Alcee while Leonce is on a business trip in New York. At this time, Edna wishes to experience the different kinds of love available to her. One of the most important aspects of being free, she believes, is the freedom to love. Her marriage impedes that freedom. Marriage, a social custom, impedes Edna’s sexual desires. Whether she is justified or not may come up for debate, but on the feminist interpretation of the novel, Edna should be able to experiment how she likes such that she can defy the dominant, patriarchal, systematic society that controls her every move. Would a man be punished equally for the same crime? Even the partying atmosphere of New Orleans doesn’t seem to promote her freedom, as her friend Adele, who represents a sort of societal conscience for Edna, denies she meet Alcee, who has hooked up with just about every other girl in the city.

A better question to ask in this situation is, do Edna’s restrictions and limitations reveal a greater problem for female equality? In the late-19th century, women were forced into roles, while men were able to choose their destinies, so to speak. Women were bred to be mothers and caretakers, stay-at-home parents who raised their children and made their husbands happy. Edna is a proper example of a female lead who neglects that role, and searches diligently for a new one in New Orleans. The character of Edna Pontellier played a large role in establishing different gender roles for women in the United States. While The Awakening was censored upon publication for its stark portrayal of a strong female protagonist who defied the roles she was intended to fit into, it became a popular hit regardless of its censorship.

Another important question to ask regarding the novel would be: For how long has female sexual desire been revealed and explained so openly? In America, the answer is simple: since Kate Chopin. In her short story “The Storm,” Chopin pays further attention to sexual desire in women. Previously, both male and female authors tried to limit their depictions of females desiring anything aside from the pleasure and happiness of their husband and children. Is that fair? Not really. For years and years, authors of all origins have written freely about male sexual desire. The Awakening seeks to awaken America, and the world at large, and show them that females can crave and lust for things just as freely and openly as men. At the time, the novel was considered unethical and immoral. Now? The times have changed, and a new appreciation for The Awakening has developed. The times have certainly changed since Chopin’s era.

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Next in the story, Edna meets Robert Lebrun, the true source of her “awakenings.” In Robert, she sees something unique and charming. Robert represents what she really, truly desires outside the realm of marriage. Robert presents a tough task for Edna, to decide what she wants in life. From there, she awakens. Her enlightenment begins from meeting Robert and partaking in sexual relations with him. Those relations intensify as her awakenings become more apparent and real; the paralleling of these two is intentional. The more Edna meets with Robert, the more she neglects her children as well. Is it okay to neglect your children, even if it is to prove a point?

At this point, in my opinion, Chopin begins to shine as a writer. Her style really takes shapes as she describes the massively changing feelings which Edna experiences. Edna’s complications with her marriage and Robert add for great content to write about, especially as Chopin’s lyrical narration shows it all. If you are interested in a unique narrative style, Chopin’s The Awakening is worth the read. While reading, I felt as if the author really enjoyed what she was writing about, as if the social issue of gender injustice was clawing at her throat for so long and the only way to present her argument came in the form of a creative novel. And what an argument she presented! So incendiary that it caused censorship upon its initial publication!

While Edna’s relationship with Robert escalates, she is visited by her dear friend, Adele, who I mentioned earlier. Adele clearly symbolizes the perfect female ideal of that time period. Despite their friendship, Adele and Edna butt heads in direction. While Adele cares for her husband and children, Edna would prefer to stay with Robert, and pretend they never existed. It makes for a great side-conflict, and by the end of the novel the side-conflict comes to the forefront of the plot. Adele and Edna are clear symbols, in this case, which Chopin must enjoy manipulating through her intricate plot of self-discovery and awakening.

Robert eventually flees to Mexico, under the guise of a business opportunity. He is a hard-working businessman and, at times, he must leave on a whim and pursue such ventures. However, unbeknownst to Edna, Robert uses the business opportunity as an excuse to leave New Orleans, as he sees their relationship as a failed endeavor because of Edna’s marriage. Meanwhile, with Adele telling her to conform and Robert gone for the foreseeable future, Edna turns to Mademoiselle Reisz, who is receiving letters from Robert. Reisz serves as an ideal for Edna to strive for, as a foil to Adele. Reisz plays music, acts freely, and enjoys life. Eventually, Reisz reveals to Edna her letters…and in them, Robert proclaims that he is still thinking about Edna! What a surprise!

With renewed hope, Edna perseveres. Eventually, Robert returns. At the same time, Adele is having a baby in the hospital. While Robert proclaims his love for Edna, Adele is going through the final stages of childbirth. Robert explains to Edna why he left her, but then Edna is called to by a letter from Adele. She leaves Robert and visits Adele at the hospital, as she had promised she would do. Edna returns home to find Robert gone, with a letter telling her that he has left forever.

Then, she swims out to the Gulf of Mexico and drowns in the same waters she had awakened from earlier in the story. Tragic ending! Does this decision promote the idea that there is no room for a free, independent woman in that society? Does it promote depression, tragedy, and conformity? Ultimately, I believe that the ending serves as a glimmer of hope. Obviously, Chopin used the setting for Edna’s first awakening to show a sort of reciprocal turn of events. The hope comes from Edna, who is now free from the world. Although she is dead, she successfully managed to escape everything she wanted to escape from. Adele would no longer want her around, and the love of her life had disappeared forever as well. It’s a tragic ending, but it leads to, in my opinion, a mature decision on Edna’s part to finally escape the world she so wanted to live without. Does that decision make her weak, or strong?

Now, there are many symbols, aside from the characters, that are worth talking about in this novel. Throughout the story, the narrator relates Edna to that of a white bird. That bird flies freely above the world, above society, and does what it pleases. At the onset, Edna is compared to a bird that is imprisoned. If the bird is able to escape the prison, it can fulfill its dreams. However, while stuck in that prison, the bird cannot fly, nor can it move or interact with others. Even at the start, while Edna follows her family through Kentucky, she is tied down by social constraints. She escapes Kentucky only to be put into a larger cage, in a marriage with Leonce. Has she escaped? No, not yet. In her house, away from family, Edna keeps birds of her own. She is visited by birds, too. The influx of avians and more seems to prove that the protagonist really dreams of becoming just like them. Or perhaps she is one of them, but is limited by a broken wing, thus making her weak?

When Edna commits suicide by drowning, she uses courage to do the deed. However, as she passes downward into the depths of the sea, the narrator says: “A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.” The bird, in this case Edna, has perished completely.

This story is truly intense and worth reading yourself. I hope my post here has helped you all understand the story better, or has convinced you to pick it up. Until next time, friends!

Story of the Week: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

Hello everyone!

Today, I will be talking about one of my personal favorite classics in Huck Finn. What a book! Also, I apologize for not posting much. I’ve had too much to do recently, with finals approaching and preparation for summer (job hunting, internship searching, etc.) occupying my time. I’ve spent a lot of my time on this blog preparing this post. I love this book, and I hope you will appreciate it more after reading this!

Now, I want to mention that this book is highly controversial. It features the n-word over 200 times throughout. However, it reveals the racial ignorance and delusion in the antebellum American South in a unique and revealing way. It uses satire and seriousness to show this point, which is common of Mark Twain, the author. Racial ignorance and stereotyping was everywhere in the American South during this period. The genius of the book is in the way in which the author reveals said ignorance, through the incredibly compelling main character. 

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Clearly, Huck Finn is an American classic, similar to the Great Gatsby, which I talked about last week. And while the ending may depreciate the overall quality of the novel, the rest of it remains endearing and intellectual all the same for readers to enjoy. One of my old English teachers used to say: if you turn your brain off for the last part of the novel, you’d enjoy it a lot more than if you had it on.

Alright, no more ranting about the unfavorable ending! Time to provide background!

Mark Twain, if you haven’t heard the name or read his fiction before, also called Samuel Clemens in some parts of America, is a true gem of satire and fiction. Much of his work comes – or at least is partly inspired – from the experiences of his own life, growing up in the 19th century in America in Mississippi. Twain was upset with the world as he was writing. Although he grew increasingly cynical as he aged, it came from his dissatisfaction with the state of public opinion. He saw Huck Finn as a novel capable of changing American society for the better, towards more racial acceptance, and towards a more negative and cynical view of the era he lived in. Unfortunately, the societal change would come posthumously. Twain wrote Huck Finn with all the intention in the world of creating the Great American Novel. Did he achieve it? I’d say he did.

In my opinion, much of the greatness of the novel comes from its perceived innocence and adventure at the inset and its intellectual enlightenment and fulfillment by the outset.

The story is about young-but-ignorant Huck Finn, previously seen (chronologically speaking) in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He enters a physical, mental, and moral journey that takes him from Mississippi to the Deep South of antebellum America. Most critics, including myself, see Huck Finn as a classic tale of a young character losing his/her naivety and innocence as he explores a mature, ever-changing world.

At the onset, Huck is part of a religious, theological world. He is under custody by the widow. Although she is well-meaning, she controls him and his development, ensuring he follows the (somewhat corrupt) morals of the world. Twain is a notoriously hard critic of organized religion, and expresses that through Huck’s orphan parents here. Ultimately, Twain is a satirist so it’s important to remember that whilst reading. Of course, if you are sensitive about the effects that organized religion had on the “justification” for slavery in the South, I recommend taking Twain’s points lightly.

The plot of Huck Finn is truly its highlight, in my opinion. Although The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are renowned by critics for their “loss of innocence” stories, I believe that Huck Finn is the greatest example that American literature can provide. While the story is primarily about Huck and the slave Jim, it talks to the entirety of social change and development in the 19th century.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Huck Finn’s father returns when he discovers that Huck has a lot of money stored in the bank, and wants to claim it at his legal, rightful guardian. The unfortunate part is that his father is an alcoholic child-abuser, and will soon be taking Huck away from his guardians (who weren’t necessarily the best kind of people in hindsight, but kept Huck “civilized” and “stable” while he was with them). Huck didn’t want to be civilized by his guardians anymore, but he also didn’t want to necessarily return to his father, who only wanted him for his money. Thus, he devised a plan to escape from his father and exploit his drunken tendencies. As he escaped from the small hut/house that his father built by a stream, away from civilization, Huck triumphed by outsmarting him. A rite of passage!

He escapes to Jackson’s Island, where he stumbles upon someone who will change his life forever – and no, not a future romantic interest. Huck Finn’s previous guardians owned a slave named Jim, who had a family but was removed from it by the people who bought him. Of course, Huck Finn stumbles upon Jim. Huck was always taught by his guardians that slaves were lesser people. They shouldn’t be trusted, respected, or talked to. But, because of his innocence and supposed “immaturity” and “uncivilized” nature, Huck looks past those thoughts and thinks of Jim as a human being. Thus, the story of Huck Finn is under way.

And that’s only the beginning. From there, it only gets better (until the ending) and from there, you see the relationship of a “dumb, stupid, uncivilized boy” named Huck Finn and a “dumb, stupid, uneducated slave” named Jim develop into respect, admiration, and bonding. The moral circumstances of this friendship are profound. Mark Twain’s point lies in the fact that the only person capable of seeing the truth, the enlightenment of things, is a young immature uncivilized boy who can barely read and write. It is when one is resistant to the education that culture and society demands of a “civilized” boy that you begin to break the mold. And Huck Finn certainly breaks many molds as he travels down a river, on a raft, with a slave.

As Jim and Huck travel down the river, they plan to take the Ohio River back up to free territory. Unfortunately that doesn’t work out for them, as they miss the spot they needed to go to. Instead, they end up traveling down the Mississippi River into the Deep South. During the day, Jim needs to hide. He is a slave who Huck’s previous guardians and town officials are looking for. Huck’s father is looking for him. Everyone’s looking for something, and they need to stay safe. When it’s nighttime, they are free to roam. This is a symbolic contrast, present in the novel because of Twain’s brilliant satirical background.

The novel is dominated by symbolic contrasts. Along with the contrast of night and day, civilization and nature are also significant. As the shade of night protects the duo from harm and being caught, so also does the river. The Mississippi River is Huck’s protective parent. The sides of the river, which are inhabited by towns and people, are dangerous. The river, which is an embodiment of nature, instinct, and impulse, is kind. Keeping in mind that the book was written before naturalism became a study, this is a pretty profound development. Although naturalists believed that nature is unforgiving, unpredictable, and ruthlessly uncontrollable, the roots of the study lie in Huck Finn, in my opinion, because of the great attention that Twain places on nature.

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Huck notices these contrasts and adapts to his environment very quickly. While he’s around robbers and felons, he’s quick on his feet. There’s one instance early into the novel where Huck and Jim encounter a sinking boat on the side of the river. As they look closer, there’s three thieves in there debating their shares of the rewards and money they just stole. Meanwhile, the ship is sinking. They don’t realize that. Huck does. Huck also realizes that Jim needs to be safe, so he leaves the ship when he can’t find Jim there. This small story is another example of Twain’s indictments of human behavior. These thieves may be cunning, but not particularly bright. They lack common sense. Huck, on the other hand, is cunning, but also realizes that he’s going to sink with the ship if he doesn’t get off soon.

Another example of Huck thinking quickly on his feet occurs when some local town officers try to examine his raft. There’s a tent in it, and Jim hides in there. Huck doesn’t want the officers to reach Jim, by no means. For that reason, he can’t have them search the small tent he’s in. So, in classic Huck fashion, he claims that his family is in the tent, and that they have smallpox. He says it’s very contagious, and that he might have it too, so it’s best they leave the raft and not catch it from him or his family. Genius.

This is the kind of maturation that Huck needs, and it’s ultimately what he gets throughout the journey. While his guardians wanted to teach him reading and writing, he wanted to go into nature, into the world. He’s realistic, understanding, and mature, though. At the end of the novel, the reader understands that no one else really shares in Huck’s realistic maturity. Huck is uniquely intelligent yet uncivilized.

Although I’ve disparaged the ending of Huck Finn quite a lot so far, I did enjoy Huck’s eventual revelation. He abandons Tom Sawyer.

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, we see a host of random fantasy out-of-this-world adventures courtesy of the Romantic hero, Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain denied and disliked the Romantic movement of the early 19th century. He disliked it so much that, in Huck Finn, he has the main character, who by now is seen as someone capable of understanding and acting upon complex moral situations at such a young age, defy Romanticism completely. He does so by abandoning Tom Sawyer, the Romantic hero. While it is arguable that Tom is a complete, all-encompassing Romantic hero (I’d hardly give him the title ‘hero’ to begin), he certainly serves to embody the values of Romanticism.

The Romantic movement valued aesthetics, emotion, and feelings. It enjoyed the natural and reveled in the supernatural. From Romanticism, people value staring off at a setting sun over the horizon, enjoying the overflow of emotion and thought as you sit there. A Romantic poet would ask for you to record your feelings verbatim. Romanticism also asserted the importance of nationalism. Now, why does Tom Sawyer embody this movement?

Tom Sawyer is usually the source of great, bounding, incredibly unnecessarily complex ideas and plans to either get money, honor, or some kind of fantasy. He’s big on fantasy. The entire imagination of Romanticism comes directly from Tom. As the novel nears its end, Tom is reintroduced. It spirals downward at this point. All of his complex ideas represent Romanticism. And, when Huck is finally fed up with Tom and his fantastic plans, he abandons him in an ultimate act of maturity and defiance. Not only is he defying all of Romanticism, but society as a whole. At this point, Huck is truly individualistic. He has the choice to go back home, but he refuses. He doesn’t want to be trained to be civilized any more.

How about that? What a great piece of fiction! If you’ve read it, I recommend you do so and immediately spark up a conversation with me about your thoughts. I’d love to hear them. As this is one of my favorite pieces, I enjoy discussing it in deeper detail. And although this piece is somewhat long, I’ve only touched on the novel’s surface. There’s so much more to talk about!

Until tomorrow, fellow bloggers!

Story of the Week: “The Great Gatsby”

Hello everyone!

I wanted to coincide this post with the publishing of my poem, “Gatz the Great,” but then I got very sick. Instead, I am posting this almost a week late, and I feel embarrassed for that. However, the series goes on!

Last time I did a story of the week post, I talked about three books that had a significant impact on my knowledge of English literature. I discussed One Hundred Years of Solitude in great detail and campaigned for people to read it. Now, I will be discussing a more well-known, popular book, I believe. The Great Gatsby is a perennial novel. It transcends its time period and has great importance in American literature. When I read it for the first time, I knew I was reading something special, something great. Gatsby!

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I’m sure almost everyone on WordPress has read this book or have been exposed to it before this post. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to shed new light on it, but I do want to showcase my appreciation for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s greatest work here.

While although I can summarize the plot fairly quickly, there is much more to be analyzed about the plot within. One of my greatest praises for the book–and one I’m sure others share as well–is how, in its shortness (it rounds out at around 200 pages usually), it manages to create one of the most realistic, intriguing, and complicated scenarios in American literature. A man who has returned from WW2 (Jay Gatsby) seeks to find his pre-war lover again (Daisy Buchanan) and discovers that she lives in New York City with her husband (Tom Buchanan.) He moves to NYC in an effort to rekindle their flame.

At its most basic level, that is the plot of The Great Gatsby: a love story. But it’s also a tale of redemption, economic pursuit, cultural gratification, popularity, the American Dream, and others. I enjoy this book because it seeks to create a simple and understandable narrative with a much more complex thematic and symbolic infrastructure. Because the story is about love, it will stand the test of time. But because the story is about much more than just love, it will be read in literature classes for many more years.

One of the essential structures created by Fitzgerald is the dichotomy of Old Money versus New Money, used symbolically through the novel. This dichotomy was at its most prominent during the Roaring Twenties of American history, when America was supposedly at its economic and cultural peak, and when this novel takes place. Simply put, Old Money represents people who inherited their money and did not work for their wealth. New Money represents people who participate in shady or opportunistic practices in order to make a name for themselves, and to reach wealth. In New York City, the section or town of West Egg is dominated by New Money and East Egg by Old Money. The Buchanans live in East Egg, and Gatsby lives in West Egg. The distinctions are clear, then.

However, with all this said, we are leaving out who, arguably, the story is all about! The narrator! Nick Carraway, the relatively modest neighbor of Gatsby in West Egg, comes from the Midwest to study at Yale. There, he meets Tom Buchanan. Nick is Fitzgerald’s way to epitomize the (somewhat) upper-class shooting for the American dream. Nick, and one other character who I have yet to mention, are America.

When Nick comes East to NYC, he has grand ideas for how successful he may end up becoming. Along the way, he realizes, through a few important events, that the American dream he had been shooting for was a myth, an illusion all along. It was not within his reach because Old Money was always there to blast his dreams to peaces, or perhaps the dreams of some of his friends.

Nick Carraway learns from Gatsby, as he also learns from Buchanan. Because he is friends with both of them, he is capable of seeing through both of their eyes, capable of understanding them. What he discovers by the end of the novel is what makes it all worthwhile. Nick is my personal favorite character in this novel.

George Wilson, a car garage owner in the “Valley of Ashes” (more on that later), is married to Myrtle Wilson. The Wilsons are the other half of the American dream: they represent the lower class attempting to reach impossible heights. George Wilson buys the garage with hopes that he can achieve economic stability and possibly prosperity somehow. However, he is exploited by Tom Buchanan for his cars, while Tom is also having an affair with his wife, Myrtle.

It’s one giant jumbled and complex situation that ultimately goes to show that the American Dream is, in the end, a farce. Fitzgerald believes that so long as Old Money has authority over the world, the presence of New Money will never be respected or successful.

And then there’s Gatsby, the titular character with a knack for economics who ruins his own dreams by believing too much in the power of love in a much-too-civilized world. His life depends on the past, and not on the future.

If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby before, I recommend you pick it up. It’s a perennial classic, and for good reason. It is a Great American Novel in itself. My favorite part of the book is not the complicated plot or anything like that, it is the writing style of Fitzgerald. He writes beautifully. Every sentence he writes feels alive, vibrant. There’s a classic quote on nearly every page.

For those of you who have read the book before, and have studied it diligently, you know that I have left much out of this review. Too much detail and information can, at times, be overwhelming. Especially with this book!

I hope you all enjoyed this latest Story of the Week segment, I know I did! If you’d like, I love to chat with commenters about literature so drop a comment and we can do just that!

Thanks for reading, and until next time!

Gatz the Great

It’s 11:30 on a Wednesday night

And the winter’s cold but damp,

The blizzard had passed yet the

Vicious winds have roared

And haven’t stopped.

I am sitting on the beach rocks

Like a boat beating against the current,

And the Moon sleeps in the distance

While the ocean buzzes into life and

The great green light flickering across the dock

Shines endlessly like a garnet stone

Or a beautiful daisy for us to admire

Among a field of grays and blacks.

It was a light for us, to

Incite hope from,

As motivation to stay calm and safe

But to take risks and start scandals

To rise higher up the long ladder

From poverty to sanctuary,

From flames to paradise, and

From ashes to beauty,

And from here we set our gaze skyward.

As I speak the moon-man is fishing for attention,

And languishing in arrogant insecurity, while

Baiting the fish with dread and

Dropping lanterns and light bulbs in the bay;

He’s knocking on the world’s ceiling

And laughing with his lover

For he had exploited the fish for gold.

But the angels, with their all-seeing eyes,

Responded furiously

For lightning struck thrice on his mistress

And they were quite pleased

And the moon man was frustrated

And the fish laying on the ocean

Were gasping for air against the

Murky and dangerous current

In the valley of ashes.

And I wondered if they would stay dead for eternity.