Mental Shortcuts – Outsmart your Brain

In chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain, Willingham explores the idea that the brain struggles with abstract concepts but thrives with concrete ones. Willingham explains the phenomenon as a kind of mental shortcut. Willingham first introduces this concept by having the reader read a short paragraph where he later exposes our brain to take a mental shortcut. He elaborated on this concept, “Readers are very likely to notice a word they don’t know. They are also very likely to notice if the grammar of a sentence is wrong. But they are much less likely to notice when two sentences contradict each other.” This is a particularly interesting concept for me because I have always been aware of how I tend to make assumptions and draw conclusions based on limited information and often leading to mistakes that could have otherwise been easily eradicated. However, I had never thought of why I fall prey to mental shortcuts. 

One of the reasons Willingham proposed is the availability heuristic, which states that we judge the frequency or likelihood of an event based on how easily examples come to mind. This was particularly eye-opening because I realized that I have fallen prey to this mental shortcut many times in my life. For example, recently I was completing a few mathematical questions about trigonometry, where I had skipped reading the question and completed the given diagram as the previous questions has asked for. Upon reviewing my answers, I found that the question was asking for a completely unrelated value from the previous questions and caused a few point reductions.

The insights I gained from this chapter have made me more aware of how I make decisions and form opinions while navigating through my life. Overall, I think that this chapter has helped me be more critical and mindful of the information I encounter and how I process that information. By understanding the mental shortcuts that I use, I believe I can better navigate the world and avoid falling into the traps of assumptions.


Outsmart Your Brain

Reading Outsmart you Brain by Daniel.T Willingham has proven to be a very interesting experience. My entire life I have had to study for exams and havent really known how to study. I would usually tend to just cram it all in and hope for the best. However until more recently I have been studying more efficiently by rewriting my notes to understand the content then practicing it via practice test or exorcises. I have noticed that a lot of what I already do was described in this book. For example one of the things he talks about is making meaningful study guides. He really emphasizes putting the entire syllabus and make the study guide good enough to learn the entire subject from it alone. This is similar to what I already do which is rewrite my notes from a textbook, however I only write down the things I deem important which differs from Willinghams strategy. For the upcoming mock exam I will most likely make a full a thorough study guide for each subject.

He also really emphasizes that are viewing notes isn’t a good study method, and that you need to probe your mind by stimulating it. I completely agree with his point about this. I find that in my classes when I take notes in class the notes I take have never helped and I only understand the topic after rewriting new notes then practicing the theory(probing my brain).

In conclusion,  what Willingham has to say about studying is very valid and will ensure you get a high mark on your exam. My original studying styles is very close however differs in some areas, and I may consider switching to his way of studying to receive a high mark on the most important exams of my high school life coming up.

Chapter 6 of Outsmart Your Brain

Reading the sixth chapter of Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain was incredibly intriguing. His points made about memory offered me a new perspective on the familiar concept. Although the phrase “probing memory improves memory” appears simple at first glance, upon rereading, it provided new insight regarding the memorization techniques I currently use. Fallen victim to revising for exams by rereading notes, Willingham’s compelling arguments convinced me to turn towards a new technique. Retrieval practice is the ideal study method proposed by Willingham. As this is my first exposure to retrieval practice, the promise of a new method of studying, being more effective and practical in the long run, interested me. Willingham recommends making a comprehensive study guide, increasing the efficacy of studying. The importance of ensuring that the whole syllabus is contained within the pages of the study guide is also emphasized. Along with this, Willingham raises a fascinating point about the properties of memory, that it is easier to remember meaningful content than meaningless content. While this is a familiar concept to me, the explained study strategy utilizing this property is especially useful. Interestingly, Willingham ignores the idea of an individual’s studying style, stating that no evidence has proven that theory. He suggests that people should neglect their specific learning style, utilizing the strategy earlier mentioned.

In short, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge about the most effective ways of studying. Additionally, I now know the methods to fully capitalize on the memory function of the brain. I’m confident that what I learnt from reading would prove useful in revising for both the mocks and the final exams.

Common Mistakes Made Reading

Of all the readings I have been assigned in English class this year, this one is the most in-depth and eye-opening. Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham made me fully sit up right after reading the first chapter. Willingham places a trap in there, and I fully fall for it. In the midst of explaining his assertion he places a short text to explain and asks the readers to pay attention to it,  but the topic and final sentence  fully contradict each other. The trap was to prove to readers that you might understand what each sentence means but if you cannot connect between the lines, there is no understanding or learning. As I realized this, I suddenly became much more attentive to what I was reading, and I picked up some habits alongside. Here is what I have learnt from the text:

(1) The majority of students (myself included) do not always understand advanced texts because of the default reading style, understanding lines but not making the overall connection. When reading, this is a crucial step, especially in texts that aren’t straight-forward, otherwise the basis of understanding is lost and a false meager of comprehension is provided. (2) Reading and highlighting important pieces of information in new and sophisticated text is a waste of time. You can’t possibly know what is important and what isn’t when reading new text, there is no background knowledge on it, and you’re only highlighting information you think is important, which could be wrong. Instead employ this method, SQ3R (survey, questions, read, recite and revise). First you survey the text, read a few headings or a summary, and get an idea of what the text is on. Make questions about the text from the information you gathered from the survey. Read the text. Recite and ensure you understand and remember what you read, as well as make notes. Revise the notes you have down. (3) How to take notes. ” Do you think your notes are good enough that even if you set them aside for a few weeks, reading them will be enable you to recover all of your insights into the content?” If your answer is no, your notes are not sufficient and your note-taking skills need to be worked on. After reading a chapter, write some things about it down. In your words, explain what you understand and ensure you take as much time and caution as you did reading the text. (4) Schedule appropriate times for reading. You’re assigned some reading to do on a new topic in a class, and you want to do it after basketball practice, not a smart move. Setting times for reading is as important is the reading itself. In addition, only reading summaries or lesson aids over the actual passage is extremely inefficient. A summary cannot compare to the actual text, with its nuanced explanations and word usage.

Memory and the Learning Process

Upon reading Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham, I learned about memory’s fundamental role in learning and its implications for reading textbooks. Willingham explains how memories are stored in networks in the brain and how repetition and emotional arousal can influence the strength of these memories. He also highlights that memories are reconstructed every time they are retrieved, making it essential to review information regularly. In the context of reading textbooks, Willingham suggests that students should break up their study sessions and interleave the practice of different skills to enhance long-term retention. He emphasizes the importance of reviewing information multiple times, rather than relying on cramming. The book offers effective reading strategies like setting a task to be completed through the process of reading and uses the acronym SQR3. He also stresses not to skim through a book and only highlight what is important because you might not understand it well or judge information with the wrong levels of importance, therefore, taking in useless content.

None of Willingham’s ideas really surprised me however these insights into the workings of memory are highly relevant for students looking to improve their reading comprehension and retain information from textbooks. however, I did learn the SSQR3 approach and I will try to incorporate it into my reading and studying. Supposedly by applying Willingham’s strategies, students can optimize their learning experience and achieve better academic outcomes. Overall, Chapter 5 pages 90-104 provide valuable insights into the science of memory and how it can be utilized to improve learning outcomes.

Outsmart Your Brain

In chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain the author talks about the most common mistakes students make when reading complicated texts, he gives an example of a text that contradicts itself and the most common thing is that students do not realize this when analyzing a text. It made me realize several mistakes that I have when analyzing a text, I did not realize that the two sentences are contradictory, I have always made that mistake.
The chapter made me reflect on how I can improve that, I have to be more concentrated when I read, read calmly and analyze carefully each part of a text.

also at the moment of reading I only concentrate on one or two ideas but I do not concentrate on the central idea of the text, he talks about a method to concentrate on the central idea and its called SQ3R which is survey, question, read, recite and review, the method improves comprehension. The tips he provides are very helpful, and it makes you realize all the mistakes that students make but never realize, but reading this makes you realize that you have to read more carefully.

Outsmart Your Brain Reflection

Outsmart Your Brain, written by Daniel T. Willingham, provides tips and indicates errors that people, especially students, make while reading textbooks. In chapter 5, he quotes an example that intimates an excerpt from a typical high school textbook and points out the error that many students make — not coordinating and comprehending the context of the textbook. After I read the excerpt, I realized I had made the same mistake. I did not realize that the two sentences are contradicting, instead, I thought the textbook must be accurate and that I only remember the main idea of the paragraph. I did not think critically and judge every part of the text. This reminds me to stay “sober” and think crucially and carefully when I am reading the textbook in order to have a more in-depth idea of the subject.

I also realized I made the typical mistake during reading textbooks or materials. I normally read and highlight information that I think is “important”. However, Willingham reminds me that reading without knowing a general idea and preparing will make me skip the central idea — the actual important part of the text. Thus, he suggests a method that I will start using — SQ3R, survey, question, read, recite, and review. He mentions that this method improves comprehension. Hopefully, this method helps me to acknowledge the essential parts of the text better. He also suggests a note structure that I have never applied and heard of, which should include a summary, an important qualification of the summary, a comment on how this section relates to the main section, how the section answers the questions that I raised beforehand, and an implication of the summary. I learned how to read and take notes, I hope my note-taking skills will improve this year.

The do’s and dont’s of reading

Chapter five of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel T Willingham taught me about the do’s and don’ts of reading. Reading in this context does not refer to a fun pastime but reading that is assigned by teachers. I learned that reading is a long process that requires a lot of effort from the reader.  The book emphasizes that reading textbooks should be done carefully with an appropriate strategy. Not to my surprise speed reading and highlighting what the reader thinks is important information, is not an effective strategy. Even though this is my go-to strategy, I have realized that it is not very productive. Willingham’s reasoning for this is that the reader is not aware of what is important in the text until a thorough analysis has been done. Alternatively, other reading methods that are more productive are explained.

The main ideas I took away from effective methods for reading were to prepare before reading, ask questions, and take useful notes. To prepare before reading means to survey the text and find out what it is about. This encourages the reader to think about what they are going to read which allows them to ask questions. Asking questions helps create a goal for reading. Instead of randomly reading, looking for the answers keeps readers on task.  Even asking questions while reading is useful because it helps process the information you read.  Lastly, I learned that to take notes effectively a tip is to look at the headings and subheadings of a text.  The book suggests summarizing each subheading in your notes. Using these as checkpoints for notes will help keep them organized and concise. Taking notes while reading will also be useful for reviewing the reading.  Willingham’s suggestions are very informative and I will be using his strategies in the future.

PR candide

Candide, a novel by Voltaire, 1759. This is a story about Candide, a young man who is the main character, who goes on a journey almost all around the world, in order to understand, are we actually living in the best of all possible worlds? This is the main theme of the novel, the concept of the idea of “the best of all possible worlds.” The best part is that there is no simple answer, it’s not only a journey of Candide, but also a journey for the reader, to find our own meaning and create responses to all the questions that appear.

Other themes that I came across were: justice and piety. People being treated horribly, poverty with the contrast of rich and wealthy, for example, when we come across chapter 18 in when Candide and Cacambo arrive at El Dorado, sage. They have a conversation with the king, and while Cacambo doesn’t act much surprised by what he hears, Candide can’t seem to wrap his head around the ways of their life. They worship one God, which they thank daily for everything he gave them, and everyone gets along, this place seems too peaceful to be real. It took them a month to realize they did not want to stay there, not unless Cunegonde was there with Candide.

As I was getting towards the end of the book, I couldn’t help but think about the rich man,  Senator Pococurante, a Venetian nobleman who was not only extremely wealthy, but wise. He has everything any man could ever wish for, beautiful gardens, rare paintings, women, musicians, books… Yet, he is terribly bored and unhappy. Nothing seems like, will ever satisfy him. So, I wonder, what if Pococurante sells everything, gives it away, leaves himself with nothing expensive, simply nothing, will he find peace and happiness? Or is he too wise, and will forever stay miserable?

I enjoyed this book. I can’t say that I would pick it out to read in my own free time, but it was definitely one of those novels that had me thinking about the different approaches people have in life, and how we are, quite literally, the creators of our own “ best of all possible worlds.”


Paper 1 Reflection

After receiving my feedback, I noticed that I made many careless mistakes and spelling errors.
My major error was adding unnecessary information while analyzing the text. I need to remember that the goal is to analyze the text and not comment on the literature. Another major error I kept making was writing about literature in the present tense. I also noticed I tend to run out of time and rush my conclusion and my thesis, to prepare for the next practice paper one I will work on organizing my essay better and reading regularly.

Things Fall Apart – Personal Response

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe showed readers an intense insight into African clan cultures. Whilst strongly focusing on the African clan traditions resembling some kind of religious acts, christianity is contrarily introduced through missionaries called the “White men”. This opposing storyline and the clashes and conflicts arising between the two populations really reflects upon current world issues, raising global significance towards conflicts such as discrimination, violence, misunderstanding and inequality.

Personally, I really enjoyed reading the book, as it made me reflect upon my own interactions with the African culture. The character Okonkwo interested me most, as this dichotomy between Okonkwo and his father was weaved in throughout the entire novel and in my opinion really reflected onto Okonkwo’s actions in the clan. This almost toxic dislike towards his father ended up making him resemble his father more than anyone else. Throughout the beginning, Okonkwo tried so hard to be the opposite of what his father, which eventually, towards the end of the novel, made him repeat his fathers mistakes and gain enemies just the same way.

Furthermore, I found it really interesting how Achebe used gender to distinguish whether a person was strong, determined and possessed with leadership skills in the group or rather just a silent follower and not anyone of great significance. Strong characters were referred to as men, whereas people who made even the slightest mistake were immediately distinguished as women. This makes one question why women are necessarily used as a comparison in this case. Are the societal standards really this discriminating, making women less valued than men? Looking at such conflicts and regulations for gender equality nowadays, an example like this would make such a statement or use of words within the novel fairly controversial or even unacceptable.

Lastly, the hardest part for me whilst reading Things Fall Apart was really getting into the characters and feeling sympathy for the consequences of their actions. Okonkwo as well as other characters who were punished, to me, all seemed to have at least deserved it a little bit and so picking out the “hero” or the “favorite main character” was not possible.

Things Fall Apart Personal Response

After reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, I really like how the author includes important topics in the story and not only colonialism. He includes the role of men and women in society, masculinity, folklores, cultures and their destruction.

In this book, there are a lot of references to the role of men and women in their society. It caught to my attention how the author refers to that topic by adding it to descriptions of their culture.  The author shows a gap between the role of men and the role of women. In the clans, men’s role is more important than women’s role, however, it shows contrast as the one in charge of the Oracle is a woman. It also shows contrast in the power of some goddesses. There are some expressions and cultural practices that show this gap. For example, the bride price for a man to show care for the bride, yams are for men to grow and the other crops are for women to grow, ceremonies being classified if it is for men or women by the way the crowd stood or sat, and crimes having two kinds, male and female, where female crimes are inadvertent.

The author includes masculinity as part of the characterization of Okonkwo, who is willing to be the ideal men in his clan. The author expresses this idea with Okonkwo’s thoughts in the story like, having the fear of failure and weakness, to show affection is a sign of weakness, a true man control his women and children. Including this idea in the story with the main character raises the question if Okonkwo is a tragic hero? Understanding the story, we can see that Okonkwo is one of the few who thinks that war, titles and strength are the most important. Although he is one of the strongest men in his clan, his ideas takes him to kill himself because no one thinks the same. Does this makes him a tragic hero?

I think that folklores in this story is very important as it creates a clearer understanding of their society and culture before colonialism. Folklores shows how colonialism affect the clan and their believes. This topic makes me raise the question; to what extent do folklores influence our actions?

Finally, I like how this book makes you reflect on the real meaning of globalization after all the colonialism around the world and the different ways it affected a lot of cultures.


I enjoyed reading and analyzing the novel: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. I also found it interesting how the story is separated into three different parts, possibly symbolizing three stages of European colonization in Africa. Those from Umuofia regarded speaking to be a skill that they praised. Ironically their downfall is at the hands of the white man who cannot speak their language. I felt that the use of proverbs diminished after the second part of the novel. 

Achebe creates the dichotomy between Okonkwo and his father from the very start of the novel, allowing for questions to be raised as to the male roles in a patriarchal society. Umuofia uses gender roles and traditions within families and in the greater society to keep the people following a certain kind of leader. The culture in Umuofia works as a governmental system as well as a faith. The traditions of Umuofia raise questions as to how culture may influence leadership in society. In today’s time government, culture, and religion are still often mixed together, leading to dangers of misrepresentation, and the creation of out-groups stemming from the popularity of a dominant religion. 

I also found it interesting how tradition and ways of thinking, differed between those who were part of the Igbo culture and those who were part of Christianity. Igbo is shown on many accounts that its theologies provide freedom for the person to choose what they believe in; it’s not up to the community or the person to convert him. With the colonization of the Europeans, Achebe demonstrates another face of religion, in which there is only one right way to believe, and those who disagree are ostracized. Achebe shows a gradual shift in the theologies of the people of Umuofia throughout the three parts of the novel. At the beginning of the story, the death of a Umuofian woman sparks retribution, and Ikemefuna must pay the price with his life, despite him having no correlation with the matter. This may show the theologies of the people and making wrongs right. This changes at the end of the story when the leaders of Umuofia are taken by the Christians. They are beaten, whipped,  starved, deprived of a restroom, and disgraced by shaving their heads. When they are finally returned to Umuofia, they do not take action to find retribution for the Christians, despite the people’s energy and sorrow at what had been done. The contrasting of these two instances reveals the change the people of Umuofia experienced throughout European colonization. 

From the death of Okonkwo, colonization is shown through a darker lens. Not only does colonization kill those who fight against it, but it leads Okonkwo into such deep despair that he would take his own life, despite the societal construct that it is unacceptable and a sign of weakness. Okonkwo is portrayed as the ultimate form of despair, from being well respected to taking his own life. Raising the question of how much people deserve.

I greatly enjoyed reading the novel, however, it was slow at times. Achebe raised important questions pertaining to colonization, culture, religion, and masculinity. 

As I Grew Older

Whitman’s footprints could be seen all over this poem, as he was a big inspiration to Hughes’ writing. An example of this was the poem being a free verse. The lines are unequal, there is  no rhythm, and no beats can be made from the poem. Another example is the optimism Hughes shows when he speaks about how dire his situation is. He speaks about his dreams being blocked off by an insurmountable wall, “My hands! My dark hands! Break through the wall!”, but he still urges himself forward against the overwhelming challenge.

Hughes explains his and many other black Americans’ circumstance. They have dreams, big dreams, but they can’t achieve it because of who they are, because of their skin. No matter how hard he works or dreams, his dream just can’t seem to come to fruition, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

Things Fall Apart Reflection

Of the many intriguing questions Achebe presents in his book, Things Fall Apart, perhaps the final portions, when white men are colonizing the local people, reminds readers the most of the title. It is the downfall of freedom in the societies of black tribal people, but at the same time bringing new chances for societal advancements. Achebe presents this contradiction by showing readers’ Okonkwo’s sadness towards the colonization of his village. He also presents the shocking benefits that the white men are willing to give to the tribal people. Finally, Okonkwo’s death towards the ends completely shut downs the potential for everything to return to once it was before.

Okonkwo’s reaction of his own village begins the quite, sad realization of the downfall against white men, creating sympathy for him from the readers. They might somehow relate to him too as culture itself is a subjective topic: it develops from the ground up. This means that culture is the product of the culmination from the land people live in, before culture there are natural orders that one should follow. Therefore, no one has the right to interrupt the natural flow of things. Okonkwo is a great example of what an Umuofian man is: he understands the importance of his own practices, the rules and the value of masculinity through the dispute against his very own father. Although today’s standard will seriously questions Okonkwo’s masculinity, it is something that defines him. In this way, Achebe more or less frames him as the representative of the Umuofian culture as a whole. For Okonkwo to be so sad shows the true descent of his culture.

Despite the cruel reality, the situation is surprisingly somewhat brighter than that, which starts the question of whether or not if colonization is so terrifying. In the beginning of Chapter 21, Achebe describes the wealth the white men provides for Umuofia: trading of palm-oil and kernel brings great fortune for them. Not only that, Mr. Brown even promises education for the villagers so that the villagers can maintain control of their land. Although these are clear advantages for the villagers, it is clear how the oppressors are manipulating them. They buy natural resources with a high price so that villagers can comfortably rely on their economy. Additionally, the colonizers trap them into the education trap because clearly, the irony is that they are the one controlling them. So now, Umuofians can comfortably sell away their freedom, relying on the benefits that they get from the colonizers. One might argue that such sacrifice is, at best, ignorant or at worst, foolish, but there is a catch. If Umuofians are to succeed in pushing away the white men, they will go back to their life before, which is restrictive, both economically and in terms of education. Their cultural practices will continue to be disregarded from the outside as well as potentially inside their community. Therefore, this matter calls into the question of freedom: what is freedom? And is there any “true” freedom that one can grasp of?

Finally, the death of Okonkwo leaves a bitter conclusion in the face to preserve originality of a culture. Just when Okonkwo kills himself, his own tribe leaves him behind as a disgrace, labelling his action as a sin against the earth. The ending turns off any hope for things to go back the way before. It marks the descent of a hero, from achieving the greatest of heights for his people, only to fall down rapidly to the level of a dog, as Obierika bitterly says. In this way, readers can see how the people of Umuofia still somewhat preserve their own beliefs, but not in a way that is meaningful. It is not meaningful that they do not set exceptions for such heroic action of Okonkwo but simply lies to themselves that they are doing the right course of actions. That to rely on the white men to do their favor of bringing Okwonko down is right. In a way, the people of Umuofia is not only the slaves for the white men, but also the ones who surrenders in the face of their very own culture.

Things Fall Apart is a great piece of literature for raising questions about masculinity, the role of women and the importance of culture in the face of colonization. Okonkwo at first appears as a typical man who is strong, one-dimensioned masculine, over time, reveals to readers the other sides of him that he can be fearful, anxious in the face of great disasters. The book also presents many aspects of tribal culture that feels truly original and real, in the support of Achebe’s raw language. Something that is worth questioning from the examination of colonization is that what if it never happened? What if history goes on with cultures never crossing each other and only preserves everything about it? How would it feel then to have everywhere in the world be truly distinct from one another? It would seem that the world could be what everyone never imagined before.

Things Fall Apart PR

I enjoyed reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I never thought about missionaries this way and can now imagine how much they changed the African culture. The story seems to favour Christianity as the missionaries prove the Umuofian people’s beliefs wrong.

The main character Okonkwo is portrayed as the Umuofianian image of masculinity. The reader automatically does not like his image as he constantly loses his temper and beats his wives. Later on in the story, we begin to feel sorry for him as he is the only one who seems to want to fight back against the white missionaries. We learn his story and can understand why he acts the way that he does. This of course is not forgiveness for the bad he has done but we judge him less than we used to. At first I did not like Okonwko but as I learned about his past and when many members of his clan convert to Christianity I began to take his side. I almost felt bad as Umuofia did not have any fight left in them. Only Okonkwo seemed to want to defend their culture, and religion.

The “white man” in the novel are portrayed as bad people. They come in peacefully to  try to convert the African people to Christianity but once someone tries to stop them or cause them harm they come guns blazing. The white British people, like Okonkwo, do not seem to care about how people feel about them. This was interesting to read and I feel bad for what white colonialists have done to villages in Africa and around the world.

Things Falling Apart

How does Chinua Achebe show the pressures of masculinity through the characterization of Okonkwo? 

   Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was very engaging, unique’s novel explored many themes, including colonization and cultural change. The novel raised questions about what true power was and the pressures of men within society. Throughout the novel, Okonkwo is seen as a strong warrior who represents the ideal man in the Ibo society. Throughout the novel, we see him treat his wives and children harshly due to his high expectations. However, he stands out in the community due to his success and well-being as a man. In parts 1 and 2 of the novel, we are introduced to the Ibo culture and the values of the Ibo community, which is rich in culture, including elaborate belief systems, communal gatherings, justice, ceremonies, unique agriculture,  and overall the importance of community and working together. This novel portrays the effects of colonialism and the true pressures of masculinity through the characterization of Okonkwo and the diction used. 

   The pressure of masculinity in society can be seen through the characterization of Okonkwo. This is due to his fear of becoming anything like his father and is clearly stated within the novel. “Perhaps down in his heart, Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo’s fear was greater than this. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father” (p.13). This is evident as he acts aggressively and harshly towards his wives and children when upset, beating and shouting regardless of his belief system: “[Okonkwo] walked back to his obi to await Ojiugo’s return. And when she returned, he beat her very heavily. In his anger, he had forgotten that it was the Week of Peace. His first two wives ran out in great alarm, pleading with him that it was the sacred week. But Okonkwo was not the man to stop beating somebody halfway through, not even for fear of a goddess.” (p.20). It is evident that he values personal power even if that means avoiding the rules of the clan because of power; however, in the novel, we see him suffering internally because men were supposed to stay strong, show no emotion, and, of course, never act as “women .”Throughout the novel, we see that Okonkwo does not show emotion even towards the people he likes, including Ikemefuna, which he is very close to; “Okonkwo never showed any emotion openly unless it is the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness” (pg. 23). This hardship was experienced by Okonkw after having to kill Ikemefuna orders from the Oracle, where suffered because of his actions killing Ikemufuna due to societal pressures and status and not being seen as weak. 

   Toxic masculinity is seen through the actions of Okonkwo due to acting out harshly and being whatever the father was not. Even when colonization happens, by the end, we see Okonkwo refuse to witness the falling of everything he has devoted and worked for in his entire life. He is determined to not throw it all away for a new society where he would be powerless and have no status because he is not considered equal to the colonizers. 


Reflection of Paper 1 Practice

In the practice paper one I lacked analysis. The greatest mistake I made was paraphrasing, describing, and commenting instead of analyzing the text given.  It’s the greatest mistake because I’m not contributing anything more in the essay and not exploring deeper into the texts. The deconstruction of the story and finding my interpretation of it is what I should’ve done instead of commenting about the story. Next time I’ll work on finding my interpretation of the story, along with original ideas to contribute for the essay. Also breaking down and actually analyzing the story instead of paraphrasing it.

Apart from my lack of analysis, my second greatest mistake is grammar. I write redundant expressions that don’t contribute to the essay. As well as, not using possessives correctly. These are small mistakes but appear consistently through my hand written essays. 

Analysis of paper 1 – Dos and don’ts

I will start off by saying that I did not expect to do well on the Paper 1 practice. I felt rushed and stressed when doing the practice, although I did prepare before hand. Most of my errors were spelling errors (sp), which is what you would expect from someone that is rushed, stressed, and their first language is not english.

Re-reading my practice paper I can see the sloppiness in the writing, and the analyzing. I had trouble analyzing because I could not understand either texts, and I just did my best with what I could understand. I had some good assertions overall but no supporting evidence to go along with it. I also wrote about personal experiences which was a big no-no for my grade since none of it was relevant— an observation made by Mr. MacKnight.

I spent most of my time analyzing and I was still unsure of what the text meant, next time I will have to meditate in the middle of the paper to calm my nerves. Going back to the text now, two of my paragraphs were not supposed to be there— another observation made by Mr. MacKnight— and I did not have quotations to support my assertions. Half way over with the paper I realized I wrote it in past tense, which Mr. MacKnight has pointed it out, enough times for me to remember, that essays are written in present tense— to be honest I do not remember what that was, since I learnt it in primary school, but I know it is not past. He has repeated it so many times that I should be able to remember it like my mom’s name, but I never do.

I am pretty disappointed with the grade that I got, but it was expected, I am not the brightest person in the class, and even less the best english speaker, but I did wanted a higher grade. I will keep the errors I did in mind, but I am not sure I will remember it when it comes to writing the paper. Also writing digitally is much easier than writing traditionally since I can go back and change things like nothing happened, just like how I changed most of the contractions, abbreviations, and all of the lower case I’s.

Paper 1 Reflection

My biggest mistake in Paper 1 was a lack of analysis. Instead of analyzing and commenting on how the author successfully brings out a message or raises questions, I mostly directly comment on how the author does it by giving too surface-level descriptive pieces of evidence. Besides that, I should explain how the author communicates with readers through different literary styles, such as imagery, structure, sound, tone and diction. Furthermore, I need to improve my paragraph structure. Most times, I generally begin with evidence and then comment on it. Instead, I should start with transitions, assertions, and evidence. Lastly, I have to read more, write more and practice more.

English Paper 1 Reflection

After reviewing my practice paper 1 I was able to identify the most important mistakes that I needed to tend to. I found I tended to start with assertions that were too long and would require too much time to provide evidence for that it would put me over time limits for the essay. With that being said, the long assertions make my writing become quickly disorganized trying to fit such a large amount of information into a small amount of writing. So I think the best solution to this would be to better organize my work, possibly making a short and small planned structure before beginning to write. This would allow me to map out my assertions and what evidence I would provide and when in the essay I would provide the evidence. For success in future papers, I must remember to follow my original assertions and not become sidetracked by new ideas I may create while writing the essay and to create an organized structure for my essay before hand.

English: Paper 1 Reflection

After doing practice paper 1, I could identify my mistakes so that improvement could be made next time. Constructing a thesis after making assertions is important, and doing the instruction after the body paragraphs will be more effective. Focusing on one or two themes, such as characterization through the diction used, is more effective than randomly mentioning many topics at once. I also understood better how I am meant to organize my paragraphs and create a flow within the essay. Within my essay, many generalizations were made that needed to be more specific, so I would like to improve and be more specific with the assertions I use and the explanations for quotes from the texts. Additionally, paying more attention to how I include my quotations from the text is essential, such as citing the quotations properly, paying attention to word choice, and using the present tense in my writing.

candide- PR

Candide is a satirical novel that was written by Voltaire and was published in 1759. It is the story of a man who desperately believes that he lives in “the best of all possible worlds.”  It brought many questions to mind. Candide traveled the world, while looking for the love of his life, Cunegonde. Along the way he learns that optimism, or a belief in the perfect order of things, is absurd. 

I found the book a little fast paced, the development in the characters was too much and too fast to follow. I would enjoy it more if it was slowed down rather than one detail directly after another. I was also wondering why Voltaire decided to kill off Pangloss and the Baron, but then bring them back later. Pangloss was hanged because the grand inquisition saw him as a heretic. Candide was beaten because he listened to pangloss. What was the purpose of “killing” them just to bring them back to life again later?

“This world being the best of all possible worlds”(pg43). Pangloss says that to Canddie as if he wants Candide to believe their world is perfect and hide all the imperfect things. In my opinion there can never be a perfect world because there is always going to be something to improve.

Practice Paper 1 Reflection

Based on pretty much all the feedback I’ve received for each of my in-class essays, although my most frequent error appears to be how I incorrectly format citations, my greatest struggle is how my analytical interpretations tend to lack sufficient depth. In my most recent practice paper especially, my analysis of the poem The Beaks of Eagles largely neglected imagery, sound effects, and tone, instead focusing almost entirely on structure and content rather than technique. Examining these aspects doubtlessly would’ve enhanced the essay as a whole.

Candide: Personal Response

Personally, I think ‘Candide’ by Voltaire is a very interesting book. Voltaire criticizes Christianity, the lifestyle of the people and some of their beliefs. He displays his way of thinking through the stories of each chapter. Voltaire also presents a lot of rhetorical questions that make you reflect about your life. Those questions are introduced by the deep conversations the characters are having. An example of this is Candide and Martin, when they say :

“But then why” said Candide, “was the world formed?” ” To drive us mad.” said Martin.

In this book people go to extreme lengths to get what they want, especially if its money. There are a lot of examples of this is in chapter 22. One is  when an abbé invites Candide to play cards with him and  his friends only to trick him and steal a lot of money from him.  In this chapter Candide also meets a marquise who seduces him only to steal  his jewels from him. Voltaire also criticizes the church in this chapter when he talks about the abbé because he is suppose to be good and honest but he decided to trick and steal from an innocent man. The author is trying to demonstrate that the church and the people that work in the church aren’t as good as they seem and they use their power to take advantage of other people.

‘Candide’ by Voltaire is a very fascinating satirical book that criticizes how people used to act because of Christianity. The authors way of thinking is more similar to the opinions of modern people than the beliefs of the 18th century.





Candide Reflection

On the first day of class, Mr. Macknight handed every student a copy of the course syllabus, which comprised of every text we would read throughout the Diploma Programme. Upon glancing over this extensive list, I noticed the name “Voltaire”. I googled his name, and came to the conclusion that this would be the driest, the most mind numbing, and the most drawn-out text of the entire two-year course. However, after reading Candide, I can say with certainty my mind has been changed.

The aspect of the book I thought I would detest the most, turned out to be my favorite feature of the entire book. This of course being that the book is a philosophical argument. I loved this component of the text because of the unique way in which it is presented. The argument was presented in the two characters of Martin and Pangloss, which is accompanied by the plot. Martin, who is more pessimistic and argues that everyone everywhere is miserable, speaks for Voltaire. Whereas Pangloss speaks for Leibniz, Voltaire’s vocal opponent. The plot also has an effect on this debate. Throughout Candide, shocking yet honest depictions of human suffering are common. The debate between Voltaire and Leibniz is placed on display in this way. The contrasting reactions of Martin and Pangloss are allegories of the philosophical argument being made. An example of this is on page 74, where Pangloss’ pupil, Candide, and Martin debate the nature of man,

“Do you believe that hawks have every eaten pigeons wherever they had found them?” Martin asked.

“Yes, definitely” Candide replied.

“Very well,” Martin said. “If hawks have always had the same character, why would you expect men to change theirs?”

“Oh but there is quite a difference,” Candide said, “for, after all, free will…”(pg. 74)

Martin, the pessimist, argues that man is incapable of changing his nature. Whereas Candide, the optimist, argues for man’s ability to adapt and grow. The key element of this dialogue is Candide’s argument of men possessing free will, and thus have the ability to change their nature. This quotation raises a pair of interesting questions, which are; if man has the ability to change his nature, why doesn’t he? And, to what extent do have have control over our own lives, and what role does fate play?

An additional example of Pangloss’ allegory worldview presents itself on page 112,

“I am still of my former opinion,” Pangloss replied, “for I am a philosopher, after all, and it would be improper for me to recant, as Leibnitz cannot be wrong. Preestablished harmony is the most beautiful thing in the world, as are the plenum and subtle matter.”(pg. 112)

This quotation works as a critique of Leibniz. Voltaire’s critique presents itself through Pangloss’ inability recant or re-evaluate Leibniz’s philosophy. Further, the quotation suggests that Leibniz’s beliefs are outdated. Moreover, the unwillingness to evaluate Leibniz’s philosophy inhibits change or growth of the idea of optimism.

Lastly, I especially love the quotation, “we must cultivate our garden”(pg. 119). The quotation emphasizes free will and personal responsibility. This final critique of Leibniz is my favorite. The ideas of preestablished harmony and fate are debated throughout the novel. In my interpretation, this quotation symbolizes Candide’s abandonment of Pangloss’ optimism. Candide leaves behind fate and embraces free will. Candide’s recognition that he cannot control or prevent greater suffering, but instead can determine his own suffering. Candide and his companions can determine their own suffering through the cultivation of their garden.

Candide Reflection

When I first started Candide, I was expecting it to be a lighthearted tale. However, it managed to captivate me and made me genuinely laugh –with its witty satirical comments– and think deeply with countless philosophical themes simultaneously.  The main piece of the story that lead to giving me this impression were the characters and how they all viewed the world differently. It seemed that although many people were introduced, they each had very specific and contrasting beliefs.

Just from looking at the main characters we of course have the two philosophers Martin and Pangloss, Martin having no expectations on the world as he does not believe anything good will come of it and then Pangloss, believing that our world is the “best of all worlds”. There is also Turkish philosopher who believes neither and instead says it is fruitless to think of why we deserve what happens to us because we are insignificant. The Baron deviates from philosophy and more so represents being naïve and self riotous. this can be seen at its peak with his attitude towards Candide and Cunégonde’s relationship. We have characters like the pirates or the Bulgarians, who have no respect or humanity for women as they use them for their sexual desires, and we have the cannibal people of the Americas who turned out to be not all that bad as long as you didn’t oppose them.

Each of these characters poses a question as stories and characters in stories naturally do. From how should I treat another human? to to what extent are we  significant in this world? and if you hadn’t have started thinking about any of these themes by the second page, Candide had for you. It is clear to me why Candide is the protagonist.  He takes the noise from all of these characters shouting their different ideas and making the whole thing a mess and after many attempts to try to understand it all, realizes it is a much better use of time to sit back and, well, Cultivate his garden. In a way, throwing the whole thing away and leaving me with the lighthearted tale I expected.


Reflection on my Paper 1

If I am being honest with myself, I knew this practice paper 1 was far from my best work. Even before recieving any feedback I knew what I needed to work on, and that is organization. Although I spent a lot of time organizing, I didn’t develop my ideas in a coherent manner, nor did my plan really follow the methods we learned in class to analyze literature rather than just comment on literature. I spent a lot of time trying to interperet the meaning behind the poem rather than analyzing what the author does to convey meaning, and how it makes me interperet the text. After learning from this mistake, I now know how to plan better and where to spend my time better, which will hopefully help me succeed in the future.

Reflection on Paper 1 Essay

The most important thing I learnt after reading my feedback on the Paper 1 Essay was that my writing is still too descriptive and does not dive deep enough into an analysis. Although I do touch upon correct themes during characterization, analyzing imagery, sound effects, structure and diction more throughly to develop a good exploration of the characters in connection to how the author portrays these elements whilst conveying an effect on readers, will help to improve my writing.

Some simple mistakes were also made regarding the formatting of words (such as working on a smoother integration of quotations in certain paragraphs) and layout of the essay itself, but can be improved easily through practice. The highest score I gained was for criterion C, which shows me that my understanding of the literal meaning was fairly present and had improved since the previous time.

I think for the future what I need to work most on, is practicing a more structured analysis of the texts. A more focused thesis statement in the introduction and a clear topic sentence for each start of the new paragraph will hopefully help me to improve this aspect and stay focused throughout the essay.

Reflection on Candide

Candide was an intriguing book that had me thinking about the best of all possible worlds. Candide travels all over the world throughout the book, in search of his true love. Along the way he sees learns about the world in ways that he could have only imagined. Pangloss had told him that this is the best of all possible worlds. But how can it be, when people are killed for doing nothing wrong, or some people can be given everything even if they don’t deserve it. How can there be a best possible world when you need to rely on humanity to make it possible. Could humans possibly agree to treat everyone equally, and just be kind? Candide was determined to find the best of all possible worlds, or else prove that it didn’t exist.

I enjoyed the exaggerated comedy in Candide, it made the heavy topic easier to digest. The book was easy to read at the beginning but closer to the end I found that too much was happening and it became confusing. There were too many things going on. At the end it calmed down again to allow a peaceful ending. The ending, “but we must cultivate our gardens.” made the story feel finished and secure.

Paper 1 Practice and Reflection

In my writing of paper 1, I often rushed, making my sentences unclear or misspelling simple words. I also must remember to write in the present tense when writing about literature. The rest of the comments were about my careless errors, punctuation, and redundant writing which I need to improve upon.

By re-reading my paper 1 writing assignment, I can pick-out my mistakes and understand where I went wrong. Also by reviewing how I write, I can imoprove upon my weaknesses by using the marking key.

Paper 1 Reflection

From re-reading my paper 1, I recognize which mistakes I made and how to fix them. By referring back to the marking key, I can read into how I can fix my errors in the correct way. The errors made on my paper 1 were easily correctable and through further practice can be fully prevented. An example of this would be to indent my paragraphs. 

By re-reading my paper 1 I can also go over it paragraph by paragraph and assess what was well written and what needs further progression. Reading the marking key, I can further develop my writing skills and use what I’ve learnt to further my analysis in the future. 

A thing I did well was observing the effects of the diction present in the text. Next time, I should explain those effects more concisely.


Personal Response on Candide

Voltaire’s ‘Candide’ is a story based in the 1700s that follows a boy named Candide as he goes through one misfortune after the other, traveling the world just so he can be with his love, Cunegonde. Voltaire, the author, uses this book as a way to criticize or poke fun at different situations going on at the time.

Something I found interesting is the way Voltaire challenges opinions. In the book, the philosopher, Pangloss, believes that everything happens for the best, good will always prevail and we are in the best of all possible worlds. This is otherwise referred to as the belief called Optimism. This is what he teaches Candide and it is funny to me how Voltaire uses the entire book to try and prove that such an opinion is not accurate by putting Candide through a series of unfortunate events. Whatever he didn’t go through, someone close to him went through it and sometimes quite literally rose from the dead just to tell it. He travels the world and gets beaten, watches his friends die, loses some of his friends, kills a few people, gets rich only to lose everything, becomes wanted in some countries, and finds his lost ones just to be with Cunegonde and even after he finds her, she is ugly and he doesn’t want her anymore. Even after all this, Pangloss still insists that it is all for the best while we as readers strongly disagree.

Voltaire introduces a new character named Martin who is a pessimist and Candide is an optimist. Martin has only ever seen the evil of the world and therefore does not expect anything better or different, highlighting that the world was only created to infuriate us. He is a Manichaean and they believe purely in common sense and are taught that the world is unbearably painful and radically evil and should not expect anything less. Martin’s beliefs contradict Candide’s but are proven multiple times throughout the book. This doesn’t affirm that Martin’s way of thinking is correct. Martin believes that men are only capable of doing evil because it is his nature, comparing it to how it’s in a hawk’s nature to always eat pigeons wherever they are but Candide argues:

“oh, but there is quite a difference, for, after all, free will…”

Candide, pg 74

Christianity was not spared from Voltaire’s general mockery. In the third chapter, Candide had run away from the Bulgars and Agars war that he was forcefully recruited for to holland where he ran out of provisions. He wasn’t worried because he had heard that Holland was a rich Christian country and expected to be accepted with kindness as Christianity is supposed to be. Candide asked for bread from an orator who was preaching about charity but as soon as the orator asked if he believed what he believed and Candide didn’t care, the orator rebuked him and his wife poured nasty things on him. This is contrary to everything Christianity stands for, as was most of what went on in the early decades. Another example was in El Dorado, where Candide asked if they had priests who argued and never agreed on anything and the old man with him was quite shocked at such barbarism.

The book still goes on to shed some light on other themes like greed, the extent to which man would go for what he wants, good or bad, immortality, and philosophy, amongst others. Many questions are raised and left unanswered at the end of the book. Particularly why Candide is so insistent on “cultivating our garden” ‘pg 119’. What does that mean? In conclusion, regardless of how intense the events in this book become, it is almost admirable how Voltaire manages to keep to a certain level of lighthearted throughout the story. At the end of the day, t is about a boy who simply cannot catch a break.

Paper 1 Reflection

After looking at my Paper 1, what I did well was referencing to the text and the organization of some ideas.  I have learned how to developed more points on characterization; to use what the characters do, what the say, their feelings and other factors. I also learned how to make sentences more accurate to communicate my ideas. I need to improve my assertions so that they are stronger. I also need to make clearer analysis, descriptions, and be more specific.


Paper 1 Reflection

After reading my practice paper 1 I realized that I made many simple errors. I did not cite lines of the poem correctly and I also used many contractions when I should not have. My word choice was not always the best and made some sentences awkward. 

Some of my more important mistakes were that I used redundant expressions when talking about the poem. I also had a habit of writing long run-on sentences. I used possessives incorrectly a few times throughout my essay as well. 

What I did well in my essay was that I had a good understanding of the text and was able to organize my essay well. I had a quotation in every paragraph and was able to analyze them to a certain extent. I need to work more on making sure I am not narrating the poem but actually thoroughly analyze it. 


Paper 1 Reflections

Ater going through the Paper 1 feedback as well as possible elements of analysis for the text provided in Paper 1, I realized that there are two key problems with my writing: grammar and sentence formation.

One key mistake I made in this essay was that I wrote everything in present tense, which is not the correct way to approach due to the fact that it is common sense to treat literary work as eternal and goes on forever. I can quickly fix this mistake by reminding myself as a I write next time, to write in present tense, as well as to attentive to my grammar as I am editing.

My sentence structures that I wrote are still weak, it does not seperate itself from each other, leading to run-on sentences. Also, my sentences were awkward due to my tendency to over-analyzing evidences sometimes. My first step towards fixing these is to write more concisely and think about if one sentence make sense in itself or not, and if it connects well with other sentences.

This one is less about the mistakes but about a weak point: I did not sense a lot of connection in-between my body paragraphs. Although they makes total sense on their own, they could have been developed in a way that is more interesting to read. Something I want to start experimenting is to write body paragraphs in order of importance: the most important idea first, then the second most important, then the least.

PP1 reflection

After reading my practice paper 1 I had many careless errors. I did not correctly cite quotations from a poem. Some of my sentences were somewhat confusing or awkward.

The major error in my writing was a misinterpretation of what something in the text meant. It derailed my argument in that paragraph as I analyzed the wrong meaning. This will likely not happen in future practice.

In one of my paragraphs, I somehow did not write about what I said in my assertion. Next time I will write a better topic sentence.

What I did well in my writing was that it is organized. Every paragraph has an assertion, a quotation, and an analysis and explanation of the quotation. There is an introduction and conclusion that state what will be talked about or what we have learned. I am on the right track and mostly analyzed the writing rather than narrating it.

Reflecting on Voltaire’s Candide

Voltaire’s Candide makes a strong argument against optimism and this being the best of all possible worlds. I enjoyed how he presented his idea by telling Candide’s adventures and each chapter behaving as a body paragraph in his crusade to disprove optimism. I like this structuring format because it negated one of the significant problems with essays that can be dry to read. Voltaire does not run into this problem, though, as we are kept entertained by the bumbling idiocy of Candide mixed in with all sorts of jokes and political commentary. Nevertheless, we still get the overarching points and ideas through a less-than-direct way and give a human character to the argument, a blend of political satire and storytelling. This structure was my favorite part of the piece of writing.

About halfway through the book, the arguments started to get a bit old as Voltaire had made his points and given plenty of evidence. At this point, I had been convinced by Voltaire that he was right, and these other adventures Candide felt like overkill. So I looked for other questions raised by the book and whether he had given his answer to them. Questions like what the best of all possible worlds looks like? He answers this question with the need to cultivate a garden and live like those of El-dorado, which is an underwhelming answer. Personally, I would rather live in an imperfect world and be able to find the secrets of this world and improve and solve problems than live in a perfect world and garden like the people of El-dorado and have little to do as all is fine the way it is. This book was good at arguing against optimism but did not provide any further answers to the questions it raises.


Candide – Personal Response

Something I’m beginning to learn in English Literature is how simple language can be just as, or even more effective than complex language. As I started to understand this and try to work on fixing the clarity of my expressions, Candide by Voltaire was assigned for our class to read. The shift from reading The Odyssey by Homer to Candide was jarring. Despite Candide being written in much easier vocabulary, both texts provided me with a thoughtful and insightful message to digest.

Candide‘s language is simple, but that does not take away from the lessons it teaches. One of the first instances that clearly showed this to me was when the old lady was telling her story,

A hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but I was still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most sinister tendencies. For is there anything more foolish than to insist on carrying a burden that one can drop at any moment? To live in constant fear, and yet still hold on to life? To caress the serpent that is devouring you until it has eaten your heart (pg. 38).

This passage is so beautiful and almost feels indescribable. It’s presenting this image of being engulfed by something horrid, the serpent, but loving it endlessly as it does so. To me, this comparison fits my current outlook on life. Even though I hate myself sometimes, and just wish I could just die, there is something wonderful about the serpent devouring me. Another incredible line from Voltaire happens to be the last, “That is well said’ Candide replied, “but we must cultivate our garden'” (pg. 119). Candide realizes that it does not matter whether they are in the best of all possible worlds, or even if they are in the worst of all possible worlds, what matters is that they live life. Martin puts it quite well, “‘ Let us work without reasoning, it is the only way to make life bearable'” (pg. 119).

I find too many people trying to find meaning of life, and they search and search for any reason that life is worth living except for looking at themselves, and what they want to do, what they wish to achieve. Voltaire tells us that we must cultivate our garden, metaphorically, to work on something we enjoy. Gardening may be it but what if writing is your garden, or singing, or reading. No matter what your garden is, it needs cultivating, and you need to be there to tend to it. A beautiful message from Voltaire that did not need any exhaustive decrepit language that is practically incomprehensible to modern audiences. I hope to learn how to emulate Voltaire’s simplicity someday.

Personal Response Candide

Candide is a satirical novel written by Voltaire, first published in 1759. It is a story about a young man named Candide living in a utopian society and is kicked out. The novel follows his journey as he experiences the hardships of the real world and his eventual disillusionment with the idea that “all is for the best.” The novel is a biting critique of Voltaire’s religious and political systems, as well as a commentary on the human condition. The book intrigued me and got me thinking about biting satire and the criticism of optimism, religious dogma, and the cruelty of fate. The themes that I recognize and associate most with the novel are the concepts of free will and the prospects of human suffering and evil.

One of the main themes of the novel is the concept of free will and its relation to the idea of “the best of all possible worlds.” Voltaire seems to suggest that the idea that everything is predetermined and for the best can be used to justify any kind of suffering and injustice. Throughout the novel, Candide and his companions experience a great deal of suffering, and yet Pangloss continues to insist that it is all for the best. Voltaire uses Pangloss’ optimistic views to make a mockery of them. The main characters, specifically Candide are shown all the bad in the world, no one is happy and everything always goes wrong. This proves his point that our world is in fact not “the best of all possible worlds.”

Another theme is the idea of human suffering and the problem of evil. Throughout the novel, Candide and his companions encounter a great deal of pain and injustice, including war, poverty, and discrimination. Voltaire seems to be suggesting that these things are not the result of an ultimately benevolent world, but rather the result of human greed and cruelty.

In the end of the novel, Candide and his companions ultimately reject Pangloss’s philosophy and instead adopt a more practical approach to life. Candide concludes that the best way to live is to “cultivate our garden” and make the best of the situation in which we find ourselves. This is seen as a metaphor for taking responsibility for our own lives and making the most of the opportunities that we have, rather than relying on the idea that everything will ultimately work out for the best.

Overall, Candide is a satirical novel that critiques the philosophy of optimism and the idea that everything is for the best. Through the experiences of Candide and his companions, Voltaire argues for a more pragmatic and realistic approach to life, and encourages readers to take responsibility for their own happiness and well-being. It leads me to the questions was an optimistic approach dominant during the time of Voltaire? and do all writers write to express their own opinions of the world? Finally in what ways does the ending of “Candide” challenge the idea of happy endings and the concept of a “best of all possible worlds”?



I enjoyed this book, It’s a story about an optimistic young man.

One of the themes of this narrative is to present that it is not only Candide that bad things happen to him and that the world is damn horrible. Tragic things happen to all the main characters, including the philosopher Dr. Pangloss. The heartlessness, negativity and coldness of human beings are a frequent background and aura throughout the story.

“we must cultivate our garden” (p.119)

I liked this phrase a lot because I think you can interpret it in many ways, listening to this phrase makes me think about life, in that you can learn many things and grow personally.

Voltaire contains many things, ridiculing all organized religions, theologians, governments, war, armies, and philosophers.

Voltaire’s Candide Personal Response

Candide written by Voltaire was an amusing read for me. This satire book is about a  man who believes everything that happens will be for the good of man, even though he is faced with incredible suffering. Personally, Candide was a page turner, the main characters face disaster after disaster, drama after drama and one indignity after another. The language in this book represented with dark humor was pure entertainment. This book shows us the other side of peoples lives and their problems. Voltaire does this by showing us different characters pain and struggles in their lives.

The plot of Candide is simple to follow. Young and naïve Candide stumbles from one misadventure to the next, including fighting in wars, being arrested, being nearly burned at the stake, finding El Dorado and leaving it. The way it’s written is repetitive as it continues from a different setting each time.

Furthermore, Voltaire’s beliefs and the philosophies created deep connections within me. Candide learns the principles of optimism from his mentor, Pangloss, and one of the philosophies that stuck out for me was “since everything was made for a purpose, everything is necessarily for the best purpose.” (pg.89) I really like this because I can find myself having the same belief. Having the attitude of this can only make the mind stronger. Pangloss’s philosophy encourages a passive attitude toward all that is wrong in the world. If this world is the best one possible, there is no reason to make effort to change things perceived as wrong or evil.

Voltaire’s Candide

Candide written by Voltaire was written in a very unique way and raised many philosophical questions.  This satirical book revolves around Voltaire’s philosophical beliefs and is primarily him taking stabs at different groups of people. How he writes this however, is through an innocent story following a character and his ridiculous life full of misfortunes. As well as presenting his own philosophical beliefs in this story Voltaire also raises many philosophical questions that resonated with me and had me questioning my own life. 

The plot of Candide is presented through bite size adventures in which Voltaire has an opportunity to showcase his philosophical argument. In each chapter Candide and his friends experience new places that  progress the plot. Voltaire does this by using Candide as a pawn, strategically placing him in situations to his advantage. A prominent example of this is how Voltaire criticises religion in the story. In chapter eight the reader is informed that the grand inquisitor (an important person of the catholic church) is using Cunegonde for sexual desires which is usually frowned upon in the christian religion. Similarly, in chapter twenty-eight Pangloss enters a mosque where an imam has

“ a very pretty young worshipper saying her paternosters. Her bosom was completely uncovered”(p.111). 

Both these examples are Voltaire slipping in insulting remarks of religion and how the preachers of religions are hypocrites. Another one of Voltaire’s arguments that Candide presents is that money cannot buy happiness. Candide acquires many riches in El Dorado but this only brings corruption into his life. For example in Paris he is cheated out of his money by many people including doctors and the Marchioness of Paroglinac. In Venice Candide gives money to Paquette  in hopes that “ they will be happy”( p.93) but later Paquette returns broke and unhappy, proving Voltaire’s point. Voltaire even goes as far as to endlessly revive characters from the dead just to use them to prove a point. Pangloss, Cunegonde and Paquette all previously mentioned were thought to be dead but came back and helped further Voltaire’s argument.  Yet I still found myself enjoying the book and wondering what Candide’s next adventure was going to be. This tactic of using what seems to be innocent adventures is a clever way to write about heavy, philosophical issues and write a persuasive argument in a way that is light and enjoyable for the reader. Because the plot was written like this a question that came about was how would the book end?  

Although the plot was everything but the kitchen sink the conclusion brought everything to a close while posing many philosophical questions. The conclusion was my favourite part because it had me thinking about many intriguing ideas. The first quote that had  me rereading was a question posed by the old women,

“ I would like to know what is worse; being violated a hundred times by pirates, having a buttock cut off, running the gauntlet in the bulgar army, being whipped and hanged in an auto-da-fé, being dissected, rowing in a galley, suffering all the miseries we have been through or simply sitting around here without doing anything?”(p.115).

Here, I believe her to be questioning whether adventures filled with misery or boredom is worse. I don’t know the answer to this difficult question but it gives light to a new perspective on tragic situations. For example when in an undesirable situation I will ponder the philosophical thought on whether it would be worse to be bored or suffer.  Secondly,  when the group encounters the Young Turk he states

“I only have twenty five acres, I cultivate it with my children. Work keeps the three great evils at bay; boredom, vice and want”  (p. 118). 

This quote resonated with Candide as well as myself. The deeper meaning behind these words is questionable but the way I interpreted this quote is that to live a happy life free of boredom, crime, and poverty one needs to work hard and stop searching for the meaning of life. After hearing this quote Candide decides to stop debating philosophy with his scholars but instead he decides

“we must cultivate our garden” (p.119).

The literal meaning of this is to plant a garden with lots of luscious crops. Beyond the literal meaning there is a figurative meaning which I simply think is too indulge in life full of work. I too want to cultivate my garden.

My Thoughts On ‘Candide’

The book had a new but rather depressing look on human life, breaking all stereotypes of a main characters overcoming all adversities. Readers tend to find the constant suffering of a main character unenjoyable and repetitive, but this book embraces this head-on, and never gives Candide nor the side characters any sense of peace throughout the duration of the book (excluding the ending).

I found the philosophies discussed even more interesting. ‘This world being the best of all possible worlds'(pg.,43). Those were the words fed to Candide by Pangloss, and it seemed to be a sugarcoating to avoid the inevitable sense of nihilism. But as we soon see, this belief begins to slowly crack and crumble, with each unnecessary adversary Candide is put through, he begins to lose faith and comes round to Martin’s ideology. Martin believes that God has abandoned this world and it is now overrun with evil and corruption. Now, the main difference between Pangloss and Martin’s philosophies is Martin’s direct experience comes into play and influences his ideology, while Pangloss, an optimist, bases his on what he wishes, what should be.

The ending sticks out a lot as well. It seems that even after Candide has gotten what he wishes for, he is still unhappy. It’s not as he imagined and his suffering continues.  Martin, Pangloss and Candide are unable to create a suitable answer and go visit an Imam in hopes of an answer. The imam tells them the answer is to keep busy and work. Work keeps the mind free of evil. It keeps the body fatigued and occupied, the mind is filled with ambition and kept running and active, and the soul is kept fired with lasting passion.

Candide PR

My impression of philosophers used to be tedious because they talk about random theories that are not intriguing, therefore, when I first heard that we were reading a book written by a philosopher named Voltaire, I expected the book to be monotonous. However, after reading Candide, I am amazed by the way Voltaire criticizes ideas that he disagrees with by using sarcasm. Pangloss, the “greatest” philosopher in the book, advocates “everything happens for the best”. Voltaire refutes this idea sarcastically by creating adversity scenes for Pangloss and Candide throughout the story. He makes Candide more interesting to read with an engaging plot, and also makes the readers understand his ideas and agree with him. I agree with Voltaire that everything does not happen for the best. I admire that Pangloss and his students have such an optimistic mindset, but in real life, bad things do happen all the time, and sometimes, good things do not happen after encountering adversity. The worst thing that could happen to humans is dying. If a person died, how could good things happen? Thus, I think Pangloss’s theory is absurd.

“But we must cultivate our garden.” (page 119) This quote has attracted my curiosity. What does Voltaire mean by cultivating our garden? What do “cultivate” and “garden” signify in this metaphor? “Cultivate” means taking steps and putting effort into growing something or improving its growth. “Garden” is a symbol of soul and happiness. My interpretation of this quote is that we must put effort into creating a meaningful and fruitful life. We must learn and grow from what we encountered in order to have a good life. To me, learning is not only a thing that you do in school or when you are in school. It is a thing that you do throughout your life. We must keep learning to improve ourselves and be better people.  There is an idiom in Chinese saying that “living till old age, learn till old age.” It basically means that people learn till their lives end. There is always a purpose to learn and something that you can learn. It reminds me to be a lifelong learner and stay curious.

Compare to Oedipus the King, Candide is way easier to read since the translation is in new English, despite there being an enormous amount of words that I have never seen. I spent a lot of time translating when I was reading. Overall, I think Candide is amusing enough to read and I would recommend other people to read this masterpiece.


Personal Response – Candide

The first thing I noticed about Candide by Voltaire was the short chapters ranging from 2-15 pages. In accordance of the short chapters, the book itself is short with only about 120 pages, where we follow the protagonist, Candide, in his adventures of “misfortunes” as he try to hold on his belief of, “this is the best of all possible worlds.” The format of the book really confused me at first, but eventually learned the reason behind it

Our first reading adjective was to read up to chapter six or page 19 of Candide. Although the language used was not necessarily difficult, I found myself having troubles following the plot. It was not until somewhere around chapter ten when I came to understand the unique structure of Candide. Unlike most books I had read, where their is a clear progressive plot, or a clear transition, the progression of Candide is very different. In Candide, a new “adventure” begins each chapter. In each new chapter, we can range from the party walking in a city to eating at a pub to being on the other side of earth.

The unique structure allowed Voltaire to express his criticism against “optimism” in a unique way. By bringing new adventures in each chapter, Voltaire is able to efficiently convey his evidence. Although the book was made to be a serious confrontation towards optimism, I found myself enjoying the book very much in a matter I had not experienced. There was no shortage of hilarious misfortunes and irony that fell upon Candide and his comrades.

Reflection on “Let Evening Come”

When writing my exam I felt that I was much more prepared than last time, mostly off of knowing what not to do. Mainly in terms of organization but also means of analyzation and the fact that apparently overthinker isn’t a word. in terms of all that I definitely improved. BUT, In focusing on this i overlooked many of the other improvements I needed to make. This mainly had to do with my technique. I have had a hard time moving away from using big words to fill up room and impress teachers and moving towards being straightforward and clear. this is heightened by the fact I probably spent too much time thinking and deleting things and a less ideal amount of time editing. I have quickly noticed that the most challenging thing for me in the DP program is writing essays, specifically in class ones. I either go in to class with no plan and completely ad lib the whole thing or I make a plan and continue to do exactly the same thing because my plan wasn’t detailed enough. I also tend to write like a creative writer even in evaluative essays because I am used to it. In general, my main issue is adapting from middle school short story writing which I did a huge amount (almost daily) and switching to the more simple but direct system of essay writing.

“Let Evening Come” Personal Reflection

Analyzing Let Evening Come was different than how I usually approach analysis assignments. Reading the feedback, I understand and agree with my mark. One of the most significant aspects I struggled with in this assessment was organization. Usually, organizing what I write doesn’t come with too much struggle. Somehow, Let Evening Come was a curveball for me.

I’ve realized that I think my lack of organization comes from too many topics and aspects of the poem I wanted to cover. Looking at my paper, I underlined most lines, scribbled ideas of what to talk about and multiple comparisons to make. Normally in these assessments, I find myself actively looking for what assertions to make, the kinds of things that are deep enough for me to pick out and discuss. Something that has not happened before is when I find an overwhelming number of simple assertions to make. This is what I believe to have really messed up my organization. Instead of finding a few profound aspects of the text, instead, I got overwhelmed by smaller details. That is not to say that Let Evening Come is a simple poem by any means, I just got caught up in the number of themes to write about.

Next time, I hope to be more organized with my writing. I hope not to get buried in assertions so my writing will stay focused and concise.

Reflection on “Let Evening Come”

After reading the feedback on my essay I realized that I have grammatical errors, I need to be more careful with my spelling and write with a correct verb tense, as well as ending a sentence when I have finish the point in the sentence because if not the sentence is disorganized and confusing. I should also improve on quoting correctly by putting the line citation in parentheses at the end of the quotation.

Reflection on “Let Evening Come”

According to the marking on my analysis of “Let Evening Come”, error 23 (unclear or awkward expressions) is still the most severe and common error I make in writing. I am still learning to use a simple structure to construct a sentence. What my grade 5 English teacher told me, “Less is more”, meaning writing less yet simply is better than writing a lot but unclear, is something I must keep working on. In the future, I will try to use simple diction to express my ideas to make them as clear as possible.

I also made a lot of spelling mistakes throughout the essay. I was confused between words with similar spellings including “syllables” and “syllabus”; “empathize” and “emphasize”. I will pay more attention to the spelling and meaning of words in the future.

In the aspect of analyzing, I figured out the direction to analyze it. However, I did not explain the significance of the subject and connect it to the central idea of my analysis. I can explain further and make connection with my central idea of my essay in the future.

Reflection of feedback

After reading my feedback on my essay I learned two things: The first thing is that I have to try to not repeat the same words in the same sentence, if I want to use again the same term it’s better to search for a synonym. The second thing that I learned is that I have to check more carefully my essay especially the parts were I am talking about how the author uses diction because when I list the words I have to write them with quotation marks, which is something I forgot to do.

“Let Evening Come” Reflection

I realized after reading the feedback from my essay that I still have a long way to go when it comes to my writing.

My most consistent mistakes are using needless words and omitting parenthesis around page or one citations. I understand now that I have to go straight to the point instead of beating around the bush in hopes of making my essay longer and/or sounding smarter when in fact, it does the complete opposite. As for my lack of punctuation for references, I am did not even realize that it is not the proper way to write.

So moving forward, I will try to be conscious of my punctuation and also being more straightforward with my writing. I will be able to achieve all this with some more practice.

Reflection on “Let Evening Come”

When I got my essay back I was surprised by the amount of mistakes I had made since I had the feeling of having done a good job on the paper. All of my mistakes were either gramatical or structural, these kind of errors happen all the time but are possible to avoid by proofreading and analyzing everything that is said.

I learned that it is not only important to focus on what is said, but to also pay attention on how it is said. The most important thing I can do to improve is to stop summarizing and start analyzing.

Let Evening Come Reflection

After receiving our “Let Evening Come” Practice Paper 1, and tallying up our mistakes, I saw that the most common mistake I had made was the same as my last practice paper. That being number 29 “Omit needless words.” I find myself struggling with this a lot, and do it in pretty much everything I write. When reading my essay, I noticed that I had a lot of super unnecessary details and extra words that added no real value to my writing. In order to help correct this ongoing error, I honestly think I just need to practice writing more. This way, I can go through the steps of planning out my essay and writing it, and then go back through it and strip it of any pretentious sounding, meaningless details. This will help me to become a more efficient writer, and will prevent me from wasting mine and my audiences time with taking forever to get to the point.


Reflection On ‘Let Evening Come’ Essay

My performance in the latest essay was very encouraging and a substantial improvement. In my previous works, I would make small but several silly mistakes such as spelling errors or organizational errors or even using unnecessary words in a sentence. I would also find myself writing a 200-word essay without answering the question, and rather waste all that space discussing irrelevant topics. But I improved on all those things, and hopefully will not make those mistakes again. 

Some further improvements that need to be made focus mainly on structural errors Putting in the correct symbols, and ensuring they are in the right place. Moreover, my word choice needs to be more precise and not just serve the purpose of sounding fancy. 

Let Evening Come – Feedback

When my practice paper one was handed back to me, I noticed new errors. My most common errors were using present tense, weaving my quotations with no prior explanation of the situation and putting the incorrect line citation at the end of a quotation. In order to fix my present tense error I will have to remember writing in the present tense, this can also be done through practice. My second error was weaving my quotations with no prior explanation of the situation. I would always address the significance of the quotation however, I would lack in explaining it beforehand and mentioning the situation and what the quotation was about. I will need to remember this vital step in setting up a quotation, memorizing these steps on quotations and practicing will develop this habit for me. Thirdly, writing the incorrect line citation at the end. For example, I would write a quote like; “Let the shed go black inside.” (II 9-8) II does not represent lines. I can fix this by remembering the correct citation.

Let Evening Come Reflections

After going through my essay with the notes on it, I realized that my errors were mostly careless errors. The errors I would like to fix most are 26, saying the same thing twice. 3, assertions, and careless spelling mistakes.

I seem to have a difficult time with making assertions in my paragraphs. I either made too many or none at all. I am going to work at fixing this through writing out assertion examples, and reading other peoples’ assertions. The errors that I was making in my earlier essays have been fixed, but there are new errors that now need to be fixed. To fix my careless spelling errors I am going to leave myself more time to proof read, and edit.

Rushdie PR

While listening to the interviews done with Salman Rushdie I admired how much he was solidified in his beliefs about this specific religion. Although I do not agree with what he wrote about the Muslim religion specifically, he did mention that it was a joke even though no one took it as one. You can tell from all of his books that he is a very good writer and is very passionate about writing. He moved away from his family and home to pursue what he wanted which makes me respect him quite a bit. 

It is common sense that writing and targeting a single religion, even as a joke, is going to cause some problems. I do not believe he deserved all the violence that was targeted towards him. Even years after the book was published he is still having people come after him and he isn’t allowed to live his life completely. I think that because of free expression the people upset about the book should have shared their opposing opinions in a more humane way. 

At the end of the interview done in 2015 he talks about free expression. He mentions how clearly people do not get to express their thoughts freely but the definition of free expression is that everyone is allowed to express their opinions and beliefs. He wrote his book The Satanic Verses, this was a satirical comedy about the Muslim religion, this was him expressing his opinion about the religion as a non religious person. He says in the interview that if you have to be careful not to upset people it is not free expression. I disagree with this because when talking about a large population of people you can share your opinion in a respectful way. 

Let Evening Come – Reflection

When I got my essay back, I noticed that I made a lot of spelling mistakes and had trouble using present tense when writing about literature. I also struggled with run on sentences and punctuation errors. Something I have always struggled with when writing was properly formatting my essays. I really need to stop looking for the deeper meaning of a poem when I write about it, as I keep trying to find meaning in something that might not have it. I understand that it is a common thing with a lot of people, but I really want to work on seeing things for how they are and not searching for meaning. When I wrote this paper, I forgot to include an assertion. These were common problems on my last paper, and I tried to avoid making them again but failed. I was trying to get a ton of thoughts down and in the process missed a few of my errors. 

To fix these problems I understand that I must proofread more than once and pay better attention to details, I also realize that these problems are things I need to work on and will not get better without practice. On my next paper I’m going to try to keep these problems in mind well I am writing and proofreading it. I did enjoy the poem and I like how we are identifying what I did wrong so I can work and grow from it.