Things Fall Apart PR

I had mixed feelings about “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. There were things I did and did not like about the book.

One thing I really liked was how Okonkwo reminded me of characters in Greek tragedies. He is neither completely good nor bad, but is flawed enough to be granted our sympathy. Also, I liked how many characters were not two-dimensional, but were complex and well-written. For instance, when Okonkwo kills the 16-year-old son of Ezeudu, “Obierika and half a dozen other friends came to console him” (pg. 124). Okonkwo typically demonstrates what today we call “toxic masculinity”. He is often devoid of emotions that he deems to demonstrate weakness, such as empathy. However, Achebe crafts a more emotional and tragic version of his protagonist. This was one of my favorite aspects of the novel, being Achebe’s masterful and unique approach to characterization.

However, one thing that inhibited me from enjoying the novel to the fullest extent that I could was the fact that “Things Fall Apart” is very different culturally. For instance, the names of places and characters, as well as Achebe’s use of a traditional Ido narratiuve technique, resulted in a greater difficulty regarding comprehension and in-depth understanding of the novel. However, I want to reiterate that this “drawback” is not the fault of Achebe, but rather my own lack of cultural background knowledge.

Slaughterhouse-Five PR

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, is a remarkable work of literature that diverges from the other novels we’ve encountered in DP2, particularly the Awakening by Kate Chopin and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. While all three novels offer distinctive insights into the human experience, they differ significantly in terms of narrative approach and  structural composition.

The novel’s main theme—the senselessness of war—is reflected in Vonnegut’s narrative style. Billy Pilgrim, the main character, experiences time as an unchanging, continuous reality through his deft use of time travel and the Tralfamadorian worldview summed up by the slogan “so it goes.” In this “4D” world everything that has happened, will happen and is happening all occurs at the same time. By skillfully contrasting the tragedies of war with the silliness of life itself, this narrative method creates a strange sensation of detachment that is simultaneously tragic and hilarious. The Awakening and The Colour Purple, in stark contrast, follow conventional “linear” tales that follow the individuals’ individual travels and challenges.

Furthermore, Vonnegut skillfully incorporates his personal experiences as a World War II soldier into a fictitious story in Slaughterhouse-Five. In the narrative, the author himself breaks the fourth wall and provides insights into the creative process. This component enhances the story by blending the lines between fact and fiction and encouraging viewers to question the narrator’s credibility. On the other hand, the narrators in The Awakening and The Colour Purple, Edna Pontellier and Celie, respectively, narrate their stories in a more direct and personal manner, giving their own descriptions of their experiences.

There are several possible explanations to the bizarre expositions in the text. I am of course referring to the Tralfamadorians and their idea of a 4D world. They way I manage to make sense of the book – if you can even make sense of it – is thorough the idea that main character of Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of his horrific experiences during World War II. Flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive memories, avoidance, emotional numbness, and skewed beliefs are a few of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this is very similar to the stories we are told by the narrator about billy pilgrim.

Talking about the narrative technique, the novel reflects Billy’s PTSD by using that non-linear structure that jumps from one time period to another without any logical order. The novel also mixes reality and fantasy, making it hard to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined by Billy. These imaginary aspects are formed by the possible PTSD. The novel challenges the conventional notions of causality, free will, and morality that are often associated with war stories. The novel suggests that war is senseless, random, and inevitable, and that human beings have no control over their fate.

The affect of this narrative technique on the readers is the sensation that we too have something similar to PTSD. With all the jumbled paragraphs and random timeline we find ourselves questioning our own sanity.

 

 

 

So it goes

 

Unlike Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”, I thoroughly enjoyed my read of “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, as its genre extends into the domain of science fiction and war, which are some of my favorites book genres. Its scientific aspects includes the theme of time travel which is constantly seen throughout the book. I appreciated the new depiction of time travel, as I am constantly exposed to the oversaturated representation of time travel, done through the usage of an intricate machine, where the characters literally go through time and retain all their former physical and mental attributes. Whereas Vonnegut’s interpretation of time travel was done by having his characters fall asleep, or have his mind wander off to another time of his life. This creates an uncertainty of the character’s mental state in the reader’s mind, which drastically boosts the books nuances and makes it more interesting.

The Color Purple utilizes a linear progression and narration of the story, which is being accounted by the two main characters through the form of letters.  It wields the epistolary method of recounting a story. This creates an intimate and open relationship between the reader and Celie (main character), who progresses a lot through the advent of challenges. Moreover, this technique reinforces the theme of self-expression and vulnerability, as Celie expresses her voice through her letters.

The Awakening also employs the usage of linear story progression, however, its narration is done from an unknown 3rd party which is omniscient. This provides an even closer look on the life of Edna (main character) , and her struggle for self- discovery. Allowing the readers to constantly engage with the characters that engage with Edna , and also follow all their developments . In addition, this narration style enables readers to empathize with Edna’s emotional journey and social constraints .

Without the usage of these factors the readers would not be able to follow the lives of the characters closely, and emotionally invest in any of the events being experienced by them either. Which Slaughterhouse-Five employs as its narration technique. Vonnegut opposes the traditional techniques used by “The Color Purple” and “The Awakening”, which allows readers to be effectively immersed in Vonnegut’s world of chaos and its nonsensical nature. “So it goes”, Vonnegut uses this  phrase multiple times throughout the book, which reflects the desolate and dire nature of war, and shows a good representation of Nihilism through Billy’s character. All of these little features make the overall narrative technique employed which effectively served to disorient and confuse the readers, and add to the overwhelming negative outlook of war.

 

 

So it goes

Slaughterhouse-Five written by Kurt Vonnegut is a novel that left a profound impact on me, primarily because of its unique narrative technique and the differences it presents when compared to the other novels we’ve read so far, “The Awakening” and “The Color Purple.”

Vonnegut’s narrative approach in Slaughterhouse-Five is unconventional. He blends science fiction, satire, and memoir, that creates a narrative structure that is fragmented. The story unfolds in a seemingly random manner, jumping back and forth in time and space. This approach mirrors the protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s experience of becoming “unstuck in time,” and it forces the reader to confront the chaotic and absurd nature of war and the human condition. This narrative style allows Vonnegut to comment on war and the traumatic effects it has on individuals.

In contrast to The Awakening by Kate Chopin and The Color Purple by Alice Walker, where the narrative is more linear and traditional, Slaughterhouse-Five changes our expectations of how a story should be told. Edna Pontellier’s journey to self-discovery in The Awakening is presented in a chronological and thoughtful manner, while Celie’s transformation in The Color Purple is conveyed through a series of letters, making it intimate and personal. These novels provide a more straightforward path for readers to follow and engage with the characters’ emotional development.

So it goes (p.15)

This phrase is repeated throughout the novel each time there is a mention of death, no matter how significant or insignificant. It serves as a commentary on the inevitability and indifference of death and the senselessness of war.

“So it goes” projects the novel’s central themes of fatalism, the absurdity of life, and the nature of time. In the face of death and destruction, there is a certain resignation and acceptance of the way things are, as if to say that death is an inescapable part of the human experience. This phrase has a profound, almost haunting quality, emphasizing the sense of futility and helplessness in the face of the chaos of war and life’s unpredictability. It reminds us of the book’s anti-war message and the need to reflect on the senseless violence that humans often perpetrate on one another.

Evif-Esuohrethguals – Lanosrep Esnopser

Prior to the introduction of, Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic that the book addresses. The primary theme is the destructiveness of war, and its impact on individuals, as well as the illusion of free will(20th century).

In Chapter 1, we are given a summary-like style. As the timeline jumps around in no chronological order, it was initially difficult to follow along. In Chapter 2, a sense of familiarity begins as we are given a clearer image of the fabricated world as we follow Billy Pilgrim into the war zone of 1944. During this, Pilgrim begins time-traveling through multiple future and past events. As Pilgrim time travels and recounts his experiences with the Tralfamadorians, his daughter, Barbara Pilgrim calls him “insane.” The non-linear structure first confused me as it challenged my conventional expectations of how a story progresses. However, I found myself being more interactive with the story as I attempted to construct a chronological timeline using the bits and pieces each chapter provides. Additionally, I found myself relating to Pilgrim as I too was tied down from past experiences at one point, similar to how the chaotic timeline of the story reflects how Pilgrim is unable to escape his traumatic experiences such as witnessing the bombing of Dresden. The chaotic timeline also makes the story seem to never make progress and end.

Not only was the narrative style of Slaughterhouse-Five different, but the content was significantly different when compared to the previous novels I had read with the class, which had a more conventional chronological structure. Both The Awakening and The Color Purple, explore the societal expectations and gender roles around the 20th century of people, specifically women. Despite Slaughterhouse-Five having a significantly different theme, it still connects to the societal expectations of man during global conflicts. The more traditional narrative style of the two novels provides a clear and coherent explanation, while the non-linear structure of Slaughterhouse-Five requires is to actively engage with the story. Although I found my experiences relating to Pilgrim, I often found myself having more difficulties in truly empathizing with him and found myself often detached as I was unable to create a clear world with the characters of the story.

Overall, I found myself being unable to determine if I liked the book. The unique structure certainly provides an interesting aspect to understand the story. However, I often found myself being confused as scenes are often briefly mentioned with little information regarding the world, thus, making me feel detached from the story. So it goes.

Ivan’s Personal Response – Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse-Five is written by Kurt Vonnegut, a former WWII veteran fighting in Germany. The novel provides a realistic account of the experiences of an American POV (Prisoner of War) and the devastation of the destruction in the famous German city – Dresden. 

One of the most striking aspects of the novel is its unconventional narrative structure. Vonnegut’s use of time travel and the idea that all moments happen in time tend to exist simultaneously challenge the way we all think and understand storytelling traditionally. This non-linear narrative mirrors Billy becoming “unstuck in time”, which makes me question the way we perceive events. Moments in life are similarly quite complex and do not necessarily happen in a neat and linear progression, much like the way we remember, anticipate, and live through our own lives.

Beyond its narrative innovation, “Slaughterhouse-Five” also serves as a powerful anti-war statement. The author himself fought in WWII, and his portrayal of the firebombing of Dresden is thought-provoking. This book suggests the absurdity of war and the devastating impact on everyone within it. The phrase “So it goes” appears multiple times throughout the novel, just like a reminder that we cannot do anything to stop deaths, and how powerless the people are inside wars, and even becoming numb to life and death.

In relation to two books we read before, “The Awakening” and “The Color Purple”, these three books are innovative, often challenging our conventional thoughts and ideas but also remind us of some of the valuable personality and ways to think in life. The book “The Awakening” is about self-discovery and liberation. The awakening of the protagonist to her desires signifies a woman’s right to have control over her own body and identity, which is the main tenet of feminism.  “The Color Purple” on the other hand, explains the importance of resilience, redemption, and what is love. Breaking the silence surrounding domestic and sexual abuse, the book explores the situation of black women during that period and challenges the conventional thoughts at the time.

 

PR to Slaughterhouse five

The book was written by American humorist Kurt Vonnegut in 1969. 

 

The narrative technique of Slaughterhouse-Five is non-linear, which means that the timeline of the story frequently jumps back and forth in time rather than being told in a chronological order. It is also a combination of third-person and first-person narration.

The story is broken into many sections and told from the characters perspective, Billy Pilgrim who becomes “unstuck in time” and as if tells or remembers the events from his memories through sections. Billy Pilgrim, a traumatized kid and later soldier who fought in WW2.

 

This sci-fi and fantasy story creates a dreamlike atmosphere in the book, the narrative technique that wants us to mess with the perception of time, which compared to the other novels we read earlier in clas, the The Awakening and The Colour Purple which are told in a chronological and structural way; filled with elements of bitter reality that some may unfortunately relate to and therefore drowns us in the reality of the scenario and pin points us to a specific timeframe. These two novels as readers set us in a harsh-reality, as if making us survive with the main character, keeping us on our toes, yet the Tralfamadorians moral of life in  Slaughterhouse 5 suggests us to forget about the sense of time for a moment and look at life as is. 

“There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvellous moments seen all at one time” (p.88).

And  “one thing earthlings might learn to do if they tried hard enough is ignore all the awful times and focus on the good ones” p.117

And this felt freeing to be honest. For the first time I felt like I had one less of a responsibility to keep track of something “so insignificant” like the aliens say, time. 

 

The sense of freedom leads me to my next point, religion.   

 

Billy does not follow any religion, unlike Celie in the Color Purple, where the book starts with the line “Dear God..”

“Billy wasn’t catholic, yet had a gory crucifix hanging in his room as a child. His father had no religion..” p.38

But we see him later form a prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping going even though he was unenthusiastic about living:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change courage to change the things I can and wisdom always to tell the difference” p.60

God was Celie’s outlet, her companion and friend ever since she was little and taught to only tell God about the darkest secrets while Billy never told anyone about his struggles, never spoke about his pain. This made me think about how many men still refuse or are too scared to be vulnerable and tend to keep it all inside themselves for years. The “a man is supposed to be tough” really speaks out to me as I see close relatives of mine whom I never saw cry and probably never will.  We see the earlier traumatic event of Billy’s life when his father taught him how to swim by throwing him in water, causing the poor boy to develop severe anxiety while standing near water like the canyon. And yet this is described as a memory, where even “in Billy’s head” he doesn’t address the situation and never vents,

Celie begins to write to her sister Nettie at one point, when she overthinks her concept of religion. Why is God a man with a white beard in her eyes, why does she feel the need to write to him? And with the help of her lover Shug she is able to obtain those answers. Celie only has one life, and she is not about to waste another year keeping quiet. I found that when Billy learns to put aside the concept of time after his encounter with the aliens, it is as if he also finds the answer, or at least, some comfort in his being now. Travelling back and forth in time as he knows that

“I, Billy Pilgrim, will die, have died, and always will die on February 13, 1976” p141 which he records on a tape and leaves it locked up with some other valuables. 

As I continue my journey in life, I find that both approaches suit me; Celie’s determination to live her best life without wasting it on anyone other than her own wellbeing and Billie’s tranquility, as we know that all things come to an end one day. 

 

“So it goes” the famous line Billy says throughout the book, and interestingly enough, the Tralfamadorians use it too. Usually, when a person passes or an unpleasant event occurs that makes us have this uneasy feeling, a pit in our stomach as we wonder how to react to this new information, waiting to see if Billy will react in any way, but his answer to it is a simple “so it goes”. This leaves us room and a sense of independence over our own feelings and how we should react to things like misfortune and even death, which is described many times in Slaughterhouse 5.

Slaughterhouse Five PR

Slaughterhouse Five is a novel written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1969, 24 years after the end of the Second World War. Vonnegut was serving the US army from 1943 to 1945, who survived the aerial bombing of Dresden. Slaughterhouse Five is a classic pacifistic novel. Apart from realistic events that are narrated by the narrator, Vonnegut, the novel also consists of fictional  components including the Tralfamadorian – extraterrestrial creatures and time-traveling, which intrigue readers to continue reading. Vonnegut utilizes a highly satirical tone throughout Slaughterhouse Five to visualize the main themes including fate and the sense of antiwar. Although Billy Pilgrim – the main character is threatened to death by different characters, he survives the war but is killed by a laser gun. 

“Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” (p.23) 

The word “unstuck” literally means no longer stuck, Billy is no longer stuck in normal timeline, normal time progression, instead, he is skipping time from one moment to another. I believe that human brains recall the important life events before they die. Therefore, to me, Billy’s time-traveling is as the recall of memory before he dies. 

Comparing the narrative techniques used in The Awakening and Slaughterhouse Five, Chopin and Vonnegut both utilized third person narration to inform the readers the plot. In The Awakening, although Edna is not the narrator of the story, the narrator informs Edna’s experiences and awakening process with an omniscient perspective. The narrator provides readers a thorough insight into Edna’s action, and allows the audience to attempt to interpret Edna’s thoughts and emotions. Vonnegut also utilizes an omniscient, third person narrative in Slaughterhouse Five, which describes the appearance, actions, expressions of Billy, which guides readers to interpret his emotions during reading. The novel begins with “Listen!” (chapter 2, 6), which gathers audience’s attention and inform them the narrator has begin to tell the story. This type of narration elucidates an in depth insight of the main character. 

In the Awakening, Chopin employed linear narration, which follows the timeline of the plot. This increases the tension as the plot progresses. Linear narrative emphasizes the progression of Edna’s self-discovery, leading the reader to focus on Edna’s transformation and awakening. The narration is also character centered, which encourages the audience to focus on the protagonist’s emotion and thoughts, instead of any other characters or the events. Vonnegut uses metafiction, which he is intentionally mentioning reality and the artificialness to blur the boundary between fiction and reality. This technique is revealed a couple times throughout the fiction. First, chapter 1 is named “chapter 1” instead of “preface” to catch the reader’s attention and blends the line between fiction and real historical backgrounds. Vonnegut also becomes involved in the fiction: 

I was there. So was my old war buddy, Bernard V. O’Hare.” (p.67)

“Somebody behind him in the boxcar said, ‘Oz.’ That was I. That was me. The only other city I’d ever seen was Indianapolis, Indiana.” (p.148)

These 2 quotes affirm the audience of the fiction’s reliability so that the audience are more devoted as they read along, also mitigating the doubtness of fictionality. This raises a question: if Billy Pilgrim truly existed in reality, or he is just a fictional character for Vonnegut to express his satirical and opposition thoughts against the war, which is traumatizing and the effect on a human’s mental health condition? 

Slaughterhouse Five is narrated in a non-linear way, which does not follow the normal progression of timeline, yet back and forth to the important events of Billy’s life. This creates a sense of confusion for the audience, reflecting Billy’s confusion of his experience on time-traveling and encounter with Tralfamadorians. Although the progression of Slaughterhouse Five is not according to the timeline, the fragments of Billy’s life connect to another part of his life events. For example, Billy has insomnia during his daughter Barbara’s wedding because the colour of the tent – black and orange reminds him of the trains that transfers him to the POW camp. I particularly admire Vonnegut’s minor but significant connection between events that convey his thoughts on war effectively to readers. 

Contrasting the narrative techniques between The Colour Purple and Slaughterhouse Five, Walker and Vonnegut both utilizes first person narrative, yet there are two narrators in The Colour Purple – Celie, and Nettie. The novel is written in an epistolary form, which is a collection of letters. Since there are two narrators narrating about their lives, the audience gains a better insight into their emotions, experiences and their mindsets. As The Colour Purple progresses, we gain knowledge about Celie’s thought and realization of her ideas. It emphasizes the relationship between Celie and Nettie, which is extremely intimate. The linear narrative allows the audience to focus on the theme of self-discovery and transformation, from desensitizing thoughts and feelings to bravely expressing and advocating ideas through actions. Celie’s illustration of her life – what she writes and narrates from letters shows her evolution, from disorganized paragraphs in non-standard English, to coherent and longer paragraphs that expresses her emotions productively. 

Slaughterhouse Five consists of science fiction components, especially the encounter with Tralfamadorian and experience on Tralfamadore. A significant example of this is the Tralfamadorians thought on the idea of death: 

“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.” (p.26-27)

This quote reveals the emotionlessness of Tralfamadorian, who is the extraterrestrial creature of Slaughterhouse Five, especially the idea of crying at funerals is silly. Vonnegut symbolizes war as Tralfamadore, visualizes the absurdity and ruthlessness of war as Tralfamadorian, emphasizes the senselessness of war by incorporating Tralfamadorian. It echoes with chapter 1, when Vonnegut is talking with O’Hare’s wife, who thinks wars are a “children crusade”. (p.15)

“You’ll pretend you were men instead of babies, and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men. And war will look just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot more of them. And they’ll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.” (p.14)

Billy is one of the “baby”, who has no control on anything, including being “spastic in time”, which contradicts the idea of “free will”; Tralfamadorians think free will is “simply an illusion since they can see past, present, and future simultaneously so they believe in fate, the idea of everything is planned. The incorporation of Tralfamadorian connects with Billy’s encounter, visualizes the senselessness of war by conveying and promoting their thoughts to Billy, promotes and creates a sense of antiwar to readers, meanwhile raises a question about the theme – does free will exist? 

To conclude, I enjoyed reading Slaughterhouse Five due to its unconventional, non-linear way of narrating that intrigues my curiosity to keep reading and discover Billy’s experiences between fragments of events. I enjoy the sarcasm within Slaughterhouse Five, typically the attitude that Billy acts towards death – “so it goes” even though he survives from scenarios near to death multiple times during and after the war. On the contrary, Celie from The Colour Purple tries her best to stay alive. The contrast of the thoughts of the two main characters produces and accentuate the satirical perception towards Billy. Slaughterhouse Five raises a question: would the world be better if people are more sensitive instead of being senseless?

PR to Slaughterhouse-5

Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House-Five”, is by far the most unconventional text we have read during this course. Vonnegut’s unconventional methods and authorial choices, such as his use of dark humour, graphic descriptions of human anatomy, and most notably, his irregular approach to telling a story, in this case, the story of Billy Pilgrim. Vonnegut uses a nonlinear narrative in order to communicate the events of Billy’s life. Vonnegut accomplishes this effect by manipulating both the nature and passing of time in his novel, and proposing a new perspective on time and space, through which the protagonist, Billy, takes an odyssey through. Vonnegut’s non-conforming narrative technique offers us an intimate glance into the character of Billy Pilgrim, and allows us to question the concept of “free will”. Similarly, though through the use of different narrative techniques, Alice walker utilizes an epistolary form in order to present her own artistic creation, who we know as the character Celie in her epistolary novel, “The Colour Purple”. Through the use of an epistolary form, Walker brings the reader and guides them through Celie’s own odyssey through time, and presents a tone towards free will which is in stark contrast to that of Vonnegut’s.

Vonnegut addresses the concept of free will in a more critical light, as can be seen on page 86 of “Slaughter House-5”, “Only on earth is there talk of free will”(p. 86). This of course refers to a conversation between protagonist Billy Pilgrim and one of the time-fluid beings from Tralfamadore, whose inhabitants are known simply as Tralfamadorians. According to the Tralfamadorian perspective, the passage of time occurs in four dimensions, and all moments that will and have happened occur simultaneously. As a result, Tralfamadorians are able to move freely throughout time, as what will happen in the “future” has already been determined. Therefore, the Tralfamadorians argue that “free will” is a foolish concept, as one cannot change what is already bound to happen. By doing so, Vonnegut argues that free will is but a concept, with no real value within the world. However, Alice Walker suggests another perspective on the concept of free will. Her character, Celie, over the course of a twenty-year period, grows and morphs into a courageous and independent woman. However, this is not on behalf of extraterrestrial intervention, but instead the unbroken spirit and resilience displayed by Celie allows herself to create a state of mind that allows her to grow and change into a person she is proud of. By doing so, Walker demonstrates her own tone and perspective on free will, framing it as something that is not only real and profound, but something that can be utilized by the beholder in order to strengthen and better themselves.

To close, I must say that I enjoyed reading the novel “Slaughterhouse-5” by Kurt Vonnegut, even though at times the non-linear narrative technique and irregular passage of time made the book difficult to follow at times. However, the novel still had a profound impact on me as the reader. Vonnegut’s presentation of the absolute absurdity of life, time, and conflict has granted me perspective and insight into how I can approach the finite and passing nature of time. Just as Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time, forever witnessing each moment of his life, I will attempt to approach time similarly, not in a literal sense of course. By reflecting on my choices and their implications, I will gain insight into my effect on others, and thus how I am perceived and remembered, as how others remember you is the determining factors in your legacy of time spent on earth.

Being Afraid of Death

For me, the most prominent narrative technique of Slaughterhouse-Five was its non-linear timeline. This is reflective of the protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s “unstuck in time” experience, as he becomes “unstuck” in time and experiences events out of sequence. This technique is used to show the concept that time is not linear and can be experienced in a non-sequential manner. This is unlike any book we have read thus far into the year. Whereas The Awakening and The Colour Purple follow a very clear chronological, linear timeline, Slaughterhouse Five often shifts between the past, present, and future, without warning. Events from Billy’s experiences as a soldier during World War II, his post-war life, and his time with the Tralfamadorians are all presented in a jumbled, non-chronological fashion.

“Billy couldn’t be shaking hands with anybody now. He was time-traveling.”

Some events are even revisited multiple times from different perspectives or in different chronological orders. For example, the bombing of Dresden is described at various points in the novel, each time providing new insights and emotional impacts. I found the book a little hard to follow at first as the transitions between different time periods are often abrupt and without any cues or transitions that typically guide readers through a linear storyline. Vonnegut intentionally disrupts the chronological flow of events to emphasize the disorienting and chaotic nature of war and human experience. It reflects the disorientation and trauma experienced by the characters, specifically Billy, during and after the war. It also challenges conventional ideas of time, highlighting the odd and often meaningless nature of life’s events. Thus, this narrative style reinforces the novel’s central themes of free will, the impacts of war, death and offers a unique reader experience.

The thing I found most fascinating about this novel was the Tralfamadorians, and specifically  their perspective on death and time. According to the Tralfamadorians, time is not linear but rather exists as a constant. They perceive all moments in time as coexisting simultaneously. Past, present, and future are all happening at once, and they view the universe as a series of moments that can be experienced in any order.

“So it goes”

The Tralfamadorians use the phrase “So it goes” every time they encounter death, and this phrase is used exactly 106 times throughout the novel. To them, death is just one moment in a person’s existence, and there’s no sense of finality. This repetition emphasizes the inevitability of death. It suggests that death is an inevitable part of life and something that cannot be changed or prevented. Death is something I think about frequently. I stay awake at night thinking about it, thinking if I were to die, how would it happen? Would it be peaceful? What happens after I die? Is there just nothing? For me, the scariest part of dying is the fact that one day there will be absolutely nothing. I will cease to exist, not just my physical body, but my memories I will have gathered over the years, my thoughts and opinions, my morals, my hopes and my fears, everything that makes me who I am will no longer exist. However, In the Tralfamadorian view of time, all moments in a person’s life are permanent. This means that, for the Tralfamadorians, every moment in an individual’s life, including moments after death, exists simultaneously and eternally. As a result, death is seen as just one moment in a person’s continuous existence.

“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies, he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past.”

I think this is a really interesting and beautiful way of thinking of a persons life, and there is something to be learned from the Tralfamadorians. Tralfamadorians do not dwell on the past or worry about the future. They live in the moment and see no reason to grieve over the deceased. All moments in time are equal, and when a person dies they’re never really gone. I believe the Tralfamadorians and I would have been good friends. One thing I took away from the novel was the importance to live in the moment, and don’t dwell on things you cannot change, such as death.

The Perception of Time

The narrative technique in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is different to many other books we have read in English class. The technique involves manipulation of the structure and organization to bring focus to the content. This puzzles the reader but also induces them to reflect deeper on the progression of the plot and how it connects with the content in the novel. The questions that occurred to me while reading involve how does the way we perceive time affect how we live? As well as how should we perceive time? We can explore the narrative technique of this book and how it influences the reader by comparing it to novels such as The Color Purple and The Awakening.

The structure and organization of the plot directly correlates with the content of the novel which encourages the reader to think about the concept of time. Vonnegut uses a mixture of truth and fiction presented in a non-linear organization to write this novel. This puzzles the reader because the structure is not the cliche progression taught in schools; conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. Slaughterhouse- Five however, is not this black and white. Events are shared in a non-chronological order and events skip from one to the next without any background information. I found this technique at first to be confusing but later caused me to reflect and connect more deeply with the content of the book.  

As we delved into this book, we learned about the Tralfamadorian way of life. Once this concept was explained I realized how directly this philosophy, and the narrative technique employed by Vonnegut were connected. For example, Tralfamadorian books are structured like:

“There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvellous moments seen all at one time” (p.88).  

This description instantly clicked with how the organization of SlaughterHouse-Five was presented. Vonnegut utilizes this philosophy in presenting the plot of Billy Pilgrim. He uses the idea that Billy can become “unstuck” in time to travel to the past or future.  The effect of this technique allows the reader to feel as though all the moments in the book are presented simultaneously which connects the plot and the organization of this novel. Now, when presented with this new philosophy of life the reader is no longer puzzled but further intrigued allowing them to think deeper. 

The narrative technique in Slaughterhouse-Five invites the reader to inquire about the perception of time and how this perception of time influences how one lives? By comparing Billy and humanity today this question can be discussed. The best way to describe the difference between the Tralfamadorian philosophy of time and humans’ perception of time is by using the metaphor a Tralfamadorian guide uses to tell his tour about earthlings perception of time:

“The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behind them. But among them was a poor earthling, and his head was encased in a steel sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eye hole through which he could look, and welded to that eyehole was a six feet pipe” (p.115).  

The idea that humans can only experience or believe that a single moment in time exists affects our beliefs about death and freewill which shapes how we live life. For example, when Billy thinks about death it’s not something that he mourns because he has adapted to this new philosophy: 

“The most important thing that I learned on Tralfamadore is that when a person dies, he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral” (pp.26-27). 

When a person dies the thought process of Billy is “so it goes”. There is no attachment to a person when they are lost and no fear of dying.  This is very different from how humans today perceive death; we tend to be more upset and mourn deeply. We also tend to live in fear of death. In regard to how perception of time can affect how people live; mortality is a less taboo topic for Billy, making him have a more relaxed life and attitude towards death. 

Another area where one’s perception of time can shape is their belief in fate vs freewill. Using the same comparison, Billy believes in fate and adapts the philosophy that there is no such thing as freewill.  Billy believes he cannot change or influence the future because in his mind all moments are happening at the same time. This mindset eliminates the idea of free will as the Tralfamadorians say: 

“Only on earth is there any talk of freewill” (p.86). 

Due to this mindset Billy lives his life in a more peculiar way than anyone would live their life in our society. For example, in the war he is not interested in combat but has a more passive behaviour and attitude. Perception of time can change attitudes toward other time dependent variables such as death and free will thus affecting one’s daily routines. The second question that occurs from this idea is how should we perceive time? There is no right answer to this question but I think humans today can adopt one concept from Tralfamadore which is to make life more enjoyable by: “Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones” (p.117).

In class we have read many books with different narrative techniques.  When comparing Slaughterhouse-Five to other books we have read such as The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Awakening by Kate Chopin, there are similarities and differences. The main difference between Slaughterhouse-Five and these two books are the structure and organization. Slaughterhouse-Five is organized in a nonlinear format which helps the reader dig deeper into the concept of the book whereas The Color Purple and The Awakening are organized chronologically. The effect of the nonlinear plot as discussed earlier makes the reader reflect more on the directly linked content. Whereas the linear plot allows the characters to show development which, in The Colour Purple and The Awakening, is crucial to the progression of the plot.   

Another difference between Slaughterhouse-Five and The Color Purple is the point of view the book is set in. Alice Walker writes as letters from Celie to God or her sister Nettie. In Vonnegut’s novel the narrator is not Billy, but we can assume Vonnegut himself as he interjects a few times. The effect of the letter format versus a narrator is that the reader gets deeper insight into Celie’s feelings than Billy. Having the insight into Celie’s thoughts that she only meant for God or Nettie means we get to see her raw emotions. This personal level with Celie makes the connection with her and the reader more personal. It is easier for the reader to relate with Celie because of this than Billy. 

A similarity between the narrative techniques in Slaughterhouse-Five and The Awakening is the use of settings.  Both novels use two main settings to help compare and contrast ideas. In Slaughterhouse-Five the two main settings are Tralfamadore and WWII in Germany. Vonnegut’s use of these two drastically different settings reinforces the ideas of this anti-war book. Utilizing two opposite settings,  influences the reader to compare the two settings.The effect this produces is that the reader fully understands Vonnegut’s point of portraying how unnecessary and awful war is. Kate Chopin also uses two opposite settings to further her point of society’s restrictive roles for women. The novel’s main setting is on a Grand Isle which is a beautiful location next to the ocean. This is where Edna felt the freest and the setting helps portray freedom and independence. The other setting is Edna’s house in New Orleans which conveys more of a rigid busy feeling here Edna struggles to find herself. This setting helps mimic society’s restrictions for women. Chopin uses the two settings to reinforce the idea of Edna’s entrapment by society.  

Overall, each book has a variety of narrative techniques but what I really noticed is how each technique is used to direct the reader to reflect on the themes and questions raised by the novel. 

 

 

“Slaughterhouse-Five” PR – The Complexity of Time & War

Slaughterhouse-Five is an anti-war novel written by American humorist, Kurt Vonnegut in 1969. This novel explores the complicated nature of time through its unique narrative technique. I particularly enjoy reading this novel due to the infusion of science fiction elements, such as the presence of extraterrestrial creatures (the Tralfamadorians) and time travel. Although the timeline of the book was confusing in the beginning, as the plot progressed, I was able to make connections between each event. Vonnegut indirectly references and displays the cruelty of war through the lens of our protagonist, Billy Pilgrim. Vonnegut raises the public’s awareness of the cruelty of war and provokes a sense of anti-war sentiment through unique narrative techniques: a combination of third and first-person perspectives, collage, and non-linear narrative.

Vonnegut utilizes a combination of third-person and first-person narration. The whole story, except chapter 1, is written primarily in the third-person perspective. Meanwhile, chapter 10 shows a clear combination of both first and third-person narrations. Chapter 1 is written from Vonnegut’s own perspective which briefly describes his struggles after the war and while writing this book. The rest of the chapters are written from Billy’s perspective. But there are multiple times when Vonnegut jumps out in these chapters to make a connection between his experience and Billy’s. This allows Vonengut to inform the readers that this is part of his experience too. However, this narrative technique raises the question, “To what extent does Billy’s experiences parallel, or perhaps, overlap with Vonnegut’s stories?”

“I was there. So was my old war buddy, Bernard V. O’Hare.” (p. 67)

“Somebody behind him in the boxcar said, ‘Oz.’ That was I. That was me. The only other city I’d ever seen was Indianapolis, Indiana.” (p. 148)

The above quotations are evidence that Vonnegut attempts to insert his presence when portraying Billy’s stories during WWII. This illustrates the subtle, intertwined connection between Vonnegut and Billy’s characters. Also, allows us to assume that Billy’s character and experiences might be, to a great extent, based on Vonnegut’s real-life experience.

Vonnegut also utilizes a collage narrative to highlight wars’ traumatizing effects on the psychological aspect of soldiers. This novel is composed of stories that illustrate Billy’s experiences in various stages of life: before the war (childhood and teenage), during the war, and after the war (his marriage life, optometry clinic, and his experience on Tralfamadore). The inclusion of events from various life stages provides profound insights into Billy’s character arc. We can see how war pushes a teenager to achieve maturity in a short period of time. Billy was once experiencing a normal childhood although he appears to be shy. However, after the war, he becomes introverted and has trouble sharing his feelings openly with others.

“Later on, as a middle-aged optometrist, he would weep quietly and privately sometimes, but never make loud boohooing noises.” (p. 197)

When Billy is middle-aged, he is depicted as reluctant to talk about anything related to the war openly to Valencia and Montana Wildhack. However, it is shown that other characters in the novel never bring up topics related to war easily, constructing a sense that people are seemingly avoiding talking about the negative impacts that war has created on soldiers. This narrative highlights the traumatizing effects that war has on soldiers’ psychology.

Moreover, Vonnegut utilizes a non-linear narrative technique to scramble the chronological order of events, thus, constructing a sense of complexity in the story’s timeline. Billy often comes “unstuck in time”.

“Billy blinked in 1958, traveled in time to 1961.” (p.46)

“Then he swings back into life again, all the way back to an hour after his life was threatened by Lazzaro – in 1945.” (p. 143)

The above quotations show Billy often traveling back and forth in his life experiences. Billy’s ability to time travel makes this novel’s timeline extremely complicated. Billy could be in Dresden but in Tralfamadore the next moment. This shows that Billy, or perhaps, Vonnegut has a vague sense in interpreting time. Thus, emphasizing the main idea valued by the Tralfamadorian: all moments are eternal, they appear to be the past or future because we are not living in them at this current moment. This idea could be interpreted as a “coping mechanism” where Billy consoles himself that no one is actually dead, they are just not in good condition at this moment. Billy’s repetitive mention of this Tralfamadorian accentuates the traumatizing effects that war has on soldiers’ psychology.

Comparing the narrative technique in Slaughterhouse-Five to The Awakening, they are both primarily written in the third narration. However, Chopin only offers a third-person perspective when describing Edna Pontellier’s awakening process. There is a limiting perspective when interpreting Edna’s inner thoughts and feelings because their character arc is primarily described from others’ perspectives. This contradicts with Slaughterhouse-Five where Vonnegut often introduces his own perspectives and association with Billy’s experience. Overall, both novels utilize a third-person narrative, but Vonnegut’s novel is more successful in displaying the protagonist’s emotional depth.

Also comparing Slaughterhouse-Five to The Color Purple, they both incorporate first-person narration. This similarity allows both novels to excel in illustrating the emotional depth and inner thoughts of their protagonists. However, Walker only shows Celie’s perspective at the beginning of the novel. This makes the reader oblivious to other characters’ thoughts and feelings. Also, Walker utilizes a linear narrative to showcase Celie’s character arc. This makes her novel’s timeline comparatively easy to interpret but less intriguing compared to the time-traveling and non-linear narrative in Vonnegut’s novel.

I enjoy reading Slaughterhouse-Five and The Awakening more than The Color Purple. All author displays masterful narrative in their novel, it is a personal preference based on the elements incorporated within the novel. To conclude, Slaughterhouse-Five provides unique perspectives for understanding historical events in WWII outside of history textbooks. It successfully raises anti-war sentiment and awareness of soldiers’ mental health by depicting the cruelty of war through a combination of third and first-person perspectives, collage, and non-linear narrative.

Spirituality and Sexuality – The Colour Purple PR

Dear God,

I don’t think I ever believed in you, never truly. I reflect on my religious experiences when I thought you were there. I was baptized, and I have a home video. I, a naked child in a church in Russia, with the distant sounds of a choir, and the mumbles of a priest blessing me. I rewatched it, not being able to connect with the child being dipped in the basin. I remember praying to you, God, as a kid, before bed every night. It didn’t suit me, but I remember the moon shining through the window, and the sight of it would help me fall asleep.  I was sent to bible camp, and I went willingly, excited to finally understand Christianity. I thought I was just ignorant—  that my lack of knowledge was what was keeping me from understanding God. I remember on one of the nights, we had chapel outside, on the lake. I don’t remember anything about what the pastor was saying, all I seem to remember is the sound of the lake, looking at the forest, and the bats that were flying overhead. None of this is to say I had a negative religious experience with Christianity. I never felt forced into believing in God. Even during Thanksgiving, when my aunts expected me and my cousins to prepare prayers to speak aloud, I found religion to be something that brought people together. But I knew, right from when I was little, that Christianity did not fit me.

I never knew what to make of these experiences. The Awakening provided some insight, but The Colour Purple was an entirely different experience for me. The spiritual and sexual journey Celie underwent was so refreshing and genuinely pleasurable. The epistolary format allowed me to really become one with Celie, and see from her point of view. One fear I have writing this PR is that it will sound similar to my response to The Awakening. I want to make it clear that while they may be alike, my response was quite different, even if I have a hard time expressing it.


There were three threads that I personally found to be the most influential while on Celie’s journey, those being her experiences with Spirituality and Sexuality.

Celie seems to be much more religiously dedicated than I was, for the first half of the book, her letters are dedicated to Him. For a younger, naive Celie, God was her only friend. That’s what she believed, because Alphonso told her right from the start, “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (p. 1). Her own mother would not be able to handle Celie’s traumatic experience, so how could anyone else? Only God. Celie relied on that idea until she saw Shug Avery. Celie’s grace shifted from God to a picture of Shug quite distinctly, as she held on to it as one would a cross or a bible, “all night long I stare at [the picture of Shug]. An now when I dream, I dream of Shug Avery” (p. 6). The attachment helps Celie, creating a distance between her traumatic situation. Celie thinks of Shug as an idol, someone she can rely on, and be faithful in, despite not knowing her.  And isn’t that just the definition of a God?

Shug becomes so incredibly important to Celie. She’s in love with Shug, and that first love helps her realize that the talk of love, romance, and sex, are real, real things. Celie finds it particularly difficult to realize this, as lesbian couples do not conform to societal norms. We do not expect Celie to realize why her romantic life is dull due to the fact that she is not interested in men. It becomes easy for us, especially when we’re younger and less knowledgeable, to doubt the existence of constructs like love, because we haven’t experienced them yet. We think; “Love, Sex, Romance, they aren’t for me, they’re gross. I would never do that.” It’s not until we have those experiences that we see the pleasant reality of it. Shug helps Celie understand that while she may be married, have been pregnant and kissed her husband before; she still has not genuinely felt the joys of them—meaning she’s “still a virgin” (p. 76). Celie’s exploration of her identity and sexuality would not have been propagated if Shug had not been there to pull Celie out of conventional ideas of romance.

Part of that includes decriminalizing things like sex for Celie. The conventional idea, which is still quite common today, is that sex is a dirty, sinful act. Shug shuts that idea down,

Oh, she say. God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves ’em you enjoys ’em a lot more. You can relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like.

God don’t think it dirty? I ast.

Naw, she say. God made it. (p.195)

Celie learning to love herself, and to allow enjoyment in her life, whether sexual or not, really helped her growth. Loving herself, too, became sacred, as God was in everything, he made everything. It’s an odd twisting of normal religious beliefs— why would we ever believe that God hates his creations? It would mean that we had an evil God. Shug’s God is a lot more convincing, in my opinion. Even before this, as they’re still getting to know each other, Celie “wash[es] [Shug’s] body, it feel like I’m praying” (p. 48). Shug herself becomes God-like, in Celie’s eyes, by being the person to help facilitate her self-growth. This manifested in Celie in her womanly strength, modelling herself after Shug and Sofia.

Celie’s spiritual journey, through Shug’s help, allowed me to have a much deeper appreciation for nature, trees, stars, people, and even the colour purple. This clever novel will be a big step in my own spiritual journey. I know that the common Christianity does not suit me, but maybe something closer to Shug’s view on God and Its passion for the natural does a bit more. Like Shug, “that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all” (p.195) is the nicest feeling, in terms of the human experience. When I think of Thanksgiving, my entire family together, I don’t care about the prayer, I care about the people around me. I cherish their presence, and that is God.

Amen.

“The Color Purple” PR – Gender Roles & Self-love

The Color Purple is a novel written by Alice Walker in 1982. The epistolary novel is innovative in terms of the story plot, setting, language, and structure. I am intrigued by this novel since I have never read one in a similar format. Walker’s novel displays the racism and injustice that African Americans are constantly facing in the lowest hierarchy in American society. At the same time, criticizes the gender stereotypes and conflict between men and women in the same race. Due to the novel’s unique format, it raised a variety of questions, from societal gender stereotypes, and racism, to personal love life. Walker raises these questions (the desired effects that she produces) mainly by the way she characterizes Celie through unique narrative devices: language and structure in the novel.

Walker characterizes Celie and shows her character arc through the unstandardized and comparatively informal English writing.

“I ast him to take me instead of Nettie while our new mammy sick. But he just ast me what I’m talking about.” (p. 7)

“Us both be hitting Nettie’s schoolbooks pretty hared, cause us know us got to be smart to git away.” (p. 9)

When Celie is writing and speaking in the novel, she often utilizes informal spellings like “ast” and “git” to replace the stardarized spellings “ask” and “get”. These words are a more vivid reflection of Celie’s thoughts and words spoken. Compared to Nettie’s standardized speaking and writing, Celie is comparatively uneducated. As Celie gets impregnated by Mr._ at such a young age, she is forced to drop out of school while Nettie continues her academics. This event marks the first misfortune in Celie’s life and increases our sympathy for Celie. However, Celie’s life does not start getting any better after she is forcefully married to Mr._. She is still facing violent treatment and being disrespected in the new household by Mr._ and his children.

“He say, celie, git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man.” (p. 22)

At the beginning of the novel, Celie is a timid little girl who is afraid of speaking up for herself and would only do what the male characters tell her to do. Her self-worth is primarily based on what the male characters think of her. Her existence is also centered on chores within the household. Celie’s first-person narrative of her own experience makes us sympathize with her situation. Her calming voice of reciting her experience and Mr._ demanding tone when speaking to Celie show physical and verbal abuse toward women is normalized in Celie’s family, which is, the epitome of the colored community. It seems that the misfortune that Celie experiences have erased her ability to feel, as a human being. Instead, Celie is merely living as a machine that works and lives for other people. The language that Walker uses in the novel highlights the fixated, normalized societal norm of men dominating the powers in the household while women should be obedient and submissive. However, this stereotypical gender role is not only mentioned from the men’s perspective,

“I’m sick of her too, say Kate, letting out her breath. And you right about Celie, here. Good housekeeper, good with children, good cook. Brother couldn’t have done better if he tried.” (p. 20)

This quote is spoken from Mr._’s sister’s perspective which she compliments Celie because Celie does what people think she should do without questioning. This highlights the fact that stereotypical gender roles are ingrained in both genders’ minds. Women are subconsciously agreeing that they should be constrained by such social conventions. From this, Walker once again raises questions, such as “Does my gender shape the way I am supposed to act?” Also, to explore the possibilities of reversing gender roles in society (which is later explored in Celie’s self-discovery process).

Walker characterizes Celie’s self-discovery and self-love process through the epistolary structure of the novel. In Celie’s “awakening” process, Shug Avery has a catalytic effect on influencing Celie to embrace her own feelings and break off social constraints regarding gender roles.

At the beginning of the novel, Celie only writes and vents her unhappiness to God. As she stated on p.1 of the novel

“You better not ever tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy.” (p.1)

This quotation shows that she does not feel comfortable expressing these feelings to the surrounding people.

“Dear God,

Harpo went and brough Sofia and the baby home. They got married in Sofia sister house.” (p. 33)

In her letters to God, her writings are monotonous, simply recording the events in other people’s lives. This also reflects the fact that Celie does not feel like she has her own life but living for other people.

However, as the plot progresses, she does not write to God as much as she used to. She either expresses her feelings and thoughts to Shug or writes to her sister, Nettie.

“Dear Nettie,

My heart broke.

Shug love sombody else.” (p. 245)

In her letters to Nettie, we can see that she is expressing more human emotions, happiness, sadness, anger, etc. showing that she is not oblivious to the ongoing events surrounding her. She embraces her emotions and pursues her love life. Her braveness allows her to stand up for herself against Mr._, which buys her respect from the men in the family. Since Celie starts fighting for her own life, she gains more control over what she wants to do in her life. Celie’s self-discovery process also fosters reversing the gender role in the family. While Celie is playing a more dominant role in decision-making, men in the family seem to become more submissive and have fewer say. This further leads us to explore and reflect on the possibilities of events that will potentially happen in society when male and females swap their fixated roles. Walker gradually induces more perspective in the letter writings (from solely Celie’s perspective to incorporating both Celie and Nettie’s perspectives) is a brilliant way to display the “awakening” process of Celie. Walker also induces Shug Avery’s contemporary views in lots of aspects of life:

“Naw, she say. God made it. Listen, God love everything you love-and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything else, God love admiration.” (p. 195)

This quotation spoken by Shug Avery has consoled Celie’s conflicted mind while Celie is trying to discover her self-worth and interests in life. Shug’s presence has a positive influence on Celie’s character development. In letters written by Celie, Walker is able to show the importance of self-love through the influence of Shug’s words and actions on Celie.

I have to admit that I found the book quite dull and monotonous in the beginning. However, the book gets better as it progresses. I especially enjoy the part where Celie rediscovers her self-worth is not primarily based on how the male character perceives her, but rather, based on how she perceives herself. Celie’s optimistic character allows her to love people unconditionally after all these life-long traumas. This inspires me to always be my true self and embrace my emotions. Just as Shug Avery says:

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somwhere and don’t notice it.” (p. 195)

This novel will forever serve as a reminder for me to be optimistic and appreciate the serendipity in my life.

Personal Response – The Color Purple

“The Color Purple” written by Alice Walker is a dairy-like novel that reflects the social background of colored people in 1907-1949 Georgia, United States. This book explores the theme through the view of one character – Celie, as she navigates a world full of abuse and discrimination. 

In my opinion, the highlight of the book is the evolution of the Character Celie as she slowly builds up her own life throughout the book. She had the worst starting on the book’s first page as she got raped by her stepfather at the age of 14. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a young girl, and I believe that might have been common in the colored community back in that time since colored people did not have enough social status, and no one would be punished for such an inhumane act. Celie bows her head to reality and accepts her tragic life as a freedomless slave in Mr.___ Family in the first part of the story. However, after the arrival of Shug Avery (Mr.__’s crush), Celie changes rapidly. She began to raise awareness of her rights towards many things such as life without sexual and physical abuse. I have observed her significant changes throughout from mid to the end of the book, as she gained back freedom and started to consider what love is, etc. 

Alice Walker’s writing is raw and direct, she tore off the FIG leaf of the people of the time by addressing difficult and painful themes like racism, sexism, and violence. Yet, in this dark setting, we can still see love, self-discovery, and the importance of connecting with others. 

This book is a powerful exploration of human’s spirit capacity to endure and overcome adversity. It explored the strength of women and the bonds that can develop between them. Furthermore, many traditional thoughts were challenged and questioned in this book, such as homosexuality, and the rights of colored and women. This book has taught and reminded me of the importance of empathy, resilience, and the potential for growth and change even in the most challenging circumstances.

Personal Response – The Color Purple

Prior to the introduction of, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic of which the book addresses. The theme being the societal expectations and gender roles at its time (20th century).

I am fourteen years old (p.1).

First he put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around. Then he grab hold my titties. Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When that hurt, I cry. He start to choke me, saying You better shut up and git used to it (p.1).

Naturally, I was surprised like many others by the immediate introduction of hebephilia. However, the introduction allows Walker to underscore the gravity of the issues the novel addresses. After the book caught my attention, I found myself beginning to pay attention to the story more than I may typically have with other novels of similar nature. Additionally, the epistolary style of the novel caught my attention as I tried to navigate the letters written by a young girl without much education in writing and general knowledge of the world. The raw and unfiltered perspective provided by Celie’s letters offered a unique insight into her world, making the narrative seem more compelling and natural.

Walker initially portrays Celie as a young girl subjugated to abuse, who found comfort in making herself quiet and invisible while she takes all the abuse into her 30s. As Celie continued to be quiet and not defend herself, I found my empathy towards her dropping as I began being agitated by her lack of willpower. However, as the novel progresses, Celie undergoes a significant transformation. With the help of Shug Avery, Celie gradually comes to accept herself as a living person through an external viewpoint of her life and those whom Celie has encountered with drastically different personalities such as Nettie and Sofia. Celie gains the ability to synthesize her thoughts and feelings into a voice that is fully her own and becomes a happy, successful, and independent woman.

When Celie begins to fight back, we witness a transformation not only in her character but also in the male characters around her. Most notably, Mr. _____, who is portrayed as an abusive husband. After Celie stands up to him, he undergoes a deep personal transformation and eventually develops a friendly relationship with Celie. Additionally, we see Celie being surprised by the beautiful changes to the property as she goes to visit her stepfather for the first time since she was married off to Mr. ____, and finds him as an approachable gentleman (pp.178-180). These transformations in the male characters, triggered by Celie’s defiance, show that they too are victims of societal norms and expectations. By the end of the book, I had found myself not disliking any particular characters based solely on the actions they had committed.

Overall, I found myself liking the book and often looking forward to reading more letters. The themes of societal expectations, gender roles, and personal transformation explored by the book has been a mostly positive experience. Although the English were hard to understand at first, I found myself getting used to it as Celie continued to develop her English writing abilities. However, I did often find myself disliking some letters, especially those of Nettie’s as I felt they were acting as unnecessary and boring fillers. If I were to give The Color Purple by Alice Walker an overall rating out of ten, I would give it an eight.

 

Glazing Alice Walker – The Color Purple PR

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is a profoundly moving novel that has deeply resonated with me. One of the remarkable qualities of Walker’s writing is her skill in constructing a profound and emotional connection between the reader and the characters.

Walker’s choice of a first-person narrative conveyed through the heartfelt letters shared between Celie and God, allows us to delve deep into the thoughts and emotions of the protagonist. This intimate perspective allows us to witness Celie’s evolution and growth throughout the narrative. We see her journey from being a young woman trapped in a cycle of abuse and oppression to becoming a strong, independent individual who discovers her voice and her sense of self-worth. At first, I found Celie’s language difficult to understand, but after time I slowly absorbed Celie’s story and it had a greater impact. Walker’s writing style really involves us in Celie’s world, allowing us to experience her pain, her joy, and her victories.

Moreover, Walker’s depiction of the relationships within the story is profoundly moving. The enduring and profound bond between Celie and her sister Nettie is a testament to the strong power of love and family ties. Walker’s talent for portraying the complexity of these relationships, with all their highs and lows, infuses the narrative with authenticity.

Another captivating aspect of Walker’s writing is her exploration of critical social and cultural themes, including racism, sexism, and the quest for self-identity. Through Celie’s experiences, we gain insight into the harsh realities faced by African American women in the early 20th century South. Walker’s storytelling is not just a recounting of events; it is a call to action for societal change and a feeling of empathy.

Furthermore, Walker’s use of language is poetic, and her vivid descriptions of the natural world and the country setting enhance the narrative with depth and vibrancy. It is a testament to her mastery as a writer that she can convey a range of emotions and meaning through her words.

In conclusion, The Color Purple is a literary masterpiece that highlights Alice Walker’s extraordinary talent. Her skill in creating relatable characters, exploring vital themes, and drawing readers into the emotional core of the story is truly remarkable. This novel not only captivates and entertains but also educates and inspires, making it an unforgettable reading experience. Old history shows us how to act in the present.

What makes a life good – The Colour Purple PR

No book we have read so far has impacted me like The Colour Purple has. At first, i didn’t think I was going to like it, but I can honestly say that it is one of my favourite books I have read in this course. “Good literature doesn’t send messages, it raises questions.” This is a phrase you have all heard over and over and over, it probably haunts you in your sleep. I can honestly say that The Colour Purple is the first book to make me actually question what I had just read. The main one being “What makes our life good?/What makes life worth living?”

In The Color Purple by Alice Walker, the concept of what makes a good life is explored through the experiences of the characters, mostly the main character Celie, as they go through various challenges and personal transformations. Meaningful relationships, especially those of love and friendship, are the building blocks to a good life in the novel. Celie’s connection with Shug Avery, her sister Nettie, and her friends Sofia and Squeak play pivotal roles in her growth and happiness. These relationships provide emotional support, validation, and a sense of belonging.

“Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk?”

The quote suggests that humans, in the chase for love and attention, will partake in various expressive and creative activities. For example singing, dancing, making faces, and giving flowers are ways in which people try to garner love and positive attention from others. These actions show our own fundamental need for human connection and validation. Furthermore, it compares human nature to actual nature, in this case trees. Despite the fact that trees are an inanimate object, and thus cannot sing, dance, or make faces. They still have their own little way of trying to capture attention using their natural beauty, they may bloom flowers in the spring, grow fruits in the summer, turn beautiful shades of red and orange in the fall, and the snow lining their limbs in the winter. The desire for love and affection is a universal trait not just exclusive to humans. So in this case, I would argue that love and affection from others whether it be family, friends, or your pet is an important factor in having a good life

Another main theme mentioned in the novel that I believe contributes to a good life is self-expression and self-identification. Could you imagine being forced to live in a world where you weren’t allowed to do the things you love? This was Celie’s reality in the beginning of the novel when living with Alfonso. She was silenced and oppressed and married off to a man she barely even knew. However as she started writing letters to god, and eventually Nettie, she begins to find herself.

“I’m pore, I’m black, I may be ugly and can’t cook, a voice say to everything listening. But I’m here.”

This quote shows Celie’s journey to fully accepting herself for who she is. Despite her own negative perception of herself and others negative perceptions of her, she acknowledges that she is here and that her value as a person is not based off her attractiveness, her race, her cooking skills, her financial state, or if she fits within the gender role assigned to her. She exists, she has a life, she has a purpose and she is important. She is asserting her presence in the world, and in doing so defying those oppressive forces she faced throughout her life. Her declaration of “But I’m here” acts as a sort of statement to the world that she has the right to take up space and exist freely. It highlights her resilience too, despite the horrific situations she is put through and all the rude comments made about her, she’s still her and present. It shows Celie’s inner strength and her determination be able to express herself in order to live a good life.

A sense of community and solidarity yourself and others is a large part of what makes life good as well, and we see this in the characters in the novel. They join forces and support each other, giving a sort of “found-family” feel to the novel, providing love and affection (which as I mentioned before is another factor of a good life) . Having this sense of belonging contributes to our overall well-being. We get this from our friend groups, our families, sports teams, school peers etc. However, we also experience connections to things that aren’t human, such as nature.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it”

This quote said by Shug Avery, suggests that there is a definite beauty and meaning in the natural world that is often overlooked. Even simple things, like the colour purple in a field, are beautiful. By failing to notice or acknowledge this, you are upsetting god. In the context of the novel, this is a metaphor for the importance of being aware of the beauty and value in people and the community. In the story, the characters, mainly Celie, experience transformation and a sense of belonging when they become more aware of the strengths and value of themselves and those around them. Not noticing the “color purple” in others, metaphorically speaking, represents a failure to recognize and appreciate the unique qualities and beauty in individuals within their community. When individuals in a community take the time to notice and appreciate the beauty and worth in one another, it fosters a sense of unity and solidarity. The act of collectively appreciating and valuing the diversity and unique qualities of community members  strengthens the bonds between them. In the novel, as characters like Celie and Shug learn to appreciate each other’s uniqueness, it leads to deeper connections and a sense of solidarity.

I absolutely loved this book, and I loved the characters too. I admire Celie’s ability to persevere and to love unconditionally. I admire Sofia’s ability to defend herself both physically and mentally, and stick to her morals even if it gets her in trouble. And I admire Shug’s independence, her ability to challenge taboos, and her creativity. The most important thing I learned from this novel is that a good life is not just about success or wealth. It is also about forming loving relationships, self-expression, and having the freedom to be your authentic true self.

PR to “The Color Purple”

It is safe to say that during my reading of the first few of Celie’s letters in Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, I considered reading the novel a chore. I regarded the plot and characters to be completely relatable to my own experiences. However, soon after, I realized that I did not need to possess shared experiences with Celie or any other character in order to appreciate and enjoy Alice Walker’s masterful storytelling and composition techniques. One such composition technique is Alice Walker’s deliberate authorial choice to write her an epistolary novel, in other words, to write The Color Purple through a series of personal letters, which are addressed both to other characters and to God. This authorial choice creates a more intimate mood throughout the novel, as it allows us to see into the inner workings of many of the close interpersonal relationships in the novel, most notably between sisters Celie and Nettie. Moreover, the novel delves into themes of resilience and perseverance in the face of extreme and prolonged adversity.

One such example of resilience and optimism in the face of a formidable adversary can be found on page 132, in a letter written by Nettie and addressed to Celie, “But on the other hand, if you can believe I am in Africa, which I am, you can believe anything.”(pg. 132). One of the first letters written by Nettie and read by Celie and Shug convey a sense of optimism and resilience that is both uplifting and engaging for the reader. Moreover, not only does Alice Walker masterfully utilize diction and register in this quotation, but also uses the structural form of her novel to invoke such a powerful yet personal response. The epistolary nature of the novel allows a more intimate and personal perspective of each of the characters. This grants us perspective into the psyches of Nettie and Celie. In the above quotation, Nettie demonstrates optimism that she and Celie will reunite after her time in Africa as a missionary is finished. It is important to note that Celie and Nettie have been forcefully separated for more than a decade at this point of the novel, with this letter being one of the first Celie has read from Nettie during that period of time. Therefore, the intimate nature of a personal letter, despite years of no communication, Nettie’s optimism in her future and her reunification with her sister Celie, has revealed that she has held onto hope that she and Celie will be together again. This is why Alice Walker’s compositional choice of using an epistolary format is so effective in evoking this sense of resilience.

As I have mentioned, Alice Walker’s deliberate authorial and compositional choice to use an epistolary format in her writing of The Color Purple has a profound and lasting literary effect on the reader, especially regarding the themes of optimism and resilience demonstrated by Walker’s characters. However, this authorial choice also left a profound mark on me as a reader, especially with regard to the tone and attitude that Nettie employs while living life as a missionary in Africa. The resilience and optimism displayed by Nettie provokes questions regarding the influences of happiness and fulfillment, as well as what it means to be fulfilled.

 

The Color Purple – PR

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is undoubtedly one of the most uplifting novels that I have read, revealing signs of hope and optimism as the novel progresses. Breaking into the first few pages of the novel, we were introduced to some very gruesome and unsettling imagery from the text that twisted my stomach ” Then he push his thing inside my pussy. When it hurt, I cry”, yet I still kept an open mind for what was to come, and let me tell you, this book did not disappoint. One thing that was hard to get used to was the narrative technique used by Walker as most of the letters were written informally with an old-fashioned American accent. At the beginning of the novel, It almost felt as if I was learning a new language, not quite piecing together what Celie was saying or expressing. But as the story unfolded, I adapted to this specific accent that Celie possessed, ironically leading me to be annoyed when the narrative switched to Nettie, who is much more clear and understanding with her choice of words. Although I had trouble understanding Celie because of her accent and the way Walker chose to narrate this story, I realized by doing so, it provided authenticity, voice, and cultural context, making me feel significantly more immersive and emotionally connected which enhanced my reading experience.

As this epistolary continued, I felt more invested and found myself intrigued by the growth that Celie endured throughout her journey. As many characters were introduced, I believe that Celie, the protagonist, endured the most profound character development. From my observations, Celie had a great showing of resilience, and self-discovery as the novel progressed. Starting from her limited perspective of the world and the oppression of racism, sexism, and abuse faced as a black woman in rural Georgia, to a transformation leading to the ability to confront her painful past, heal, and forgive for closure and inner peace. What amazed me about Celie was the way she was able to overcome adversity and hardships within her lifetime. This can be exemplified when Celie undergoes years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by her stepfather, Alphonso, as well as her husband, Albert. Overcoming these challenges, we can see that Celie’s Sister, Nettie, acts as a catalyst by being that one piece in Celie’s life where the emotional connection she shares with her sister becomes a source of emotional support. As I continued to read, I felt a great amount of pent-up emotions behind the shared letters and a feeling of excitement as it continued to hold onto the hope of the sisters reuniting one day. 

Overall, I am very happy to have read this novel, as it was my first time reading an “epistolary”. The novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker exceeded my expectations in many ways. While the initial graphic and unsettling imagery made me question what was to come, I’m grateful that I continued with an open mind because the narrative’s progression revealed an inspiring story of Celie that showed a profound understanding of resilience, transformation, and hope.

The Color Purple PR

The Color Purple is a book that stood out to me compared to all the novels we read. It is a story with a “good” ending which already was a surprise considering Mr. MacKnight’s trend of giving us the most morbid pieces of literature he could find. It was also a very oddly composed novel, written in letters from the protagonist Celie to god. these letters would often be no more than a couple pages long and could be written days or months apart. At first this was also quite a surprise and me and other students voiced our concerns in our class discussions about whether we would be able to have any idea what was going on in the book with such a limited style. It also had the viewpoint of two protagonists, The sisters Celie and Nettie. this was something that surprised me mostly because it came out of nowhere, I did not expect much of the book would be from Nettie’s point of view even after being introduced to it, but a significant portion of the second half of the book is the letters Nettie writes to Celie.

Where I find that the book stands out the most though, is the fact that it succeeded to interest me. I am not a person of change, I generally hate it. If I have to switch between studying math and English, I struggle, ending a book series and trying to start a new one, I struggle. I thought it would apply to a situation like this where I am too familiar with the books we have been reading, but the change this book brings is refreshing. I enjoyed the ending as it felt like everyone got what they deserved. Celie, after working hard for so long and enduring hardships deserved a husband and family who could at least appreciate all of this, Nettie, always being a good sister, got to travel, and learn. Whereas Alphonso met an end which finally benefitted the two girls, giving them the family home. This gave a sense of closure that was much warmer than A Dolls House or Pygmalion, where the closure is the separation of the main characters. Although as I mentioned I was skeptical of the format of the book, I quickly got used to it and liked it too. It was not all too different to a regular first person narrative, just a little more sporadic. First person is my favourite point of view in stories as it helps me relate with the protagonist and understand the story. I also read a lot of first person stories as a kid like the Rick Riordan novels so it is also more comfortable (in the end being less change than I realized). Finally the dual protagonist idea worked because of the letter writing format. Celie is writing letters to god? how about we add a few letters of Nettie writing letters to Celie! It just works. it doesn’t break some kind of fourth wall where suddenly you’ve teleported from one brain to another, its like reading an exchange of letters, which is what it is.

In conclusion I enjoyed The Color Purple regardless of how much it deviated from what we normally read. it managed to captivate me with its style, and leave me content with its ending. Whether it was the work of Alice Walker or just the right book for me I am not sure but regardless I am inspired to read more books like it.

The Colour Purple PR

The Colour Purple is a controversial novel written by Alice Walker. It is criticized due to the stereotypes of the black community that are portrayed in the book. However, I appreciate the authentic and realistic description of the situation and convention in society, in particularly Georgia, during the early to mid-19th century.

The society of The Colour Purple rationalized gender oppression and racial oppression as it is a patriarchal and white superior society. Women must obey men’s demands, just as Sofia must obey Harpo’s demands; Celie must obey Albert’s command. Celie, the main character of The Colour Purple, obeys Albert and work like a “tree” burying her own feeling. When Albert beats her, she does not fight back. In contrast with Celie, Sofia, a rebellion against her husband, Harpo’s command, is beaten by Harpo as a result and as everyone’s expectation. However, in response to the theme of the disruption of traditional gender roles, Sofia does not obey him, she fights against him. Squeak, Harpo’s new girlfriend has been longing for respect by wanting people to address her by her real name – Mary Agnes. In response to another theme – racial equality, black people are not necessarily working for white people anymore. Nettie used to think Africa was the “heaven” for black people until she saw African black people in Monrovia working for European companies. This demonstrates the social division and racial inequality even in the “heaven of black people”. In response to another theme of The Colour Purple – racial equality, society, some white people start to respect black people, particularly Eleanor Jane, the mayor’s wife after Sofia teaches her to drive. At the end of the story, Eleanor Jane works for Albert’s family by making yam for Henrietta to cure her disease.

Celie’s transformation and self-discovery process are also significant in The Colour Purple. Celie buries her emotions when she is first with Albert. She aims to stay alive.

I don’t fight. I stay where I’m told. But I’m alive. (Celie, p.22)

Celie just hopes to stay alive regardless of how she is treated, she bears everything just to stay alive due to her devastating past, including being sexually abused by her “father”. The Colour Purple, for me, signifies Celie’s thoughts and ideas. When Kate, who is Albert’s sister brings Celie to buy new clothes, Celie wants clothes with purple and red but there are not any purple and red is too expensive. This shows the suppression from other people towards Celie. Throughout The Colour Purple, Celie starts to express her idea once she knows Shug accepts her. She also realizes that she is not sexually attracted to men, but to women, which challenges the gender convention in the narrow-minded society during the 19th century. Celie does not wear pants because she thinks Albert does not allow her to, yet when Shug tells her to try, she loves to wear them. She even starts a business of making pants for everyone, and everyone accepts her new thoughts and ideas. This encourages Celie to express her ideas and own self to other people as people will accept who she is. At the end of the story, Celie renovates the house that Alphonso, her and Nettie’s stepdad’s heritage. She paints her room purple and red. This resonates with the beginning, in which Celie wants clothes in purple and red. Her room signifies that she finds a safe and free space to express her own ideas and thoughts, where no one judges.

A quote near the end of The Colour Purple strikes my mind:

I start to wonder why us need love. Why us suffer. Why us black. Why us men and women. Where do children really come from. It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don’t mean nothing if you don’t ask why you here, period. (p.280)

My interpretation of this quote is if we spend our entire lives wondering why unfortunate events happen to us, and why people treat us badly, it is a waste of time and effort since it means nothing. Instead, we should wonder why are we living and for what are we living. This motivates us to live even when we are experiencing unfortunate, just like Celie, even though she experiences devastating events throughout life, she stays alive, hoping to reunite with Nettie in the future. This makes her life memorable. This quote reminds me that even when life treats you badly, stay hopeful and optimistic, and find something that is worth your attention to motivate you to stay alive. Live isn’t that bad and it will eventually be better, like the reunion of Celie, Nettie, and her children at the end of the story.

The Color Purple PR

The Color Purple by Alice walker was a book that, initially, I didn’t care for. However, much like many of the other classics we have read I found myself getting more and more engaged. Until eventually one might say that I even ENJOYED reading it. The Color Purple was a book like no other. I have never read a book which  was solely composed of short letters, yet funnily it was these short letters that kept me so intrigued. Walker’s artistry as a writer and her deliberate choices in crafting the narrative contribute significantly to the emotional and intellectual impact this novel has on its audience. The two Authorial choices that resonated most with me were the use of Celie’s letters as a way to connect with readers and infusing the narrative with the authenticity of dialect. Walker is able to weave a story that evokes both deep sorrow and profound inspiration.

One of the remarkable features of Walker’s writing is her skillful use of multiple narrative voices. The story primarily unfolds through the medium of letters penned by Celie, the central character, addressed to God. This unique format grants us intimate access to Celie’s innermost thoughts and feelings. Walker’s decision to employ this epistolary style fosters a profound sense of connection between the reader and Celie. We are privy to her incredible transformation from a voiceless, oppressed young woman into a resilient and independent individual. Reading Celie’s letters feels akin to peering into someone’s private journal, forging an unbreakable bond of empathy and immersion that few other narrative techniques can achieve.

Walker’s portrayal of Celie’s voice is nothing short of authentic and distinct. Celie’s voice evolves as she gains self-assurance and self-esteem. Her initial letters are marked by pain, confusion, and a profound lack of self-worth. Yet, as the story unfolds, her letters grow progressively more assertive, and her voice resonates with newfound strength. This evolution serves as both a heartwarming and inspiring testament to Celie’s unwavering resilience in the face of adversity. As a reader, I couldn’t help but cheer for her every step of the way.

Furthermore, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between The Color Purple and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Walker masterfully employs dialect and vernacular language throughout the novel, imbuing the characters and setting with a profound sense of authenticity. This is very similar to the way in which Eliza’s speech changes from a cockney accent to eloquent and refined “proper” speech throughout the pages of Pygmalion. Walker’s characters’ distinctive voices and speech patterns breathe life into them, making them seem real and relatable. This narrative choice not only immerses the reader in the rural Southern culture but also underscores the significance of individuality and the transformative power of language in shaping one’s identity.

Alice Walker’s writing in “The Color Purple” is a remarkable blend of narrative choices that leaves an enduring impact on readers. Through the intimate medium of Celie’s letters and the authenticity of dialect, Walker crafts a narrative that is both heartrending and up lifting. This novel stands as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of storytelling to inspire change and empathy.

Some Thoughts on Our Recent Read

After reading the first few pages, I knew I wasn’t going to like this book, due to its graphic nature, which took me by surprise. ” Then he push his thing inside my pussy…” (Pg 1). We are given a very vivid and lucid description of the main character being sexually abused by her stepfather on the first page! We are then subjected to experiencing a 14 year old girl undergo some of the worst physical and mental experiences a human being might experience (getting impregnated by your father, or lack of parental love ). These elements bred into the plot of the story made this an uncomfortable read at the very least. However, as the story progressed, it presented new elements that I enjoyed, and an example is the character development. The most profound example of that can be seen with Mr. (aka) Albert. He is introduced and described to be a man similar to the main character’s father (Celie), which speaks volume.

“He beat me like he beat the children. Cept he don’t never hardly beat them. He say, Celie, git the belt. The children be outside the room peeking through the cracks. Its all I can do not to cry.” (Pg 22)

She was married off to an abusive man who seamlessly beat her given any inconvenience caused by her, and also the same person whom instilled the fear of men in her. We see him transform into a completely different person after Celie leaves his house with Shug. We learn he was a likeable person in the past but changed because he couldn’t be with the woman he loves (Shug). Anyhow, he changes and comes to realize the pain he caused for Celie and changes.

“I know you won’t believe this, Miss Celie, say Sofia, but Mr.   act like he trying to git religion. Big a devil as he is, I say, trying is bout all he can do. He don’t go to church or nothing, but he not so quick to judge. He work real hard too. What? I say Mr.    work!” (Pg 221)

” Dear God, My mama dead. She died screaming and cussing.” (Pg 2). Another interesting feature of this book is that most of its chapters begin with “Dear God”. The main character narrates the story in the format of a diary or a journal addressed to God, and the significance of this choice intrigues me. The events Celie undergoes are terrible and scarring, and by writing them down, it may serve as a perseverance and a source of strength to remind Celie of what she’s experienced to overcome any new challenges that may appear. In addition, this feature reminds me of a popular Catholic practice, in which a person stays inside a “Confession Booth”, and relays information that they would preferably not let other people know. Although, the people confess in the presence of a Pastor, they are supposedly speaking directly to God during the practice. The process and outcome of confessing is similar to Celie’s narrative style.

In addition, Walker’s decision to include Nettie in the voice of narration was also interesting, and represents more that meets the eye. Prior, to Celie’s discovery of Nettie’s letters, Celie was the only narrator and her experiences and perspective became the readers idea of the world she lived in. So, Celie’s world and perspective were very similar to that of the readers. Which included the antagonization of all men, the existence of only black and white people and their hierarchy in relation to one another, and the only “good” people being Shug and Nettie. However, once Nettie begins narrating her experiences, both Celie’s and the readers idea of their world shifts. She experiences different pleasures such as traveling and finding something she’s passionate about. She meets kind men, and discovers other cultures in which men and women coexist. She experiences selfishness and “evil” from both blacks and whites. She falls in love and experiences the joy of raising and having children.

Identity and Belonging in The Color Purple

The Color Purple written by Alice Walker raised questions involving the concepts of identity, belonging and purpose. One of the many recurring themes was the questioning of identity, who we are. This theme opened the door to other questions such as where do we belong?  The question who are we is a daunting question, but there are many obvious answers for example, we are human, babies, children, adults, males, females, Canadians, Americans, students, athletes etc. The not so obvious question beyond this is who are we and in relation where do we belong? In The Color Purple Walker utilizes the feelings, experiences and development of  characters from a variety of backgrounds to question the concepts of identity and belonging.

 The first example of this is seen with Samuel and Nettie’s experience with the Olinka’s in Africa. Samuel and Nettie travelled to Africa as missionaries. Although Samuel identifies as an African American he has trouble fitting in with the Olinka’s. The natives viewed the missionaries as outsiders and showed their indifference to them on multiple occasions. Such as when Nettie is told by a tribal member that the Olinka’s do not need to listen to the missionaries because most of them will die anyway. Samuel struggles with his feeling of belonging when he realizes the Olinka’s do not appreciate his presence. He states 

 “The Africans don’t even see us. They don’t even recognize us as brothers and sisters they sold. Why don’t you speak our language? They ask. Why can’t you remember the old ways? Why aren’t you happy in America if everyone drives motorcars” (p.235).  

Walker’s use of Samuels feelings realizing he is not accepted as a true part of the Olinka tribe after many years shows the theme of identity vs belonging. The effect of reading this passage entices the reader to question even though our identity places us in certain categories does it mean we belong there? Samuel later finds his identity and belonging with Nettie when they marry and he spends his life with her. 

The second example of The Color Purple challenging the idea of identity is through the character of Tashi. She was born and raised with the Olinka tribe. She grows up learning that girls only need to learn wife responsibilities and that girls do not go to school. This is very different than the beliefs in America. She goes through the women scarification ceremony which is also uncommon in America but truly places her identity as Olinka. When Adam asks to marry her she refuses;

“Because of the scarification marks on her cheeks, Americans would look down on her as a savage, and shun her and whatever children her and Adam might have”(p.276). 

Walker uses Tashi’s experiences as an Olinka person and feelings towards America to show her conflict with identifying with the Olinka’s and not belonging in America. Adam’s response to this is joining Tashi and completing an Olinka sacrificial ceremony to resemble the same scars on his face as well as saying to Tashi that she would have  

“ A country, people, parents, a sister, husband, brother and lover and that whatever befell her in America  would also be his own choice and his own lot” (p.277). 

Adam saying this as well as joining in on Tashi’s culture makes her feel accepted and happy to go to America with him.  The effect of Adam’s feelings and actions towards Tashi makes the reader focus on Tashi’s and Adam’s strong bond. In turn questioning if belonging can be defined as a person and not a place in society?

The third and main example of struggle with identity and belonging is Celie’s character. In Celie’s early life her identity was masked by submission and the overshadowing of her abusers like Albert and Alfonso. She was lost and her feelings were suppressed. Walker uses Celie addressing her letters to God in the beginning of the novel to show that she only identifies with God and struggles with feeling alone. Through the progression of the novel Celie’s true identity and feelings begin to show. She starts feeling emotions such as anger at Albert or love for Shug.

“Before I knew it tears met under my chin. And I’m confuse”(p.72). 

Walker’s use of Celie expressing emotions for Shug for the first time in the novel shows the reader that Celie finally discovers a different part of her identity by exploring her sexualilty. Her letters start to be addressed to Nettie instead of God the effect of this shows Celie’s belief of her and Nettie belonging together.  When Celie receives Alfonso’s house she describes it to Nettie in a letter as

“A house big enough for us and our children, for your husband and Shug” (p.244).

expressing her feeling of want to be with Nettie and Shug.  Thus allowing the reader to realize even though in the past Ceile has identified as submissive with no emotion she does not anymore. Celie realizes she is better than a toxic relationship with a man like Alfonso or Albert. Walker’s uses Celie’s feelings and bonds show that a sense of belonging is not only determined by one’s past identity but also by those who genuinely accept us and love us.

Personally the belief that our identity does not define where we belong is something that resonates with me. As a person who is a dual citizenship holder as well as physically portrays a different nationality then both those citizenships I have a lot of identities. This has me questioning where I belong. I don’t fully fit in with Canadians because I appear different. I don’t fully fit in with my grandparents and extended family because I don’t speak the native tongue or practice the religion.  This makes me an outsider to both groups similarly to how Samuel felt in Olinka’s or how Tashi feels about Americans.  The one thing I do have is the people who I am surrounded by who support me, my friends and family. The people that I have shared similar experiences with and who I bond with. They are where I truly belong.

Who we are and where we belong, although closely related, are not solely dependent on each other. This concept leads to the second philosophical question brought up by this novel: what is the purpose of life?  This question can open up all new conversations and perspectives but I think it’s crucial to mention Albert’s answer to  this question in the novel. When asked what our purpose is by Celie, Albert responds by saying;

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love” (p.281).

Celie responds to this by saying “And people start to love you back, I bet” (p.281). This again ties in theme of belonging with those who you love and those who love you. Overall, Walker uses the characters in The Colour Purple to compare and contrast the themes of identity and belonging. Through the characterization of feelings and experiences the reader discovers that identity is not always shaped by who you are or where you come from but by those that love you.

For Samuel this is Nettie, for Tashi this is Adam, as for Celie she belongs with Shug regardless of their identity in the past, present or future. 

A bit about myslef – Matt

I usually subconsciously make the mistake of introducing myself as Matthew, yet I prefer if people called me Matt:). I am currently 17 years old and a new student attending Brookes Westshore for my last year of high school. I am originally from Comox but am now situated in Victoria to pursue my goal of becoming a well-rounded student-athlete. One thing about me is that I play one of the most time-consuming sports, hockey, at a competitive junior level. Matching this with the demanding IB program will undoubtedly be extremely intense, but I am always up for the challenge. As I am always looking for ways to benefit my lifestyle, most of my free time is spent either with friends or in the gym. One of my biggest interests is hiking and not your typical day hike because I love the hard and challenging hikes that make me seek that feeling of gratitude when bagging a peak and taking in the astonishing view. This summer I went on a hike, where me and a few friends woke up at 3 a.m. to cross off a sunrise hike from our bucket list. We saw the sun rise over the horizon of the mountains mixed with the smoke from the wildfires, creating a silver lining that was absolutely breathtaking. So if you are ever up for the challenge, I one hundred percent recommend doing a sunrise hike.

Although my schedule keeps me quite busy, I love reading whenever I have spare time or even when assigned new books in English class. Breaking open the pages of an unfamiliar book feels like a fresh start to a new adventure. As I progress into novels and become one with the character, I read endlessly, always wanting to turn  the next page. It seems as if reading books has always created an immersive experience for me and getting to know the protagonist and watching the character develop always seems to amaze me. Additionally, Reading articles is also intriguing to me as I can read about my interests like sports or exciting world news. What I love the most about reading articles is that it benefits me in many ways as there is lots of good insight and knowledge to gain from, on top of that, it helps me become a better writer.

Writing is a very important skill and tool that will carry out throughout my life, and because of this I always look for ways to improve my writing. One thing about me, and I know most people aren’t, but I prefer to type instead of writing things down with a pencil and paper. I mostly enjoy writing because whenever I write and get into the flow of it, it feels like everything just pieces together and nothing beats that flow when all of your ideas just click and come together. However, Sometimes my mind will go blank and I will take a break to recuperate my thoughts. I don’t typically have a favorite writing style, but I am really fond of the narrative style of writing, as I am able to write in profound detail through the lens of a main character when telling a story, which I love to do. 

PR to Orwell’s Politics and the English Language

George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” argues that if we use language that is simple and facile it makes us put less effort into it, this leads to us falling into bad habits of word choice and thought. This is because “language and thought are so closely linked” , says Orwell.

I agree with this due to my personal experience, since I speak more than one language and I am used to making those shortcuts; like combining languages and making my own “metaphors” which is more like copying and literally translating phrases and expressions from one of the languages to make it easier to explain my thoughts and share my opinions with others. I often receive comments like “you have an awkward or unclear expression here” and Im seriously working on that. 

“..language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.” pg358  and I have to disagree on that. I feel like language is a tool which we not only can, but have to try to use in different ways. I feel like we need to explore, find and use ways that will help us speak our mind. There are so many examples when languages underwent changes and modifications in order to be what they are today, and the English language is not an exception.

Take a look at Shakespearean English for example, his influence on the language was so significant that now we cannot imagine our modern days without it, as there are thousands of words that Shakespeare invented that we still use today. An example of a word that was invented by Shakespeare comes from the 1570s, the phrase “to court” which at the time meant “to woo” soon became the word “courtship” which he used in The Merchant of Venice. 

 

At the same time, I understand how many people won’t agree with me, and think that the language should stay “respected”. Of course, many people do not support the idea of slang for example, an informal expression more common in speech than writing that is typically used among a group of people; usually used in order to avoid longer words, by taking a shortcut. Many say it ruins the language, substituting words and even phrases for a quicker alternative. 

But in general, I think that we need to recognize that language changes and modifies overtime.

 

I like how Orwell makes a point about dying metaphors and how many of them are outdated and are often used incorrectly by the authors completely. For example the Achilles heel, which refers to someone or something that has a weakness or a vulnerable point; as Orwell writes “Many of these are used without knowledge about the meaning” and I can somewhat agree to this as we tend to see this in more modern literature. I also grew up using this expression, mainly because my grandma uses it a lot, but the older I get, the less I hear it being used. 

This connects to me using Pretentious Diction when I was younger, without ever knowing that it had a name to it. When I used to use complicated words and phrases to make me sound more “wise” like Orwell discusses in his writing.

I thought I sounded smart and cool, as fancy words like laissez faire and comme ci comme ça were coming from me at age 6. Today, I need to fully understand an expression or a word before it takes its place in my lexicon.

George Orwell PR

I can’t say Orwell’s essays were my favourite thing we have read this year, but I still really enjoyed them. Before reading his essays, I didn’t really care who Orwell was or what he did. Of course I knew he wrote Animal Farm and 1984, two very well known novels, but other than that, I didn’t really care for him. To me, he seemed like one of those authors that everybody liked simply because they were told to like him. Of course looking back now I realize this was a very stupid conclusion, and one I was not qualified to make considering I had not read any of his work. And now, after reading a few of his essays, I can see why Orwell is such a celebrated author.

In Shooting an Elephant, Orwell states

“But even then I was not thinking of my own skin, only the watchful faces behind. For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I wasn’t afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone.”

This is one of the quotes that resonated with me the most from any of the selected essays we were given. It is not just something that I myself can relate to, but something everyone can relate to. In our life, we have all done something stupid in order to make ourselves look better in front of others. I can think of a few good examples of this for myself, some of which can  never be shared with anyone, ever.  But my point is, everyone has a moment where they act irrationally in order to make themselves appear something they are not. Our behaviour is shaped not by what we choose to do, nor what we believe is the right thing to do, but rather, what others will think of what we do. In Orwell’s case, it is shooting a loose elephant, something he did not want to do, to avoid looking foolish in front of others.

At the end of the essay, Orwells says

“I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool”

The thing that resonates with me the most about this quote, and this essay in general, is Orwell’s ability to be honest in his writing and with himself, he admits that the sole reason he shot the animal, was to avoid looking cowardly. Orwell does not try to paint himself as this amazing hero who saved everyone from a wild elephant. Instead, he is honest with himself and the reader about how he was not only afraid of the elephant, but more afraid of being laughed at and seen as a fool. I find this particularly inspiring. Being able to be honest with not just yourself but with others as well is an admirable quality, one that I have yet to master. I believe it is also this quality of Orwell’s writing that draws me to it. Think about how boring Shooting an Elephant would be if Orwell had just written about how he heroically shot an elephant in order to protect the lives of others. Nobody wants to waste their time reading that, not to mention how overdone the whole “epic hero” trope is. It is the internal struggle we see in the essay that makes it more relatable and allows the reader to really connect with the story, and thus, making it a more enjoyable read.

Another one of Orwell’s Essays that had a big impact on me was Politics and the English Language. This one hit very close to home for me, because I am very guilty of using the vague, unnecessarily complicated language Orwell criticizes. Anyone who took English with Mr. Macknight last year remembers getting our assignments back with a bunch of numbers scribbled all over the pages, and then filling out the marking key log. Well, my most common error I made on nearly every single one of my practice papers was #29: “Omit needless words.” It got to the point I hated the number 29 because I saw it written all over my paper so much. I guess I missed the memo that using big words (most of the time incorrectly) doesn’t actually make you sound smarter. I was saying so much but so little at the same time, and it was stupid. I was wasting my time trying to use these big fancy words when I could have gotten my point across in a much less pretentious manner, and more efficiently too, which probably would have saved me some time writing. However, after getting our A Doll’s House paper back, number 29 wasn’t even in my top 3 mistakes, so if that’s not improvement then I don’t know what is. In all honesty I do still sometimes catch myself trying to use big unnecessary words, but then I remind myself that in the end it just reduces the quality of my writing. If there is one piece of useful advice I took from this essay, it is that less is more.

Orwell’s way with words

Orwell’s focus on seeking and writing about injustice is comical, for his original aspiration as a writer was to write romances as fate chose differently for Orwell. As his political books and essays would be what he was known for, his writing being examples of political writing at its peak, few writers today would go to war and live like tramps for their beliefs and truly stand for their ideals, but Orwell was different. When he goes to write, he does not think, “I am going to produce a work of art.”.(Why I Write p.6) He writes because “there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” (Why I Write p.6) He does this by exposing in ways rarely seen in modern writing that the stories he writes about live. He does not just stand on the sideline gathering evidence from others and writing about it. He takes steps to see the problem entirely and make as many people aware of it as possible.

My father worked in journalism for a few years in New York and Vancouver. He describes that he started writing at the tail end of freelance investigative journalism when writers were given time and money and told to bring back a story worth the time and money. These stories would be a deep dive into a topic that the writer would spend months investigating. This is similar to the experiences Orwell had during his time as a policeman or living in a spike. This type of writing was where the romance in journalism came from traveling the world, spending months in conflict zones or train surfing or uncovering secrets, or writing about a revolution or just in an unknown part of the world. Examples can be seen in Ida Tarbell’s writing about standard oil or David Halberstam’s writing in Vietnam, Bertil Lintner’s writing about the atrocities in Burma during the civil war, and his talking with his colleagues in the US embassy bar. This idea of being an investigator set free on the world to chase stories you wanted to tell and tell the people back in your home country how the world works and usually given lots of time and money to do it was appealing to a particular group of people. This type of in-depth experience collecting that Orwell and others practiced for a living was popular among readers. While not pioneered by Orwell, this type of writing would be significantly influenced by him. 

This is what appeals to me the most about Orwell. He can make not entirely accurate events feel grounded and written in a style as if they were real experienced events written about in a newspaper or magazine. His essays, mainly comprised of fact and his own first-hand experience mixed with a bit of fiction, are written with his grounded style and as convincingly and as plainly as possible despite the ongoing events adding to the realism. This became a signature of Orwell wrote with clarity, directness, and simplicity. This gives a convincing effect making his thoughts your own and making nothing feel like it’s filtered through the writer before you read it. His writing seems more like journalism than essay writing. This serves wonders for the events; you feel like none of them are exaggerated or made up, making his point even more convincing. His ability for Orwell to convince you of an idea or concept through plain language and a mix of his own experiences and fiction is the best quality of Orwell’s writing style. 

Orwell PR

Orwell’s essays are my favorite text we have read this year. Orwell’s exemplary work illustrates distinctive and highly effective ideas. Depicted by honesty, and a tone that epitomizes a call for justice. His writing, characterized by its clarity, simplicity, and precision delivers simple text, with great depth. Orwell’s prose is straightforward,  and focuses on delivering his message with maximum impact. One of the aspects I appreciate about Orwell’s writing style is his ability to create vivid and realistic descriptions. His words paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind. His attention to detail and ability to evoke emotions through his descriptions make his narratives compelling and engaging.

Furthermore, in particular, I found Orwell’s essay Shooting an Elephants very thought provoking, that explores the complexities of colonialism. One quote from the book that particularly resonates with me is when Orwell reflects on the pressures he faced as an soilder of imperialism: “I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom that he destroys.” (pg. 37) This powerful statement highlights the destructive nature of imperialism, revealing how those who enforce it ultimately suffer from the loss of their own freedom and moral integrity.

Provocative Reflections of Humanity’s Struggles

Several things went through my head when we were told that Orwell was next up on the long list of books required to read this year. The first thought being not another essay! My first experience with a book length essay was in grade 10 when we read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and, contrary to the title that essay nearly bored me to death. Therefore it astonished me when I found myself actually enjoying reading Orwells essays. One thing in particular that kept the pages turning was Orwell’s use of thought provoking themes. These themes touch upon fundamental aspects of society and human nature, inviting readers to critically examine their own beliefs and the world around. Two of these themes resonated within me more than the others, the first was social injustice and dehumanization, the second being imperialism and the abuse of power.

Orwell’s essays, particularly The Spike and How the Poor Die, eloquently depict  the social injustices and dehumanizing treatment inflicted upon the marginalized. In The Spike, Orwell’s first-hand experience in a workhouse reveals the harsh reality faced by the destitute. He highlights the appalling living conditions and total disregard for human dignity through his powerful language and moving descriptions. Unlike many others Orwell does not merely report on the topics of poverty and homelessness he experiences them. It is perhaps this quality which makes his writings so intriguing. The Spike by George Orwell serves as a stark reminder that the moral character of a society can be seen in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Orwell writes that “the cells measures eight feet by five” (p.13), referring to the living quarters of the workhouses, prison like. This encapsulates the social injustices of it all, resonating deeply, emphasizing the urgency for societal change and compassionate reform.

Similarly in How the Poor Die, Orwell draws attention to the striking disparities in healthcare access between the wealthy and the poor. He condemns a system that places profit ahead of human life, causing the poor to unnecessarily suffer from inadequate medical care. Orwell’s resolute depiction of the experience is persevered by the devastated highlights of foundational foul play sustained by cultural disregard. The devastating impact of poverty, in which individuals are denied the opportunity to improve their circumstances and enter a cycle of despair, is captured in the line, “A few feeble protests that I uttered got no more response than if I had been an animal.” (p. 278). Through these expositions, Orwell illustrates his treatment as one of the “poor” and urges perusers to stand up to the dehumanization of the minimized, provoking us to take a stab at a more fair and sympathetic culture.

My personal favourite of the Orwellian essays was Shooting an Elephant which delves into the idea that if one possesses power they might be inclined to abuse it. The essay itself discusses Orwells role as an imperial police officer in the heart of colonial Burma. He exposes the moral dilemma faced by individuals tasked with upholding oppressive systems. Through the metaphor of shooting an innocent elephant to appease the crowd, he unveils the inherent violence and degradation inflicted upon both the colonized and the colonizer. Orwell’s insight, “And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at,” (p.37) compels readers to examine the corrosive impact of imperialism on both the oppressed and the oppressor. This essay was, to me, masterful. Subtly exploring the destructive nature of imperialism while at the same time depicting yet another of his many adventures. When tied with the essay A Hanging, which discusses punishments in the context of imperialism, the two illustrate perfectly how power can be abused and the legitimacy of systems which perpetrate that same abuse.

These few essays from Orwell had me asking so many questions and reflecting upon myself. Orwell has me questioning what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, what is just and what is unjust. Never before have I read such thought provoking pieces of writing or heard of a man with such a transient life. I can only aspire to write like Orwell or live half the life that he did. After reading just some of his writing I find myself wanting to seek out more, wanting to read another one of his essays or books which will undoubtedly be written with the same passion, the same sense, the same…everything.

Orwell’s Essays PR

In this age of progression and activism, it’s important to look back at the past and be taught essential lessons from it. Orwell’s essay teaches us that the quality and form in which we share our information can affect the effectiveness it has on the audience.

While reading “Politics and the English Language” I became all too familiar with the use of complicated and meaningless words that plague my writing past. Growing up in a world of this “political vagueness,” my choice of words always imitated the corporate jargon that Orwell criticizes. I was under the impression that these big words made you sound much smarter, and clarified the meaning of what you were trying to say. It was quite the opposite effect. It wasn’t until these past few months that I learned to refine my vocabulary, and in turn, sharpen my assertions and thoughts. It’s a hard learning curve, but worth it in the end.

Another lesson that I’ve been trying to master is the concept of “show not tell,” and Orwell does this perfectly in all his narrative-driven essays. Getting good at this way of presenting information is much harder than it looks, and I would know as I’ve been trying to perfect it for my storytelling. I applaud Orwell’s flawless execution. In The Spike, an example of “show not tell” that struck me was the description of “so-called tea” (pg.13). Tea is, for me, one of the simplest hot drinks to make— herbs and water— and yet it’s still not possible for the Spike to make. We’re shown explicitly the horrendous treatment of the homeless within the Spike, without Orwell writing something along the lines of, “The tea wasn’t good, which was shocking considering the drink is quite easy to make.”

Diction and the presentation of language are critical to creating a meaningful message. Without proper consideration, meaning can be ineffective or lost while writing. My writing can always improve, and these essays helped me understand more about how to formulate an essay.

Orwell PR

The collection of Orwell’s essays remain my favorite text we have studied this year. Orwell’s level of self-awareness and knowledge, coupled with his unwavering honesty, create a tone that exemplifies his distain for injustice. His works are exemplars that all writers wish to emulate. His awareness and honesty are to be admired, and his writing is to be envied. These traits create a model of writing that I strive to follow. The traits that make Orwell the writer he is manifest themselves as awareness and reflection of his shortcomings, in both life and writing. An example of his brutal honesty can be found on page 3 of Marrakech, 

“What does Morocco mean to a Frenchman? An orange-grove or a job in government service. Or to an Englishman? Camels, castles, palm-trees, Foreign Legionnaires, brass trays and bandits. One could probably live here for years without noticing that for nine-tenths of the people the reality of life is an endless, back-breaking struggle to wring a little food out of an eroded soil.”(pg. 3).

Orwell discusses the sufferings of Moroccans from the perspective of their colonial rulers. The indifference to the suffering of those who govern them exemplifies the injustice faced by Moroccan citizens. Orwell addresses this perspective, as it stems from ignorance from imperialist countries. He recognizes his inhabiting of Morocco makes him an accessory to this injustice. His honesty with both himself and the reader is admirable. This self-awareness allows for Orwell to create a tone of distain for the injustice he witnesses. By doing so, Orwell forms a model of honesty which all writers strive to emulate. By attempting to mimic Orwell’s honesty with himself and the reader, I enable myself to reinvent my writing, thus making it profoundly impactful, for myself and the reader.

An additional example of Orwell’s self-awareness can be found on page 374 of Politics and the English Language,

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

The essay concludes with a brief list, which compiles the knowledge required to be an efficient and effective writer. His self-awareness is exhibited in the sixth and final rule, in which he instructs the reader to break his own rules in order to ensure clarity and simplicity in their writing. Orwell addresses his own deviations regarding clarity and simplicity. By further acknowledging his shortcomings in his field, his advice becomes profoundly impactful.

Orwell’s self-awareness and honesty, both in the content and structure of his writing, is to be desired and strived for. Further, Orwell has provided a model that enables both simplicity and clarity in writing. Moreover, Orwell has demonstrated profound, provoking, and simply put commentary on important and complex topics. These traits form the foundation of clear and sincere writing. In the future, in both academic and personal settings, I will strive to achieve accessible and effective communication with those around me, by emulating Orwell’s model of an excellent writer.

Women Empowerment and Nature – The Awakening PR

        I’ve reflected and thought a lot about The Awakening while reading it in anticipation of this personal response. Like many of the other characters in the novel, I fell in love with her. There was an attractiveness to her described physicality, her contradictions and her journey. Her journey is the exploration of the nature of women, and the Nature in women. I had a fantastic realization, an awakening, from her mystic mannerisms, and honesty towards the irreplicable experiences of being a woman. 

The nature of women was the expected element of The Awakening, and it was executed very thoughtfully by presenting multiple perspectives on the complexity of women. The discussion of a women’s nature begins at the start of Chapter 7 where we are told Edna doesn’t gossip which is “a characteristic hitherto contrary to her nature” (pg. 15). Enda also is “not a mother-women” (pg. 9), she doesn’t care for her children as Madame Ratignolle does. Leonce even needs to call out “her habitual neglect of the children” (pg. 6). Her friends and family see her absence of conventional qualities instead of seeing value in her differences. There’s a black-and-white view of her situation from the people around her, which gets rid of the complexity of her character. She may not be a mother-women, but she still “wept of very pleasure when she felt their little arms clasping her” (pg. 111) when she visited them. Her motherly qualities are not completely devoted but they are not absent either. There is a middle ground, a grey to her, which I found very admirable. Women have so much depth, being confined into one definite box is not realistic, and Chopin demonstrated that complexity in Edna so well.

One aspect of our complexity, that I’ve started to find more and more important as I grow up, is Nature in women. While reviewing my notes I found the following point bulleted down, “The Isle being described as a paradise; ‘oranges + lemons trees’ pg. 16.” I realized that a description of a paradise, is completely subjective and that I personally saw this place as a paradise. The extract my notes referred to was Edna’s and Madame Ratignolle’s walk to the beach,

There were acres of yellow camomile reaching out on either hand. Further away still, vegetable gardens abounded, with frequent small plantations of orange or lemon trees intervening. The dark green clustered glistented from afar in the sun. (pg. 16)

This romantic description of this walk matches Edna’s values of taking walks, and the women who don’t “miss so much” (pg. 126). I know that I don’t go on walks often, but the times that I do, and my friends can attest to this, I become completely infatuated with nature and plants, moss, trees, etc. These consistent connections between Edna and nature, and especially her relationship with the ocean kept me engaged the entire time. There was something so freeing watching Edna’s story end in the ocean rather than something more traditional like a description of her running away with Robert. The image of her standing “naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her” (pg. 136) is stuck in my mind. The rejection of not only her clothing, but her bathing suit too is the rejection of patriarchal societal expectations.  Even now nudity is seen as an inherently sexual thing, but aren’t we all born naked? Babies aren’t sexual in any connotation. The scene reminded me of birth, and I imagine once Edna leaves the ocean, if she ever does, this moment will act as her rebirth. She’ll be spiritually free from the biases of “unpleasant, pricking” clothes and society (pg. 136).

When I said I fell in love with Edna that was no hyperbole. I fell in love with her, and all women in my life simultaneously. I must clarify that I do not mean romantic attraction, but attraction to the natures in and of women. I love my mom is the head of my household, working hard and providing for me every day. I love my great aunt who’s been helping us around the house. I love my sisters who challenge me and allow me to self-reflect. I love my grandmas who despite language barriers continue to care for me. I love Taylor and Aneesha who always make me laugh and who are always there for me when I need a hug. I love my dance teacher, Roberta, I love Ms. Dakota,  I love my sassy cat Coco, I love my dance friends, Claire and Keeley, I love and admire and thank every woman who I’ve met. There is a spiritual beauty between all of us that Chopin let me see in all these women. There is a complex mystic bond that I am so grateful to share with every woman on the planet. It’s like an exclusive club, a sisterhood, a whisper, a loud yell, an understanding that none of us are the same, none of us are “conventional” even if we have traits that match stereotypes that we face every day.

Most significantly, I love myself. I want to run with Edna Pontellier in her childhood field, I want to walk with her around Grand Isle, and I want to strip with her into the ocean, and swim.

(Ironically, I don’t particularly enjoy swimming.)

Self-Ownership – The Awakening PR

The Awakening written by Kate Chopin was an enjoyable read. The novel explores themes of gender roles, societal expectations, marriage, motherhood, individuality, and the limitations imposed on women during the time period. Edna, the main character persuaded emotions of sadness and emptiness while I was reading the story. However, I can also see myself relating to Enda when feeling socially pressured into fitting in.

The main message that hit me was self-ownership. The Awakening showed one woman’s desire to find and live fully within her true self. Also showing how devotion to that purpose causes friction with friends, family, and also conflicts with the dominant values of that time to be independent. The struggle of Edna to be herself and not what others thought she should be really related to me. From my perspective, the social norms of women today are not really that different, except we can have jobs as long as it doesn’t compromise “the family”. In comparison, I have always tried to be true to myself and never just do what people wanted me to. The central theme of feminism and how women can be independent open up spaces of awareness for recognition, especially during times in the past where traditions of men and women’s roles were separated.

Furthermore, on Grand Isle, her relations with Adele Ratignolle and Robert Lebrun were more intense within the story than her relations with Leonce or their children. In the beginning Adele was what Edna wished she could be, but knew she could never be. AR was very beautiful and had an adoring husband and adored her children. It seemed that without them she would cease to exist. At the end , when Edna leaves Adele’s side she begins to feel sad that Adele will never experience “life’s delirium”. From all of Edna’s struggles and hardships she thinks that Adele is not struggling either because she’s never experienced the inner struggle to find freedom? This simply is not a fair judgment. People experience many hardships and struggles in life, just because you think your struggles and pain are not comparable to anyone else is unfair. Everyone has experiences and challenges they have passed, judging someone off your interpreted knowledge of what they have gone through is inaccurate.

The Awakening

Finding one’s self and realizing the error of the old ways is core to Edna’s story. This search for herself and who she is are similar to Pygmalion and A Doll’s House as both those stories also involve rivaling the power that be and subverting them. Edna eventually comes to the same conclusion as them all to “never again belong to another than herself”(P.85). This path she sets herself on to find love and meaning are timeless questions that conclude in a vast sea of despair at her finding no meaningful propose in the world. Her last hope was her love for Robert and her children, but on the realization that those would not last forever, she said, “There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert, and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone.” (P.136) This is sad to me Edna having so little to live for and finding no meaning is disheartening and with no feasible solution, especially after all she tried to do fix it is tragic.

Discovering one’s self-identity is a thing everyone goes through it is something to be considered throughout life but is especially important in the stage of life I am in now as the decision I make now and who I am or want to be now will have an impact on the next decade of my life. At this stage in my life, I am gaining some of the anatomy that Edna is only experiencing for the first time, even thought she is 26. I still have limitations, but those are rapidly fading away and, within a matter of years, disappearing completely. Edna does not have this freedom and comes to the realization that there is no place in the world for her.

The similarities between The dolls House, Pygmalion, and Awakening are very much alike all three feature oppressed women who are seen more as objects than people and men who care more for how the world and their societies see them. All the women eventually leave due to similar circumstances. Edna can’t find a meaningful place in the world and a meaningful self-identity, so she drowns herself, leaving her children and husband, who cared for her well-being. Nora doesn’t know who she is and leaves to try and find out after realizing the world is not how she thought, leaving her children and caring husband. The story is the same with Eliza she leaves to go and find herself and not be molded by the ideas of others. These similarities to me seem like beating a dead horse. They are all different but come back to the same point of self-identity and unfulfillment in life and breaking free of that trend.

Personal Response – The Awakening

Prior to the introduction of The Awakening by Kate Chopin, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. Additionally, we read a few of Chopin’s stories prior to the start of The Awakening. The introduction helped us ease into a mindset to explore the topic which the novel addressed. The theme was the societal expectations and gender roles at its time (late 19th century/turn of the 20th century) in America, particularly concerning women’s desires and independence.

While beginning the novel, I began comparing the protagonist, Edna Pontellier with two similar texts, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Each of these was written in the late 19th to early 20th century where a female protagonist challenges the gender roles, societal expectations, and the struggle for personal freedom and independence.

In particular, I began comparing the way Nora Helmer from A Doll’s House, and Edna Pontellier from The Awakening are treated by their husbands. Despite being written during the same time period and addressing similar themes of gender roles and societal expectations, there are both similarities and differences in how Edna and Nora are treated by their husbands. Both women are initially represented as married woman fulfilling their roles as wives and mothers and are not taken seriously as “thinking” individuals. We see Torvald Helmer treat Nora as a toy and often seen disapproving of Nora’s actions hence the name, “A Doll’s House.” However, although we see Léonce Pontellier being disappointed by Edna’s choice, we see him often letting Edna do as she pleases and often seen with concern for the well-being of his wife.

Although we see the difference in how they were treated on a daily occasion, we see the two women succumb to their social expectations and eventually expelled themselves from society. Despite being of the same time period and similar cultures, I found it interesting how the dynamics were similar yet different in multiple ways. The differences in treatment, yet yield similar results, highlight the complexity and diversity of relationships and how societal expectations can manifest in different ways for different individuals.

“The Awakening” PR

Despite the plot progression remaining at a snail’s pace for most of the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Our protagonist, Edna, embarks on a journey of self- actualization that speaks volumes not only to the human condition and the liberation of women, but also to a deeply personal theme of discovery and realization. This awakening, as the book is so-cleverly named, mirrors my own feelings with regard to finding purpose, motivation, and direction. However, experiencing Edna’s courage and story invokes an unshakable empathy in me.

Each person reading this will struggle to find a calling in life. Something in their life that provides them joy and allows them to faithfully follow the direction in which they pursue and cherish this extasy-inducing stimuli. In her painting, Edna has found a direction and motivation like nothing she has felt before,

“There were days when she was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the colors, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day…There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,-when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead.”(pg. 68).

The passage above perfectly summarizes the struggle each person faces when searching for meaning in life. The duality of optimism and helplessness highlights the internal struggle Edna faces. My empathy for Edna, as well as my experiences, stems from this passage and others like it. An innate struggle of my experience has been to find direction and a means to faithlessly pursue it. I feel deeply for Edna as a result. Particularly, I have felt unsure about my own future, and what I can accomplish. It is as though I cast a shadow of doubt over each and every decision I make when trying to decipher life’s plan for me. I have at times felt directionless; simply drifting along until I find a calling or purpose to latch on to, lacking any motivation to follow a path that has been set for me. I was constantly left in a state of wonder and awe, as I passively watched as life carried me along a well-beaten path. This is precisely why I have a deep and unwavering sense of empathy for Edna. An additional reason for my connection to Edna lies in the following passage,

“Without even waiting for an answer from her husband for his opinions or wishes in that manner, Edna hastened her preparations for quitting her home on Esplanade Street, and moving into the little house around the block. A feverish anxiety attended her every action in interval of repose in that direction between the thoughts and its fulfillment.”(pg. 99).

Despite her beautiful home, Edna must leave and become fully independent. Her decision is to be admired for its undeniable courage. Edna left a comfortable, safe, and pre-determined life, for the purpose of self-actualization. Her recognition of obstacles inhibiting her progress demonstrates strong will power, and a true desire to change. Moreover, it exhibits Edna’s absolute commitment to the promise she made to herself. An essential component of the human condition is the act of leaving behind what holds you back, no matter the hurt it inflicts. Edna’s story made me recognize my own obstacles and shortcomings stemming from them. This encouraged and enabled me to take risks I normally wouldn’t consider. I now realize this is essential in transforming into my own person, and embracing what makes me unique. However, I still look back with a melancholic nostalgia for a more simple time, when life was laid out for me, as I’m sure many do. Despite this longing for the past, I will no longer allow it to seep into my psyche, and will persevere floating through life’s current; lying in wait for my own awakening.

Constraint Vs. Freedom, The Awakening PR

All night I sat there, glued to the pages. I could not find a place to stop, needing, yearning to finish the book which had me drawn in like a moth to a flame. The end I had anticipated, the gentle ebb and flow of the that immense void which was the start and soon to be the end of Edna Pontellier’s awakening. This is how I felt when reading the last few chapters of The Awakening by Kate Chopin. The complicated emotions that this book sparked in me have been difficult both for me understand and then articulate. In ways that uncomforted and surprised me I could find myself empathizing with the heroine, Edna.

Similar to Edna, I have frequently felt constrained by social pressures and the need to fit in. I could relate to her ongoing desire for independence and a sense of self on a deeply personal level. In an effort to escape the limitations of her life, Edna seeks out fresh encounters and connections throughout the course of the book. She faces opposition and criticism from others around her when she starts to express her independence. Trapped, unable to express yourself and longing for more are somethings that I believe a lot of people can relate to. I couldn’t help but compare Edna’s tribulations to my own endeavours to discover my position in the world.

I could also relate to Edna’s battle with self-identification and goals. I believe a lot of us have trouble figuring out who we are and what we really want from life. Like Edna, I frequently felt as though I was living someone else’s life rather than my own. The novel, in my opinion, serves as a potent reminder that we must be true to ourselves, even if doing so requires making unpopular decisions and defying social expectations.

I had to face some unpleasant facts about myself and the world because of the Awakening. Even though Edna’s suicide in the book made me feel uneasy, I felt empowered by her self-discovery journey. It made me think about society’s expectations of women and how they are expected to sacrifice their own desires in order to satisfy those of others. Edna’s journey serves as a reminder that anyone can be who they want to be and pursue their own goals, even if doing so means going against conventional norms.

Chopin’s Masterpiece

Reading this novel helped achieve a new level of maturity in understanding and in playing the devil’s advocate. Prior to the reading experience, most of my attention was given to the plot of the book, and I paid less attention to the characters and even less on the effect each character has on one another. By reading the story of Edna, I learnt to be empathetic, and understand how actions lead to other actions, thus increasing my knowledge on the relationship between cause and effect. Chopin creates and establishes this new, profound ability in me by creating such a complex character. One that morally lies in the depths of grey, and forces me to pause and ponder over the ingenuity of Chopin when she (Edna) does something.

Edna is not a good person by my standards. I find that once she ‘awakens’, all her actions are self-centered and selfish. Par example, having multiple affairs in her husband’s absence. She takes into no consideration what Leonce might be feeling when she gets sexually intimate with both Robert and Alcee Arobin, and she justified it by stating she has no love for her husband. “What would he think? She did not mean her husband; she was thinking of Robert Lebrun. Her husband seemed like a person whom she had married without love as an excuse “(Pg91). “When he leaned forward and kissed her, she clasped his head, holding his lips to hers” (Pg 98). Furthermore, in the final scenes of the book, in Edna’s last moments, she begins to contemplate all the variables in her life. She thinks of Robert, her children, her husband too, and she realizes just how complicated life can be. Her only desire being Robert and the thought of being unable to have him creates despair, and so she seeks out a selfish solution,  self-inflicted death. Without much thought of the effect and burden that will be placed on the people she leaves, she lets go and allows herself to drown. Edna’s selfishness becomes her demise, once and for all.

However, her actions were justified and from her point of view, logical too. Humans cannot betray their natures. She was sent into a marriage with a nice husband,  cute kids, and living a very comfortable, easy life. However, the societal beliefs were formed on the opinion that those factors alone (nice husband and kids), would be very adequate for any woman, or should be. It was not taken into consideration that not all women would be like Mrs. Ratignolle, and would not derive happiness and satisfaction from only serving their family, and so was the case of Edna. There were no other acceptable lives for women, alongside the fact that divorce was also not an option. Edna was not like most women, and she did not accept a life she did not enjoy living, and so, she sought to change that. She is a strong character for having the courage to oppose robust societal expectations. Furthermore, she was unaware of the reality behind marriages. Her naiivite led her to believe that she knew what true love was, even though she was wrong. But after her awakening, she becomes aware of her situation, and changes it. Her appeasement towards her father led to her unhappiness, so it only makes sense that she tried to be happy and go with what she thinks would make her so.

The story of Edna is a tragedy, and one to be retold for generations far from now. When she became aware of her situation, she began to understand what she truly desired, and as the story unfolds, we discover her desire is Robert.

“There was no one thing in the world that she desired. There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone. The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew how to elude them. She was not thinking of these things when she walked down to the beach” (Pg 136).

The realization of her desires brought forth the realities of a cruel world, one that does not always promise the fruition of a desire, no matter how deep it is. This spelt her demise, her recognition of her sole desire and her inability to obtain it. Knowing the events that led to the end of Edna, was her awakening a good thing?

The Awakening: a necessary process

Recently, we have read the book  “The Awakening”, written by Kate Chopin. It’s an interesting book that has a really special theme, even nowadays when we’re more open. The book is about a poor woman named Edna and her unsuccessful marriage (from her perspective). The setting of the book is Louisiana in the late 19th century when women were not allowed to choose their life path. In such a background, it’s impressive or horrifying that a young lady (at the age of 28) would act “anti-society” and betrayed the “law of morality”. It’s agreed internationally that women have equal rights as men, but it wasn’t a thing back in the time this story has taken place. It’s a tragedy that many lost their freedoms and suffered from classism, but it’s a necessary process in terms of development. Humans tend to learn from their own mistakes, therefore it’s not quite possible that we would actively search for mistakes and solve them.

The Awakening PR

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a book that could be labeled as a “feminist classic”. The main character Edna Pontellier experiences many feelings and struggles that women face in society. This makes her very relatable to many people including myself. My connection to Edna puzzled me because although we had many similarities Edna’s character was one I was annoyed by. Her actions of breaking gender roles and not conforming to society’s expectations are seen as revolutionary yet I still found her character rather irritable.This was a confusing feeling because I see myself in Edna and yet I don’t like her. This raised many questions and thoughts.

Edna Pontellier’s disregard for her responsibilities to her husband, children and society make her the perfect feminist. Edna feels trapped by the traditional roles and expectations placed upon her by society so she acts on her feelings. Her journey of self discovery leads her to independence from her husband. This is a scandalous act for her time yet she chooses to do what she wants and not fit into the box society made for her. She stops conforming to society’s ideals of a woman by disregarding her mother responsibilities. Instead she prioritizes her own happiness by painting. Her awakening leads her to questioning patriarchal norms. For example she is disgusted by the idea of marriage which was quintessential to a woman’s life in that era. Her actions slowly unfold her awakening and she decides to leave her husband and children which goes against societal expectations for a woman to prioritize her family above all else. 

While all these actions make Edna a prime example of a feminist I still found her unlikeable. This thought was hard to wrap around at first. I was confused how as a woman who has struggled through similar experiences as Edna I could not like her? Does it make me a hypocrite or a bad person? For a long time I wondered what about Edna really made me dislike her. This feeling was like a piece of food stuck in your teeth that you could not get out. I later realized that the reason I dislike Edna is because she is the version of myself I wish to be. As previously stated Edna is the perfect representation of feminism and that’s what I aspire to be. My dislike for Edna is rooted from my envy for her ability to act on her impulses. I am jealous of the way she can disregard what is expected of her and just be who she wants to be. I wish to be able to not care about the standards set by men in today’s society and just be who I want to be. I’m spiteful that Edna got to let go of her responsibilities. I want to swim in my own sea.

The Awakening PR

My first impression of the book The Awakening was from a friend who graduated last year stating that this book was his favourite book throughout his two years of English Literature lessons. Thus, I expected the content of The Awakening would be intriguing. The title was confusing yet intriguing before I started reading, eventually, the title echos with the main character – Edna who “awakens” and tries to defy the social convention.

The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, depicts Edna, the protagonist, as an unconventional person who tries to defy social convention after her awakening. This book is considered controversial as some of the conflicts are aroused from the contrary of social norms, which is a set of unwritten informal rules obeyed by every individual in the society. The main plot of the story raises the question of what social conventions are important and how important. The social convention provides a model expected behavior of humans in order to maintain order and prevent unnecessary conflict. Human is self-centered, and they live for their own sake and benefit. Without social convention, society would be chaotic since everyone does whatever they want disrespectfully ignoring others’ rights. Right after finishing the book, I could not organize my thoughts on Edna. Should I admire and respect Edna for having the courage to defy social conventions, or despise her for being a deviant in society?

The contrast between Edna and Madame Ratigonolle, who is a mother-woman that praises and sacrifices herself for her family, especially her children, and Edna, who prioritizes herself over everything portrays how Edna deviates from the social convention of motherhood. Edna enjoys and feels liberated when her children and her husband Leonce are away from her.

“I would give up the unessentials; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself.” (Edna, p.56)

Edna emphasizes how significant her own identity apart from a mother and wife of her family means to her, demonstrates her rebellion against the social convention – the role of societal motherhood. However, Edna’s behavior leaves me with a question, which is whether Edna’s behavior has a positive impact on the growth of her children. At the beginning of chapter six, the narrator mentions the comparison between the Pontellier boys and other children, which the Pontellier boys are more likely to “pick himself up, wipe the water out of eyes and the sand out of his mouth, and go on playing” instead of “rush and cry to their mother’s arm for comfort.” The Pontellier boys toughen themselves up under Edna’s “negligence” rather than being a “mom’s kid”, who overly relies on their mother for everything. This questions the role of typical motherhood. What should the role a mother play to her children? Should they be over-protective, depriving the opportunity for their children to grow, or let go of their children?

The sea is a metaphor and symbol of freedom in The Awakening. Edna nostalgizes her childhood which she uses to walk through the boundless grass that is higher than her waist when she is at the beach, looking at the sea with Madame Ratignolle. The sea offers a calm and relaxed feeling, as an infinite fantasy for reflecting on the past and dreaming for the future. The endlessness of the sea at the horizon provokes a relief and freedom which Edna is yearning for. Edna’s attempt to swim but retreat after symbolizes the inability of Edna to pursue freedom and ignore all the stereotypes that standardize her role as a societal woman.

The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude. (p.136)

At the end of The Awakening, Edna decides to commit suicide by drowning herself in the sea. This quote appears almost verbatim in this book twice, the first time on page 15, the beginning of Edna’s awakening, and the second time on page 136, before Edna’s suicide.

But the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult! (p.15)

I related “the beginning of things” in this quote to Edna’s awakening. Her awakening is ambiguous, disorganized, and troubling. The word “tumult” can be interpreted as unrest and chaos, thus, Edna has been destinated to disruption from the beginning of her awakening. Edna’s eventual suicide symbolizes her surrender to reality and drowning herself signifies her relief to the infinite freedom that she has been longing for.

In my opinion, I did not enjoy the slow pacing of The Awakening. However, The Awakening questions the role of social convention in society which provokes me to consider about. I also really enjoy the symbol of the sea in this book and the echoing of the events.

“The Awakening” PR – Prejudices & Constraints

The Awakening is a novel written by Kate Chopin in 1899. I particularly enjoy reading this novel. Edna Pontellier’s awakening and self-discovery process from her own perspective is indeed intoxicating and enlightening. I also admire Chopin’s courage to criticize such a conventional society. Though first I have to admit, I thought the story is going to have a happy ending. I have not, in any way, expected the ending of the story. Due to the complexity of the character’s personalities and plots, the reading process raises a lot of questions related to societal constraints, gender stereotypes, and love. Commenting on the story plot, the story is sophisticated. The authorial choices are brilliant in terms of summarizing and infiltrating Chopin’s personal opinions in the plots. Every single detail that Chopin has written matters and contributes greatly to Edna’s coming-of-age.

Love is one of the main issues explored in this novel. The relationship between Edna and Robert Lebrun is one main factor that propels and perhaps, initiates Edna’s desire to awaken. Moreover, to pursue what she truly wants deep inside after living and sleeping in the dream that society sets for women. Edna’s emotions are complicated, and so are the other characters. Their emotions are always contradicting, which confuses me sometimes. I could neither figure out what is their ultimate intention for carrying out specific events nor answer the question “What is love?”. Robert’s inconsistently leaving Edna is a great example. Mademoiselle Reisz is the one who guides and accompanies Edna during her awakening. Also, the one who points out the reason for Robert repetitively leaving her is because he loves her. It seems to me, if you truly love a person, you would do anything to protect her, be together with her, and not hurt her feelings. There are some phrases that indicate Robert’s romantic feelings toward her through his body language and facial expression. But does Robert truly loves Edna?

“The house was empty. But he had scrawled on a piece of paper that lay in the lamplight: ‘I love you. Good-by —- because I love you.'” (p. 133)

This quote shows the last time Edna sees Robert before she commits suicide. Robert is leaving Edna again even after Edna has expressed to him that the idea of him leaving again and again is making her suffer and depressed. Robert does not accompany Edna when she is depressed and needs him the most. Instead, leaving to escape his feelings every time. Robert is the one male character that interacts most with Edna. He has way more intimate communication with Edna than Léonce Pontellier and Alcée Arobin do. So, if he understood his leaving has hurt Edna’s feelings over and over again, why would he keep leaving and breaking her heart? This action shows he cares about society’s impression of him more than his desire to be with Edna. Robert is practicing this desperate action to save his appearance and reputation. Since he does not want to give the impressions that Arobin gives (Arobin always flirts and seduces married women, so he has a bad reputation). He would rather choose his reputation over Edna. So, if Robert truly loves her, he would have embraced her identity as Léonce Pontellier’s wife and stayed with her.

 

Societal constraints and gender stereotypes are interrelated in Edna’s awakening process. These two factors are interrelated and raise a lot of questions, for example, “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?” and “What obligations do parents have to their children?”.

“‘The trouble is,’ sighed the Doctor, grasping her meaning intuitively, ‘that youth is give up to illusions. It seems to be a provision of nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost.'”(p. 132)

This quote is spoken by Doctor Mandelet. The 19th century was a patriarchal society that was dominated by men’s privileges while women have no rights. Most men in that society only care about their personal interests and simply treat women as their business possessions. So, it confuses me how a male doctor is able to successfully summarize Edna’s perspective. Other than that, it shows Edna does not understand why women must follow the constraints set by society. The societal constraints are greatly related to gender stereotypes. Since the 19th century hopes people to obligate to the arbitrary moral standard that society creates without questioning it. And the moral standard for women is to be good wives and mothers to take care of the family because according to Mr. Pontellier,

“If it was not a mother’s place to look after children, whose on earth was it?” (p. 6)

This quote shows that society has normalized and set a particular type of “job” that each gender should be responsible for within a family. This societal constraint is set by men’s prejudices toward women. Men think that women are unable of doing anything, except take care of the family. Edna does a good job in terms of pleasing and serving her husband, and family. So, this shows Edna is a good wife. During the awakening, Edna prefers to be alone and away from her family. But that doesn’t mean she is a bad mother because she still goes to visit her children in Iberville and replies to their letters cheerfully.

“‘I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself.'” (p. 56)

In this quote, Edna states that she would give up all things for her children, except her freedom. Her unwillingness of giving up her freedom does not make her a bad mother. Although she has obligations to take care of her children, she attempts to find the balance point between having alone time and spending time with her children.

Overall, I have reflected on how society’s views have changed toward the above societal issues in the past two centuries. The 21st century is comparatively less constrained, conventional, and more open. Though, some people are still affected by those issues because they still exist nowadays. One thing I greatly admire is Chopin’s courage to freely express herself and set standards for a new women’s generation.  In the novel, Edna’s courage to pursue what she wants even under tons of social constraints greatly encourages me to pursue what I value and allows me to speak for myself more often.

PR The Awakening

When we started reading this book in class, I wasn’t really a fan of it but over time it really felt like a powerful and thought-provoking novel. Cate Chopin did a really good job in exploring and describing the social and psychological constraints placed upon women in the late 19th century. As I read the first few chapters, I did not really know how to think about Edna as the main character. Her character felt incomplete, maybe even like a child on it’s journey to grow up. Early in the book we can see how Edna becomes increasing disillusioned with her role in society and begins to question the traditional expectations placed upon her. The book raised a few questions for me such as, who Edna really is and what are her goals?

Right at the beginning of the novel we get involved in Ednas struggles to fit into her role as traditional woman in the 19th century. Throughout the book, Chopin skillfully explores themes of female sexuality, gender roles, marriage, and social class. She depicts Edna’s struggles to define her own identity, to break free from societal expectations, and to pursue her own desires and passions. One sentence I won’t forget and especially a sentence that shaped my opinion about Enda is as follows

“I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”

This sentence or statement feels to me like an expression for her growing sense of self awareness and desire for personal fulfillment and independence. Although I highly doubt that’s something a woman should be thinking and feeling about her role as a mother. For me it feels like Edna’s character is well developed but, doesn’t fit in a mother role. I have observed and feel that Edna’s personality is on par with a 25 year old. She has never had independence and other key experiences in her life and yet she is a mother, how can that be?

Overall, Chopin’s novel was groundbreaking in its time, and it remains a powerful statement on the importance of individual freedom and self-expression to this day. I really liked the beginning but got confused throughout the end and I am not happy with the ending. The way the book described Ednas journey and her growing sense of  awareness (her awakening) is really well portrayed. I can emphatize with all the stages she goes through on her journey to get a fully grown adult, as she physically is.

PR: The Awakening

Recently, when I did my PR on how I felt about A Dolls House, I wrote about how as the book went on, my opinion of it improved hugely due to the way Henrick Ibsen’s characters started to relate with me more about the issues in the book as it progressed. With The Awakening by Kate Chopin, I felt somewhat of an opposite feeling. My initial opinion of the book was pretty good. I liked the more modern style of writing in contrast to all of the old plays we had been doing and I liked how interesting and full of life each character was and all of the what ifs that were posed. Who is the lady in black?, how about the lovers? and what in the world is Roberts relationship with Edna. but the main question, which we often talked about in class, was, where is Edna’s character going to end up.

Right from the beginning it is clear that Edna is complicated. This can be amazing for a story if it can contribute to the mystery or the drama but in this case, it’s kind of annoying. Edna is relaxing on a nice vacation with lots of money, friends and time. Even when she is back in New Orleans, she has the house to herself –once Leonce leaves for New York– with all the time to relax in the world. and yet, the whole book seems to hone in on poor Edna what will we do. The best example of what annoys me so much about her, is that the decisions she makes deteriorate in quality significantly as the book goes into its final chapters.

 “Mademoiselle, I am going to move away from my house on Esplanade Street.” (p. 93)

“You are purposely misunderstanding me, ma reine. Are you in love with Robert?”

“Yes,” said Edna. It was the first time she had admitted it, and a glow overspread her face, blotching it with red spots. (p. 96)

When [Alcee] leaned forward and kissed her, she clasped his head, holding his lips to hers. (p. 98)

Nothing she goes through is not instigated by her own bad decisions. And I really cannot relate to anything she decides to do in the book. Finally, after all of the drama in the last few chapters, the book is abruptly ended with Edna committing suicide. Cutting Edna’s story short, and with it a few of the mysteries left over. I ended the book thinking, Why did Robert leave? What happened with Leonce and the children? who in the world is the woman in black, and the lovers?? I felt uncomfortable as I closed the book, but at the end of the day I realized that I did not care enough to find these things out either way.

Thoughts on Pygmalion

As we started reading the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Show, I honestly felt intrigued. The impression from the little introduction to this work planted an idea that this will be some cliché romance novel, as I circled back to the idea of this play originating from a Greek myth of Cyprus; a sculptor who had no interest in local women and instead carved a sculpture of his ideal girl, named her Galatea and instantly fell in love with her. He was head over heels for his creation, and quickly found himself obsessed with it, later asking Aphrodite to bring the statue to real life, as she does, being flattered by the fact that Cyprusי inspiration was indeed herself. The story ends with everyone being merry. However, this was not quite the case with this play.
The story of a simple poor girl Eliza Doolittle who turns out to be very independent from a young age, sells flowers on the street. She later meets a strange man, Mr.Higgins, a wealthy professor who does not need to bother working himself to sleep as he is so rich. Eliza starts to take speech and behaviour lessons from him in order to sound and look like an upper class woman.

The conditions Eliza is met with in the following weeks are not as great as they might seem at first, as being allowed to live in a wealthy home, eat, sleep and wear fine clothes are all very new experiences to Ms. Doolittle. Her life is difficult, having an unfortunate childhood and growing up with no mother, an alcoholic dad and living in a strict household causes her to experience anxiety at the new place; but she continues to work hard knowing that this is her chance to change her life.
To this all I can slightly relate to, as the situation that Eliza appears in reminds me of our grade transition to DP1 IB; having to adjust to a new lifestyle and working hard towards our dreams. This makes the play Pygmalion one of the examples that show that hard work always pays off.

The duo of Eliza and the housekeeper Mrs. Pearce I found very comforting as well as Eliza`s communication with Pickering. This was the girls first time taking a proper bath, and talking to a real gentleman, with the contrast of Higgins, which I found really cute.

“Sit down“ – Higgins
(Eliza stands, half rebellious, half bewildered)
“Won’t you sit down?“ – Pickering
`Don’t mind if I do“ ( she sits down) – Eliza pg.14

The closer we got to the end of the play, the more I got annoyed by Higgins. He is so used to using his status card everywhere he goes, mentioning his education and wealth as if these are his personality traits. oh, well at this point it almost seems like they are! Clearly in his world, money does solve all the problems. He also thinks that wealth determines a person’s value, therefore laughs at Eliza when she confidently confesses her love for Freddy, and that she will marry him as soon as he is able to support her.

“Rubbish! You shall marry the ambassador. You shall marry the Governor-General of India or the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or somebody who wants a deputy-queen. I’m not going to have my my masterpiece thrown away on Freddy“ pg.70 -Higgins

“…Mr. Higgins, left alone, rattles his cash in his pocket; chuckles; and disports himself in a highly self-satisfied manner“pg.72

Pygmalion is a great play which shows how important it is to stick to the opportunities around us. And while some people just need a little nudge in order to help them stand straight on the their feet, they will run, just like Eliza who ran straight to her bright future; others won’t even bother listening, just like Professor Higgins, he is an inexorable person who is hard-headed and cannot be convinced to change, no matter what. At the end of the day, this whole situation doesn’t seem to have changed his view on the world and people in the slightest.

Pygmalion PR – Neutrality

Pygmalion is a play that I read. It was a read, that’s for sure. I did not hate consuming it, nor did I particularly enjoy either. I don’t think there’s ever been a book that I’ve felt so little towards in my literary history. So when it comes to writing out my personal feelings toward it, I’m stuck. As I’m writing this late, I read some of the other responses from my classmates. Some compared it to A Doll’s House and I thought maybe I’d write about that. I even began to plan out a discussion about the inherent power of men, and how Mr. Higgins has no respect for the people around him. These texts I could write would not be very personal though, and I’d get caught up in the analytical practices of writing, which isn’t the goal. After reflecting over a couple of days, I think I know why I didn’t have much of an opinion on it; there wasn’t time for me to collect my thoughts.

The time skip that cuts Eliza’s vocal process out of the story bothered me. If Shaw wanted to show portray a story of mistreatment and lack of cultural respect, then he should’ve shown her training. The sudden change to already testing her skills at Mrs. Higgins’s at-home day left no room for deliberation, and it felt like I had a chapter or two missing. The lack of directly seeing Eliza being taught, and the rude nature Henry approaches her with really left me confused. In their argument they toss around the importance of Eliza’s clothes and her ring, these objects had meaning to Eliza as we watch her and Higgins ramble on, “HIGGINS: Hand them over. If these belonged to me instead of to the jeweller, I’d ram them down your ungrateful throat. / LIZA: This ring isnt the jeweller’s: it’s the one you bought me in Brighton. I don’t want it now” (pg. 53). On a stage, how could we have known that out of the various rings Eliza was wearing that one of them had special significance? I’d be more invested in these discussions if perhaps we’d been shown these moments of Higgins buying her the ring, and then that could provide more emotional depth to the fact that he chucks it in the fire, and then subsequently how Eliza goes to desperately retrieve it. It just felt like the story was incomplete while I was reading it.

I had no bonds with the world of Pygmalion. Which left me an uncaring reader. I couldn’t relate to Eliza, nor could I relate to Henry or anyone. I understand there are certain timeframes that are expected for plays, and maybe I’m completely in the wrong while writing this. All I know is, Pygmalion didn’t have much of an impact on me personally, and that I’m excited for the next book and set of excerpts that we get to read.

Pygmalion PR- My Slightly Biased Opinion

At first, I figured I would love this book because one of my favourite movies was based off it called My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn, whom I adore. But after reading the book, I found myself loving it even more. For starters, I felt more connected to Eliza after reading the book than I had watching the movie/musical adaptation. Eliza has this huge journey through the play that she takes to try and better herself. She is very ambitious and I connect to that part of her character. More specifically, Eliza’s desire to be someone else, and possessing the knowledge that you are destined to do something much greater than what has been decided for you.

In my case, I am not a poor flower girl living in England in the early 1900’s, but I definitely still experience the whole ‘having your future decided for you’. Not in the same way of course, but this feeling definitely still arises when talking to my parents about universities and possible career choices. In Eliza’s case however, it is her social class and her Cockney accent that decides her future. From the very beginning, Eliza was never destined for greatness. But it was her determination to make something great out of herself that I find so admirable about her. Rather than viewing this play as an intelligent, well-off man trying to transform a weak (vulnerable) woman, I prefer to see it as a strong, inspiring woman who is determined to achieve her goals in life and is willing to overcome any obstacles that are in the way.

Another part of the play that always had, and continues to, strike me is the treatment Eliza receives from the male characters, Mr. Higgins and Colonel Pickering, and the very obvious themes of sexism. We all know by now where Pygmalion gets its name. And at first, I was very confused as to how the original myth related to the play by Shaw even in the slightest. When in reality, it actually makes perfect sense. Both the main male characters in each of the stories are seen creating “the perfect woman” fit to their own ideals. All of Eliza’s freedoms are stripped from her when she goes to Higgin’s to take speaking lessons. Before, she may have been a poor, working-class girl, but she had the freedom to choose her friends, and she doesn’t have to listen to anyone but herself. But once she begins to live with Higgins, she no longer has those choices. She can eat all the chocolate she wants and wear all the fancy dresses, but she no longer has the freedom of her old life. This can also relate to A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen as well. For example, how Torvald treats Nora as an incapable child and tries to control her life.

 

Of course, the film/musical adaptation, My Fair Lady, will always hold a special place in my heart. I will always be the same young girl dancing around in my grandmother’s living room, trying to mimic Hepburns charisma and grace, but this book was my favourite out of any so far. While I may be slightly biased, I genuinely believe that everyone should read this book in their lifetime.

Language is a badge of Social Classes Pygmalion

Pygmalion, by George Bernard Show made me realize the importance about the theme of Middle class morality, and the mistreatment and objectification of women in society, and the people who are in lower classes then others. Pygmalion signifies  how the english language has the result to shape and change us, and how we are persuaded into viewing people wholly based upon the way they speak. Language can further indicate numerous things, our values, culture, education, decency and social class. Pygmalion targets our temerity about language and problems connecting to how classes in society are treated differently.

The characters in this play are separated into two definite classes based upon the way they speak the English language. In contrast, we can evidently see how the lower-class working people talk in a little impolite way, with slang and cockney accents. Compared to the higher-class group of people who talk in a more fashionable way, with sophisticated vocabulary, and strict grammar that is more polite in a speaking manner. Furthermore, Eliza Doolittle, the flower-lady who at the start of the play was a broke working-class lady that talked obnoxiously loud, and impolite, with a cockney accent, can be compared to Professor Higgins, the very rich, highly educated english man who talks in sophisticated way. The difference in social classes established through language can be seen throughout the play. An example, of the contrast between the lower class talking to higher class can be seen here with a significant difference in the language both speak in. In Act 1, when Eliza is trying to sell flowers to the gentlemen.

Eliza: “Garn! Oh do buy a flower off me, Captain. I can change half-a-crown. Take this for tuppence.”

The Gentlemen: “Now don’t be troublesome: there’s a
good girl. I really haven’t any change—
Stop: here’s three hapence, if that’s any use to you

Eliza: “Thanks, sir”

The Mother: “Now tell me girl! Where are your parents?”

Eliza: “I ain’t got no parents.”

This conversation is when Eliza say’s the name of the mother’s son “Freddy” while trying to sell her flowers. In the start we can see Eliza uses the slang word “Garn” and after say’s “ain’t” this shows the side of her impolite style and can she can be seen in a lower class level. Compared to the Gentlemen who talked in clear grammatic sentences. This further shows the difference in social status between both people.
Pygmalion, incorporates the importance of language when it comes to how we speak, and how we can be viewed from our background through language, is based on our interactions with everyone. This underlying fact may stay the same due to our assumptions of the people around us, and how language affects our identities.

Pygmalion PR

“Pygmalion” written by George Bernard Shaw is a book based off the Ancient Greek myth about the artist who fell in love with his own sculpture. While reading this play and watching the movie adaptation I often found myself comparing the main antagonist Henry Higgins to Torvald Helmer in “A Dolls House” written by Henrick Ibsen. This comparison brought up many questions such as How do men treat women in society?  These questions and the thoughts they provoked caused me to think about my own place in society and my own feelings about the gender war.

Torvald Helmer and Henry Higgins are men that have many of the same qualities. The first similarity is their own superiority complex, they both believe that men are far above the likes of women. For example, in “A Dolls House” Torvald does not trust Nora with any business because he believes her to be incapable.  An example of this is when he says,

“I would not be a true man if your feminine helplessness did not make you doubly attractive in my eyes” (p.95).

Similarly, Henry also sees women as inferior to men, for example when he says,

“women might as well be blocks of wood” (p.28)

objectifying Eliza. The second comparison is how they addressed their female companions. Henry always called Eliza by her first name even though the proper etiquette was to say Mrs. Doolittle. Instead, by calling her Eliza, he showed his disrespect and how he viewed her as a piece of art to be studied rather than a human. Similarly, in “a Dolls House” Torvald’s pet names for Nora objectified her and showed how Torvald viewed her as a child that needed to be controlled.  Lastly the scariest comparison between the two characters was how they treated women like dolls. The phrase of the protagonist women being treated like a doll came up in both books. In “Pygmalion” Mrs. Higgins says to Henry and Pickering

You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll” (p.35).

This reoccurring concept in both plays raised many questions and personal feelings.

I previously used the word “scary” to describe the similarity of women being treated like dolls by men because the concept scares me. Seeing this idea appear in two plays consecutively really brought my attention to it. How are women treated by men in society? Both plays were set in the past, so it is easy to dismiss the sexism as an “old problem” or something that is irrelevant in today’s world. But I don’t think that is the case. Everywhere I go little examples of sexism are presented right in front of me whether it’s a remark made under their breath, or a questionable social media post. I think that “scary” can be applied to how men treat women in all of society’ s past and present. This question raised many personal feelings and thoughts on how this affects me. As a woman, I sadly wasn’t surprised by this. This dehumanization is a constant battle I must face every day for the rest of my life. These plays really solidified that fact.

Side note: obviously not all men are like this please don’t get offended or come at me for this post.

Personal Response – Pygmalion

Prior to the introduction of, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic which the play addresses. The theme is the societal expectations and gender roles at its time (19th century). The theme is the contrast between social classes and the distinctions based on accent, manners, and education.

 

When I went through the play, I felt a strange sense of comradery with the three protagonists, Higgins, Pickering, and Eliza. Higgins struggles with feeling like an outsider due to being different from the “norm”, which can lead to loneliness. Pickering has a respectful manner of speech towards everyone, even those of the lower class. While Eliza’s strict upbringing also resonates with me. I feel a strong connection with Eliza in particular, as she is constantly pushed by Higgins, but never receives any recognition for her hard work. Instead, Higgins uses her accomplishments to brag to others, including his mother. I can relate to this experience, and so can many of the people I know who had a strict upbringing focused on achieving certain talents or skills, yet never being given proper credit for the hard work put into developing them.

 

The similarity between my experiences and the characters made me realize the striking similarity between our two distant societies. Many of the issues they face are still prevalent in society today, albeit in different forms. For example, the feeling of being an outsider due to being different from the “norm” is still a challenge faced by many individuals today. Additionally, the emphasis placed on achieving certain talents or skills for the sake of social status or recognition is still a common theme in our society. While the specifics of these struggles may have changed over time, the underlying issues remain the same.

Language in Pygmalion

Pygmalion, what a funny name. Then again it is only funny to me because the language of Greek is so vastly different than the language of English. Or is it? Thousands of words in English are thought to be derived from the greek form, languages are diverse and so are the people that speak them. Pygmalion illustrates how language has the ability to mould and change us, as well as how universally shared the desire for self-discovery is. Our image of ourselves and others is shaped by the languages we speak. The crux of George Bernard Shaw’s masterwork Pygmalion is a commentary on the social and linguistic distinctions that exist within society and how language is frequently employed as a marker of class and rank. Language can symbolise many things, including our culture, values, beliefs, and social class. The play confronts our presumptions about language and addresses significant issues regarding how language affects our identities and interpersonal interactions.

The characters in the play are divided into two distinct classes based on how they use the English language. In opposed to the lower-class characters, who talk with a working-class accent and utilise colloquialisms and slang, the upper-class characters are shown as having a sophisticated vocabulary and strictly following grammar and syntax standards. In the words of lower-class flower girl Eliza Doolittle, “I ain’t dirty: I washed my face and hands afore I come, I did.” The play tackles the concept that language may be used as a tool to uphold social boundaries and perpetuate class inequalities through the character of Eliza. While Eliza confesses, “I’m a good girl, I am,” the upper-class people view her as inferior because of her lower-class accent and language. The difference in social class illustrated through language can been seen throughout the play, one particular example of the contrast between lower and higher social classes can be seen in the way Eliza and Higgins speak. Eliza speaks in a cockney accent, using slang and improper grammar, while Higgins speaks in proper Received Pronunciation. In Act 1, when Eliza first meets Higgins, their different social classes are immediately evident through their speech:

Eliza: “Garn! Don’t be so saucy. You ain’t condescending to me, are you? You’re a middle-class lark, that’s what you are.”

Higgins: “I haven’t said a word yet. What makes you think I’m a middle-class lark?”

Eliza: “You talk like one. I’m a good girl, I am.”

Higgins: “I can see that. You also have the manners of a queen.”

In this conversation, Eliza’s use of the word “saucy” and the addition of “ain’t” instead of “aren’t” betray her lower class status. Higgins, on the other hand, speaks in perfect, grammatically correct sentences, further emphasizing his higher class background and further illustrating the difference in social status.

Pygmalion serves as a reminder that language is a potent instrument that can be used to both include and exclude, and that good communication is crucial to forging deep relationships with people. The way we use language may influence our interactions and our perception of the world around us, whether we are speaking with close friends and family or complete strangers from around the world.

Pygmalion PR

Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw, is named after a famous Greek myth. I did not know what I felt after watching and reading the play as it seemed realistically unrealistic. The play is mainly about the process of a common flower girl named Eliza upgrading her social class by learning the accent of a higher social class from the linguistic professor, Henry Higgins. Pygmalion is originally a myth Pygmalion creates a sculpture that matches the ideal image of his own creation, and then he falls in love with it. Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering teach Eliza to adapt to the proper English and sculpt her to become a “dutchess”. The ending of Pygmalion is different from the myth of Pygmalion, in which Eliza did not fall in love with either of them, yet she threatens Higgins at the end of the play. Eliza symbolizes the ideal creation, and Higgins symbolizes the sculptor.

The conflict between language and social class derives from Pygmalion. The relationship between language and social class can still be seen nowadays, in every country. “The more standard version of the dialect you speak, the higher social class you belong to” becomes the norm of modern days. It also represents that you have higher education. How do language and manner be the identification of a person? In Pygmalion, both language and manner are used to identify a person’s social class and position. Eliza speaks Cockney English her behavior recognizes her as the lowest social class at the beginning of the play. In my opinion, manner is vigorously associated with a person’s identification. From how a person behaves and talks, I can determine his education level and his background. This is the reason why manner and language are inevitable in the identification of a person.

Pygmalion and A Doll’s House are contrasting plays that include different themes and stories. Eliza is illustrated as a rebellious person when Nora in A Doll’s House is depicted as a doll that fulfills her husband’s wishes. However, similarly, the two female characters of these two plays both have similar endings, in which they both leave their men and have control of their own life. I admire their courage and determination of taking control of their own lives. “I sold flowers. I didn’t sell myself” (act 4) is my favorite quote throughout the book. It caught my attention and hit my heart when I was reading the play.

Compare to other literature we read this year, Pygmalion has an informal and conversational diction that makes it less challenging to read. However, it is unrealistic that the social class of a person changes when their accent changes. This is the most impenetrable part of the play.

 

PR to Pygmallion

The adaptation of the original story by Bernard Shaw was quite clever, as he was able to transform a romance story from early times, into a realistic drama that lacks romance but is still considered one by many people. The original story involves a sculptor, who sculpted his ideal woman, and the goddess Aphrodite granted his wish by bringing her to life, which led to  them they getting married with everyone happy. Shaw’s adaptation on the hand was very different, it had a childish and almost hateful relationship between the main male and female cast in the story. (Liza) “I won’t care for anybody that doesn’t care about me”, (Higgins)” Commercial principles, Eliza (reproducing her Covent Garden pronunciation with professional exactness) s’yollin voylets, isn’t it? “(Liza) “Don’t sneer at me. It’s mean to sneer at me”. (Higgins) “I have never sneered at anyone in my life.” (Pg, 68). Most of their interactions ends up with a fierce argument, over some silly dilemma, usually ones that can be solved easily too. Now, knowing that it was adapted from a romance, you would expect Liza and Higgins to make up somehow and end up falling for each other and then getting married. But that notion is destroyed, as the play ends with yet another argument between them, and Liza going against Higgins’ wishes and marrying the very man he despises, and thinks of as a wimp and an embarrassment, not worthy of the masterpiece he created.

However, you could argue that Higgins might have had some feelings but his nature got in the way and ruined things.  (Higgins) “About you, not about me. If you come back I shall treat you just as I have always treated you. I can’t change my nature, and I don’t intend to change my manners. My manners are exactly the same as Colonel Pickering’s”. (Pg, 66). (Higgins) “I can do without anybody. I have my own soul: my own spark of divine fire. But (with sudden humility) I shall miss you”. (Pg, 67). (Higgins) ” You might  even be what they call “attractive”. (Pg 56). It is evident that Higgins has some warm feelings towards her, but they are likely not romantic  due to the lack of evidence. Although, the peculiarity about Higgin’s character is that those feelings could be romantic but because of his nature, they are expressed in ways in which we (the audience) are unable to decipher.

Pygmalion PR

Throughout the entire duration of this course, no text makes me reflect the way Pygmalion has. The text invokes timeless themes, many of which I can easily identify with. These themes include “Middle class morality”, the mistreatment and objectification of women in society, and the self-supposed superiority that some hold over others. Pygmalion forced me to reflect not only on what I read, but also how I conduct myself. This text has provided an alternative perspective into subconscious and systematic biases in my own psyche. With brutal honesty, Pygmalion casts a light on the part of ourselves we choose not to realize, and forces us to confront our flawed thinking. Never has a text allowed me to feel this seen, and permitted me to address and reflect upon my own flaws.

From birth, the idea that it is wrong to judge others based off our first impressions of them, especially with regard to another’s appearance. However, the vast majority of individuals, myself included, victimize others with our premade notions and assumptions of their character, within seconds of seeing, interacting with, or even simply hearing another person. Pygmalion presents this bias in the third person, allowing for us to recognize and address a prejudice which we all possess,

“There’s menners f’yer. Tee-oo branches o voylets trod in the mad…She is not at all an attractive person. She is eighteen, perhaps twenty, hardly older…Her hair needs washing rather badly: its mousy coloring can hardly be natural…Her features are no worse than theirs; but their condition leaves something to be desired.”(pg. 2).

Mrs. Eynsyard-Hill and her daughter, Clara, are almost a comedic allegory for this bias. Two well-too-do women cast their judgment upon an unsuspecting girl, based upon nothing more than her looks and her spoken word. Through this third person perspective, this systematic error of thinking that each and everyone of us possesses is brought to light and mocked. We are able to see the damage that prejudices can do within seconds of interacting with someone. Further, our greatest collective fear with regards to this bias are demonstrated in the pair’s attitudes towards the girl, whose name is Eliza. This fear is that we are able to recognize that those who we unjustly judge are no different from ourselves, yet our biased judgements persist. This passage remains a pristine example of the unjust judgements that we burden others with. This forced me to honestly evaluate my demeanor upon making a first impression, and made me promise to myself to no longer allow flawed and discriminatory thinking plague my mind.

These judgments, when widely held within a society, can pass irreparable and lasting damage to those who fall victim to them. Over time, this causes innocent individuals to view themselves as “lesser than”, and forces them to live and hold themselves to the standards of those who judge them. this so-called, “middle-class morality”, is a recurring theme throughout the text, and is best demonstrated in the following passage,

“Have you no morals man?”

“Can’t afford them, governor. Neither could you if you were as poor as me. Not that I mean any harm, you know. But if Liza is going to have a but of this, why not me too?”(pg. 27).

Alfred Doolittle is the personified victimhood experienced by those who have unjust judgement cast upon them. He feels as though he has no clear place inn a society that makes it clear he is unwanted. The society in which he lives discriminates against him for his profession, speech, behavior, demeanor, and appearance. This single passage is the most profound and personally striking piece of text I have read during the duration of this entire course. The presentation of the implications of my own systematic errors in thinking have shown me a final perspective into the lives of those who are the most affected by society’s prejudice. This character made me look the consequences of my biases in the face, and most vitally, address them in an honest manner.

 

PR Pygmalion

As I first read the book, I felt kind of thrown back in Time. The characters and the way the book was written was traditionally old. The way the character talked with each other and the etiquette was lovely. I really liked the way, how detailed the sceneries where described (at the beginning of Act II).

The Play also has an intriguing way to describe the social hierarchy in Edwardian England. Since the beginning of the book we followed the growth and integration of Eliza in the high-society Englands. Her journey from the lower class as a flower girl to the upper class as a lady is pictured as a often humiliating and difficult experience. Shaw the Author uses Eliza’s transformation as a way to critique he unfairness and destructive of class distinctions and the imitation they impose on individuals (Eliza). The book raises many questions about past society and todays society. In more than 150 years there are still some defects and missing constructions such as gender roles and power dynamics between men and woman. Throughout the play, Higgins treats Eliza as an object and project to be molded  and shaped according to his desires. Elizas eventual assertion of her own independence and rejection of Higgins’ control ,challenges traditional notions and highlights he importance of an individual autonomy.

Lastly, Pygmalion is a thought-provoking and entertaining play. It lets us get a picture into the social and cultural dynamics of the early 20th century Englands.It is a wonderful book due to Shaw’s clever writing and appealing characters, and its topics are still relevant to readers today.

Merchant of Venice: PR

The Merchant of Venice is a classic amongst famous plays written in past centuries, and it is one of Shakespeare’s finest works. The play takes place in a time of common prejudice in Europe, involving the maltreatment of Jews by Christians.  Judaism was regarded as a lowly religion and anyone who practiced it would be subjected to harsh treatment by Christians. Shakespeare adopts the realism of the current world and imbues it into his play, without making a side look better than the other (Christians or Jews). He stripped the characters of their societal stereotypes (e.g., Jews are bad), and reduced them to ordinary people under different circumstances, and his ability to do so created a worthy variety of characters for the world to be entertained by for centuries to come.  

A big figure in the play that stands out is Shylock, and he remains the best character in the play, not because I liked him the most but because of his realism. His actions and words were often interpreted by me as unjustified but as the plot progressed, I began to see and understand his side of things and understand how a big action can affect a character and the future actons taken by that character (the domino effect). His famous speech to the associates of Antonio sticks to me and I consider it the realest thing in this play. 

He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million,  

Laughed at my losses, mocked my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, 

And what is his reason, I am a Jew. 

Hath not a Jew hands. Hath not a Jew eyes, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? 

Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapon, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is.  

If you prick us, do we not bleed? 

If you tickle us, do we not laugh? 

If you poison us, do we not die?  

And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? 

If we are like you in the rest, then we will resemble you in that. 

 If a Jew wrong a Christian what is his humility, revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example, why revenge. 

The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction. 

This remains the best dialogue from any character in the play. The utter honesty and rage from Shylock reveal to us the true state of mind Shylock is in. It expresses the humility dealt upon him by Christians and his heavy desire for revenge.  

 

A Doll’s House PR – The uncomfortable reality of relating to Nora.

I’ve rewritten this introduction 3 times. None of them correctly reflect how I feel. In one iteration of this opener, I described my feelings as uncomfortable. In another, I said that I was angry. Why can’t I put my emotions for A Doll’s House into words? I slowly realized that the reason I was so confused and conflicted was that I saw myself in Nora. And even now I don’t like that concept. New questions were raised, about myself, about Nora, about my friends and family, and I didn’t want to think about them. I’d seen how A Doll’s House unfolded, and I had created this barrier between myself and the content. Here, I’ll try to explain how I feel, how I resemble Nora, and how that is a sickening thought.

Nora and I are both, non-confrontational people pleasers. Nora has a tendency to turn to pleasing Torvald instead of standing her ground, or being direct with what she wants, “Nora: If your little squirrel asked you ever so prettily, for just one thing–? / Helmer: Well? / Nora: Would you do it? / Helmer: I’d need to know what it is first, naturally. / Nora: Your squirrel would run about and do tricks, if you were nice and gave in to her” (p. 146). This act of entertainment comes from the fear of disapproval or essentially any negative action from Torvald. Knowing I act the same way; Nora has already weighed all the options, considered all the outcomes, and decided that this is the path that will cause the least amount of damage to Torvald, and raise her chances of him agreeing. And while Nora is not incredibly smart or educated, we know that she is knowledgeable enough to consider these kinds of things. In her conversation with Kristine, we find evidence for this,

“MRS LINDE: And you’ve not confided in your husband since?  NORA: No, for heaven’s sake, how can you think that? When he’s so strict on the issue of borrowing! And besides, just think how awkward and humiliating it would be for Torvald – with his manly self-esteem – to know he owed me something. It would upset the entire balance of our relationship; our beautiful, happy home would no longer be what it is.” (p. 122).

She worries so much about what other people will feel, and the consequences of their emotions that she forgets that their own emotions and needs are equally important to anyone else’s.

This connection with Nora was very disconcerting. I didn’t like it, I didn’t like seeing aspects I didn’t like about myself in a book. So I refused to acknowledge it, or even think about it. I read the book in a very distant manner. But now, writing this PR, I need to face some of the questions that A Doll’s House brought up for me through Nora. Do people only show me love because I act as they want? If I unmasked, showing my “true self” (whatever that is) would my friends and family still stay? Or would they act like Torvald, furious at the change? Unconditional love is what I hope the people that surround me feel, no requirements are needed from me for them to enjoy my presence. But I honestly don’t know. Nora said, “I realized that the man I’d lived here with for eight years was a stranger and that I’d borne him three children -” (p. 187). That other side of people, the unknown conditions of their love, is something you can never truly know. Nora thought she knew Torvald, was married to him for eight years and knew him before then too. Yet she never thought that he would treat her in such a way that would reveal his conditional love for her. To relate to Nora’s tendencies automatically opens up the terrifying thought that the same might happen to me.