Slaughterhouse Five – Personal Response

To me, personally, the novel “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut took some time to get used to. The first couple of pages I was extremely confused and could not really follow the timeline, until eventually I had adjusted to Vonnegut’s chosen form of writing: basing his novel on time-jumps. No more than two pages at a time focus on ongoings in one time era and so following the main character Billy’s thoughts, feelings and experiences was struggling. 

I however eventually really got to enjoy this form of writing due to an increase in tension and an enhancement in shown character development. Stopping the plot in a certain time-jump abruptly and only continuing further a paragraph or even a few pages later, kept my interest and tension ongoing and strong. It led me to explore the meaning of these interruptions continuously and understand the author’s intention through the meaning of said time-jumps. Also, watching Billy’s character development over time was extremely crucial in understanding his behaviours and actions in the present. If the whole storyline would have just been based in the Dresden war, I don’t think any reader could’ve understood what was happening. The way time-jumps and the form of writing aligned, therefore made it seem like they were symmetric poetry – watching Billy unpack his past, immediately made sense in the present, as well as the future. What made it seem so connected and natural, was that throughout the different stages, there was always one thing that was similar or the same in other stages of the story. For example, the three words “So it goes..” were always used when describing that someone had died, no matter what time era the storyline was in. This type of repetition allowed everything to come together and make it seem like it had only been one time era all along. It was essentially what made Billy from being stuck in time, transform into infinite possibilities and being unstuck in time.

Overall, though, I can definitely say that I am impressed with how Vonnegut managed to make his content fully match up with his style of writing. He was able to not only capture the key difference time-jumps can make in learning as much as possible about one narration, but also allow readers to fantasize and possibly identify themselves within all levels of the story.

Walker’s Blues – Personal Response

After having read “The Color Purple” and Keith Byerman’s take on what Alice Walker meant within in her novel, I noticed a few questionable details. Although Byerman did point out some interesting assumptions his whole response felt more like a summary of the book rather than a personal commentary. None of his analysis really went into any depth and all quotes were sort of generalized to match his thoughts. Most times, I personally did not agree to what he was saying especially when comparing the Afro-American and African setting to European fairytales. I thought that part was definitely an understatement of what horrible conditions society’s minority had to go through at the time and did not align with what I feel like Walker was trying to portray to the reader at all. 

George Orwell – Personal Response

Reading George Orwell’s essays has given me a completely new insight as to why literature endures. Personally, I have never seen an author write in such an ‘unbiased’ way, always conveying issues and stories with the utmost neutral background, while still strongly portraying his perspective and making sure the reader knows his thoughts exactly on a certain topic. It comes to show that the correct use of language skills and diction make an incredible difference, as to whether or not the author is actually emotionally invested in his own words. A great example for this would have to be his essay ‘The Hanging’, giving details about the decapitation of a young man in Burma, respectfully told from Orwell’s point of view on site. There is not one word which indicates towards any direct emotion but his tone and inner voice within the passage, create sympathy amongst the audience. I believe that with this, Orwell was trying to make sure the readers had enough freedom to form their own thoughts, while at the same time still making absolutely sure they would lean towards the same sense of commiseration creating a balanced form of harmony.

These thoughts and learning outcomes were naturally achieved along with the ‘Daily Reading Journals’. They allowed me to pause and reflect every couple of sentences and think about what purpose or meaning was being revealed behind the text. We were warned in advance that when looking at sound imagery and sound effects, confusion could occur as to what words or phrases would belong in which category. Even though I definitely believe that after the received feedback I still have some progress to make, Orwell has easily made the difference more clear with a good set of examples. Without his fairly playful and bold style of writing, including several uses of sound imagery as well as sound effects, I believe it would be questionable whether or not Orwell would have achieved this memorable affect on the reader without them. It is almost as if he wanted us to solely focus on this linguistic aspect.

Whilst thinking that I had gotten a pretty good understanding of George Orwell’s personality through his own words, Geoffrey Wheatcroft finally sheds light upon Orwell’s character outside of literature. Even though he does mentions that “no other can have so enriched the language” he brings forward something I would have not expected. By saying “there were dark sides to his personality” about his friend of many years, it makes one question the reason behind his yet mysterious style of writing. Throughout all essays and short-stories I have not once recognized anything ‘dark’, as Wheatcroft mentions. Even the essays with the heaviest meaning seem to be told in the easiest and most lighthearted way, awakening a sort of urge for the reader to continue.