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.

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.

A Doll’s House PR

As I began reading A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, I really disliked it. it wasn’t the time or place of the play that bothered me nor was it the way it was written. I specifically hated the characters. Torvald felt like a pushover, he pleased Nora and just sat in his study otherwise. Krogstad was a stereotypical antagonist to a banker, and every time Nora spoke I felt like skipping past it. I saw her as a naïve brat who would do your every bidding if you taunted her with a 50 dollar bill. The video made this even more excruciating because her voice was much too fitting of a songbird. But as I flipped past the last page of the book and had time to reflect, I realized I had in fact enjoyed it. So, I asked myself, why? how in the world did I enjoy a book that I had just previously felt like walking through syrup when reading.

For starters I began to like Krogstad midway through the book because he was smart and realistic. Scenes with him involved felt much more purposeful and genuinely interesting. An example I can think of is his first negotiation with Nora. He lead her around getting answers he needed like details on Christine and her position with ease. This interaction where he agreed with my opinion on Nora and even calls it out, showing her the consequences of forging a letter, helped me sympathize with him. But at the same time this made me hate Nora more. The next step towards my switch of opinion towards the play was when Christine also noticed the naivety of the other characters.

Krogstad: “I shall demand my letters back” Christine: “No, no” Krogstad: “But of course…he’s not to read it.” Christine: “No…” Krogstad “…wasn’t that really why you set up this meeting with me?” Christine “Yes, in the initial panic, but a whole day has passed now, and the things I’ve witnessed in that time, here in this house, have been unbelievable. Helmer must know everything…”

It was as if the characters were all gradually waking up from a dream. In act 3 after Torvald yells, finds the paper saying he’s in the clear then apologizes. at this moment, Nora too wakes up.

“Yes but what you said (when yelling at her) was very right. I’m not up to the task. Theres another task that must be solved first. I must bring myself up … I must stand totally alone, if im to get an understanding of myself and of everything outside.”

Nora’s realization of her own naivety and determination to solve it is admirable. and the self understanding the book had with the problem I had was fascinating. It was a truly amazing plot twist that not only switched up the story but also my opinion on it. And in the end, only Helmer remains on my list of “characters I dislike in A Doll’s House” as he never woke up.

Langston Hughes PR

Langston Hughes was a poet who lived during and was inspired by the Harlem Renascence in the early 2os. Many of his works used the theme of struggle for the black community mainly but also has many mentions of the struggles of many other groups. I very much enjoyed the collection of poems we were given. With each poem full of content, DRJs have never been so easy since I was continuously finding places using imagery and diction. He also continuously proves Mr. MacKnight point that poems raise question since I had about a million every class. The language used in the collection spawned many complicated conversations as well.

His use of imagery is vivid and captivating, painting pictures in my mind that are both haunting and beautiful. In his poem “The Weary Blues”, Hughes writes, “Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, / Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon.” These lines are a testament to the power of his imagery, as they capture the feeling of blues music and convey a sense of weariness and sadness that is difficult to shake. another good example is in “Ballad of the Landlord”, he writes, “The house is cracked / And nearly tumbling down.” These lines effectively create a vivid image of a rundown and dilapidated building, a powerful symbol of the neglect and hardship faced by the speaker and others in their situation. Hughes’ diction is also noteworthy. He writes in a way that is both simple and profound, making his poems accessible to a wide audience while still containing deep meaning. In “Harlem (2)” he writes, “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / Like a raisin in the sun?” The plain language used here belies the complex questions that Hughes is asking, making this poem all the more powerful.

Another aspect of Hughes’ work that I find particularly valuable is the questions that it raises. Whether he is exploring the concept of dreams, the experience of black Americans, or the search for identity, Hughes’ poems always leave me with something to think about. In “Let America Be America Again,” he writes, “O, let America be America again— / The land that never has been yet— / And yet must be—the land where every man is free.” These lines, and the poem as a whole, challenge readers to think about what America truly is, and what it could be. In “Ruby Brown,” Hughes raises questions about morality and the human condition. He writes, “She ain’t no angel, folks / She’s got some wicked ways.” This poem explores the complex and often flawed nature of humanity, and raises important questions about the way we judge and categorize people. As I stated earlier, this always lit my head on fire with questions to bombard Mr. MacKnight with every class.

In conclusion. Reading an learning Langston Hughes poetry was super enjoyable for me. From his vivid imagery to his simple yet profound diction, and the thought-provoking questions his work raises about light and heavy topics alike, he has made poems that are both accessible and valuable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection and it has become one of my favorite texts studied this year.


What I learned from chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham

Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham was an extremely valuable read. I learned a lot about my education and study habits and how they could be improved, mainly due to Willingham’s ability to succinctly explain the importance of “prior knowledge” in the process of learning. The way he described the relationship prior knowledge has with the new things you learn was particularly interesting AND useful, as it made the concept of transfer of learning more concrete and easy to understand as well. The idea that the more knowledge one has in a subject, the easier it is to learn and remember new information, was especially impactful, as it gave me a new perspective on the significance of background knowledge.

In addition to discussing the impact of prior knowledge on general learning, I found it especially informative when he explored the relationship between prior knowledge and reading comprehension, since this is an issue I’ve had in learning. His explanation of how a lack of prior knowledge can negatively impact a reader’s ability to understand what they are reading, and how having prior knowledge can aid in comprehension and lead to better recall, seemed so obvious but was something I’d never thought about as much as I feel I should now, as I often struggle with comprehending big long texts, especially when they are related to subjects that I am not totally familiar with. Willingham’s insights gave me a new approach to reading, and I now understand the importance of expanding my background knowledge in order to improve my reading comprehension.

Overall, I have a very positive opinion of Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain. The information presented in the chapter was immediately useful to my education, and I believe that the insights gained from this chapter will continue to be beneficial to me as a student. Willingham’s writing was clear, concise, and easy to understand, and I appreciated his ability to take complex concepts and make them accessible to readers. I would highly recommend this chapter to anyone interested in improving their learning outcomes, as it provides valuable insights into the impact of prior knowledge on learning and reading comprehension.

Candide Reflection

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

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

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


Reflection on “Let Evening Come”

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

Antigone – Personal Response

I enjoyed Antigone a lot, and same as last time, I’d say more than I expected. It had the same mysterious effect that Oedipus had but apart from that, it was a very different story from the it for me at least because of the way that Antigone is fundamentally more realistic than Oedipus The King. It’s realism is mainly due to the characters’ normal disposition and the whole idea being more plausible.

Immediately when I think of the way characters are shown in Antigone I think of how were constantly reminded that Creon is human, a great example is on page 116 when after hearing the prophet and sending him away telling him he’s wrong, he realizes the wrongs he’s done and struggles to figure out how to go about it. This really contrasts from the laughably unrealistic story of Oedipus. We also see Antigone, who is like her father with her hastiness and outspokenness but at the same time her reasonings for saying and doing things are all realistically justified. For example, her unstoppable want for her brothers body to be buried is understandable to an extent since Greek culture believes and values the gods so much. making the idea of defying them sound like maybe not the best idea. And then finally Ismene and Haemon. They both have pretty normal personalities. Ismene, not wanting to anger the king and get killed tries to just stay quiet and live her life, and Haemon, sympathizing with the one he loves. Both ideas are understandable and relatable to people thousands of years later.

As well as these characters, the story in which they’re set in has greatly calmed down and cleared up for Antigone. In Oedipus your sat there often thinking what why or how because of the constant crazy events that kept occurring. Entertaining, but not that realistic. Whereas the premise of Antigone is not only more clear but also generally more likely that it could actually happen. From the brothers fighting over the thrown, to Ismene and Antigone’s worries about whether the kings or the gods rule is more important, they all resemble realistic issues. Who should be in power has been a question from before the Greek times until now, and who or what to believe is another good question that everyone asks themselves at some point.

The questions this book raises had me thinking in a very modern way which I found super interesting. People had this thought from Oedipus The King but I personally didn’t all that much since I was so overwhelmed with all the unrealistic questions like why marry your mother, how did Oedipus become king so incredibly easily and what in the world is a sphynx.

Personal Response to Oedipus The King

Oedipus the King was the first Greek play I’ve ever read and there was a lot to get through. It felt quite long probably because the chorus went on for ages every time Oedipus shut up for a second. I had to learn about a lot of cultural stuff too since a lot of the Greek references were foreign to me. But despite the gibberish lost in bad translation and my limited knowledge of older English, I really enjoyed Oedipus the King. I enjoyed it because of the funny banter and the big dramatic images it drew in my mind.

The parts that made me most engaged while reading the play was definitely when Oedipus argued with the prophet or Creon. First off I found the language much easier. There was less poetic nonsense and more straight up yelling, which happens to be more understandable in this situation. It was also not as daunting to read small sections of text rather than a big block, and the content was usually more descriptive as well, unlike the chorus or Oedipus’s speeches which would question a lot of who’s what’s where’s why’s and how’s of every situation.

When I wasn’t engaged through what I read directly, but through how what I had read made me feel or think of. I wrote an essay on emotion directly and indirectly through Poetry last year and I think this story is a perfect example of the indirect way we can feel emotion from the writing. Although we don’t relate with the text directly since killing fathers and marrying mothers isn’t the most familiar topic, a lot of the emotion we get from the story comes from the compelling ideas of mystery and tragedy. Key moments in the book that relate to this are when Oedipus meets the Sphynx, when he tries to figure out who the murderer is and when he finds out its him. All of these awesome scenarios really paint a picture of a great story in my mind.

I really enjoyed the play for the smile it put on my face at the pointless arguing of two old Greek guys and the want to keep reading when something crazy happened. I’m definitely anticipating the next play.

Introduction – Michael Penn

Hi I’m Michael, I am from Victoria BC and I live on a farm in Metchosin. I like sleeping and learning languages. I hope that English this year will teach me to be a better writer, reader, inquirer and I really hope it helps me improve my work habits. I hope everyone has a great year!