My thoughts on: Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five was quite overwhelming to read. It took time to get used to the concept of being “unstuck in time” I found it confusing that he is in Dresden as a prisoner of war, and then suddenly he is back to the future or back in time. I often had to remind myself that Billy is not Vonnegut and that some of his experiences are fiction; this made it hard for me to differentiate between Vonnegut’s actual experiences, such as hiding in the meat locker during the bombing and the fiction portion of the book. This made me wonder where his random imagination originated. Vonnegut’s unique way of mixing an autobiography and science fiction was occasionally hard to make sense of and comprehend, especially at the start of the book. However, as I kept reading, the random bits of information from his time travelling presented at the beginning of the book slowly started to make sense. I gradually got used to the non-chronological way of storytelling Vonnegut used and how billy and the Tralfalmadorians view life.
I enjoyed reading this book more than the other books we read in class. Vonnegut’s humorous way of writing his own experiences in the war was something I had never read before. At first, it confused me why Vonnegut used a very neutral phrase, “So it goes,” whenever Billy encountered death because death is generally a negative and upsetting event. As I kept reading, I noticed the number of times Billy had to come across somebody’s death and the repetition of the phrase. I noticed that this was his way of facing death rather than accepting it.
The way Vonnegut was able to write this book in a humourous way, even though it discusses serious topics, made it easy for people to read about an upsetting topic. I liked how this book made me think about many genres and not only about war. Vonnegut succeeded in including science fiction, psychology and many other genres that a regular anti-war book would not include. In the first chapter, when Vonnegut visits his old war buddy (p 11), Bernard V. O’Hare, Vonnegut meets O’Hare’s wife, Mary. Mary exclaims that she does not want Vonnegut to portray war as a glamorous event because of her anxiety about losing her children in war. Vonnegut promises that his book will not become one of the movies that are “war-loving” (p 15). Vonnegut succeeds in doing as promised, making the book anti-war.
Trying to understand Billy’s time travelling and the Tralfalmadorian wisdom was a struggle initially as it was very out of the ordinary. Towards the end of the book, I was able to appreciate the Tralfalmadorian perspective on life. For example, they view life and death as indestructible and how Tralmalmadorians ignore the negative and focus on the positive. Billy admired the Tralfalmadorians and wanted humans to become more like them so that humans would stop desiring to become better than everyone and that it would not result in war. Vonnegut’s use of Tralfalmador and the Tralfalmadorians showed his desire to want the real world to become more like how life is on their planet. It successfully showed how hostile humans can be while still making it enjoyable for the audience to read. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it was something I had never read before, and it was enjoyable even though it was about a depressing topic.

The Awakening Personal Response

After reading “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, I had mixed emotions about how the story ended. The protagonist Edna, starts off by being happily married to her husband Leonce, with her 2 children. She is unaware of what she truly wants. As the story progresses, Edna starts to value her ambitions and independence rather than being a “good wife” Edna feels suffocated in her marriage and prioritises painting, and spends time with other men instead of doing what she is expected to do as a “good mother and wife” I think there were a lot of women in the 1800s who felt the same way Edna did, but was too afraid to verbalise their opinions or take action as going against the strict gender norms would catch others attention and harsh judgement.  I think valuing your own wishes can be a positive thing to an extent. However, I think Edna took it too far to the point where her actions were not justifiable. For example, paying little attention to her children and eventually leaving her children without a mother. 

I think Mr Pontellier, Mademoiselle Reisz, and Madame Ratignolle were great additions to the story. It helped portrait the ideal husband and wife in the 1800s and what was out of the ordinary. Madame Ratignolle advises Edna to “think about her children” when she suspects Edna for having an affair with Alcee. Mr. Pontellier reminded me of Higgins from Pygmalion. They were both portrayed as the typical materialistic husbands in the 1800/early 1900s who failed to give their wives what they truly wanted. Mr. Pontellier’s focus on business blinds him from the self realisation and emotional growth Edna is going through. This results in not noticing that Edna has left him when she rents her own house.Mademoiselle Reisz, an independent self-sufficient woman, serves as a major  inspiration throughout Edna’s awakening. Edna is drawn and inspired by Mademoiselle Reisz’s piano performance and her love and passion for music. 

The ending was not what I expected. Edna abandons her children, Leonce and ignores the advice Madame Ratignolle gives, “ think about the children” and sets herself free by going for a swim. Chopin does not make the ending clear, it is left for the readers to interpret how Edna dies. I think If she continued to live as an independent rebellious woman, Edna could have become a self-reliant woman like Mademoiselle Reisz and grow to be an extraordinary example for her children especially in the 1800s when there were strict gender norms that were to be followed. 

 

Pygmalion PR

The play Pygmalion by Geroge B Shaw is set in the early 20th century, at the end of the Victorian period in England. Shaw uses language to identify the strict hierarchy that is portrayed in the play. 

Higgins did not try to get to know her and got straight into tutoring Eliza on manners and speech. In act IV, Higgins is proud that his tutoring was successful. Higgins and Pickering chats about how the experiment is getting “rather boring” knowing that Eliza is in the same room with them. In this scene it is clear that Higgins views her as an experiment and does not take her feelings into account. Higgins is so focused on his academic interests that he lacks empathy for not only Eliza but others too. As the play gets near the end, Eliza notices that Higgins is no more than a person who only cares about his success. His arrogance and his impoliteness result in Eliza growing a strong hatred towards Higgings. I think watching the play made it easier for me to see the strong dislike that is portrayed in the book. It seemed like Eliza was going through an emotional rollercoaster in Act V when she threw the slipper at Higgings out of rage but moments later decided to pick up the ring from the stove.  Eliza is not afraid to stand up for herself even though it is against a person who is in a higher class, Eliza makes sure her feelings and opinions are communicated thoroughly but at the same time somewhat takes Higgings’s feelings into consideration. 

Pickering was one of the few characters who were kind to Eliza despite her class, the way she spoke and her manners. Pickering referred to her as Ms.Doolittle instead of Eliza which shows respect and kindness. Pickering and Higgins had very different personalities whilst being good friends was surprising to me as they never had an argument.

I liked how Shaw left the play somewhat ambiguous as to whether or not Eliza opens her flower shop or whom she marries. I personally didn’t like how the play left the ending a mystery, although I think I prefer this over a cliche romance novel ending.