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.

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.

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.

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.

A Doll’s House PR

Out of everything we have read in class this year, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is not my favourite. This is not to say it was a bad play, it wasn’t. If anything, I found it great but very unsettling. From the very first sentence on the first page to Nora slamming the door on Torvald in the last, I couldn’t shake the odd feeling of the play.   Both Torvald and Nora’s characters annoyed the everliving daylights out of me at the beginning of the play. Oh my gosh. I had never been so annoyed by two characters so much in my life. When we first started reading, I genuinely wanted nothing more than for them to stop talking. Every time Torvald started his sentence it felt like nails on a chalkboard. Plus, the casual objectification of his own wife definitely threw me off a bit. But I think it was more the way he spoke to her in general. He treated her as though she was a child, and was incapable of understanding things on her own. For example, when Nora is talking to Dr. Rank about his job and Torvald says

“I say, my little Nora talking about scientific investigations!”

And again when he says

“Now my little skylark is talking as though it were a person.” (pg.172)

Once again implying that Nora is something to be owned and possessed and that she is incapable of understanding complicated topics, such as a “scientific investigation”. Speaking of, Nora’s character was not much better than Torvald’s at first. When we read the first scene in the play she just irked me so much. I didn’t like the way she spoke or the way she acted so immature. Like she would do anything for just the smallest amounts of money. I believe that part of why Torvald treats her as a child is because she enables it. She always searches for his approval, and never stands up for herself throughout their marriage (at least not until the very end). This makes Torvald look as more of a father figure towards Nora, rather than a husband. The dynamic between them was more similar to that of a father and child.

The one thing I did truly enjoy in this play was Act 3. When Nora finally wakes up from the almost trance-like state she has been in for the past 8 years of her life, and she finally leaves Torvald. Trust me when I say I had been waiting for this moment since Act 1. The complete 180 flip of Nora’s character was something I didn’t really expect, but enjoyed a lot. I think it was the perfect ending to the play as it sort of leaves us with the question “What happens after Nora slams the door?” There have been many adaptations that all give a different answer, but I like the idea of the ending being left up to one’s imagination. While it was not my favourite thing we have read thus far. Overall I would say I pretty thoroughly enjoyed this play, it left me with some very mixed emotions and it was definitely something new for me.

Let Evening Come Reflection

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


Antigone- One of my new favourite characters

I really did love this book, and I especially loved Antigone’s character, her sheer boldness and unwavering confidence are traits that make her so easily likeable and even admirable. For a woman of her time to stand up to man of Creon’s status and fight for her right to bury her brother and honour her family name is truly inspiring. Comparing the story of Antigone to that of Oedipus, I found that I preferred Antigone far more. I found it much more exciting and empowering than Oedipus, it was also much more relevant, covering concepts such as feminism, misogyny, religion, justice, and morality.

It very clearly explores the topic of femininity and sexism, and compares women’s expected roles in society, and their actual behaviour. The thing that makes Antigone so powerful is her inherent teenage behaviour. From what we can assume, Antigone is probably around 15 or 16, and anything bad that could happen to her, has already happened, so she really has nothing to lose. This sense of youth and almost immaturity is really what makes her such a politically strong character. And especially at that age, she doesn’t see any other options other than essentially dying for her family’s honour and for what she feels is right, since Creon also expects men to take on a dominant role in society, and women to take more of a submissive role. With this in mind, I strongly believe that had the offender rather been a man that Antigone, he would not have been sentenced to death.

Another major theme in Antigone that I found quite interesting was that of morality. Was Antigone right in defying Creon and burying her brother, even if he betrayed the citizens of Thebes? Or should she have listened to Ismene and let Creon leave his body to decompose? It is also a matter of fate and free choice. While free choice plays a major part in the story, such as her decision to give Polynices a proper burial. However, fate plays an even bigger role. Antigone was not limited by her fate, but rather the knowledge of it.

And finally, Antigone also covers the topic of divine law, meaning law of the gods, and law of man and state. Due to religion being such a prominent part in our main characters lives, religious rules and traditions were promoted to a law status, meaning everyone must follow them. One of these laws stated that all citizens require a proper burial. Creon obviously defies said law which results in our major conflict between Antigone and Creon over each individuals standards of divine law. The only time these two argue over divine law is when it serves their best interests and benefits them.

Class Blog Introduction

Hello, some of you may know me already, for those who don’t, my name is Taylor. I was born in North Vancouver and moved to the island when I was 5. I love to surf, play volleyball, read, watch movies, and of course, listen to music. Some interests of mine are economics, business, formula 1, and marine biology. I like all genres of music, but my absolute favourite era is anything from the 50’s to the 90’s. My favourite artists are (in no particular order) Elvis, Queen, Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Johnny Cash, Jack Johnson, and a bit of Run D.M.C. My favourite movies are Top Gun (the original one), Days of Thunder, Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Blue Crush, and Gleaming the Cube.

My expectations/ hopes for this year are to improve my reading comprehension skills and to read more in general. Last year I really struggled with understanding some of the concepts we studied without the use of my laptop. So I hope to focus on that this year!