American Lit 2 - Test 3/Final
American Lit 2 - Test 3/Final EH 202
Jacksonville State University
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American Literature 2 – Final • Post Modern Period st o 1940s – WW2 – 1 time America is attacked on our soil, Pearl Harbor § Generation who fought = “The Greatest Generation”; women work while men fight (wear pants) o 1950s–1963ish – men come home (Baby Boom), women back in house, return to femininity in fashion § Everyone lives in suburbs – everything is similar & perpendicular § Period of Conformity & Conservatism § Literature – conformity & conservative, still reading Modernists writers o 1963-mid/late 1970s – hippies, music, civil rights, revolt, protest § 3 major cultural movements shape lit: civil rights, Vietnam War, women’s liberation o 1980s-1990s – Ronald Reagan, Cold War, no more revolt, everybody is prospering § “Me” generation = focus on self § “Conspicuous Consumption” Period – spend a lot of money, suburbs, strip malls, writers write about themselves & their experiences § Women wear shoulder pads to look more masculine; big hair, big shoulders = powerful o 2000s – Contemporary lit – defined by technology (changes how we view lit), people self publish on blogs • Flannery O’Connor –“Good Country People” o Born in Savannah, GA; lived in Milledgeville with her mother for most of her life o Inherited Lupus from her father, died on her 40thbirthday o One of the best American short story writers, wrote 2 novels: Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away o Known for her religious symbolism, themes, & black humor o American regionalist – writes about the local color of the South o Early in life – hoped to be a cartoonist, caricature is found in her fictional characters o Known for grotesque & violence in writing § Grotesque –gross, weird, bizarre but people are fascinated with – strange, freaky, interesting o “Good Country People” § Grotesque element – artificial leg; Mrs. Freeman fascinated • “Something about her seemed to fascinate Mrs. Freeman & then one day Hulga realized it was the artificial leg. Mrs. Freeman had a special fondness for the details of secret infections, hidden deformities, assaults upon children. Of diseases, she preferred the lingering of incurable. Hulga had heard Mrs. Hopewell give her the details of the hunting accident, how the leg had been literally blasted off, how she had never lost consciousness. Mrs. Freeman could listen to it anytime as if it had happened an hour ago.” § Irony • Hulga has PhD but is tricked by Pointer – grotesque b/c Pointer likes artificial legs • Hulga doesn’t believe in God but goes out with uneducated Christian • Joy/Hulga is nihilist (Nihilism) – believes in philosophy of nothi ng, pessimistic • Joy Hopewell – very dark, changes to Hulga b/c it’s ugly, embraces ugly b/c nothing matters • Manly Pointer – Bible salesman but his case has whiskey, condoms, & nudity cards, not manly • Good Country People – derogatory, dumb, simple, ignorant , uneducated, not cultured § Pointer tries to get Hulga’s attention at dinner , they talk outside; How he looks at Hulga, wants her leg • “He was gazing at her with open curiosity, with fascination, like a child watching a new fantastic animal at the zoo, & he was breathing as if he had run a great distance to reach her.” § Picnic – thinking about seducing him – “She set off for the gate at exactly ten o’clock, escaping without drawing Mrs. Hopewell’s attention. She didn’t take anything to eat, forgetting that f ood is usually taken on a picnic. She wore a pair of slacks & a dirty white shirt, & as an afterthought, she had put some Vapex on the collar of it since she did not own any perfume.” § Saved by the truth of nothing – “‘Then you ain’t saved?’ he asked sudden ly, stopping. The girl smiled. It was the first time she had smiled at him at all. ‘In my economy,’ she said, ‘I’m saved & you are damned but I told you I didn’t believe in God.’” § In barn, both think they’re in control – “‘Ain’t there somewheres we can sit down sometime?’ he murmured, his voice softening toward the end of the sentence. ‘In that barn,’ she said. They made for it rapidly as if it might slide away like a train. It was a large two -story barn, cool & dark inside. The boy pointed up the ladder that led into the loft & said, ‘It’s too bad we can’t go up there.’ ‘Why can’t we?’ she asked. ‘Your leg,’ he said reverently. The girl gave him a contemptuous look & putting both hands on the ladder, she climbed it while he stood below, apparently awestruc k. She pulled herself expertly through the opening & then looked down at him and said, ‘Well, come on if you’re coming,” and he began to climb the ladder, awkwardly bringing the suitcase with him. ‘We won’t need the Bible,’ she observed. ‘You never can tell,’ he said, panting.” § Keeps describing Pointer as a child, seems innocent – “His breath was clear & sweet like a child’s & the kisses were sticky like a child’s.” § Irony: what we think of proving love vs. he wants to see the leg (her most private part) • “‘Yes,’ she said and added, ‘in a sense. But I must tell you something. There mustn’t be anything dishonest between us.’ She lifted his head & looked him in the eye. ‘I am 30 years old,’ she said. ‘I have a number of degrees.’ The boy’s look was irritated but dogged. ‘I don’t care,’ he said. ‘I don’t care a thing about what all you done. I just want to know if you love me or don’tcher?’ & he caught her to him & wildly planted her face with kisses until she said, ‘Yes, yes.’ ‘Okay then,’ he said, letting her go. ‘Prove it.’ She smiled & looked dreamily out on the shifty landscape. She had seduced him without even making up her mind to try. ‘How?’ she asked, feeling that he should be delayed a little. He leaned over & put his lips to her ear. ‘Show me where yo u wooden leg joins on,’ he whispered. The girl uttered a sharp little cry & her face instantly drained of color. The obscenity of the suggestion was not what shocked her. As a child she had sometimes been subject to feelings of shame but education had remo ved the last traces of that as a food surgeon scrapes for cancer; she would no more have felt it over what he was asking than she would have believed in his Bible. But she was as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail. No one ever t ouched it but her. She took care if it as someone else would his soul, in private & almost with her own eyes turned away.” § If we didn’t know it was Pointer, sounds like becoming Christian • “It was like surrendering to him completely. It was like losing her own life & finding it again, miraculously, in his.” § Bibles – inkling that he isn’t what he seemed to be, he’s an original nihilist, gets best of her • “‘Wait,’ he said. He leaned the other way & pulled the valise toward him & opened it. It had a pale blue s potted lining, & there were only two Bibles in it. He took one of these out & opened the cover of it. It was hollow & contained a pocket flask of whiskey, a pack of cards, & a small blue box with printing on it. He laid these out in front of her one at a time in an evenly-spaced row, like one presenting offerings at the shrine of a goddess. He put the blue box in her hand. THIS PRODUCT TO BE USED ONLY FOR THE PREVENTION OF DISEASE, she read, & dropped it. The boy was unscrewing the top of the flask. He stopped & pointed, with a smile, to the deck of cards. It was not an ordinary deck but one with an obscene picture on the back of each card. ‘Take a swig,’ he said, offering the bottle first. He held it in front of her, but like one mesmerized, she did not mov e. Her voice when she spoke had an almost pleading sound. ‘Aren’t you,’ she murmured, ‘aren’t you just good country people?’ The boy cocked his head. He looked as if he were just beginning to understand that she might be trying to insult him. ‘Yeah,’ he sa id, curling his lip slightly, ‘but it ain’t held me back none. I’m as good as you any day in the week.’ ‘Give me my leg,’ she said. He pushed it farther away with his foot. ‘Come on now, let’ begin to have us a good time,’ he said coaxingly. ‘We ain’t got to know one another good yet.’ ‘Give me my leg!’ she screamed & tried to lunge for it but he pushed her down easily. ‘ What’s the matter with you all the sudden?’ he asked, frowning as he screwed the top on the flask & put it quickly back inside the Bible. ‘You just a while ago said you didn’t believe in nothing, I thought you was some girl!’ Her face was almost purple. ‘You’re a Christian!’ she hissed. ‘You’re a fine Christian! You’re just like them all – say one thing & do another. You’re a perfect Christian, you’re . . .’ The boy’s mouth was set angrily. ‘I hope you don’t thing,’ he said in a lofty indignant tone, ‘that I believe in that crap! I may sell Bibles, but I know which end is up & I wasn’t born yesterday & I know where I’m going!’ ‘Give me my le g!’ she screeched. He jumped up so quickly that she barely saw him sweep the cards & the blue box into the Bible & throw the Bible into the valise. She saw him grab the leg & then she saw it for an instant slanted forlornly across the inside of the suitcase with a Bible at either side of its opposite ends. He slammed the lid shut & snatched up the valise & swung it down the hole & then stepped through himself. When all of him had passed but his head, he turned & regarded her with a look that no longer had a ny admiration in it. ‘I’ve gotten a lot of interesting things,’ he said. ‘One time I got a woman’s glass eye this way. & you needn’t think you’ll catch me because Pointer ain’t really my name. I use a different name at every house I call at & don’t stay no where long. & I’ll tell you another thing, Hulga,’ he said, using the name as if he didn’t think much of it, ‘ you ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing every since I was born!’” • Black Arts Movement o Believed that art & literature should not be separa te from the body of the people, should move to action & change their lives o Art = poetry in the streets; plays on Harlem street corners, improvised Jazz in night clubs o Celebrate the Black experience & make change through social reform o Not integration; sough t power, enraged by assassinations of Black leaders o Referred to as sexist, homophobic, & racially exclusive o Had a strong impact on Black culture & American culture, emphasis on oral tradition (slams, hip hop, rap) o The Black Panther Party for Self Defense – 1 of the leading organizations advocating Black Power • Alice Walker – “Everyday Use” o Part of Black Arts Movement – more radical Harlem Renaissance & coincided with Black Power § Wrote essay “Beyond the Peacock” about Flannery O’Connor – looks at the South through Af Am eyes o Walker was born to a family of poor sharecroppers in Eatonton, GA; o Like Maggie - disfigured (shot in eye with BB gun) & problem was fixed when she was in college o Like Dee – Walker attended college at Spelman & Sarah Lawrence College – acquainted with North & South o Taught at Jackson State College in Mississippi th o Published The Color Purple in 1982 – became a giant of 20 century American writing o March 1975 Ms. Magazine – Walker published essay that details her personal journey to recover lost African American writer Zora Neale Hurston o “Everyday Use” § Dee looks down on where she came from § Mother’s dream & relationship with Dee • Dream = a reunion on the Johnny Car son show • Mrs. Johnson – overweight, manly, wears overalls, slaughters animals o Dream = to be thin, elegant, pretty o Not how Dee wants – “But of course all this does not show on television. I am the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds light er, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake.” § Dee vs. Maggie • Maggie: like her mother, not bright, shy, humble • Dee: outgoing, aggressive, beautiful, greedy o Old Dee: hated their house, no empathy o Wangero: part of get back to roots movement, boyfriend takes pics that Dee isn’t in, interested in heritage but still disconnected, tries to take butter dish, dasher, & quilts § How Dee makes Maggie & her mother feel when she reads to them • Excerption of power, shows she’s better, doesn’t want them to understand, keep s them trapped • “She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped & ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make -believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand.” § Dee’s friends – girls & guys that hung around, not many § Dee’s name change • Irony – felt her family has oppressed her, changes her name b/c she didn’t want to be connected to slaves – rejects name, rejects family • “‘What happened to ‘Dee’?’ I wanted to know. ‘She’s dead,’ Wangero said. ‘I couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people who oppre ss me. ‘You know as well as me you was named after your aunt Dicie,’ I said. Dicie is my sister. She named Dee. We called her ‘Big Dee’ after Dee was born. ‘But who was she named after?’ asked Wangero. ‘I guess after Grandma Dee,’ I said. ‘& who was she named after?’ asked Wangero. ‘Her mother,’ I said, & saw Wangero was getting tired. § Heritage • Dees says they don’t understand African heritage; Dee doesn’t understand family heritage • Quilts – how do you celebrate heritage - Not things but intangibles (memories & the name Dee ) o “‘Mama,’ Wangero said sweet as a bird. ‘Can I have these old quilts?’ I heard something fall in the kitchen, & a minute later the kitchen door slammed. ‘Why don’t you take one or two of the others?’ I asked. ‘These old things was just done by me & Big Dee from some tops your grandma pieced before she died.’ ‘No,’ said Wangero. ‘I don’t want those. They are stitched around the borders by machine.’ ‘That’ll make them last better,’ I said. ‘ That’s not the point,’ said Wangero. ‘These are all pieces of dresses Grandma used to wear. She did all this stitching by hand. Imagine!’ She held the quilts securely in her arms, stroking them. ‘Some of the pieces, like those lavender ones, come from old clothes her mother handed down to her,’ I sa id, moving up to touch the quilts. Dee (Wangero) moved back just enough so that I couldn’t reach the quilts. They already belonged to her. ‘Imagine!’ she breathed again, clutching them closely to her bosom. ‘The truth is,’ I said, ‘I promised to give them quilts to Maggie, for when she marries John Thomas.’ She gasped like a bee stung her. ‘Maggie cant appreciate these quilts!’ she said. ‘She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.’ ‘I reckon she would,’ I said. ‘God knows I been saving ‘ em for long enough with nobody using ‘em. I hope she will!’ I didn’t want to bring up how I had offered Dee (Wangero) a quilt when she went away to college. Then she had told me they were old -fashioned, out of style. ‘But they’re priceless!’ she was saying now, furiously; for she has a temper. ‘Maggie would put them on the bed & in five years they’d be in rags. Less than that!’ ‘She can always make some more,’ I said. ‘Maggie knows how to quilt.’ Dee (Wangero) looked at me with hatred. ‘You just will not understand. The point is these quilts, these quilts!’ ‘Well,’ I said, stumped. ‘What would you do with them?’ ‘Hang them,’ she said. As if that was the only thing you could do with quilts.” § “Grandmother” is not personal; “Grandmama” is personal – relate heritage • Amiri Baraka – “A Poem for Black Hearts”, “SOS”, “Black Art” o Born LeRoi Jones to middle -class African American parents in Newark, NJ; intelligent, grew up around white suburbanites, eventually attended Rutgars University on scholarship o Transferred to Howard University, stint in Air Force, settled in NYC’s Greenwich Village, became part of avant - garde poetry scene, married Hettie Cohen & began interracial family, wrote for magazines o Racial tension over Medgar Evers in Mississippi, church bombings in Al abama, murder of Civil Rights workers in Mississippi, assassination of Malcolm X; Jones left his wife & children for a life in Harlem & founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater o 1967 – symbolizing his break with his old life & dedication to the Black cause, Jones took the Muslim name Amiri Baraka, became involved in politics & continued to write poetry & plays (more militant now) o Poetry encourages Blacks to wake up – call to action, call to arms o Shock readers, grab attention, make you feel pain, push people out of comfort zone o The Black Arts Movement § Baraka started movement, most closely associated with it § Works of the Civil Rights Movement – need to be heard § Black Panthers – offensive, protection, militant o Like e.e. cummings – uses capitalization, spacing, s pelling, & punctuation o “A Poem for Black Hearts” § Elegy – poem for someone who died – Malcolm X § “For Malcolm’s eyes, when they broke/ the face of some dumb white man” – eyes, look could break you § “For/ Malcolm’s hands raised to bless us/ all black & strong in his image” – their savior, Christ figure § “For Malcolm’s words/ fire darts” – memorable words, painful § “for this he was killed, for saying,/ & feeling, & being/change” – killed for being the change § “all of him which/ clings to our speech black god of our time” – remembered b/c they speak of him § “black man, quit stuttering & shuffling, look up,/ black man, quit whining & stooping, for all of him” – stand up & be proud; not prideful or embarrassed § “For Great Malcolm a prince of the earth, let nothing in us rest/ until we avenge ourselves for his death, stupid animals/ that killed him, let us never breath a pure breath if/ we fail, & white men call us faggots till the end of/ the earth.” – avenge, get back by being proud & living his message, arm yourself , call black men faggots (ultimate insult) o “SOS” § “Calling black people/ Calling all black people, man woman child/ Wherever you are, calling you, urgent, come in/ Black People, come in, wherever you are, urgent, calling/ You, calling all black people/ Calling all black people, come in, black people, come/ on in.” § All 1 sentence, hurried tone ; Call to arms – call to wake up & be part of the movement § “Come on in” = unites o “Black Art” § Talks about what the artists felt like art should do § “Poems are bullshit unless they are/ teeth or trees or lemons piled/ on a step” – 3 things are usable, poems are crap unless they are useful § “We want live/ words of the hip world live flesh &/ coursing blood. Hearts Brains/ Souls splintering fire. We want poems/ like fists beat ing niggers out of Jocks/ or dagger poems in the slimy bellies/ of the owner-jews.” – want poems to be live & of the new world, first -hit you, black poker symbol § “We want ‘poems that kill.’/ Assassin poems. Poems that shoot/ guns. Poems that wrestle cops i n alleys/ & take their weapons leaving them dead/ with tongues pulled out & sent to Ireland. Knockoff/ poems for dope selling wops or slick halfwhite/ politicians” – poems that are doing something, make feel pain § “rrrrrrrrrrrrr/rrrrrrrrrrr . . .tuhtuhtuhtu htuhtuhtuhtuh/ …rrrrrrrrrrrrrr” – machine guns, Vietnam War § “Clean out the world for virtue & love,/ Let there be no love poems written/ until love can exist freely &/ cleanly. Let Black People understand/ that they are the lovers & the sons/ of the lovers & the warriors & the sons of lovers & warriors & sons of warriors Are poems & poets &/ all the loveliness here in the world/ We want a black poem. & a/ Black World./ Let the world be a Black Poem/ & Let All Black People Speak This Poem/ Silently/ or LOUD” • Gwendolyn Brooks – “kitchenette building”, “the mother”, “Queen of the Blues”, “We Real Cool”, “of De Witt”, “A Bronzeville Mother”, “The Last Qu atrain”, “To Those of my Sisters” o Bndn in Topeka, Kansas; grew up in Chicagosther Bronzeville) o 2 book of poetry published in 1949 was 1 work by African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry o At 50, she attended the 2d Black Writers’ Conference; reawakened to the new style of poetry; her career is revitalized; grew close to militant groups l ike Blackstone Rangers o Spans 2 generations, know which poems are from early or late period of her career § Early – Harlem Renaissance; in the tradition of Langston Hughes & Countee Cullen, poets who valued integration; capture the urban & rural Black dialects; focus on hard lives, poverty, & “the dream preferred” (Langston Hughes); about Chicago/Bronzeville; had white patrons § Late – Black Arts Movement; more militant, inspired by younger generation (Amiri Baraka); focus on Black experience & rage, particular awareness of the hard lives of Black women; Broadside Press o Subject matter: the Black experience, life in the Black urban ghetto (Bronzeville), urban ghetto aspects (street gangs, brothels, abortion, meaningless lives), best at describing physical aspects (smells, sights, sounds) o Style: vocab & speech dialect (slang, colloquialism), simple meters, stanzas, regular rhythm, realistic details & comparisons o “kitchenette building” – early career § Building of kitchenette apartments – efficiency apartments § Speaker: people who live in the building § “We are things of dry hours & the involuntary plan,/ Grayed in, & gray. ‘Dream’ makes a giddy sound, not strong/ Like ‘rent,’ ‘feeding a wife,’ ‘satisfying a man.’” • “involuntary plan” – paradox – plans are made but they did not get to make the plans, no choice, just trying to survive day by day • “gray” = ugly walls containing them ; “dream” is silly doesn’t fit in here ; dry = infertile/dead § “But could a dream send up through onion fumes/ Its white & violet, fight with fri ed potatoes/ & yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,/ Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms/ Even if we were willing to let it in,/ Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,/ Anticipate a message, let it begin?” • If we did dream, could it survive?; o lfactory sense § “We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!/ Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,/ We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.” – best we can hope for is lukewarm, low expectations o “the mother” – early career § Ironic title b/c it’s about abortions; 1945 – no birth control & illegal abortions § “Abortions will not let you forget./ You remember the children you got that you did not get,/ The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,/ The singers & workers that never handled th e air./ You will never neglect or beat/ Them, or silence or buy with a sweet./ You will never wind up the sucking -thumb/ Or scuttle off ghosts that come./ You will never leave them, controlling you luscious sigh,/ Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.” • Play on Genesis reference (begot), sees embryo, the good & bad of motherhood will never happen, motherhood obsession § “I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim/ killed children” – feels guilty § “I have contracted. I have eased/ My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck./ I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized/ Your luck/ & your lives from your unfinished reach,/ If I stole your births & your names,/ Your straight baby tears & your games,/ Your stilted or lovely l oves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,/ & your deaths,/ If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,/ Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.” – I stole these things but had no choice § “Though why should I whine,/ Whine that the cr ime was other than mine?” – crime of law & guilt § “Since anyhow you are dead./ Or rather, or instead,/ You were never made./ But that too, I am afraid,/ Is faulty” - will not let herself forget o “Queen of the Blues” – early career § Blues music = sad, depressing; Queen of everything sad, despair, loss ; Sadness of isolation, no hope § “Mame was singing/ At the midnight Club,/ & the place was red/ With blues./ She could shake her body/ Across the floor/ For what did she have/ To lose?” – at the bar/night club • Red with blues – paradox, “jumpin” § No mother, no father, no big brother, no children, no boyfriends, lonely § “‘I loved my daddy/ But what did my daddy/ Do?/ I loved my daddy./ But what did my daddy/ Do?/ Found him a brown-skin chicken/ What’s gonna be/ Black & blue.” – her pimp, will beat younger girl § “Men don’t tip their/ Hate to me.” – no respect o “We Real Cool” § Speakers = 7 pool players; Chose this life, no other opportunities § 1 syllable, simple words, no grammar, simple language § “THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.” Idealize, bury them § “We real cool. We/ Left school. We/ Lurk late. We/ Strike straight. We/ Sing sin. We/ Thin gin. We/ Jazz June. We/ Die soon.” • Gang is always together, chose to leave school, crime & fighting, celebrate music, bootledrink, June is prostitute, We=dead, know they’ll die young, brief hard life o “of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery” – early career § Plays on “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” ; “Born in Alabama, bred in Illinois” – Great Migration § “Drive him past the Pool Hall./ Drive his past the Show./ Blind within his casket,/ But maybe he will know.” – take him past places he loves § “Down through Forty-seventh Street:/ Underneath the L, & - Northwest Corner, Prairie,/ That he loved so well.” – his favorite street, the L (the train) § “Don’t forget the Dance Halls -/ Warwick & Savoy,/ Where he picked his women, where/ He drank his liquid joy.” – significant places, not much to celebrate § “Born in Alabama./ Bred in Illinois./ He was nothing but a/ Plain black boy.” – repeated stanza, take “he was” away to show insignificance o “A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon” – late career § Emmett Till, 14, whistled at a white man & was killed by her husband & his white buddies • Jury finds white men not guilty; boys mother has open casket funeral in Chicago • Bronzeville mother = Till’s mother, boy is villain, fairytale • Mississippi mother = woman he whistled at, princess § “Herself: the milk-white maid, the ‘maid mild’/ of the ballad. Pursued/ By the Dark Villain. Rescued by the Fine Prince.” – Mississippi, villain=boy, prince=husband § “Her bacon burned. She/ hastened to hid it in the step -on can” – cooking breakfast while she thinks, hide burnt food from husband § “But there was a something about the matter of the Dark Villain./ He should have been older, perhaps – villain is not really a villain, boy was too young § “With his heavy companion to hack down (unhorsed)/ That little foe.” – jousting boy is unhorsed § “With terrifying clarity was that her composition/ Had disintegrated.” – trying to hold it together like a broken cup § “She made the babies sit in their place at the table./ Then, before calling Him, she hurried/ To the mirror with her comb & lipstick. It was necessary/ To be more beautiful tha n ever./ The beautiful wife.” – tries to look normal § “Whatever she might feel or half-feel, the lipstick necessity was something/ apart. He must never conclude/ That she had not been worth It.” – scared of her husband, It = murder § “He looked at his hands./ He twisted in his chair, he scratched his nose.” – uncomfortable, murder hands § “What he’s like to do, he explained, was kill them all./ The time lost. The unwanted fame./ Still, it had been fun to show those intruders/ A thing or two. To show that snappy -eyed mother,/ That sassy, Northern, brown-black--” – we have a way of doing things here § “The Fine Prince leaned across the table & slapped/ The small & smiling criminal” – violent w/ children § Hand = killed a child with that hand § “She left the table, to the tune of the children’s lamentations, which were/ shriller/ Than ever. She/ Looked out of a window. She said not a word . That/ Was one of the new Somethings-/ The fear,/ Tying her as with iron.” – kids crying, scared, knows what he’s capable of § “She tried, but could not resist the idea/ That a red ooze was seeping, spreading darkly, thickly, slowly,/ Over her white shoulders, her own shoulders,/ & over all of Earth & Mars.” - feels blood on his hands § “She heard no hoof-beat of the horse & saw no flash of the shining steel/ . . ./ His mouth, wet & red,/ So very, very, very red” – not a prince, red=blood § Magnolias = Southern, Mississippi state flower § “The last bleak news of the ballad./ The rest of the rugged music./ The last quatrain.” • No happily ever after o “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till” – late career, part 2 § Till’s mother’s POV, matter of fact, no fairytale § Colors – black mother, red/angry room, black/death coffee, red prairie (windy Chicago) § “after the murder,/ after the burial/ Emmett’s m other is a pretty-faced thing;/ the tint of pulled taffy./ She sits in a red room,/ drinking black coffee./ She kisses her killed boy./ & she is sorry./ Chaos in windy grays/ through a red prairie.” o “To Those of my Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals” § Epigraph – straightener for African American hair § “Sisters!/ I love you,/ Because you love you./ Because you are erect./ Because you are also bent./ In a season, stern, kind,/ Crisp, soft – in season./ & you withhold./ & you extend./ & you Step out./ & you go back./ & you extend again.” – love you b/c you’re proud & oppressed, keep moving forward § “Nor have you testified to adoration of that/ state/ with the advertisement of imitation/ ( never successful because the hot-comb is laughing too.)” – advertisement of fake fixes § “Your hair is Celebration in the world!” – heritage, who you are, gentle message • Confessional Poets o Wrote shockingly about taboo subjects – abortion, suicide, hatred of paren ts, time in mental institutions o Personal poetry – speaker closely tied to poet • Anne Sexton – “The Abortion”, “Ringing the Bells” o Confessional Poets – female poets writing honestly, some men, dirty secrets about their lives § Speaker/poet = narrator or person a/writer o Born in Massachusetts; model, very flamboyant; eloped & had 2 daughters; suffered from depression o Spent time in a mental ward when she began to consider suicide; encouraged to write poetry as therapy o Took a poetry seminar from Robert Lowell, met S ylvia Plath, jealous when Plath committed suicide o Published To Bedlam and Part Way Back – 1 book of poetry, won Pulitzer Prize for poetry o Committed suicide with carbon monoxide in her car o Themes/subject matter: mental problems, frustration of being femal e, death & suicide, search for meaning; poetry should shock system, intentionally evokes pain o “The Abortion” § Abortion is still illegal ; confusion, internal struggle, not personal § Repeated line – refrain – tries to make herself feel better; “somebody” = vag ue § Stanza 1 – going to get abortion, Spring season is ironic b/c she’s ending a new life • Imagery associated with motherhood • South = bad; change shoes = mechanical, focus on mundane • “Just as the earth puckered its mouth,/ each bud puffing out from its knot,/ I changed my shoes, & then drove south.” – breastfeeding imagery § Stanza 2 – hills & bumps (pregnant belly); like a crayoned cat (simile, childish imagery) • “Up past the Blue Mountains, where/ Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,/ wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair” – personification § Stanza 3 – coal is mined for taking the valuable out of Earth = abortion • Sunken in like gray washboard = after abortion, no more bumps & hills • “its roads sunken in like a gray washboard,/ where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,/ a dark socket from which the coal has poured.” – dark foreshadow § Stanza 4 – feels like she’s going to be taken to hell • “The grass as bristly & stout as chives,/ & me wondering when the ground would break,/ & me wondering how anything fragile survives.” – death & burial § Stanza 5 – fairytale/story book imagery; Rumpelstiltskin takes children = the doctor • “up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,/ not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all …/ he took the fullness that love began.” § Stanza 6 – Rapunzel (high window); flat road = flat belly • “Returning north, even the sky grew thin/ like a high window looking nowhere./ The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.” – baby-less body § Stanza 7 – refers to refrain, don’t gloss it over, say what you mean, hard on herself • Finally says baby = guilt • “Yes, woman, such logic will lead/ to loss without death. Or say what you meant,/ you coward … this baby I bleed.” - Warn other women o “Ringing the Bells” § In the mental institution, the childish activity doesn’t make you better § Not a lot of punctuation – symbolizes monotony § Plays on child’s songs – “The Wheels on the Bus” & “The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” § Describes other patients – gray dress/old lady grumbles, Squirrel girl (twitchy, pick at lip hair) § “& this is the way they ring/ the bells in Bedlam/ & this is the bell -lady/ who comes each Tuesday morning/ to give us a music lesson/ & because the attendants make you go/ & because we mind the instinct,/ like bees caught in the wrong hive,/ we are the circle of the crazy ladies/ who sit in the lounge of the mental house/ & smile at the similing woman/ who passes us each a bell,/ who points at my hand/ that holds my bell, E flat,/ & this is the gray dress next to me/ who grumbles as if it were special/ to be old, to be old,/ & this is the smalled hunched squirrel girl/ on the other side of me/ who picks at the hairs over her lip,/ who picks at the hairs over her lip all day/ & this is how the bells really sound,/ as untroubled & clean/ as a workable kitchen,/ & this is always my bell responding/ to my hand that responds to the lady/ who points at me, E flat;/ & although we are no better for it, they tell you to go. & you do.” • Sylvia Plath – “Daddy”, “The Disquieting Muses”, “Lady La zarus”, “Metaphors”, “For a Fatherless Son”, “Nick and the Candlestick”, “Edge” o Born in Massachusetts; dad: professor of biology, Polish immigrant, died when Plath is 8 from untreated diabetes o Plath was overachiever in school, published some poetry in high school o Won a scholarship to Smith College; god student, popular, wanted to be typical 1950s girl o Won a guest editorship to Mademoiselle magazine; went home to discover she wasn’t accepted to Harvard sum mer writing program, marks big change in her life o Attempts suicide, goes to mental institution; returns to Smith to graduate 1 year late; scholarship to Cambridge o Married Ted Hughes, taught at Smith, moved back to England, 2 children o Ted has affair with Assia Wevill, left Plath to live with Assia in London § Plath’s greatest poems come form being alone in country home with her children o Plath moves to London; commit suicide by putting her head in gas oven § Ironically did to her children what her father did to her § Poems published & won Pulitzer Prize o “Daddy” § Anger, resentment, childlike (her father died when she was a child) § Metaphors: black shoe, statue, Hitler, vampire, devil • Black shoe – fairytale (old lady who lived in a shoe) • Controlling metaphor - doesn’t take up poem but controls poem – Nazi metaphor § “Daddy” = endearment, thin line between love & hate, indifference (opposite of hate) § “You do not do, you do not do/ Any more, black shoe/ In which I have lived like a foot/ For thirty years, poor & white,/ Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.” – tantrum, metaphor, onomatopoeia § “Daddy, I have had to kill you./ You died before I had time -/ Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,/ Ghastly statue with one grey toe/ Big as a Frisco seal” – metaphor, stone=unchanging, frozen in time, cold § “It stuck in a barb snare./ Ich, ich, ich, ich,/ I could hardly speak./ I thought every German was you./ & the language obscene/ An engine, an engine/ Chuffing me off like a Jew./ A Jew to Dachau, Auschwtiz, Belsen./ I began to talk like a J ew./ I think I may well be a Jew.” – controlling metaphor • Concentration camp, communication with father (fear, nervous, uncomfortable), stutter, onomatopoeia, speaker is the Jew o “The Disquieting Muses” § Ekphrasis – painting titled same as poem ; about mother • Muse = something inspiring, dark inspiration; disquieting = disturbed § “Mother, mother, what illbred aunt/ Or what disfigured & unsightly/ Cousin did you so unwisely keep/ Unasked to my christening, that she/ Sent these ladies in her stead/ With heads like darning-eggs to nod/ & nod & nod at food & head/ & at the left side of my crib?” – negative language, Sleeping Beauty § Stanza 2 - Mother pretends things aren’t happening; outlook, baked into gingerbread, good wins • “Mother, who made to order stories/ Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear,/ Mother , whose witches always, always/ Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder/ Whether you saw them, whether you said/ Words to rid me of those three ladies/ Nodding by night around my bed,/ Mouthless, eyeless, with stitche d bald head.” – Hansel & Gretel § “In the hurricane, when father’s twelve/ Study windows bellied in/ Like bubbles about to break, you fed/ My brother & me cookies & ovaltin e/ & helped the two of us to choir / ‘Thor is angry: boom boom boom!/ Thor is angry: we don’t care!’/ But those ladies broke the panes.” – rosy outlook, singing songs § “When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced,/ Blinking flashlights like fireflies/ & singing the glowworm song, I could/ Not lift a foot in the twinkle -dress/ but, heavy-footed, stood aside/ In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed/ Godmothers, & you cried & cried:/ & the shadow stretched, the lights went out.” • Not good at ballet, not like other girls, Cinderella § “Mother, you sent me to piano lessons/ & praised my arabesques & trills / Although each teacher found my touch/ Oddly wooden in spite of scales/ & the hours of practicing, my ear/ Tone -deaf & yes, unteachable./ I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere,/ From muses unhired by you, dear mother.” • Not good at piano either, learni ng from dark muses § Stanza 6 – mother is Glenda from Oz, speaker is leaving with dark influences • “I woke one day to see you, mother,/ Floating above me in the bluest air/ On a green balloon bright with a million/ Flowers & bluebirds that never were/ Never, never, found anywhere./ But the little planet bobbed away/ Like a soap -bubble as you called: Come here!/ & I faced ,y traveling companions.” § “Day now, night now, at head, side, feet/ They stand their vigil in gowns of stone,/ Faces blank as the day I was born,/ Their shadows long in the setting sun/ That never brightness or goes down./ & this is the kingdom you bore me to,/ Mother, mother. But no frown of mine/ Will betray the company I keep.” • Whether you choose to see it, this is what you brought me to, p retend everything is ok o “Lady Lazarus” – pg.625 § Resurrection is negative, speaker doesn’t want it; grotesque = resurrected in different form § “I have done it again./ One year in every ten/ I manage it -“ – kills herself § “Nazi lampshade” – grotesque trophies, keep skin for lampshades § “A paperweight./ My face a featureless, fine/ Jew linen./ Peel off the napkin/ O my enemy./ Do I terrify?” – Holocaust imagery, peel back the sheet, enemy=life, doctors, coroner § “The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?/ T he sour breath/ Will vanish in a day.” – decay § “& I a smiling woman./ I am only thirty./ & like the cat I have nine times to die.” – keeps trying suicide § “What a million filaments./ The peanut -crunching crowd/ Shoves in to see/ Them unwrap me hand & foot -/ The big strip tease./ Gentlemen, ladies/ These are my hands/ My knees.” – lights, being watched • When they bring back & unveil, she becomes a sideshow & freak show § “Dying/ Is an art, like everything else./ I do it exceptionally well./ I do it so it feels like hell./ I do it so it feels real./ I guess you could say I’ve a call.” – calling in life is suicide § “Comeback in broad day/ To the same place, the same face, the same brute/ Amused shout:/ ‘A miracle!’/ That knocks me out.” – just wants to die § “There is a charge/ For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge/ For the hearing of my heart -/ It really goes./ & there is a charge, a very large charge/ For a word or a touch/ Or a bit of blood/ Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.” • Medieval times people too k advantage of commoners, charge to see her, charge to bring back § “Ash, ash -/ You poke & stir./ Flesh, bone, there is nothing there -/ A cake of soap,/ A wedding ring,/ A gold filling.” – Holocaust ovens, grotesque resurrection (make soap from body fat), took Jews valuables § “Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/ & I eat men like air.” - phoenix o “Metaphors” § Riddle = very pregnant; positive à neutral à negative § Plays on # 9, everything in nines § “I’m a means…” – lessening herself, not important, just means to end § Nauseous, sick, hurting ; Irreversible § “I’m a riddle in nine syllables./ An elephant , a ponderous house,/ A melon strolling on two tendrils./ O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!/ This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising./ Money’s new -minted in this fat purse./ I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf./ I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,/ Boarded the train there’s no getting off.” – ponderous=heavy; melon=big belly; red fruit, ivory, fine timbers=precious; a cow in calf=mom & baby; bag of green apples=bad side of pregnancy o “For a Fatherless Son” § Absence persists & becomes more prevalent § “A death tree, color gone, an Australian gum tree --/ Balding, gelded by lightning – an illusion” – bare, always looks dead § “& a sky like a pig’s backside, an utter lack of attention.” – turned his back on us § “But right now you are dumb./ & I love your stupidity” – ignorant, too young to grasp § “To have you grab my nose, a ladder rung.” – being with kids, pull her out of despair/sadness § “Till then your smiles are found money.” – unexpected happiness o “Nick and the Candlestick” § Really cold & mother is getting up to breastfeed; compares herself to miner § “A vice of knives,/ A piranha/ Religion, drinking” – breastfeeding metaphor § “In you, ruby,/ The pain/ You wake to is not yours.” –what she’s mining for, father gone & doesn’t know § “Love, love,/ I have hung our cave with roses,/ With soft rugs” – the nursery § “Let the mercuric/ Atoms that cripple drip/ Into the terrible well” –atom bomb fear=outside cave/nursery § “You are the one/ Solid the spaces lean on, envious./ You are the baby in the barn.” – she’s void space but leans on baby, baby in barn=Jesus/savior o “Edge” § Last poem she ever wrote ; Title –edge between life & death § “O” sounds – gaping, can’t believe you’ve done it § Poem on the page = spaced out, short – like skeleton § “The woman is perfected./ Her dead/ Body wears the smile of accomplishment,/ The illusion of a Greek necessity/ Flows the scrolls of her toga,/ Her bare/ Feet seem to be saying:/ We have come so far, it is over.” – compares dead woman to Greek statue, perfect in death § “Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,/ One at each little/ Pitcher of milk,/ now empty.” – Cleopatra(killed by snakes), Greek statue of woman holding 2 dead children, Greek myth Madea (killed her children for revenge on cheating husband) § “She has folded/ Them back into her body as petals/ Of a rose close when the garden/ Stiffens & odors bleed/ From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.” – like she closes the children up with her § “The moon has nothing to be sad about,/ Staring from her blood of bone.” – personification of moon(death head/skull), her=moon, bone=skull § “She is used to this sort of thing.” – this happens a lot • Vietnam War o Vietnam = country in Southeast Asia § China ruled Vietnam for a while § 1858-1954 – France invades – French Indochina, made $ on rubber plantations § 1946-1954 – fight French & kick them out • Vient Minh = soldiers; leader = Ito Chi Minh • French slaughtered at battle of Dien Bien Phu § 1954 Geneva Accords – peace treaty to end French Indochina War • 1) All foreign troops withdraw from country • 2) Divide Vietnam at center (North & South) – North (Communism), South (Democracy) • 3) In 1956 Vietnam will reunify & vote to choose government – never happens o America feared Communism & Domino Theory/all countries will fall to Communism § 1961-1964 – Advisory Period; Americans train ARVN to fight NVA – how we enter the war § Nixon’s idea to end – withdraw troops until the Vietnamese are fighting themselves § Vietnam is communist & Saigan renamed Ho Chi Minh City • Platoon o Biblical epigraph: “Rejoice, o young man, in thy youth.” § Irony - youth lost to war, should be having fun in col lege, maturity (loss of youthful mind/innocence) § Sets up irony of how the war changes the m o Bildungsroman – novel that deals with the development of a young person, from adolescent to maturity § Training is an initiation, division of platoon, figure out where you fit § Platoon starts being nice to Chris Taylor after he’s shot in the neck • Taken in by potheads – he has been initiated by his wand – becomes part of “the heads” § Save pain by not getting to know new guys b/c they probably would die or get you killed § In the village – take anger out on civilians • Chris chooses who he’s going to be – stops the guys from raping girls § He kills Barnes (evil) – chooses good (Elias), kills darker side of him § Volunteers for war, stops writing to his grandmother o Dichotomies – contradictory or contrasting pairs § Good (Elias) vs. Evil (Barnes) • Barnes killed Elias b/c he wasn’t following the rules & the machine would break down o Elias = crusader • Lieutenant Wolf – over everyone b/c he had been to college o They wanted to kill him – fragging (kill own man to keep everyone safe) § Rebel flags vs. Civil Rights/ White vs. Black – white soldiers got nicer jobs, blacks to front line § Love vs. Hate/ Doves vs. Hawks – those for the war & those against § “Heads” vs. “Juicers”/ pot vs. liquor § Volunteer vs. drafted/ rich vs. poor § Idealist vs. realist – how they ought to be (Elias), how the y are (Barnes) o Religious Symbolism § Taylor was resurrected & they began calling him Chris § Elias = Hebrew for prophet, prophecies loosing the war § Barnes = old English for warrior; parallels devil or Lazarus § Chris T = Christ, bringer of good § Elias is crucified when Barnes killed him & threw his arms out like on the cross o Movie came out 13 years after Vietnam War § New generation, space, not fresh reality; Chris Taylor broke stereotypes of soldiers being baby killers § Main story is not war – good vs. evil & triumphs, happy ending (Taylor survives & leaves) § Learning moment • Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried o Born in Minnesota; graduated for McAlester College o Part of anti-war demonstration, drafted for war, has to decide whether to go to Canada or not o Receives Purple Heart, entered PhD program at Harvard, worked for Washington Post o 1 novel: Northern Lights – about his training time o Going After Cacciato won National Book Award, a peace novel in a war setting o The Nuclear Age – about the Cold War scares o Publishes stories in magazines: “The Things They Carried,” “How to Tell a True War Story,” “The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” & “The Lives of the Dead” – these formed the basis for The Things They Carried o In the Lake of the Woods – Vietnam veteran who carried memories of the My Lai massacre into political campaign o July July – set in 1969 (pivotal year for him & America), wounded, Hawks at the throats of Doves o Characters carry tangibles & intangibles § Lieutenant Jimmy Cross – pictures, letters, pebble, s oldiers’ lives, guilt, responsibility, love for Martha § Ted Lavender – tranquilizers, dope, extra ammo, fear § Kiowa – grandfather’s hatchet & Bible § Rat Kiley – medical supplies, comic books, M&M’s § Mitchell Sanders – condoms, brass knuckles § Dave Jensen – rabbit’s foot, soap § Henry Dobbins – extra rations, panty hose § Norman Bowker – diary, thumb § Lee Strunk - sling shot § Narrator/Tim O’Brien – stories, memories o Intangibles § “They all carried ghosts” – who they were before war, dead friends, people they have ki lled, people back home, Viet Cong/enemy § Intangible sharing weight of memory – “They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear.” § Carry their own lives – “They carried their own lives. The pressures were enormous.” § Like Ernest Hemingway’s Vignette before Soldier’s Home – coming down frame by frame from adrenaline rush • “For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. Now & then, however, there were times of panic, when they squealed or wanted to squeal but couldn’t, when they twitched & made moaning sounds & covered their heads & said Dear Jesus & flopped around on the earth & fired their weapons blindly & cringed & sobbed & begged for the noise to stop & went wild & made stupid promises to themselves & to God & to their mothers & fathers, hoping not to die. In different ways, it happened to all of them. Afterward, when the firing ended they would blink & peek up. They would touch themselves to stand. As if in slow motion, frame by frame, the world would take on the old logic – absolute silence, then the wind, then sunlight, then voices. It was the burden of being alive.” § Intangible is heavier b/c you can’t put it down like tangibles – fear of blushing, embarrassment, coward, being less of a man, dishonor • “They carried all the enrollment baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing – these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass & specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, & in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance & perfect posture. They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, & died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positi ve, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.” o Language § Soldiers called legs or grunts – lowest of the low, doing what they’re told § Hump = carry all of the stuff § Vocabulary – slang for dying, easier to keep going if they have a way to cope with death, use har
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