“The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao”

Diaz writes  about his own experiences growing up in a new country.  It is not an autobiography, but it parallel his own life growing up in New Jersey.  Oscar is a sweet, overweight, lovesick, Dominican nerd.  Diaz said that Oscar was a composite of several kids that he knew.  His biggest dream is finding love.   He is afraid that he is cursed and will never find love.  Oscar never finds love even when he goes away to college.  Diaz takes us through  Oscar’s life and the history of his family.  Diaz shows the warmth, dazzling energy, humor and some in sight to a Dominican-American experience.  Oscar has an endless human capacity to persevere through one failure after another.  He had one heartbreak, and disappointment after another.  He fell in love with Ana, and she just wanted to be his friend.  She talked about her boyfriend to Oscar, which really hurt his feelings.  Oscar thought that he would fit in college better than he did in high school, but it was just more of the same.  Diaz said that he would have been Oscar if it had not been for his father.  The language Diaz uses is the language of the streets of New Jersey.  He also throws in some Spanish words.  It seems that Diaz is bringing the reader into the environment of the story.

“Things Fall Apart”

Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”  is a story about everyday life in Africa.  Everything is going fine for a while for Okonkwo’s family,and then things start to fall apart.   He was a well respected man in his clan, and then he accidentally killed a man, and as a result Okonkwo and his whole family were exiled from their clan for seven years. They were exiled to his mother’s homeland.  That was when things first started falling apart.  While in exile Okonkwo’s oldest son, Nwyoe, was converted to Christianity.  This conversion resulted in the end of the father-son relationship.   Things continue to fall apart for Okonkwo.   When the family returns to their former home after their exile, Okonkwo discovers that he is not as well respected as he was before his exile.  Some people in the clan have converted to Christianity.  Some of the men destroyed the church that the white missionaries had built.  Then six of them were brought into District Commissioner’s office, and were held and tortured for three days.  After they were released the clan held a meeting, and the District Commissioner and his messengers came to stop the meeting.   Okonkwo murdered the head messenger.   Later that night Okonkwo hanged himself after he was convinced that his clan was not going to fight the white man.   The whole point of this story is the struggle of Africa and their black citizens against the attempted domination by the white man colonization of their homeland, and the white man’s attempt to change their culture, and religion.

Postcolonial Literature and Magic Realism

“The Courter”  A story about a young man from India who was attending school in England.  His family moved from India to England, and never did fit in to the culture in England.  He called the porter of the hall where they lived Mixed-Up, who courted Certainly Mary, a 6o year old lady.  The family moved from England to Pakistan, but he remained in England.  He saw England as a way to get away from his roots.  The family is torn, because they don’t fit in  England, even the sixteen year old boy wondered, where all the sixteen year olds were that were having the time of their lives.  Not in my apartment he thought.  Certainly-Mary did not want to leave Mixed-Up, but she thought she had to because of her health, and she moved back to India.  It is hard to tell if this really happened or was it just a dream.     “Light is Like Water”  fits into the magical realism category.  There was no water around, so magically light was substituted for water.  There is so much detail in this story, one begins to think water is everywhere light is.

Post Modernism

The readings for this week were really for the most part “tales of fantasy, dreamworlds, the universe and fate. In Jorge Luis Borges,      ” The Library of Babel”, I think he is making reference to the universe, even though he is describing the  features of a library.  “In Borges and I”,  he becomes two versions of himself; one as he sees himself, and the other how the public sees him.   “The Garden of Forking Paths” is a mystery and a story of fate, and he  says  “even thanks to the slightest smile of fate”. (497)   When he asked the boys for directions they told him to turn left at every turn.  In Gabriel Marquez’s ” I Sell My Dreams” is mostly about superstition and fate.  Frau Frieda had a dream as a child that her brother would be carried off  by a flood.  Her mother would not let the boy go near the water for fear he would drown, however Frau Frieda interpreted the dream to mean that her brother would die from eating sweets.  He died from choking while eating some Carmel.  This comes back to the point of fate in these readings.

Heart of Darkness

This is a story within a story.  Marlow and his three companions are on the “Nellie”, and Marlow is thinking about when the Romans first came there 1900 years ago.  Then he talks about his childhood, and all the places in the world he wanted to go.  He loved maps and was struck by all the blank spaces on the map.  Marlow talks about how many of these blank spaces have now been filled up with places and things, because of colonization.  Then he begins to tell the story of  the “Heart of Darkness”, thus a story inside a story.  Much of this story has to do  with imperialism.  As Marlow travels up the river in Africa, he sees torture, cruelty, and slavery.  Kurtz does not trade, even though that is what he is supposed to do.  He takes ivory from the natives by force.  Kurtz kills the natives if he has to, to get the ivory.  Marlow thinks from the beginning that Kurtz is mad.  later Marlow believes that Kurtz madness is relative.  Kurtz answers to nobody  About a year after Kurtz’s death Marlow visits Kurtz’ girlfriend.  Marlow has to show self-restraint not to tell her what kind of a person Kurtz really was.

The Matamorphosis

Gregor Samsa had a lot of anxiety, guilt, and was looking for salvation.  He did not like his job.  His job required travel, and he did not like catching trains, the bad food on the road , and seeing new people.    His manager from work shows up at his house, and in front of his parents questions Gregor’s honesty.  His mother thinks that he might be seriously ill, because he has not come out of his room.  After his father lost his business, Gregor became the provider for his family.  He felt guilty that he couldn’t send his sister, Grete, to the conservatory.  After a night of bad dreams, Gregor woke up, and discovered that he had turned into a “monstrous vermin”.  He remained in isolation now that he was a “monstrous vermin”.  His sister brought him food, and she rarely saw him, because he was hiding.  Gregor thought that because he had turned into a ”monstrous vermin” ; would be his salvation.   Now he doesn’t have to worry about going to his job, or taking care of his family.  When Gregor dies, it is also his family’s salvation; they no longer have to be concerned with Gregor, and can move on with their lives.

Modernism

Time and aging is the theme of “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”, “Central Park”, “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street”, and  “The Lady in the Looking Glass”.  In “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”, he relates all that has happened to him,  and what will happen to him.  He thinks that as he gets old, nobody will care.  In “Central Park”, as one gets older, one should not cross Central Park, because it is too dangerous.  One should catch a taxi.  In “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” , Clarissa wants to buy some white gloves that come above the elbow, but because she has aged she can’t find a pair that fit.  Clarissa knew the sales lady, but was surprised how much she had aged in twenty years.  In “The Lady in the Looking Glass”,  Isabella sees nothing in the looking glass.  She is old and wrinkled and had no friends.  She did have some unpaid bills.  As Weinstein’s says in his book “Unknowing”  “space and time,  ‘here and now’ no longer function as detached”.  This is evident in these four readings.

“Dolls House”

Nora was always a doll as were many women of the time.  She was first a “doll” to her father.  Nora became a “doll” to her husband, Torvald, after they were married, and remained a doll to her father until her father’s death.  Nora sees her children as dolls.  Krogstad thought that he was loaning money to Nora’s father to finance a health related trip for Torvald.  Nora forged her fathers name on the IOU, because her father was very near death, and she did not want him to know about the IOU.  Torvald never took Nora seriously, and called her all kinds of pretty little names.  He never told Nora that he loved her, and she was totaly dependent upon him.  Nora told Torvald that she would never do anything he disapproved of.  Nora asked Torvald to give her friend Christina a job at his bank and Torvald agreed to do that.  Then when Krogstad asked Nora to ask Torvald to let him keep his job at the bank;  Torvald refused.  This was like blackmail on Krogstad’s part.  If I get my job back I will tear up the IOU.  This is an example of Nora being Torvald’s doll.  He did not take her seriously.  After Krogstag wrote Torvald a letter about the IOU;Christina talked Krogstad into returning the IOU.  When Torvald read the letter with the IOU, and he tore it up, and he said that he and Nora were both saved.  Nora realizes that Torvald’s reputatiom  is more important to him than she.  After the IOU is destroyed she finally feels free from being a doll and can now be independent, and so she leaves him.

“Cadian Readings

“A No Account Creole”, A Very Fine Fiddle”, Desirees Baby”, At The “Cadian Ball” are stories of the struggles with love.  In  “A  No Account Creole” it appears that Placide and Euphrasie are going to be married, but when Offdean came up from New Orleans to look at the land, Euphrasie began to fall for him.  She struggled with the question , should I marry who I am supposed to, or do I marry the one I love.  In “A Very Fine Fiddle” Cleophas loved to play the fine fiddle.  He was sad when Fifine traded it for cash and an ordinary fiddle, because he loved the fine fiddle.  In “Desirees Baby”, Armand and Desiree are a happily married couple, until Armand sees that their baby is not white.  Armand told Desiree to leave and take the baby with her.  Later he sees a letter that confirms that he is not white, but he refuses to believe what he reads in the letter.  “At The “Cadian Ball” Alcee is in love with Calixtra in the begining until he discovers that Clarisse loves him and he quickly forgets about Calixta.  Now Bobinot and Calixta can be together.  Four  ‘Cadian love stories; three end tragically and only ‘At The ‘Cadian Ball’ has a happy ending.

Realism

Weinstein breaks Realism into five parts in Chapter three, and Defoe uses all five parts in Robinson Crusoe.  In introducing the subject in Robinson Crusoe the reader knows immediately, who Crusoe is, where and when he was born, who his parents are, where they are from, and what they do for a living.  In familiarizing the subject Defoe produces the larger world.  He does this by creating the island, the animals, and later Friday and the men from the shipwreck.  Defoe uses space travel, and time travel, when Crusoe sees the savages and he is afraid he is in danger.  As time goes along he wants to kill them all.. Then a little later, he wants one of the savages for a slave.  Crusoe recognizes that he may be on the island by himself until he dies.  After Friday comes to the island; Crusoe begins to think there is a chance he can get off of the island.  Crusoe misrecognizes Friday as a savage.  Later he realizes that Friday is a human being like himself.  I believe that Defoe uses all five parts of Realism as defined by Weinstein.

Next Page »