jueves, 23 de octubre de 2008

Assignment 2 (Part A): Reaction toward 20th Century Short Stories or Poems

Dear US Literature Survey Course students:

Please use this space to post your comments, reactions, or questions about the 20th Century poems and short stories covered in class. You must post here at least one entry per week (a minimum of three entries) until we finish the course on November 11.


112 comentarios:

Luis M. dijo...

I will be the first to use this, uh? "Nice". I hope it'll work. As a I know that most of time the first part of comments is what people read, I will post a doubt that a have here, so I will see what do you think. My doubt is: do you see any relationship between the garden or the flowers in Thurber's "The Unicorn in the Garden" and "The Last Flower"? It's just that I perceive a special emphasis in the second story when Thurber compares the destruction of gardens as negative as the destruction of cities, forests, and arts, and in the first story, everything happens in a garden. I have some ideas regarding that, but I would like to see what do you think. Now, my comment. In my opinion, Thurber perfectly exemplifies the generalize feeling of disappointment with mankind that people of the 20th Century share. For example, in "The Unicorn in the Garden", Thurber shows that nowadays people cannot trust even who they consider as their most belove person. The husband demonstrates this fact when he betrays his wife with the police and the psychiatrist. Likewise, in "The Last Flower", Thurber expresses that human beings are so idiots that even when they have the opportunity to improve things and make life beautiful, they will do, sooner or later, something that will end up peace. The creation of armies and wars after a monumental destruction demonstrates Thurber's perceptions. So, this is my first comment. I hope you will like it.

JC Saravia dijo...

Luis M: The relationship that you see is not far-fetched. It is true that the 20th Century was characterized by a spiritual emptiness that some authors tried to fill up with alternative experiences and methods to interpret reality (Eliot turned to Buddhism and Hinduism; the Beat Generation poets used drugs, for instance). Somehow, literature was open to revolutionary ideologies that questioned the status quo. Remember that ecology becomes a SUBVERSIVE VOICE in a capitalist world. In other words, not only were writers concerned about inner destruction, but some of them also predicted environmental chaos and human extinction in the same way Thurber did (consider Ray Bradbury). EXCELLENT COMMENT

Yulieth dijo...

A detail of “A Unicorn in the Garden”: Have you that if the wife had just said, “my husband TOLD ME he saw a unicorn in the garden” instead of, “my husband saw a unicorn in the garden” the story would have end up differently? So, let’s be careful with plagiarism.

Yulieth dijo...

Luis has pointed out the relationship between "The Last Flower" and "The Unicorn in the Garden". I want to present another relationship between both stories. The two stories depict a web in which human’s actions not only affect the individual but also different fields of life (relationships, nature, future generations). A small movement in the web can produce a stream that will bring consequences, which can only be estimated but not precisely predicted. In “The last Flower” War World XII drives to a complete degeneration of humans and their environment. Then, a binary opposite element, the last flower, provokes a rebirth of the lost elements; yet, the end of the story reflects that the event of the flower was the beginning too for another destruction of humans since war came again. In “the Unicorn in the Garden” the presence of a mythical beast in the garden was, at first, the cause of great joy to a man, but the later perdition of his wife. Therefore, the manifestation of one single event as the seed for future events shows the questioning of believes and acts that were taking place during the 20th centuty.

Alex dijo...

HI! good comment Luis I have not looked at it in that way. However,I have my comment about --Thurber's "University days"-- here it goes:

As the professor said in class, the 20th Century was an era to question standards that were not questioned before, and Thurber’s “University Days” is the quintessential example. Thurber not only questions the university as the symbol of knowledge, but also its capitalist and military interests in this new period. To Thurber, the university became a business institution where students were forced to take “unnecessary” courses and military training, and the professors preferred athletic students as Bolenciecwcz (maybe for potential military purposes...)rather than smart and creative students as him. In order words, Thurber stated that the university was a kind of modern “slavery”, a mental one that did not let its students intellectual independence and experimentation. Students had to follow the strict university standards, and if you think differently, they will say to you “we are not concerned with [what you think]” ---This is what I understood from Thurber's autobiograpic account, I do not know if you have similar or different thoughts.... silla!!!

JC Saravia dijo...

Alex, Yulieth: Your comments are mind-boggling! You gave me something to think about in the midst of this hectic Sunday. I was impressed by your deconstruction of the equation (university)knowlegde + capital = power + stability and the metallic individualism that became the banner of the 20th Century.


(Aside, right):Yulieth, your last comment is a sign that you are getting infected by Thurber's sarcasm!
(Aside, left): Alex, thanks for the editing. I wrote that summary coming home from a killer day, so I guess I could have spelled science with an X without even noticing...

Raquel dijo...

Here you have my first comment...I hope you like it or understand it! ji, ji.

In Thurber's biography, it is mentioned that he "perfected the concept of the neurotic modern man, unable to meet the expectations of family and colleagues". This may be, continuing with Alex's insightful comment,(one of) the thesis of "University Days". If the 20th Century literature deals with a desperate society, I'd say that the idea of trying to please others is one of the main causes and consequences of our desperation, and in this autobiographical account Thurber is saying "I just don't fit. I can't meet their expectations". He, as many of us, went to college with the desire of learn, the desire of be taught not only on how to become a "professional", but also what I should be. Nonetheless,he found failure and disappointment when he couldn't do what professors required although he had already pass all the necessary courses.

I'd would also like to add that...

In this account, as Alex said,Thurber was just stating a true fact: university is an institution that was meant to hinder people from reacting against the collective social order.

About Luis' concern with flowers and gardens(je, je), and being as romantic as usual, I think that the garden and the flower in "The Last Flower" represent hope and the idea of a better future.

C ya!!!

silvia a. dijo...

Hi, everyone! I just want to mention some ideas about Katherine Anne Porter's " The Jiltling of Granny Weatherall." I might be taking this too personally, but I could not help to notice the sarcasm found in Mrs.Weatherall's attitude towards her daughter Cornelia. I have always had, perhaps, a more romantic view of parenthood and would not expect a mother(especially a "granny" ) to come to dislike her daughter in the
way this lady does.I admire how the author's use of stream of consciousness reveals such deep emotions and intentions. Certainly, the author challenges the "purity" of motherly love and the "benevolence" of the family,
which is often said to be the basis of society. Just notice the threatening tone of her thoughts here: "Wait, wait, Cornelia, till your own children whisper behind your back!" Furthermore, is it not ironic to think that one day, your children, the ones you raised
and sacrificed yourself for, will come to think you are "deaf, dumb, and blind"? Undoubtedly, the author is trying to open the readers' minds and make them reflect on the flaws of family ties. 20th Century Literature makes us question the validity of paradigms and wonder if we can really trust those who seem to love and care for us. Comments, questions?

allan dijo...

Following Silvia's comment on "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall;" the story is indeed a dissection of family relations, but you can't forget the fact that the old woman is still very much the self-reliant person she always was, at a point in her life when she can't take care of herself anymore. The irony Silvia noted I interpret as the result of the old woman's inability to take care of herself anymore. What's more, not only is she unable to take care of herself, but she is inevitably dying, which is the ultimate situation of helplessness. Granny Weatherall's refusal to accept her own death is the reaffirmation of her personality, which throughout the story is shown as petty. And perhaps that's Porter's point, that everybody is petty in the face of death. Really though, I don't think many people at all meditate on the sublime as they're dying.

David Boza M. dijo...

hi, in this fisrt comment i would like to write about this new author we saw in class James Thurber. i consider this guy is (or was)really clever because from my perspective he talks about some 20th century themes, such as isolation war and despair, in a very suttle way. For instance, he tends to avoid adjetives that would create judgements and feelings (in the case of "the Unicorn in the Garden" and "The Flower"), so the final effect is created by these ironic endings. (sorry that have to leave this like that but the are closing the "Internet cafe") bye.

Jeremy dijo...

I sympathize with Alex’s comment about Thurber’s “University Days”. I just want to call the attention about the dehumanized way the “modern slavery” Alex mentions takes place. The speaker implies the progressive dehumanization at all levels in society. Not even universities and its “professionals” escape from the world trend to homogenize people to such a degree that they turn into numbers. Number 879 (the speaker) gave his number (or its number?) to 473 in order to pass gymnasium class. According to this approach, all segments of society (from unskilled workers to university professionals) become objects valued for their productivity, though this means that they loose their identity as individuals. If seeing through a microscope “takes away the beauty of flowers” (p. 549), the fact does not matter anyway because “we are not concerned with beauty in this course.” (Ibid) They are actually not concerned with beauty at all. They do not put emphasize on what people think, express, or feel. They deprive people from any expression of humanity.

Daniel dijo...

Hello!!! Well, I am here just to post my comment about Thurber as an exponent of the 20th century literature, and his short stories “The last flower” and “The Unicorn in the Garden”.
Well, first of all, I want to tell you that in my humble opinion James Thurber, in the most intelligent way, represents in his works exactly what the literature in the 20th century means. I am saying this not just because his stories are an illustration of what human beings are, but also because he was so intelligent to use drawings for everybody to understand what he wanted to say. Moreover, I am thinking about this because he expresses precisely what many people felt in this period of time. For example, in “The last flower” he shows the cycle that we human beings are living day by day and the deception that this means for everybody. This short story (and I don’t even know if I can call it short story) is the best representation of the way of thinking of many people, and even more important it is the best example of the faithfulness and deception that humanity has faced throughout the story. Moreover, I think that “The Unicorn in the Garden” represents accurately the same feeling since today it is not hard to believe that we cannot trust anybody not even if these people are part of our family. Therefore, the same cycle of deception is represented in this work too, and that is the relation I see in both works. However, I think that in “The last flower” we can see the up and down of humanity while in the other story we can just appreciate the deception caused by the untruthfulness. Thus, this is the main reason why I think that James Thurber is an excellent exponent of the point of view of the literature in the 20th century, and that he is a brilliant writer that illustrates how people have felt not only with his words, but also with his drawings. If you think that I am missing something, I would really like you to help me with my interpretation. It will help me a lot, Thank you!!!

Michael dijo...

Yes, I totally agree with both Alex and Jeremy. I want to continue with Thurber's The Unicorn and the part we all read from University's Days-that is the beginning- by highlighting where these two guys can’t actually see the unicorn or the flower cells. I think that part of the belief of the 20th Century deals with not only not trusting yourself, but also trusting anything that is scientific. Just see the answer this guy gets in The Unicorn: "The unicorn is a mythical beat"; I don’t think it's meant in the sense that unicorns have been part of folklore –music, literature, food, proverbs, etc- for many cultures for a long time now, but more in the sense of "that's nonsense; there's no evidence for it". Anyhow, I think his wife would be the one wearing the "booby-hatch" after all! Now, pretty much the same thing happens in University's Days with this other guy and his botany professor; doesn't it? In this second story, I don't know which problem is bigger: that this guy can't see through the microscope? Or that his professor is just too close-minded to accept some other people's artistic points of view? –I'm sorry, I'm just kind of mad at this professor because the same thing happened to me when in a biology class in high school- So, it all got me to thinking that, maybe, it's not just an excessive reliance on science what characterizes -for good or bad- the 20th Century, but also a lack of Arts –in any of its manifestations- and Humanism in anything that we do.

luis m. dijo...

Hi again!

Well, first of all, thanks to everybody who helped me with my doubt. I really appreciate that!! Thank you very much. This site is enlightening.

Now, I have a couple of comments about what you already wrote. For example, SILVIA, I agree that parenthood is not mean to be like that, but unfortunately, I know a person whose grand-mother used to take her new toys and dresses away to give them to other grand-children who her grand-mother considered deserved them more. So, Thurber is actually showing a reality of this decade, again,unfortunately. Them, regarding all the comments of universities as places where knowledge is kept and shared, I think we should make a distinction between PRIVATE universities and PUBLIC universities. Why? Because I attended a PRIVATE university during two semester and that people are REALLY money-oriented. They only want to acquire the necessary "knowledge" to perform any work and that's it. Actually, once I said to two partners that I did not care to take a course again for I was there to learn; since that moment on I was deemed as weirdo and odd. On the other hand, our PUBLIC university should not be considered as source complete knowledge, but also, as one professor of humanities told me, as a SOURCE OF QUESTIONS, for they want us to think because knowledge is the accumulation of the answers of the questions of many people.

So, that's it. See you tomorrow.

Marcia dijo...

My comment is on the story The Last Flower. regarding the interpretation of the rabbits attacking the human beings. To me this unexpected behavoir of the rabbits suggests how nature losses control over what that humans change. these rabits represent how due to the human's fault the most strange acts take place. they also represent the damage that humans with all their "progress" and " civilization" do to the natural order.

Roxana dijo...

I would like to write what I get from "The Unicorn in the Garden". First, there are opposite characters, husband trying to convince his wife. Then his wife is trying to convince authorities. Eventhough, his wife did not see the unicorn in the garden. The lesson I learned is do not talk for others, let them defend themselves, do not justify their behaviour. As Thurber writes in the last paragraph: ""Did you tell your wife you saw a unicorn?" asked the police. "Of course not." said the husband. "The unicorn is a mythical beast." "That´s all I wanted to know," said the psychiatrist. "Take her away"".

Andrés Noé Solís dijo...

I'm the last one! sorry I got trouble with the Internet. This are my comment:

How many times the story of humanity has repeated? Mistake after mistake and it is always the same. Even though we could add up a number of differences, at the end, what difference exist between Vietnam’s war and Iraq’s?
All of the reasons of theses conflicts could be summarized in Ambition. Economic, social, or political ambition is the same; at the end, all of them caused pain & suffering.
What is the difference between the United States and Rome? An empire falls and begins another. Isn’t it a wonder that some might question if humanity is really evolving with such proves of monotony? I believe that the story repeats just because it is necessary. At the end, we know the consequences of war, but most of people in this planet has not lived or experienced it. We know a bomb destroys, but we do not know how it feels to see our brother dying in front of our eyes. We have the theory but not the experience. For that reason the story repeats to make us value the wonders that we have. For that reason we will see hundreds of “Last Flowers.”

Andrés Noé Solís dijo...
Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.
Andrés Noé Solís dijo...

I'm sorry for the spelling fault, I meant "These Comments." I was not able to add an image in this, let's say system; therefore, I took advantage of my own blog, in which I can insert an image, to show you my other contribution.

See this website:

http://tripledobleupuntopoks.blogspot.com/

Job Cespedes dijo...

I have to say that I liked the ironic endings of Boza's comment... jeje sorry I couldn't help it
I would like to contribute with some kind of meditation. In "The Unicorn in the Garden", what if, again, like in "The Last Flower", we have a parabole of humankind in the 20th century. I can connected it with what we have seen in class, history and literature: the past, the present and the possible future. Then, the idea that the husban's story of the unicorn stands for previous literary and/or social movements that, as the wive, we now seem them as fairly tales comes to my mind. She represents modern society and its arrogance. In the modern society there are these people who think they are smart enought to not believe in "unicorns". But there are these few smartest people who know when they have to believe in "unicorns", like the husband. In addition, as in "The Last Flower", this interpretation conveys some sort of predictation about the future of modern society, we all will get divorced...I just kidding, what i meant is that arrogance will lead us to our own destruction

JC Saravia dijo...

I really appreciate your conscious reading and participation. It seems all of you got to the point of reading how 20th Century writers saw dehumanization affecting even the most basic aspects of society: relationships (parents/children,husband/wife), studying, working. The lack of balance, a symptom of the downfall of civilization provoked by human hubris, distorted natural laws, as Marcia read it...(the best I can do to imagine those furious animals is the ruthless depiction of rabbits of "Watership Down", a British novel that was turned into a movie FOR CHILDREN in 1972, the year in which I was born.

http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd217/mechatotoro/watershipdown1.jpg


Please keep up the good work!

Karla Mariana dijo...

The Unicorn in the Garden is filled with (+) and (-) moments as the 20th century itself. I associate the husband´s scenes to positive events like Jazz age. In the video, for example, these parts are colorful and have funny music. On the other hand, when the wife appears, the music is terrifying and the environment is dark. These +/- moments make the end of the story unpredictable. The same thing happened at the beginnings of the 20th first century the alternation between positive and negative events generated anxiety because the uncertainty of the future.

Vanessa dijo...

In the poem "The Hollow Men" of T.S Elliot we can find this stanza like a children s song according to what we analyzed in class. When I read this stanza I understood it was a soldier song, these songs that they sing for encouraging each other when they are going to fight or to do something. It made me remember my father who was a policeman, and all the time we were doing something we stared to sing these funny children-like songs.

Nuria dijo...

Hello! ok, so I wanted to comment about Marigolds and the sad situation that portrayed in the story.
The Great depression is mentioned right, but the problem is that the dark and sad mood that the whole economical situation creates is what really carries the whole story.
First Lizabeth's baby brothers are taken away so they have a chance to "survive" because Lizabeth's parents cannot take care of them. Pero como si fuera poco (Everything can get uglier) Lizabeth's dad is completely depress and desperate because he is trying to succed but he is not able to do so. And above all, the marigolds are destroyed!!!!!! EVERYTHING THAT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND REPRESENTED A GLIMPSE OF HAPPINESS IS COMPLETELY VANISH!
The story portrays completely what 20th Century literature means. The destruction and the lack of hope create an ambience of exasperation that shows in what sad World we are living. No matter how hard we try something is going to get in our way... Murphy's rules! jajajajajaja!
So that's all folks... jajajaja!

Rosaura dijo...

Well... Marigolds. I think those beautiful flowers stand for everything that was lacking in Lizabeth’s life; everything she longed for. Those flowers represent like the ideal society, so sadly they stand in contrast to what we really endure in our lives; for example, poverty, bad experiences, loneliness, the lack of family support or presence. So, there it is: the pessimist view of the 20th century! Then, I liked the part, almost at the end, when Lizabeth has completely destroyed the marigolds in an act of rage and desperation (not that I like violence, but what this represents). You can perceive the character’s internal transformation. She is able to see beyond her own reality and actually feel the pain or suffering of other human being. Her confusion and her lack of hope confirm the difficult process of growing up.
Whatever there was left in her, whatever was of love and beauty and joy that had not been squeezed out by life, had been there in the marigolds she had so tenderly cared for. (689) Heart breaking! Almost cry, and this girl took it away from her. Definitely, not fair, but who says life is?

Josefab dijo...

¡TODO LO CONTRARIO!
Regarding Silvia's comment:

1- I don't find such irony... I find sincerity.
What I see is someone tired of living and not being taken away from this world which she left, metaphorically, many years ago. Hence, all the crap and all (haha quoting Holden from the Catcher in the Rye) is nothing more than that: crap.

2- I kind of now this because an uncle of mine has cancer and, by now, the medical diagnosis is "he can pass away anytime." So, many of my relatives go to my uncle's place to see how they can help, but, when he can talk, he asks them to please leave and asks for death. My point is that he used to be a very smiley person and all, but now he's totally changed, and I understand that. So, maybe this is the same that is happening with this granny, and we will never be able to decipher what really happens.

3-Someone in the class said, I don't remember who exactly, that Granny hasn't gone over the jilting, but I'd rather say she is. The fact that she keeps the letters of her ex-beloved one, for me, are a reminder of her past that represents the inner struggle she had to go through for having a new life. She wants to prove what she was capable of, and she does it with those letters.

Josefab dijo...

PLEASE: OVERLOOK THE WORD now; IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE know...

Josefab dijo...

I have Just ONE extra LITTLE COMMENT for Luis M.: "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" wasn´t written by James Thurber; it was written by Katherine Anne Porter, just in case. I think that makes a HUMONGOUS difference. I couldn't avoid getting confused when I read your reply on Silvi's comment...

JC Saravia dijo...

We all saw it, JoseFab. Please be magnanimous with mistakes; there's no need to start a flame war over here.

Concerning your deconstruction of the keeping of the letters, attachment to something also reveals a psychological need. What is it that Granny Weatherall needs? Love? Company? Happiness? Is she part of the crew of "The Hollow Men"? A HOLLOW WOMAN? WHY?

silvia a. dijo...

Hi, again! I would like to start a conversation about "Harrison Bergeron." Let's explore the concept of a “perfectly average intelligence,” which, according to the reading, means not being able to “think about anything except in short bursts.” What do you say about this? I think this is an absolutely belittling comment, if you consider it literally. Personally, I have come to believe in the theory of multiple intelligences and I have realized that it is unfair to compare people’s levels of intelligence without taking into account the great variety of areas in which people show their skills. I would hate to think that equality meant that “ Nobody was smarter than anybody.” I believe equality should be about considering our different abilities to be equally valuable/useful to society. Any comment or question?
- “Eat right, stay fit, die anyway.”

josefab dijo...

Yes, I apologize; my comment wasn't meant to foment a war but it truly sounds like :P so I apologize.

In most recent Silvia's comment:

*I definitely agree that what should be of equal matters is that each individual's skills would be appreciated as valuable as the others'instead of their looks and a seemingly standard intelligence.

*What Silvia says about reading literally the thinking "except in short bursts,” I think the author chose to say that because, in a way or the other, everyone was constantly interrupted by some controlling devise. So, when they were in their "free-control" time, they could be at ease and think, but as it was so little, they didn't have much time for themselves. So, I'm not sure whether this line is meant to belittle humans, for I see it more like an emphasis the author wants to make on how manipulated society was as to the extreme of not being able to think.

*Here, I want to state another issue I see: what happens in real life when trying to be EGALITARIAN? We try to make everyone have the same rights and privileges so that we are all treated the same. However, there are always some standards that are the ones that are looked up to make the others "equal" -something that, for me, creates more differences. For example, and with this I finish, why do most females want to reach male standards? Why don't they make males reach female standards?

I know there's controversy in answering those questions...but that's the point.

Michael dijo...

Silvi, I think that restricting oneself to one or two types of intelligence is also disparaging. And because there are some intelligences that have been given more prestige than others, you will be creating more gaps among people. There’s a criticism on that, I believe, when the ballerina, seeing the announcer’s incapacity of saying "Ladies and gentleman" "for about half a minute", takes the mic to make the announcement herself, to which she adds: "That’s all right; he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard."
My second point has to do with what Fab last mentions. I think that the more people try to find the normal, standard or average, the louder the voices of those left out will be heard. This is not a world for hyphenated types of humans.
Now, I feel like growing a bit more controversial as well; I want to know what you think about the role of religion –not god- in the lines "If I was Diana Moon Glampers, I’d have chimes on Sunday- just chimes. Kind of in honor to religion." Doesn’t religion separate humankind as well instead of unifying it once and for all?

JC Saravia dijo...

Your comments are taking a very interesting turn. Just to feed the fire...Did you know that currently the theory of multiple intelligences is being challenged by new evidence on the working of the human brain, discoveries fostered by quantum mechanics? It seems that intelligence is, then, the capacity of working with "unfixed synapses"...but that oxymoron is also disturbing. We look for "equality" (standards, rules, a unique valid morality or religion)because we want/reject fixed ideals...Rosaura's Marigolds, for instance. However, as the Hollow Men, we are afraid of the "eyes" (the observer, in quantum physics). The 20th Century perception of contradictions is that they divide us (hence the despair and isolation); in the 21rst Century, literature manifests a suspicion that "contradictions" actually make us CONVERGE since they are different perceptions of the same issue.

Alex dijo...

I want to talk a little about--- Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”---I think the author played ironically with the fact that is stated at the beginning that says “everybody was finally EQUAL” that’s supposed to be positive, right? However, the speaker then says that the equality was achieved due to several amendments to the constitution and here is the problem. The equality was reached through the political-governmental actions, not through the citizens’ will to be equal. The equality is stated on the paper, in the law, but no in people’s mind. The result as we saw in the story is a complete dictatorial control by the government. In this setting, everybody is monitored and controlled to avoid being “different” and even thinking differently which would go against the government. When someone thinks differently, the government has the “right” to erase him/her thoughts and make him/her be a total ignorant and stupid. Nevertheless, the absolute “equality” does not exist in the story and will never do in real life because it’s the nature of human beings to be different, to be intelligent or less intelligent, to be pretty or less pretty, to be skilled in sth or in other things, to be athletic or less athletic, etc. In other words, the result of this “equality” is a kind of slavery because you are not free to do what you like, to try different things or to protest and show your disagreement or dislike. Furthermore, if everybody is equal, it will be a extremely boring life---differences are positive, are necessary, are required in life----

rosaura dijo...

Alex, I agree with you. In my case, I associated the story more with control and power. The thing about conformism and resistance we read in one of the course readers. Equality is governments’ alibi to brainwash people. And that’s part of our reality. In a previous course, I watched a documentary in which it was stated that the “Doña toda” country is investing less money on education because what they want is to have less critical thinkers, so they (the elite, government..) can do their dirty business, and that’s when the media and entertainment monsters show up to keep people busy with their trivial stuff! I don’t know …It makes sense to me… Then, I think a balance is always wiser since differences have made our life better and worse. By the way, I’m clueless with Elliot’s poem!!!!!

Herick dijo...

(...) two years of military drill was compulsory. We drilled with old Springfield rifles and studied the tactics of the Civil War even though the World War was going on at the time. (James Thurber’s University Days) Thurber was making fun of how his training was as useless as he was. The way he describes how he is just not “good at all” as a soldier kills me. However, after a couple of laughs, I realize about what he meant. He had neither war experience nor combat skills. That remembers me someone… Or should I say “some ones”? It really called my attention because as the professor (Juan Carlos Saravia for those who don't know who the professor is) said that we as Costa Ricans don’t have a slight idea about war. I think IF we had gone to war at least once we would feel the same despair that Thurber felt, but since we haven’t it is just a couple of sentences. I guess, since we can’t understand (relate, feel, perceive, or even care about) someone’s feelings, people are so self-centered nowadays.

By the way, I can't imagine any of us taking a class called "How to shoot a gun I" or “How to escape form an enemy military base II” or “MacGyver’s combat tips IV (for advanced “students” only) or … Ok, I take it too far.

Short Stories Rule!

luis m. dijo...

Well, yes, I made a HUGE mistake and I admit it. I'm sorry for confusing authors, it is just that I was so focused with Thurber that I associated "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" with him. Sorry.

Now, my comment is about Harrison Bergeron. I see in this short story, as well as Alex wrote, the preoccupation of Vonnegut and his contemporaries towards homogenization and the consequently legalization and imposition of slavery. The 60's were for sure a decade of liberation. Civil rights movements, the hippies, and even the experiments with literature are prove of that fact. In the 60's, everything that attempted against freedom was repudiated, and that is actually what Vonnegut is doing with his story. The protest is, in my opinion, more easily to see at he end of the story when Vonnegut shows that that unique way of living is inhuman, for the parents of Harrison are not even allow to express their feelings towards the cruel assassination of his child.

Also, Vonnegut inspires to analyze the intentions of those in power. The phrase that I liked the most in the story was "The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?" (p.670). As I understood, there is a message in that quote: DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS, NO MATTER WHO MAY BE AGAINST YOU. And that was what people did in the glorious 60's.

So, feel free to add any comment to this comment.

Marcia dijo...

regarding Marigolds, it is interesting to see how the sadness and the difficulties of the Depression period are portrayed in the story of Lizabeth. The Marogolds represent that ecomocic comfortability that they could not afford. they are yellow like gold and the mane suggets it. This is the reason for lizabeth to destroy them because they represent what she could not have. they represent the beauty in life that she was not living. The desperation of the situation at her house, the feeling og dangling between womanhood and childhood and the depresing environment took Lizabeth to destroy what she saw as unreachacble for her.

Marcia dijo...

also i want to comment on Harrison Bergeron. the situation lived by George and Hazel represent what the governments do with people nowadays. The authorities say that they want people to be critical and analitical but if someone disagrees on what they said they do everything to shut people up. this story is a critic to the main stream also beacuse people in general do not like when someone has a diffrent current of thought. if there is a voice that raises to say something different than what society is supposed to say they are rejected and isolated. they are labeled as anarchists and as renegades. also, i enjoy the irony of the kid who wanted to get rid of the power of the state but yet he wants to be "the emperor" to control the world. As usual he is eliminated and the problem is forgoten two seconds later. This story represents very well human nature beacuse humams are like sheep they always follow the leader withuot questioning and if there is a problem they forget it two minutes latter... they are like ticos... they do not fight the system and they are like use hoy y bote mañana... they forget what tey do not like and they keep on living as the authorities say....

Marcia dijo...

soory about the spelling mistakes...

Paola dijo...

I would like to comment on the story of “Harrison Bergeron” about the issue of equality. For me, the story is exaggerated because it is hard to believe that all the people can have the same abilities and capacities. Also, the idea of degradation of people in order to make everybody to have the same capacities is not the most convenient way to not make people feel inferior.

Paola dijo...

The story of Marigold is a true representation of the devastating postwar effects in the life of many citizens. Poverty and unemployment are two important consequences presented in the story. We can see how people are desperate looking for job; for instance, readers can see the part in which the father is crying hopelessly because he could not find a job.

Anónimo dijo...

this is my comment about the last flower. i am confused because I do not know if we should categorize this short story as pessimistic because it portrays how human beings destroy each other and their environment for silly reasons, or if it is optimistic because the last flower tells that there is always hope for human beings to start again and build a better world. personally,the idea of having the last flower does not comfort me. Indeed, Thurber is communicating that no matter how many opportunities to change our decaying world we have, most human beings will always ruin it. As a result, the last flower is simply the beginning of our new pathway to destruction. this is my opinion, the ones that say that it is hope please help me to feel something more positive.

Angie Abarca

allan dijo...

During a pronounced bout of insomnia -

"We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men"

I consider the first lines of (any) poem to be pivotal. The first lines of a poem are the first verbal expressions of a thought that may or may not have been formed through words. Can something be hollow and stuffed at once? Maybe the author only meant to juxtapose the antonyms "hollow" and "stufffed," but in poetry, what you intend and what people read are often two completely different things.

The representation of men in a post-war era almost as dissected animals (hollow of their own insides and stuffed with filler) may represent the idea of men who are alive, but whose life has been extracted, hollowed out of them, and replaced by something else. And yet this is not totally dehumanizing; they are hollow and stuffed, but still men. Okay, I'm done for, but this is only the first stanza of the poem anyway! The man was a genius.

JC Saravia dijo...

Angie: The purpose of this blog is to comment on the stories we cover EACH WEEK in class, as I specified. Thurber's stories were covered LAST WEEK, so you are not posting anything relevant for this week's discussion. If you are to comment on something already covered, why don't you choose a more challenging text, such as Eliot's?
I think it's time for you to catch up with the rest of the class.
And please include you name at the beginning of you posts (I almost deleted your comment because I thought it was SPAM)

angie dijo...

My comment is about "a sudden story." First: the phrase "...while it still could..." portrays one of the 20th centurie's themes: despair. The hero is in despair for trying to defeat the dragon. Indeed, "he'd spent his entire lifetime anticipating" it. The phrase "while it still could" probably is not refering to the story that almost did not beging, but to the hero that was, at this time, tired and maybe frustrated for looking the end of a story (his story) that had not even began. From the hero's point of view, this end was far way, somewhere else, like the horizon. Furthermore, in the hero's world, the story is also extremely sarcastic if we consider that this is an expected story that ended up being unexpected.

angie dijo...

Professor, I am sorry for the last comment I wrote. the point is that I found extremely interisting "the last flower" and that is why I commented about it. I know it was already covered but that does not mean that we have all that questions about the covered material answered. Anyway, next time, I will go to your office to ask you personally about them to avoid any misunderstanding. Besides, you told us that we are free to ask, so I asked in my comment, even though I knew it was not going to add anything relevant to the blog. It was simply a question.

I present my humble apology for not ding it the way it was supposed to be, and I am sorry for my classmates who had to read it too.
I will do my best to do it correctly next time.

angie dijo...

I made a mistake, I wanted to say that ...From the hero's point of view, this end was far way, somewhere else, like the horizon. Furthermore, in the hero's world, the story is also extremely sarcastic if we consider that this is an expected story that ended up being s sudden one. Does it make sense?

David Boza M. dijo...

my second comment will be inspired on Vonnegut´s harrison bergeron. i loved this story, and i loved the way it is written. I think the author has an amusing manner to say things indirectly; for my perspective, two main themes are governmental control over individuals and Colectivity vs individuality. These themes will always create controversy. Furthermore, the author presents these issues with this fantastic and futuristic story that is at the end showing what is happening in reality. For instance, i couldn´t help comparing Vonnegut´s fictional state to china and its comunist government. Moreover, a very significant issue in the story is what the author is saying about art. I believe the narration suggests that art and the government are like water and oil, completely opposites, because the government portrays an objective point of view while art does the other way around. Moreover, art is meant as a way to protest while a government is meant as an agent which main purpose is to keep everything under control. Finally, the end, the death of harrison bergeron, exemplifies costa rica everyday´s reality, that is, to forget everything that happens and to pretend everything is OK.

Natalia dijo...
Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.
Natalia dijo...

I would like to make a comment about Marigolds, certainly about Rosaura’s comment. Well, I completely agree with her critic because this short story definitely represents the negative view of the 20th century. I think the flowers contrast with the sad environment. Lizabeth shows anger, frustration, and loneliness when she realizes that the world as she knows is going. Lizabeth’s family doesn’t have the tools to produce because her father was fired; therefore she asks herself: “How could it be that my father was crying? That wise old man (her father) was crying, so he is not the strong person she thought. Knowledge is what makes her grow up; in other words, difficult experiences make people consider the vulnerabilities of human beings.

Natalia dijo...

Regarding to Harrison Bergeron’s theme, I would like to believe that this kind of equality and manipulation is just part of a fictional story; however, it is not possible for me. From a realistic point of view, I think there are troubles ahead because people are looking for power, and that is carrying us to the dehumanization. In the short story, the government controls and manipulates citizens, but is that our reality?… Definitely, Costa Rica is living the same. Even other countries manipulate us due to our wish of competitiveness; I am sure we want to become an equal country without feeling concern about the consequences.

angie dijo...

To continue with Marigolds, I would like to point out the idea of social determinis. When Lizabeth said that for some perverse reason children hated those marigolds because they interfered with the perfect ugliness of the place, she is reinforcing the idea of social determinism, even though she, as a child, was not conscious of her inner issue. She, unconsciously does not understand how can someone dare to trascend (with simple marygolds)in a destroyed world where everyone should be debastated. The idea of an old woman having hope (because to me, marigolds mean it) in a perfectly ugly place was extremely offensive from Lizabeth's point of view, especially when Lizabeth realizes that her family's circumstances where painful and helpless. Furthermore, I found Eugenia Collier's Marigolds deeply sad and pesimistic because, even though the Miss Lottie wanted to build the idea of hope, and she probably was very strong, I do not think that at her age she has the strenght to destroy the idea of social determinism again.

Roxana dijo...

I would like to write about "The Last Flower". There is no doubt that the human being is destructing not only himself but also the environment, nature, art. However, the man has the capacity to think it over and start the recovery. In most of the cases, humankind begins again. The important aspect of this story is not the destruction left behind but the capacity to start again and again. Also nature has the same capacity to overcome wars, pollution, destruction. If at the end of a coas there is life; thus, there is still hope to begin. It is a positive point of view for the next generation. As an individual, if a person has difficulties in life, there is always another option in the future.

Daniel dijo...

Hi everybody!!! Here is my second comment about the story “Harrison Bergeron”.
First, I think that this is one of the most interesting stories that I have ever read. I think that it is amazing how Kurt Vonnegut exposes the topic of equality among people. However, this equality is not the common egalitarianism that people wanted to achieve throughout the story. This is a very particular equality in which individual thoughts does not exist anymore. This author exposes a reality in which every beautiful human expression disappears. For this reason, I think that this story is an analysis to the way in what people think in the 20th century. For example, many people consider in this period of time that if we are different or we don’t act as everybody else we are like monsters that do not belong to this world. Therefore, in our looking for equality we also discriminate those who think differently or those who want to achieve the same goals but in a different way. Kurt Vonnegut exposed this reality in the most intelligent way because he exposes the flows in the actions that human beings take to achieve what they consider right (it does not matter if the way they choose to achieve what they consider correct is incorrect). Hence, this is my interpretation about “Harrison Bergeron” and its relationship to the 20th century point of view. However, if you think that I am misreading this story, I would like you to help me with my interpretation. Thanks!!!

Andrés Noé Solís dijo...

Do you keep in mind the instant in which you lose your innocence? Do you remember how you felt? Do you remember how you changed after that moment? Eugenia Collier’s “Marigolds” deals with the transition that everyone has in a moment of her/his life: the shift from kid to adult. The author portrays this change as the realization of our surrounding. So, we can see the process of Lizabeth’s loss of innocence through her progressively realization of her environment.
Even tough curiosity has always been considered as a children’ feature, this interest just covers the need to know superficially their environment. In other words, they don’t need to understand their surroundings. This marks a great difference between adults and children’ attitude towards their environment. Adults need to understand all what is around them.
Lizabeth clearly does not show interest in being familiar with their political, economic, or social environment. She and her brother practically ignore the situation that causes father’s suffering and mother’s absence. However, social reality suddenly suffocates her when she listens her father crying because of his inability to provide money to the family. This moment affects her in a way that she can’t understand. This is the beginning of her new behavior since, after her attack of hysteria in the Marigolds field, she understands a number of aspects including how her actions provoke negative consequences in other people’s lives.

Raquel dijo...

Indeed, Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" is as the professor said a story that describes a nightmare for human society. This story shows the impossibility of being what one is because of society's restrictions. Yes, we are talking, as Daniel said, about and egalitarian society in the sense that there is not freedom of showing and exploiting our capacities and strengths. In this case the American society became one in which all people, in order to avoid more discrimination, have been turned into handicaps. Nonetheless, in this story we can see that because of these amendments we keep being victims of psychological and physical "harassment" from the authorities, that now prohibit people from thinking by themselves; they are impeding them to "take ["unfair"] advantage of [our] brains"(p.669)... ummm!!! this sounds a little familiar to me, don't you think?

Ely Alberto!!! dijo...

In Marigolds, it is quiet evident how the economic crash or the bitter Great Depression affects the story. This period of time represented in the story help the reader to have a clearer view of how the economic hardships influence on society in the United States. The negative view of the world is incredible in the story. The marigolds, are depicted as a single mark of amazing vivacious colors in a terrible environment. The despair and the lack of hope appear in the story when Lizabeth realizes of her family economic problems. Unemployment, frustration and anger are consequences during the depression time. As an act of fury Lizabeth destroys the marigolds flowerbed giving up hope in her world.

Gloria dijo...

I just looooooooooooooooooooved Harrison Bergeron!!!!! though I don’t pretty much compare it with the present of our society or our world. Of course, I found the first lines very descriptive of our current lifestyle (“Nobody was smarter than anybody else… Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else”… pretty much like the uniqueness of the houses in condominiums and Mc. Donald’s and our clothing taste, huh???). However, and probably as a result of a brain alteration or of the paranoia inherited from the last century and the few years of this one, I tend to…mix reality with fiction. I think this story, unlike “1984” or “Fahrenheit 451,” is not so much about a terrible future…it is more like a softer foreshadowing of the world we’re finally starting to live in. I mean, I don’t find the “metaphors” of the story that “metaphorical” as I find them realistic. I think at this point, we can see that many of the dystopic ideas in the story are actually taking place as we read it:
-“There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about” and “’Forget sad things,’ said George. ‘I always do,’ said Hazel” made me think of news broadcasters and their audiences and the generalized fleetingness of our current living: today we watch the news and one second we’re watching a bloodbath that took place in our backyard and the next second we’re discussing the effectiveness of Alka AD that sponsors the weather report or toying with the idea of buying those shoes from the ad…or on our way to get them. It drives me crazy that sympathy is so brief in our times…and it IS happening!!! People ARE ALWAYS forgetting or trying to ignore what’s going on in the world, just like Hazel… that’s why I think we have so many psychologists!!! If people with money cared to realize there are kids dying of hunger and aids and because of holy wars they would also realize how stupid their low self-esteem problems are!! And in the context of the story, that is being “normal”, like Hazel…and “normal” is good in real life too, or isn’t it???
-George says: “’I don’t mind it, […] I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me’”…and how creepy is that? The story was written in 1961 (right?)…and, doesn’t anyone else find it manifested in current society?? I think that in many, many, maaaaaaaaany ways, we have, just like George, internalized censorship. At the University, for example, many people laugh when I get outraged for being asked to write “his/her” or “he/she” and all that crap… because it is only obvious that that is the politically correct way to write… And if I think differently, I’m the problem, am I not???
-I also found the term “under-handicapped” extremely funny and related to the previous point I made… exactly within the terms of sexism too. I, as a woman, am expected to praise the use of “he/SHE”…but I don’t! Maybe, and here comes the crazy idea, because I have more important things to write (in an essay, for example) or read… maybe I overcame the “terrible trauma” of “sexist” language and I don’t need any condescendence from anyone else…then, I guess, I’m under-handicapped in terms of sexism, and, therefore “should be regarded as extremely dangerous”… So, whatever we don’t like or we’re not or don’t have, we want to take away from others. We want to drag as many people as possible into the void of our oversensitivity and intolerance…don’t we?
(I picture the government of the story just like Hitler saying white, tall, and blond men are superior…)
-“He should get a nice raise for trying so hard” just shouldn’t work like that, but it sometimes does in the oral part of our mayor…am I wrong? …cough…Soledad…cough…
So, that’s what I thought of the story… I loved it…but I also think that since it is very faithful to our reality, it might be very faithful to our future too.

Job Cespedes dijo...

Speaking of fiction and control systems in Vonnegut´s Harrison Bergeron, How is possible that we Costa Ricans have kind of the same results of that peculiar society? Is it that we have a control system too? I got this strange, probably silly, connection between the television and the control system in Vonnegut´s Harrison Bergeron and “Latin American Idol” and Neri Brenes in Costa Rica. Just think about it: Neri Brenes and Maria Jose (I had to look for her name because I forgot it) from “Latin American Idol”, one an example of true effort and the other a result of mass media and economic interests. However, the second one apparently does not have to worry about her future and going to the University while the other does have to. One got even the attention of the president and the other…………………………


Oh! Sorry,where was I?...mmm, let me see... I put attention to a piece of news while writing and then… this...like... peeeee in my head… and now... I just wonder when La sele´s next game is

...Gloria dijo...

"dystopic" was "dystopian"...

Gloria dijo...

No, Job!!! Not "silly"... in "1984", "Fahrenheit 451", and...I think there is one o two more I can't remember...screens ARE actually for controlling people in one way or another...and, needless to say, very appropiately, I think...
I hadn't thought of the conection among the screens in the different works.

allan dijo...

About "Harrison Bergeron:"

What does a nightmare matter if you can't remember it?

Can you miss something you can't remember?

What blinds US? What are WE missing out on in our society?

Ely Alberto!!! dijo...

"Harrison Bergeron" love it!!! what a dystopian ... great. Satire everywhere just our world. Egalitarianism yeah right maybe in 2081, haha!!! The story is a great depiction of our society.
Is being equals to one another the best way to live??? Don't think so, as human beings we all were created to be different and uniformity will destroy our individual freedom.

Andrés Noé Solís dijo...

We were talking about discrimination in class. About social standards. We talked about how you behave and feel in front of a PROSTITUTE! Well, I believed someone like Miss Amelia would feel worse...

See the way I imagine this in

http://tripledobleupuntopoks.blogspot.com/

Raquel dijo...

To add a little something to Rosaura's and march's comments on "Marigols"...

There is stated in some way that, in fact, Miss Lottie's marigolds represented all what those kids were lacking during those difficult years, either happiness,money or hope. For the narrator,"they interfered with the perfect ugliness of the places" that ugliness of the situation they were going through, and the one they were probably used to see. Besides,for the narrator, "they said too much that [they] could not understand, they did not make sense" (p.686). As Marcia said they may stand for the "economic comfortability that they could not afford", but there is also something more about this. The way in which Miss Lottie "destroyed the weeds [seemed to] intimidated [them]", but why. I hope this theory doesn't seem to far-fetched: I think that as the marigolds represent wealth, progress, and even hope, the weeds would stand for poverty, misery, and despair; therefore, those kids, and the people that were being affected by poverty because of the depression, were represented by the weeds.

Now, about the hope I ascribe to those flowers (again),the narrator acknowledge at the end of the story that the years past and the difficult situations they lived was gone as well. However, she states that "one does not have to be ignorant and poor to find that his life is as barren as
the dusty yards of [their town]" and that to avoid that remaining "ugliness" "[she]" too have planted
marigolds. That is, we still live in a world where poverty, misery, uncertainty, suffering, and so on is "el pan de cada día" and that at least keeping in ourselves a little hope for a change will do.

JC Saravia dijo...

Let us see. We have a real spring of ideas...Bitter-sweet water coming from the same fountain, but refreshing liquid just the same. Allow me to suggest new paths of exploration:

1. In literature, unreliable narrators tend to be 1rst person narrators. Although they became common in 19th Century Romantic literature (take Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", for instance),some people claim they predate Greek culture. How to recognize them? a-) They, because of their own prejudice, provide information that is clearly questionable. b-)They lack interpretive strategies to cope with the phenomena they are narrating. Is that the case of the narrator in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe?

2. Interesting interpretation of the significance of a flower. Marigold...Mmmm. The gold of Mary? Do you know what those are called in Spanish? MARAVILLAS! Is that a rite of passage?

3. Dreams, (nightmares included)occur in the unconscious, but they affect the behavior of a person who is awake. Do you remember Pharaoh's dream and Joseph, from the Bible? Dreams and nightmares become, then, subconscious.

4. If you ever get an "Atomic Guns Development Course", be sure that your house will be standing in loneliness while it recites your favorite poem...Probably "The Hollow Men"... Or the politically correct version: "The Unfilled --Although not Totally Deprived from Substance--Gender-Aware Individuals"

Karla Mariana dijo...

I think that “Harrison Bergeron” is an excellent example of the desolation of the 20th Century because this story demonstrates that individuals don’t have the opportunity to rule their lives. Moreover, the requirements of the law don’t allow persons to think. They are “equal” before the law; however, they don’t have any civil right to exercise. For me, the cause of this dreary situation is conformity. Unfortunately, people like Harrison that looks for freedom are destroyed by the dominant forces.

Karla Mariana dijo...

Hey Job … what’s the matter with María José? She has talent! The fact that she has participated in that commercial show doesn’t erase her ability to sing. I think this capacity might be appreciated. I completely agree with Silvia when she said that equality should be about considering our different abilities.

Vanessa dijo...

In "Harrison Bergeron", I perceived a new idea of the 20th Century about religion. As we already have discovered in the study of this period, the concepts of religion and God are questioned.I got the concept that what God does is not good at all, it is not perfect;so,God is imperfect as human beings are. For me the the story reveals this saying: "He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him" (p670). This was the situation when the reporter is trying to tell the audience the news but he cannot because he forgets everything inmmediatly; it shows human race as ignorant, unable to do simple things, imperfect. Nevertheless, computers seem to be the best; this is another concept or idea of the 20th Century. The story makes me see this period of the time (the year of 2081) in which everything functions/works according to computarized systems, and human beings become unable to put their own brain to work. Humans will put machines to do the work instead of themselves. Machines will substitute human brains.

luis m. dijo...

In the "Questionnaire for Rudolph Gordon", I think that Rudolph was not kidnapped, but given over to the painter's family. Also, I imagine Rudolph's childhood fairly similar to Maggie's and that is what he does not want to remember. I have three main points to base this hypothesis.

The first one is the suitcase with the photograph of Rudolph (questions 42 and 43). I believe that the suitcase and the photo were the last things that the real parents of Rudolph gave to him...(OBAMA WON!!)... because I consider impossible that the kidnappers waited or helped Rudolph to package his belongings before taking he away.

Secondly, what the photo says is interesting. It says "From Mom and Dad with Love." Why is that important? Well, because it seems to be like a good bye, or at least that's what I see.

Finally, the compulsive selling of paintings reflects two aspects of Rudolph's life to me. The first one is an expensive lifestyle for he never has enough money, and the second one is that perhaps he was so poor before being with the painter's family that he (consciously or not) does not know what to do with the paintings and the money.

Daniel dijo...

Here I am again!!!!
Well, I wanted to comment about the “Questionnaire”, but first I think that I need a little help with my interpretation. Instead of a comment I have another little questionnaire for this story. First, when I was reading the story I got so involved in it that I started to answer the questions, like if I were the protagonist. Therefore, I think that a questionnaire tries to answer real situations that people lived or have lived. Thus, I got confused and while I was thinking a couple of doubts came to my mind, which I would like to share with you. Well, my first question would be if this story can be considered nonfiction? Even though we have a fictitious character, we are the ones who create the story based on our personal thoughts or real experiences. Therefore, I am wondering if a questionnaire like this can be considered as a real situation presented by the author. On the other hand, we discussed in class that these questions present speculation because we do not know how the boy could answer the questionnaire (because as you know we just have a person asking and nobody answering). Moreover, if we think carefully, this speculation is a characteristic that people have presented in the 20th century. We never know anything about our future; for example, even though we have been studying for 4 years we do not know if we are going to find a good job. For this reason, people have to speculate about what is going to happen with them, so they always feel this uncertainty. Therefore, this is the relationship that I see between the story and the point of view of the 20th century. However, I do not know if I am correct, so I would like to read your opinion about it. It will help me a lot, thanks.

allan dijo...

I'd like to analize what Professor Saravia said about first person narrator being the least reliable narrator. I personally believe quite the opposite, we all see life through the colored glass of out own perception. I'd like to mention here what Daniel said about never knowing what our future will be. Maybe it IS because of that that there is no such thing as a reliable narrator. The Questionaire is an excellent example of that, how can we possibly believe any of these questions? Better yet, how can we not?

angie dijo...

Now that I understood better "a sudden story" I would like to restate what I said before about the theme of sarcasm included on it. We do not know for how long the hero anticipated his encounter with the dragon, but I have the perception that it was a long time since it says that "he’d been trekking for years
through enchanted forests, endless desert, cities carbonized by
dragon-breath". From my perspective, this story that was totally expected for the hero, ended up being more sudden not only for readers, who surely expected him to kill the dragon, but for the hero himself whose last second of life was in the dragon's mouth. I try to imagine his last thought in this circumstance. I bet he thought: what? all my effort for a pathetic end like this one? so sad!!! Again, this is sarcastic because the hero basically made a big effort to find his sudden death.
how many times we really make a incredible effort for something that ends up being so negative and devasting? then, we asked:why? I deserved something better!! Well, this is our world,and thinking that perhaps what we do will not result positive is not being pesimist but realistic.

Changing the topic, but not the story, I consider the hero the protagonist of the story; first because at least we can infer some aspects about him (and we cannot get into the dragon's mind) and I followed his story that ended with his death. Therefore, from my point of view, the story is about a hero eaten by a dragon and not about a dragon that ate a hero. This is one of the aspects that makes the story to deserve its title; we do not expect a protagonist to die so "sin gracia."

Vanessa dijo...

As the professor said in class, "The Sudden Story" and "The Questionnaire..." are two stories that change several conventions related to beauty, reality, daily life, art, literature, and other aspects of life. These two stories make us question ourselves and our environment. So, that is why I personally love the way art in general was showed in the 20th Century. Some questions come to our minds such as What is real?, what is normal?, what is good or bad?, Is it this or that? In other words "Nos mueve el piso"; consequently, everything seems to be more complex.
In these two stories, it is not so difficult to understand what is going on, but the difficult part is to make our mind to accept a different perception or idea related to something that was already fixed in our thoughts. As an example, I do not know if you remember that in the 20th C there were two new art movements specifically in painting: they were cubism and impresionism. When people saw those images, they did not understand them or they said that the paintings were disgusting and confusing. What they did not understand was that at that time artists in general were not interested in representing a faithfull copy of the world or reality but they were interested in showing the world in a personal way (from inside to outside).

Alex dijo...

BATTLE ROYAL

I think that Ellison’s “Battle Royal” portrays one of the characteristics of the 20th century, perseverance. In the story we have the narrator who is a good student and is invited to the “battle royal”. He was humiliated and forced to fight against others, but he never gave up in his attempt to give the speech. Even though he received many blows, his mouth was bleeding, and he could hardly speak, he proudly gave his speech. He persisted until obtain what he desired. This is pretty much what life is about, we have to struggle and face our problems and fears to accomplish our goals. All of us have a little “battle royal” to fight in our lives!!

Herick dijo...

I agree with Vanessa. "The Sudden Story” is difficult to perceive if we only see one side of the coin. The story is difficult to understand if the reader does not take a position toward a character from the story. On one hand, if we take the side of the hero, we will read how he was eaten by the dragon. On the other, if we take the side of the dragon, we will read how he succeeded killing (eating) the hero. As the professor said, these multiple layers allow the reader to understand the author’s intention even if the story does not have an intention at all. Art for Art sake. It is difficult for some people to say that “The Sudden Story” is a story due to its lack setting. I think that it is difficult to define what a story is, as it is to define poetry and literature, right?

Paola dijo...

I would like to comment on Ellison’s “Battle Royal” and the issue of identity. The first paragraph of the story, for me is related to the search for identity. The protagonist is like in an internal battle in which he has to discover himself from his point of view and not from what other people think about him. It is interesting to see how an Afro-American has to deal with not only the search for his identity but also with the idea of being part of a culture which is not completely egalitarian.

JC Saravia dijo...

It's the course closure now. Your last posts must only deal with:
1. Stallman's "The Right to Read"
2. Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains"
3. A comparison of the texts above to Ellison's "Battle Royal"

Please remember that the DUE DATE for submissions is Monday 10, 6PM. The comment feature of this blog will be disabled then.

Nuria dijo...

Hello!!!!! so here is my comment regarding The Right to Read and There Will Come Soft Rain. SO, here is my impression: when the profe said that we might see a connection between these two stories I thought that it was going to talk about the prohibitions that we are experimenting in today's society. Now, what I saw was that this two stories have in common the damage that we, human beings, are doing to each other. Well, some might ask why, simple: for me in There Will Come Soft Rain the fact that the family is missing is a simbol of the destruction that society is suffering. It actually gave me the imprssion of a nuclear bomb because it says that the dog was wond. Are enviroment is causing our own destruction. In the Right to Read we can see that the exploitation experienced by human beings is so amazing that they are not even allowed to read a book. We are destroying the chances of millions that are walking the same path as us to learn and see things in our way. Just like Dan doubt about lending his computer to Lissa we are keeping knowledge that other might need!It could be copyright or the actual fact of existing, but our society is suffering from multiple transgretions that forcing it to destroying us. I guess that knowledge is power and our society is keeping us from getting that knowledge. So, that my point of view... bye bye!

Nuria dijo...

I'M SORRY!!! my comment has "some" mistakes so I appologize... thank you.

Marcia dijo...

regarding Nuria's comment. I agree to her point of view of "there will come....and how it portrays the sad reality that we live in and that has been part of history since the 20 century, also i would like to hightlight the idea of humans living as robots... the reading says 2026, but if we analyze it as in "the right to read" the reaility is not tat far...we live in a world that is almost commanded by machines and that kind of house already exits and we call them intelligent houses and we are not 2026 and in the other reading the year is 2096, but we already have the problems that are portared in the story. as the professor said in some places if you have certian devices on you computer, you can go to jail. also, the when i read "there will come... i couldn't stop thinking about voilence in our world, how houses are emptied in the hands of murderers and i couldnt stop thinking in the hole that is felt in a house after a loved one is gone. therefore, i think that it aso portarys as Nuri said the destruction that is happening in the world and how we cannot avoid it.

Yulieth dijo...

Hello everyone! After yesterday´s class I couldn`t help but think on the fact that there is a "behind power" that is controlling our actions. In "The Right to Read" what we have is only a situations that addresses our reality. Our generation is so used to computers that we cannot imagine ourselves in that same situation... only when someone writes a "story-essay" like this. Before the professor´s explanation I bet most of us didn`t know about these policies of going to jail for having a certain program. Defiantly the "powerful" people are using us as puppets to achieve their goals; that is, economic interests. But, how about the situations that we have been accepting as “normal because we are not so close to other realities. Like what? Well, have you ever questioned what private property is? Isn´t true that long before property was communal? You took what you need. Even Native Americans have a concept of property very differently to ours. Today one can sue a person for step in “our yard”. We are only adapting to a process of submission in which after a period of time the most aggressive of the violation get to be so normal to be called “law”.

Raquel dijo...

This is mi attempt to compare the three pieces of literature we studied this week. I’ll do it in the light of the topics retrieved for the reading “New Frontiers 1954-“(p. 629-631). Both, “The Right to Read” and “Battle Royale” deal with rights related issues. In Stallman’s essay, human beings are actually restricted and trapped by the system, by the so called authorities that can decide what we can or cannot do. Ellison’s work also explores the reality of humans and the conflict with their rights, more specifically, the reality of the black community during the 20th Century, if not 21th also. Here we can see how the protagonist seems confused about the place he comes from, where he belongs, what he can do but is not allowed to. Ellison is not presenting a man who is willing to go through humiliation in order to follow a dream, but he is presenting a society that takes advantage of the differences and “inferiority” of some to step on their rights and destroy their dignity.
Now regarding “The Right to Read” and “There Will Come Soft Rain” they are a Science fiction account; they reveal a futurist view of what this technological era will become in the long, or short, term.
These three stories, as Nuria commented, have to do with some sort of destruction or, as the professor said, DEHUMANIZATION. In “There Will Come Soft Rains” humans arrived to their extinction and the only that remains are the technological advances of that era. The poem that makes reference to the title of this story is very significant. As we read it, we discovered that the only thing that care about humans was the house, for “no one [else] mind, neither bird nor tree, / If mankind perish utterly; […] And [s]pring herself, […] [w]ould scarcely know that [they] were gone” (p. 3); no one else cared about the absent family or the dying dog but a machine. In the same fashion, in “The Right to Read” we found that humans, not even when being friends, doubt about being kind or considerate to others; on the contrary, they think first in their own benefit and wellbeing than in others. Finally in “Battle Rotaye” we sort of find the root, the beginning of this process: the lack of respect and the abuse of power directed to those who are consider different or, as I mentioned, inferior.


So, I’ll wave my right to be respected, feel free to comment on whatever aspect you don’t agree with!!!

Alex dijo...

THE RIGHT TO READ

First, I want to say that in the 20th century, it seemed that most writers were worried about the future, and they portrayed it negatively. As examples, we have Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and Stallman's "The Right to Read". I want to talk about the latter because I found it pretty interesting. As the professor said, the most basic but important rights are the ones we take for granted, in this case the right to read which in the story is totally restricted. Only people who have money and pay for information can have it. Dan Halbert’s world is (or will) be dominated by greedy ambitious people interested only in making profits out of anything, even information. If you want to read a book you have to pay for it and it is not possible to share it, and those who cannot afford a “good education” will be ignorant then.

This story tells that the Central Licensing uses the information obtained from users “to sell personal interest profiles to retailers” and this is quite true. The professor commented on “Windows Vista” and that Microsoft gathers information from our computers, and that is also so true. Now, I don’t want to scare you all, but that is only one of the heads of the hydra monster. The immortal head is Google. Haven’t you ever wondered how Google became in few years the most powerful,influential and profitable search engine? In part is due to its unique algorithm that provides the fastest and most selective research results, but also it is because Google sells data. All the data gathered from our clicks is sold to advertising companies, all our tastes, all websites we have accessed, all the things we have downloaded, all the things we have looked for, even our hobbies by tracking our search habits. Yes! Google is watching us! Google has the biggest data base in the world, and has an accurate profile of all of us. That is why we received large amounts of spam with offers and advertisements. Google dominates the internet through all its services, Gmail, Google maps, Google docs, translating services, and its own “free” software: Google earth, Picasa, and now with its own explorer "Google Chrome”. All these services and software contribute to gather more and more data to create a more accurate profile of us. Therefore, privacy as we used to know it no longer exists, and probably we’ll have to pay for it as the right to read in the story.

As Stallman’s story, FREE software rocks!!!

I know this sounds too extreme, but if you don’t believe me yet, here are 2 videos about it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKLOfm4itow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcRBqFyclBw

P.D. It’s ironic that these videos are available on youtube because Google bought it...jajaja

Vanessa dijo...

Hi everybody! Hey Girls I agree with all of you!!! First of all, for me the three stories reveal a matter of the influence of time over human beings, and the causes and effects of their actions. In “There Will Come Soft Rains” humans are so busy that have to create machines to resolve their problems of what they cannot do due to their busy lives; consequently, nobody is at home. Machines start to substitute people’s mind and ability of appreciating the simplicities of daily life. Human mind is just busy in creating new machines; so, nature is located in a second stage, and they undervalue simple things. People alienate from the rest and shield in computerized systems that destroy them and at the same time they destroy themselves and nature. “The Right to read” reveals, like the story mentioned before, the power of the machines over the individuals’ mind but also it shows the computers’ effects on freedom. People would lose their private life. Third parts would know what I buy, what I say, and who I am talking with, and where I am or who I am. Computers make us live in a conditioned/limited freedom. On the other hand, in “Battle Royal” a person is restricted by an oppressor system of individuals rather than machines but it produces the same effects: self and environment destruction, and the lost of the human rights. The protagonist is not allowed to do what he wants, people destroy each other, and he seems to stay there to achieve a fantastic goal that could be unreal. Also, everything that happens seems to worse like in the other stories due to human actions. So, I think that the main cause of all these matters is HUMAN BEINGS and the effects are THEIR ACTIONS.

By the way, do you think that machines could survive and human beings would disappear along the history like in the movie “Artificial Life”?

Vanessa dijo...

I am so sorry for my mistake! the word "shield" is to shelter.

Yulieth dijo...

The key word that comes to my mind when joining the three stories is EMPTINESS, emptiness of what we`ve been considering important. Education, property(personal information) even your to decide which program you prefer to run in your "personal computer?" is just being taking off from our hands little by little. In "Battle Royal" the narrator states that he needs to win so he will be allowed to present his speach, so that means that if he do not hurt others he will not utter what he prepared? And in "The Right to Read" to manage your personal belogins Dan has to break the low?

While reading the second part of "The Right to Read" I also imagined that those machines represent the human obsession for achieving and manteining material confort and the EMPTINESS of life without the intervention of nature, since everything seems so "metalic and controled".
Vanesa personaly I don´t think machines can keep for long period the normal activities... at least without the normal intervention of humans, not in a couple of decades.

Alex, now I understand where that amount of spam comes from...

Roxana dijo...

My comment is about Battle Royal and how Ralph Ellison, in just a story, portrays the egalitarianism between white and black societies. His grandfather represents slavery, a paintful reality, the suffering of many in the United States. The message given just before he dies impacted on his grandson. During the event, the boy has to wait and forces to participate in the humiliating boxing match in order to give his longing speech. The value system of freedom, liberty and equality has changed to money, sex, and power. The boy learns that life is a battle royal. To success, people have the weapon of education and effort. The novel depicted a battle royal of social and political power as well as race, class and genre, acceptance of the black identity in a white America. Whites want blacks to accept social responsability without social equality forcing others to do what they want. At the end the boy achieves his goal, giving his speech and earns an schoolarship that will place him in an equal position of any white inhabitant.

Silvia A. dijo...

Hello! While trying to compare “Battle Royal” to “There Will Come Soft Rains,” I found that in both stories the hope for a better future was crashed by the cruelty of the power elite. In “Battle Royal,” the narrator’s desire to deliver his message was a part of a dream of becoming an influential member or the African-American Community, like Booker T. Washington (whom you will hear about in our presentation next Tuesday). Actually, he already felt superior to the other fellows who participated in the battle royal because he thought himself to be more intellectual, which placed him in a higher position among whites. He hoped to succeed and gain power, to be “ a triumph for his community.” However, we see how the community leaders cared less about his words and humiliated him as far as they could. In other words, though this opportunity to speak for them could have been thought of as a positive diplomatic act or an attempt to break the silence of the oppresed, it was nothing but a joke to these men. Similarly, in “There Will Come Soft Rains,” the description of the house and of the spots on the walls give evidence of what seemed to be a perfectly peaceful environment. The house had everything needed for its owners to enjoy their da; nevertheless, the explotion of a nuclear bomb, which most probably detonated after the command of a powerfull person, swept away all life and joy. See you!

Paola dijo...

I completely agree with Yuly and her idea of EMPTINESS in “Battle Royal” because I think that even though the protagonist of the story is surrounded by many people, he can not trust anybody. The issue of isolation is this story is related to our society in which people feel insecure because you do not know who you can trust. Similarly, in the story “There Will Come Soft Rains” is clearly presented the idea of isolation because we can see the house doing everything thinking that the habitants are there. In “The Right to Read” I also found the idea of loneliness because sometimes technology makes people isolate themselves from the rest of the humanity, and make us think again in the lack of confidence toward people.

Regarding Vane’s question, I think that machines or robots can’t survive by themselves because as Yuly said technology depends on human beings.

Daniel dijo...

Here is my comment about the stories “the right to read” and “There will be some rain”
For me, these two stories are closely related since both of them talked about a “super natural power” that does not allowed us to think or act freely (well not super natural but at least a power that controls everybody’s way of thinking). If we think about it this is what we are living today, where everything deals with authors rights, in which powerful companies know how much money we have, and in which the era of communication has become the era of espionage in which every body is controlled(of course by our closer friend the internet). and for me that is exactly what “the right to read” is talking about since as the story said, if the main character give his password to another person that will constitute a crime that the authorities would know immediately and he will be sent to jail (ridiculous but almost true in these days). On the other hand, we have the short story “There will be some rain” that in my personal opinion is closely related to “the right to read” since they are futuristic stories in which technology is a way to control every move that humans do (being technology a “beautiful way” to control us). The story “There will be some rain” exposes how this way to control people’s life will drive us to our own destruction in which silence will be the only memory left by humans on earth. Therefore, I think that these are two incredible stories that are a great illustration of the reality that we are living and the reality that we are going to live if we let technology to dominate our life.

Daniel dijo...

For me the story “Battle Royal” deals specifically with racism and the way black people were treated in the past (However, this story could be an excellent example of how people are mistreated around the world by others who believe themselves as superior). This story also revels that when people feel that they are superior to someone else, they don`t care if the inferior ones are humans too. Moreover, for me the fact that white people didn’t listen the speech of the main character tells me why these black people were considered invisible in these era. So, in this story, the main character is not only fighting against humiliation, but also fighting to be heard as an equal human being. Therefore, for me “Battle Royal” is a story that shows the reality that people saw through the 20th century in which people were discriminated for their color, their appearance or their religion, so this is not just the story of a person that wanted to be heard these is a story of a community that was humiliated and mistreated for a long time.

Job Cespedes dijo...

This time I would like to comment about question number 54 of "Questionnaire” and relate it with "Battle Royal”, and how fear has such an important role in our definition as human beings. In my opinion, fear has had also its room in all the literary movements we have seen in class, and it has been present throughout human history. What we are scared of defines us in a way, and restrict us from moving ahead as individuals, as a society and even as race. A simple glimpse to human history, and the things we were afraid of have shown human ignorance, and the presence of fear, along with the fact that there will be always something to be afraid of in the future, tell us that the acknowledgement of those fears in order to conquer them is what had make us able to move forward. Just think of the protagonist of "Battle Royal”, and that his life was define by his fear to the words of his grandfather and to his understanding about them.

Michael dijo...

Battle Royal? Fights, blood, punches, electrified rugs...
There Will Come Soft Rains? Fire, arms race, destruction...
One last man and some other very last house standing. To me that's what the two readings are about: fight and war, darkness and coldness, fear and uncertainty...all but tranquility! A moment of tranquility? Think about the tranquility our privacy is supposted to grant us just to find out that we now may be observed and/or manipulated –like in Stallman's The Right to Read. And even though that and Alex’s videos tripped me out a bit, I also asked myself "for how long this's been happening?", "don’t many people -including the government, have much of my personal information already?" I guess the problem's not just the info being there, but who may use and with what purpose. I don't think we have to (oxymoronically speaking) fight to take our tranquility back; do we?

rosaura dijo...

Regarding these last three readings, I would say they depict an era of contradictions and the constant battle of human beings against their own restrictions and self-destruction. It shows the insatiable hunger for humans to control humans. We see that in Stallman’s story in which through the use of technology and computers, some people impose their views or ideas by telling others what they can or cannot do. The author mentioned how this is spreading around the world with free trades. Reading is also restricted to those who cannot afford to pay the fees. Then, as usual, there’s a group of people that is marginalized and overlooked, so that works as a “purifying” mechanism. It seems that the puritan ideals still remain. Battle Royal shows the hardships of black people in their fight for equality, and how African Americans have been denigrated, humiliated, mocked in the so-called land of opportunities and freedom. Bradbury’s story shows a contradiction of how even in a time where cutting-edge technology is at its peak, it is useless to avoid human beings from destroying themselves through wars; again for this desire for control.

Herick dijo...

“The Right to Red” and “Battle Royal” (a.k.a. The Right to Speak) are basically a reaction toward those people who do not want others to express themselves. Who are these people to say others what to do? The government? If they create what we are allow to say or to think (rights), why should they be worried about what they allow us to do anyway? What I am trying to say is that both stories criticize the lack of free will. We all know that life is a constant battle, but there is no death involved. The inability to say what we think to our governments allows them to do what they want because, as the professor said, if we do not care, they do not care either. The major problem is people accepting everything authorities say.

David Boza M. dijo...

In this final entry, I would like to write first about Battle Royal. It was a difficult to read this short story since the happenings in it are quite strange when bought together as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. In fact, this story is somewhat surreal. First, there is this account of the death of the main characters’ grandfather, which not out of the ordinary; the problem is after this part. The main character delivers a speech in the ceremony of his graduation; after that he is invited to deliver it the next day but, first, he has to be part of a battle royal which he loses against a gorilla-like man. Finally he delivers his speech in that condition (bleeding tremendously from his nose and mouth) while everyone laughs at him and, after that, everyone goes crazy and there is this rain of applauses. It was too much for me; I understood why the story is related to discrimination (because of the way spectators treated him while fighting) but what about this mixture of accounts.

Regarding The Will Come Soft Rains, I really like it (I love all kind of tragic futuristic readings). What caught my attention was the possible symbolism of the house. From my perspective, it represents all the technology and technological advances that humanity creates “to make life more comfortable” and the autoimmunization of life itself; now, what is funny or interesting about the situation is that although we know that in the story humanity is destroyed by some sort of nuclear disaster, the issue with the fire (that the house falls to ashes because of it) suggests that nature and uncertainty is more powerful that humanity, its technological advances, and its attempts to keep everything under its control.

As I explained before, I love all kind of futuristic tragedies and although “the Right to Read” is not a tragedy, I loved it too. A reason for this is that it is a fictional and futuristic story that deals with things that are happening right now (this is even scary!). Also, it denounces this idea that humans are every time creating more artificial needs to survive and by this restricting life to certain individuals; in the case of the story, the ones who buy the books and can go to libraries (because they have the money to do it) are the ones that will fulfill the need of having an education. Moreover, the story also suggests that every time knowledge is restricted to more people, and you know what people say

Alex dijo...

Hi! I have a theory about “The Cats of Ulthar” I think the cats represent black people, and as we all know black people were treated like animal, were enslaved and killed. In Lovecraft’s story, a couple delighted to trap and kill cats. Then, a law was passed that states that “no man may kill a cat". This law could be the equivalent of the one that freed black people from slavery.

--Ray Bradbury’s“There Will Come Soft Rains” is a futuristic story which depicts the apocalyptic future for our society. The end of the human beings would be caused by ourselves; humans will destroy themselves, no matter if we are technologically advanced as in the story. All the hi-tech (the intelligent house, cleaning robots, security systems) will be useless to the point that they cannot extinguish a fire. It will be useless because if we don’t change our minds and tolerate each other, there will be more wars, more violence, and it will end up with the destruction of the human race. As we ironically read in the story, only animals will survive. In addition, the story questions the reason for the creation of all this technology if it cannot save us.

--Now, Stephen King’s “Word Processor of the Gods” I think is more positive because it has a happy ending (finally!) for Richard Hagstrom. The story deals with the issue of second chance to change Hagstrom’s mistakes and failures. Although the changes were for better, the character of Richard Hagstrom is not the best. He is jealous of his own brother; he desires to have his brother’s son and wife as own. Moreover, I think the story addresses the clash of the “old” and the new generation. Some people of the ”old” generation as Richard don’t know so much about word processors (in this case), and the new generation seem to be totally used to it. For example, the story mentions some genius children who invented several gadgets and discovered things. But, it also shows how people of the “old” generation can learn and to use technological devices.

I would wish to have a word processor like that to delete some people I know (among them, maybe several professors and teachers have "taught" me, and 1 or 2 girlfriends jajaja)and bring things I want. For example, I would delete the final exams of this end of semester jajajaja!

That would be the end of my comments I guess! THANKS YOU ALL

P.D.I have to say I prefer a thousand times to post comments in a blog instead of writing non-interactive papers!!!
Excellent choice!!

josefab dijo...

Well after davids comment I think I dont have much to say; but another analogy I see is that both The Right to Read and There will Come Soft Rains is that the fictional realties presented are actually not too far-fetched for us now. Interestingly enough, what was said as scifi is just a description of our tomorrows situation. The biggest fears of previous times have become our everyDay chores. What makes me feel sacred is the fact that those seemingly nottohappen WORLDS are what we for sure call immediate future. And is what we write as scifi the next generations reality?
As in the movie The Children of Men, issues as women not being able to getting pregnant
In the year 2026 pervade our minds because now we wonder if all we deem as impossible would in fact be the PLAUSABLE AND POSSIBLE. Y que miedo eso...
On the other hand, what I see in Battle Royal is just how whites use this black pet as a joker for the sake of entertainment. I see that they play with this negro toy just to see how bruised he can get and how electrified at reaching the tokens. This work is definitely showing the black assimilition in the white culture and it does it pointing that even though the main character was going to be given the scholarship regardless of his speech, the whites dont let him know this first and make him go through hell.

luis m. dijo...

My last comment...
Regarding the connection between "The Right to Read" and "There will Come Soft Rains", I see that both stories have a pessimistic idea of the future. Both works show technological advances as means to enslave people and to take people rights' away. In the case of "The Right to Read", it is very obvious the way technology restricts human right of education for books to have mechanisms to allow or not people to read them. This story, as the professor said, could be the reality of a close future. In the case of "There will Come Soft Rains", machines have programs that make people

Natalia dijo...

In The Cats of Ulthar by Lovecraft, Alex’s theory has sense; however I support the idea that the short story just deals with the author’s personal interest in cats. Some people say that Lovecraft loved these animals, so maybe he is like T.S Elliot who wrote many poems dedicated to them. For people who attended the poetry class last semester, probably you will remember “Cats” by T.S Elliot.

Natalia dijo...

There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury
As well as my classmates, I found interesting the way he exposes human self-destruction due to technological advances. From my point of view, we are carrying this to the extremes because people pretend to control future in their hands. Therefore, one of the consequences, as they said before, is the end of human beings. I would say that the house is the main character of this short story; there are not inhabitants. Certainly, the house description emphasizes the materialist world that waits for us…

I would like to know what happened before seven o’clock…

luis m. dijo...

(My last comment is not complete, so here is the end)... Be thinking only in work, work, an work. Everything, except for the walls for children, was meant to facilitate the movement from home to work. Ironically, when the family was not working but having fun, their life ended up.

So, I think that's all for...

P.D: I COMPLETELY agree with Alex. This a hundred times better and more enriching than writing a paper.

luis m. dijo...

Correction:
So, I think that's all...

Ely Alberto!!! dijo...

Battle Royal!!!

What a battle, quite difficult reading!!! To be honest the professor enlight me in the understandig of the story!!!. In my opinion, humiliation is a major theme in the story or how people seem to please those who humiliate them. I think that is exactly how our modern societies work. Citizens are oppressed by the goverment which does not recpect people's thoughts or opinions imposing laws or treaties that will affect us later on.


"There Will Come Soft Rains"

Apocalipsis???
Thurber's??? Just Animals alive again ...
I've always thought of ours country geographical position and what natural disasters can do to us. Nature as the reading portrays will always be stronger than human kind and our technology will be useless; it could help to prevent but not against it. The story is futuristic and deals with tecnology and tecnological advances.


"The Right to Read"


Regarding this story, I really like it. Eventhough it is pessimistic, we are not too far from that.
Does our lives are private at all??? mmm not much I think after our last class!!!
Knowledge??? Restricted??? Well, the story describes incredibly how technology is marginalizing people or imposing what they are supposed to do and not to do. Another theme would be the isolation caused by technology and our dependance to it.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank's Profe

Andrés Noé Solís dijo...

It is not so strange to see in an old movie that, in 2005, thousands of technological wonders exist. In the past, when people imagined the future, they believe in flying cars, strange clothes, and colonies in space, among others. Nowadays, they would be surprised by the rare haircuts and clothing but not by the other inventions. The sense of this is that no matter how they imagined this age, they believed that a number of opportunities and freedoms would be the main feature. However, as Richard Stallman portrays it, our current life is not so full of liberties. The choices that we have are a number of new possibilities but other hundreds of limitations. Formats, compatibility, passwords, brands, everything is so complicated. Stallman talks about our right to read, but business people also wants to restrict our right to listen, to see. Or isn’t it necessary to pay for the Silverchair’s new album although they earn a stupid percentage of it?
The problem as Stallman states is that we have accepted it progressively, in other words, that we have sold little by little our freedom. Julio Cortazar said that if in your birthday a friend give you a watch, you’ll have to clean, carry, and synchronize it. You are going to be worried about it, and worried about time. Therefore, at the end, the watch is not going to be your gift. You are going to be the watch’s gift. Haven’t you thought about it? Aren’t we changing our freedom for our ipod, cell, laptop, or car. Dan Halbert and Lissa Lenz do not sell their freedom. They enjoy it. Maybe our present is not the way our grandfathers imagined, but we possess thousands of possibilities. Let’s enjoy them. Let’s forget the limitations that business robots create.

PD. Yes, I believe in piracy.

Karla Mariana dijo...

I want to make a comment on the cycle of racism that is presented in “Battle Royal”. In this story two generations, that are the grandfather and the main character, have been discriminated by white people. Even though they have lived in different times and societies, the story is the same. White and black people are supposed to be equal; however, white people believe they are superior. Therefore, they trick black people to take advantage of them. The grandfather who lived in during the Civil War obeyed the rules dictated by white people who were the ones that discriminated him. Unfortunately, his grand son lives the same situation because he is completely humiliated by white people but at the end he does exactly what these men want him to do. For example, he fights in the terrible battle and accepts the scholarship. At least, at the end both of them realize that they shouldn’t fight just because white people want to. That’s why the grandfather declares himself as a traitor.

Nuria dijo...

So this is my final comment... I was watching television yesterday afternoon and I noticed something interesting regarding the second reading that supports The Right to Read... Have you seen the new slong for HP? It says "El computador ahora si es personal"... I could not avoid paying attention to the fact that they have all their computers pre-install with Windows Vista and they are completely moking the frase AHORA SI ES PERSONAL because as the story says we are not getting more privacy, on the contrary, we are being watch 24/7 and no one knows... so... do not buy HP! jajajajaja, mentira... As the story says, we are just about to see a change and we are not prepared for that.

angie dijo...

"There Will Come Soft Rains"
This story deals with humanity and the constant battle it has( even without explicitly mentioning it. We know that there should be people inside the house but there are not. Then, we are given a perception of destruction due to the idea of war, silence, and the house that was mechanically taking actions, and being something similar as the protagonist. With this story I remembered a sudden story because it fools readers who think that the protagonist should be humans and not things or animals; then, it acknowledges that humans are destroyed by their environment and are not as important as they thought they were is a trend of modernism. In "There Will Come Soft Rains" Ray Bradbury is transmitting our path to destruction; many people think that technology is the new tool to save the world that has been destroyed by our actions, but indeed, technology is one of the tools that has been used to destroy it. This is one of our paths to destruction (the one also followed by the hero in a sudden story). Similarly, in Battle Royal, we know that it deals with the destruction of human beings; for it is easy to destroy someone if he or she is not allowed to express what is necessary to say. Yes, society tries to manipulate us, but we decide if we want to let it do accomplish its goal; this is why I am so against social determinism, because society wants us to be oppressed, submissive. Are we doomed to be this way because we live in a place that implants such ideas? Then, in Battle Royal we have a society that first tries to destroy you and then, because you survived, asked you to do something that you know that is very difficult in your conditions (such as giving a speech) then you say: I will not do it because I am not in the proper conditions. Then, social determinism is a fact in your reality. Life is a constant battle, my classmates said, I totally agree with them. The questions are: Are we willing to fight everyday to be ourselves and no what we are supposed to be? Are we willing to defeat social determinism? Are we willing to avoid or even better, to defeat this path to destruction?

Jeremy dijo...

The stories “Battle Royal”, “The Right to Read”, and “There Will Be Some Rain”, depict the oppression of a system that all of us maintain. If we notice it, we may even arrange them in such an order that could represent the transition of different expressions of that oppression of humanity against humanity. “Battle Royal” portrays an afro guy discriminated by society who tries to overcome the prejudices of society. However, I also see a submissive attitude on him when he regrets in his speech for claiming for social equality. He is not going to be respected as he wishes just getting along with his “white” fellows and avoiding any possible conflict with them as the one during his speech. “The Right to Read” produces a feeling of powerlessness, but it is just the same reasoning of control, although more evolved. As things go by, the most absurd ways of manipulation will appear because of the typical passiveness of our societies. Science fiction will become prophetical one day. Is not it already almost unbelievable, exasperating, and ridiculous that we have become a parody of ourselves by performing the same plot of a science fiction story such as “The Right to Read?”

thesis writing dijo...

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