January 26, 2014
All Good Things Must Come to an End
A Course Review of 2013-2014 Winter Semester of LITR 221
The amazing thing about literature is that it can be interrupted differently by each person who reads it. Which means that while one piece of writing is amazing, creative, and witty to one person to another person it could be the most boring, uninteresting, and redundant piece of literature they have ever read. In this semester of Literature 221, I was given the opportunity to read works from many different genres, time periods, and styles of writing. Some of which, like Emily Dickinson’s Life I and Life XLIII, Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, and Sherman Alexie’s What You Pawn I Will Redeem I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. While others such as Ernest Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River, Mark Twain’s excerpt When The Buffalo Climbed a Tree from Roughing It, and the excerpt from Sula by Toni Morrison weren’t exactly my cup of tea.
Emily Dickinson is a remarkable poet who often writes from a very emotional and self-examining perspective. This is why I really enjoyed the two selections of her work we had to read this semester. In her first poem Life I, the very first two lines make you stop and think, “I’M nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too?” (Dickinson 2) Bam! I was hit in the face with self-reflection. Am I somebody? Or am I a nobody? Emily Dickinson continues by saying “how dreary to be somebody!” (Dickinson2 ) as if to be somebody is a bad thing. I love that Emily Dickinson questions the ideology of having to be surrounded by people and having to constantly be in a spotlight. Every move that you make is questioned and examined by people. Instead of being able to live for yourself and for your own happiness you are forced to live by the way society sees you. It made me see that maybe it truly is better to be a happy, content nobody. In her poem Life XLIII, Dickinson again made me pause and self-reflect but this time on the beauty of the human mind and it’s capabilities. In this poem she states that the brain is “wider than the sky”, “deeper than the sea”, and “is just the weight of God” (Dickinson 3). The sky, the sea, and God. Three powerful, endless, and even omnipotent to the human eye and yet the brain is more than that because it has the capability to imagine all of it. You can hold images of God, the sea, and God all in your mind. Dickson wrote these poems with such beautiful imagery that really does make a reader stop and think. This is why her works are among my favorite reads from this semester.
Joyce Carol Oates brought a real life serial killer to life in her tale Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Based off the actual murders of Charles Howard Schmid Jr., Oates tells the story of Arnold Friend and a young girl named Connie and the events that would eventually lead up to Connie’s murder. I loved this tale because Oates gave a real voice to the real life victims of Schmid. While an article by the Daily News stated that, “Despite his creepiness, ladies loved Smitty” (citation here news article) in Oates’ tale it was made evident that Connie wanted nothing to do with Friend and instead she tried to call the cops and even told him to “Get the hell out of here!” (Oates 340) When I read a tragic news article I will feel sorrow for the victim and their families for a moment and then go on with my life and forget about them. Yet when I read a piece of work that captures my soul and really moves me to feel emotionally about a character as if they were a real person, I can recall them for years afterwards. Oates’ made me feel for Connie because she gave her a background of a beautiful girl with a mother who disapproved of all she did and constantly compared her to her more homely sister, June. “Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How’ve you got your hair ﬁxed—what the hell stinks? Hair spray?...
Cited: Dickinson, Emily. “Life I & XLIII American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 2-3. e-Book.
Hemingway, Ernest. "Big Two Hearted River." American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 253-264. E-book.
Morrison, Toni. "From Sula.” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw- Hill, 2011. 346-354. e-Book.
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 333-344. e-Book.
Twain, Mark. “From Roughing It. When The Buffalo Climbed a Tree.” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 16-18. e-Book.
Twain, Mark. “How To Tell a Story” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 12-15. e-Book.
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