Thursday, September 25, 2008

Setting Paper: Ind Aff

Tzivia Halperin
September 24, 2008
AP Lit
Mr. Gallagher

Setting in Ind Aff

Ind Aff, a short story written by Fay Weldon, addresses the thoughts and eventual self-realization of a young woman in the midst of an affair with a married history professor, Peter. Set in Saravejo, Bosnia, the location of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the unnamed narrator eventually has an epiphany concerning her relationship with the professor. Using parallels to the Archduke’s murderer, young Princip, the narrator realizes the folly of pursuing anything with questionable motives, in her case, a relationship. Weldon especially develops this idea of coming to one’s senses through setting- atmosphere, locale, and historical contexts, as both the narrator and her historical counterpart struggle with self-realization (Weldon 207).

Atmosphere is developed early in the story creating a degree of gloominess that is prevalent throughout. Weldon writes, "This is a sad story. It has to be. It rained in Sarajevo, and we had expected fine weather," (Weldon 201). In the very first sentence, Weldon establishes the pattern of weather- rain, that is prevalent throughout the story and addresses the fact that rain is representative of meloncholy. Beyond the physical gloominess of her surroundings, including the "black clouds," the "shiver[ing]" and the fact that "it was too wet to do what [they] loved to do" the couple themselves experienced a an unhappy tension between them that mirrored the poor weather. Throughout the short reading, the narrator was constantly being relegated and disdained. She specifically noted the fact that the professor said that she "had a good mind but not a first-class mind" (Weldon 202). Nor was Peter "in a good mood" throughout the course of the story (Weldon 203). Weldon developed the atmosphere- gloomy, damp, cold initially in order to mirror the gloominess of the couple’s relationship. In another sense, Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor believes that rain symbolizes cleansing and rebirth. One could argue that such themes are prevalent within the short story as the narrator cleanses herself of an unhealthy relationship. In either sense, the rain helped to motivate the narrator’s epiphany to leave her lover.

The physical location of the story, however, has a greater role in developing the idea of coming to one’s senses. Set in Saravejo, Bosnia, this is revealed to be the location of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s murder, which has been considered in many spheres the catalyst of WWI. The reader is given a broad description of both the area and simultaneously Princip’s affect on it, thus the historical contexts of the area become central to the progression of the story. Weldon writes, "The rain filled up Sarajevo’s pride, two footprints set into a pavement which mark the spot where the young assassin Princip stood to shoot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife," (Weldon 201). The physical locale of the story- Sarajevo, allows the narrator to begin a lengthy discussion about the assassin Princip, drawing parallels to herself. Both characters share the sin of "inordinate affection," and allowing it to cloud their judgement (Weldon 204). Simultaneously, both are described as "silly and sad," (Weldon 206). While the narrator had an epiphany concerning her relationship with the professor, realizing that it was folly to continue the relationship if it was simply motivated by competition with her sister, Clare, Princip had no such epiphany. Princip believed unto the moment he killed the Archduke, that his motivations were ethical and moral. "If he’d just hung on a bit, there in Sarajevo, that June day, he might have come to his senses. People do, sometimes quite quickly," Weldon writes of Princip (Weldon 207). Considered a hero in the area, the narrator discusses his motivations skeptically. She speaks of the WWI’s casualties caused in part by his assassination plot, "Forty million dead (or was it thirty?) but who cares? So long as he loved his country," (Weldon 202). The ironic means in which she discusses his motivations, insinuating that love of a country is not reason enough to cause such carnage, helps to shape the idea of coming to one’s senses. Through lengthy descriptions of Princip’s time spent in the café, the narrator suggests that perhaps he should have remained there and not taken advantage of another opportunity to assassinate the Archduke. Had he remained in the café, the outcome of WWI would have been quite different. The physical locale of the story, Sarajevo, allowed Weldon to draw parallels between her narrator and the assassin Princip as both made weighty decisions in that same Bosnian city. The narrator ultimately credits the setting, Sarajevo, with her epiphany as she concedes,"And that was how I fell out of love with my professor, in Sarajevo, a city to which I am grateful to this day…" (Weldon 206). The setting therefore represents a pivotal area in which self-realization is reached.

The setting of Ind Aff, a few rainy days in Sarajevo, presents a broken couple and the actions of an assassin, Princip, occurring in the same location hundreds of years prior. His rash decision to shoot the Archduke out of a misguided love for his country reflected a similar misguided love the narrator shared for the professor. His inability to recognize the folly of "inordinate affection," helped to shape the narrator’s own self-realization and her decision to leave the professor. Rainy Sarajevo therefore represents an area where the idea of "coming to one’s senses" is developed and cultured, given the parallels between the assassin and the narrator, as the narrator continues to compare herself to this "silly and sad" individual.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Characterization Paper: Everyday Use

Tzivia Halperin
AP Lit
Mr. Gallagher

Characterization in Everyday Use

Everyday Use, a short story written by Alice Walker, details the schism that forms between two sisters- Dee (Wangero) and Maggie Johnson. The former is emphasized as more consumeristic and self-seeking, the latter, introverted and submissive. Dee’s return to her childhood home, and her demand for family quilts, ultimately causes her mother to lash out and give the quilts to Maggie. The conflict over the quilt merely aids in Walker’s juxtaposition of the superficial and genuine means of expressing ones heritage by contrasting the two sisters’ personalities and motivations for the quilt, emphasizing that filial history should be actively appreciated not simply analyzed at a distance.

Walker creates the two siblings, Maggie and Dee Johnson, as flat characters, emphasizing one distinct characteristic about each. What she produces is two contrasting caricatures. Maggie Johnson is detailed as being quiet, demure, submissive, and introverted. These traits become especially pronounced following a fire that permanently disfigured her skin. "She will stand hopelessly in corners, homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs," her mother described (Walker 91). Her mother notes that Maggie is also "homely" especially in comparison to her sister, Dee. Unlike Dee, Maggie does not leave home following the fire but remains with her mother learning many of the Ms. Johnson’s skills- "man’s jobs," including milking the cows (Walker 92). Living at home allows Maggie to become more acquainted with the family history and therefore more cognizant of it. Items that Dee hopes to raid from the family home in order to display in her own, holds personal meaning of ancestry for Maggie. "‘Aunt Dee’s first husband whittled the dash, said Maggie so low you almost couldn’t hear her. ‘His name was Henry, but they called him Stash,’" in response to Dee’s husband’s query about its origins (Walker 95). Dee herself can no more answer the question than her husband, in spite of the fact that it involves her own family. From such a rich description of Maggie, one can discern her separation from her sibling Dee.

Dee is described as very much the antithesis of Maggie, while also a flat character. Unlike Maggie, Dee’s most prevalent attributes are her conceit, self-indulgence, yet also refinement. Dee is painted in an entirely different light than Maggie- much more negatively. Following the fire that eradicates the Johnson household, they "raised the money, the church and [Ms. Johnson], to send her Augusta to school" (Walker 92). Having left home, Dee’s path diverges greatly from the rest of the family; she covets both education and material objects. Even before leaving home and creating her comfortable existence, Dee develops an air of condescension to the rest of her family:
She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice. She washed us in a river of make-believe, burned us with a lot of knowledge we didn’t necessarily need to know. Pressed us to her with the serious way she read, to shove us away at just the moment, like dimwits, we seemed about to understand." (Walker 92)
From an early age, Dee’s selfish habits are indulged, thus her return home is marked by her characteristically raiding the home in search of items to display in her own home. In a superficial expression of "heritage," Dee changes her name to Wangero and ironically greeted her family in Swahili- "wa-su-zo-Tean-o," yet, had to sound it out syllabically (Walker 93). Her heritage becomes another expression of style and sophistication for Dee, emphasized by the fact that she does not even comprehend her own filial history. The quilt became the point of greatest conflict between an individual who appreciates her history and an individual who feigns appreciation. Dee ironically exclaims in her defense, "‘Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!…She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use’" (Walker 96).

The two flat characters of Maggie and Dee Johnson are used to build the two different perspectives one could have in relation to history and heritage. They are caricatures with only one main characteristic highlighted. Their mother however, experiences change throughout the course of the story and it is her role as a dynamic character that allowed Walker to demonstrate the folly of Dee’s expression of heritage. Ms. Johnson herself even concedes that Dee "has held life always in the palm of one hand, that ‘no’ is a word the world never learned to say to her," (Walker 91), even at the expense of her other daughter Maggie. Thus, when the issue of the quilts arose and Dee demands them of their mother, Maggie is resigned to give them up. "‘She can have them Mama,’ she said, like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her," (Walker 97). Even though Maggie is promised the quilts for use and thus nostalgia for Grandma Dee, while Dee wants them because they were "priceless," everyone including Maggie and Dee expected Ms. Johnson to agree to Dee’s demands (Walker 96). However, Ms. Johnson has an epiphany, realizing that it was Maggie who truly deserved the quilts over Dee- and she "snatched the quilts out of Miss Wangero’s hands and dumped them into Maggie’s lap," (Walker 97). Ms. Johnson’s decision to no longer indulge Dee’s selfishness as she would have in the past, affirms the idea that heritage is something to be actively and genuinely involved in not simply observed at a distance.

Monday, September 15, 2008

POV Paper: A Rose for Emily

Tzivia Halperin
AP Lit
Mr. Gallagher
September 14, 2008
A Rose for Emily
A Rose for Emily is a short story constructed by William Faulkner that addresses the presence of isolation within a close-knit southern community. The protagonist, Miss Emily, is considered part of the aristocracy and therefore is constantly scrutinized, thus separating her from the other members of the community. Simultaneously, the old southern community is being usurped by newer, more contemporary ideas, which is viewed with great disdain. Faulkner notes the natural tendency to scrutinize and even reject differences through his use of point of view- participant of a minor character, creating a disparity between both social classes and social structure, ultimately noting the ruinous quality of isolating a minority for differences.

The narrator of A Rose for Emily participates in the story as a minor character. Through the use of the pronouns, “we” and “our,” the narrator succeeds in first establishing his inclusion in the community. The reader can understand the intimacy of the small southern community. First person plural (and first person generally) is employed as a means to provide ethos; in this case, the reader can trust the commentary of the narrator because he established that he was a part of the community. Even in the first sentence, the narrator conveys the closeness of the community as he states that “when Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral,” (Faulkner 26), creating a majority. The sense of community is used to juxtapose the sense of isolation that Miss Emily experiences at not being a part of this community.

The narrator expresses great disdain at the changes in the southern social structure that is established through a shift to third person. He describes “the next generation, with its more modern ideas…” (Faulker 26) and refers to the newer community members as “they,” thus isolating them from the rest of the community. He employs the pronoun “they” rather than “we” to suggest the degeneration from the traditional, old southern society to a more contemporary society. Rather than merely commenting on the changes in the structure of his society, the change in point of view helps the narrator to establish what he considers to be the perversion between old and new southern society and highlights his conservative and judgmental characteristics in terms of differences. The narrator goes to great lengths to establish, with a level of reverence, that Miss Emily is a part of the old aristocracy and therefore is not a constituent in the general community. With insight that only a participating character could offer, the narrator describes Miss Emily’s role within the town, that “alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care” and that upon her death, “the men [went to her funeral] through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house…” (Faulkner 26). He goes on to say that, “people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such,” (Faulkner 28). Speaking with the credibility of the whole community, the narrator establishes that Miss Emily is isolated based on her class and therefore is under constant scrutiny from the rest of the community. The point of view of the narrator allows him to be subjective, infusing his judgmental commentary of Miss Emily, further establishing her isolation.

The isolation that Miss Emily experiences motivates her to murder her love- Homer Barron. She concludes that Barron will eventually leave her, like all her other human relationships, and believes the only way to prevent this is to poison him. Her isolation within the community compounded with the loss of her father produced this immense feeling of separation, ultimately leading to her degeneration. Considering the statement of murder, it is apparent that the narrator’s point of view highlights the folly of scrutinizing others for differences, through the examples of both class and structural differences.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Paper: Violence in Things Fall Apart

Tzivia Halperin
August 14, 2008
AP Lit
Mr. Gallagher


Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe is a richly constructed book that deals with the degeneration of a Nigerian tribe by focusing on the trials of the protagonist, Okonkwo. Beginning with the white settlers and the creation of their Church, a long process of deterioration within the tribe is catalyzed. Okonkwo is especially resistant to these tribal changes, which eventually culminates to his lashing out in an unmistakable act of violence. Rather than simply being the mark of a savage individual, Okonkwo’s violent action serves as a last effort to prevent the complete effacing of his culture and values, which Achebe uses to comment on the negative ramifications of outside forces.

From the initial meeting with the white settlers, the delicate structure of the tribe is irrevocably altered. Achebe writes of the missionaries’ effect with an unfavorable eye, for "the arrival of missionaries had caused a considerable stir in the village of Mbanta" and "when nearly two years later Obierka paid another visit to his friend [Okonkwo] in exile the circumstances were less happy. The missionaries had come to Umuofia. They had built their church there, won a handful of converts and were already sending evangelists to the surrounding towns and villages," (Achebe 144, 143). The missionaries infiltrate a pivotal part of tribal life- the religion. Before the changes take effect, the Ibo religion stringently dictates the daily and political life of the tribe. Described as polytheistic with an emphasis on the spiritual, the religion is the primary source of knowledge for the tribe including such decisions as to when to go to war and whom to execute. Thus, the missionaries’ work within the tribe begins to uproot the very core of their beliefs and shift the tribe’s priorities to what Okonkwo considers effeminate.

More so than perhaps any other, Okonkwo feels the changes in the tribe exceedingly. As a man whose purpose in life is to shed the influence of his "lazy" father, Okonkwo not only strives to gain power but to create a masculine persona (Achebe 4) within Umuofia. "He was a man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood," (Achebe 10). It is no surprise then that Okonkwo is infuriated by these changes, and questions the dispassionate manner in which the tribe allowed the white men to usurp power. "What is it that has happened to our people? Why have they lost the power to fight?" Okonkwo questions of his tribe, (Achebe 175). Throughout the course of the book, Okonkwo is one character who remains steadfast to his beliefs and refuses to concede to the white settlers, thus resulting in his last acts of violence.

Thomas C. Foster writes that "violence is one of the most personal and even intimate acts between human beings, but it can also be cultural and societal in its implications," (Foster 88). Foster has touched upon the core of Okonkwo’s violence, as it’s very much culturally motivated. By the end of the book, Umuofia is finally willing to discuss the issues that plagued the tribe and to Okonkwo, this is ultimately viewed as a shift in the right direction. However, the meeting itself is eventually halted by the white men who "ordered this meeting to stop," (Achebe 204). This represents a decisive moment for Okonkwo, in his mind, this meeting is the last effort the tribe could have made to prevent the continued white presence within their tribe. Once he feels that this was threatened, "Okonkwo drew his machete … and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body," (Achebe 204).

Literally Okonkwo kills the messenger based on the fact that he is disrupting the meeting and preventing the tribe from airing their considerable grievances. However, like Foster asserts, this one act of extreme violence is more a symbolic act than anything else. As a man who is gripped by a sudden desperation, killing the one messenger who opposes him is representative of eradicating of all those who upset the natural balance of the tribe. The violence is employed to highlight the tensions that develop as external forces erode the traditional values of the tribe. Similarly, Okonkwo commits a final act of violence upon himself by hanging. This violent act too is symbolic of one man’s inability to accept the changes being thrust at him. In this manner, Okonkwo is able to reassert the power that is usurped from him, and that he so craves. Okonkwo’s final acts of violence represent his last efforts to regain power within the tribe.

Although violence is prevalent throughout Things Fall Apart, the last examples "express such historical conditions" thus making them deeper in meaning (Foster 95) and more intricately connected to Achebe’s message. Okonkwo, through a desire to remain steadfast to his traditional tribal values, killed both the messenger and eventually himself in order to regain a level of authority in a tribe ravaged by external ideas. It should be noted that although the violence is committed with the purpose to gain greater power, ironically, his suicide is deemed weak and ineffectual thus he couldn’t be granted a proper burial. Okonkwo’s close friend Obierka speaks out against the action, "That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog," thus conceding that it was the fault of the white men and their influence that ultimately caused Okonkwo’s downfall (Achebe 208). The violent actions committed by Okonkwo in his desperation to rid himself of alien ideas merely serves to enrich Achebe’s purpose, that external forces on a group of people have negative ramifications by disrupting the natural order.

**when transferring this from microsoft word, I wasn't sure how to make it double spaced or to even indent, so I spaced paragraphs instead or indenting. For this reason, the paper looks slightly elementary on the blog

Things Fall Apart, Part III

"It seemed as if the very soul of the tribe wept for a great evil that was coming- its own death" (187), Achebe writes following the unmasking of the egwugwu. The breadth of part 3 describes what could be considered the death of the tribe which also related to the title itself- Things Fall Apart, as the tribe is thrown into greater confusion culminating in Okonkwo's suicide. On that detail, I must cite Courtney's analysis, believing that his suicide was a means for Okonkwo to exert a last control over his tumultuous life. Yet, one can also note the irony of it. As many others described, Okonkwo in spite of his efforts to disengage himself from his father, failed and he too died a shameful death. In the grander scheme, Achebe emphasizes the fact that Okonkwo's effort and toil to gain societal/political standing was folly as he ended the same way as his slothful father- shamefully.

Mr. Brown's successor, Mr. Smith, who gained his position following the former's death, was a great contrast to Mr. Brown and his actions. Whereas Mr. Brown never openly antagonized the tribes for their metaphysical beliefs, Smith derided them. Further Smith "condemned openly Mr. Brown's policy of compromise and accomodation. He saw things as black and white. And black was evil" (184). Not only did Smith reproach Brown for his (more) humane treatment but was clearly fueled by rascism - a "black was evil" mindset rather than simply the religious motivations of a missionary. These two characters are overtly juxtaposed. It is logical that Smith was more hostile than Brown for he helped catalyze/speed up the process of degeneration within the tribe.

Cynthia made an interesting point that I'd like to comment on. She noted the irony of the Dictrist Commissioner's actions. He planned on devoting a single chapter to Okonkwo's death where the reader had just read a whole book concerning the trials and ultimate downfall of the man. The D.C. focused such a chapter solely on the suicide, for "the story of a man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make an interesting reading" (208), and as Michaela noted, the tribes served as a form of entertainment. Achebe painted a complex picture of the tribe both socially and culturally and thus ended his book quite ironically with the inclusion of the title of the D.C.'s book- The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of Lower Niger. In this manner, Achebe seems to prod the reader to question their definition of primitive given such a rich description of the tribe throughout the book.


August 6, 2008 1:12 PM

Things Fall Apart, Part II

I would first like to address a compelling point that Katie made. She noted that Okonkwo brought out the wine during a meeting between his aquaintances from Umofia and his kin in Mbanta. Previously emphasized as being a woman's job, Okonkwo was instructed to "go into that room" in order to retrieve "a pot of wine there" (137). In undertaking this task, in returning to the motherland, in practicing diplomacy rather than war, in being reprimanded, it is clear that Okonkwo's role within society has altered drastically even degenerated since his time in exile. And it is through this role change that Achebe emphasizes irony (as many have mentioned). His persona- austere and masculine, that took so many years to forge, was just as quickly effaced following the death in Umuofia.

Achebe seems to juxtapose the characters of Okonkwo and Uchendu. Uchendu chides Okonkwo for his overt negativity, reminding him that he is not the only one who has experienced "suffering." Uchendu himself noted that he "had six wives once" and that he buried "twenty-two" of his own children but is "still alive" (135). Uchendu represents a man who is able to express both emotions and an overt love for family, yet, is still successful. By describing Uchendu as both a prosperous and more importantly, likeable character, Achebe emphasizes the folly of Okonkwo's manic desire for masculinity.

The second section of the book concludes solemnly. One of Okonkwo's older kinsman addresses him, initially expressing gratitude for the feast. The man's thoughts stray and ironically, he goes on to prophesize about the destruction of the clan based on lack of fellowship. He seems to foreshadow Okonkwo's continued and inevitable demise fortified by the quote, "I fear for you, I fear for the clan" (167). With the continued presence of the missionaries, it is evident that the clan's traditional ways are becoming obsolete.

I've been wondering if Achebe has established an opinion of the missionaries' work within the tribes. At times the reader is empathetic towards the plight of tribe and the disingration of their traditional practices. Simultaneously, the missionaries prevent the arbitrary murder of twins and as Mary pointed out, view outcasts nuetrally, even accepting them. I can not seem to sift through this information to determine whether Achebe welcomes or repudiates the onset of missionaries. Ideas?


August 3, 2008 10:22 PM

Things Fall Apart, Part I

Okonkwo shaped his image to represent everything his father was not- to generally serve as his antithesis. He built a comfortable lifestyle in spite of the fact that he "did not have the start that many young men usually had. He did not inherit a barn from his father..." (16), his desire- even mania to sever himself from his father's image created a severe flaw in Okonkwo. He is characterized as unyielding perhaps even savage who places impossible expectations on himself and others to prevent idleness/sloth. He himself even admits to these impractical expectations at one point, "Inwardly, Okonkwo knew that the boys were still too young to understand fully the difficult art of preparing seed-yams" yet he refused to excuse any of Nwoye and Ikemefuna's errors declaring, "He would stamp out the disquieting signs of laziness which he thought he already saw in" them (33). I must note Michaela's analysis of Okonkwo, in the sense that he can not be truly culpable for his actions, bound to both tradition and his own demons about being regarded as effiminate- thus squelching his own sentiments. For example, Okonkwa was as distraught as his 2nd wife Ekwefi concerning their daughter Ezinma the night she was taken to the Caves. He was "gravely worried" (112) and went searching for them. Clearly, Okonkwa expressed a form of paternal love then and again when he felt remorse over Ikemefuna. Regardless of the fact that Unoka had an adverse effect on his son, it is clear that Unoka over perhaps any other person tragically influenced him.

I would also like to note the language employed throughout the book. Along with the Igbo words used, the characters frequently use their own adages while engaging in conversation. Even within the first few pages this is exemplified- ie, "When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk," (10). As Alinne emphasized, the language creates atmosphere and a broader, richer picture of the culture that is being discussed.

I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts / predictions of what is to become of the family now that they've become exiled from the tribe. Even to return 7 years later, they likely will still return humiliated. Their lives seem to be irrevocably changed from this one inadvertent death.

sincerely, tzivia (I don't think I established who I was while I commented for the other books, woops)

August 1, 2008 3:43 PM

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Part III

Seemingly many of the more prominent ideas were already discussed including the tidy way Marquez concludes his book by tying up loose ends. On that note, I found it very ironic that the twin brothers Jose Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo were mixed up in burial. Considering the opposing characteristics of the individuals (in relation to their names), one can assume that they were in fact switched as boys and it seems befitting that they were reswitched by the conclusion, thus reconnecting with their true identities. Their very deaths add to the mystical aura that was prevalent throughout the book as they both died at the same time, bound by the deep-rooted union of twins.

To continue Nessa's observations about the red ants, they seemed to symbolize the beginnings of degeneration not simply within the Buendia household but in Macondo in general. Once Ursula passed, and simultaneously her will of iron, all succumbed to the rampant deterioration that culminated to 4 year rainstorm.

"'What did you expect,' he murmured. 'Time passes.''That's how it goes,' Ursula said, 'but not so much.'When she said it she realized that she was giving the same reply that Colonel Aureliano Buendia had given in his death cell, and once again she shuddered with the evidence that time was not passing as she had just admitted, but that it was turning in a circle," (335). This passage is defining of the book as the book's development is hinged to the fact that time is circular and continuously repeats. This sort of cyclical behavior is prevalent even within specific characters as Aureliano made the goldfish to simply melt them down, to use the gold to make more goldfish, or how Amaranta Ursula made messes within their home so she could then clean and so on. All the characters and events were connected through time which truly produced a circle in Marquez's vision.

-Tzivia (hurrah.. done!)

August 24, 2008 5:16 PM

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Part II

One Hundred Years of Solitude frequents so much action yet so little changes and so little happens. As many of noted, the newer generations simply represent a carbon copy of the old (whom are tied by the same names) and thus the events are already predetermined and repeat themselves.

Mary and Nessa commented on the continued presence of Ursula throughout the book. In terms of her, it was noted that she has lived the longest of any family member even to the extent of becoming great-great grandmother. Having established such, it's evident that she provides the historical perspective to the book. She has been present through all Buendia tribulations and therefore can comment and analyze the trends and patterns that have developed throughout her 100 years. It is Ursula who seems to possess the richest understanding of her family line in spite of the fact that she's blind, (ironically).

The character Meme diverges slightly from the expected Buendia inheritance. Unlike many of the other characters in the book, especially the women, she does not make a conscious desicion to cloyster herself off into solitude. As Mary discussed, she suggests more of a shift into the contemporary, most closely resembling her enthusiastic father Aureliano Segundo. As Marquez himself wrote, "..unlike Amaranta, unlike all of them, Meme still did not reveal the solitary fate of the family and she seemed entirely in conformity with the world" (259). Whether or not it is accomplished consciously, she is still bound to the Buendia fate of solitude as her own love Mauricio Babilonia was shot and "ostracized as a chicken theif," (291), the implication being that the lovers did not remain together.

Many dissected women's roles within Macondo society and came to the conclusion that it was the women who harnessed most of the power. To provide further evidence to attest to this, I'd like to cite Petra Cotes. As the concubine of Aureliano Segundo, she overtly manipulated him for both material objects and for his affection. Marquez even noted that she was required to "reconquer the husband" (274), once his relationship with Meme was vitalized. Having said that, one could concede that not only do the women of Macondo seem to possess great authority but that they use their sexuality as a means to gain this power. Beyond Petra Cotes, Pilar Ternera, Remedios the Beauty, and even Amaranta exemplify this characteristic.


August 23, 2008 2:53 PM

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Part I

The book isn't written as an accurate description of a family history, it is much too vivid for that, even feeling fictitious at times. Yet, Marquez seems to have purosely done so, he seems to have written a book about the Buendia family that includes such startling even mythical situations that the reader simply accepts as true. For example, Aureliano's prophetic warnings and premonitions since the time he predicted the soup's fall- "just as soon as the child made his announcement, it began an unmistakeable movement toward the edge, as if impelled by some inner dynamism, and it fell and broke on the floor," (15). To further attest to the mystical aura of the book, Melquiades' claims of self-reincarnation, Jose Arcadio Buendia's hallucinations of Prudencio Aguilar, and a plague of insomnia that causes loss of memory. As Taylor noted, Marquez focuses on the people themselves (the characters) rather than their accurate chronological history. This supports the idea that Marquez created almost a mystical world yet one that isn't questioned for being so.

The characters themselves are quite complex and, as Mary noted, were all touched in some respect by isolation and desolation. In particular, I'd like to discuss Amaranta, who clearly suffers from a variety of nueroses. Unlike many of the other characters in the story, her own isolation and solitude appears to be self-induced, in that she refused two prospective husbands (both of whom she was in love with)- resulting in one's death. And unlike many of her family members, Amaranta is physically isolated rather than simply in an emotional capacity.

To conclude, describing to Moscote of his overbearing presence in Mocondo, Jose Arcadio Buendia "gave a detailed account of how they had founded the village, of how they had distributed the land, opened the roads, and introduced the improvements that necessity required without having bothered the government and without anyone having bothered them," (56). Buendia stresses the fact that the town itself proliferated without any interaction- in solitude. As Paul mentioned, it seemed to be the introduction of the gypsies into this edenic society that distrupted the natural order, and sullied the traditional morality. It is interesting then to note that in certain cases solitude is emphasized as being a positive rather than a negative.


August 11, 2008 3:26 PM