Thursday, April 3, 2008

Personal-reflective Essay

Going into the senior honors English class at the beginning of the year was a challenge to me. Writing the essays and doing all the work assigned was not an easy task to be accomplished. It was definitely not the same as a junior English class or any other class that I had taken before going into this class. Most of the assignments were new to me, especially the explications which I believe I gradually began doing better on as the year went on, though I did not master it. This is true for most of the assignments given to me during the year.

Explications were one of the hardest assignments I had during the year. From the very first one that I wrote until the last one I wrote, I struggled to grasp the concept. I would reread the paper given to us at the beginning of the year in order to try to figure out what I was doing wrong. I feel that after a few explications, I began actually explicating and not summarizing. I do not feel that I did a good job explicating though. I do believe I did get better. With more practice I feel I could write a great explication on any piece of writing. It would just take time like the time I used during my senior year. My improvement was gradual but I believe the struggle really helped me to try harder and really try to get the hang of writing the essay. It troubled me when I knew I would not do well on the explication so I would sit for hours trying to get the right words to write the essay. But since I did this over and over, some areas of the explication became easier, like integrating the evidence, but finding the deeper meaning and the authors purpose was somewhat and is still somewhat of a challenge for me. The improvement overall that I had with these explications was worth while.

Throughout my high school years, I can say that I never read as many interesting books as the books that I read this year. The books that were given to us to read this year were far different and far harder to grasp than the books that I had been used to. Books like The Stranger, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Hamlet were all different and interesting. Even though I found all these books interesting, understanding the meaning behind the text or just understanding the text in general was a task in itself. The Stranger was a short book but the character Meursault was one of interest to me. His emotionless state puzzled me which helped me focus on him greatly throughout the book. The two books, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young man and Hamlet were far more challenging to me. The text was hard to understand but I liked the stories. What interested me the most from these books were the psychoanalytical criticism and feminist criticism in the back of the books that we discussed in class. I had taken psychology before we had read these books and I knew about psychoanalysis but I had no idea that it could be applied to literature. The ideas that were brought up by the critics were amazing. I did not know that they could use the text in a way in order to find hidden characteristics of the characters in the books. Struggling to understand the text, to me, was something worth the wait because after I could read the criticism that had been written on it and understand how and where they might be getting their ideas from. Though I did not agree on all of the ideas brought up by these critics, it was still a learning process to see what others thought about the same book I had read. Being able to compare my ideas to theirs was something I found helpful.

Throughout my senior year in English class, I struggled with the new assignments but I got through them and did each and every one of them. I may not have started out as strong as I would have liked, I feel as though I learned more than I have learned in the three other years of English class combined. The new literature, ideas, artwork, and poems were new, challenging, fun, and a great learning experience.

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Blog

As I began reading Franz Kafka’s “Description of a Struggle”, I noticed his writing to be very different than any other author I have read. He constantly uses many long sentences instead of breaking them off and separating them into smaller sentences. Some stretch into a paragraph of their own which is very interesting. I’d also like to know how everybody feels about his writing style. Kafka also seems to use detail to show the reader more of what is going on. Throughout the story, it seems as if the protagonist, even though in a conversation most of the time with his “acquaintance,” focuses on the environment around him.

In the beginning of “Description of a Struggle” there are a few things that stand out to me and also confuse me. On the first page, the protagonist of the story is approached by a man that he refers to as his “acquaintance.” They begin talking as if they were very good friends even though he states they had just met the night before. “Then I saw my new acquaintance, somewhat disheveled and out of shape, appear at the doorpost of an adjoining room: but I tried to look away for it was no concern of mine. He, however, came toward me and, smiling absent-mindedly at my occupation, said: ‘Excuse me for disturbing you, but until this very moment I’ve been sitting alone with my girl in the room next door. Ever since half-past ten. Lord, what an evening! I know it isn’t right for me to be telling you this, for we hardly know one another. We only met on the stairs this evening and exchange a few words as guests of the same house. And now-but you must forgive me, please-my happiness just cannot be contained, I can’t help it. And since I have no other acquaintance here whom I can trust-’”(Kafka 9) The protagonists’ “acquaintance” comes to him to talk and get advice from.

Why do you guys think the “acquaintance” runs to the protagonist for advice even though they had met only the night before? Also, I’d like to know how you think he felt when this man who he does not know well at all decides to come to him and puts all his trust in him?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On-Demand Writing-Is being resilient or quick to recover in response to a challenge essential to success?

Being resilient or quick to recover in response to a challenge is essential to success. One must be able to look back at their mistakes, get back up, and try again. This determination is key to success. Everybody fails. If they were to give up right then and there, success would not exist.
Failure comes naturally to everybody in the world. It is something that we all experience. But what makes people different in that situation is that some of us try again and again until we succeed. As humans, we are not perfect. Wee must be quick in response to a challenge if we are to succeed. This is the only way to be successful.
In the book, "The Life of Pi," a boy gets lost at sea by himself and with some animals. Over the time that he is lost, he attempts to find his way home many times without success. He was determined to find his way home so he continued to search for land and human life. At the end of the book, he finally makes it to land where people help him. This is a great example of determination and never giving up even in the face of failure and possible death.
On a smaller scale, another example is a student who is struggling in school. The student may have trouble throughout the course of the year but if he never gives up he will study and fight for the grade he wants. The student may fail a few times, but the act of getting up and trying over will lead him to success.
In order to succeed, one must not give up. Recovering from a challenge and continuing to work on it will lead to success. Giving up will obviously not lead to success. To reach success, one must learn from their mistakes and capitalize on them. They must take advantage of what they know to turn their mistakes around. Once this is done, the mistakes will not happen again. Success is what awaits from determination.

Notebook Entry - The Stranger

"The Old people's home is at Marengo, about eighty kilometers from Algiers, I'll take the two o'clock bus and get in the afternoon. That way i can be there for the vigil and come back tomorrow night. I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that. But he wasn't too happy about it. I even said 'It's not my fault.' I shouldn't have said that"(Camus 3).

In this passage we get a feel for the character Meursault. Right away we see he doesn't tend to think about things much. He skips around from subject to subject when he should really stick to one and analyze it more. Right after he finds out about his mother's death, he doesn't cry, instead he tries to figure out how to reach the home and tells the reader about how his boss reacted to him asking for two days off. It is clear that Meursault is not one to show emotion or one to analyze things to get a deeper understanding of it. He just moves on to another subject.

Hamlet Video Critique Act 3 Scene 1

In Alexander Fodor’s rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy, feelings of the modern world are brought up through the use of technology and young characters. Though Hamlet was written long ago, the video brings out a modern feel which can attract the young mind. Unlike the other two videos, it uses technology that was not available in Hamlet’s setting. Also, the characters used are young unlike the characters used in the other two videos which are older looking.

The video begins with the camera focusing on a voice recorder in a room which has bright lighting. Obviously this is something not available during Hamlet’s day. Before Hamlet’s Soliloquy begins, many things occur in which give the audience something to think about before the speech begins. After the camera angle moves away from the voice recorder, we see the main character, Hamlet, who will soon begin his soliloquy. After viewing the main character, the scene changes to where he is with a woman. The woman exists the scene and he bends over to kiss what seems to be a dead man. The camera changes back to the face of the main character but now the lights have gotten brighter than before. After, the camera moves back to show the main character and the voice recorder. He turns on the voice recorder and his soliloquy begins.

As the soliloquy begins with “To be, or not to be, that is the question”(55), the main character has a staring gaze. Deep in thought, he continues. “Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep-No more”(58-60) The faces of three teenagers are shown, including his own. They stand in a bright white room. They’re facing glowing green, also with a staring gaze on their faces. Alexander Fodor uses these lines with the scene of the three teenagers in order to show their innocence. They do not know of what troubles are being spoken of or when they will die. Two of the teenagers are girls. They seem to be staring at the speaker while the other teenager who is with them, who is the same person as the speaker, is looking down. He is looking away from death. The bright lights attract the girls.

The camera quickly switches to the speaker, then to a scene where what seems to be a dead man lays. A woman kisses him on the head and the speaker continues. “To die, to sleep-To sleep, perchance to dream”(63-64). The scene with the dead man shows that true sleep may be death where all pain is erased. Dreams come at a risk that the person may not come back to reality. The speaker then skips lines 65 to 68 and continues with line 69. “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely”(69-70) The scene switches back and fourth from these two scenes a few times, from the speaker to kissing the dead man. This is done in order to show what pain may cause. The dead man, no longer feels pain, while the speaker is left in the world and feels so much pain that he wishes he was not alive. He continues the speech, now the camera focusing on him. The camera gets closer and closer to his face and his eye. Half his face is visible when he says “Thus conscience does make cowards [of us all]”(82). This statement shows how being alive is the cause of pain for everyone including himself.

From all three videos, Alexander Fodor’s video is the best interpretation of the lines from Hamlet’s soliloquy. The use of images of a dead man, light, and teenagers shows the audience what the speaker is saying. The light symbolizes life, the dead man symbolizes death, and the teenagers symbolize the people who are suffering through life. These images connect better with the newer audience for it uses more modern ideas for its image than the other videos.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

College Essay

June 2nd, 1995. This is the day I finally turned 5. Though it was such a long time ago, it is not something easily forgotten. That year I would begin attending school at the Hugh R. O'Donnell Elementary School in East Boston, Massachusetts. The first day of school, just like for everybody else, was nerve racking. I did not know what to expect from school. But as time went by it became a daily routine. “Tenes que hacer bien en la escuela.” I would begin to hear this from my parents from the day I began attending school until even now. “You have to do well in school.” Of course, I did what I was told, not necessarily knowing it was all meant to prepare me for this point in my life.

“Vamos hacer todo que puedemos hacer para que tu vayas a la Universidad.” That’s what my parents would always tell me as I got closer to finishing high school. “We will do everything that we can do so you can attend college.” My parents always have told me they will support my desires to attend college. Attending college has always been a dream of mine. Going to high school has all led up to this point. This is my present to my parents after they have sacrificed so much coming to the United States from El Salvador in order to give me this opportunity that I have in front of me now.

June 2nd, 2000. This is the year I turned 10. It is the year that I would change schools. I left the Hugh R. O'Donnell Elementary School and went to the Ferryway School in Malden, Massachusetts. I had to leave the city I grew up in and all my friends. It was a hard shift but I knew it was for the best. East Boston was not the best city for a child to grow up in but it was where I grew up for half my life. My parents always had a reason for everything they did. “Queremos que tengas la oportunidad que nosotros no tuvimos.” The move was based on this statement that they would always tell me. “We want you to have the opportunity that we did not have.” My parents thought being in a better environment would help me. The way I see it, the move helped me grow up and I thank them for this.

June 2nd 2007. Here I am now at age 17. After 11 years of my life it is finally my senior year and I have to begin applying to colleges. Everything my parents have told me and have done for me has brought me here. My dream of going to college and my parents support have both helped me go through the struggles I faced throughout school. The support still continues to help me get closer to my dream. I still hear the same things my parents have been telling me since I was 5. Even though I have heard them so many times I still feel inspiration in them. I am close to making my dream come true.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pieter Bruegal - "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus"

In the painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Bruegel there are many colors and details that stick out. Colors seem to vary throughout the painting. In the far end of the picture there seems to be more bright colors than dark colors and in the area of the painting that is closer there seems to be darker colors than bright colors. Also, I noticed that there are a lot of things going on at the same time. There are four people in the painting doing different things in different areas of the painting. There are also a lot of different land masses.

The first thing that catches my eye is the man plowing. He is the farmer that is working on the land around him. He is wearing a bright red under shirt and another grey piece of clothing over the red under shirt. From his clothing it seems he is part of a lower class. He is plowing with what seems to be an ox that is connected to a wooden plow. He seems to be very concentrated on his work. He is working very hard on the land around him. He is looking down at the ox, paying attention to what is going on so no mistakes are made. The man is also holding a whip which he seems to be using on the ox to keep control of it. They both seem to be working together to create a garden of sorts. It seems to be very detailed and wavy looking. Behind the man who is plowing, there seems to be a sheep herder. He seems to be working and resting at the same time. He looks tired and it seems as if he is using the long stick in his hand to help him stand up. What seems to be weighing him down is the big bag on his back. He is standing next to his dog which he would use to round up the sheep that are all around him once he feels it is time to get them together again. Both the man and the dog seem to be looking up at the sky, concentrating on something else other than their work. The sheep pay no attention to both of them and continue walking around and eating. All the sheep are white except for two of them which are grey and stand out when they are around the white sheep. To the right of the sheep herder there is a man sitting down on the edge of the land before the water. He seems to be leaning over, looking for something. He may be fishing but it seems as if he is just sitting there, passing time by the dark greenish blue water. He seems to be looking at the man who seems to be waling his feet in the air. He seems to have just fallen into the water. Nobody seems to be paying attention to the man in the water who needs help. Even though his man needs help everything else seems to be going with the natural flow of things. The ships in the water are going to the direction of the city. In between the city and the land that all the men are on there is a small island that is isolated from everything. It looks very small but it also looks as if it is somebody’s home. In the far end of the picture the sun seems to be rising but it is already shining bright. It is illuminating the land around it.

The title of this painting is “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.” The man who is kicking his feet in the water is Icarus who has just plunged to his death after flying too high in the air with the wings his father Daedalus has made. This is in the picture because in the story, “The story of Daedalus and Icarus,” Daedalus and Icarus are on an island, away from other people, as punishment. Daedalus has had enough of being a prisoner of the island so he creates wings that are meant to fly both of them off the island and away from their prison. After Daedalus has created the wings, he warns Icarus not to fly to low or he will fall into the water or too high or the sun will melt his wings and he will fall and crash. Icarus does not seem to listen to his dad and flies high in the air. The sun melts his wings and he falls to his death. In the painting, this is what seems to be going on. Icarus has just flown off the island and is now crashing into the water below him. The island that he comes from is also in the painting. The island is the one in between the land masses that contains the three men and the city. The men who are standing around working or sitting around are the three men in the story who look up at Icarus while he is in the air and believe that he is a god of sorts. The title of the painting directly connects with the actual story. What happens in the story seems to be happening on the picture as well.

Overall, the painting and the story go together as a whole. They both explain the lessons learned in the story. One must have a balance in life or else they will be lead to their fall. Icarus did not keep his balance to her fell to his death. In his case it was literal. The sun is usually a good and helpful element to life. In the painting it is there to help everybody work and get things done. It is there to shine light on their hard work. But it is also there to play another role. It is what causes Icarus’ downfall. The sun which is always seen as a good thing now has created trouble. That is what has made the sun ironic.