Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thurs Jan 16: Winter Break Books - Human Nature

What does your winter break book say about human nature, or surprising human needs?
Conversation-style blog post below, 300+ words.  I think we can organize it by book, if each person that's the first to write on their book just writes a comment, and then everyone after that hits "reply" to their person.  If that doesn't work, its OK to just post it all together.

29 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston talks about the need to hide from pain in human nature. Someone who has experienced an extraordinary amount of pain will physically shut themselves down from feeling any more of it. That is to protect themselves from further harm. It is only natural that people try to protect themselves from being hurt. In her memoir though, Kingston explores how holding all of the painful memories might come instinctively to people, but it doesn’t actually work in the long run. People who keep holding in their pain only torment themselves more and more each day. Kingston narrates, “I had grown inside me a list of over two hundred things that I had to tell my mother so that she would know the true things about me and to stop the pain in my throat,” (197). By holding it all in, the pain only gets greater and greater until it is so unbearable everything explodes. No number on this list can ever be erased, and it doesn’t work when people try to lock things up inside their minds, hoping it will be forgotten with time. This list isn’t taken seriously by people, and Kingston writes, “So I had to stop, relieved in some ways. I shut my mouth, but I felt something alive tearing at my throat, bite by bite, from the inside,” (200). When people continue to suppress themselves, they close this box locking away all the things that haunt them, and this “list” fights even harder to get out, building and building and struggling so violently until it becomes a living entity inside of them, trying to claw its way out and screaming at them with its need to be liberated. This entity becomes a part of people. People need to accept that part of themselves that has suffered through a lot of misery and grief. They need to come to terms with this being and be able to live with it instead of trying to forget it in order to be able to live. Human nature tells people to lock away the things that hurt them, but in actuality, people just need to let things go.

      Delete
    2. In her memoir, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Maxine Hong Kingston explores the division of Chinese and American culture. Kingston compares her mother's transition into American life to her own assimilation. Through this, Kingston offers an insight into human's tendency to struggle in accepting the new and the old, as well as finding balance between the two. While her mother dismisses American culture, Kingston finds that growing up in the United States leads her to accept and prefer the lifestyle it holds. Kingston's mother, Brave Orchid, refuses to alter her way of life, despite the many years she has lived in America. The stubbornness Brave Orchid depicts is evidence of her struggle to understand the new, life in America, and release the old, life in China. Humans often fear the unknown and different. We look for reasons and excuses to push aside the new and frightening, simply to remain in the comfort of familiarity. Brave Orchid depicts exactly this through her close minded behavior and push to keep her family and herself practitioners of Chinese customs. Kingston’s own transition into American life also exposes an aspect to human nature. The difficulty she faces in finding a balance between her Chinese heritage and her American lifestyle displays a common human struggle. As humans we often find ourselves facing new people, places and inventions. However, we continually find it troublesome to find balance in understanding and accepting the new and old. We lean towards one or the other, just as Brave Orchid did, or we struggle to accept either one, just as Kingston did; evidence that we as humans are naturally afraid of the new. We are terrified, as I mentioned previously, of the new, yet we are also scared of holding onto the old, worried that we may be held back in our endeavors. I believe Kingston’s collection of memoirs successfully displays the human aspects of confusion, struggle and fear…

      Delete
    3. In The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, she depicts the conflicts that one struggles with for simply being a woman. The narrator's obstacles with her culture and finding who she is is shown through her desire to be accepted by her family, and she also wants to be her own true self as well. Her gender plays a major role in this conflict because of the way that her culture had influenced her mom to teach her. She is brought up learning that women are inferior to men. The narrator shows how she breaks through this barrier of oppression by realizing that she is a human being that is equal to every other person in the world. The value of one is not based on what others say, but on the way that you value yourself. You give yourself value, not others. This is human nature to want to feel valued. Kingston shows that the narrator kept looking for her value from her mother and the experience she gained but in reality, it was from herself within not her surroundings. It is shown that it's difficult to mixed culture in with gender especially if gender has always been a problem. Kingston shows that she has trouble with figuring out which path she wants to take in life. She does not know whether to please her mother by accepting the cultural norm that girls are the inferior gender or to break that oppression and show everyone how important and necessary girls are in society. It is a very hard and frightening situation because it goes against everything you've ever been taught, but it also shows the human need to realize what is the best situation for ourselves. The ability to figure out how our lives are supposed to turn out are is a human need that not all realize.

      Delete
  3. The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Though Annie Proulx’s novel The Shipping News conveys many messages through a series of images, motifs, and symbols, the book delves into the discovery of freedom, of breaking away from the imprisoning past. Proulx indicates that basic human instinct drives us towards freedom in the form of a vast serenity and separation from the complications of society, and that this desire serves as one the most important personal drives. For almost all of the inhabitants of Killick-Claw, boats and the sea serve as a powerful draw, providing freedom for the weary people. Even Nutbeem, a British man, describes the pull of the ocean in his desire for freedom when on a long biking trip in the states, “The only thing that kept me going through all this was the thought of a little boat, a silent, sweet sailboat slipping through the cool water . . . I swore if I ever got off that fucking bicycle seat which was, by that time, welded into the crack of me arse, if ever I got pried off the thing I’d take to the sea and never leave her” (Proulx 76). As Nutbeem moves forward, his only desire lies in escape from the “bicycle seat,” which is “welded” painfully into his body, violates his comfort, and upsets both his body and mind. Logically, when his space is breached, Nutbeem desperately craves freedom, locating this in “the thought of a little boat” that he would “never leave,” a thought that consumes him and becomes “the only thing that kept” him moving forward (as freedom does for almost all of those in pain). Nutbeem describes his boat as “silent, sweet” and “slipping through the water,” a serene imagery that highlights the simple comfort and pleasant isolation boats and the ocean provide. Nutbeem wishes to be “pried off” the painful clutter of his biking journey with the unbearable heat and clanking cars, and slip along unseen in a quiet boat, separated from cluttered society. Accordingly, Proulx alludes that boats and the sea symbolize a freedom for humans due to their vast tranquility. Through this, she indicates that humans move forward hoping one day to be free of their pain, whether that be an illness, oppression, etc. As a result, almost everyone in Newfoundland owns a boat and relishes the art of fishing or at least being on the water. However, every year hundreds drown, as storms and disastrous ship wrecks are not uncommon. Still this fails to deter Newfoundlanders from finding their freedom, as Dennis explains to Quoyle, “[Dad] tried to keep me away from it [fishing], tried to keep us all off the water. It had the effect, see, of Jesson getting in with Uncle Gordon’s crowd, and me just wanting to be on the water” (Proulx 138). Even after Dennis’s brother Jesson falls in love with the ocean, through “Uncle Gordon’s crowd,” and dies in a wreck after Dennis himself almost dies in another wreck, Dennis still loves and craves the ocean. Hence, Proulx asserts that human nature causes people to flock to freedom no matter the risks and causes people to value this peace above our lives. Therefore, Annie Proulx employs The Shipping News to comment on the heightened importance of freedom, as written in human nature. This escape from the pain and clutter of lives confined within our ordered societies serves as one of the most powerful motivations of human nature.

      Delete
    2. Something my Socratic group revealed in our discussion today was the human need to delve into the past and face historical fears or problems in order to continue a healthy, successful future. One exploration of this claim can be seen through how Quoyle’s father expected no more than a failure from his son, which is why Quoyle established this within himself. As the story progressed many expressions in the book showed that Quoyle had grown up with deep irrational feelings of guilt, failure and rejection. It is well known that abusive parents create children who feel guilty because they (i.e. the children) think they have done something to cause the parents' dissatisfaction with them, not realizing that the problem lies with the parents themselves. Quoyle is a classical example of this and during the course of the novel we find him battling with these feelings. On great image of this occurs in Quolyes relationship with Petal Bear, a very promiscuous woman he marries, and has two children with; Bunny and Sunshine. Even though Petal is very abusive, Quoyle does not leave her and is afraid to confront her: "Quoyle believed in silent suffering… The sharper the pain, the greater the proof. If he could endure now, if he could take it, in the end it would be all right. It would certainly be all right" (16-17). This is a man blaming himself for his wife’s misbehaviour, just like children tend to blame themselves, when their parents abuse them. He does not know what true love is. During the course of the novel his greif forces him to look back into his past in order to understand why this happened, which granted him the stability to move forward. He is therefore able to tell Wavey, whom he marries later on in the novel: "Petal wasn’t any good. And I think maybe that is why I loved her" (308). Wavey responded with: "It’s like you feel to yourself that’s all you deserve. And the worse it gets the more it seems true, that you got it coming to you or it wouldn’t be that way". Arguably, this is one reason for abused children. They feel guilt for other people’s problems. To further expose this idea, when Bunny fears dogs that are not there, Quoyle again blames himself, he feels guilty, even though his aunt tells him, that Bunny’s problems might be caused by her being over sensitive to things. Quoyle, however, is only able to focus in on himself: "Feared that loss, the wretchedness of childhood, his own failure to love her enough had damaged Bunny" (134). Anyways, our Socratic came to the conclusion that you must let go (come to terms with) your past and what ever encompassed in it that haunts you, in order to have a successful future.

      Delete
    3. A surprising human need is the reality of the past. No matter how broken or wonderful the past was, it is seen as a necessity because it allows one to grow. In E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, most characters tell stories of their pasts that have haunted them. A human nature revealed in this novel is dwelling in the past. Quoyle situates his thoughts on Petal, making himself believe that the love the had together was true. He even tells his daughter that Petal is “asleep,” although in reality, she is dead. He allows himself to remain miserable because of what he holds onto prior his moving to Newfoundland. Even Jack Buggit allows his workers to dwell in the past, Nutbeem says, “Have you noticed Jack’s uncanny sense about assignments? He gives you a beat that plays on your private inner fears...if the pain is supposed to ease and dull through repetitive confrontation, or if it just persists, as fresh as on the day of the first personal event. I’d say it persists” (221). The articles that each worker writes, drown them more into their past. The word “persists” presents their stories as unshakeable but the fact that their stories live on is how they can get rid of it. This human nature found in the Shipping News connects deeply with everyone as people grasp onto what pains and keeps them from progressing in their lives. Going back to the surprising human need, is the essentials of history. History can be a person’s story. In the novel, every character had a story to tell to the next person. This passing down of the past induces surprises and especially pain. The confessions of each character’s stories aid other characters in their healing. Wavey and Quoyle reveal to have gone through the same horrific partnership to someone who was unfaithful. They share similar experiences and grieve about the same topics. The connections that people experience within stories is necessary for freedom.

      Delete
    4. Shipping News grasps on the human need of acceptance. Annie Proulx beautifully depicts the state of being which one can slip into after being ostracized from society. Quoyle was emotionally and physically rejected in every way he believed possible. He even received so much disappointment in the first portion of his life that he imagined and expected Bunny to be similarly alienated. To his stunning surprise, Quoyle felt a somewhat unknown joy as he encountered Bunny making her first best-friend with Marty Buggit. Later in the novel, Quoyle attains the same happiness in his marriage with Wavey and promotion to the managing editor of the Gammy Bird. At the same time, the question that rises is why is Quoyle able to obtain enjoyment in his life in Newfoundland, rather than his life in the United States? Our Socratic group briefly talked about how Quoyle’s journey to Newfoundland dealt with entering the past. As Quoyle finds out that his ancestors were savage plunderers of shipwrecks, it becomes almost becomes his duty to reveal his true identity to the townspeople of Killick-Claw. A new life in Newfoundland provides Quoyle with the opportunity to confront his inner turmoil and take control of the path in which he chooses to walk on. Towards the end of the novel, the reader can see Quoyle’s accomplishments as he is able to lose his grip of Petal, and gain confidence in his intellectual and physical status. In addition, Shipping News also shows the human need of pride. Though an excess of pride can be detrimental to a human being’s mindset, a little bit of pride is exactly what Quoyle lacked. Quoyle unfortunately allowed the criticisms of his father and brother to strip him of his courage, leading him to live a life where he could not control the direction he favored. Paying attention to the syntax and writing style of the novel, the narration and paragraphs slowly progressed in complexity and general clarity as Quoyle gained proficiency as a writer. The small victories throughout the novel constituted to Quoyle’s gain in pride and acceptance as a human being.

      Delete
    5. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx reveals that humans need a fertile environment to grow, even as this environment often is rooted in the past. Quoyle cannot develop into a successful character in the States because he doesn’t naturally understand the American lifestyle, and is preyed upon by his unfaithful wife Petal who he extends irrational faith to. In a way, Petal symbolizes the capitalistic American system that rips a trusting man like Quoyle to shreds. Newfoundland is Quoyle’s natural element, a genuine straight-shooting fishing hub where trusting others is a viable life strategy. Additionally, Newfoundland is where Quoyle’s internal demons originate, and therefore it is only in Newfoundland, his past, that Quoyle can free himself of the emotional wreckage that weighs him down. In revisiting his past in a state similar the fifty-dollar boat he winds up purchasing, Quoyle finds a place to grow. Symbolically, Quoyle transitions from his cheap beaten down wooden boat that is laughed at, to the sturdier boat made by the boat maker. Before he grows to the new boat, a symbol of a new life, his old boat capsizes. It is important that Quoyle gets over his fear of the water to even use the old boat, because if he never had the courage to ride the old boat it would never capsize and he could never get a new one. The point is that to find success, humans must visit their failure (in Quoyle’s case his boat and the fear he has of riding it), and overcome it to access success. For Quoyle, this can only happen in Newfoundland. In the States, nobody cares to push Quoyle forward toward making changing his life, instead avoiding him as a lost cause. Newfoundland is a fertile growth environment, a place of newfound hope where Quoyle finds success by conquering past failure.

      Delete
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde depicts man as being misguided and overly conceited in nature. This begins when Lord Henry says that "Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin.". His tone in this quote conveys that Lord Henry is well aware of humanity's narcissism, and almost relishes in it. He says so not in order to show Dorian the destructive sinfulness of his vanity, but to make it satirical, as if the idea of the sins of man are laughable, and man is invincible to such things. Obviously, however, Dorian's sins are what lead to his ultimate death in the book. He is so frustrated with the face of his soul he destroys in, and in return, destroys himself. “. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright, and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter's work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead he would be free”. This excerpt, with it’s macbethesque parallels to being unstained, represent Wilde’s ideas about human nature. Dorian seeks to kill his past through killing both the artist and his work. He does so rather than looking inwards and realizing that what is tormenting him is, in reality, his own actions, not the actions of the painter or the portrait. This is representative of Dorian's life as a whole. Ultimately, he is driven mad by the face of his soul which depicts the image of the sins he committed out of vanity, and not the acts of others regardless of the victimization he feels at the hands of his friends. Wilde’s perspective is clear here as he depicts this young man driving himself to suicide when he finds himself unable to live with his own actions.

      Delete
    2. Dina Kharag

      Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, presents how the human desire for good looks can be used to hide corruption. With Dorian Gray’s obsession for beauty, it causes him to do some crazy things. For example, when he was confused about his feelings toward the actress, Sibyl Vane, he forced himself to love her because he didn’t like how his negative emotions made him feel ugly. This is presented when Dorian looks at the painting, “Yet it was watching him, with its beautiful marred face and its cruel smile. Its bright hair gleamed in the early sunlight. Its blue eyes met his own… It altered already and would alter more’” (pg. 89). Here, in the quote, it demonstrates when Dorian is observing the painting, he felt bothered by the painting’s appearance. With paying attention to the wording of “marred face”, “cruel smile”, and “bright hair”, it pertains to how Dorian sees the painting as distorted but still looking beautiful. In addition, in the line “blue eyes met his own”, it presents how Dorian shows vulnerability to even his own beauty since his beautiful appearance is meant to hide his distorted nature.In the last line of the quote “it altered already and would alter more”, it shows how Dorian feels nervous that people will see this ugly side of him. This fear then makes him pursue Sibyl Vane for he feels that it will help him cover up his hideous personality even more, “He would go back to Sybil Vane, make her amends, marry her, try to love her again. Yes it was his duty to do so. She must has suffered more than he had. The fascination that she had exercised over him would return. They would be happy together. His life would be beautiful and pure ” (pg 89). Here, Dorian feels that in order to make things right for himself, he needs to “marry her” and “try to love her again.” He feels that he has to do this for he feels “it was his duty.” However, these two statements don’t hide his selfish intentions well. Even though he does talk about she would love him in return and thus making each other “happy”, it’s all a lie for he says that the reason he’s going back to get Sybil is to make his life “beautiful and pure” again. In general, The Picture of Dorian Gray demonstrates Oscar Wilde’s idea of good looks used to disguise a person’s poisoned personality.

      Delete
    3. Oscar Wilde's, The Picture Dorian Gray, explores multiple human values. First, the novel shows how humans can get really attached to some things if the things help them live an easier life. In the novel, Dorian figures out that his portrait absorbs all his wrongdoings and aging. Instead of trying to resolve this, he decides to live his more comfortable life. Over the course of the novel, he gets used to his life, and even partly forgets about the picture he relies on. He is so attached and reliant on that when he tried to get rid of it, he got rid of himself. Of course, this just fiction, but it has a meaning that can be connected to the real world. It shows how people can get attached to objects so much, they do not notice anything around them, and even how their own lives change. It is important that a person always realize where they are in their life, and that they don’t get too attached to things.
      Another human concept the novel explore is how people will pay for their actions sooner or later. Dorian has decided to live a life where he doesn’t feel shameful for anything and doesn’t age. That is not a correct way to live life. One has to pay for his or her actions. Dorian decided not to. But what he didn’t realize that he will pay for them anyway. And he did, instead of paying for it over time; he paid it all at once, with his life. This demonstrates how no matter what happens in a person's life, sooner or later, he or she will have face the consequences, even if that means losing his or her life. This is important to realize in real life because if you want to live successful life, you should be just with yourself and face what you have to face at the correct time.

      Delete
    4. Although I agree win Dina in part, I feel that Raven is closer to the point. Oscar Wilde portrays most characters as conceited in one way or another, aside from that Wilde cautions against a life lived solely for pleasure. Even the good characters like Basil are too wrapped up in their own thoughts to consider anything else, each character believes their own ideology to be supreme. The only character that appears to take others into account is Dorian, but he does this too much. A level of concession is necessary then, as too little makes one a blind and gullible follower where too much leads to a different type of blindness and an obstinate attitude. As for pleasure, humans are clearly drawn to it. We all want to be gratified in one way or another, those that appear to be selfless just take pleasure in helping others. Dorian gets a small taste of pleasure and he is driven mad. He kills an old friend, with his only regret being a way to hide the body, when Sybil dies he only thinks of how artistic and beautiful the suicide is. He is too wrapped up in himself and his pleasure to care for anything else. Toward the end we see Dorian go to get opium, he sees the effects on his old friend but that does not deter him. In fact he is disgusted, in a way showing how Dorian feels he is above all else. He won't end up like that, he is better. Back to pleasure, Dorian thrives off it as many do. Instead of feeling down, or even guilty for Sibyl's death he goes out with Lord Henry to the theater. He enjoys himself when he cost another being their life. Wilde displays how human it is to please oneself (hue) and put oneself first, but he also shows how inhuman it can make someone. But isn’t it more concession to make inhuman mean bad and human mean good?

      Delete
    5. I agree with Raven that in The Picture of Dorian Gray man are shown to be easily misguided but in order for that to happen they need the influence from other individuals, such as the way Dorian was influenced by Lord Henry. Before Dorian Gray met Lord Henry, he acted in a different way. Basil tells Lord Henry how Dorian Gray is such an amazing person and that he shouldn't influence him. However, it is shown that it is impossible for someone to not let themselves get influenced by other because no matter what, they will follow the things other's tell them even if they don't follow what they say, step by step. They still follow it. Lord Henry tells Dorian Gray that his beauty is all that should matter to him at the moment because it is greater than "Genius" because during that time not even intelligence could get him as much thing as his good looks could and he makes his realize that his good looks have made him have the good life he was living at the moment, when he really hadn't thought much about it. He in fact told Lord Henry at first that he didn't think that his youth and good looks mattered. This influenced Dorian in a misleading way because he becomes so self absorbed that he tells himself that he wants to become a perfect person in order to continue living his life well. When Dorian Gray reads the yellow book he is even more misled than he was before because he starts thinking about the importance of his good looks and he become even more self absorbed than he was before. However, it was up to him if he was going to let himself be more influenced by this and he does let himself get even more influenced. All of this lead to the bed things that happen, such as the death of Basil and Sybil and also Dorian Gray's own death, showing that human needs not always necessarily lead to good things.

      Delete
    6. In this book, the author shows the human need to escape the reality of world, though Dorian’s ignorance of the effect his actions have on the people around him. His world consists of whatever he puts in it; he travels for treasures to bring home from all over the world, to bring to his home, creating his own little world. Later he rarely leaves for the outside world for fear of his false life to come crumbling down due to the revilement of his picture. He remains at home in his own reality, where nothing can harm him; he is invincible, only leaving to find something to strengthen his lifestyle. Once he realizes he cannot live in hiding he tries to escape what little reality came though into his life, through the portrait, and in doing so let the reality out of the portrait, and unfit for this change in lifestyle, Dorian dies, unable to cope. Not only with Dorian but with Basil as well, Wilde shows the human need for escape. Out of all the portraits he had done of Dorian, Basil had always kept his model, cooped up and hidden from everyone else, none of his friends ever meeting him. In doing so Basil created an escape in which there was a world where only he and Dorian existed, no one else to spoil their time together. This alternate reality he created kept him happy and away from the world that told him it wasn't so. Yet he is thrust back into the world when Lord Henry takes Dorian away from him, ultimately causing his downfall as a painter. Living for so long in a lie has made him unfit for the real world. This human need for escape is also a human weakness.

      Delete
    7. I read “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, I thought a surprising human nature was how one is able to rely on looks and being able to appease everyone. The main character Dorian relies on his looks to be appealing to Lord Henry but his intellects to appeal to Basil. Lord Henry tells Basil how he chooses his friends. He says to him, "I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects."(Wilde pg.12) Lord Henry's human nature of how one must be good looking to be worthy enough to call him his friend. While his seems conceited when telling Basil, he ends up using this to teach Dorian how to live by that standard. It's surprising how not only Dorian's character portrays his friendships differently to Henry and Basil but it how characterizes how he can be adjustable to someone's personality. He rather be liked for what people want him to be rather than being liked for who he is. I agree with Fedor about how it's impossible for Dorian not to be influenced by others. But it's also the idea of that he allows to be influenced so he can be liked. The way that Dorian is easily influenced makes him seem like an unsure character. Unsure meaning he doesn't really know who he is himself. I feel the purpose to use Dorian's character is to represent how one can be easily manipulated just to feel liked by everyone. The human nature for one to be changeable to fit in or to be liked by others is something that happens even today. I think that people are now also willing to become something they aren’t just to be liked and appreciated by others. It’s a human need to be wanted at the cost of not being real.

      Delete
  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Junot Diaz novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Diaz is able to write about the life of a young man named Oscar Wao. He is able to explore multiple themes such as cultural beliefs and Dominican history. Oscar Wao is a young man who is in love with finding love and engaging in something that will help him become a “man”, having sex as the others in his community have. But Oscar simply cannot; he is considered an outcast because of his hobbies, intelligence and overall looks. Oscar could simply not find a female companion to fill his void of finding “love”. Oscar is constantly pressured to engage in sex or have a relationship with a woman, this amount of pressure pushed Oscar to the edge such as his suicide attempt and constant depression. He is expected to live up to these norms from society, and if he does not follow them he is either outcasted further than he already is or he feels like a failure. Therefore acceptance should become a norm; regardless of your background, skin tone, culture, hobbies or looks. No one should feel obligated to conform to a norm just to fit in or feel as if you have accomplished something. Oscar just overall wanted to be accepted and was not going to stop pursuing until he achieved it. Yunior says,” He had none of the Higher Powers of your typical Dominican male, couldn't have pulled a girl if his life depended on it… Had no knack for music or business or dance, no hustle, no rap, no G. And most damning of all: no looks” (Diaz). This shows how others wouldn’t accept him for who he, they would rather point out his flaws and blow them out of proportion in order to feel better about themselves. Oscar simply wanted to be a part of what others glorified and did not stop until he did so, and this was his demise. If he wasn’t pressured to do so Oscar would have ended up in a better situation and would have been happy with it. I feel Diaz focuses on how people should be accepted for who they are (along with other ideas, this just being one on the many), even if one is very different than the other from the very same ethnicity, acceptance should be universal. If this does not happen the story of Oscar repeats itself with others.

      Delete
    2. Throughout Junot Diaz’s novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Diaz writes about the fuku and how it has affected the de Leon family. The fuku is a curse that has plagued the lives of all Dominicans after the Dominican Republic was colonized by a European admiral. When the fuku first began – when the Admiral arrived – the Tainos of the DR were completely wiped out and many Africans were boarded onto ships and forced to DR to work as slave. This is how the history of the DR begins The Admiral is completely evil and haunts the lives of many Dominicans. Yunior reveals that Dominicans have been talking about fuku since the Admiral arrived. Thousands of years after the Admiral’s death, the fuku continues to haunt many people and in the 30’s the fuku is seen through Rafael Leondias Trujillo, a dictator who ruled the DR for 31 years. Trujillo was very cruel, corrupt, and evil – anyone who tried crossing his path was either killed or nearly killed. Such is the case with Beli de Leon. When Beli falls in love with the Gangster, it is later revealed that the Gangster is married to Trujillo’s sister. Once Trujillo and his men learn about the affair, Beli is brutally beaten and nearly killed. Her only escape is to flee to the DR and head to the States. Beli’s story reveals the truly horrible characteristics of Trujillo. Trujillio uses rape, torture, and murder to maintain his power over the DR and his ruling affects the lives of all Dominicans – even those, like Oscar, Lola, and Yunior, who were born after the Trujillo era -. Through this, Diaz, demonstrates the nature of human evil and the human capacity for evil. I think that the fuku demonstrates how evil humans can be and the effect it has on others. The fuku represents genocide, violence, political corruption, misery, and heartbreak. It is because of the fuku that Oscar fails at finding love and ends up getting shot, that Beli ends up getting sent to the States, that Lola constantly finds herself in relationships with abusive or unfaithful men, and that Abelard has Jacquelyn taken away and is tortured for trying to protect her. Additionally, the fuku serves as an expectation for what is to come and an explanation for the many horrible things the de Leons face throughout their lives. I believe that humans desire to have an explanation for all the horrible things that happen to them throughout their lives. Sometimes, bad things happen to people for no apparent reason and people often spend much of their time contemplating why such things happen to them. The fuku – while it represent evilness and corruption – serves as the explanation humans often times desperately desire for the tragedies that occur in their lives.

      Delete
  6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao reinforces how even though humans go through terrible events, they get right back up. Humans survive. This novel holds many tales of the perseverance and strength of the human nature. For example the main character, Oscar, goes through a lot in the novel. He is an overweight nerd who can't get laid to save his life, and when he finally finds someone, an old retired prostitute, it ends up killing him. After he dies, a final letter comes from Oscar and which he talks about he finally gets laid and does the stuff he's been longing for, but instead of talking about sex, he talks about the littler stuff. He's not bitter about his life but instead takes joy in the good things, no matter how little they are. The mom, Beli, is another good example of the strength that can be seem in human nature. She manages to escape a near death beating and live her life. Yes, that might have hardened her and influenced her lifestyle but she still made it. They accept what happens in their life even if they cant explain it and move forward with their life. Even though Oscar and his mom could be considered opposites, they are still perfect examples of how humans process difficult events. They could let it effect them or not, but they still go on with their life.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Adding on to what Kate said I also believe on the fortitude that humans demonstrate and posses. The whole book is a journey through a family’s past that is unfortunately drenched with the overwhelming bad luck known as fuku. From grandfather to mother, it all leads up to the wondrous Oscar. A young Dominican man, that despite his unattractive physical appearance he still hopes in one day finding love. Oscar demonstrates resilience as he is constantly rejected by numerous women who he so innocently finds an attraction to, and even despite the rejection; Oscar still doesn’t give up. Oscar shows the human desire for company and love, his isolation causes an empty feeling within him that is eating away at him. It is evident that love is a human need, Oscar tries to obtain it despite his family’s fuku. Sadly Oscar falls victim to let down, and falls for all the wrong women. Once he makes himself believe that he has found the one, he reaches for it with all his might but falls short. Oscar dies trying. However his story is inspiring because although many told him he couldn’t do it, and at one point he too believed that he couldn’t; he finds enough inner strength to seek for love. Oscar called himself a “hero”, because he believed in something that others didn’t, and he went for it even though others didn’t believe in him. Although arguable, Oscar did obtain what he so longed for, company and the feeling of love from Yabon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the novel, the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the book emphasizes the story of how a young Dominican boy named Oscar, was able to find escape through the reality of tortures he had to go through in his life - failures of trying to obtain love. When Oscar died, he left a package that contained his stories, one of which contained one of his happiest moments that he has had with his whole life. Even through fuku's curse - a curse that has unfortunately doomed and plagued Oscar's family by isolating them from love, Oscar was one of those fortunate characters who was able to break through the curse in the end. Even though Oscar died, he realized through that last final moment, Oscar notably realized that he has finally reached contentment that has been hindering him through his journey growing up alone and cheated and heartbroken. Oscar was able to relish the beauty and joy despite all the violence and ill-situated positions he unfortunately had to go through his entire life. In Oscar's final moments, he was finally able to write, "So this is what everybody’s always talking about! Diablo! If only I’d known. The beauty! The beauty!” (Diaz). Even though Oscar falls victim to the dreaded the fuku, Oscar was finally able to find his own escape by finding physical intimate love with a prostitute. Even though Oscar doesn't have the physical appearance that all Dominicans should have, he definitely was able to achieve love that he was missing his whole life. This overall tells us that through each character's actions, love is a human need that relatively is something that characters in this book was to seek. Even though love was a struggle, Oscar found release from his loneliness by exemplifying his love for Ybon.

      Delete
  8. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”, the play seems to talk a lot about revenge as a human need. Shylock, being the perfect example, wants revenge on Christian men for the way he has been treated. His revenge is an example of a more extreme version of the human need for justice and for punishment on those who deserve it. Though he is fuelled by anger, he still needs to know that Antonio, who not only insulted him in the past but also did not pay his debt, will receive what he believes will be the right punishment. Humans are built with a basic sense of morality, if something evil has been committed, that person should be punished in some shape or form, while those who help others and do good should be rewarded. Shakespeare, though, takes that basic moral stand and makes Shylock desperate for a more extreme version of justice: Revenge. He in turn is then punished for his unjust cruelty and punishment for Antonio. This shows that the human need for rightful punishment can only go so far, and cannot pass the line that separates the search for justice and severe punishment for those who deserve it. Another, less serious human need that is expressed in the play, is love. Love is built off of trust, which Shakespeare shows through Jessica and Portia. Jessica lays her trust in Lorenzo to come for her so that she may marry him and escape her father and religion, while Portia lays her trust in Bassanio to keep the wedding ring as a sign of his first oath to her. Shakespeare takes these two characters, mainly Portia, to show one of the building blocks for one of the more important human needs by not only showing how much trust Portia puts into Bassanio, but also the consequence of his failure in keeping that trust. This human nature to build trust can also be brought back to Shylock and how he trusted Antonio to pay him back (though I do have the feeling he didn’t expect him to pay back on time, thus leading him to create such a drastic consequence, or punishment, for the breaking of that trust).

      Delete
    2. In The Merchant of Venice it may seem that it is part of human nature to change minds and break vows, and the ones who don’t may end up with consequence of others who do nipping at their heels. However, I would argue that it is the just opposite, and people are quite single minded if their true motivation and loyalties are uncovered. This is infact the main conflict of the play when Shylock wants to collect his part of the contract but everyone else thinks that it is unnecessarily cruel to claim a pound of human flesh in order to gain revenge on the man who didn’t pay him back rather than accept replacement money. He remains steadfast in his request for the flesh, only to be swayed when Portia dressed as a young man of law intervenes and threatens to take his property if he sheds blood while cutting away the flesh. Yes, he changed his mind here in regards to the flesh but the situation goes deeper than that. I believe that he never really changed his mind about wanting to exact revenge on Bassanio, simply that his wealth was of more importance to him than revenge and he chose to ignore that desire for his want to keep living comfortably. His true desire is to be treated fairly as a would be Christian at the time, however he goes about this in possibly the worst of ways. This is demonstrated by a quote near the beginning that Shylock is writing up this contract based on revenge because he believes that it is nearest to how he would behave if he were a Christian. However, when Portia puts something he values more on the chopping block he does not change his mind regarding the pound of flesh but instead puts it aside to favor his greater motivation. He did not see this coming because in his warped fantasy of trying to rise to the level of Christians he would not have this much at stake for exacting revenge against a member of a rival religion.

      Delete
  9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde I found that Wilde is trying to show a balance between external and internal looks. He has the novel in 1800s England Victorian era when the Christian views and morals where at where strongest. He even states it as a polite and proper society. So on the outside these people seem very pleasant to be around. So putting a person with no politeness into that society shows more contrast. Another factor of The Picture of Dorian Gray is the idea of beauty and youth, and the ways in which they can be regarded as one in the same. Aesthetics are particularly important within this novel, and to be beautiful is of the utmost importance like when Dorian used his looks to prevent James Vane from killing him. Another example is that Lord Henry is at the forefront of this hedonistic viewpoint and expresses many opinions that at first shock Dorian. But with Lord Henry soon lead him into an obsessive devotion to features and the fear of his own mind “It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also” This world of complicated opinions and ideals ultimately leads to his lack of understanding he becomes lost because his looks cannot save him from himself. His lost of mental control lead to spontaneous decisions that lead to his eventual death. Trying to balance all these attribute looks, feelings, societal fit, etc and not having one over power the others is the way human nature should be in Oscar Wildes viewpoint.

    ReplyDelete