Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

AH-HAH Moment

Whilst reading Dr. Preston's post "How We Read", the Latin phrase at the end of the post caught my eye.  I could think of nothing but that phrase, "Sapere Aude", and what it could possibly mean.

This is (almost) the 'ah-hah!' part.

So I'm sitting on my bed, electric blanket on full heat, and yet I wasn't even close to comfortable.  This two words were ruining my relaxation, raucously slamming against the walls of my brain and heckling me, taunting my inferior intellect.


Without warning, a thought popped into my head so suddenly, I had to snap off my reggae and focus on this tiny voice in my head.  You want to know what it was saying?

"Look it up, dumbass...  Use the internet, moron..."

Light bulb!  I hopped over to Google translate and typed in that annoying phrase.  Within seconds, I had my answer

Sapere Aude = "Dare to be wise."

My mind was blown.  It was then and there that I decided to take that saying as my personal credo and post it on every scrap of paper within reach. 

So I guess what i'm trying to say here is, well, thanks, Dr. Preston.  Thank you for possibly making my whole life just a little more awesome.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Learnining (in a) Brave New World

I'm a reader.  Everyone knows that.  The funny thing is, while I'm reading for pleasure, I also read to learn.  I know, it doesn't make sense to you, but it does to me, and it's the easiest way for me to absorb knowledge.  Without reading, I highly doubt I would be the student I am today (which isn't saying much, sadly).  So I would say the best way I learn things is by reading them or seeing it done.  I think they call it "visual learning", or something like that.


Monday, March 3, 2014


For the past few weeks I've been thinking on this 'masterpiece' assignment, and I've (tentatively) decided to try out a project I've been thinking of for a long time; by using online resources and writing skills, one could learn as much, if not more, about the world around them by reading books and writing their own novel than whatever school can teach them.  I realize that this project seems like a very intricate and lengthy, but in actuality, this assignment is nearly 3/4 over.  I just need to finish my current series of novels, and this proyecto is a wrap. 

The wonderful thing about this project is that I've been working on it since I was four and just learning to read.  When I started writing in school, I could tell that this thing, this connection I had with reading, would be important.  And it is.  To this day I've had teachers and other students praise my writing (I'm trying hard not to toot my own horn too much). 
Lately I've been using my talents for creative writing to write a series of novels that include every childhood fantasy I could think of.  I looked at this undertaking with all the joy one could possibly have in writing basically a 120 page creative essay and made it my own.

I'm very proud with what I've done so far, and I can't wait to show everyone the finished products at the end of the year.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's in This For Me?

Recently, I've noticed that my passion for creative writing will not get me through life.  The field is small, and the skills needed could be found anywhere, if only some people actually applied themselves to their writing. 
Yet I find myself looking forward to open topic essays and writing in my book, unlike some unenlightened people who cringe at the idea of having to put their thoughts down on paper for the world to see. 
How can you measure your greatness if you don't allow it to be seen and measured?
Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand, I want to make this semester memorable by finding multiple ways to apply my passion for writing to more logical areas of expertise.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Literature Analysis: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.).  Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).  The novel by J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, is a classical American novel that has touched the lives of many people all around the globe.  Taking place in the late 1950s, the story is told by a guy named Holden Caulfield, who is telling this story of his last Christmas to his psychiatrist. Aside from being a heavy smoker and getting expelled from four different schools, Holden is not a troubled kid.  He just fails to recognize the importance of his schoolwork and also does not agree with his peers on anything of any value. Holden is also notorious for making terribly rash decisions. One of these rash decisions he makes is to leave his prep school, Pencey Prep, a few days before he is scheduled to leave for winter vacation. He stays a t a number of places before finally going home. All the while, he attempts to "live it up" by taking girls out on dates, getting drunk (he's only seventeen), and ordering prostitutes. Typical guy stuff, if you were living in the late 1950s. As he goes through all this stuff, he begins to wonder why he's doing what he's doing. Finally Holden comes to a realization; why was he going about, living this way, when everyone and their mother knew that he shouldn't be living his life this way?
2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.  J.D. Salinger wrote a masterpiece of a novel that adeptly defines the maturing process of human nature.  Holden goes from being an immature teenager making bad decisions to taking his actions into consideration and making himself a better person.  Salinger takes into consideration the thoughts and actions of the younger generation and pens his main protagonist as a kid that others can easily connect with and relate to.  Through Holden's actions we see the struggles of daily life of newly graduated individuals who, for the first time in their lives, no restrictions in their day-to-day lives.  The dilemmas they face can be brutal and leave them worse off than they were before, but somehow, through all the pain and suffering, that terrible event can cause the person to rethink his position on life.
 1. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?  Salinger maintains a very simple diction when dealing with all characters.  They are all treated fairly and equally in the eyes of the author, but there is an exception, of course.  That exception is when Holden is describing his sister, Phoebe.  The syntax and diction become more kind and gentle, showing that Holden is capable of affection. 
 2. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.  Holden Caulfield is a very round character.  It is not very obvious in the beginning chapters, but late in the book you begin to witness another side of Holden.  As he adventures about New York, living for a few days on his own without any supervision, he comes to realize a small part of his fate, for lack of a better term.  He sees that his lifestyle is not one for the kind of man he wants to become. After a drunken night out on the town, Holden decides to visit his kid sister, Phoebe, two days before he was supposed to be home, at night, while he was still a little buzzed. His sister is a understandably upset that her brother woke her up late at night, and she also scolds him for getting expelled from school again. The scene as a whole is pretty depressing, and Holden is close to tears at the end of the night. During the last chapter, Holden and Phoebe are at this carousel and Holden is watching Phoebe as she rides the carousel. While he is watching her, he becomes deeply emotional and begins to cry, and doesn't budge when it begins to rain heavily. As he is sitting on the park bench, he comes to a strange conclusion. "The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."
 3. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction.  I feel like the characters are super personable.  Going trough all those trials with Holden made me feel as if we were good friends and I knew his entire story.  It is not very often that I connect with a character like that.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Literature Analysis: A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gains

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gains

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.).  Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same). A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gains is an amazing book of historical fiction.  Set around the end of WWII, the novel reveals the ugly truth about discrimination in the deep South even after world War II was said and done.  The narrator is not one set person, in fact each character is a narrator at on point in the book.  It is an interesting style seeing as it includes the viewpoints of all those involved.  The central event in the novel is the killing of Beau Baton by a black man, and the cover-up that isn't what it seems to be.  Each of the eighteen old black men that gather on the property have their own reasons for killing Beau, but each share a desire to protect their brothers in race against the fallout that is sure to come. 
 2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.  There seems to be multiple themes within the pages of this novel.  One is the redefinition of the role of blacks in society.  The old men await Beau's father, Fix, to come to the Marshall plantation to lynch them, and the lynching gang lead by Luke Will expect the black men not to fight back, leading to Luke Wills death.  Both groups keep living in the past and not allowing themselves to move forward.  Yet by the end of the novel, the black men of the community begin to feel some freedoms that were granted to them a long time ago.
3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).  The tone of this book varies by the character that is narrating at the time.  With Snookum, the only child described in detail in the book, everything is so youthful and carefree, yet when Clatoo, one of the oldest black men, takes the helm, his point of view is depressing but determined to protect his friends.


1. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?  Each narrator is slightly different in demeanor and speech, which is only to be expected.  All of the old black men show signs of determination and courage during one situation, yet will cower in fear at the drop of a hat.  Only when they realize that power does not discriminate, they become a sort of enlightened, angry black men with guns and vengeance on their mind.  The author does a wonderful job of allowing the reader to witness that transformation.
 2. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.  I believe that most of the characters in the book are very round, and they all change for good or for worse during the course of the book.  Each of the characters have their own intentions when they make their claims, and they become more sure of themselves as the story goes on.
 3. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction.  Honestly, I didn't really feel like I've met a person.  They were relatable, for sure, but their thoughts were so different than mine that I couldn't imagine being in their world.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Literature Analysis: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.). Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).
Exposition: The story is told in first-person narration by a young man named Amir. Amir grows up fairly wealthy in Afghanistan in the 1970s during the golden years of Afghanistan's history, before it all came crashing down. Amir begins his story in 2001 while living in San Francisco. He begins the book by talking about how a certain event from 1975 made him what is today. Amir describes his childhood best friend, Hassan, in the second chapter of the novel. Hassan and his father, Ali, are servants for Amir and his father. They are also Harzaras, who were considered very low class . Ali and Amir's father, Baba, had been friends for years and naturally, their sons grew up as friends. Hassan and Amir do everything together but even though they're friends, Amir sometimes treats Hassan like he is beneath him. Hassan is more social and athletic than Amir and receives positive attention from Amir's father. His makes Amir jealous because Amir feels as though he didn't measure up to his father's expectations. Because of this, Amir often passively-aggressively attacks Hassan. In the exposition, we are also introduced to Rahim Khan, Baba's good friend who supports Amir's love of writing.  We as readers learn that Amir's mother died giving birth to Amir and Hassan's mother ran away after Hassan was born. Finally Amir gets to the event that changed him forever. After a kite competition that he and Hassan won, Hassan goes chasing after the last kite to fall, as is custom with the children. Hassan was very good at this but a group of boys became jealous of Hassan's abilities. The leader of the group, Assef, is an purely evil individual. They find Hassan and demand the kite. Hassan refuses to give it to them because he wants to present it to Amir. Assef rates Hassan and Amir sees the whole thing. Amir is conflicted. He wants to say something or do something but he can't; he just hides around the corner. He will forever be tormented by his cowardly actions from that evening. 
Rising Action: Hassan is never the same after the incident. Deep down he knows that Amir knew what happened and he feels ashamed. Amir can't stand to be around Hassan and the guilt so he places a large amount of money under Hassan's bed. He tells Baba that Hassan stole the money from him. Baba decides to forgive Hassan and let him stay but Hassan's father Ali insists that they leave because of the situation. Baba is deeply upset because Ali had been his good friend. Shortly after, things begin to go downhill in Afghanistan and Baba decides to take Amir and leave. They travel to Pakistan and from there, to America. Baba finds a job in a gas station in Fremont and they sell things at the flea market every week to make a living. Baba ends up getting diagnosed with cancer and dies after a few years in America. Before that though, he is able to see Amir get married to an Afghan girl, Soraya. They are very happy together, but unable to have children. One day, in 2001, Amir gets a call from his old family friend Rahim Khan. Rahim tell Amir that he is very sick and wants to see Amir.
Climax: Amir travels to Pakistan to see Rahim Khan. He finds him very sick and poor. Rahim tells Amir about the troubles with Afghanistan and the Taliban. Rahim gives Amir a letter from Hassan. Hassan is well and has a child and a wife. Rahim explains that the letter was written months ago and Hassan and his wife had recently been killed by the Taliban. Amir's guilt crashes into him, and he breaks down. Rahim explains that Hassan's son, Sohrab was placed in an orphanage in the dangerous city of Kabul. Rahim knew what happened years ago between Hassan and Amir and he says that saving Sohrab will make up for his past actions. Rahim then tells Amir a secret that had been kept for years. Hassan and Amir are half-brothers. Baba had an affair with Hassan's mother and that makes Sohrab, Amir's nephew. Amir now understands his fathers love for Hassan and he is angry that this has been kept from him for so long and he storms out of Rahim's apartment. After he calms down he goes back and agrees to rescue Sohrab. He travels with a man named Farid to Afghanistan on a very dangerous journey. They find the orphanage but Sohrab is not there. He had been bought by members of the Taliban. Amir finds him as some sort of child sex slave to a Taliban member, who turns out to be Assef, the man who raped Hassan that Amir never stood up to. Assef agrees to a fight; if Amir wins, he is free to go, but if not, he will be dead. Sohrab ends up blinding Assef during the fight with his slingshot. Amir and Sohrab escape but Amir is greatly injured and is taken to the hospital. 
Falling Action: After Amir somewhat recovers, he decides to go back to Pakistan. Amir tries to find ways to adopt Sohrab and take him back to America but lawyers tell him it will be nearly impossible. The only way would be for Sohrab to go back into an orphanage for awhile until the papers go through. Amir had promised that Sohrab wouldn't have to go back and Sohrab is distressed when he hears the news. While Amir is sleeping, Sohrab goes into the bathroom and slits his wrists. Amir finds him and an ambulance takes him to the hospital where he is saved.
Resolution: Soraya arranged a way for Sohrab to be taken back to States before an official adoption takes place. Sohrab becomes depressed as he yearns for his old life. He is silent most of the time and shows only sorrow until one day about a year after he is taken back to America. At a picnic, people begin flying kites and Amir buys one and encourages Sohrab to try. Sohrab shows little interest at first but begins to try. They are able to cut down the other kite and Sohrab smiles; for the first time in a year. Amir knows it's a small thing and it doesn't fix anything, but it is a positive sign that things are getting better.
The purpose of the novel was to show how common human instincts, problems, and feelings occur everywhere in the world. Amir grew up in a world different than anyone in America could imagine yet he deals with his guilt, his feeling of inferiority, and his hate in ways that we can all relate to. The problems that Hassan and Amir's friendship suffer to and overcome show the basic reality of human relationships. Amir's insecurity about never making Baba proud are relatable issues. The setting is different than most, but the underlying issues and emotions are applicable to the world over. 
2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.
I think that the main theme of the novel is the journey of the search for redemption. The entire novel revolves around Amir's struggles to right his wrongs. The novel begins with Amir reflecting on an event from 1975 that changed his life. Throughout his life he struggles with not thinking he is worth anything because of his lack of courage. He finally gets a chance a make right what he did years ago by saving Hassan's son and he takes the opportunity. He couldn't solve the problem by sending Ali and Hassan away as a child. It is only when Amir learned to confront his past and make peace that he was able to move with his life. 
3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).
The tone is mostly mournful and remorseful. Many negative incidents occur in the occur and they really make the reader feel badly for the characters. Things never seem to go positive for the characters. Right as Amir and Baba get to America and start to rebuild their lives, Baba gets cancer. "I wanted to ask him how I was supposed to live with that word, 'suspicious' for two whole weeks. How was I supposed eat, work, study? How could he send me home with that word?" Page 154 first edition. Baba's death takes Amir to a state of anguish that people rarely see and sets a depressing tone for the rest of the novel. When Amir finds out about Hassan's murder, he tumbles through a range of emotions including despair, shock and mostly guilt. He can't help thinking that if he wouldn't have lied and made Hassan and Ali, that Hassan wouldn't be dead. "But all I could manage was to whisper 'No. No. No' over and over again." Page 219. The guilt that Amir feels really comes through the text and how he speaks. After Sohrab attempts suicide, Amir displays extreme guilt again. "Suddenly I was on my knees, screaming. Screaming through my clenched teeth. Screaming until I thought my throat would rip and my chest explode." Page 343. Amir faces one problem after another. He tries to make up for his mistakes but each time he faces a depressing event that sets him back. 

1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization. Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?
One example of direct characterization is Amir's physical description of Hassan at the beginning of the novel.  "I can still see Hassan up on that tree, sunlight flickering through the leaves on his almost perfectly round face, a face like a Chinese doll chiseled from hardwood: his flat, broad nose and slanting, narrow eyes like bamboo leaves, eyes that looked, depending on the light, gold, green, even sapphire. I can still see his tiny low-set ears and that pointed stub of a a chin, a meaty appendage that looked like it was added as a mere afterthought. And that cleft lip, just left of midline, where the Chinese doll maker's instrument may have slipped." Page 3. Another example of direct characterization is Amir's description of his father. "It was Rahim Khan who first referred to him as what eventually became Baba's famous nickname, Toophan agha, or "Mr. Hurricane." It was an apt enough nickname. My father was a force of nature, a towering Pashtun specimen with a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair as unruly as the man himself, hands that looked capable of uprooting a willow tree, and a black glare that would "drop the devil to his knees begging for mercy," as Rahim Khan used to say. At parties, when all six-foot-five of him thundered into the room, attention shifted to him like sunflowers turning to the sun." Pages 12-13. This description of Baba directly tells the audience that Baba is a forceful character. An example of indirect characterization is "The Russian soldier thrust his face into the rear of the truck. He was humming the wedding song and drumming his finger on the edge of the tailgate. Even in the dim light of the moon, I saw the glazed look in his eyes as they skipped from passenger to passenger. Despite the cold, sweat streamed from his brow. His eyes settled on the young woman wearing the black shawl. He spoke in Russian to Karim without taking his eyes off her. Karim gave a curt reply in Russian, which the soldier returned with an even curter retort. The Afghan soldier said some thing too, in a low, reasoning voice. But the Russian soldier shouted something that made the other two flinch. I could feel Baba tightening up next to me. Karim cleared his throat, dropped his head. Said the soldier wanted a half hour with the lady in the back of the truck." Pages 114-115. The way that people react to this Russian soldier show that he is a disgraceful man. Another example is "His [Assef's] blue eyes flicked to Hassan. "Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood." He made a sweeping, grandiose gesture with his hands. "Afghanistan for Pashtuns, I say. That's my vision." Page 40. Assef words and vision allow the audience to infer that he full of hate and racism. 
2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character? How? Example(s)?
The author does vary his syntax and diction when he writes about different characters. He writes more descriptively and emotionally when focusing on characters. Yet his word choice also varies between different characters. When describing characters the narrator is fond of, he uses more descriptive, flowy language. When he focuses of character he hates, he uses short, terse language. "His word was law, and if you needed a little legal education, then those brass knuckles were just the right teaching tool." Page 38.
3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.
Amir is a dynamic and round character. He begins the story as a spoiled, selfish boy but by the end of the novel he learns to seek redemption, and he is truly sorry. The reader can see Amir change as he gets older and grows more mature. He is also complex. He has many internal conflicts and the author spends the most time developing him.
4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction. 
After reading this book, I definitely felt like I knew Amir on personal level. After I finished reading, I found myself wondering how Amir was doing up in San Francisco. Then I had to stop and remind myself that Amir did not really live in San Francisco or exist at all because he is a fictional character. I felt like Amir had told me his life story, and I felt as though I a had become a part of his life. "But I'll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting. I ran. A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children. But I didn't care.I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the Valley of Panjsher on my lips. I ran." Page 371. In these last lines, everything really ties together. There is a sense of hope. Things aren't perfect but there is hope. I feel hopeful for Amir and people like him.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hamlet Essay

Hamlet: Speaker of the Ages
Speech is a way of life for all the people of the world.  From our first words to our last, we can convey emotions, ideas, and thoughts to others around us.  Without speech, we are nothing, which is why Hamlet is such a powerful work.  Hamlet is eloquent and persuasive, which powers the entire plotline of the play.  Hamlet made the entire play move and twist to his liking.  
The entire play of Hamlet consists of the lead character, Hamlet, using his powers of speech to turn the tide of the play and therefore the mindsets of the other characters to his advantage.  He plays Polonius like a fool by making him believe that he, Hamlet, was madly in love with his daughter and it was affecting his mental state.  In actuality, Hamlet was throwing Polonius off his trail so that he could take revenge on his uncle.  While he was confusing Lord Polonius, who was just as much of a talker as Hamlet just not as eloquent, Hamlet was busy pulling the calm-cool-collected card on his friends and parents, making all involved seem like they were in they know.  
Hamlet’s power of persuasion proved a powerful asset when convincing others of his madness.  Hamlet brought down his uncle’s entire mental guard and was able to slip in his revenge on his dead father.  The only flaw in his plan was his inability to hold off Laertes in a swordfight, which would have enabled Hamlet to get off with his revenge without a scratch.  
While Hamlet was an eloquent and persuasive speaker, his tragic flaw was his lack of confidence in his ability to avenge his father.  He second-guessed his plan on multiple occasions, and would not follow through with a single plan until he was forced in his fight with Laertes.  Then fall Hamlet.