Monday, April 28, 2014

I Matter

            William Butler Yeats’ poem, “ An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” stands out above all the other poems that I could have chosen because I feel and may be able to relate to the other’s connection to the poem’s meaning. The poem brings to light the mind-set of an Irish airman who is fighting another’s fight. He fights and risks his life for people he cares little about. “Those that I fight I do not hate/Those that I guard I do not love” (Yeats 3-4). He fights for a reason other than the usual, love or hate. He fights for a reason little to no one fights for. He fights to be a part of something. He fights to be part of a community. He risks his life in battle only feel like he accomplished something in his life. I had a similar feeling last year during times of extreme stress.
Just like Yeats, I have felt like I am living a meaningless life. My feelings aren’t as exagerated as the poem foretells for Yeats, but I have felt my trivial mark on the human race. During times of stress, I have thought about of the meaningless of life and how stress has consumed me, taking me to a place of self-doubt and a desire to mean something. I only feel these intense emotions when my inner strength is pushed to its max. Otherwise I feel like I can and have made a difference in my life and in the lives of others around me. My feelings are confused and wild during times of extreme stress but the feelings of Yeats’ are always with him and always wild.

Yeats is always in a whirlwind of emotions and insecurity. He has little self-confidence and feels useless. He believes his life to have been useless thus far, and he believes it to be useless for years to come. “The years to come seemed waste of breath,/A waste of breath the years behind” (Yeats 14-15). Yeats wants his life to mean something. He wants to help someone even if he doesn’t care about them. He wants to mean something to his community even if he has to die to leave a mark. He wants to leave a mark even if that mark is drowned by the marks of all the other soldiers. He wants to make something of himself and to matter.

Bravery Comes from Within

            Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, has shown me that individuality and one’s uniqueness comes from within and can’t be hidden or suppressed by anyone or anything forever. I have learned that nothing can hold you back except your self-doubt and self-insecurities. Harrison Bergeron’s story “tells of the ironic shortcomings of a seemingly perfect man who dies in the hands of his suppressive American government” (“The Ironic End” Blog Post). Harrison Bergeron is born into a world where his uniqueness and greatness are looked down upon and punished. Equipped with the knowledge that I have gained from reading this short story, I can improve my life and show the world whom I really am.
From reflecting upon the hardships in Harisson Bergeron’s life, I have come to believe that I can apply his bravery and sense of pride to improve my life; and I have. My true self has shown at school as much as it does at home because I want nothing to interfere with my individuality, and I want to show the world all that I have to offer. I allow no one to block or cover up my inner beauty, and I glow with a shine only I can achieve anywhere I go. After reading this short story, I have come to understand that bravery is not just saving another’s life or risking your life for another’s, but bravery can come from you doing what you believe is right and trying to express yourself no matter how others perceive you or try and push you down.

Harrison Bergeron has not only tried to show his inner beauty and uniqueness but has also to help others express themselves and ignore the suppressive government. “In Harrison Bergeron’s world, equality is treated as the focus of civilization, and through suppression and handicaps, people are forced to be average and equal” (“The Ironic End” Blog Post). People are being forced into the doldrums and into living as equals with no individual qualities that separates them to another. Harrison Bergeron grows stronger and stronger during his life both physically and emotionally. In the end, Harrison Bergeron is shot and murdered on live television for the world to see because he spoke out against the government, tore off his handicaps, and showed the world (only for a second) the true him. He showed the world the qualities that make him Harrison Bergeron. The worst part of all is the fact that Harrison Bergeron’s parents were too afraid to tear off their handicaps like their son, and when Harrison Bergeron’s mother sees his death on t.v., her husband asks, “‘You been crying?’ he said to Hazel. / ‘Yup,’ she said, / ‘What about?’ he said. / ‘I forget,’ she said” (Vonnegut 6).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Community Changes Lives

The idea of one fighting against a community to stand up for traditions and what he believes is right is promenately shown in Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. The main character, Okonkwo, is praised and honored during the beginning of the novel but ends up killing himself to show his community that he would rather die than have his morals, beliefs, and traditions ripped away by the foreigners’ religion. His morals and beliefs included his desires to keep his traditions and hold a sense of community. The ideas Okonkwo died for resonate with me in a way only a few books have. It has made a serious impact in on my actions and my decisions to help others in my community.
Before reading this novel, I would help out my community whenever I could if the opportunity presented itself. Just like for service learning, I would never have gone out of my way to help younger students receive a better education, but because of Service Learning, I had the opportunity to help my community by doing something that is always exciting and self-rewarding. In regards to Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s sense of leading and being part of his community drove him protect the traditions of the community instead of changing with his community. Okonkwo’s ideas have always been with him no matter what ever since he was born. The true desire and obligation to help the community no matter the cost was the impulse Okonkwo was born with. Unfortunately, I was not born like that, but I have discovered a likeness for serving others and priding myself on being a part of my community.

This strong sense of community that I have recently discovered has given me a joy that brings a smile not only on my face but also on the faes of others. After reading Things Fall Apart, my obligation to help others and improve my community has grown exponentially bigger. I have noticed myself helping classmates more and more when they need help and helping my neighbors in any little task to make their lives easier. Okonkwo strives to find any major task to help the Ibo people thrive. “Okonkwo represents the Umuofia’s sense of community and is full with pride and confidence” (Things Fall Apart essay 2). Okonkwo’s pride in his community impacts my life enough for me to completely change my thoughts every day and instead of focusing on my own struggles and successes, I focus on the mistakes of others and trying to improve their lives.

Finding a Community

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s popular Russian novel, Notes From Underground, is a perplexing story about one man who is trying to fit in to a community and figure out who he is. The Underground Man is in a constant struggle to find others like him and fit in to a community. He has no one like him because his community has died out years ago. The Underground Man, “has suffered all his life and has only recently begun to accept and enjoy the pain of suffering” (“Pain is Fun” Blog Post). The only community that the Underground Man believes himeslf to be a part of is the community of pain and suffering. Personally, I have not experienced what he is going through and have always felt like I am part of a community no matter how large or small. Although, I am empathetic towards the Underground Man’s feelings of having a community you are a part of slowly corrode away and dissapear leaving you having to find another community or try to reform the old community. I had to find another community to become a part of, whereas the Underground Man decided to try and revive an old community which was dying more and more every day no matter how hard the Underground Man worked to bring it back.
Before reading Notes From Underground, I had the preconceived idea that all people belonged in a community and loved their community. I had this idea because I had always had good friends and loved the people around me. Only after reading this novel did I realize that some people struggle in finding others with similar thoughts and habits in a solid community. The Underground Man is one of the people that tries and can’t fit into a community and uses every excuse, including pain, to create and join a community because his community has died years before. This novel has changed my perspective about people who struggle to find others with similar ideas.

In my life, I treat people who having a bad day or who are sitting alone differently than I used to, and now I try and help them by introducing them to my community. Dostoevsky has created an idea in my mind of how some can try and try to find a community and never find one without the consistant and supportive help from others in another community.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Teasing the Tiger

        In Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake, Gogol finds himself with a situation that keeps getting worse and worse. Before chapter eight, Gogol is happily dating and in love with Maxine. They date for a while and are constantly together until Gogol’s happiness is ripped away from him in one sudden phone call. Gogol is told that his father has died from a heart attack. Ashima, Gogol, and Sonia all meet together at home to grieve the loss of their loved-one. As Gogol is grieving he is doing the opposite of what he was doing when he was happy. He is now pushing away Maxine and not allowing her to grieve with him and bringing his family closer by visiting Maxine less often and his family more often. Because of this, Maxine breaks up Gogol, and Gogol is now even more depressed because he lost his love and his loved-one. Once he and his family have finished grieving, he meets a Bengali girl who he remembers from his childhood. They soon begin to date and then become engaged.
  Lahiri tortures Gogol by giving him a normal, joyful childhood until he became a teenager. At that point, Lahiri introduces Gogol to the truth about his name and the tragidies behind it. Gogol is then in constant shyness and embarrassment about his name and its roots. This pain lasts for a while until he’s eighteen when he changes his name to Nikhil. As Nikhil, Gogol studies hard, becomes an architect, and finds his love, Maxine. Gogol’s years of blissful joy with Maxine last for a while until his father dies, and he is sadness and depression again. Lahiri is brutal and cruel to Gogol by giving him a joyful childhood, followed by the pain and shame of his own name, followed by pleasure of freedom of his name and his parents in college, and sadness again due to the death of his father and break up with Maxine. Like all people, Gogol has his ups and downs in life but for Gogol, his ups and downs are extreme enough to look like Lahiri is giving Gogol a taste of happiness and freedom and when Gogol wants a little more, she rips it away. With Gogol’s recent engagement and happiness, I predict something horribly wrong to occur to hurt his new love and his family.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Name Change

            In Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake, Gogol is still trying to fight his name in chapter five and six and find out the reasons why his parents named him Gogol. After living with the name Gogol for about 18 years of his life, Gogol finally convinces his parents to allow him to change his named offically to Nikhil. As he enters college at Yale, he is determined to known as Nikhil and leave Gogol behind forever. He makes sure all of his offical papers that go to Yale say that his name is Nikhil and all of his classmates know him as Nikhil.
After college, Gogol moves to New York to work as an architect and begins to date a girl named Maxine who he falls in love with. He is at her house all the time when he’s not a work and she calls him by his new name Nikhil because she is in his new life. But, when Gogol decides to visit his parents with Maxine for lunch on his way to Maxine’s grandparents’ house, Ashoke calls Gogol “Gogol” instead of “Nikhil”. This mistake angers Gogol but he doesn’t show it and avoids the topic. When Maxine comments on it on the ride to the grandparents’ house, he changes the topic and avoids talking about his old name and avoids telling her that he changed his name from “Gogol” to “Nikhil”. She drops it quickly.

I find Lahiri’s style of writing interesting in regards to chapters five and six because even though she writes that Gogol changed his name, she still refers to him as Gogol when she is narrating his life. Even though Gogol has officially changed his name to Nikhil, Lahiri refers to him as Gogol. Reading this shows me that Lahiri will always remember him as Gogol and that the name Nikhil will not stick in Gogol’s life. I sense that when she refers to him as Gogol instead of Nikhil, she is foreshadowing him changing his name back to Gogol and liking Gogol more than Nikhil.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Namesake Perspective

          The Namesake is written by Jhumpa Lahiri and is set in 1968. An Indian family consisting of a husband and wife, Ashoke Ganguli and Ashima Ganguli, are soon going to have a child and are struggling through pregnancy and labor. The interesting writing style caught my eye when I noticed that Lahiri wrote the entire first two chapters (and most likely the whole novel) in third person. Ashoke, Ashima and even their baby, Gogol, are refered to by their names from an outside perspective of the situation. This point of view doesn’t allow the reader to become emotionally attached to anyone of the characters as easily as a first person perspective would.

          On the other hand, Lahiri writes in a way that allows the reader to understand the strife and emotions of the main characters while still seeing them and reading them in the third person point of view. The way Lahiri shows me the conscience and emotions of Ashoke and Ashima, yet still allows me to watch the events in the novel unfold with no character’s bias, blows my mind. I can’t even describe how the writing gives me a feeling that I’m watching the novel as an invisible spectator, but still gives me a feeling that I can feel and think along with the characters. Lahiri’s writing has given me a mixture of third and first person perspective seemlessly.