Monday, April 26, 2010


This was such a strange short story. The way it was written was so harsh and unforgiving. When the reader is going through the first thing they notice is that there aren’t any real, complete sentences. Everything is chopped up and makes it a lot harsher then it should be. What the reader seems to be looking at are instructions for a young girl and how to live her life, basically. The instructions include everything from ironing shirts to spitting in the air.
There are these inserts with the instructions that made me cringe. Here and there the instructor refers to the girl as a slut. Like she doesn’t have a choice, that fate has chosen this attribute for her personality. It really isn’t fair to assume that this girl will already be a slut. The way it comes across make me want to beat the living snot out of whoever is saying it. The confidence within each instruction is so snobbish and unrelenting it turns the whole passage to a negative connotation instead of a positive one.
As the reader reads through the instructions it is so strange to see each of the comments about the girl being a slut wired in like it’s no big deal. The girl has her own comments back to the instructor a couple different times in the passage. What is odd for the reader is that the girl doesn’t say anything about being called a slut. She only makes comments about singing benna on Sunday’s in church and about feeling the bread from the baker. And even the instructor makes a rude comment to the girl about the baker letting her feel the bread. It was very short to read and I honestly had to read it twice to get the whole instruction characteristic down and then I started to see the harshness associated with the whole passage.


This was an interesting story to me. The plot was unexpected towards the end because it seemed as if there wasn’t anything in particular to cause Norma Jean to leave Leroy. When it comes down to it I think there were several different reasons why she felt the need to leave Leroy. When someone is away from the home for a good portion of time then the others do get used to not having them around. When Leroy has to stay home because he can’t drive his truck anymore, this causes tension within the marriage. Norma Jean is used to having her freedom from Leroy and now she doesn’t have that anymore. Then when her Mama caught her smoking it felt like even more freedom was stripped away from her. In response to feeling trapped Norma Jean decided she wanted her freedom back.
I had a general liking towards Leroy. He was innocently blinded by what was going on around him. There were signs that foreshadowed Norma Jean leaving him (her school, her not being around, etc). He was just ignorant to what was in front of his face. I think he wanted to believe that he could make her happy again and build her dream home. I find it ironic that the death of their child did not tear up their marriage, yet Leroy having to stay home does.
I believe that Norma Jean’s Mama realized what was going on before either of them knew. She kept pushing Shiloh on them hoping it would spark their marriage again. And she desperately wanted to go see it once again but declined when they offered for her to go. This was her subtle way of saying that they needed some time to work on their marriage and try to fix things.

Half and Half

Half and Half
What a sad story this was to read. I understand the way she related her inactiveness for Bing to her marriage. When she let Bing fall off of the cliff, in a way it was foreshadowing the demise of her own marriage. She is more of a calm person who doesn’t really have a strong opinion on what she wants. Making a decision is not that important to her.
It is relatable to what the mother does when Bing is swept into the Sea. As a mother myself, I would try anything I could think of to save my own child. And it was different to see how her mother reacted to Bing’s death with her Chinese culture infused into what she was doing. She let the American culture take precedent and the search and rescue commenced for Bing. But when that failed she decided to try Chinese traditions to save Bing.
As for the mother not believing in God anymore I don’t think she wanted to, but still did. I think she is angry with him more than anything else, because she still kept her Bible in plain view. If she completely disbelieved in God, she would have destroyed the Bible.
It is expected that the narrator take her experience with ted and relate it back to the tragedy in her family. Something like a divorce can take someone by surprise and knock them on their face. This is what happened to the family (especially her mother) when Bing died. Her mother still wants her to fight for her marriage though and I believe that relates back to her regret for not watching Bing better and fighting for him.
Overall it was an interesting part of The Joy Luck Club. Maybe someday I would be able to actually read the entire story, and not just excerpts

Alice Walker

Alice Walker
I really liked this story. I honestly thought that at the end the quilts would have just left with Dee anyways. The change in attitude done by the mother is something that made me smile. Dee deserved what she got and would have probably taken everything they used to survive, just for decoration.
I think Dee is someone who doesn’t really know who she is underneath everything. She seems to be one of those people who goes along with whatever is popular at that time. Her wanting the next best thing suggests that she isn’t truly ever happy. Where on the other hand her mother and Maggie just live a calm, peaceful life they best way they can. There is no “next best thing” for them, only survival. Dee reminds me of the saying, “Keeping up with the Jones’”. She has this new guy (whom no one knows if she’s married to or not) that she has changed her appearance, name, and way of thinking to match his.
I really liked Maggie in this story. She was quiet and not really a big part but she held a big presence for me. Even though she was not as pretty as Dee or as confidant, she was a better person deep down. She ranked higher up for me then Dee did. When Dee wants her quilts she was just going to give them to her and I think it was out of fear of confrontation. But it also seemed at the same time that she felt as if arguing with Dee just wasn’t worth her time.
As for the mother, she was admirable. In the end she finally found her backbone and stood up to Dee. She stopped doubting herself long enough to see how much of a spoiled brat Dee was and how she was stepping all over Maggie.
The simple life led by the Mother and Maggie is pretty neat to me and I would honestly rather live simple, then complex.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tillie Olsen

Tillie Olsen
This story seems to be about a mother who is looking back on the life of her first born and regretting a lot of things she’s done. She also seems to be talking to someone on the phone, possibly a doctor or maybe a caseworker of some sort. She did get to go home after proving that she would eat at home rather then the place she was sent to.
If only the parents were able to allow her to explore her gift of comedy and let it grow. I think that is what she needed in her life. She needed something that set her apart, that made her unique in her own mind. She was unlike the common stereotype and it made her self-conscious. She lost her childhood to be her mother’s helper. She had to help raise the other kids and this lost herself. It made her late with her schoolwork and caused to lose self-esteem there as well.
The mother is ironing clothes as the daughter tries to talk to her at points during the story and she is at the beginning. I think that the ironing in the story could be a metaphor for the daughter’s life. As the mother tries to smooth out the wrinkles in the clothes she tries (too late unfortunately) to smooth out the wrinkles in her daughters life.
It’s sad that she realizes too late the mistakes she has made with her daughter. And she tries to help her and take care of her as should towards the end yet it’s too late. I like the character of the daughter in this story. She is very strong willed to me and I feel as if she is a honorable person. She has given up her life to helping her mother and just completely devoting herself to this life and yet never really complains. She has a round about way to let the mother know she isn’t happy, yet she keeps on trucking.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

A Good Man is Hard to Find
This story seemed to have a mask of contradiction intertwined within it. The Misfit seemed to have somewhat manners and care about what was being said about his family at the end of the story, yet a psychopath wouldn’t care. He was a contradiction to the stereotypical view of a murderer.
I also liked how it was the Grandmother who got them into the trouble they ended up in. If she hadn’t insisted that the family go view the house they wouldn’t have wrecked. She fought from the very beginning to go to Tennessee because there was a misfit in Florida. And then when they wrecked because of her they ended up the clutches of the Misfit.
The father and the mother were odd in the fact that they never listened to the grandmother. They were actually negative people yet were not the cause of the accident. There is another contradiction in the story. The Grandmother, who is more of a positive person in the story, (yet still annoying) ends up doing the negative act.
From the very beginning of the story the reader gets the sense that something bad will happen. The Misfit is brought up in the very beginning of the story giving the reader the clue that the family will meet up with the Misfit at some point or another. Also, when the Grandmother dresses for the trip she dresses in her finest because there might be an accident and she wants to look her best. When they turn off the dirt road they go from a nice smooth highway to a bumpy winding snake like road. The dark forests that are in the story and the snake like road lead up to the final blow.
It was a neat story to read. The misfit made it interesting and you think that he might be willing to leave the grandmother alone.

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni
The first poem was really warm and fuzzy for me. I grew up without being wealthy by any means, yet we were all still very happy. I believe that being happy is more important then having any kinds of physical things in front of you. I like how she accentuates that even though there were problems in the family, like her father drinking, they still had Happy Birthdays and good Christmases. Her memories have a happy feeling that is woven into all of the misfortunate events.
I like how she wants to connect on the same level to a white person with her feelings and what she grew up in. She knows the struggles of others yet they still don’t really listen to her because she is black. She has gone through the same events in life (like losing a dream) but is treated differently.

Her second poem speaks to a lot of different people. Everyone has gone through the heartache of losing someone. She no longer is up at night over this hurting. She no longer dreams about it and no longer cries about it. I like how she takes his absence and uses it to her favor. She now has this big bed all to herself.

In her last poem, “Poem for Black Boys”, there is this hateful undertone that the reader can pick up on just within the first few lines. It is an eye opener to hear the reader say to practice things like vandalism, because it will be more useful for them. The way she takes what is going on around her in the adult world and transfers it to games for little boys is ingenious. It takes racism and shows how absurd it really is when we take it down to a basic level (as kids do).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I must first and foremost that I highly enjoyed reading this novel and if I was in town I would definitely be going to meet Ron Rash when he is in town. Serena is such a ruthless person. She comes in to Pemberton’s life and everything revolves around her need to money and power. She gains power and prestige over the crew by winning the bet against one of the workers. And then she has him fired because he went against her and lost. If he hadn’t she probably would have had him fired anyways. She spends all of her time lifting herself above everyone else, even her husband.
While it seems that Pemberton does love his wife, she doesn’t show the same affection and love towards him. To her, the power and money are more important then her love for him. He would sacrifice anything for her yet she would sacrifice him for the love of money. She reminded me of Margot from the story we read a little while back, “The Short Happy Like of Francis Macomber”. The two characters have the same heartless demeanors. Serena’s ruthlessness seems to be magnified when she losses her child and becomes sterile. She goes after the doctor as her first kill and even plots to kill Rachel and Pemberton’s baby.
The workers are in such a tight spot. Their living conditions are horrible and their pay is small. Yet there isn’t work anywhere else because of the depression. You either live this horrible, dangerous life or not live at all. They are lucky if they make it a certain age with all of the fingers and toes.
This evil monster is living in Serena and as the story progresses this monster seems as if it grows. She has this thirst to kill and takes her own personal experiences to fuel that need. She is just a plain psychopath.