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American Literature

Final Project

Sydney Sanders

on 7 March 2013

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Transcript of American Literature

What is "American literature"? What distinguishes it from "world literature"? Which authors are included and which authors are excluded? Is an author born in India but living in the United States writing "American literature"? If the songs and legends of Native Americans are literature, why weren't they included in American literature textbooks until recently? How does a nation's literature reflect and shape the images of the nation's people? Questions like these make the investigation of American literature important and exciting! American Literature Sydney Sanders 2. Stereotypes of Native Americans: 1. They are all like Pocahontas 2. There was no civilization until Europeans brought it to them 3. That they are war-like & treacherous 4. They are a vanished race 5. They are all confirmed to reservations 6. That they live in teepees 7. They all wear braids 8. Horses are their main form of transportation 3. Sherman Alexie Sherman Alexie challenges stereotypes of Native Americans in his writings. One of Alexie's favorite writing techniques is irony. In his poetry he uses irony to show the discrepancy between the images from old movies that many people have formed about Native Americans and realities of Native American life today. He uses irony to get his point across in a very unique way. For every stereotype that the "white boys" use, he has a witty come back. When you read, you usually are most interested in the story or the information. Knowing about the author is not necessary for your reading to be meaningful, but it can add another dimension or perspective to your reading. 4. Interacting with Text. Some people think that the printed word is boring. Its not colourful,& doesn't move. For them, reading print is not as exciting as watching a video or playing a game. Other people know that reading can be exciting if you put yourself into it. When you interact with text, you make it come alive. You provide the spark of interest that makes the words speak and invite you into new worlds. You add your experience to give the words more life. Unit 2 was my favorite unit to study during the American Literature course. The stories were so vivid & colorful, and I'd like to share them with you. Appointment with Love by: Sulamith Ish-Kishor Summary: Appointment with love is a beautiful story about a lieutenant and an anonymous woman who he had never met, but she filled a special place in his heart for 13 months... with letters. He was Lieutenant Blandford & she was Hollis Meynell. Hollis told him that she was 30.
The lieutenant told her he was 32, he was 29. It all started when hundreds of library books were sent to a Florida training camp. Of Human Bondage, was a book that he chose. But as he read it he noticed notes in a woman's handwriting. Normally, the writing-in habit was bothersome to him. But he had never believed that a woman could see into a mans heart so tenderly. He found her name on the bookplate, then got ahold of a New York City phone book, and they began writing letters back and forth to one another. For 13 months, she had faithfully replied, and more than replied. When his letters did not arrive, she wrote anyway, and he believed that he loved her and that she loved him. But, for all of the times he plead for her to send him a photograph, she refused. That seemed sketchy on his half, but she always said, "if your feeling for me has any reality, any honest basis, what I look like wont matter." So the day finally came for them to meet each other. Lieutenant Blandford was standing in Grand Central Station waiting anxiously, she told him she would be wearing a rose. "A young woman was coming towards him. Her figure was long and slim; her hair blond lay back in curls from her delicate ears. Her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness. In her pale green suit, she was like spring time come alive." "He started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was wearing no rose, and as he moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, soldier?" she murmured. Uncontrollably, he made one step closer to her." "Then he saw Hollis Meynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl, a woman well past 40, her graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump; her thick-ankled feet were thrust into low-heeled shoes. but she wore a red rose in the rumpled lapel of her brown coat." "The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.
Blandford felt as though he were being split in two, so keen was his desire to follow the girl, yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned and upheld his own; and there she stood." ""I'm Lieutenant John Blanford, and you--you are Miss. Meynell. I'm so glad you could meet me. May... may I take you to dinner?" The woman's face broadened in a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is all about, son," she answered. "That young lady in the green suit --the one who just went by-- begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said that if you asked me to go out with you, I should tell you that she's waiting for you in that big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of a test. I've got two boys with Uncle Sam myself, so I didn't mind to oblige you." Irony, the contrast between expectation and reality, can also be an element of subtext. In some cases, you need to understand what is not being said in order to find a richer meaning. The Chaser by: John Collier I typically don't find pleasure in reading short stories, but "Appointment with Love" & "The Chaser" were back to back in my reading packet, and I absolutely fell in love with both of them. Summary: The Chaser is a story about a man searching for a so called 'cure' to his daily problems. His name was Alan Austen. He was referred to an old man, someone who had a cure, a potion to help him. "Is it true," asked Alan, "that you have a certain mixture that has--er--quite extraordinary effects?" "My dear sir," replied the old man, "my stock in trade is not very large-- I don't deal in laxatives and teething mixtures-- but such as it is, it is varied. I think nothing I sell had effects which could be described as ordinary." "Well, the fact is--" began Alan
"Here, for example," interrupted the old man, reaching for a bottle from the shelf. "Here is a liquid as colourless as water, almost tasteless, quite imperceptible to any known method of autopsy." "Do you mean it is a poison?" cried Alan, very much horrified. "Call it a cleaning fluid if you like," said the old man indifferently. "Lives need cleaning. Call it a spot remover. 'Out, damned spot!' Eh? 'Out, brief candle!'" "I want nothing of that sort," said Alan. "Probably it is just as well," said the old man. "Do you know the price of this? For one teaspoonful, which is sufficient, I ask five thousand dollars. Never less. Not a penny less." Alan was worried that all of his potions would be as expensive as his 'spot cleaner'. He was thankful that the old man said that they weren't. "I look at it like this," said the old man. "Please a customer with one article, and he will come back when he needs another. Even if it is more costly. He will save up for it, if necessary." All that Alan was really concerned about was if the old man sold love potions. The old man explained that if he did not sell love potions, he wouldn't have mentioned his 'spot cleaner' to him in the first place. The old man explained that the effects of the love potion are permanent, and extend far beyond the mere casual impulse. But the effects are Bountifully. Insistently. Everlastingly. Alan was ecstatic! That was just the potion that he needed! The old man went on to warn him some more, "For indifference, they substitute devotion. For scorn., adoration. Give one tiny measure of this to the young lady-- its flavour is imperceptible in orange juice, soup, or cocktails-- and however gay and giddy, she is, she will change altogether. She will not want nothing but solitude, and you." She is so fond of parties, said Alan.
She will not like them anymore. Replied the old man. She will be afraid of the pretty girls you meet.
she will want to be everything to you.
She will care intensely, you'll be her sole interest in life.
She will want to know all you do, all that has happened to you during the day. Every word of it.
She'll want to know what you are thinking about, why you smile suddenly, why you are looking sad.
Those were just some of the warnings that the old man gave Alan. Alan did not visualize those as warnings, only positive aspects of the potion. The old man explained that it is so strong, that Alan could cheat on his lady and she would come back to him. She will never divorce you, he explained. "And how much," said Alan, "how much is this wonderful mixture?"
"It is not so dear," said the old man, "as the spot remover, as I think we agreed to call it. No. This is five thousand dollars; never a penny less. One has to be older than you are to indulge in that sort of thing. One has to save up for it." "That is just a dollar." said the old man. "Then customers come back, later in life, when they are rather better off, and want more expensive things. Here you are. You will find it very effective." said the old man. A large part of the irony of this story is that the old man and the reader know something that Alan does not. The thorough devotion he things he wants from his loved one will become suffocating. 5. Making Connections Whether they come from a real life situation or from history, or from literature, heroes and heroines have qualities that create an allure, an unmistakable attraction that we just cant resist. Perhaps it is because they embody character traits we would all like to possess-- selflessness, endurance, imagination, vision, intelligence, or determination. Or is is simply because they inspire us and serve as a reminder of our own great human potential? Harriet Tubman Harriet Tubman is an example of an American heroine who endures. An escaped slave and accomplished Underground Railroad (UGRR) "conductor," she helped 300 other slaves escape and make their way north to freedom during the 1850's. She is one of the most prominent heroic figures in American history. While the word hero tends to conjure images of extraordinarily good people-- often even unrealisticly good-- the word antihero usually applies to famous, awe inspriring, bigger-than-life people who become notorious. Take, for example, Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous couple responsible for many robberies and deaths during the American Great Depression from 1929-1941. Though no one would ever call them "good," their exploits turned them into living legends. Bonnie and Clyde became two of America's first modern celebrity criminals, taking matters into their own hands rather than enduring the economic woes of the Depression. Their story made headlines and captivated America, and it has endured for decades. The notorious duo has inspired numerous films, countless songs, and even a cartoon featuring the carrot-heisting duo Bunny and Claude. The Story of Bonnie & Clyde by: Bonnie Parker This poem was written by Bonnie Parker, who was the original Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde. But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde. To me, antiheroes just let off this bad vibe. & It's extremely entertaining. There is just an allure that comes with being bad. Bonnie & Clyde aren't necessarily bad people, they just do bad things. There is a difference. They do what they have to do in order to survive. "There ain't no rest for the wicked" Cliche Images of Heroism John Henry John Henry is portrayed as a hero due to his enormous size, and because he was muscular. So big, so strong! Does one have to be big and strong to be considered a hero? Super Sydney! Super Sydney is oftentimes underestimated with her tiny physique, you wouldn't guess that she has the greatest super strength of any super hero ever known. Her mentality is also often overlooked as well due to her blond hair. But you'd never guess that she's as sly as a fox. Another quality she portrays is the power of ferret call. At any moment if she were to ever need back up, her ferret army is closely by her side. As an outsider looking in, you'd think Super Sydney was just an average 17 year old girl. She didn't have many friends, so she spent her free time playing with her ferret. But what most people didn't know was, she had a secret... She could fly, run like the wind, & possessed super strength. & Her greatest power of all... ferret call. She has no natural enemies because her powers are beyond epic. My Opinion on What a Hero is. To be a hero, one does not have to be the strongest, or fastest. To me, a hero is so much more. To define someone as an 'American hero', in my eyes is far too broad. Heroes/Heroines do not specifically derive from America. Anyone can be a hero, it just depends on the way you look at it. You don't have to be rescued from being dangled from a sky scraper by a horrendous villain, or rescued from a burning building. Heroism in my book cannot be categorized... to me everyone can be a hero, by simply standing up from someone being bullied in the hallway makes a big impact on their life. They would probably consider you a hero in their eyes. Every day we all face moments in out life to be heroes. You could carry the old woman's groceries to her car. But the true heroes are the ones who stand out & take opportunities in their life. Bonnie & Clyde How Might Our Concept of What Makes a Hero or Heroine Change Over Time? What About Them may be Distinctly American? Key Qualities of American Heroes & Heroines: How and Why Does History Sometimes Change or Distort the Heroes' and Heroines' stories? Persevering Courage Good-hearted I don't understand that. In my opinion a quality or trait doesn't define a hero as American. There are heroes all over the world. Culture & Society A better outlook on them. To give a better story. Like, when people make movies they choose actors that were unrealistic to story characters. 6. Exploring Multiple Perspectives: The American Dream When I first came to Montessori: I felt a sense of anticipation. I guess I was kind of looking for a fresh start, but at the same time I was dreading starting all over again... Making friends, finding ways to fit in, & also ways to stand out, it all just made me a nervous wreck. But, I guess that's my own little mini American Dream experience, because I was looking for a fresh start, and I knew that if I didn't make the best of it, and take the bull by the horns that I wouldn't be successful here. Many authors have written about their firsthand experiences of leaving behind everything they knew so that they could realize their dreams in America. What do I know about Immigration? It's like America is two steps ahead. Sooner or later everywhere will be booming with opportunities & technology. It just might not be right now, or anytime in the near future. It may be centuries from now, but as of right now America is your best bet if you want to be successful, and basically do whatever you want to do. The dream of a new life comes with the fear of fitting in. How will the new comer succeed in achieving the dream? Americans live in various kinds of structures. Whether they are rich or poor, almost all dream of owning a home. But not all Americans see "home ownership" the same way. Your Definition of Success: One aspect of the American Dream is the idea that anyone can succeed in America. You just have to be willing to work hard. Of course, there have always been people who do not believe that there was or is equal opportunity for all-- and they may be right. This tension between the idea of the dream, and the reality recurs in American literature and life. To me, success is being content with my life. In my life, if I can wake up, have my cup of coffee & just enjoy being alive.. I call that success. Benjamin Franklin defined personal success in terms of a disciplined life. He was optimistic that he could attain "moral perfection" if he diligently followed the thirteen virtues and precepts he laid our for himself. from: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by: Benjamin Franklin IX PLAN FOR ATTAINING MORAL PERFECTION In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writiers included more or fewer ideas under the same name... I propos'd to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex'd to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr'd to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully express'd the extent I gave to it's meaning. These names of virtues, with their precepts, were: 1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have it's time. 4. Resolution. Resolve to problem what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing. 6. Industry. Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions 7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly 8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty 9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think you deserve 10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation 11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable 12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation 13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates The famous American fictional character Jay Gatsby made a list similar to Franklin's. When he was a child, he knew what he needed to do to become a success. Years later, his father and his friend found his note in the back of Hopalong Cassidy, a children's book. from: The Great Gatsby by: F. Scott Fitzgerald On the last fly-leaf was printed the word schedule and the date September 12, 1906. And underneath: Rise from bed....................................................................................6.00 A.M. Dumbbell exercise and wall-scaling...............................6.15-6.30 A.M. Study electricity, etc.................................................................7.15-8.15 A.M. Work...............................................................................................4.30-5.00 P.M. Basketball and sports............................................................5.00-6.00 P.M. Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it.........5.00-6.00 P.M. Study needed inventions......................................................7.00-9.00 P.M. Gatsby's is more orderly. It seems like more of a to do list & those are things that should come as a part of natural regulation. He must just really be one for order. Franklin's list is more of moral/ethical code. & its more on a religious base. Franklin & Fitzgerald present individual views of success. Self made persons also rely on the perspectives of others. Satire makes readers re-examine a subject and reflects the writer's perspective. The satirist aims to challenge some aspect of people or society through wit and humor. The satire may be gentle or biting; the target may be major or minor. Active readers need to identify the target of the satire and the aspect of being satirized. My Attempt at a Satiric Sonnet. "A Slave to Fast Food" by: Sydney Sanders a slave to fast food "would you like sauce with that?" customers, disrespectful & rude walk in my shoes, then we'll chat my coworkers, the few that understand we are defined; slacker, lowlife, dropout customer's always right, your wish is my command "I apologize for your wait, there is no need to shout!" our hands always sticky, covered, & greased 4 piece... 6 piece... 10 piece... 20! so, close its like a family we are we don't always get along, sometimes its funny happy, hectic, & dysfunctional to say the least in my opinion, my job is the best, by far Commentary: "If America has stood for anything unique in the history of the world, it has been for the American dream, the belief in the common man and the insistence upon his having , as far as possible , equal opportunity in every way with the rich one..." Growing up in America, it's kind of an instinct. We are taught in school to be the most successful. It is the one's who take those opportunities who will truly achieve the dream. "No single individual of course, and no single group has an exclusive claim to the American dream. But we have all, I think, a single vision of what it is, not merely as a hope and an aspiration, but as a way of life, which we can come ever closer to attaining in its ideal form if we keep shining and unsullied our purpose and our belief in it's essential value." "Education is the fault line in America today; those who have it are doing well in the global economy, those who don't are not doing well. We cannot walk away from this fundamental fact. The American dream will succeed or fail in the 21st century in direct proportion to our commitment to educate every person in the United States of America." In a way this is true, but not in every circumstance. In our society today we are taught, "you wont get a good job if you don't go to college." Who is to blame for this? Other nations, it is absolutely absurd to think in such a way. The ideal of the American Dream is a story of freedom and success for all . However, in our history, this ideal has been challenged by forces such as wars, economic downpours, poverty, and discrimination. We are all confronted with the question of whether the American Dream describes any current reality. ---James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America, 1931 --Eleanor Roosevelt, "What Has Happened to the American Dream?" 1961 --President William Jefferson Clinton, 1995 "Blinded by it's own myth, America has grown incapable of recognizing its flaws. For there is much about the American Dream to fault. If the rest of the world has lost faith in the American model-- political, economic, diplomatic--- it's partly for the very good reason that it doesn't work as well anymore." --Andrew Moravcsik, 2007 "Your Individual Dream" by: Sydney Sanders The American Dream? Please elaborate on that? What does that even mean? Why do you have to live in America, or be an American to be successful? Can one not live their dreams to the fullest in their home land? Does the American Dream only apply to foreign folk? Does by being born in America automatically guarantee a successful life? Personally, I disagree. Yes, the US has many advantages over other countries it is a place bombing with opportunities. But instead of the American Dream, we should classify it as 'Your Individual Dream'. Because, no matter where you live, whether you live in a third world country & you are struggling to survive or if you were born into royalty & you're next in line for the thrown, or even if you were born in America & you're struggling in the ghetto, or if your parents are the founders of a multi-billion dollar industry & you have it made for the rest of your living life. 'Your Individual Dream' is not a matter of your age, your race, living situation, your parents, your past, your present, where you've been & what you've been through. 'Your Individual Dream' is simple. It is based around the all around fact that your life is what you make it, & that you will live the life that you want to live no matter what. 'Your Individual Dream' is all about motivation. & That consists of anywhere in the entire world, not only America. To find your inner individual dream, is a matter of the way you personally define success. What is your definition of success? Your definition of success could be completely different from another person's. Big houses & five cars could be someone's version of success, or being a famous actress, some dream to be a stay at home mother. Personally, the way that I define success is that I don't have to be the richest, most popular, or even have a booming career. I know that I can call myself successful when I can wake up every morning, pour my cup of coffee & go on with my day with a smile on my face. So, therefore 'Your Individual Dream' varies. You may not know it but, you're living this dream no matter if you want to or not, we are all born into it. & We all will take it as we so please. To successfully live your individual dream, complaining in not an option. ...because you are responsible for every single one of your actions. So, in a way everyone should die successful, because every action you take is your sole responsibility. & YOU chose to do it. If you feel regret towards the actions you've taken, that is your own consequence... ...because at one point that is exactly what you wanted. 'Your Individual Dream' is the truth. & YOU are living it day by day! But the one's who have succeeded in living their American Dreams are the one's who are fully aware about their individual dream. & It is the ones who can realize this & take full advantage of it, who truly live the American Dream. You've read the story of Jesse James
Of how he lived and died;
Of something to read,
Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde. Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang,
I'm sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dying or dead. There's lots of untruths to these write-ups;
They're not so ruthless as that;
Their nature is raw;
They hate all the law
The stool pigeons, spotters, and rats. They call them cold-blooded killers;They say they are heartless and mean;
But I say this with pride,
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean. But the laws fooled around,
Kept taking him down
And locking him up in a cell,
Till he said to me,
"I'll never be free,
So I'll meet a few of them in hell." The road was so dimly lighted;There were no highway signs to guide; But they made up their minds If all roads were blind,They wouldn't give up till they died. The road gets dimmer and dimmer;
Sometimes you can hardly see;
But it's fight, man to man,
And do all you can,
For they know they can never be free. From heart-break some people have suffered;
From weariness some people have died;
But take it all in all,
Our troubles are small
Till we get like Bonnie and Clyde. If a policeman is killed in Dallas,
And they have no clue or guide;
If they can't find a fiend,
They just wipe their slate clean
And hand it on Bonnie and Clyde. There's two crimes committed in America
Not accredited to the Barrow mob;
They had no hand
In the kidnap demand,
Nor the Kansas City depot job. A newsboy once said to his buddy;
"I wish old Clyde would get jumped;
In these awful hard times
We'd make a few dimes
If five or six cops would get bumped." The police haven't got the report yet,But Clyde called me up today;
He said, "Don't start any fights
We aren't working nights
We're joining the NRA." From Irving to West Dallas via duct
Is known as the Great Divide,
Where the women are kin,
And the men are men,
And they won't "stool" on Bonnie and Clyde. If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They're invited to fight
By a sub-gun's rat-tat-tat. They don't think they're too tough or desperate,
They know that the law always wins;
They've been shot at before,
But they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin. Some day they'll go down together;
And they'll bury them side by side;
To few it'll be grief
To the law a relief A key theme in American literature is the American Dream. This idea-- the dream of a better life in a new world-- encompasses both hope & despair. There are various versions of the dream that are incorporated into our past & present. We are told that early explorers of North America sought wealth; Puritans came seeking religious freedom; immigrants escaped terrible people & cultures. The American Dream is an intricate concept, one that becomes more complex the you analyze & examine it's various aspects. I guess you could look at The American Dream the same way. It's as nerve-wracking as starting at a new school.
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