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Group A Module 2
Transcript of Group A Module 2
“Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie.
It first appeared as part of series “The Joy of Reading and Writing”, written by Sherman Alexie and published by the LA Times (April 19, 1998.)
This short story is a description of Alexie’s life as an Indian boy, who grew up in a low-income family on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington State.
He describes himself in first person of how he first learned to read with a Superman comic book. He was influenced by his father's love for books. He soon discovered the potential of his imagination, and how he could naturally illustrate the pictures and dialogues in his own words even though he was too young to know what they really meant. He also explains the struggles that he and his peers experienced during their childhood in a non-Indian environment. With such a strong personality, he does not accept to be a failure and want to prove others that Indian kids have all standard values like other normal kids. He then becomes a writer and teaches creative writing to Indian kids.
“Immigration Problem Is About Us, Not Them” By Jo-Ann Pilardi
This was published in the Baltimore Sun newspaper on June 7, 2006.
It’s the author point of view on the US has been dealing with the immigration problem that leads to a controversy that has been unsolvable for many years.
Her main point is about hiring illegal employers, who she also calls “illegal native employers”. She strongly criticizes them for taking advantage of the apertures of labor policies to use and exploit the cheap labor of millions of undocumented workers. She believes that the real problem is actually the people who ignore the serious essence of matter in order to only enrich their own purposes. She also has the hope of new changes on creating a fair immigration policy.
“Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples.
Was originally appeared in Harper Magazine in December 1986, under the title “Just Walk On By.” by Brent Staples, a journalist and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago.
This is a narrative essay about the recompilation of Staples memories, an African-American, who experienced the true prejudice.
This occurred on a deserted street in Chicago in 1970s. For the first time, he discovered that his presence on the street late at night was enough to frighten a young white woman. He was mistaken for a burglar, and often receives the suspicious looks from other people as well as witnessed another black man journalist was dragged from his car by the police officers at gunpoint when he was on his way to work on a story about a murderer. He then learned that in order to make himself less threatening, he had to act or move more carefully; particularly in the evening. He even whistled Beethoven and Vivaldi’s melodies, which he thought that he could minimize the senses of the fear and precaution of the walkers in some way.
II. What Were Your (and all the group members’) “Gut Reactions” to the Works as You First Read Them?
“Immigration Problem Is About Us, Not Them”
“This article gives me a deeper look on illegal immigration problem. The fact is that our society’s needs are satisfied by these abundant but cheap labor sources. It is undeniable of what they can do all hard works, but many of us cannot handle. In fact, it widens the rich and poor division. It impacts on the economy, healthcare, education, and also threats our border security.”(Le)
“My first reaction is this has been a very complicated issue so far. I would say I partly agree his opinion about the illegal immigrants who were innocent in the process of the whole thing. The employer of course should be responsible for the most parts of illegal. However, immigrant should take parts of responsibility on what they were doing, and what consequence those immigrant would cause due to illegal status.” (Zhou)
“I liked the way this story refers to the immigrants. It gives a complete different perspective than the usual thought. It was really interesting how Pilardi made an observation in the people who takes advantage of the immigrants instead of painting the immigrants as the ones who’re taking advantage of this country.” (Herrera)
“I liked this story because it took a different approach on immigration. It focuses on the employers of the immigrants and how they are continuing to hire them, not just how the number of illegal immigrants is increasing.” (Sean)
“Black Men and Public Space”
“My first thought is that Staples utilized the phrase “My first victim” ironically to emphasize and drive the readers’ attention to the fact he’s actually the victim of the inaccurate impression of the people whom he encounters. He reflects upon others’ judgments that only based on skin color or the appearances without authoritativeness. However, he stays calm, keeps his positive attitude toward those misunderstanding. He is intelligent and well educated who does not use the violence to persuade and alters the stereotypes among people around other than his forgiveness, understanding and concession.” (Le)
“ My gut reaction to this work is the black people especially for the young men who have been facing unusual circumstance we have never recognized before. I felt sorry for this outstanding young man who have to suffer different kinds of prejudices just because of his skin color.” (Zhou)
“The first thought that came to my mind was shocking, I thought that the story was going to be something related to a crime, after I started reading my perspective was completely different. I loved the way the Staples communicates with the reader using really dark and emotional phrases.” (Herrera)
“This story made me realize how much stereotypes and appearances are judged by people. The author is an intelligent man, who can't walk down the street because of his skin color and how he looks. It makes you think about how appearances can affect peoples perceptions.” (Sean)
“Superman and Me”
“An impression and admiration of how he develops a very interesting comparison with the structure of the paragraph at such a young age, and how he amazingly can structures words together from observing a comic book, and vividly compares with things, people, and places as vital, lively paragraphs. He inspires me with the fact that he shows his strong positive attitude toward opposing prejudices against Indian kids who are considered as being uneducated or brainless in non-Indian environment, and wants to break through those thoughts by improving himself as a successful writer. More importantly, he wants to send a message to the younger Indian generation that education is the only solution, which can help them to succeed.” (Le)
“My first thought is the author was so remarkable when he was a little boy; as he was so brave to act against the environment around him. Reading seems like his most loyal friend.” (Zhou)
“My first reaction was that this story has a different tone, it allows the reader to feel the way the Alexie is feeling, but with a different tone. It gives a really good personal perspective about how people prejudices and this sets limits into a child mind.” (Herrera)
“This story is a great example of doing what you love and not caring what anyone else thinks. The author was bullied simply because he loved to read but that didn't stop him from becoming an author and a teacher.” (Sean)
III. What “rhetorical mode” is the piece listed under (i.e. in what chapter of the book does each work appear), and how effectively does the piece represent that mode?
As a Narrative essay “Black Men and Public Space” is a narrative essay that uses figurative language to show the author’s feelings towards the experiences he overcomes. It contains:
Descriptive language Example:
“I was to become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear” This gives detail and uses figurative language to explain the author’s feelings to the reader.
“I chose, perhaps unconsciously, to remain a shadow—timid, but a survivor”
“I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi…It is my equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country.”
This strategy is used by Staples to reveal the many things he had to do to remain in a “safe” mode in order to survive. He uses metaphors comparing his actions to unlike things with a Cause and effect rhetorical mode.
“Superman and Me” is a narrative essay that uses figurative language to tell the author’s story about his childhood. It contains:
Descriptive language example:
“They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living room. In a fit of unemployment-inspired creative energy.” The author describes the quantity of books his father owned and how these, during his childhood, surrounded him.
“My family house was a paragraph, distinct from the other paragraphs of the LeBrets to the north.” He uses the word paragraph as a parapraxis, using it to try to explain itself the true meaning of this one.
“Immigration problem is about us not them” is an Argument essay, the author gives her opinion about something that is completely debatable.
“But whatever we do, we should stop thinking the problem is just about “securing our borders”- from them. The immigration problem is fundamentally a demand for cheap labor – for a supply to fill our demand.” This reflects the argument of the author implying that the immigration problem is not about the immigrants or the lack of security in the frontier, but the opportunities that are presented to the immigrants.
IV. What Connects the Works?
The three essays are related to prejudice. How people judge and create an image on the fate of the person based upon race. “Immigration Problem Is About Us, Not Them” by Jo-Ann Pilardi, “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples and “Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie; Give a glance to different stories from the discussion about how people in this country has a pre molded idea of an stereotype.
“Immigration Problem Is About Us, Not Them” by Jo-Ann Pilardi, gives the authors’ opinion about the Immigration problem, and how the people who are usually judged and blamed are the immigrants who’s only purpose of coming to America is to find a job; but no one points the people who employs them. The authorities, the American population and the news, are mainly focused on the 12 million people who’s judge everyday, they’re classified as criminals; people who don’t have documents because they’re “hiding “ something, but nobody tries to understand them and see the true reason why they came, and see them as people who’s only wish is to find a work and be able to sustain their families.
So as “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples relates the author’s personal experience about how he felt affected by the prejudice of people against his skin color. He finds himself trying to make people see the truth about his intention and he answers this judgment in a passive way; intentionally trying to show that he’s well educated by whistling classical music melodies.
And “Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie shows the author’s story focusing on his personal problem about the stereotype he was raised on. He was an Indian and surrounded by Indians he could observe that the majority of these were used to think that they were less than the other kinds of people. He refused to see himself as something less and got over the prejudice that people imposed on his race.
The authors are all Americans and many of their works issue the themes of racism and immigration. “Superman and Me” was published by the LA Times (April 19, 1998.) “Black Men and Public Space” appeared in Harper Magazine in December 1986, under the title “Just Walk On By.” And “Immigration Problem is About Us, Not Them” was published in the Baltimore Sun Newspaper on June 7, 2006.
Sherman Alexie has informal kind of writing. He reflects his pride in his words as he says “I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky.” His tone is somehow informal and he approaches the reader in a personal and emotional way, trying to make this one understand the things he got through and how he feels satisfied with all his accomplishments.
Brent Staples has a more serious and dark tone as he starts the essay with a really interesting approach “My first victim was a woman.” This allows the reader to imagine different kinds of scenarios and sets the mood making it easier to understand his feelings. He tries to explain his position and his problem in a way that the reader feels identified and understands him sharing his emotions.
Jo-Ann Pilardi has a more impersonal type of writing. She is not appealing to the readers emotions nor feelings, she’s trying to approach the readers rationing capacity, to react to her clear statement. “This immigration debates always focus on small brown bodies jumping fences and scooting through the brush of our southwestern states.” She states as her first phrase, which sets the reader in a critical position against the immigration debates.
V. What Ideological, Philosophical, Political and/or Spiritual Content Emerges in the Works?
Immigration Problem: This story is political because it is focusing on the reasons why there is an illegal immigration problem in the U.S. There are different arguments on how to solve this problem but the author is using a different point of view to discuss the topic.
“Black Men and Public Space” This story had political content to it because of the way he is treated as a black man. He does everyday things that are judged by other people just because of the way he looks.
“Superman and Me” This story also has political content to it. His love for reading is different from what is normal in the Indian society, so he is looked at as strange or different compared to the other children in his class.
The idea of these three essays is to approach the reader in a way this one realizes how this society acts based upon what it sees; judging and basing their opinion in politics and ethnicity.
VI. What about the work did you find shocking, ironic, profound, difficult to accept, or generally disturbing?
“Immigration Problem Is About Us, Not Them”
I felt it was profound, and a little difficult to accept because those issues are complex problems. It is not possible just blame the people who hires illegal people to work for them. As the immigration officer, you should block the illegal source; completely eradicate the immigration from taking place. In doing this, the boss, the entrepreneur would not be able to employ those cheaper labors. It’s not only the people who hires them fault, it is also the lack of importance that the documents have, if the blame is appointed just to the ones who take advantage of the problem then nothing will be done in respect to the quantity of illegal people who migrates to the United States.
“Black Men and Public Space”
I felt it was shocking and very profound. Since I have never thought about a group of people who have been under such a pressure that seems to be normal circumstance to us. Just to think of the possibility that one day we want to offer our help to someone, and this person is scared of us because, based on our image we are a criminal in their mind and they judge us without even knowing our true intention. Those feelings would definitely hurt, and prevent us from being nice with someone else. When those cases become an every day routine, There is nothing else to but accept them with sadness. As the main purpose of life we need to move on. How to eliminate discrimination seems to be a social issue that society needs to work on, and it might not be something to be fixed in one day, but one by one people should create a more active conscience.
“Superman and Me”
I was shocked by this story, since this Indian boy showed an extraordinary ability despite the humble life he was living. He didn’t allow that the awful environment that surrounded him and the people to disturb him from being an outstanding person. This story is profound as well and inspirational. It gives a clear and wonderful example of breaking the barriers that society puts people in based on ethnicity and economy. This story shows that forming a habit of reading can guide one to be a different person and eventually change one's life.
VII. What Are Some of the Best Vocabulary Terms Among the Works (Collectively)?
“Immigration Problem Is About Us, Not Them”
"Illegal" - Normally we are referring to the people who has no identity, less education, less money etc. But the word in this article is more likely to refer to people who are prestigious, wealthy, and eminent status.
"Amnesty" - the author's tone was tinged with irony. As he thought the illegal workers actually contributed a lot to this country. They should not be considered as criminal who gives up weapons without punishment.
“Black Men and Public Space”
"Tension-reducing measure" - the words is not self tension - reducing, it is actually reducing the tension of the people around the author.
"Unwieldy inheritance" - this is the way the author console himself with soothing remarks.
“Superman and Me”
"I am arrogant"- The author is so proud of himself for becoming a man of great achievement. He is also one of the few people who got out of environment where everyone lived in a poor life.
"Paragraph" - is referring to something else according to the author. You could say the reservation they lived was a small paragraph within the United States. The family was a paragraph distinct from the other paragraph of other areas. The author was trying to understand what the paragraph means by giving himself some vivid examples.
VIII. Which Motion Pictures, Works of Visual Art/Music, or Other Literary Works (Novels, Poems, Plays) Do You Associate With These Assigned Readings?
I associate the stories with the song “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan. This song is a clear protest about the imprisonment of a man called Rubin Hurricane and acts of prejudice because of the race of the individual who was accused of a crime. So as in the essay of Staples he’s accused of different crimes and stopped by police officers, and in Pilardi’s essay the immigrants are classified as criminals, so as the Indians in Alexies’ work are classified in a stereotype as stupid people not able to make big accomplishments academically.
“Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, "My God, they killed them all!"
Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.
Three bodies lyin' there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously.
"I didn't do it," he says, and he throws up his hands
"I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand.
I saw them leavin'," he says, and he stops
"One of us had better call up the cops."
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin'
In the hot New Jersey night.
Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around.
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that.
In Paterson that's just the way things go.
If you're black you might as well not show up on the street
'Less you want to draw the heat.”
I relate the stories to the book “Pride and Prejudice” as this one is about pre-judging somebody based on one most likely irrelevant fact, so as wealth, race, or looks.
And I also relate the stories to the song “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who. The lyrics of the song express the feelings of a man who’s trying to say that nobody understand him, that people hates him, and they draw a fate for him. But that he wont loose the illusion of making his dreams come true. This song can be related directly to the story of “Superman and Me” that shows the struggles of the author to pass through the live and destination people though he would have and become something better.
“No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
No one knows what it's like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies
But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be”