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Archive for May, 2009


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Their Eyes were Watching God is a novel by the African American writer, Zora Neale Hurston. It is about a woman named Janie who becomes free after surviving three marriages, each one having its own problems. In the beginning, Janie is married to Logan Killicks when she is still a teenager by her grandmother, who thinks that the fate of black females is hopeless. She ends up living unhappily with a man who harshly tells her to work all the time. Then she marries Joe Starks, who becomes mayor of Eatonville, a black town. Although she lives a comfortable life, she is not allowed to engage in activities or talk with others and should represent the image the public wants her to see. Her third husband, Tea Cake, a confident, easy-going man, gives her more freedom as an independent person, engages in several activities with her which she would not have been able to do with her previous husbands, and takes her around the country

Their Eyes were Watching God raises several questions for the reader to think about. As the the wife of the mayor Joe Starks, her second husband, who cares only about how Janie appears in public and wants her to play a simple and docile role as a mayor’s wife, should Janie stay with him and enjoy the privilege of having a rich husband or should she leave him? In my opinion, the phonetic dialogue in the novel makes it a unique book, and really gave character to the persons in the novel.

I think that Janie finally becomes completely free and independent after her last husband Tea Cake’s death. Although Tea Cake treated her the best compared to her previous husbands and didn’t undermine her, Janie depended on him and went along with all his plans. She also worried a lot whenever he used to return home late. However, I don’t think it would’ve been possible for Janie to become fully independent without Tea Cake, who was the one who encouraged her and showed her how to be free. I think that Tea Cake was  one of the people whom Janie had to leave to become free. The death of Tea Cake was sad, since he played a large role in Janie’s personality and experience and had good intentions toward her, but if you look at the whole picture, Janie’s motive was to be free and fully independent. If every single one of her husbands was horrible, I guess that eaving them wouldn’t have been emotionally difficult for Jane. Tea Cake was a good person whom Janie had to leave (or in this case, kill in self defense), to reach her goal. When you are on an adventure to accomplish something, you meet good people and bad people. Unfortunately, it is especially difficult to leave the good people. Janie wouldn’t have left Tea Cake on her own. She wouldn’t have been who she was had it not been for him, and he had made a final act that proves his devotion to her. To get rid of Tea Cake and be free, Janie had to be in a “had-to” situation which could cost her her life. Although Janie shall always remember Tea Cake and appreciate him, she will gladly enjoy her self-made independence. Although Tea Cake was a loving husband, who got himself bitten by a dog (later receiving Rabies which led to his illness) in order to save Janie, he was still a burden to her. After shooting him to defend herself from his mania,  she felt some regret since he risked his life for her. Janie is better off without a husband.

http://zoranealehurston.com/

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Anne Frank’s diary is more than a witness to the oppression Jews faced during the Holocaust, but it is an intimate account on the details of adolescence. I think that Anne Frank represents teenagers around the world, no matter what their situations are.  Not only is The Diary of a Young Girl an important document in a historical context, but it is also important in a personal context, I’m sure all teenagers can relate to it. Anne Frank symbolizes adolescents universally, and she proves that even a Jew during the Holocaust has the same feelings as any other teenager. The Diary of a Young Girl is a great insight into the mind of an intellectual, brilliant and friendly person who loves to learn. Anne Frank’s character is so strong and powerful that her account is very inspiring. This is a great book because it gives you a close view of the characters of the victims of the holocaust, such as Mr. Dussel, who is always irritated by Anne, and Mrs. Van Daan, the pretentious and judgmental wife who is living in “The Secret Annex” with her husband along with The Franks. Anne’s Frank’s diary should not just categorized into “holocaust studies” because it will forever remain a relevant and important book, with very deep and truthful observations of life. This diary is evidence that people can maintain their lives and manage even in the worst of situations. Living in hiding behind a bookcase, in a secret branch of an office building, having to speak in whispers and not use water so that the people downstairs don’t discover them, all the people in The Secret Annex manage to have dinner, deal with the issue of sanitation, etc. even in the most awkward of situations!

As Anne Frank matures, so does her writing, and she gradually becomes more and more articulate. I think that, and she says so too in her diary, that Anne’s experience, although unfair and horrible, has made her a stronger and wiser character.

Anne puts into words what all adolescents feel at one time or another, such as not being understood or appreciated by others and wanting to be independent.

Of course, this book has its issues. The beginning may not be very interesting or engaging, it’s filled with everyday details and can be a bore to the reader, but things start to deepen in the end,where she describes her relationship with Peter van Daan, how she feels toward her mother (also in the middle of the book), and what she thinks of herself. However, I don’t think that the book should be judged so critically because, first of all, Anne has already gone through, among millions of others, horrible situations. Imagine being in hiding for 2 years and not being able to go outside, fearing any knock on your door is somebody who wants to take you. Also, Anne Frank only thought of being published in the end, and what was written before that was, in the beginning, thought to be for her only.

Anne Frank’s is a very sad story because it you read about what happened to her later, you’ll notice that had things happened a little later, everything would have turned out differently. I think that her situation was actually very hopeful and optimistic. I’m mentioning again that The Diary of a Young Girl is a major book. I think that for both teens and adults, it will either inspire them to write their diary or encourage them to continue writing. It will make people look at life with a different perspective, one which is more optimistic and intelligent.

Note: be sure to read the Definitive Edition of the diary, because it has a couple of entries that are not in the older version.

Shmoop: The Diary of a Young Girl

http://www.annefrank.com/

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"…On the surface, I seem to have everything, except my one true friend”

“Riches, prestige, everything can be lost. But the happiness in your own heart can only be dimmed; it will always be there, as long as you live, to make you happy again.”
Anne Frank

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Memories of my Melancholy Whores is an interesting narrative by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It still contained Marquez’s dry wit and humor. I liked the way the main character’s misery, loneliness  and agony was depicted:

“…I’m ugly, shy, and anachronistic…”

Marquez’s characters are very complex, and he has a way of of giving you more insight on them by showing you their everyday, usually repetitive but detailed, habits. After reading this book, I came to the conclusion that Marquez has a fluent talent of wrapping up his stories, specifically his novellas. I felt that Memories of my Melancholy Whores was very well structured. The book was an easy read, despite the main characters pain and agony. This story was not captivating or exciting, but a relaxing, slow novella which shouldn’t be underestimated. I think that Marquez shows his high literary skills and abilities in this comic and artful book (not to forget the title).

This is “The First New Novel in Ten Years from the Author of ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE”, but I think that Marquez has more to offer.

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author: John Steinbeck

Set during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl migration, The Grapes of Wrath tells the journey of the Joad family’s migration from Oklahoma to California. I think that The Grapes of Wrath is a very hopeful book. One is deeply inspired as he follows along the great moments and disappointments of the Joad family, which struggles against the odds. The ending of the book leaves the reader with minimal knowledge of what will happen in the future. While reading the book, you would expect to eventually know what happens to the family, but actually you’ll never know. It leaves you as curious as you were during the middle of the book. I think that the message of this book focuses on the present. Despite difficult times and uncertain futures, the Joad family will remain resilient and dignified at all times. The Grapes of Wrath is a great story of hope. All the members of the Joad family have faced devastating tragedy, discrimination and injustice,  but they stay together and move on. The Grapes of Wrath is a  humane book and very true meditation of life.

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