Global Literature 255

What is Global literature 255? I think that splitting up the reading list was an appropriate way to conduct the class. I think that one should represent and respect the cannon, in spite of if’s flaws and still welcome other types of literature from other voices and cultures. One of the greatest gifts that literature gives us is the ability to bridge gaps between different lands and different cultures. It also creates empathy, towards other cultures and peoples that some readers may never experience or meet in their daily lives.
With this being said, I would change the book selections on the reading list if I were to conduct a Global Literature class. I would indeed keep some of the works that you included; but I would add a lot of different books. In regards to the first half of the reading list, which were books that are considered “classics”, I would keep Heart of Darkness, and The Sun also Rises. The reason why I would keep both these novels is because they involve American, or Western characters in foreign lands. I think that works that involve Americans being in other lands should be included in this class because if done correctly, the readers can really learn and experience traveling to these lands. They can share the same experiences and adventures that the characters experience in new and different lands.
This is done extremely well in both The Sun Also Rises, and in Heart of Darkness. Hemingway, in his signature style, lets the readers experience Spain the way most people would only dream of. The reader feels that they are on the bus with Jake Cohen when he is traveling across the Spanish country side, drinking wine with the locals. The vivid description of the bull fights that Hemingway gives paints such a detailed description to his readers; “I told her about watching the bull, not the horse, when the bulls charged the picador…I had her watch how Romero took the bull away from the fallen horse with his cape, and how he held him with the cape and turned him, smoothly and suavely, never wasting the bull”(Hemingway 171). For someone who may never be able to experience a bull fight in person, reading Hemingway’s narrative serves as the next best thing.
The reader also gets a vivid portrayal of the African landscape in Heart of Darkness. Although this novel is filled with prejudice and stereotypes, it can also be celebrated for the dramatic depictions of the landscape as Marlow travels down the African river; “Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive, immense, running up high, and at their foot, hugging the bank against the steam, crept the little begrimed steamboat like a sluggish beetle crawling on the floor of a lofty portico. It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing, that feeling…the reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way to our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness” (Conrad 35). The vivid descriptions that Conrad uses throughout this novel give the reader the feeling that they are also traveling down an African river, into a wild jungle, into the unknown. For someone who has never travelled to a wilderness or down a river, they can see what it may be like. They can now somehow relate to Marlow’s experience and use this as a common point with others and other experiences that they will have in their lives.
Other works that I would add that follow the cannon would be “Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton, “Daisy Miller” by Henry James, and A Passage to India by E. M Forester. All of these particular works may not be on the canon, but their writers are. I think that these works would make a good addition to the reading list for Global Literature because they, like The Sun Also Rises, and Heart of Darkness, tell the narrative of American characters as outsiders. The protagonists of these stories have to experience life outside of the comforts of their American culture and in these works the reader gets to experience what it is like to live in a country and culture different from their own. I believe that works like this would be a great addition to the reading list for a global literature class.
Although I see the importance of studying works like Of Sound and of Fury, and “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”, I do not know if they fit into a Global Literature class. Of Sound and Fury takes place in the south and although it is one of my favorite works, and something that I enjoyed reading again this semester, it just does not fit into a Global Literature class. Again, with “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”, although it is a great piece of literary work that should if nothing else be respected and studied, it should not be a part of the Global Literature reading list. As a reader, I did not take away any new cultural knowledge from these works. Can I appreciate the use of symbols, imagery, language, and dialect of the works, Yes! But these are not necessary as important in a Global Literature class, as is the introduction of new worlds and new characters.
One may question why to include books from the canon at all. There are many arguments that the canon is outdated and that it is not representational of all cultures. This argument is true, but it does not take away from the timelessness and mastery of the works that are indeed included in the canon. These works should still be appreciated, respected, and taught. The canon does not need to be the sole source of literary works that one should read in a global literature class. The class should also introduce works that are not included on the canon; works that are perhaps too new or too foreign to fit the canon’s strict requirements. This is why I also believe that Global Literature 255 should include works that are not on the canon.
The only work that I would keep which we read from the second half of the semester is Persepolise, by Marjane Satrapi. This is because it is a great work of literature, which does not follow the standard form that most of us read in English class; it is a graphic novel. Another reason why I think this work should be taught and kept is because the main character tells us about her experience in another country. Before reading this work, I knew nothing of the Iran war, and after reading this book and discussing it in class I feel that I can sympathize with it’s characters. I too felt the anticipation and nervousness as Marjane had to sneak into her home and pour all her father’s wine down the toilet so that the government would not arrest her family. I too was sad when I learned of Marjane’s uncle who went to jail for being a Communist. I too felt for the mothers whose sons were manipulated into joining the army and giving up their lives to fight a war whose only interest is for the government and not the citizens. I too felt betrayed and confused as I listened to the radio announcements with Marjane and her family about the progress of the war when I knew that what the radio was reporting was pure fiction.
This is the only work that we read in the second half of the semester where the plot takes place outside the United States. Drown, Woman Warrior, and Dreams from my Father all take place in the United States. This class is a global literature class and I believe it is important to read works that do not take place within the confines of our country. Being exposed to different cultures outside of the United States is very important, and should be a main focus in a global literature class. Some really great works that I would have liked to have seen added to the list would be The Dubliners, by James Joyce, Dialogue of the Dogs, by Miguel Cervantes, and Time of the Doves by Merce Rodoreda. These are just some examples of works that I have fallen upon in other classes, such as a Spanish Literature class, which would fit perfectly into a Global Literature course. All of these works not only tell stories outside of the United States, but they all also act as windows to different cultures. In all three works, one can get an understanding of Dublin, Spain and Mexico. We see how the people in different cultures interact with one another and live their daily lives. Like Marjane, in Persepolise, we the readers experience the characters trials and tribulations along with them. In Dialogue of the Dogs, the main characters are two dogs, Scipil and Berganza. Due to the creative and different narrators of this short story, we, the readers, get a completely different view of Mexico and Mexican culture. It is works like this that I now only remember for years to come, but that I pass along to others. I take what I have gotten from works like this, works that are so different from my culture and my everyday life, and share it with others, make connections, and learn from. Even 1001 Arabian Nights would have made a lovely addition to the syllabus. To see some of the earliest works of literature and fantasy that we have from this area of the world would have made an interesting discussion point. Perhaps giving us something like that and then a more modern piece of literature from the same part of the world would have served a greater purpose then reading narratives from American immigrants.
To use a quote by a poet we did study in our class this semester, Yeats, “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire”. This is something that I believe is so true and one of the best way to educate is through literature. Reading texts that are outside our culture and about characters that travel to different worlds can be uses as a tool to help educate. Reading these texts can help show us how different we are from others and hopefully show how alike we are as well. This is why I believe that a Global Literature class should have many different texts for it’s reading list. Some books that come from the canon and others that does not. Some works which have American or Western characters and some that do not. I think it is important for a Global Literature class to introduce and show different countries and cultures in it’s texts and help us, the readers, make connections that may otherwise not be made. This is what I believe a Global Literature should do for us as students and us as readers.

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Little girls should be seen and not heard

We see silence in many of the stories of this book. In the last chapter we learn that as a child Maxine was silent for three years while at school. She was left back in kindergarden for not speaking. She does however speak at home and at Chinese school. Maxine hates a schoolmate becasue she is silent and reminds Maxine alot of herself. The silent girl is a mirror image of Maxine and Maxine takes out her own self hatred and self frustratins on this girl. Maxine wants to be popular and have friends but she knows that she is different and always will be. She cannot find her voice. She will always be an outsider. She is too Chinese to be accepted by the Americans and she is to Western to be accepted by her family. Maxine cannot find her voice until she finds a place for it to be heard. I place where she feels comfortable and accepted.
We have seen Maxine struggle to find her voice in earlier chapters. She often has trouble speaking up to her bosses and people do not like to hear her voice. Like Maxine, her other relatives have also lead silent lives. Her Aunt for example is someone who never really spoke up and was left behind, forgotton. This is something that Maxine does not want to happen to her. This is one of the many reason why she is so determined to find her voice and for it to be heard. She does not want to live a lonley silent live.
It seems that in writing this novel, Maxine is finally able to find her own voice. She tells us the reader her own talk-stories…a habit she learned from her mother. She tells us stories of people she has encountered, sometimes making up parts of their lives that she doesn’t fully know. She tries to teach lessons in her stories, just like how her mother had tried to teach her though ther talk stories. From writing this novel Maxine ends her silence as a Chinese woman. She is able to find the confidence to show us who she is as a woman…a warrior.

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Mother…

I don’t know if I would necessarly say that Maxine’s mother is different in both these stories. In both she famously tells of her talk stories…which I believe are supposed to mirror Aesop’s fables…they are to teach morals in the form of a story. In Shaman we learn that Brave Orchard is brave. She goes to school to become a doctor after her first two children died while her husband is away. While at school, Brave Orchard excells academically, helping to eliminate the preconcived idea that women are not as smart or useful as males in China. We also learn how she then became a midwife and we hear of the horrific stories of midwives killing baby girls. We also hear of stories of how families would leave deformed babies to die, becasue they are not considered useful or valuable in China.
Then we see that Brave Orchard has to work at a laundry and then in a tomato field once she reaches America. She has this amazing education and is not able to use it here. She is also believed to be a shaman and chase away ghosts. Well if ghosts are anything like demons then Brave Orchard should of used her gifts to help her sister Moon Orchard chase away her demons. When Moon Orchard finally makes her way to America we see a woman who the world has forgotten. Her husband has left her in China and has moved on to a new wife and family. Moon Orchard does not know how to adapt to the new life here in America and her sister takes her under her wing and tries to take care of her. Brave Orchard again proves how brave she is by comming up with a plan to confront Moon Orchard’s husband and have him accept her as his first and true wife. It is Brave Orchard that goes and finds her brother-in-law and confronts him. Unfortunatley the plan does not go accordinginly and Moon Orchard is once again abandoned by her husband. This and the pressures of being in a new country finally start to wear it’s toll on Moon Orchard. We see Brave Orchard’s strength when she tries to take care of her sister while Moon Orchard slowly deteriorates. Again Brave Orchard has to show how brave and strong she is when she has to finally put her sister into a mental asyllum.
I think in both stories we see how Brave Orchard is brave, and determined and strong. She holds the values of her heritage and homeland in a frim grasp. She tries to instill the customs and traditions onto her daughters. She wants them to be strong and brave but in the confines of their culture. Brave Orchard understands the role Chinese woman play and the role they can play. What she doesn’t acknowledge is that this role can be so much bigger and wider and broader in the United States and that in our American eyes…she is super traditional. Brave Orchard sees herself as progressive and strong and within her own context she is.

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The swordswoman and I…

Maxine believes that she is a woman warrior because she has had to battle to defend herself. Not physically in a war like Fa Mu Lan, but she has had to defend her self worth. Because she is a girl, she was never truly valued or appreciated in her family or her culture. Girls are bad is what she grew up hearing. Maxine recalls the excitement of her parents when they had a boy. She questions “Did you rjollan egg on my face like that when i was born? Did you have a full-monthparty for me? Did you turn on all the lights? Did you send my picutre to Grandmother? Why not? Because I’m a girl?” As a Chinese girl, Maxine and her sister are not valued or appreciated. In fact they bring shame to their family; “I minded that the emigrant villagers shook their heads at my sister and me. ‘One girl-and another girl’ they said, and made our parents ashamed to take us out together”. Maxine and her sister were not treated fairly and their brother was. He got all the attention and all the glory. As a child he allowed to go out with Great-Uncle and came home with candy and new toys. The girls got nothing. They were not something to be proud of. We see this again when Maxine is older and she recalls how she was not praised for getting straignt A’s. In fact, she realizes that while in college her A’s were only bring value to her future husband and his stauts…not her own. Maxine recognizes that her enemies are “business-suited in their modern American exdcutive guise…each boss two feet taller than I a and impossible to meet eye to eye”. Ths was also when “urban renewal tore down my parents’ laundry and paved over our slum for a parking lot”. Maxine has had to fight to be valued and to have an idendity that is respected. She is a swordswoman..only her sword is her education.
She also relates to the family and her kinsfolk that are still in China and have had to fight against the govenment. Many of them have lost their jobs and are poor and starving. They have to work long hours and are given harldy any food to survive. The government has told the old ladies to “go and kill yourself..you’re useless”. Maxine relates to these woman and wants all Chinese woman to fight and be respected within their culture. She recalls the ink drawings of her parents of people pushing their baby girls down the river. Maxine wants to break down the restrains of the Chinese woman. She wants to prove that she is valuable and can do great things. She does not wish to be a slave to her husband but to serve herself. She wants to be like Fa Mu Lan and prove that girls are just as worthy and honorable as boys.
Maxine considers herself a woman warrior becasue she not only had to fight to be valued as a girl within her own community but she also has to fight to be valued as a Chinese person outside of her community. Her family has lost their laundry business and has had to deal with prejudice in this country.

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Dreams of my Father

Ok…so this is the problem with this novel. I really cannot read it. I know you all may be confused but my parents are super conservative and would totally tweek if i purchased this book. I mean my parents receive Christmas cards from the Bush family. During the Bush/Kerry election my father refused to buy Heinz products!!! Do you know just how crappy Hunts ketchup is??? And it gets even funnier/worse. My boyfriend’s family…even more conservative. I come from a gun owning, Sara Pailin loving family who will not allow me to contribute to the independent wealth of Obama…even though Oprah loves him. So sorry I can’t be of more help on this blog or assignment but hopefully some of my families crazy antics bought some smiles to everyone!!!

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Drown…favorite

Like most of the class, my favorite chapter is How to date a brown girl, black girl, white girl, or halfie. I like the style of this chapter. It is set up like a self help article. One can almost see this in being in a urban cosmo magazine. Just how girls loved the book “The Rules” young immigrant men will follow the same guidelines given by our speaker.
It is interesting to see how the speaker seperated the different girls based on their race and where they are from. For instance, if the girl is from the neighborhood it is ok to just move the government cheese, but if the girl is from a different area, a nicer more upscale neighborhood, then the speaker advises his reader to hide the cheese. He does not want the girl to know his families socio-economic sisuation and shows that he will be embarrassed if she were to see that his family receives government food. That he is in fact less powerful then she.
It is also interesting to see that where the speaker takes his dates also depends on where they are from. If the girl is not from town, then he will take her to a nicer restaurant, but if she is a local girl, she only gets Wendys. This makes sense later on becasue the speaker reveils to his audience that if the girl if from out of town, he is almost gauranteed to get some action from her. She has something to prove. She is rebelling against her parents and against society. Many times, she will be like her mother “if she a halfie, don’t be surprised that her mother is the white one”. Local girls are less willing to sleep with our speaker. They are from the neighborhood and know that they will gain a reputation. The out of town girls on the other hand do not know anyone so they are less concerned with their reputations in this area.
The speakers attitude is very interesting to pay attention to after he hooks up with a girl. He will not pick up the phone when she calls him. He will not walk her out to the car, partly because she does not want him to, and partilly becasue he does not care enough to. He recognizes that afterwards the girl will want to talk to him, to get some reassurance from him that he doesn’t think less of her or that he really does like her, but he does not give it to her. He, himself is detached. He will go and watch television, and act as if he was not on a date.

The end of this chapter reminds us of the speakers age. He has to remind himself to put back the cheese before his mother kicks his ass. He also had to lie and scam his mother in order to have her leave him alone in the apartment. He pretends to be sick. I think it is safe to assume that the speaker is around 13 or 14 years old. It is ironic for someone so young to be giving such detailed advice on how to date girls and which girls one can and cannot sleep with. At times, the speaker seems so much older, yet we are bought back to the reality of the sisuation at the end.
This is a very popular chapter. A shorter version of this was published in The New Yorker December 25th, 1995. This shows how appealing the idea of this young teenager giving dating and sex advice to his peers is to people. He speaks in such a convincing way that one really does think that a teenager could of wrote this story.

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Drowned…voice of the narrator

In the second chapter..the voice is once again Yunior who is a young Dominican boy. He yearns for his father’s acceptance and love, yet the two of them often clash. Yunor is always the one getting in trouble and his dad is the one who punishes him. Yunior is close with his older brother Rafa as well as his mother and little sister.
Like many immigrant children Yunior feels the culture clash between his American life and his families traditions back home. At a party, Yunior’s uncle asks if he wants somethng to drink “We have beer and rum”…his mother then replies that he is only a child and too young to drink alchole. Yunior’s uncle then states that back in D.R. he be getting laid by now. This is just one example of how the cultures and morals are different in each culture and how Yunior has to adjust himself to fit into both worlds. Yunior tells of how he met his father’s mistress, and how his parents interacted at a party for his Aunt and Uncle. Again, one can see how these ideas are so general that they can be relatable to most immigrant children, yet Diaz uses such colorful language and specific details that it seems autobiographical.
The is a drastic shift in voice in the next chapter Aurora. The narratior seems much older and less innocent. He is having sex and selling drugs and dealing with the everyday trials of living in the ghetto. We see that he is in a unhealthy relationship with a young woman who is a crack whore!! The narratior is in a unhealthy relationship that he knows is unhealthy yet he does not wish to escape it. In fact, he find appleal in its unstability. The narrator is always first person which helps us the reader feel like we are living their lives along with them. We get a first hand account of these people’s lives which, at least for me, is vastly different from anything I have ever experienced before. We see how people can make poor decisions when they are not givien the proper tools or opportunities. We see how lack of positive role models and know knowing where one fits in a new country and society can lead people to be unambisious. How characters, who are smart and have potential can become victims of their environment.

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The ending of The Sound and the Fury

Well, Well, Well…My earlier idea that Jason may have some ounce of kindness towards Benjy is being thrown out the door. When he slaps Benjy in order to “quiet him” is not a caring approach to anyone, especially a sibling. Clearly he is embarrassed of Benjy’s outburst and wants him to be hidden from society. He knows that Benjy will bring additional shame to the family.
Miss Quentin’s revenge on Jason was something that he def had comming. It makes sense that the one thing that Jason values most, which was his hidden cash, is what Miss Quentin finds and steels. Jason also loved to try to control Miss Quentin. It was like the man who wished to tame the wild horse, but this horse will not be rode by Jason. She is able to escape that house and escape the control of her overbearing and spiteful uncle.
I want to focus on the very last few lines of this novel. I find it befitting that the first character we are introduced to in this novel is the last one we encounter. The novel begins with Benjy looking at the golfers by the flower tree with Luster. It ends with Luster driving Benjy in the horse and carriage and Benjy holding onto a broken flower. His eyes “were empty and blue and serene again”. This is how the Compson house is, it is empty, blue and serene. It is empty of love. The members of the family are sad, crazy, unhappy, unloving. Yet in their miserableness they find some sort of comfort, or familarity, which is what is comforting to them. From the outside, the family looks serene and in a way they are. They find calmness in the tempest that surrounds their lives and relationships with one another.
It saddens me to think of where this family will be once Dilsey dies. She is the glue that holds this family together. She stands up to Jason, comforts Mrs. Compson, and takes care of Benjy.I would hate to think of what will happen once Jason has no one to keep him in check in that household. What will the lifes of Mrs. Compson and Benjy be after Dilsey is gone??

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Jason point of view

“Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say”. This is how Jason begins his section of the novel. What the reader can see with Jason is Once an asshole, always an asshole. We see that Jason’s brattiness and isolation from his siblings in the earlier sections has worsen in his adulthood. Jason only cares about himself. He does not care whether he cheats his sister or mother in order to gain his own financial gains. We learn that the female Quentin is Caddy’s daughter. That she was sent to live with her parents once Caddy and Herbert’s marriage ends. We find out that Herbert learns that Caddy’s baby isn’t his. Herbert was going to bring Jason into the banking industry but that this does not happen once he and Caddy break up. Jason resents his sister for ruining his future, he resents his brother Quentin for being sent to Harvard and then killing himself. He resents the fact that Quentin was so selfish, that their parents sold Bejny’s lot of land in vain.
Jason takes out his resentment of Caddy on her daughter. He sees that, like her mother, Quentin has a firey personality. She, like her mother, is rebellious and, like her mother, is promiscuous. Jason sees that Quentin’s action will bring on additional shame to the family’s name, like her mothers actions have done.
Jason is also resentful that both his sister and brother are gone from the family and he is left in charge of their mother and Bejny. Jason feels that he is going to be stuck in the family house and was forced to reluctently take on the role of the head of the family. Caddy was able to escape the responsibilities of the family by going off and getting married and now she isn’t allowed to come back because of the shame she has given them. Even though this is a bad thing Jason sees that in a way Caddy is being rewarded for her negative decisions because she is free to live her own life, and not forced to run and manage the family. The same with Quentin, he is dead and in turn is free. He does not have the burden of trying to manage the household, deal with female Quentin, try to take care of their Mother and Benjy, and look after the help.
Jason is a character that the readers love to hate. He is selfish and cruel to his family. Although there are times that Jason seems to be kind to Benjy. He uses Benjy as a tool to taunt Quentin, but there are times that he seems to truly care about him. When Jason lets Benjy bring the ratty slipper to the dinner table and tells Quentin that if she has a problem with this she can leave. It is hard to determine whether Jason really does care for his brother or if he just chooses his battles. Jason may not want to hear Bejny cry and carry on at the dinner table after he has “worked” all day so this just may be why he shows some kindness towards his brother. To soley benefit himself. I like to think that perhaps Jason has a shread of kindness in him, but I may be standing alone in this idea.

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If it had been cloudy…

Time. Quentin is trying to escape the confines and restrictions of time. He breaks his watch becasue he does not want to know what time it is. He does not want time to pass. With each passing minute, hour, day, it gets closer to Caddy’s wedding. As each day passes, his youth and the days of he and Caddy playing at the house get further and further away. As each day passes, Caddy’s get more and more pregnant and will eventually have a baby. As each day goes by his family get more and more poor. Quentin thinks of the past year he has spend in Harvard. How the family had to sell Benjy’s plot of land to be able to afford to send him. He thinks of Jason, how the family will never be able to afford to send him to college. How Jason would have liked to go to college, be off on his own. Quentin has stronger bonds and ties to the familly. He wouldn’t mind staying behind and looking after the family. Quentin is trying to escape time. He knows that at a certain time he is going to go to the bridge and jump off, ending his time here on earth. If it was cloudy, this would help him escape time. Quentin can tell by the sun and his shadow what time it is. He cannot escape time. It is always going, and he can never go back, can never catch up. Quentin would like to go back, for time to stand still. For him to stay in his childhood, in his and Caddy’s innocence.

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