Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Big Question:
We live in a world where our surroundings are constantly changing and our characters developing. This change is good. It allows one to adapt to the change around him and discover what traits make up his being. James Joyce describes this process through his protagonist Stephen Dedalus in his novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and allows the reader to see for himself the changes one must over come in his life to find his true calling and in the end acquire happiness. At the beginning of the novel, Stephen is a Catholic school boy who is afraid to voice his opinion and is more intent to view his environment than experience it. Towards the middle of the book, Stephen's voice begins to pour over the pages from his encounter of reporting a school prefect for unjust punishment to discovering his love of poetry and his life as an artist and dropping out of school to pursue it. In the end, his voice is the only thing that guides the pages of the book with the last pages being journal entries. It is then that he has accepted his voice in his society and reached the full potential his life holds. In regards to growing up, finding our voice in society and discovering our purpose seems daunting and intimidating. We run into the question of what will happen if we do not discover our purpose or even fulfill it. And how do we create a voice in our society? Part of growing up is answering those questions and experiencing the benefits they possess. Is Stephen finding and utilizing his voice and talents demonstrate him growing up? How does one go about this in their own life?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beloved Big Question:

Growing up. A phrase seen as domineering and enticing. If one does not get the chance to grow up he misses the window of opportunity to tap into the person he is meant to be and what he is to accomplish. Toni Morrison acknowledges this opportunity in her novel Beloved through her reference of slavery, its consequences and the idea that when it comes to love there is no distinction between what is right and what is wrong. The book starts off with Sethe, the protagonist, living with her daughter Denver in a house that is haunted by the ghost of Sethe’s other daughter whom she killed in order to save  her  from returning to slavery. The book continuoulsy reverts between characters of the book and their past experiences so the reader can gain perspective and reasoning behind the events taking place in the present setting. However, the most important characteristic of the book is the idea that humans in general are incapable of possession and that the exercising of possessiveness in the end leads to chaos.
Every character in the book has a memory or scar that symbolizes possession. For Sethe, it is the “clump of scars” (Morrison 25) on her back from where she was whipped and also the memory of her owner’s nephew “ taking her milk” (19) from when she was still on the plantation. Her scar symbolizes a tree,”inviting; things you could trust and be near; talk to if you wanted to” (25) but for Sethe it symbolizes experience coupled with possession. The experience of evolving from being a slave and forced into a life of submission into a life of freedom and self content and the possession her slave holders had over her and took from her. Denver’s symbol of possession originates from the the story of her mother killing her sister and trying to kill her brother  and constantly living in fear of the idea that her mother might kill her as well. Sethe’s inconcious possession from Denver keeps her from developping into an independent woman who can survive on her own. Then there is Beloved, the ghost of the dead daughter in human form who comes to Sethe and Denver’s house only to slowly gain possession over Sethe and force her to focus all attention towards her. All these forms of possession bring out the hypocrisy of human nature where we do not desire to be possessed by others but enjoy the idea of holding power over others. The three women in the book strived to escape possession but in the end became the possessed or possessors stinting their own development into the people they were meant to be and hindering them from the good they could have done.
Children are content with ownership whether it be from having power over our toys to being the leader in a social setting. Growing up, however, aids them in realizing that ownership over another or being owned does not ellicit happiness nor does it improved their own development into maturity. The point when one reaches the conclusion that he possess nothing but himself and his own wellbeing is when he has also made it through his journey of “growing up”. Yet this claim begs one to ask, do most people reach this ending point in their lives? And if they don’t, are they still considered to be “grown up”? What do they possess to make it so?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Stranger Big Question:

Honesty. It is the truest attribute one can have in life. Not honesty whose intention is to hurt someone, but the type of honesty that sets out to create a clear scope of what life is to oneself and the truth it holds for others. In Albert Camus's The Stranger we are allowed to view a life based on raw honesty, disregarding the consequences that may accompany it, through the eyes of his protagonist Meursault. Meursault leads a life of simplicity. His day to day regime consists of him making choices that solely benefit his happiness, such as eating when he is hungry, going out with his girlfriend Marie when he desires to or traveling to the beach if the situation calls for it. To Meursault, life is about "all or nothing" as if you can live a cautious life, afraid of the opinions others may have of you and be dishonest to yourself or lead a life that is individualistic, only focusing on the happiness you have and hoping others feel the same way. Meursault believes that there is "no way out" (Camus 17) of the life you are accountable for but there is a way of living it to your best ability.

Growing up is about facing and acquiring these personal truths such as Camus did. When we reach the point where responsibility of our well being relies solely on us, we make the choice as to how to approach this responsibilty and decide what, in the end, is best for us and those around us. For us, making this choice is not always a two- way street, black and white decision. We acknowledge the challenges we might face from the path we take but when there comes the time where the choice must be made and the life lived, we choose the type of person we want to be who best fits our honest self. Meursault faced this decision, in the book he dapples on the memory of his life in college where he was ambitous. When reflecting on his life and the happiness it held he realizes, "I wasn't unhappy. When I was a student I had lots of ambitions" (41). His honesty of acknowledging what his life was and what it is now is important. He chose to live a life where amibition was neglected and concise living was encouraged. To some, this is a life filled with boredom and mundance existence. Yet to Meursault, it is a life that produced satisfaction, which in reality is what truly matters. Reaching the brink of maturity calls for us to ponder the question, with whatever road you take to who you will become, will it bring happiness in your life or regret? Meursault may have lived a life that did not consist of exuberant happiness but in the end resulted in a feeling of contentment and gratefulness. The phrase "I wasn't unhappy" is the sole statement we must utilize when growing and progressing into the best versions of ourselves we can be. However, one must consider if honesty does in fact entitle the idea that we are growing up and if it does, does it yield to a life of self content?