Friday, April 4, 2008

Reflective Essay

It was the first days of school when Biology had just ended. I walked slowly to English class, hoping to shave off as much time I spend in English class as possible. As I sauntered through the halls, memories of fear and anguish filled my mind with ghastly images of writing essays and poems. Growing up as an inexperienced writer, I developed distaste for English because I never understood what it took to be a good writer. I feared that I would not be able to do well in English because I never understood it well enough in the past. However, my initial viewpoints regarding proved to be wrong as my senior year in English class progressed.

The most inspiration piece of writing I wrote for class this year is the explication of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In this assignment I had to learn to incorporate the feminist perspective in my writing. At the same time I learned the feminist perspective, I also learned the psychoanalytical perspective. These two perspectives taught me to look far beyond the text and search for a deeper meaning and connection within the text in regards to the real world. It also taught me that there are various approaches in perspectives to explicating a piece of literature. When I first read the guidelines for the assignment, I did not believe that I was capable of writing an eight-page explication of passages in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This lengthy assignment would not have been successful if not for the guidelines I had to follow. At first I wrote an explication on two passages referencing wine imagery. This task was complex because the book happened to be difficult to understand. It was also difficult to incorporate the symbolism of wine to the text. Finishing the explication was a great ordeal, but when I discovered that I had to build upon the explication by incorporating the feminist perspective, I felt overwhelmed. I initially believed that there was no way that I can improve my already detailed explication. This new writing assignment rendered my previous thesis on the wine explication useless. I had to create a new thesis, which would incorporate a connection to my previous wine explication and the feminist perspective. The thesis proved to be the trickiest part of the assignment. However, after my thesis was thought up, the assignment seemed to piece together, allowing me to meet the criteria of the assignment and complete the task. This explication taught me that writing can always be strengthened and improved into a more detailed and better piece.

Formerly a quiet and shy individual, I was afraid of sharing my ideas with the class during class discussions. Progression throughout the year helped me develop the courage to speak in front of an audience. Sharing ideas with an audience does not seem nerve-racking at all! When ideas were shared I saw things in a new light. This assisted me in pursuing a new way of thinking. The explication of page 170 in the Humument is the most creative piece of writing I did this year. Instead of explicating a passage in text, I was explicating poetry combined with various elements of color and images. Understanding poetry had always been difficult for me. Art was never my forte. The assignment called for and explication both art and poetry, creating one of the most challenging piece of writing this year. To my surprise, the assignment did not seem too difficult when I actually put my full concentration into writing the explication. The assignment, however, did require a lot of thinking. As I wrote the explication, I began to have fun thinking of the various ways of to interpreting the artistic poem. I believe that the freedom to write in any way I wished allowed me to enjoy writing a little although the work was also stressful. After finishing the assignment, I was deeply satisfied with my work. I cannot believe that I am capable of producing such work at times when I reflect on my past writing assignments in high school at time. This assignment showed me that I have experienced a great change in writing style since the first day I stepped into English class.

Progression throughout the English class of my senior year has been a great learning experience for me. Enduring the difficulties of the writing assignments allowed me to develop into a better writer. It has also influenced me to see English in a more positive view. I am now more confident in my writing skills thanks to the positive critiques about how to improve my writing. Thank you Mr. G!!! You’re the best, absolute best English teacher ever!

Blessings of Chocolate

I had just purchased a bag of my beloved Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffles and anticipated unraveling the luscious and delectable candy out of its glimmering gold casing. As I placed the chocolate into my mouth, I began to fantasize about the pleasure that would soon consume me. The chocolate I grew to love ultimately devoured me; however it was not in the way I had wished. After the chocolate covered “bundle of joy” was released from my fingertips, it landed on my tongue and proceeded to venture down my throat where it became wedged. Unable to breathe, cough, or swallow, I felt betrayed by the friend I had held so dearly. As I struggled to free myself from this helpless state, the pain grew. The more I struggled, the more pain I felt. Although I was finally released from my confinement a few moments later, the elapsed time felt ceaseless. Feeling deceived and sinful, I dreaded to even look at chocolate ever again.

Give and take: a principle which I innately disregard due to my cultural background. Born under a strict Chinese family, I was taught from the day I was conscious of the world around me to “give” to others rather than to “take” from others. When I “take” from others, I feel momentarily gratified. As a result, I constantly seek a variety of methods to “give” back to others.

Months passed until my friend, Christina, decided it was time that I give chocolate a chance to redeem its benevolence back in my life. I was hesitant to listen to her advice, but I eventually gave in to her request. Slowly, she helped me conquer my fear. I am forever indebted to Christina for her assistance because I no longer fear chocolate. I can enjoy its mouth-watering greatness once again.

Understanding the bliss one can feel from receiving help, I sought to spread this feeling to others around me. Helping others surmount obstacles in their life had always been my passion. It brings me joy to know that I can be of assistance to others.

As I walked through the inviting, yet worn entrance of the church, I was immediately engulfed by an aura of despair. Crowds of eager recipients occupied the limited space available within the soup kitchen. I began to see a reflection of myself among the crowd; each one eager to calm one’s roaring stomachs just as I once anticipated indulging myself chocolate. I did not wish for this crowd of people to suffer as I had in the past. Hunger is agonizing to bear, even more than my trite experience without chocolate for so long. In order to make sure the crowd did not “choke” I immediately prepared the meals with haste. In this instance, I saw a reflection of Christina in myself; seeking the fastest way to satiate the crowd’s problems. After finishing my duties, I noticed a familiar sight amongst the once famished crowd. Glimmers of gratitude were apparent on each face.

The ability to lend a hand to those in need is my greatest achievement in life. I know from first hand experience the happiness and gratitude one feels when one triumphs over personal obstacles with the help of another individual. Now I “give” to others in need to provide them a little taste of happiness. These experiences taught me that life, like chocolate, can be bittersweet.

Every Visible Thing

"After dinner will be her bath, a lonely affair as she is now trusted to clean herself as long as the door remains open and she calls out every few minutes to say she is okay. Her mother will put Owen in his crib, installed in a curtained-off corner of Lena's room, and her father will grade papers while Hugh watches the news."

After Hugh and Lena finally arrive at home, they prepare to relax and eat dinner. There is a comfortable, relaxing tone in this passage. Carey expresses the actions of each Furey family member as though they are rituals. Each action has not occurred yet; however, they "will" happen eventually. Each family member is engaging in some sort of activity to keep occupied and be content. There are no family conflicts occurring; displaying an ideal happy family. Although it is calm at the Furey household, there is also isolation. No two family members are engaging in-group activities.

"After being tortured by all the popular girls in grammar school, I never thought I'd have a girl as a friend. But it's too complicated to be friends with boys in high school. Most of last year I had no friends at all, besides the desperate-to-sit-with-anyone lunch partners my first month. Because I didn't act as they did to have a shadow, I got a reputation for being a loner, and it made people assume I didn't want any friends at all. Sometimes I don't." (10)

Many years have passed since Hugh walked Lena home. Lena is in high school and Hugh is missing. It is not known whether Hugh is dead or just missing. Lena is a tomboy at this age. She is "tortured by all the popular girls" and does not have many friends. She is a "loner" and at times, she does not "want any friends". Lena's character is deeply affected by Hugh's disappearance. She has no social life due to her lack of friends. Lena's current situation is "complicated" because she still chases after Hugh's "shadow". Unable to overcome the trauma of losing her brother, Lena's life is falling downhill. She starts smoking and she starts failing her classes in school

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Winter Break Reading Assignment)

Mariam, a harami (bastard), seeks love and an identity in life. As a child, she sought for the love of her father, Jalil. Nana warns her to stay away from men because “a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman” (323). Disregarding Nana’s advice because Mariam because Mariam has felt lonely for so long, Mariam searches for Jalil’s love. However, Jalil does not accept Mariam. He is ashamed and forces her to marry Rasheed. Mariam, broken-hearted follows Jalil’s wishes.

Immediately after marrying Rasheed, Mariam feels “prized by [Rasheed’s] protectiveness. Treasured and significant” (74) because she is valued for once. However, after many miscarriages, Rasheed’s attitude changes and he rejects Mariam by governing her entire life.

Mariam’s attitude changes when she meets Laila. Although jealous of Laila taking her previous role as a young wife, Mariam becomes a caring mother figure after Laila stands “up to [Rasheed]” (223) when Rasheed planned to beat Mariam. The friendship between Mariam and Laila initiates the build up of courage within Mariam. She realizes that there is something to live for in her life: to care for Laila and Aziza.

Marian displays the greatest change at the climax of the novel. Rasheed; finding out that Laila has been seeing Toriq, is overcome by rage and releases a murderous intent upon Laila. Laila struggles to fight back, but falls to his masculine strength. Mariam refuses to let Laila, a dear fried, die. Thus she “[raises] the shovel high” (311) and strikes it upon Rasheed’s head, killing him. Mariam becomes a person who is willing to fight to protect her loved ones at the end at the cost of her own life.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hamlet's Soliloquy (Laurence Olivier) Explication

In Act 3 Scene 1, Hamlet ponders “to be, or not to be” (3.1.55). This question is curt, but proves to be enigmatic for Hamlet. Laurence Olivier’s acting depicts the true essence of Hamlet’s character as he recites Hamlet’s soliloquy. Hamlet’s state of mind is roused up by a turbulence of confusion as he contemplates on the question. Through the clashing forces within the scenery, movie effects and delivery of lines, Laurence Olivier performs Hamlet’s self struggle magnificently.

The setting of Hamlet’s soliloquy is portrayed within a black and white world. The colors black and white directly reflect Hamlet's conflict between life and death because white is symbolic of life and black is symbolic of death. While Hamlet delivers his soliloquy, his mind is absent of all colors because he focuses on his entire concentration on revenge.

The scene begins with a visual of waves crashing against the rocks of the cliff which Hamlet stands atop of. Hamlet gazes down the cliff at the view of these crashing waves. Hamlet does not merely stare at waves; he gazes upon a symbolic interpretation of his state of mind. Like crashing waves, Hamlet’s mind is in a state of turbulence. In the following scene, there is a think haze rustling about the sky as Hamlet broods over “to be, or not to be” (3.1.55). The dense clouds accompanied by the sounds of crashing waves as Hamlet asks the question suggests that Hamlet is in a state of deep perplexity about the matter at hand. Hamlet wonders whether it is “nobler… to suffer” (3.1.56) or nobler “to take arms against a sea of troubles” (3.1.58) by ending ones life. Hamlet then draws a knife and points it to his heart to signify his thoughts about ending life. According to Hamlet, death is no more than a “sleep to… end… heartache” (3.1.60-61). Hamlet closes his eyes and speaks to himself within his mind. He considers entering eternal slumber, but suddenly opens his eyes, draws back, and comes to a sudden realization that there is no telling “what dreams may come true, when [he has] shuffled off [his] mortal coil” (3.1.65-66). This quality of eternal slumber causes people to make “calamity of so long life” (3.1.68). Again Hamlet wonders “who would bear the whips and scorns of time” (3.1.69) when one “might his quietus make with a bare bodkin” (3.1.74-75). Hamlet seems to find suffering through countless times is pointless when one can easily suffer once painfully and end all suffering through death. According to Hamlet, the factor which prevents one from committing suicide is the “dread of something after death” (3.1.77). The knife falls from Hamlet’s hand and into the sea. Thinking so deeply of this matter has made a coward of Hamlet. He loses the chance to end his suffering because the knife is no longer there. Hamlet ends his soliloquy advising the viewer that moments “of great pitch… lose the name of action” (3.1.84-86) when one does not take the given chance at hand.

Laurence Olivier performs Hamlet’s soliloquy best because he captures Hamlet’s state of confusion most accurately and symbolically. The combined elements of speech and setting create a perfect portrayal Hamlet’s self struggle.


Here I am at world’s end, staring through the endless frame
The air is bitter,
on the way to my final streetscape
I drink some spirits which soothes
and heals to have courage and to relax
In. The streets look for puppets, or me, void
without purpose but to obey, it's
demoralizing with such purpose, demoralizing on me, I endure
through it, them, as
The cocktail is being sipped on lounge now
two years almost ago, and the man weeping
Is looking over old photographs, & telling.
Who would have thought that I'd be here, nothing
to do, nothing to live for, everything
Gone; will, joy, anger, fear, excitement, laughter,
Up in the sky I cannot reach, drifting away, now
more than ever before?
Not that successful man, radiant in his new coat
eyes penetrating every flaw
& obstacle in the coming future. Not that exceptional student, eighteen, who was
going to have to go, careening into college so,
To learn, & to achieve more wisdom than anyone could imagine
so to go. Not that vassal who from very first meeting
I would never & never will follow orders, not even after I fade & so demanded
To lament & who will never leave me, not for leisure, nor pleasure
nor even for utmost happiness which is
Only our human lot & means nothing. No, not now.
There's a song, "Bring me to Life", but no, I won't do that
I am alone. When will I die? I will never die, I will live
To bear, & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
who am always & only a realist, despite this thought, Spirit
Who lives only to suffer.
I'm only human, & I am lost, & I didn't ask for it to be this way
I came into your life to leave you my experience.
Only that
And nothing more.
Forlorn & weary, living this fate, nevertheless
I remain here
The world's weight rests on my shoulders.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008



Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, by Pieter Brueghel depicts the moment when the wax on Icarus’ wings melt, causing Icarus to plunge to his death as he falls into the ocean. Brueghel portrays the scene with minimal amounts of bright, warm colors completely enclosed by darker colors, creating a gloomy atmosphere. All the colors flow creating the idea that everything in the painting is part of the scenery.

The most eye-catching part of this painting is the sun. At first glance of the entire painting the brightness of the sun draws the viewer to stare directly into the sun. In reality, the sun is cosmic and its light extends far across the lands. In this picture, the sun is small, which shows that it is a great distance away from where the artist is standing. The sun’s light is limited and does not extend very far because it entirely surrounded by the darker colors of the ocean, mountains, and skies. Just below the sun, the island of Crete can be seen. Like the sun, the island of Crete is bounded by the ocean. The ocean excludes the sun and island from reaching civilization, where life seems to be apparent. The ocean is vast and endless. It covers about one third of the painting, however, it stretches far beyond and out of the painting, and creating a mystery of its exact magnitude. It also allows the viewer to imagine its size to any extent they wish. The ocean is also powerful. It is main source of isolation in this painting. It separates the sun and island of Crete from the rest of civilization. The only objects which seem to be able stay afloat on the ocean appear to be another island which is towards the left area of the ocean and many small boats. Although small these fragile boats appear to be the only means of transcending over the isolating obstacle of the ocean. The most interesting concept of the ocean in this painting is its color. The ocean is a cool blue color in the area where it hides the sun. This promotes the idea that the atmosphere may be a bit on the cold side. It has a warmer yellow tone in the center of the painting where it does not touch any other object. The viewer might see a relaxing calmness in this particular area, thus he will spend more time concentrating on this particular portion of the painting. The warmness of that segment of the ocean plays a sinister role in diverting the viewer’s attention from the hideous truth within this painting. As the ocean draws closer to the viewer’s perspective the color becomes dim and shadowy. The faint colors aid in creating a dull and listless mood within the painting. It also plays an important role in masking struggle within the picture. Once the viewer thoroughly explores the painting, he will notice that there is a pair of legs sticking out the ocean. The viewer would assume that these legs belong to Icarus because the entire picture depicts the moment Icarus falls into the ocean. Since there is no other form of human life in the ocean, it is most logical to assume that the pair of legs can only belong to Icarus. The color tones of his legs blend evenly with the murky colors of the ocean, causing Icarus’ existence to be hidden by the ocean. Right below the struggling Icarus is a fisherman. He sits on the minute land available to him. It is interesting to note that he is completely unaware of Icarus’ existence because he portrays no element surprise by the traumatic experience right above his head. To the left of Icarus is a herder tending to his many livestock. Interestingly enough is that the herders and his animals also do not notice Icarus’ as he struggles in the ocean. The herder’s blue shirt blends in with the ocean blue background he touches. His pants are dark brown. They match the light brown color of the earth he stands upon, but they do not blend because the color of the pants is distinct. To the left of the herder is the farmer. He is the most exemplified life form within this painting. He is physically larger than the sun. Also, his colors stand out more than the sun. The farmer is wearing a weak fainted colored tunic which matches the color of the grass he is currently plowing. The most distinct aspect of his clothes is his burning red shirt which he wears under his dull colored tunic. The farmer is plowing the land available by directing the horse which carries the plow across the untilled land. The horse is a dark brown color which matches the color of the tilled soil in its background, but is distinct so the viewer can differentiate between the horse and soil. Above and below the horse, plants and trees can be seen. Further above the horse, civilization can be seen. It is distant and seems hazy from the viewer’s standpoint. Lastly, above civilization is a dark and gloomy sky which watches over the melancholy world below it.

The title, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, is directly related to the entire painting. The painting depicts the exact moment when Icarus falls to his demise. The landscape is vast, and Icarus is small. It shows that Icarus’ death is miniscule and completely insignificant to the painting entirely. If he was not present, the painting would not have been affected by any significance.
The title and the blending aspect of colors suggest that every aspect of this painting connects to nature because all forms of civilization blend in with nature. The painting consists solely of a landscape. It seems that the living organisms present in this painting become one with nature. The farmer’s tunic blends in with the color of the untilled soil below him. The farmer’s horse matches the color of tilled soil. The herder’s clothes flow with the background of the ocean and shore. The town merges with the grey sky above it. Every aspect of human life matches with its background of nature.

Brueghel creates a masterpiece through his brilliant use colors and blending techniques. He is able to use color to blend the living forms of life with the enervated colors of nature. Brueghel does an outstanding job at masking the most important aspect of his painting: Icarus. He is remarkable because he makes Icarus, a vital piece of this work of art, seem insignificant. Overall Brueghel accomplishes to depict the dismal scene of Icarus’ demise in a unique manner. He does not concentrate on the doom of Icarus by using exuberant colors to attract the viewer’s attention, but by masterfully integrating Icarus into the depressing atmosphere of the entire landscape.

Every Visible Thing Filler Chapter


Chapter 19.5: Flowers

I wake up to the sound of birds chirping. They’re loud and obnoxious, but it’s good to hear something real and alive again. This sound is followed by a noise, a squeak and a rustle, like a mouse trying to escape after being spotted. Slowly and wearily, I rise and rest my back against the pale wall. I look around, searching for anything different within the room. But there is nothing. Light peers through the window, no different from yesterday. Yet today it feels lighter, warmer as if the cold burden has been lifted up and off my shoulders.

Tired, I lie back down on the bed, flipping the pillow over so I can rest on the cooler side. The room is quiet. Occasionally, the doctors and nurses walk by my room, giving birth to echoes in the once soundless space I occupied. Unlike the previous night, I rest in the bed well aware of the conscious world around me. Everything is clear, and I have control of my body again. The atmosphere is soothing and I fall fast asleep for the next few hours.

The sounds of footsteps draw closer and closer. Owen barges in through the slightly opened door.

“Hi, Lena,” he says as he enters the room.
“Hi, Owen,” I respond.
Owen walks towards me. He places his hand onto my forehead, exactly as I would do when he was ill.
“I don’t have a fever, you know,” I say.
“Just checking to make sure,” he responds.
“Where’s Mom and Dad?” I ask.
“Not here,” he replies.
“Then how did you come here,” I question.

Before he answers, I notice the sound of footsteps drawing closer and closer to my room. There is a familiar lightness to these steps, but I cannot recall who they belong to.

“I hope you’re doing well,” Jonah says.
“What are you doing here?” I snicker out of habit.
“I’ll just leave you two alone,” Owen says and quickly leaves.
“I brought you flowers,” Jonah answers.
Embarrassed, I can’t help but blush a little. The hatred I once felt for him is no longer there. Probably because I still remember the kiss he gave me in that dream I saw Hugh in.
“You’ve got the wrong girl, I don’t like flow…”

Before I could even finish my sentence, I noticed he was pressing his lips gently against mine. This feeling was familiar. It was exactly as I had dreamt it that day; soft, gentle, warm, and secure, as though he was not merely just kissing me, but protecting me at the same time.

“How are you getting away with this?” I ask as if this was that exact dream.
“You must secretly want me to.” He smiles.

Intentional or not, he answered the same way he did in my dream. I guess he really does understand, after all.