Friday, November 30, 2018

Denver's Growth in Beloved.

Denver's character growth in part 3 of Beloved, by Toni Morrison, was definitely my favorite part of the book so far. Throughout the novel, we see the characters struggle to determine their identity through Sethe and Paul D's conversations about their experiences in slavery. The novel focuses on Sethe's personal exploration and her growth as a character, and Denver remains stagnant, expressing only a childlike adoration for Beloved. As Denver realizes the toxicity of Beloved, she steps up from her role as an isolated dependent of Sethe and takes on the role of an adult as she finds work, provides food, and attempts to keep Beloved from harming Sethe too much.

Just because of her age, Denver was the character I could relate to the most easily. In addition to that, she was the one character in the book who we as readers had no reason to dislike, no morally gray decisions to consider. I was rooting for her since the beginning, and seeing her rise above her mother's inability to care and her sister's dismissal and malicious intent to become a fully realized human being. That was the one part of the book that I could really just enjoy.

Colorism and Beloved

When Denver goes to ask Lady Jones for help. Toni Morrison reveals that Lady Jones dislikes her light complexion and blond hair. Her features, at the time, could only be accomplished by rape.  Her features are a constant reminder of what everyone in her community ran away from. In that way, she feels alienated from her community

Today, the black women that society deems "most beautiful"  have the same features that Lady Jones has. This is because are visually closer to what society deems as true beauty, whiteness. While light skin women during Lady Jones' and now feel isolated from the black community, they benefit from their features in both black and non-black spaces. Within the black community, colorism (prejudice against those of a darker skin tone, typically among people of the same race) runs rapidly. Light skin black women are viewed as more docile and feminine. Conversely, dark skin black women are seen as rough and masculine. Because of this, light skin black women are more acceptable and "wife-able" in a society where marriage is the only goal women should. 

I understand that Toni Morrison was trying to get at a particular point by talking about Lady Morrison's light complexion. I which that she would have also included the struggle that dark skin black women in the novel because it is a very important part of our history.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Margaret Garner and Sethe

Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, was inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, a slave. Many aspects of Garner’s life are reflected in the life of Sethe, the main character. Both women were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of their masters. Both women married fellow slaves while experiencing the abuse. Both women ran away. Both women chose to kill their children rather than allow them to become enslaved. One of the most important differences in the life of Margaret Garner is the presence of her husband. He escaped with Garner, fought slave catchers when she took the life of her daughter, and was by her side throughout the aftermath of her actions. Sethe is not so lucky. Her husband was not able to escape with her. Sethe had no male support system after she returned from jail. This distinction is important because the lack of a constant male presence allows for a deeper exploration of the female experience. Morrison was able to discuss the impact of slavery on women and a mother’s love in ways she would not have been able to if she had allowed Sethe’s husband to have a larger role in the novel.

How Slavery Can Destroy All Self-Love

In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, identity is often discussed, as the former slave characters try to live their lives freely. One of the dangerous effects of being enslaved is an emptiness where your sense of self should be and a loss of self-love. Baby Suggs preaches about how they should love their hands and appreciate their bodies because they belong to them. She reminds the former slaves about how they should love themselves, not because they are especially unique, but because they need to reintroduce love and attention on themselves.

It's interesting how the schoolteacher is described as teaching them about their "animal like characteristics." It reminds the reader how Sethe, Paul D, and Baby Suggs were taught their whole lives about how little they are worth, and how they have a value of an animal.

I think that this can cause major damage to the slave's minds, even if they are freed, because they are constantly put down. Even if they have the strength to try and maintain some sort of optimism or happiness, they aren't able to because they are always told about how little they matter. This completely changes the way they think about themselves.

Sethe, for example, thinks that she is not worth saving, but that her non-enslaved children are pure and need to always be protected. She has no sense of self-worth and self-love because she was told her whole life that she is not worth anything. Furthermore, Paul D is constantly trying to block out the pain from slavery and put it in his tobacco tin in his heart. But, he doesn't have any sense of self or self love because he was never able to deal with the heavy emotional pain of being enslaved.

I think that Toni Morrison does an amazing job of getting inside the mind of an enslaved person who has been so completely destroyed physically and emotionally. It's difficult to think about how a person would be able to move on from the emotional pain of their past. But, it's important to try to think about these things when we are attempting to understand the history of slavery and its impact on the humans who suffered through it.

Beloved: The End

This is the end of Beloved. We are finished with the book but not the analysis, not just yet. The ending of Beloved was intresting but very confusing. What I gathered was that Sethe saw the white man on the waggon who was there to pick Denver up for her new job and she had a flash back to when the other white men came and had an ice pick in her hand and decided to use it. Sethe in the end was frail and weak and said she was so tired, Beloved was big and needy all the time, and Denver was thin but decided to fight. Beloved was big and fat with Sethe's love, she was so swelled with that love that it looked like she could pop. Denver became like Sethe she was tired but she wasn't going to give up because her family needed her, just like Sethe was tired of running but she kept fighting becasue her babies needed her. Now Paul D he decided to come back and see Sethe in 124, when he runs into Denver, she seems like she warmed up to Paul D. She wasn't so harsh to him as she once was and told him what was going on in her life and with Sethe, she didn't tell him not to go see Sethe but if he was to speak kindly to her. When he went he noticed that Sethe had given up and was laying in Baby Suggs bed which sybolized that she was ready to die.  The last few pages are unclear, it seemed they were talking about Beloved and how she had come and gone and no one remembered her becasue she was like a bad dream. However it talks about her footprint and how they come and go so perhaps she is still there but she is back in the ghost realm and is not so vengeful. The thing that is unclear is that the last word is Beloved but it doesn't really fit into context, it almost seems like Beloved was signing her name, like she wrote the last few pages of the book. But why would she write the last few pages? Is it because she started the book so she should end the book?

Importance of Talking

Every person has some type of emotional baggage they have to carry around with them. Sethe, and Paul D's traumas are especially heavy. They have both attempted processing their hurt in different ways. Sethe isn't as strict about letting her old life seep into her new one. Paul D's method is to pack it away and never take it out again. Although during a few select conversations with Sethe, we see him opening up that pain a little bit. Opening up becomes easier for him because he is with someone who was there, or was related to some of the harder moments of his life. Sethe and Paul D. were both slaves in their past. Even though they were split up for a while, they can still relate to each other. Therefore, Paul D and Sethe use each other to acknowledge their pasts. Obviously, this is not a pleasurable experience but it is crucial that they have taken the time to confront what they've been hiding from. Beloved also helps Sethe remember her past. At some points, this is beneficial for Sethe, but it is scary to know what she is capable of when her past gets too close. Overall, because of the degree of their horribles traumas from the past, it's not always beneficial to constantly have those experiences on their mind and talk about them. On the other hand, talking/storytelling is an extremely important act for these characters.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Uncomfortable-ness of Beloved

THIS IS A SPOILER---- Just a warning. 
Throughout the entire time I knew the character Beloved, I was uncomfortable. I brought this discomfort up to my seventh period English class, but to no avail, we only discussed her sex scene with Paul D. Beloved the character, (though she truly was a rapist to Paul D), gave me total sicko-rapist vibes throughout the entire book. Her demeanor, her appearance, the way Morrison described her, and the way other character's described her reminded me of a socio-path. She came across as sweet and loving, when truly she was disconnected from all the characters except one, her mother. The mother who NOT TO MENTION was her murderer. And her mother who Beloved also had intentions of killing/ ruining her life. So that part got me off to a bad start, but then the whole death allusions and descriptive chapter from the perspective of Beloved where she talks about attempting to gnaw off someone's face, but it was actually her own face, was also totally creepy and perverted to me. And not to mention how the women who come in a group of 30 to the house to pray for Sethe/ (maybe?) fight off Beloved describe her is totally insane. In describing her as clever because she appeared pregnant and had a dazzling smile, I was once again reminded how disturbing (and sinister) Beloved as a character is. I almost wish we could have seen into Beloved's mind more than simply the chapter at the end, because I am so fascinated to hear Beloved's desires/ why she does what she does, but it also terrifies me to even think about her perspective.

Adjectives Defining Identity

In Beloved, Tony Morrison masterfully tells the story of life after slavery in a haunting manner. In addition to her literary techniques, Morrison's language surrounding race and identity caught my eye.

Throughout the novel, the color of one's skin is always tied into the person it describes. For example, Amy is a "whitegirl" and the house on Bluestone Road is in a "colouredpeople" neighborhood.

Although Morrison's deliberate combination of the two words makes perfect sense seeing as how race defines your position in society, I've never seen an author do this before. Subtle yet striking, this combination contributes to the author's depiction of identity where slaves are animals and stripped of agency. Denver isn't just a girl, she's a colouredgirl. Amy isn't just a girl, she's a whitegirl.

With this technique, there's no way to truly escape how society defines you. Whether you're free and just beginning to exert your power in the world, like Sethe attempting to murder all or her children, or if you're attempting to find some humanity in your enslavement, like Paul D and the bit, you're stuck in your own skin, haunted by the past, and powerless.

The Limits of Creation

Image result for frankensteinLast Thursday, we watched Frankenstein, with a twist on the way it's performed. And like my other classmates said, it was a great experience and very unique/unexpected. I think Frankenstein really emphasized in the play the idea of individualism and loneliness because of not fitting in. The play really showed many phases of life, from birth(creation) to moments of happiness (with the little girl)  and despair (isolation), till death. I think the whole idea of Frankenstein is the idea/value of finding a place of fitting it. In a youthful way, it really showed how humans at a young age dream big without fear or limits until society changes our schemas. 

The creator of Frankenstein was very wonderful and adventurous, through his views on life after death- and even without the use of dialogue, we understood this because of his body language and actions towards life and the people around him.

Adding on to that, since there was no dialogue, it opened up an opportunity to add more artistic and distinct methods of the performers' artwork.  I think often times when we experience an art form we tend to limit ourselves with what we expect to see, we don't fully engage ourselves or allow ourselves to be vulnerable to art- with our own biases and prejudices, but we should  leave all of our personal worldly beliefs and fully accept and appreciate this authentic work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

What Role Does Paul D End Up Playing?

In the last section of the novel, Part III, the reader gets another glimpse into Paul D's point of view. It's really interesting because following the vague, poetic sections of Part II in Sethe, Denver, and Beloved's points of view, Paul D's point of view comes as a bit of a reality check. It is through his eyes that the reader learns what actually occurred on the day when the mob of women confronted 124 and Sethe attacked Mr. Bodwin. Through his interactions with Ella and Stamp Paid, the reader can piece together the events.

And yet, after a brief run-in with Denver, he starts to realize that he still feels some emotion or obligation to Sethe and Denver after Beloved apparently disappeared. After a few brief flashbacks to his own life of constant running, he revisits 124 to see Sethe. But why in the world would he want to see Sethe? He doesn't seem to have feelings for her since he learned she killed Beloved and tried to kill her other babies, and he seemed to agree with other people who insisted Sethe had gone crazy after trying to kill Mr. Bodwin. He didn't show any trace of his previous emotions, but through his last act of kindness in the book, returning to 124 to take care of Sethe, the reader realizes that throughout the entire novel, Paul D has been somewhat of a beacon of straightforward kindness and purity in comparison to the convoluted thoughts of the three women in 124.

Although he had some questionable things on his own record during his time there, namely sleeping with Beloved, nearly every action he took since arriving, even banishing Beloved's ghost in the beginning, was done genuinely and out of his compassion for other people and Sethe. The reader doesn't get much of a sense of heartbreak from him upon his first leaving, mostly because despite being a general good person, he insists that his heart doesn't feel because it's tin. But in his return to 124 following still more drama surrounding Sethe, the reader understands that, despite the semi-craziness happening around him as all three women seem to border the living and the dead, Paul D has been a steady, well-meaning hand trying, with little success, to guide them toward some unknown goal simply out of the goodness of his tin heart.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Reality of Beloved

Is Beloved alive? Beloved is the daughter that Sethe killed, but somehow, years later, they are together yet again. She is a living, breathing being. She has conversations with other humans, she has an effect on people and space around her, but she is dead. 

Whether she is haunting her murdering mother or spending time with her sister, she is influencing those around her. By pestering, harassing, and assaulting Paul D, she forces him to leave 124. She forms a bond with Denver that causes Denver to care and love Beloved. Once she demonstrates to Sethe that she is her deceased daughter, it is clear that Beloved's well-being is Sethe's main concern leading to her quickly deteriorating health. 

Beloved, alive or dead, is creating a lasting impact on the family she left behind. 

Was Sethe Wrong to Kill her Kid

To me, the most heartbreaking moment of Toni Morrison's brilliant novel Beloved was when Sethe attempted to kill all of her children, succeeding with her toddler aged daughter. It was also the most thought-provoking moment. At face value, Sethe is psychotic: attempted murder of her own children resulting in the death of one of them. Life has value and meaning of which she tried to take from her own children. However, upon deeper reflection, I discovered that maybe Sethe was not trying to take life from her children, but to save them from the life not worth living.

It is hard to comprehend that. What exactly is a life not worth living? To Sethe, that was a life in slavery. When she realized that her children would be taken to the life she had risked everything to escape, she saw no option. She had to kill her children to save them from the 'life' of enslavement. She believed that a life under the ownership of another human, a life of torture, and a life of brutality were not worth living, so she made this decision for her children.

By taking a life, Sethe might have truly saved one.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Who Can Really See Ghosts?

Who can see ghosts? Are they even real? Toni Morrison, the author of Beloved seems to think that ghosts are real. She uses the main characters haunted house to drive the plot. Even part way through the book we are introduced to one of her characters who seems to even act like a ghost. Thinking of this character and this haunted house has led me to wonder if I can see ghosts or even who can see ghosts.

I have always wondered if my dog could see ghosts. The way that the hair on her back lifts as she stares at the door even when nothing is there always makes me wonder if there is a ghost there. My dog seems to stare at something even when it is clearly not there.

I think the prevalence of ghosts in this book and in the world is extremely interesting. I think it gets people wondering on if they are real or not and even what their actions or consequences can be. I really wonder if my dog can see ghosts sometimes but in the end who really knows?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sethe's Love

The love a mother has for her child is tangible in almost every setting. Sethe's actions show how slavery has destroyed her. Her actions in killing her baby, and attempting to kill her other children represent the depth to her love. Sethe would rather her children be killed rather than have to suffer going through slavery. As this may seem controversial as to whether or not she made the right decision, ultimately this can be argued as a better death for her kids. In the novel, Paul D starts off his thought process by thinking that Sethe is crazy but soon comes to the realization that maybe it wasn't so bad. As he begun to think about it, it seemed as if he began to agree with her decision. As well as trying to save her kids from a worse life, her being capable of killing her child shows an immense amount of strength as to the limits shes willing to reach for her children.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Depth of Sethe's Love

As shown through many forms of media, a mother is supposed to give their child unconditional love. However, there may be a limit to how far this love should be expressed. In the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, Sethe, one of the main characters, expresses her love to her children by killing or attempting to kill them in order to protect them from being brought back to the horrors of slavery.

Sethe clearly wanted her children's lives to be better than hers, especially considering that she had to endure being a slave. When Sethe saw her former master, the schoolteacher, approaching her with a slave catcher, she ultimately decided to kill her children as means of protection. She "couldn't let all that go back to where it was, and [she] couldn't let her nor any of them live under schoolteacher" (192).

While Sethe's believed that it was better for her children to be dead instead of slaves, her actions negatively affected other characters that she was close to. Her daughter Denver, who Sethe had attempted to kill, was harassed at school by her peers due to her mother being a "murderer". Additionally, her former lover Paul D was shocked when he discovered that Sethe had murdered her children. When one of the townspeople Stamp Paid shows Paul D the newspaper article about what Sethe had did, Paul D initially refuses to believe that Sethe would ever do that. Ultimately, Sethe's actions cause Paul D to leave 124, as he refused to live with Sethe after learning about her past.

Love, in Sethe's mind, is not restricted to morals. While I disagree with her definition of love and do not think that her actions were justified, I can understand that she wanted to protect her children. Sethe's "love" is not love, however; her actions were driven by past trauma that she wanted no one else to experience.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Frankenstein Manual Theater Experience

On Thursday, my AP Literature class saw Frankenstein at the University of Chicago Court Theater. The play was fascinating, as there was no sound and a projector screen. The actors used puppets and lighting to create scenes of Frankenstein. Having read the novel Sophomore year, I already knew the plot and was able to easily follow what was going on. I think that this was an especially unique type of show. My favorite part was the puppets because they created amazing images on the screen. There was also music that went along with the story line. This provided another way to portray the story and often times, the music went along with the emotions of the story. This was a fantastic experiences and one of the best field trips that I have taken in high school!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sethe and Denver

In “Beloved,” Sethe and Denver's relationship is somewhat confusing. In the beginning of the book, Sethe seems to not think much of Denver, despite the fact that she is at home all day with her mother as she does not go to school. She pays more attention to the ghost than to Denver.

Denver’s life on the other hand sometimes revolves around her mother’s, desperate for her attention, and sometimes is secluded, such as when she hides in the boxwood bushes. 

Additionally, when Paul D arrives, Denver feels especially ignored. She breaks down when she recognizes that Paul D could take away any attention she gets at home, which is the only attention she gets given the rest of the town avoids the residents of the haunted house. This is furthered by Beloved’s appearance. However, in Beloved’s case, Denver couldn't care less about Sethe's attention. Denver worships Beloved instead of being jealous of the love she receives from Sethe. 

What's strange is as soon and Beloved arrives it is made clear that Sethe would protect her daughters at all costs (even Paul D) when Sethe and Paul get into a small argument. He believes she is overprotective and should let her children live a little by themselves. 

Overall, the changing dynamics between Sethe and Denver are notable as the novel progresses. 

Frankenstein Manual Cinema Experience Review

On Thursday November 15, I went with other English students and saw the play, Frankenstein. The book was written by Mary Shelly but the play was devised by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller. At first I was told it was going to be a puppet play and I thought that it was going to be hand puppets and it got me really discouraged. Once the play started I realized that it was more than hand puppets. It was super interesting to see how everything was open to the audience. There was a big screen which you could view the play from or you could see the play piece by piece on stage. It was like a silent film, with paper puppets, filming with shadows, and filming in black and white. There was no talking script so the music took it's place. I found it amazing that the music brought out the tone for the specific scenes. The play was very intriguing and portrayed the more important details of the book. Though some scenes of the book were cut out, it still followed the story line and the audience could follow along without having to have read the book beforehand. Overall the play was fantastic and I loved it. I would love to see more adaptations of other plays and books in this form of art.

Free Will or Determinism: What Does Camus Think?

Free will is the idea that people are in control of their own behavior and their actions result from a conscious decision. The free will ideology also states past events will not implicitly influence present or future actions. Finally, free will says that we are wholly responsible for our actions.

Determinism is that idea that everyone’s course of action is predetermined. Determinism would mean that if we were to go back in time and relive what we have already experienced, no events or conditions would be altered. Conversely, determinism says if we were able to gather substantial information, we could accurately predict the future.

What does Camus think?
Albert Camus believes in a person’s ability to have free will that within what is predetermined and has a novel hypothesis about consciousness. In his essay on Sisyphus he writes, “If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious” (2). His argument says by maintaining the illusion of free will we are able to avoid tragedy. There are certain things we are fated to do; certain toils we must endure, certain successes we will have, certain journeys we will go on. But how we get from point A to point B—what music we listen to while we do our chores, what color pen we will use on the science test we are about to ace, whether to take I-290 or side streets to get downtown—is where we can exercise our freedom. The major plot points are already laid out, but we get to write in the details.

We must be careful, he implies, of getting too caught up in the things we cannot control, because by doing so we will find ourselves disheartened and stagnant. We must find where freedom hides and savor it when we do.

What Can Virtual Reality Do That Books Can't?

Upon watching “Crossing the Line: Untold Stories of Refugees”, I was particularly drawn to the story of two women who had come to America to seek asylum from the rampant gang violence in Mexico; but when night fell at the border, they told by a border agent to go to Mexican immigration that night and come back the next day. After fruitless pleading, they returned to Mexican immigration. The people there called the two women a taxi which, they discovered upon boarding, was affiliated with The Gulf Cartel. That same night the two women were kidnapped. One recalls being held hostage for 18 days. She has been held in an immigration detention for over a year and her case is still pending.

Something I have heard this year more than ever is students claiming they don’t enjoy reading because they can’t form pictures in their heads. That the words aren’t enough. I think virtual reality is a sufficient response to this growing mentality. Especially in “Crossing the Line”, hearing a story directly from the source’s mouth and seeing it illustrated all around you eliminates the need for excess imagination or brain power. It is a somewhat sad ideation, but if someone truly can’t enjoy literature due to the inability to imagine, then virtual reality might be a feasible solution.

Is Sethe Delusional?

From the moment Beloved stepped out of the water Toni Morrison has given us many reasons to be skeptical of the "glowing" woman: the choking of Sethe, coercion of Pauly D, Beloved's uncanny obsession with the past. In fact, Morrison has given the reader very few reasons to like Beloved, or to even trust Beloved. Sure she is a companion to Denver but that is about it. So what does Sethe see in Beloved?

Perhaps Sethe knows the danger of Beloved's situation, being a Black woman wandering the streets. As Sethe says to Pauly D, "...feel how it feels to be a coloredwoman roaming the roads with anything God made liable to jump on you. Feel that." (80)

Or maybe Sethe knows what Denver knows --- Beloved is the baby who has been haunting 124. The reader has reasons to believe Sethe knows who Beloved actually is. "If the boys came back one day, and Denver and Beloved stayed on--well, it would be the way it was supposed to be, no? And the minute she saw the dress and shoes sitting in the front yard, she broke water. Didn't even have to see the face burning in the sunlight. She had been dreaming of it for years." (156)

Beloved's intentions are still unknown to the reader but they seem dangerous. Is Sethe blinded by empathy, love, or maybe even guilt?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Frankenstein?

Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is one of the most groundbreaking novels in literature. Because of the sheer creativity and invent ness of the novel other art forms have clung to it as a standard for any adaptation. Additionally, because Frankenstein was so ahead of its time it almost creates a timelessness which drives people to adapt it at every technological advance.

This is why I loved the use of shadow puppets in this adaptation. Though use of shadow puppetcan be seen as old fashioned in an age where everything is digitized to the point where we can no longer reconginze how something is made, it was refreshing to see the process. Throughout the play I found myself not only being amazed at the story but at the creativity and precision of the performers. They also allowed the technological aspects which are typically hidden such as the wires to the drum playing robot to be seen. Technology was a feature of the play but it was truly the human aspects which made it amazing. By going back to the “basics” it allowed the viewer to gain a deeper understanding of the text and to have a human connection.

Dearly Beloved: Why We Can Never Move Forward

The novel Beloved by Toni Morrison can only be described as a difficult read. It is not only the difficulty of the timeline and the word choices but the subject matter. Throughout the novel the discussions of the brutality of slavery make the readers stomach turns and skin crawl. However it is not only the vivid horrid nature of the actions described but the fact that the titular character Beloved uses the power of Sethe’s past against her.

Beloved uses her past as a tool to hold Sethe in a state of everlasting pain. She does not use discussions of the past as a tool to empower her to move beyond the past but as a dark shadow from which one can never escape. This is not dissimilar from the experience of many Americans. We are forced to remember the horrors of our ancestors without being able to heal. Because we are forced to look back we never have the ability to move forward much like Sethe.

Is Meursault really the existential hero we thought?

Throughout reading the book it seems on the surface that Meursault is an existential hero, especially because for most of the book he fulfills all 6 tenets of existentialism. While it is written by an author who is one of the forefathers of existentialism the ending of the book seems to question Meursault as a existential hero. We largely see this in one of the the final scenes while he is imprisoned where he is longing for escape or for the chance of survival. He wishes that the guillotine breaks or for the possibility, even if it is 1 in 1000 chance of freedom. He thinks that if there were to be such a thing it would not be as hard on prisoners. These thoughts are very anti-existentialist. For multiple reasons this goes against the foundations of existentialism; specifically the futility of life and the inevitableness of death. Yet he still cannot accept the certainty of his own death. He claims there's something "out of proportion" between the verdict being read and the events that had passed since then. He continues to until the very end to hope that death doesn't come, while he does accept death he does not embrace it.

Trust film

"Family is like a gun – you point it in the wrong direction, you're going to kill somebody"

-Matthew to Maria's mother

While Matthew is talking about the death of her husband to Maria’s Mother he is also saying this in a much more general sense versus just this specific situation. While in her mind she probably thinks he is talking about the one instance he is really inferring to both how his dad treats him and how she treats her daughter. He is implying that by a family doing the wrong things they can actually backfire and make lives worse than better. He is saying that only if they do the wrong thing can it have a negative impact and is largely speaking of suicide as he himself carries a grenade with him. Because his father, his family, is abusive so he only makes Matthew's life worse versus better as a family should. He does not mean that this is the case with all families, it is up to the family whether to point the “gun” in the right or wrong direction.

VR response

Sitting in the Makerspace in class on Monday, I wondered what it was like to actually live your entire life in the situation these people are in. Then, I realized what I was wearing. I was safe inside a well-funded school, wearing a virtual reality headset, connected to my iPhone, with Bose headphones plugged in, wearing my properly fitting clothes, after just finishing a hearty lunch. Not only that, but most of these things I usually take for granted because I've become so accustomed to having them in my life.

While VR does a good job actually portraying what is happening in these individuals lives, we are unable to even come close to understand how it feels. While wearing the goggles, we are immersed in a war-torn, impoverished, under-fed culture whereas most of us have never had to worry about our next meal. We are only able to sympathize for these people and will never be able to empathize.

Beloved and Sexual Assault

In Beloved, it seems that there are various instances where people are taken advantage of and I think people would benefit from warnings. There was the instant with Sethe and having her milk stolen from her and there was the time with Beloved and Paul D, when she was forcing herself on him, despite him saying no. There were both male and female perpetrators, so this shows that there isn't only one type of person who's assault, it could be anyone. Reading these scenes were particularly graphic and made the reading uncomfortable. Reading it at this time, makes me more aware of all the assaults that were constantly dismissed in past time, and how people weren't able to talk about it and how it affected them. We are in a time now where assault is something that everyone should report.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Frankenstein Reimagined

Before going on the field trip this past week for English, I had only read Frankenstein in my sophomore English class. Of course, it was a book for school and I had to read it, so it wasn't necessarily my favorite right off the bat. However, after attending the play version of the book, I had a totally new found appreciation for Mary Shelley and the incredible story she told.

What I enjoyed most about the play was the glimpse into the creation of the book itself before diving into the actual story. I had no idea why Mary Shelley had chosen to write a piece of work such as Frankenstein, or where one even manages to come up with an idea like that in the first place. I think it's important to know and understand the history behind the art in order to gain a fuller understanding of it.

I also had a deep appreciation of the fact that no dialogue was used in the play. When art is created off of other art, it is necessary to revolutionize the final product as much as your creativity allows. The absence of dialogue was a sure fire way to keep the audience engaged in what was happening, while at the same time letting their minds fill in the blanks where dialogue may have otherwise been used instead. I would highly recommend seeing a silent play, especially one such as Frankenstein, which guarantees your mind will be in for a wild ride.

Thoughts About Frankenstein

Before going to see the play Frankenstein, I had a different idea in my mind on how they were going to show it. When we actually got there and started watching, I realized it wasn't anything like I thought. They displayed it in a very unique way. A way I've never seen before. Even though it wasn't like a normal play that I'm used to, with people acting on stage, I think it was really cool. Having it be manual cinema, we really got to see exactly what and how they were doing the things behind the scenes, instead it was actually on stage in front of us. Though there was no dialect, I still was able to follow the story. I also think that it was really great how it was an all female cast. Girls rock, of course.

The Play Frankenstein

The play Frankenstein that our class saw yesterday was quite unique. It was not what I was expecting at all, but I actually enjoyed it a lot. I was not expecting it to be puppetry and it was not like anything I had seen before. It was really cool to me how all of the actors were female and how they had all stayed on the stage the entire time. The costumes were very elaborate and the fact that they did not use any spoken dialogue the entire time was amazing. I have previously read the book and the so the play was not that difficult to follow, it was at first though because there was no dialect but then I caught on. The story of Frankenstein is a beautiful story and it was interesting to learn about Mary Shelley's life. I was glad that I was able to see this type of performance and hopefully I can see something like it in the future.

Paranormal Activity in Beloved

The book Beloved, by Toni Morrison, forces the readers to ask themselves a question regarding paranormal activity. The story's structure begs a personal question you might ask yourself, “are ghosts real?”. Author Toni Morrison thinks so. The main characters live in a house with some sever haunted qualities. For starters, the two sons in the household decide to get the heck out of the house due to its creepy qualities. Towards the beginning of the book, we are introduced to a character with the same name as the baby who died in the house and allegedly haunts the house now. Although it is not yet specified if the baby really is a ghost, it is up to the reader to decide based on context clues. Morrison uses the use of diction and imagery to showcase the characters desire for answers.

The way the author of the book Beloved presents the aspect of ghosts in the story is very different than other authors. There is a mysterious presence amongst the description and stories in and of the book. In most stories involving ghosts, the ghosts are seen as scary or mischievous. Rather, the ghost in Beloved is described as “sad” and “heartbroken”. I am excited to continue reading and hopefully discover if my conclusions are true.

Reaction to Frankenstein

When I signed up to go see Frankenstein I was under the impression that it would be a live play and when I heard it was a puppet show I got a little worried. I didn't think I would like it because it would be too childish because it was a puppet show. Thankfully I was wrong about it being childish but I certainly was not wrong about not liking it. I thought that the music was great and all of the musicians and puppeteers were incredibly talented; however, the acting was very sub-par.

I also did not think that it was a good format to tell an engaging story. I think that while it was cool to see the mechanisms of the show, it was distracting and took attention away from the story and placed it more on the artists and musicians themselves. Changing the styles of storytelling throughout the show also impacted it negatively. The performers chose to switch back and forth from live acting to shadow puppets to drawings and this did not allow the show to maintain a single style. I think that had the entire show been entirely shown through the shadow puppets or entirely drawn it would have been much more interesting and engaging. And I think the show would have been significantly stronger had they not had live acting. 

I wish I could've enjoyed the show more because the story of Frankenstein is a classic, incredible story.

Iron Motif

Throughout the novel Beloved, the author utilizes iron as a motif to represent great strength. It is first introduced through the characterization of Sethe as “Halle’s girl--the one with iron eyes, and a backbone to match” (10). Her life as a past slave requires her to be strong, for, without the self-drive to defy her master and save her family, she would forever remain as nameless as her title. She would merely be an object belonging to someone else, a laborer, a subhuman, a slave. Her life after escaping slavehood also required great strength because she had to move past her painful memories and losses, defining herself as not just property, but rather a mother, a wife, and most importantly, a human being.

In its great power and strength, iron sometimes serves as a limitation, such as when Paul D has an iron bit in his mouth. His iron bit prevents him from saying something to make Halle stay as if the power of iron was so overwhelming that he couldn’t fight it (81). For Paul D, iron is a part of the past he can’t repress: “It was some time before he could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, Halle, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest” (133). Iron is a physicality that has entered Paul D's tastebuds, infiltrating within him, until he feels trapped by the culmination of past pain. The pain can’t be placed in the tin box of his chest, and thus becomes the controller of Paul D’s body, rather than the controlee.

The Frankenstein Experience

When we were told that We were seeing Frankenstein, I pictured just a standard play with actors on a stage, and I've done theater and seen plays, so I thought I knew what I was about to see. The experience of this performance was unlike anything I've ever seen before. When I first walked into the room, I noticed all the different instruments and setups that were on the stage. I was very confused because all this stuff is usually backstage or in the pit, which is where the musicians usually are. The also had a screen pulled down, so I begin to wonder if this was even a play. At first, I wasn't into what was happening, because I was expecting something much different, and it strange to me. However, I begin to look around the whole stage, and I'm watching the actors create this movie for us live, while it's showing on the screen, along with the musicians playing live music for us. Afterwards, might opinion and perspective on the show completely flipped around. It was very cool to be able to watch the actors create this animation/theater/ film project right in front of us, and the fact they were on the stage made it so much more engaging then just watching the screen. Overall I enjoyed it, and it was a good new experience. For those who didn't enjoy it, that's understandable, but everyone should at least respect it, because they put so much work and effort into an idea that many people might consider unorthodox.

Music and Storytelling

The manual cinema adaptation of Frankenstein performed at the Court Theater was something very new to me. I was expecting there to be a live performance, but to my surprise the company did not execute the show with dialogue and acting. Instead they worked with overhead projectors, shadow puppetry, live film and many other moving parts to tell the story on stage and on screen. I could tell that there was a lot of work put into the production of this show and I was pleasantly surprised with the execution and how well I was able to understand the plot with little previous knowledge of the original story. When we first arrived, I was afraid that I would not be able to keep up with the story, but the use of music definitely helped. This is why, of all the the intricate parts of the play, the  automatic soundtracks and live music ensemble was the element that caught and kept my attention the most. Being that this performance had no audible dialogue, the music helped me to know when the atmosphere of the story was changing, how the characters interacted with each other, and when something very important was happening. It sets the tone for the entire scene and guides the audience towards what emotions they should feel at that point in the story. Music whether it be in movies, television shows, or plays like this one, has always been something that helps to enhance storytelling for me.

Understanding of the doors

I wanted to write about how Mohsin Hamid introduced the doors throughout the book. The first time we see the doors is in the women's bedroom in Australia. I was so confused when I read the passage because how could this guy just come out of a closet. I re read the passage a few times because I thought I missed something. Hamid has a few more random door scenes in the beginning of the book and I was still confused. When Nadia and Saeed go through the door I was still very confused. I also re read that a few times. It wasn't until they left the Island and went to England that I got that it was a portal they were going through. I had one of those "mind blown" moments and all the prior door moments made sense all of a sudden which was really satisfying.


When we took a class field trip to go see the live action cinema performance of Frankenstein I was truly shocked. When I first saw the set up of the stage I was a little bit skeptical about what we were about to see because I had never witnessed something like that before. This seemed to me like it was going to be very hard for them to perform with such a small space to work with as well as all the obstacles in the way. Once the show started all my worries about how the show would go vanished. When the main story of Frankenstein started I was sucked in. My eyes were locked on the screen and would only leave to watch what was happening in front of me which was being projected onto the screen. I was and still am so impressed with how amazing and thoughtful the show was and never could have imagined that I would enjoy it so much. Looking back at he performance I thing that the most memorable part was the live music being played 20 feet in front of me and how amazing an accurate they could make the sound effects. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the field trip and was very happy I got to experience the performance.


Going into the field trip, I didn't know what to expect. When Mr. Heidkamp said that there were puppets in it, I expected them to be incorporated into the performance. However, when we got there I was surprised by the arrangement and found it awesome how they showed the audience the process it took to show what they projected onto the screen. I think it provided a lot to the performance and let the audience appreciate all the work that went into the performance. It showed all the major elements that go into working on a show like this and the art and talent that it takes. The fact that the whole cast was women in such a male dominant play was very powerful as well. A couple years ago I saw a similar show where they used paper puppets about a Persian fairytale. I was amazed by the beauty of the puppets and the art that was put into it. But after seeing Frankenstein, I had a much higher appreciation for the work and all aspects of it.

Sethe: And her Beloved

Sethe has had a hard life, she was a slave most her life and was mistreated. Sethe doesn't like to talk about much of her past and keeps it deep down inside, either because it's too painful to talk about or because she doesn't want to seem weak. A part of her painful past is the fact that she lost a child, she never named her and the only word she was able to get on her gravestone was the word, Beloved. Sethe's house is haunted by what they believe is Sethe's dead child. She and Denver try to reason with the spirit but nothing seems to work until Paul D a man from her past shows up and actually wrecks the house, scaring the spirit away. Or so they thought. A while later a girl who calls herself Beloved shows up to the house. She could be the physical representation of Sethe's dead child. As soon as Beloved shows up Sethe needs to pee extremely bad and it reminds her of when her water broke with Denver. The girl says her name is Beloved which is the name that is on the grave. As soon as the baby ghost leaves the house Beloved shows up. This evidence makes many people believe that Beloved is the physical body of Sethe's dead child. Beloved seems to know a lot about Sethe and her life, she knew that Sethe got diamond earrings from her previous owner. She also wants to know all about Sethe's past and her trauma, some stories even Denver has never heard. How could she know this if she wasn't part of Sethe's life for all this time? 

The Fourth Person

Beloved exists in a world of ghosts. Each character is haunted, some by the ghost of Sethe's daughter Beloved, but perhaps more significantly by the past that continues to be present. Sethe is lives in a world of 'rememories' of the brutality of slavery and her husband Halle, unable to escape. The other escaped slave characters, especially Baby Suggs and Paul D, seem similarly unable to be truly freed from their past experiences. Even Denver, Sethe's daughter who has never been a slave, remains in the shadow of slavery that marked her parents and grandparents lives with the stories and customs in her life.
Author Toni Morrison explores the depths of the past with writing that layers the present with memories. As scenes progress, characters often stop to remember some instance or scene from their past which frequently segues deeper into the past. By creating scenes that progress without barely an acknowledgement of the typical confines of time, Morrison is able to create a unique perspective: the fourth person.
Aside from the usual three perspectives, the fourth is able to lend a depth to the meaning of Beloved. Stories told through the eyes of someone remembering past instances allow readers to understand the contextual nuances of the present. Additionally, the fourth person allows the past and present to be interwoven in such a way that itself demonstrates the way in which the past is a living ghost for Morrison's characters.

Frankenstein: A New Type of Play

Yesterday, our English class along with a few others went over to the University of Chicago to watch a play reenactment of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. After getting our seats, I was perplexed as to how a book as complex and successful as Frankenstein could be performed on such a small stage and instruments taking up nearly half of that space, I couldn't imagine how the show would be performed.

As the show started, I realized the complexity and sheer amount of work involved in rehearsing and setting up each scene of the play. To start, nearly every scene was performed live-action. A series of projectors and film trickery were used to give the audience a sense of depth, complex scene backgrounds, and different types of light. As you were watching the play on the large screen there was virtually no way for one to tell that the show was being performed right in front of us. However, look to the left, right and even center of the stage, and you could see the hard work and dedicated cast performing every section of the play.

While the play had little if any dialogue, the cast managed to give theme and meaning to the characters through music. For instance, every time the Frankenstein came into the scene, the music drastically changed to an ominous and sinister tone. The music kept the audience on edge for almost the entire play.

Afterward, the cast had a discussion with the audience and we realized the amount of work required for a live action play. Everything had to be meticulously designed and executed. For instance, the placement of the musical instruments was explicitly thought out to ensure that the cast could move between projectors as fast and efficient as possible. The projectors were placed in an area of the stage so that the audience wouldn't necessarily be distracted, but they could easily look to one side or another to be further engaged in the play.

I thoroughly enjoyed the play, and afterward, I decided to research other plays similar to Frankenstein. While I was somewhat unsuccessful in my search, I saw a PDF that explains some of the tricks used in the play to further enhance the viewing experience. It is attached below.

Film Tricks

Exit West Soundtrack

The perfect song for the intense refugee story that Exit West embodies is Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash.  This song reminds me of Exit West because the main chorus to the song is, "Should I stay or should I go now?  If I go there will be trouble and if I stay it will be double.  So come on and let me know."  This chorus relates to the story because Nadia and Saeed are refugees that are on the run from violence in their home city and then face more of it in the refugee camp while in London.  They face potential violence from one another but also locals who do not support them inhabiting their land.  When The Clash sings about trouble if they go I think about the fact that no matter where Nadia and Saeed run to they are faced with violence and discrimination from locals and police.  However, if Nadia and Saeed stay in their city then the trouble will seemingly be double and they will likely die due to the civil war. 

The Clash also says "One day its fine and the next it's black."  This line can explain the sudden twists ad turns that Nadia and Saeed face while living in an unpredictable and dangerous environment.  When I heard this line I thought of when Saeeds mother died due to the stray bullet.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ten Minutes for Seven Letters

Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved portrays the sexual abuse and exploitation experienced by slaves and former slaves extensively. Though it is hard to read, the situations described by Morrison are stories that need to be told. In the many years I have taken U.S. history, slave narratives, but specifically female narratives discussing sexual abuse, have been left out of the curriculum and ignored. If one such experience was mentioned in passing, there has been very little time spent talking about the implications of the stories and how deep the impact was. The topic has been a part of a few novels I have read for English classes, such as Beloved, however because there has been little prior experience with the subject, many of my classmates and I have a hard time going about discussing it. This cannot be solely pinned on the lack of discourse on sexual abuse, because people feel uncomfortable and find it hard to stomach, however we should not shy away from ugly truths for the sake of our blissful ignorance. The people who experienced the horrors similar to those described in Beloved deserve to have their voices and stories heard.

Historical Accuracy of Beloved

Beloved by Toni Morrison discusses the history and experiences of slaves in America, and how these experiences haunt those who have escaped from or been freed from slavery. Morrison mentions specific years and ages of her characters in the novel and alludes to connections between the events in the book and historical events in the American South. However, when matching up these dates to the history of slavery in America, they don't fit together quite right.

The book is set in 1873, 8 years after the Civil War. In 1855, Sethe gives birth to Denver. According to Denver's telling of the story, Sethe is 19 when she gives birth to Denver, meaning she would have been born in 1836.

Stick with me, this is where it gets tricky. According to Nan, both she and Sethe's mother were "taken up by" crewmen on the boat they took to an unspecified island. Sethe's mother gets pregnant by someone on the boat's crew and gets rid of the child on the island. This means that at least a year was spent traveling to and staying on the island. If we set the minimum age for surviving a pregnancy at 13, this means that Sethe's mother was at least 14 by the time she reached the states, if not older.

International slave trade was outlawed in America (though people could still trade slaves within America) in 1808, and a very small number of slaves were illegally smuggled into the country after 1808 due to high penalties for not only smuggling but buying smuggled slaves. Assuming Sethe's mother entered the country right at the end of America's international slave trade, she would have been 14 in 1808 making her born in 1797. And if Sethe's mother was born in 1794, that would make her at least 42 if not older at the time of Sethe's birth.

While having a baby at 42 might not seem unreasonable by today's standards, it would have been pretty much impossible for an enslaved woman. For starters, nowadays it is difficult for women at that age to conceive children and deliver them healthily through a traditional birth. On top of that, enslaved women were often forced to work through their pregnancies at the same rate as healthy men, were not provided with extra food, and had no access to prenatal care. Finally, slaves had an average life expectancy of 21-22 in the antebellum South, nowhere near the minimum age of 42 that Sethe's mother would be at the time of Sethe's birth.

In order for the story to match the timeline of American history, Sethe's mother would have to be 42 years old if not older at the time of her daughter's birth, and getting up and continuing to work on the plantation 2-3 weeks later. So what explanantion is there for this impossible feat? Am I missing another piece of evidence in the story that explains this timeline error? And if it truly is an oversight on behalf of the author, why did she include specific ages and years in the story if they don't work? What purpose does that serve? And am I digging too deep into this plot hole?

(Sidenote: I understand that the historical accuracy of the timeline does not have an impact on the message and information conveyed in the book, it just bothers me.)

Is Beloved a Ghost Story?

What do ghosts add to the plot? Many have mistakenly referred to ''Beloved''  by Toni Morrison as a ghost story. But I believe that the ''embodied spirit'' of the main character's murdered daughter ''Beloved'' is not a ghost story. To understand this one must first look at the popular belief of what a ghost is and what a ghost story is.

First, the dictionary definition of a ghost is, “an apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image,". Ghosts attract fear in the plots of novels and or films. A lot of people read a book or watch movies for the sake of the ghost aspect. The spooky realisation that something can come back after death, we are not alone and something could be haunting a place makes the story appealing. More so, like in the novel Beloved Toni Morrison uses the ghost aspect of the novel to drive the plot. It makes the story more unique and different from an ordinary story about history.

The term "ghost story" can refer to any kind of scary story. The dictionary definition of a ghost story is, "the ghost story has been developed from a short story format, within a genre of fiction. It is a form of supernatural fiction and specifically of weird fiction, and is often a horror story,".

In the novel, Toni Morrison uses the ghost aspect of the novel to drive the plot, when Sethe creates Beloved. This ''ghost'' to her becomes the opportunity to help Sethe’s conscience. Toni Morrison alternates point of views by telling stories from Sethe's past, to telling stories in the present. Morrison brings in Beloved, who shows Sethe and Paul D's past at "Sweet Home" as slaves, and the present. The character of Beloved allows Morrison to explain the experiences and characteristics of the characters.

As an avid ghost lover, I personally feel more attracted to a novel or film when the haunted ghost aspect is added, but beloved is not a "spooky" ghost story someone might tell at summer camp. Morrison's writing examines the destructive legacy of slavery as it demonstrates the life of a black woman named Sethe, there just so happens to be ghosts.

A New Frankenstein

The play Frankenstein was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. What struck me the most was how every event occurred on stage including puppeteering, costume changes, and musical performance. First, it really fascinated me how much the music was able to immerse the audience. I found myself continuously being reminded that there was live music, not just a recording, each time the music shifted or a new instrument was introduced. I appreciated the unique instruments they played and the creative ways they places them, creating sounds I'd never heard from those instruments before. However, I found this easily distracting and I often missed out on the performance on screen, causing me to loose the story line at points.

I also really loved the creativity displayed in the play. From the wide variety of puppets and costumes, it was clear a lot of hard work and dedication went into creating this play. The most interesting thing about the puppeteering for me was the inclusion of real people in front of the camera or projector, acting as puppets. When I first heard the play was actually more of a puppet show, I imagined makeshift sock puppets in a window, definitely not human actors. I thought having actors act out specific scenes was a really interesting and new form of puppeteering.

Finally, the small cast was really impressive. Throughout the performance, it seemed that every member of the cast was involved in using the projectors, acting, helping with props, or playing music. It was really interesting to see how many people were involved in the making of one scene and I think in movies and plays nowadays we have come to under appreciate that.

Frankenstein: Let your eyes wander

For me I truly enjoyed the near entirety of the performance. I didn't think there were any parts that dragged on, or at the least those parts were eclipsed by being able to see the inner workings of the performance. That is what this performance excelled in.

In a movie you get what you see and nothing more. All that will be revealed is laid out on the screen. If the movie were to drag on or bore you there isn't much you could do besides leave or hope the movie changes. This is not the case with the performance of Frankenstein my class recently saw. Should you have been bored by what was on the screen there was a whole ensemble of things going on to hold your attention. There was the live music to lose yourself in. You could watch each musician moving between instruments as they filled the soundscape with effects and melodies. Or perhaps the mechanical arms that played hanging glass bottles could hold your attention. If the puppetry on the screen didn't grasp you there was of course the cast of puppeteers acting as one cohesive unit to watch. To watch them flow from what appeared to be countless puppets and detailed costumes was in it self a wonderful performance.

If the story didn't entertain you I can understand that. However, if you said that the whole performance held little interest to you then I'd have to say you must have been watching some other show.

An Honest Review of Frankenstein

After seeing the "play" Frankenstein" with my English class, I wasn't initially sure about how I felt about it. My only background knowledge on the story was a basic, online summary which I read the day before seeing it. Although I'm a huge fan of art and creativity, I found myself a bit lost in this performance of the world renown story. I was extremely fascinated and left in awe by the high level of creativity that the performers displayed when performing for my class. I completely respect the skill and work that they put into their unique and independent project, but for me, I just wasn't able to really get into the story.

The main problem was that I kept getting distracted by the puppeteers and projector-controllers. I would find myself looking at them rather than what they were creating in the story. I understand this could very much be a "me problem," but it unfortunately took away from my understanding of the story because I would literally miss chunks of it. The exposure of the process of making the story is actually really interesting and fun to watch, but it personally made it harder for me to enjoy the actual story of Frankenstein.

Again, I want to stress that I really respect and enjoy seeing the work the performers and staff did for Frankenstein. I thought the artwork was amazing, the set was charming, the live music was great, and the unique process of performance was also fascinating. Truthfully, I just struggled paying attention to the screen where the story was told, and I feel I missed out on what everyone says was an awesome story.

Bringing Puppets and Frankenstein to Life

I was really shocked by this play. I was a little skeptical when I first came into the theater because I heard that there would be puppets, and I had never seen or heard of anything like that in a play before. But I ended up loving the play.

The actors were amazing at being able to convey their emotions without actually having any lines. And, the musicians playing the live music were extremely talented and used instruments that I had never seen before to make all of the sound effects. They didn't only make music to help convey emotion, but they used music to make sound effects which made the whole play seem very real. It was something that was extremely compelling and fully immersed you into a new world so that you could discover Mary Shelley's extraordinary life and the original story of Frankenstein. The actors were also able to make the puppets move in a way that made them seem natural and real. They brought all of these puppets to life. You could tell that the actors were all very dedicated to this play, because they must have put countless hours into making all the puppets and props.

It shocked me how all of the actors were able to change slides on the projectors or move puppets at exactly the right time. I liked how we were able to see what all of the actors were doing and the musicians so that the audience could chose what they wanted to look at, and see how they were able to produce those images on the screen in real time. I had never read Frankenstein before, so I enjoyed learning about the original character and how Mary Shelley's life influenced her novel. This play was like no other play I have ever seen before, and I'm happy that I was able to go on this field trip so that I could witness it.

Storytelling In Beloved

Story telling is what most of the book consists of. I think that the characters use storytelling as a way to self-soothe themselves and give closure at the same time. But while storytelling might be a way to keep memories alive, I believe the book also shows how storytelling can lead to sadness and being left hurt. 

Storytelling gives Denver joy especially when the story is about herself. For her it is a way to connect to her past and it reveals her ancestry and heritage. As for Sethe, Paul D, and Baby Suggs story telling is a way to talk through their life. I think they use it as a way to appreciate and also remember that life is good and bad. In order to not forget their past and remember where they came from storytelling is the best way to keep that alive.

While storytelling can have its perks the book also calls that memories are not always good. Memories are painful as well. As for painful memories so far we see that these painful memories mostly strike Sethe and Paul D. We can see that some of their storytelling brings painful memories, preventing them from moving one. One instant where this happens to them both is when they wake the next morning after spending the night together. 

Frankenstein: A Puppeteer's Adaptation

To start, this was by far, the most interestingly put together show I have ever experienced. Since my mother is a music teacher, I have suffered through, enjoyed, and spaced out through many plays in my time. Some operas, some middle school productions, some small company productions. All were more or less similarly put together, with a plot, characters, live action and usually songs. The biggest changes to this I witnessed were in Man of Lamancha, where they had limited space so they used a similar shadow technique to depict a windmill; in Die Fledermaus it was in German so I was reading subtitles. So when I walked into this theater it was not at all what I expected. 

It was already a small stage, but they also piled musical instruments and projectors and all of that, so I had no idea how a live action play could be done in this venue. I really thought a band concert was later that day so they setup all the equipment not knowing there was going to be a play going on. Then I found out it was going to be puppets, so my first thought was Kermit the frog. I decided to try to keep an open mind, and in fact I was pleasantly surprised. 

First off, I really enjoyed their use of music in this play. I thought they creatively used many different percussion instruments and interesting techniques on the big clarinet(not sure if it was a bassoon or what). Their use of volume was also very impressive, giving emotion and a clear narrative to this non-verbal show. In addition to this, the story they showed was very riveting. The creative use of the projectors and puppets added an unexpectedly interesting aspect. Being able to see what was going on essentially behind the scenes made it so their was no dull moments in the show. This held true for me besides the part about the author which I found was not very interesting. 

Overall this show was a creative and stimulating story telling experience, and I'm glad I went. 


This performance that we saw today was not what I was expecting.  Walking in I didn't realize that it was going to be with puppetry, I was taken aback for a moment.  However, I continued into it with an open mind, and boy am I glad I did.  I have never seen anything like this before. The music along with the images presented were mesmerizing and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.  It was so cool that every single person in the show was on stage all at the same time, and throughout the whole show. 
In addition to that I wasn't very familiar with the story of Frankenstein so I was interested to see how it would play out.  The beautiful artistry they exemplified in this performance made Frankenstein a very enjoyable story to watch, if it wasn't already.  I think that now I should probably go and read the actual book by Mary Shelley.  I also am so happy to have been opened up to this world of performance and theater.  I can see myself continuing to seek out other performances in a similar style as it was so fun to be apart of.  Overall this field trip was a great day out with classmates and seeing and experiencing new things.


The presence of ghosts in Beloved are very different from the presence of ghosts in other stories. It seems that in Beloved the ghosts do not want to scare people, but rather want to let people know how they feel. Sethe describes the ghost in 124 as sad and heartbroken. While the ghost may terrorize them at times, the haunting clearly isn't bad enough for Sethe and Denver. It seems that the ghost simply wants the residents of the house to feel the emotional pain it does, as it has never gone to the lengths of trying to seriously injure any of the residents in the house.

The Ambiguity of Time

In Toni Morrison's "Beloved", the time of the story constantly bounces back and forth from "current" time to various points in the past. Though this adds a layer of confusion to reading the story, it also emphasizes how many things stayed the same for people of color after the end of the civil war.

Having known each other while enslaved, Sethe and Paul D. have a  plethora of experience to apply to their relationship at 124. However, they still experience many of the same things as they did under Schoolteacher. These constant jumps back and forward in time are easily missed by the reader, at least for the first few sentences, because the times are almost impossible to differentiate. Often, I find myself only catching the change in time from the dialogue or reference to characters only present in one time period. Though their lives are undoubtedly better without the chains of slavery constantly upon them, it is ignorant to believe that liberation instantly undid centuries of wrongdoing.

After the failure of reconstruction, racism in the south grew exponentially, deep into the twentieth century. Though there were no slaves, the culture of slavery still remained throughout the south and in some northern areas. By jumping back and forth through time, Toni Morrison emphasizes the struggles of people of color after the end of the civil war.

Ghosts. Are. Not. Real

Personally I do not believe ghosts are real. Everything and anything has an explanation. The belief that some superhuman, superficial beings exist, is delusional. First off, the notion that a dead human or animal rests in the place it died, or a location that they particularly love is insane. A dead human or animal is dead, nothing more and nothing less. They do not come to haunt us so we remember them, or grieve us to make us suffer for the trauma they experienced, or to right a wrong that they were the victim of. Almost every ghost story I have personally been told or heard, has a reasonable explanation, or the story is fake. A door slamming, a "dark presence", a chill in a certain part of the room, a figure or shadow of some sort. Any number of factors could influence these specific occurrences. A gust of wind, a particular depression, a broken air vent or air conditioner, drug or lack of sleep induced hallucinations. Every single ghost occurrence has an explanation or the story is most likely unreliable. The fact that there is extremely little to no physical evidence to prove ghosts exist is a telltale sign that ghosts are a figment of the human imagination. For example many people swear by Ouija boards but they are one of the easiest games to influence. Any person involved in the process could impact it, even unconsciously. This would be called the ideomotor effect. The movement is caused by an anticipation and expectation for a result. In Beloved, we do not fully know yet what happened to Sethe's baby and why she died, but apparently there are many different times that "the ghost" appears. Again, not unlike every other ghost story ever, there are an infinite amount of possibilities to why these things are happening, or why the people in 124 think they are happening. Although I believe some people can convince themselves, and possibly others, with a good story, unless there is hard physical proof, these stories will never materialize into a legitimate entity. Ghosts are nothing but a good story.

Denver and 124

On page 17 of Beloved, Denver cries to her mother that she "...can't live here. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I can't live here" (17). She then tells her mother that she can't live her because "Nobody speaks to us. Nobody comes by. Boys don't like me. Girls don't either" (17). It's implied here that Paul D has been Denver and Sethe's first visitor in years. Her brothers left years ago, and it's been nearly 9 years since Baby Suggs died. It's also implied that they live in an area where people live within walking distance from them, yet their neighbors don't talk to Denver or Sethe because they live in a haunted house. Because Denver is now 18 and Baby Suggs died almost 9 years ago and her brothers ran away just before she died, Denver has had no human contact with anyone aside from her mother since she was about 9 years old.


Jacob Collier’s Hideaway is my addition to our Exit West playlist. Aside from being being a gorgeous song, the lyrics and musical content of Hideaway very much relate to the themes and ideas of Exit West. Half love song, half meandering lament, Hideaway definitely deserves a spot on our playlist.

The lyrics of the song revolve around the idea of a “hideaway”, a metaphorical safe space which may or may not represent an actual physical location. In my mind, this search for a hideaway corresponds to the migrant experience in Exit West: a journey out of peril, in search of a haven. The lyrics “whichever way the wind may blow there will be a place for me to go in my hideaway” represents both the safety of an imaginary place and also the nomadic quality of wandering around. The song has not found its hideaway--it is still searching. The rest of the lyrics echo this sentiment: “wherever I go wandering I’ll find a home in everything in my hideaway.” This line reminded me of Nadia and Saeed’s bond with each other. No matter where they had to travel, they always had each other and their hideaway.

The musical feel itself also seems appropriate with regards to the tone of Exit West. The chords have a dreamy, almost wandering feel. The chords travel around the song’s tonality ebbing and flowing in and out of resolution. The polyrhythms and counterpoint echo the complexity and conflict of the novel. All in all, Hideaway matches the tone of Exit West quite well.

Are Ghosts Real?

Are ghosts real? Toni Morrison seems to believe so. In her award winning book Beloved, Morrison focuses on the main character's haunted house to drive the plot. About one third through the book we are introduced a new character with ghost like qualities. Her name is the same as the dead baby haunting the house, she is said to have clear "new, baby skin", and seems to have baby behavior as she is picking up her life as where she left off when she died when she was younger. However, the readers at this point still do not know if this mysterious character is indeed an actual ghost. Morrison uses the readers impatience to see if this character is indeed a real ghost to drive the plot and keep the readers on the edge of their seat.

This leads me to ask the question if ghosts are truly real. It is the number one most common "myth" people believe in. Some people claim to have ghost encounters where they actual see a ghost. Some people claim to hear ghosts. And some claim to feel their presence. However, there is yet to be substantial evidence that proves this paranormal activity is real.

Will this ghost debate ever come to an end?

Women in Beloved

The women in Beloved by Toni Morrison are described to go through quite traumatic events of sexual assault and female specific issues that are still present in society today.

Sethe's sexuality is something she uses to get letters on the grave for her child. It was implied in the story that this is was her only option rather than a choice she made.This is not something that men typically have to endure because the oversexualization of women is specific to their gender. Women are still very oversexualized in our modern society and women still use their bodies in exchange for favors because there aren't other available options to them.

Sethe is also has her milk taken from her by the schoolteacher in a non consensual manner. Halle sees this and is unable to do anything. Sethe's trauma from this is still very common and many women now are still sexually assaulted or harassed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why Doesn't the World Open Its Borders?

As a collective, the modern world has mostly agreed that individuals hold certain freedoms. These include the right to speech, the right to practice your religion, and the right to individual expression. So why is the freedom of movement included in that list? As Alex Tabarrok, an economist focused on migration, says, “our moral intuitions and indeed our laws today are that you shouldn’t discriminate against someone because of their race, because of their gender, their sexual preference or other issues. But for odd reasons, it’s perfectly OK to discriminate against someone because they were born somewhere else. You can, in fact, put up walls and machine guns and prevent someone from moving simply for the reason that they were born somewhere else.” The novel Exit West by Mohsin Hamid displays this kind of aggression faced by migrants and refugees and also what a world without borders may look like.

In Exit West, refugees are met with violence and protest when arriving in new countries through magical doors. This reflects the way that things seem to be now in the world; Immigrants are thought of being something to be scared of and regulated. Not only are the migrants thought to be a threat to the cultures they are entering in the book, but to their economies as well. Sadia and Saeed, the two main characters, migrate outside of London where they are kept in a migrant community in which they work in a closed system. This comes from the fear that immigrants will steal locals’ jobs when they arrive. This is a common tactic today, especially in politics, used to convince people that immigration is not a good idea. However, once the pervasiveness of immigrants reaches a certain point in Exit West, it seems that the world accepts the freedom of movement, and becomes a safer and better community because of it.

So what would happen if countries went away with, or at loosened, their borders in the real world? On the economic side of things, many economists believe that an influx in immigration to richer countries would help things. In terms of wages, the low-skill jobs of a wealthy country may take a dip, but higher wage jobs would increase wages, and the poorer wage country’s wages would increase as well. Overall, immigration could add massive amounts of revenue to the global market. The European Union has experimented somewhat with open borders, with a large amount of stability for all countries participating. It was shown in the EU that less well-off countries’ residents did not flock to other places at the opportunity. This would seem to suggest that a relaxing of borders might not necessarily lead to a global migration crisis.

Of course, most of this is merely hypotheses on what a world without strict borders could look like based upon some numbers and a lot of opinion. This ultimately leads the decision up to the citizens of the world on how to respond to the world: Should migration be a right, and if so, could the world handle it?