Sunday, December 13, 2009

My mind is mush right now in trying to keep track of who is talking, who is white, who is Native American and, basically, who is who. I finally had to give up trying to piece it all together, because as I move along in the book, names and people all become interconnected. The story also seem to move back and forth in time, which has also led to some confusion because it will somtimes take me a while into the chapter to realize that Erdrich has shifted the story. Her writing is obviously not done in sequential order.

Despite some confusion on the characters and happenings, I have enjoyed the book and watching how Erdrich creates such a spider web of events and people. Somehow everything connects to everything - the land, whites and Native Americans, names, and religion. However, there are so many jumps that Erdrich makes with new characters that I no longer know who is white, who lives on the reservation, and who is Native American. I guess I need to print the list posted in order to keep track.

I am also finding all the possible symbolism interesting and to see how these will work themselves in throughout the story. Erdrich's use of doves is a fairly common imagery and symbol, which I have seen used in other works. Although, I have always associated doves with peace and hope, but this is not what Erdrich does.

Almost finished with it, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Catching up here...

It is difficult to come up with much to say this week regarding the readings other than the fact that I really enjoyed the book The Invisible Man." I found it to be very thought provoking. The invisibility = identity issues in the novel raised quite a few questions in my mind with regards to our own invisibility and identity. Although the book relates to the issues of racism, there was so much more to the novel than this.

There was so much content in this novel that struck close to home with respect to how a person can be visible yet not visible to those around us. Not to disregard or not recognize the importance of racism in this country, I don't think a person has to be a minority to feel the struggles of identity. I recognized myself in the narrator to the extent of changing my identity to the circumstances of the time or to what I think someone expects of me. In doing this, it is so easy to get lost along the way. Learning to understand that we need to be ourselves, live out our own ideals and lives is difficult when all we want is to be recognized and accepted by others and society.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Invisible Thoughts

What to say about this. I am enjoying my reading of this novel, but whenever I read a novel that deals with social issues such as racism I find that I get upset. I dislike seeing how people of another social or ethnic class were or in some cases still, treated. This book deals with racism of African Americans.

The main character in this book is obviously a bright young man who has proven himself to be intelligent and looking to go places with his life. This leads me to the one place in this book that really got me going and that was when he gave an incredible commencment speech and was recommended by the superintendent to read it. What really got me was that they brought him in with a bunch of other black boys, blindfolded them and then proceeded to treat them like animals, kicking, punching, etc. They had to fight back blindfolded, humiliated. Then when it was over the superintendent and the other men acted as if nothing was different, like what they had done was unimportant and just normal. And then to have the invisible man" come out of this fighting experience with only the thought that he would finally be able to give his commencement speech, not indicating at all his thoughts about their treatment truly amazed me. I did not understand why there was no outragious anger. They act as if this is normal and they must endure it. The superintendent, the one who thought his commencement speech was terrific, was a part of all this and then just continued on as if the fighting had not happened, offering him a scholarship to the black college.

For me, this part of story was hard to understand. I am looking forward to finishing the story to see how this plays out with him being in Harlem, all that anger he has inside of him, and whether or not he will fall to the status quo of others in Harlem or whether he will overcome adversity. I think I will be disappointed if there is nothing happy about the ending, but we’ll see…

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Truthfully, I found "The Real Thing" to be unintersting. I appreciated the story line and dialogue in "Roman Fever" much more. I did feel some sympathy for the Monarch's in "The Real Thing" due to their unfortunate circumstances, particularly with today's economy and having just come off of unemployment myself. It has to be difficult for anyone who falls on hard times, but particularly for the upper class who are not used to finding themselves in such situations.

"Roman Fever" was interesting and I was quite shocked yet well pleased with Mrs. Ansley's parting shot at the end. I was sorry for Mrs. Slade and how it must have felt for her to carry around these feelings for so long. It is intersting how this confrontation did not take place back home, but in rather in a foreign country in which the found themselves visiting. Maybe it was easier to speak about it when away from their own community. The setting that Wharton set up for this confrontation acts as neutral territory, as well as a vacation in which the characters are more relaxed, to bring their issues out into the open. Mrs. Slade is a very bitter woman. Mrs. Ansley's parting shot was priceless, yet at the same time left the reader waiting for more.

On a separate and somewhat unrelated note, the setting in which Wharton chose for her story - Italy - is one of my favorite places. I will be making my second journey there at the end of June, except this time I am bringing two of my children with me. The entire Vinchesi clan will be renting a villa in Tuscany and while there I am planning on extra time to take my kids to Rome for all the old history. Here's a thought, maybe there will be some deep dark family secrets that will be unveiled, similar to Wharton's "Roman Fever" while we are there.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Eliza has very good and supportive friends. But she is a strong woman who does not follow advice well when her heart is longing for something else. Eliza knows what she must do, but is weak when it comes to Sanford's attentions. When Eliza loses Boyer, she becomes quite distraught and loses all the energy and excitement she had before and no longer had any desire to go out. Another friend, Julia Granby, comes to stay with her in order to lift her spirts and encourage her to go back out and enjoy the events.

However, when Sanford returns, so does his courtship and Eliza falls into an affair with him and then becomes pregnant. Julia becomes her biggest aversary when things go so wrong for Eliza. She stands beside her with words of encouragement and support. What was difficult to understand was Eliza's decision to leave. Why did she not stay where she was surrounded by those who loved and supported her, despite her ruination? "Where can she find that protection and tenderness, which , notwithstanding her great apostacy, I should never have withheld?" It is truly sad that she feels that she must venture out on her own, rather than stay and be a burden to those who care.

Realizing that women wanted more independence and freedom, does not take away from the fact that Eliza's immaturity and actions were oftentimes selfish. Rather than thinking about others, she chose her own path, which led to her being alone and dying alone. Her family and friends were left to wonder why? "But the desparate resolution, which she formed, and executed of becoming a fugitive; of deserting her mother's house and protection, and of wandering and dying among strangers, is a most distressing reflection to her friends" (pg. 162). This sums up a lot of the attitude in Eliza throughout the book. In the end, she leaves without letting anyone know that is okay, which is like she has no respect for those who have tried to do so much for her.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eliza's Choices

Eliza Wharton was a woman who portrayed dreams and thoughts of an era beyond the one in which she lived. She spent her youth taking care of her father and then her fiance; therefore, when she was free from these constraints, she embraced society wholeheartedly. Eliza expressed an immaturity in believing that she could go out into society and behave in a way that was frowned upon, while also seeking the respectability of marriage.

Eliza focused on two very different gentlemen in her life. One gentleman, Mr. Boyer was a preacher who would give her the life of respectability that women in this time period seek, but the other was considered a rake who could ruin her reputation as a woman of virtue by being seen in his company. She encourages Major Sanford in his advances because he offers her the freedom to which she wishes for. She is an outgoing woman who enjoys the gaiety of the social life, and lively conversation. When she is with Sanford, this is what she gets.

Eliza realizes that the advice she receives from her friends is true and that she should be commiting to Mr. Boyer and discouraging Major Sanford, but she cannot bring herself to let go of her freedom for a life of duties that will stifle her liveliness. In her immaturity, Eliza seems to be under the impression that she can keep putting Mr. Boyer off, enjoying the dancing and courting of Sanford, and he will be there for her when she is finally ready to settle down to the life of being a preachers wife. Eliza really seems to want to take the advice of her friends and discourage Sanford and settle down with Boyer, but she is unable to follow this advice.

However, what Eliza does not seem to understand, that within her society, the choices which she is making will only ruin her, causing her to lose the freedom that she thinks she is clinging to. What Eliza needed to do was look beyond just these two gentlemen and attempt to find someone who could fulfill her need for enjoying society's functions, yet maintain the respectability of a woman who makes a good marriage.

While Eliza's wish to be free to go about society as a single woman enjoying the company of anyone she wishes, this was not acceptable behavior by women during this time period. Through Eliza and the letters, Foster brings the issues on the lack of options for women to the forefront. Eliza's forward thinking and vitality would have ruined Mr. Boyer. I can't see Eliza being able to confine herself as a preachers wife without becoming miserable. So why did she only focus on this one gentleman as her option for a respectable marriage? There had to have been others in the picture. I felt that maybe Eliza focused on Mr. Boyer has her marriage option because of the advice she received from her friends. Mrs. Richman, as well as Lisa, were encouraging her to commit to Mr. Boyer.


Monday, November 2, 2009

The Difficulties in Reading The Goophered Grapevine

Chesnutt's "The Goophered Grapevine" was not an easy read. The dialect in which Chesnutt used in his story is what made this piece difficult. The dialect was that of an ex-slave. His poor use of the english language shows the divide between the whites and the black ex-slaves. I found myself re-reading Uncle Julius' story many times in an attempt to comprehend what he was trying to say. This story would have been more difficult to understand listening to it face to face. When we read this dialect, we can at least go over it repeatedly and slow down in order to process what is being said.

The word "goophered" was an entertaining word for bewitchment. From here, the story is one of mysticism and the unusual. However, the length of the story by Uncle Julius did nothing to help in understanding his words most of the time. I couldn't wait to get to the end of the story. All the language does in this case is confuse the mind from the actual story itself. It baffles the mind how anyone could understand anything that Uncle Julius was saying.

Although I found the length of the story to be too long, the story was entertaining. The "goophered" vineyard and the results of the bewitchment made for an interesting tall tale. It reminded me of a story that as it gets re-told over time, it becomes more exaggerated and mystical. The story is quite unbelievable, which explains why the northerner and his wife bought the vineyard regardless of the advice given by Uncle Julius. Of course, ending on a humorous note, the last paragraph questions the truth of the story, "I found, when I bought the vineyard, that Uncle Julius had occupied a cabin on the place for many years, and derived a respectable revenue from the neglected grapevines." It is obvious that Uncle Julius' story was told as a means of keeping prospective buyers away, so he could continue collecting a profit off the old grapevines.