Friday, October 31, 2014

New York Day Woman

New York Day Woman reminded me of some of my relatives.  I had an Aunt Annie and she was from   Czechoslovakia.  She traveled all over the city using public transportation.  She was also very frugal.  I think that this woman has also been tested by poverty and knows the value of saving and not being extravagant.  She is confident in a quiet way. She knows the world and is comfortable being who she is.  The daughter however, is ashamed of her mother.  She wants to know, “Why, you can’t you look like a lady playing softball?” (Danticat 3848). I think that the mother knows that her daughter is ashamed of her because the mother never went to any of her daughter’s parent-teacher conference.  The child that the mother is watching in the park accepts the New York day woman unconditionally and enjoys being in her company.  The mother doesn’t want to shame her daughter. “Shame is heavier than a hundred bags of salt.” (Danticat 3849). The mother makes light of the fact that she has to have dentures. She states “You can take them out when they bother you. I’ll like them, I’ll like them fine.” (Danticat 3846).  The New York day woman has made her peace in the world. 
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Acclimated to Death

I chose this poem because it was one of the very first things I ever read in a college course and since this is one of that last college courses before my first degree I thought it's would be interesting to analyze a piece of writing I read and analyzed about 4 years ago. (Geesh this took far to long to graduate) The first time I read this I remember loving the set up, and I still do. The poet isn't simply reciting a poem, they're telling a story, giving the facts. There's very little embellishment. Similar to a news article. At first you're given the facts, the who, what, when, and where and then comes the why. The image of the house is frightening, "broken bottles were imbedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace" (Forche 3725) this image is terrifying, and really places you into the story. In understanding what kind of fortress they are in. When the poet describes her friends reaction to her having been asked how she enjoyed El Salvador you can picture their face. Hoping that she'll have the right response, that they won't offend their host in this den of horror. The ears are of course the most gruesome of all the images, that poet wants us to really understand this part, to understand the symbolism behind the ears and how important it is. The ear in the glass of water "coming alive" (Forche 3725), the ears that fall to the floor, some hearing the colonel's words while others are pressed against the floor unable to hear. These ears belonged to someone, multiple someones, this is the most gruesome image of this poems, the gun on the couch and then gratings on the windows paled in comparison. It's funny to me how the Colonel and his family though seem so accustomed to this, the daughter is not distraught, she's not filled with unnerved angst, she's painting her nails calmly. One of my favorite and most relaxing of all past times, it requires patience and a steady hand, not something you can do under stress. They were living the high life, for dinner they had lamb, even the bell for calling their maid was made of gold. This fortress was truly their home, and ears and all they were comfortable in it. I think that image might even be slightly more disturbing than the ears laying on the floor. The fact that they are raising children in this environment and that the kids are completely acclimated to it. There are ears on the table and yet there is not a distress in the house. No one is bothered besides the guests, it's astonishing. The first time I read this I didn't really pick up on the family as much, I mostly focused on the ears, the discretion, the way at first they are described as inhuman, peach halves but once dropped in water they are not only alive but now they're listening. But they aren't the only ones listening, his family is listening, his wife and daughter, his son out for the night but whom I'm sure has heard this spiel over and over. I guess that's most shocking of all, is this family. They are so consumed by their father's ideals. So poisoned by rhetoric, so numb to violence that their home, their father's temper, and human body parts on the floor doesn't phase them. 

How can children brought up in a home like that possibly ever feel empathy? How could you not live in constant fear when your house is a death trap, telling you at all times you are in danger and people want you dead? How can they be so calm? And how can the son even feel safe enough to go out for the night having a sadistic father who obviously has earned numerous enemies? 
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The choice of word hands at the end of the section of The Country between Us, by Carolyn Forche was interesting to me.  The last line in the poem reads, "Tenderness is in the hands." What a true statement.  The government held the power of life and death in their hands and did not seem to show much tenderness.  Both poems depict graphic images of human cruelty and serious human rights violations.  The government of El Salvador had the power in their hands to choose tenderness or brutality.  The word hand is also in the poem The Colonel.  He is holding a human ear,"He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces,..."(3725) The colonel does not use his hands for tenderness nor does he use them tenderly. He shakes the ear in their face and he has also ordered to have the ears cut off of human beings. 
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The Colonel

               The colonel that Forche describes in the excerpt from “The Country between Us” is like a third country despot. The colonel is an omnipotent man who enjoys his power and cruelty with relish.  The contrast between the house and the veneer of civilization is striking. “Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace.” (Forche 3725).  Further in the excerpt it describes with banality their menu of rack of lamb and a good wine with a maid to serve.  The son and daughter are depicted as bored spoiled children self-absorbed in their shallow lives. “His daughter files her nails, his son went out for the night.” (Forche 3725). After this meal  the colonel bring in a grocery sack filled with human ears.  He proudly shows this to his guests.  They are like his trophies. I think the colonel is  like a matador who keeps the ears of the bulls he has fought.   He shakes it in front of his guest for shock value.  The colonel drops the human ears in a glass of water and like a parlor trick the desiccated ears fill with water and seem to come alive. Floating in the water absorbing the water and becoming fleshy. The colonel callously tells his guest that he is tired of the rights of people and then to add to his crudity he states,”tell your people to go fuck themselves.” (Forche 3725). The last line of the excerpt, “Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.”  (Forche 3725) to me meant that the ears were deaf and the colonel could not hear the innocent people he has murdered.  
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Colonel

In this shocking, yet brief piece, "The Colonel," by Carolyn Forché, the reader is brought into the shocking realities of the human rights violations taking place in El Salvador. Forché brings the reader right into the scene, with her great descriptions. One feels as if they are sucked into El Salvador, watching the cop show on tv, seeing the daughter filing her nails. Forché also instills the same unsettling fear she herself felt when the colonel spills the sack of ears onto the table. When she writes of one of the ears she notes, "He took one of them in his hands... dropped it in a water glass. It came alive there" (3725). The way in which Forché uses "alive" to describe the severed ear leaves a tingle down my spine, and it is this moment when the fear truly sets in. In such few sentences, Forché has created such an unimaginable villain. This piece leaves with a haunting tone in place: "Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground" (3725). These lines have such a defeated nature, but I don't think they signify giving up. Either way, they leave you with such a knot in your stomach. 
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Born a Victim

The poem "Apprenticed to Justice" by Kimberly Blaeser is some deep stuff. She describes a torn, burnt surrounding. Completely destroyed and ashened, and talks about how "no dustbowl wind can lift this history of loss" (3415) and you're just struck with the imagery of this poem. Children born to not trust the people they share a country with, to be completely seperate from this thing around them. Feeling the need to protect thier names because of fear they too will be stolen from them, "as easily as land" (3415). It's something American's just don't understand. I've been to a reservation, we were in New Mexico on our way to Los Altos and my mom wanted to stop. The people there were so kind, my dad is half Native American and it shows, they saw him and immediatly were so welcoming. They were having a celebration and were having a ceremony of goods. Sharing thier food with everyone in the tribe and they included us. Complete strangers welcomed us into their homes, I was young and the kids my age ran up to me and started showing me how to perform the dance they were doing. It was such an amazing humbling experience. To be instantly apart of something bigger than yourself, to know there are these people that are so misunderstood and mistreated. When the writer illudes to the trail of tears, "thunder like twelve thousand, walking, then ten thousand, then eight, walking away from stolen homes, from burned out camps, from relative fallen, as they walked, then crawled, then fell." (3416). These people so kind to welcome strangers have such a painful history. They are born into a world that refused to accept them, that cast them away as something less than and to be raised in that culture seperates you from the rest of the world and places a stigma upon your head. They are born expected to integrate or stay out of the way. This poem it beutiful however and ends with strength, an author trying to empower a people. To create a spark of revolution, of rights, for change. To rise above the ashes their heritage is built upon and become something great. I hope more people read these poems because they really have a depth of heart and truth that are so beautiful and inspiring. 
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Either You're With Us or Against Us

It was hard at first for me to get into this story, I hardly ever enjoy when a second language is used in literature but isn't translated. I understand it has meaning, but I don't know spanish so I don't know what that meaning is. It's as if I were talking to someone and just rambled a phrase in German knowing they didn't understand me but never bothered to tell them what I said. Not a big deal though, just a pet peeve that it wasn't a footnote or anything. I'm also not Catholic, nor have I ever been to a Catholic mass so the beginning turned me off becuase when the author is talking about how everyone is equal on Ash Wednesday (3312) I just kind of thought to myself, "well not everyone, I mean maybe every Catholic but that's certainly not everyone in the world" not a huge deal but it's hard to get into something when it seems the audience for the narration is so narrow. I did manage to connect with one part of this story and that's the nature of children. Children are pack animals. If you are weak, if you are different, you won't be accepted by the pack. If you go against them you will be rejected and if you defend someone that's not in the pack you are making a statment of betrayl and must be punished. This is basic child psychology. They learn to make friends with people that share commonalities with and ostersize those that don't necessarily belong. It's sad, when Tony actually does the right thing, defending his friend and refusing to give him a "punishment" before everyone the crowd of children turns on him. It reminded me of the story of Jesus and the Prositute. The men of the town wanted to stone her, they wanted her dead and Jesus made a statment that he who hath no sin shall cast the first stone. This wasn't exactly what happened with the kids but it showed signs of that, and then when Tony took the punishment, and actually cried out to God. It reminded me of the Crusifiction when before Christ died he cried out to his father asking for him to forgive those that had done this to him. Standing up to bullies is a Christ like behavior because it in essence puts yourself in harms way to protect another. Someone who might not be like you, someone who isn't always innocent themselves but you defend them because you know it's right. I read that part and thought it was pretty nice that despite thier difference in beliefs Tony still defended his friend and didn't judge him like the rest. He took the punishment of his peers and wasn't vengeful toward them or even mad at Florence, he just got up and went into confession. Kind of a neat picture. 
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Red Convertable

This story was insane. I loved it. I thought the car was supposed to be Henry. But I also thought that was a pretty straightforward metaphor. Lyman loves that car for the times he had with his brother in it. It takes seeing the car broken down and destroyed to give Henry not only some kind of purpose, but a purpose in hopes that it might somehow redeem Henry himself. But he can't get it quite right. It still isn't as whole as it used to be, no matter how hard Henry tries, just like Henry the man. And this is what really got me. Henry killed himself because of the whole never being really whole and back to who he was thing. But the big cathartic ending of pushing the car into the river just felt right. It's not so much that it's just following the idea of the car being a metaphor for Henry and dies in the river just like him, as much as it was Lyman finally letting his brother that really never came home go.
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The Red Convertible

I first read this story a few years ago in a short story class and the impact is similar.  One thing I find interesting is my reaction to Lyman and remembering my classes reaction to his life post-Henry.  When my class read it then my teacher and then the students all made a big scene out of pointing out that Lyman was drunk and stoned when he tossed the picture in a bag and then in the closet.  They, and I think I went along with this, made it sound as though he was on a bender, like his life was out of control.  We talked about him as horribly sad and some people even made him sound a bit pathetic or like he'd become like Henry, just blankly watching the TV and not living.  This is a pretty bleak outlook on this young man and a guy in the mid seventies (or now) who has had a few drinks and smoked a joint is not "out of control", nothing about what he described sounds like he's fallen into a pit of sadness.  He was down one night and this happened, as things do.  Were we s convinced that he had to be spiraling in sadness to want to take down the picture of Henry?  I think so.  I think we have trouble allowing people to grieve how they want to, and we want to pass judgement on what they can and cannot handle.  Lyman probably went back and forth, up and down, had good days and bad over Henry's death for years - but it is much more dramatic for us to think of other wallowing.  To see tears being shed is much more concrete than someone who moves on only to have occasional bad nights - it doesn't make their suffering any less or their mourning.  Why do we like to impose how we think people should be sad?

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The Red Convertible

This story was fantastic. One thing I picked up on was the how the convertible seemed to reflect Henry. Lyman describes when they first saw the car, it looked "reposed, calm and gleaming," which reflect Henry at that point in the story (3388). When Lyman damages the convertible, Henry doesn't just see a dented up car; instead, he sees a reflection of himself in the dented metal, as if it signified his own pain and suffering. Henry begins repairing the car, but realizes he cannot fix himself in the same way. When he drowns, Lyman brings the convertible to the same resting place, showing in fact that the car does reflect Henry, even to Lyman.

Another thing I found interesting was Lyman's narration. He refers to his recounts in past tense, but he never quotes Henry in past tense, always present. This made my heart heavy, as it shows Lyman's inability to let his brother die, something I think we can all relate to. He loved his brother, and it is hard to accept loss in any form. 
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Bless Me, Ultima

In the excerpt from Rudolfo Anaya's novel, Bless Me, Ultima, we are presented the narrator, Antonio (aka Tony), a Mexican-American boy, around the time of ash Wednesday. As the days progress towards Easter Sunday, Tony is filled with this excitement, that everything will be made well again, and that his first communion will make everything right. As it progresses, he does not seem to feel any better. When he is made priest by the other children, and refuses to give penance to Florence for not believing in the word of God, he is beaten violently by the children. Still, he goes into his confession, with a heavy heart, still thinking he must confess. This story definitely shows someone who is lost within their religion. The words of Florence resonate in Tony, I feel. Florence says of his disbelief: "Because you refuse to see the truth, or to accept me because I do not believe in your lies! I say God has sinned against me because he took my father and mother from me when I needed them, and he made my sisters whores" (3319). You can feel his anger and his sadness through his words, and I think Tony felt moved by it. I found Tony's situation to be reminiscent to that of Jesus. He stood up for what he believed was right, and suffered punishment for it. Yet, at no time did he go back on it. He struggled to get away, but in the end, he held true his convictions. He is very noble, and though one gets the sense he is lost, he still seems clear in his morals. 
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The Red Convertible: Lyman Lamartine

The story has several incidents of magic realism in it.  Lyman's ability to make money so easily and not worrying about being called up for the draft.  But the incident that stood out for me was in the end when Henry drowns.  It starts out in an ordinary way with both of them sitting on the bank.  Then Henry suddenly decides to jump in the river. But the scene unfolds in an otherworldy way as Henry says so calmly, "My boots are filling." (3394) an then, "He says this in a normal voice, like he just noticed and he doesn't know what to think of it." (3394) It all seems to unfold in a very calm peaceful way, almost like a dream.  There does not seem to be any panic or confusion as this tragic event is happening. It make me wonder if Henry was ready to die.  Was the drowning intentional or an accident?  Had he made his peace with the world and as ready to let go? Did he think that his life would never get any better?
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Death of Henry Junior

The light begins to dim. The crimson convertible is at a halt beyond the gray flowing waters of the Pembina and Red Rivers. The air is silent. The mood is overcome with disparagement. The two men encircle the warmth of a fire created by hand. The river is almost still although ever flowing none the same. It is as if the river itself derives from the source of Acheron( The darkness of the landscape as the sun sets entails death; the death of men. Can the soul of man die as the body lives on? Henry Junior died long before he ever came home. Only his body survived the trip from the treacherous forest of the Vietcong. “When he came home... Henry was very different, and I’ll say this: the change was no good”(Erdrich3390). Henry had become mindless. Only his central nervous system controlled him now. The thoughts within his head were hollow; nothing more than that dark forest in Vietnam. As the two stood on that river bank, the bank of the dead, Henry dove head first. He liberated himself from his given body. He was now completely freed from this Earth. Nothing was left to tie him to the soil. Within moments he was gone. The current carried the unmoving body into the underworld of Hades. 

Endrich entails such a dramatic conclusion as to depict an other worldly ambiance. One can die in many ways. The metaphysical nature of the scene brings forth the eventuality of death as well as the ways in which a human may die. Death is not always what it appears. Many die far before their physical selves leave the Earth. Endrich’s abounding illustration illuminates the uncertainty of life and the human soul. 
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Penance: Reconstructing of Youth

As the doors open, children race to be first into the church hall. A building seemingly encompassed with peace and forgiveness is simply a fallacy, a game. Antonio and his friends are taught in a means of fear. For every sin, there is a punishment. The children delight in their sins as they desire to see who will receive the largest penance. After Florence depicted his view the children bellowed “make his penance hard... make him kneel and we’ll beat him... yeah, beat him.. stone him!... beat him!... kill him”(Anaya3319). In all the chaos of sin, the children lose the true meaning of eternal salvation. As they desire a penance for the sins of another, they overlook their own. Within the confinements of the dark box the children forgot the purpose of the penance. It is to assure that one reconnects with the Lord after entailing their sins. Penance should never become a punishment, yet it has become more than that. Penance for the children as turned into a game. Who has the worst sin? Who receives the highest punishment? Religion must not only be taught within the church, but lived. The children merely hear the age old stories of an ancient book. They do not feel the words beat into their own souls. The Bible is nothing more than a literal tool of punishment and exactitude for the children. They do not understand that to become a true Catholic, one must live the words of the Lord not fear them. Show compassion. Help a fellow man. Are Catholic practices learned effectively by youth or are they merely a means of fear to intimidate children to act appropriately? Do strict religions have the opposite effect on children? Do they cause them to act out? 
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Power: Rhetoric and Poetry

To express oneself is the greatest form of freedom. To question oneself is the worst. Poetry depicts our rawest emotions buried deep within the bosom of the soul. It frees the mind as the lead of the steady hand releases the anguish intertwined within the beating heart; swirling through the ever flowing veins of crimson. Audre Lorde depicts the foreshadow of events to come. The twelfth jury member, a woman of African descent, “lined her own womb with cement to make a graveyard for our children”(Lorde3373). Lorde also makes reference to “being ready to kill yourself instead of your children”(Lorde3372). The single African American woman gave up her voice and smothered herself within the burning coals of oppression. When a mother dies, whether metaphorically or physically, she cannot protect her kin. In giving up her voice, the woman allowed the murderer of a young boy to be set free on the streets with a gun in hand and the power to subjugate the the minority. Her only question was the rhetoric of was he guilty? It’s one thing to succumb to the persecutor, but yet another to give one’s self up in such a way that delivery of an innocent child to enemy is the outcome. 

The introduction sets the pace of the poetic stand. Lorde purposefully brings forth the idea of death instantaneously as she wants the reader to distinguish the difference between “murder” and the real death of a child. Murder is heard in all eras throughout history, yet death, finality, makes it real. It allows the reader to feel. Do you feel Lorde’s depiction is appropriate for the message of “Power?” Does the difference between poetry and rhetoric hold relevance in “Power?”
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Freeing the Virgin (DRAFT)

I apologize for this being so late.

                                                 Freeing The Virgin: a mental assassination
Reading Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Welcome to the Monkey house" you feel betrayed. The author takes the reader on a journey, filled with dark humor and satire that brings a smile to your face. Floating on this cloud you enjoy the dystopia story of the world during a population crisis, with solutions like suicide parlors and genital numbing pills you find yourself enthralled and diving deeper into the narration absorbing every moment. Until in the end you are dropped on your head and all you can do it try and pick up the pieces after the final period; just like the character Nancy must now pick up the pieces of her own life to decide for herself what she now believes. In this work of fiction written by the late Kurt Vonnegut he transitions from a story filled with dark humor and satire to one of serious content and a political and societal message in attempts to end the story leaving the audience in awe and alone with their thoughts searching within themselves for understanding and answers. By creating characters that transform in personality and characteristics we as an audience are transformed in opinion of these characters, changing the tone of the writing and inserting page breaks and dramatic pauses slows the reader and creates a deeper importance to really hone in on each sentiment coming from these characters. The jokes and humor end in this last excerpt of the story and in the end we are left just as Nancy is left, alone, uncertain and needing to search within ourselves for our own truth.
"Which he did." (Vonnegut 47). The page break following this sentence is the beginning of the end. Not only is this the last page break of the story but in this next excerpt the entire tone and voice of the writing changes. No longer are we as readers meant to laugh and enjoy this story, from here on out we are meant to think, analyze, and determine for ourselves the morality of the characters, the world of the past, our current culture and our plausible future. This is the turning point and from here we must take note and be prepared for the emotional warfare we are about to experience because Vonnegut spares no feelings. The page break on page 47 is not the only grammatical aspect that dictates meaning and creates an important element to the text. The use of the em-dash is essential in changing tone and determining dramatic importance in the story.  "On the contrary, he was terribly depressed, and said to Nancy, "Believe me if there'd been any other way---"' (Vonnegut 47). Billy does not finish this sentence, he interrupts himself with silence because there is nothing more to say. There is no other way, he knows that, Nancy knows that and him saying anything about that now is pointless. What's done is done and showing regret for that now is unnecessary. The use of the em-dash is prevalent through out the ending of the story and that's because the author wants us to slow down, we are supposed to read this last part carefully. This use of grammar is meant to show us that by taking this new pace it creates a more serious tone to the reading and ensures that we as the reader really understand and absorb the ending of the story. And the true difference between what we've read up to this point and everything here after. 
The author changes his characters in the end. Billy is no longer this idea, he's here and his purpose is no longer a joke. He has come to do a job and in doing it we are moved. "He deflowered her with a clinical skill she found ghastly." (Vonnegut 47). Billy the poet was cold, he was methodical and he knew what he was doing. Like a surgeon cutting into human flesh, Billy did his job with all seriousness and without wavering. This is important, because it signifies that Billy was not happy to be doing this and in this moment neither was he  destroyed by his actions. It was a job that needed done and one that he was capable and willing to do. We know all along Billy's ultimate driving force, we know his motives and yet we don't see it happening this way. Despite Nancy never wavering we just assume she'll give herself over. When Billy has to rape Nancy we feel unprepared. In a way as an audience we also feel taken advantage of.  The quote about Billy's depression is also relevant to the changing of Billy's character because of what it says about him. "On the contrary, he was terribly depressed, and said to Nancy, "Believe me if there'd been any other way---"' (Vonnegut 47). This passage is the first time we realize the effect that the plight of reawakening a sexual revolution has on Billy. He doesn't enjoy forcing himself on women, there is no part of this violation and rape that brings him joy. He is bothered by his actions but that doesn't change the fact that he believes in what he's doing and it's importance. This passage shows us that his beliefs come at an emotional price and that's something Billy can not get away from. But Billy isn't the only character suffering and he's certainly not the only one to make a dramatic change in behavior. "Her reply to this was a face like stone--and silent tears of humiliation." (Vonnegut 47). Again we see an em-dash used to signify the importance behind the second portion and it's true weight. This is the first time Nancy has ever shown weakness. She is broken, her confidence was taken from her and she's no longer the same woman. "Big as she was, like a double bass wedged onto that narrow shelf, she felt like a pitiful little thing." (Vonnegut 47). Up to this point in the story Nancy had the desire to fight, the confidence in herself and her ability to kick-ass, but now she's defeated, in the following sentence it says that she pulls the covers up to "hide her face" (Vonnegut 47). She feels shame, and we pity Nancy. This whole story we see her strength, Nancy reassures the audience she's strong and that she doesn't need any help with defending herself and now we see her defeated and it's painful to read. Nancy is full of shame and wants to just hide from the world. This is not the same woman we were introduced to in the suicide parlor. This woman has changed and it's unclear at this moment whether what was done to her truly was for the better.  
"And he left. And they all left but Nancy." (Vonnegut 50). At the end of this story Nancy is left alone to deal with what just happened to her. She must process her sexual awakening and how she feels about it, she must process what Billy tells her about the government and the lies she'd been fed in order to shape her life. Being left alone with her thoughts, now armed with the truth she can decide her own fate. This is also how we as an audience are left. The author doesn't tell us how to feel at the end, he doesn't tell us what to think or how to react. He just tells us the facts, he predicts a future filled with government mandates in order to control sexuality, and at the time this was written the government had already began a war on drugs during a time where experimenting with drugs was just as much apart of a culture as sex. So why should the freedom of sex not also be threatened? The way this story ends is pivotal in delivering it's message. The author tells no more jokes, describing Champagne as a drug as illegal as heroin is the last piece of humor we find (Vonnegut 46). This digression away from humor is so important in creating a serious message and ensuring that the audience is receptive to the new direction of the tone.  
In essence while reading "Welcome to the Monkey House" we are both being violated, the reader and Nancy. The author draws us in, makes us feel safe and then violates that trust creating this feeling of vulnerability. We don't know what to think, we are empathetic to a rapist and yet we understand his motives and have to question our own morals for understanding. This wasn't what we agreed to, this wasn't what we were sold in the beginning, Vonnegut promised us humor and witty quips and then he stole that away from us. He stole the innocence of the story away from us just as Billy the Poet stole away the innocence of Nancy. Forced the reader to see something ugly, something true. In order to find enlightenment. We are in a way just like Nancy, in order to understand we must be forced. The page breaks and grammar tell us that this passage is serious and that we are to take note, we are drawn in all along by humor but those jokes end and the serious nature of this story ensues. Billy the Poet becomes a monster and a hero in a matter of seconds and we are left unsure how to feel about him after all and Nancy transforms from the charismatic, beautiful, confident and strong woman to someone afraid so show her face. Unable to muster the will to even fight. She's confused and in the end she's left alone. This entire story Nancy is never alone, from the beginning with her co-worker and police officer to being kidnapped and guarded at all times. Even whilst being raped, she's surrounded by people holding her down, but in the end she's alone. Finally, to decide for herself what her truth is. We are like Nancy, the author is no longer telling a story, the facts are all laid before us and we are to determine our own truth. Are we to be empathetic to a rapist? Should we support this ideal of the sexual revolution and the reawakening of the population? Can this be a righteous cause if the solution is to violate women? These are what we are left with as an audience, self doubt, the need to find answers within. Vonnegut performs a mental assassination on his audience at the last minute in order to really get them to think and it's one of the most amazing pieces of literature that I've read in a long time.

So any feedback would be great, one thing I've unsure of is my use of the same quote twice. I think it's important in both grammatical context and character development but maybe structure wise I might set it up differently. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated in all aspects. 

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The red convertible

The Red Convertible: Lyman Lamartine was a sad story about two American Indians whose life on the reservation was idyllic but the white man’s war (Viet Nam) interfered with their lives. Henry was a strong confident carefree young man who alongside his brother made a road trip in a red convertible.  The convertible became a symbol of their freedom and self-confidence. It was a link to happier times for both Henry and Lyman.  Their road trip was far reaching and they even went to Alaska on a whim. They enjoyed life and lived each moment without regrets. When they came back Henry had to go in the Marines.  He went to Viet Nam for three years and when he came back he had post traumatic syndrome. The reservation had no facilities to help Henry and Lyman just wanted his brother back and not the silent nervous stranger. Lyman feels that giving Henry a purpose will be beneficial so he bangs up the convertible so Henry will repair it. Henry is better for a while but Henry and Lyman go for a ride and Henry just goes into the water and his boots fill up which was one of the lines in the first paragraph of the story.   Lyman pushes the convertible into the water that Henry has drowned in and now Henry owns the whole car and Lyman walks everywhere.
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Bless me, Ultima

               I understand the thoughts of the young Catholic boy about to receive his first confession. Sin is very real and damnation is only a sin away.  That is how Catholic religion was in my time.  The nuns and priests were infallible and their word was law.  For one of the boys, Florence to claim that he never had sinned was blasphemous. “I don’t have any,” Florence said softly.” (Anaya 3318). “Everybody has sins!” shouted Agnes.” (Anaya 3318)  The way that the story moved alongside the Stations of the Cross was interesting to me.   The childish confessions of sins were benign but their actions against Tony were vicious and not very Christ-like.  They all marched in for their confession like devote Catholics but just a few moments ago were beating Tony who was by far the most forgiving and conscious of his sins.  Is the writer drawing a parallel to Christ who was blameless but willing to suffer for the sins of others?
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bless Me, Ultima

Antonio and his friends are afraid to break customs and traditions within the Church because, "I knew that eternity lasted forever, and a soul because of one mistake could spend that eternity in hell." (3313) They learn their catechism by rote and it makes no sense to them as anything meaningful.  It is about obeying rules to stay out of hell for all of eternity.  They all follow the traditions and are excited to make their first confession. They are looking forward to being a more active part of the church.  The way the children pretend to go to confession, with Antonio as the priest, is their way of relieving the anxiety of making their first confession.  But it turns into a violent conflict when Florence says he does not have any sins.  The children act out what they have been taught all their lives.  The Catholic Church is the authority and everyone must agree with it or suffer at her hands. The children have not been taught to feel compassion for one another.  But to judge one another according to what the Church says is true.  After the mock confession the children beg  for Antonia to give him a hard penance.  They get caught up in the frenzy and at one point they shout, "Stone him!" "Beat him!" "Kill him!" (3319) Antonio is the only one who seems to realize the hypocrisy of this and turns to the crowd of children and says, "No!" I shouted, "there will be no punishment, there will be no penance! His sins are forgiven!" (3319) Antonio is compassionate enough to see that Florence is upset with God and needs some leniency. Children should be taught that the Church is there to help guide them spiritually and that all people sin and God is merciful and is forgiving.  Not that God is harsh and punitive.  Waiting to catch you messing up so he can send you to hell for eternity. Children also need to be taught that all people are accepted in God's eyes, not shunned. 
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After reading the excerpt from “Bless Me Ultima: Dieciocho,” I felt the children in the story weren’t really taught very well about Catholicism or they misunderstood what the religion stood for. When Antonio and his friends start mocking the religion after their test over catechism by acting like priest and sinners, and when they start handing out punishments for someone not believing in God, I felt that was disrespectful on some many levels. Did all the children really pass their test? Did any of them, or were they acting out because they just didn’t care?

When Florence stated that he felt God sinned against him for taking his parents, the other kids called for punishment. ‘Stone him! Beat him! Kill him!’(Anaya 3319). When Antonio wouldn’t do it, the kids held him down and beat him. Now, is that the kind of behavior a church would condone? Is the kids misbehavior because of the church, their parents, or because they misunderstood how they should act in the eyes of God?

I believe as a society, we owe the children to have a positive experience with religion. We need to teach them that if they don’t feel comfortable with the family denomination, that are different options if the child wants. They should also be taught that there are gonna be people that don’t believe in God at all, or don’t agree with their chosen religion preference. Under no circumstances should religion be forced on a child, because the only thing that can come from that is rebellion.
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Some Women Wait

This poem said a lot to me, the poet begins by inferring or better yet stating that "some women love to wait" (3375). Lorde then starts to list the things women "love" to wait for, some things that shouldn't be waited for like someone else to make them whole again, somethings that you're expected to wait for like a marriage proposal. She talks about waiting, or not living isn't always worth it. That "the opposite of living is only not living and the stars do not care" (3376). What you chose to make up your life is your decision. To wait for change or to change yourselves as in the ending of the poem (3376). But the poet doesn't say whether this decision for changing oneself is for the good or the bad. And I don't think these stations of waiting are necessarily bad, they seem to be. It seems to be that these women she describes are putting their lives on hold or holding back from something. Women wait for such tremendous things, things that just take time. Waiting isn't an awful thing, waiting for a husbands return is an empowering and independent time in my life, waiting for the birth of a child is huge for a mother. The growth, development, all the stages for becoming a mother. This waiting is important to the process. I think Lorde lightly touches these times but I don't know it just didn't feel right to me. The beginning of the poem reflects the rest of the poem for me in that she believes some of these women love the waiting, that's certainly not true. Depsite the waiting being a necessity these women don't love it. I thought the desciption of Audre Lorde as being a black lesbian feminist warrior poet empowering, I'm not one for lables. And this was riddled with them because I feel like it can give you a negative impression of somebody. Just like this poem felt like a label, the patient women, always waiting for a life that doesn't come. Waiting for love, waiting for a baby, waiting for acceptance, equality, waiting for all these things and her patience is her down fall because she will wait until eventually she gives up her waiting and accepts defeat, changing herself in the end. Maybe I missed the point of this poem, I don't know. But I see strenght in waiting, I see perseverance, I see some wonderful things and I'd hate such a negative lable to be placed on diligent women waiting for something important to them. 
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Audre Lorde's poem, "Power," is quite an incredible piece. Detailing the killing of a ten year old black child, Lorde creates a nightmarish landscape. "I am trapped in a desert of raw gunshot wounds," Lorde writes, setting the scene as she continues: "a dead child dragging his shattered black/face off the edge of my sleep" (3372). The opening two stanzas are so full of this raw, powerful energy, that really seem to make obvious how tragically Lorde feels for this child. In the little bio on Lorde, it mentions "Lorde insisted that she wrote to fulfill her responsibility 'to speak the truth as [she felt] it" (3372). What it does not mention, however, is just how incredibly vivid her words are. The scene she creates is so wicked, so vile, and yet, not so hard to believe. The beginning line had me thinking a lot about what exactly Lorde means; "The difference between poetry and rhetoric/ is being/ready to kill/yourself/instead of your children" (3372). Poetry is expression, pure emotion transferred to a page, as where rhetoric is being being persuasive, usually without any compassion or sincerity. I suppose she means, poetry is giving every piece of yourself for another; a poet tends to be very in touch with their emotions, as well as others, and they live for a more picturesque world, one of love. As to where rhetoric is the complete opposite, it seems to add a sense of selfishness. Where Lorde is a poet, the cop might be a rhetoric, willing to murder a child and then defend himself, with no remorse for his actions or the loss of life suffered.

Overall, this poem left me speechless. I read it over and over again, each time focusing more on a different stanza, jaw half dropping, because it felt like I could see it. I felt like I could have been there, at the scene, in the court room; Lorde makes it all feel so real. And all the while, I sympathize with her, as we all get upset when these things happen. Justice is rarely served. But one thing Lorde does realize, is even though we can necessarily obtain justice, we can remember these people through our expression.
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Changing Times: Now and Then. Rough Draft

Changing Times: Now and Then

Joyce Carol Oates does a good job at depicting “Where Are You Going Where Have You Been.” It was a very interesting read of the realities of changing times that society was facing during that time period. The degree of violence that was coming of age in the time period was just the beginning of a non-stop trend that still resumes today. Society during this time period was too naïve about the stranger danger and I feel that the more it happened over time the more society was using better parenting and getting better information to their children of the stranger danger epidemic that was occurring through our society.

The way that Oates explains the relationship between Connie’s mother and sister June, could this be the reason for the rebellious acts from Connie? Could it be that Connie feels that her mother likes her sister more than she likes her? Oates writes ‘Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How've you got your hair fixed – what the hell stinks? Hairspray? You don’t see your sister using that junk.’(3122). Could the reason be that Connie’s mother is comparing Connie to her sister June? Could it be because all her father did was work, eat, and sleep not spending quality time with the family? Instead of Connie actually going to the movies with her friend, she leaves with a boy to go get something to eat. Was this the change of times in a teenagers life, trying to cut the apron strings? Could this have been her first mistake when it comes to running into Arnold Friend? Could these reasons be some of the same reasons Arnold Friend become the stalker, rapist, and murderer?

When children feel that they their parents are being unfair or they are comparing them to someone else, (like a sibling), it has been proven over time that the child will act out and rebel, or even worse, run away which definitely will leave the child vulnerable and put them in extreme danger. Their irrational behavior is why they are called kids. As adults we have to nurture our children all the same, not treat one a certain way and not the other. When Oates writes the story of Connie being young, impressionable, and naïve, these are the types of things that I feel Oates is trying to imply that parents need to reform when it comes to their children. Naivety is a child worse trait and Connie shows that. Oates writes ‘This is how it is, honey: you come outside and we’ll drive away, have a nice ride. But if you don’t come out we’re gonna wait till your people come home and then they’re all going to get it.’ (3132). Connie was naïve to the fact of talking to strangers. She should’ve lock the doors and called the police when she noticed a strange car coming up the drive.

I interpreted that times were changing for the worse not only for a young woman and her rebellion and deceit, but for society in general. When a community has to worry about a stalker, kidnapper, rapist, and murderer, they have to change their ways of life forever. Nothing will ever be the same as it once was, especially with the disappearance of a young woman from a community. This was a period in time when people could leave their doors unlocked and sleep with their windows open. Society is definitely different now compared to the way it was during the time period that this story was written for these kinds of reasons over time. From the way teenagers were then, the crime rate, and types of crimes, were far less trivial than they are today.

As the type of society that we are, we learn from the past and the mistakes or overlooking that we do. This is why government agencies both state and federal have created programs such as stranger danger, parenting classes, and many others to help not only parents but children as well to learn the dangers that society faces with criminals.
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(Very) Rough Draft

**Please let it be known I have this vigorous writing agenda. This is the first step, which is essentially a stream-of-consciousness form; and also a skeleton of a draft.


            When one pictures the idea of a true American, the first thoughts that pop into their head will be the different symbols we chose to represent ourselves, such as the cowboy. However, if that person is Jack Kerouac, he might give a different answer. That is because in Kerouac’s essay, “The Great American Hobo,” he builds up the homeless as an American symbol of their own. Instead of leaving the hobos “in the dumps,” he chose to idolize them, and give the world a new perspective of them. Through his dreamy descriptions, his various connections made throughout, and his stints of dialogue, Kerouac creates a piece which solidifies the American homeless as an asset to our country, signifying some of our greatest aspects.
            The idea of being homeless has the most negative feeling attached to it. In the media, the homeless are often displayed as drug addicts, psychotics and those who are just too lazy to make anything of themselves. This is not entirely false, but after reading this essay, it is hard to settle with that. Kerouac, throughout the essay, creates the idea of the hobo representing freedom. He does this by using very appealing language, turning the hobo into a wise, respectable character. He describes the hobo as being on this long endeavor, this “idealistic lope to freedom and the hills of holy silence and holy privacy” (2976). Kerouac also describes the homeless lifestyle as “a definite special idea of footwalking freedom” (2977). This use of freedom really solidifies his point. The American hobo is truly the idea of freedom—they have nothing to hold them back, only looking forward to whatever adventure awaits them.
            Throughout “The Vanishing American Hobo,” Kerouac relates the homeless to many famous American idols as a means to break this negative stigma around them. Some of the examples he uses are Johnny Appleseed and Jim Bridger, both important historical figures that led a somewhat hobo lifestyle. Kerouac also relates the hobo to Benjamin Franklin: “Benjamin Franklin was like a hobo in Pennsylvania, he walked through Philly with three big rolls under his arms and a Massachusetts halfpenny on his hat” (2977). This is quite a significant relation, as Benjamin Franklin is one of the founding fathers of our country. He is also an American symbol, not just for his appearance on the hundred-dollar bill, but because of his legacy as a freedom fighter. Relating the hobo to Franklin paints a clear image of what Kerouac sees; a hobo is wise and seeks to learn the truths that one must search for. Kerouac further mentions Walt Whitman and John Muir, a poet and a naturalist/preservationist respectably. He even goes as far to name Teddy Roosevelt—a “political hobo”—and Vachel Lindsay. These connections are not accidental, Kerouac is purposefully relating the homeless to such intelligent, influential figures as a means to solidify their place; these men and women are not losers, and they’re not junkies: they are the artists, they are the geniuses, who strive for more than what they are given. Kerouac describes a hobo smoking his pipe as being similar to men in Japan, who isolate themselves in huts in order to find enlightenment. From this one can assess that Kerouac believes, wholeheartedly, that these people are truly the enlightened ones. When you break from society—a home, a car, taxes, jobs—you find inner peace, this otherwise unattainable sense of being.
            Towards the end of the essay, Kerouac incorporates bits of dialogue, which seem to be his way of giving us a direct example of what a hobo is. Except, instead of coming off as sophisticated, intelligent people, they come off as being rather simple.

            Although Kerouac does not necessarily make the homeless out to be something they’re not, he still manages to solidify their place as an American symbol. They may not be the cleanest, but overall, after reading this essay, one can definitely see how they are the freest people. Isn’t that what everyone really wants: to be free?
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In the Bible, Jesus calls to the disciples they put away their jobs and material things to follow him:  "And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.…" (Mark:1:17-18)  
They cannot have these things if they want to fully devote themselves to Christ.  The grandmother must put away her affectations and air of Christianity before she can truly accept grace.  Throughout the beginning of the story, we see the Grandmother's less than Christian approach to her fellow man; she criticizes people at just about every turn, "People certainly aren't nice like they used to be" (2778), she lies to get her way (2779), and she's entirely concerned with appearances. She sees beauty in things she knows nothing about, like the poor boy on the steps of a shack and the graveyard plantation (2777).  There is nothing romantic about these places she wants to paint and sighs lovingly over, she simply cannot see them as people such as herself.  Tossing blame around at everyone but those she likes, "The old lady said that in her opinion Europe was entirely to blame for the way things were now." (2779)  
Before becoming a disciple, Matthew was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9) something that was, and still is, considered one of the most hated of professions.  When others confronted Jesus as to why he would bring someone like that into his fold he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."  The Grandmother is not a perfect Christian, just as the Misfit says at the very end, "She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."(2786) She has to become good, become a disciple before she dies at peace.  
The reader first sees this change in her with regards to her appearance, at the beginning of the story, O'Conner clearly makes a point to make sure we get a full picture of what kind of a woman the grandmother is "...but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim...In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady." (2776)  She is vain and preoccupied, worried about keeping up her image and dolling out criticism.  However, when she if faced with The Misfit - when first confronted with the very real possibility of her death, she withdraws this pretense, "The grandmother reached up to adjust her hat brim as if she were going to the woods with him but it came off in her hand. She stood staring at it and after a second she let it fall on the ground." (2783)  Suddenly, the idea of dying "a lady" doesn't matter anymore, because it's not important.  For a woman her age, at this time to cast aside the hat at all was just not done.  To drop the ornamentation, the status and civility it represents, is to "leave her net", to leave what tells others who she is and makes her, her.  She is now free to "follow" God; to become his messenger.  At no point in the story does she actually pray.  It is only when she has her moment of revelation towards the Misfit that the reader sees her understand God.  When she realizes her death is drawing near, just before her exclamation, "She sank down in the ditch with her legs twisted under her" (2786) She falls down to her knees, almost in prayer.  “Humbled” is something we read about a lot in the Bible in the presence of Jesus and God, and she experiences this effect with The Misfit himself.  During most of their talk, as his associates are taking her family into the woods, he is kneeling below her and she literally "...was standing up looking down on him" (2784) and then he is standing above her when she first falls to her knees.  Just before her moment of grace however, "She saw the man's face twisted close to her own..." (2786) This is the first time she is "equal" to The Misfit; this is the stance they are in when she is killed, at equal height.  
In the same verse from Matthew describing tax collectors, Jesus says, “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11) The Misfit is there to bring this sinner towards Christ.  Even if he doesn’t mean to, even if he doesn’t realize his purpose, he seems to be sent to deliver her salvation. Like Pontius Pilate washing his hands after whipping Jesus Christ, The Misfit wipes her away, “Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them."(2786)  The Bible verse goes, “When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves." (Matthew 27:24).  By washing them away, the two men attempt to cleanse themselves of their demise.  

I'm not very good at rough draft's so I want to be sure I'm heading in the right direction, also I want to use the quote about the Grandmother smiling when she dies but I don't quite know how to fit it in. 
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Lorde: Power

I really liked this poem because it depicts racial tension in a very true light. It also shows how racist people can be no matter who they are or what they do for a living. This particular piece talks about a cop who shoots a kid and explains how race becomes a factor in two different parts of the poem. Unfortunately, this seems to still be true today with police shooting people and for the aftermath that comes afterwards, especially in Ferguson, Missouri.

Lorde writes “The policeman who shot down a 10-year-old in Queens.” (25). Then lorde goes on to say about his trial the police officer stated ‘I didn’t notice the size or nothing else only the color.’ (25). This goes to prove my earlier statement that it doesn’t matter who a person is or their respective profession, racism can be a big problem. Lorde also explains the outcome of his trial by writing “Today that 37-year-old white man with 13 years of police forcing has been set free by 11 white men who said they were satisfied justice had been done and one black woman who said ‘They convinced me.’” (30).

I believe that it was also racist by there being 11 white male jurors and one black female juror. That doesn’t sound like an impartial jury to me! At least today the attorneys for both sides try to pick impartial juries as well as mixed gender and race. This goes to show that society has made advancements in racism, but we are no where close to where we should be.
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Black or White

Adams Week 9 Blog: Black or White

This was very hard to determine the race of the two characters in this story. Throughout the story I changed my mind several times and I’m still not totally for sure, but I will give my opinion. Through the narrator Twyla she states ‘that we looked like salt and pepper standing there and that’s what the other kids called us sometimes.’ (Morrison 3542). So since the narrator is speaking and she used the word salt first gave me the idea that she was white and Roberta was black. Another instance was when Morrison wrote ‘We’re on our way to the Coast. He’s got an appointment with Hendrix.’ (3546). Roberta was speaking of a boy she was with and Jimi Hendrix was a black musician. Another point that made me think Twyla was white is when Morrison wrote ‘Oh, Twyla, you know how it was in those days: black-white. You know how everything was.’(3550). Roberta was making the statement and as you can see she said it in the order black-white. So that goes to show in my opinion that Roberta was black. So with these points being said, it in my opinion that Twyla was white and Roberta was black.

I believe how we read race in society depends on who you ask. Look at the race issues in Ferguson, Missouri. Personally I think every race and gender should be treated equal because in my eyes they are. Race makes up a person, who they are, where they come from. Class issues are ultimately just as important as racial issues in my eyes because everyone has their own opinion.

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The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
instead of your children.

Even after reading the rest of her work, much of it for the third or fourth time, I keep coming back to this stanza.  Thea idea of the destruction that can be inflicted using either form of writing/speaking is what makes me stop.  The idea that putting yourself down on the page, your true self and pouring over these words can be equated with laying down your life is a frightening thought.  Almost as frightening I think as saying that empty promises or colorful, meaningless language can kill your children.  I think it's more frightening because rhetoric already has a negative connotation, we already know that pomposity can be detrimental and harmful.  Poetry we see as a form of self expression, something that can help us say things we might not be able to in a straightforward way.  We think of poetry as something that can be an extension of our own souls.  To say that to be able to express these deep innermost feelings about yourself means that you are "ready to kill yourself" is a frightening idea.  It makes it that much scarier of an idea.  
Do you agree with Lorde's sentiment?   
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The scene showing Twyla's response to Roberta's "MOTHERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO" sign is an interesting insight into the influence each other their mothers had over them.  Roberta emphasizing the mother's rights in a school case remind us of her god fearing mother.  A woman who would have been probably a strict, structured mother to her daughter had she not been so ill.  We also see that Roberta's opposition to busing has nothing to do with the racial implications, she's simply concerned about what she feels is right by the families. Just like when she was a child and didn't understand why her mother didn't shake Mary's hand.  She doesn't think in terms of the differences of people, just in certain moral ideals that she probably isn't even sure why she possesses.
Twyla's sign on the other had ("AND SO DO CHILDREN***") marks her soreness for the encounter with Roberta's mother when they were children.  Also, she has always viewed her own mother as childish, the way she was oblivious or uncaring to how she dressed and not able to keep composure during the church service.  She seems to be saying not only do the literal children have rights, but also the mothers who may act less than motherly still have feelings too.  They are still worth something despite what Roberta's mother (and now Roberta) may think.  The way she vindictively writes "HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?" shows us she still holds Roberta more responsible for her mothers actions than her mother, because Twyla always had to be the one looking out for and corralling her own mother - she expected others to do the same.
Does this encounter prove to you that Twyla is the black character and Roberta the white?  Or are you still unsure?  There were plenty of African Americans that protested integration because they didn't want their children going to school with people they assumed would all be bigots.  
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rough first draft

                                                                     The Mother

                                                            By Gwendolyn Brooks

        The poem “The Mother” by Gwendolyn Brooks evokes a myriad of emotions in the reader. 

 The title itself brings to mind a singularity that she is “the mother” not a mother but emphasis on the mother.  Brooks by using this title makes the reader identify with the image of our own mothers. The title can also refer to a negative connotation as in the derogatory abbreviation of  Motherf**ker.   This interpretation would be a bit absurd but to each his/her own. That is the beauty of poetry it suggests but does not give graphic descriptions of each event.

            The first stanza and in particular the first line: “Abortions will not let you forget”  

(Brooks 1).  This line changes the universality of mother into directly addressing you (the reader).  The slang or vernacular of the next line states that “you remember the children you got that you didn’t get”. (Brooks 2). This suggests that you were pregnant and expecting a child but you never got it because of an abortion?  The poem goes on to describe the fetus as “small pulps with little or no hair” (Brooks 3). Is Brooks deliberately deemphasizing the humanity of the fetus by referring them as meaty scraps?  The first stanza of the poem Brooks has rhyming couplets: forget, get, hair, air, beat, sweet, thumb, come sigh, and eye.  

 “You will never neglect or beat” (Brooks 5).  Is this a rationalization to mitigate guilt over the abortion? Brooks paints a picture of a mother that would dote on her children with a “gobbling mother-eye.” (Brooks 10). The mother would buy sweets and never leave them (the children) but this negates what her first line of the poem states. Abortion is the mother choosing not to bear responsibility the babies that would come. This stanza is make-believe of what an ideal mother would do and that she would cherish each memory of motherhood.

            The second stanza lines 11-33 are significant because Brooks ends the rhyming couplets.  This stanza is about anguish and regrets.  Brooks twice depicts the children as “dim”. Does  Brooks suggest that since these children never saw the light of day that they are dim because their life force or inner light was stolen by the decision of the mother to abort? In this stanza Brooks starts with the pronoun I and uses it frequently in the stanza. Brooks also first mentions the word “sinned” and crime. Does this mother now admit if only to herself that she feels guilty over the abortions?  “I have stolen you births and your names”. (Brooks 18). The mother will never know of each baby’s loves, marriages and life itself.  Her babies will never cry “straight baby tears.” (Brooks 19).  Brooks in line 23-24 of the poem denotes that the mother “poisoned their breaths but even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate”.  The mother is communicating that she made the decision to abort but it wasn’t personal? She did not view them as people at the time maybe only as a malignant growth?  The mother is remorseful and questioning her decision but maybe she had no choice in the matter and abortion was kinder than life would have been for the children.  She mourns the lack of existence of her children that she got but didn’t get.  The mother reluctantly states that the truth is the babies were born and died but “never giggled or cried.” (Brooks 31).  Maybe the mother is now too old for childbirth and she wonders what her children would have accomplished in life.  Did she have the right to decide their fate?  Did she make mistakes?    Brooks in this stanza is verbalizes what every woman might think after an abortion. It is a life-changing decision whether you decide to abort or to have the baby.  Personal shame and sorrow mark this stanza. Grief is apparent in the lamentations of the mother.

            The last stanza where the mother is pleading with the reader to believe that she loved you (the children) she is begging for their forgiveness. She knew them faintly but she loved them.  Is it possible for a mother to terminate her pregnancy and still feel the right to mourn the nonexistent babies?  Is the last word in the poem “All” (Brooks 35) meant to encompass every woman who has had an abortion?  Is she asking the reader to understand that the choice of an abortion was difficult and she did not make the decision out of convenience but out of necessity?

            The poem asks forgiveness but does the mother ever forgive herself. She makes excuses for her decision until the end and she states that her babies were killed.  The mother acknowledges that she made decisions and that she grieves for all that might have been.  The poem does not tell the reader what factors weighed in the termination of the fetus.  Was the child a consequence of rape?  Was the child the result of incest and sexual abuse?  Was the mother already burdened with too many children to care for properly?  The use of the word all is significant because it suggests a universal forgiveness regardless of the action.  Remorse is the end result of all abortions and compassion for the difficult choices by the mother. 

            It is interesting to note that nowhere in the poem is the father mentioned, it leads the reader to assume that the decision is the woman’s right and not the father’s decision to bear the child.  Is Brooks leading the reader to believe in choice and not condemnation for the mother?

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