Throwback Thursday: Fences Performance Critique

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Fences by August Wilson premiered in 1985. The play was adapted into a movie in 2016, with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprising their roles, of Troy and Rose respectively, from the 2010 revival of the play on Broadway. The movie adaptation highlights the way Troy is a tragic figure, rather than a merely a sympathetic one. Based on the written play, Troy is a character who has faced a difficult life and perpetuates this in his family life, cheating on his wife and holding his son back from his dreams. Washington’s portrayal highlights the sympathy you could have for Troy more consistently than the play allows, making it a story not only of the way oppression eventually beats a man down, but the way you build a life despite of it. The play leaves it to the audience to decide if Troy can be forgiven or not, determine for themselves if he has truly gone to heaven. However, the movie uses lightening as well as physical cues throughout, to lead us to the interpretation that Troy has gone to heaven, and is ultimately a tragic character, rather than merely a sympathetic but unforgivable one. The film version ultimately gives the ambiguous ending of the play, whether or not Troy could ultimately be forgiven by his family, a definitive interpretation that he would be forgiven, that his faults did not make him irredeemable.

Systematic oppression has put Troy in his position, and though he tries his best, he falls short of living the life he intends. The way in which Troy tries but fails to measure up is clearer in the film, going beyond the stage-directions, which do not indicate Troy is showing emotion his words aren’t conveying. The film shows more humor and kindness in Troy then his stern words alone suggest in the play. Just through reading the play, it is possible to interpret Troy has someone who has lived up to society’s expectation of him, being cruel to his son, and cheating on his wife. The ways in which you can sympathize with him only emerging in specific instances. This is brought out more fully with Washington’s portrayal of the character, shifting the interpretation of Troy’s character and ultimate fate from ambiguous to solidly tragic and forgiven.

Specifically, Troy’s vulnerabilities are clearer in Washington’s portrayal, with soft, sad smiles where the play had no written direction other than stern words – highlighting the way he wasn’t only criticizing Cory, but protecting the only way he knew how. The physicality of Washington’s portrayal of Troy (referring to his facial expressions and tone of voice) leads viewers to a more sympathetic and understanding view of Troy than readers of the script may walk away with. The tone of voice Washington uses in key scenes differs from the tone you would expect from the play-script itself. In his speech to Cory where Troy is lecturing Cory “Who says I have to like you,” (Wilson 37) he is smiling and affectionate, almost joking with his son, there is humor as well as a lecture, rather than just the stern lecture of sacrifice it is in its written form. This interpretation of the play in the movie is further expressed by Cory’s reaction to singing the song with Raynell in the end of the film. While the play never lets us know directly whether Cory himself has forgiven his father for his faults, thus furthering the allowance of the readers to make their own conclusions of his character, the film has Cory crying as he sings, as he takes his mother’s rant about the good and bad parts of his father to heart; Cory accepts Troy as a flawed man, but a man who tried his best nonetheless, and leads the audience to this same interpretation.

Besides physicality, the other major way the film leads to the interpretation of Troy as a tragic character is lightning, most significantly, the lightning in the last scene. Troy’s brother Gabriel believes himself to be the archangel Gabriel, who is the messenger of God, and calls out for St. Peter to open the gates of heaven to let Troy in. The stage directions of the play indicate that the stage lights blackout after Gabriel blows his trumpet and the gates of heaven open to him, but it is ambiguous whether this means Troy has gone to heaven, or it is only a manifestation of Gabriel’s delusion, and could be played either way. The movie has bright gold across the sky, as the clouds part and open up, as the family stares up for several long seconds. The movie ends on golden light streaming through the tree into the backyard, rather than going straight to black after the sound of the trumpet. The end of the movie clearly lets you see that Troy has been forgiven in the eyes of God, rather than leaving it a possible manifestation of Gabriel’s mind.

Personally, my preferred interpretation of the play is to see Troy as a tragic figure, to see him as flawed but sympathetic, rather than irredeemable for his poor choices. Because he is flawed in a lot of ways, but he is human, and no human being has ever not made a mistake, including huge life-changing ones like his affair which results in Raynell. It is far easier to vilify someone, than to forgive them; it is easier to write someone off rather than look deeper into what lead to mistakes being made. Some of Troy’s choices were entirely on him, but others seem almost inevitable. He is harsh on Cory not because he doesn’t love him, but because systematic oppression has beaten his dreams out of him, and he can’t fix that for Cory, so he wants him not to be hurt by the battles Troy was never able to win. You can understand Troy’s behaviors, and forgive them, without excusing them. Troy’s motto seems to be “you gotta take the crookeds with the straights” (Wilson 94) and that is the interpretation of Troy’s character that the film leaves us with, which seems the honest interpretation. You forgive, because it is harder than anger, you take the good and the bad parts of life, and you make the best of the situations you have no power over, because you have power over yourself.


Works Cited

Washington, Denzel, director. Fences. Paramount Pictures, 2016.

Wilson, August. Fences. New Mexico Repertory Theatre, 1989.

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One Lovely Blog Award #2

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I was tagged by quite a few lovely bloggers:

Melting Pots and Other Calamities –  who has a really lovely blog, and is always super great.

Amanda @ Literary Weapon–  whose blog I haven’t been reading long, but is pretty amazing.

The Orangutan Librarian–  who I’ve been following for a while now, and never fails to make me long with her great reviews and discussions.

Anna from Its My Birth Write–  whose blog I also haven’t been reading long, but is epic as well.

Thank you so much to all of you for nominating me!

Sorry it took forever.

You can see my first award here: One Lovely Blog Award

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The Rules:

  • Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog.
  • Post about the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate other people. (15 at most)
  • Tell your nominees the good news.

Facts:

1 – I’m in my senior year of high school, and I’m taking 5 AP classes plus 1 period of office aid.

2 – I’m applying to about 13 colleges.

3 – I’m considering adding a tutoring/proofreading service to my blog. Would anyone be interested?

4 – I may or may not dye my hair again at the end of the school year (I’m thinking red, and chopping it short so I don’t have to fight with the straightner as much).

5 – I plan to major in Neuroscience, on a pre-med track. I want to be a pediatric neurologist.

6 – I really really need a new bookshelf. Mine may collapse (again) if I force more books into it). Its also lined with pop figures.

7 – My Senior Yearbook quote is: “You go to college, I’m only child now” – Alexa B. (AKA my little sister).


Nominations:

Niraja @ Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them

Stephanie @ Adventures of a Bibliophile

Louise @ Genie Reads

Casey @ Adopt-a-Book-AUS

B @ Icebreaker694

Calliope The Book Goddess

Raquel @ Rakiodd Books

Megan @ Bookslayer Reads

Kayla @ KDrew The Bookworm

Lashaan and Trang @ Bookidote

Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek

Sophie @ Blame it on Chocolate

Alex @ Lord of the Trekkies

Angelina and Brianna @ Fables Library

Emma @ Corn Reviews Books

Apologies – and a Semi-Haitus

Okay,

So you may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been very active on this blog recently – every post that has gone up this summer was previously scheduled, and while I responded to comments, I haven’t really been reading blogs or writing posts, or reading.

You may have noticed that there haven’t really been any recent book reviews – because I haven’t been reading. Part of this is I got entirely overwhelmed by Netgalley and it put me in a reading slump, and a majority of it is I’m been working of things this summer – volunteering, college and fly in and scholarship applications, babysitting my sister, etc. And as much as I love this blog, all those things must come first.

So, I have posts scheduled for a while, and I’ll try to write more when I can, I’ll try to respond to comments etc. But I won’t be as active as I like to be on here for a while, and I won’t be reading much for fun, because school stuff has to come first. I feel guilty, because I do have arcs pending etc. but my schoolwork and my future (i.e. college applications and things) have to come first.

I hope you all understand.

Book Blitz: Last Semester by Corine Mekaouche

Book & Author Details:

Last Semester
by Corine Mekaouche
Publication date: April 21st 2017
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance
LastSemester


Synopsis:

When Johanna ‘Jo’ Gold, witty college life blogger and senior at Rutan University, decides to move in with three male strangers her last semester of school, her life unexpectedly turns upside down. While dealing with her new roommates, A.J., the pompous rich kid who feels trapped in following his father’s footsteps; Rob, the prematurely engaged former womanizer who tries to force Jo out of the house at all costs; and Drew, the 21-year-old virgin genius whose encounters with women have been more than limited, Jo learns that change isn’t always easy and it’s up to her to learn how to survive the remainder of her time at Rutan the best that she can. Along with searching for her missing mother, figuring out a clever way to pay for school tuition on her own, and dealing with the childish pranks brought on by a certain roommate, Jo’s issues seem more complicated than the average 21-year-old. Can Jo endure the dramatic perils of college while planning for life after graduation?

AUTHOR BIO:

Corine

The geek and a dreamer, Corine Mekaouche has always had the vision of becoming a writer. While growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, Corine spent her childhood immersed in music, novels, and writing. To her, the arts was the best escape ever. For college, she attended Rutgers University majoring in English and minoring in Theatre Arts. Somehow, Corine survived the college experience and became somewhat of a grown-up yet still kept the vision of being a writer alive because it may be all she’s qualified for. So, she wrote and wrote until Last Semester, a new adult novel about college life and growing up, was born. Currently, she is writing other novels and plays for future release. When she’s not writing, loudly singing to songs in her car or dancing in random places for no apparent reason, Corine is being an awesome wife and a mom residing outside of the wonderfully flawed New York City..
Author links:

This tour was Organized by 

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GIVEAWAY

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
$15 Amazon gift card

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Excerpt:

“Breathe, Rob! Just breathe!” I demand in a panicky voice from the back seat as we swiftly pull up to the entrance of the hospital. Clutching his chest in pain next to me, he heaves out a few spouts of air, but it’s not enough to help him.

Shit! 

I watch my roommate Rob’s cheeks turn from a shade of deep pink to a dark crimson red. “A.J.! He’s getting worse!” I yell to my other roommate in the driver’s seat. He rolls his eyes then turns around.

“Calm down, Jo!” he exclaims. “I can’t think when you’re yelling like this!”

Drew, our other roommate, and usually the voice of reason, says nothing as he quickly jumps out of the Range Rover and runs into the hospital entrance.

“Can’t. Breathe,” Rob manages to force out of his mouth, then before I know it, his body falls limp and his head somehow ends up on my lap. His eyes roll to the back of his head.

“I think he’s dying!” I whine and suddenly I’m losing my breath.

Releasing a loud groan, A.J. climbs out of the SUV and casually walks into the hospital as if nothing is wrong.

Why is he so calm and I’m flipping the hell out? 

I begin to shake Rob’s shoulders but he doesn’t respond and I’m almost positive that he’s not breathing at all now.

It’s official.

I killed my roommate.

Okay, maybe he’s not dead yet, but if death was a road, he just made a left turn for the worse then ran over a few annoying potholes and some week old roadkill…and probably drove off a cliff or something…

Ugh! I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore! I feel guilty for doing this to him and I feel even more guilty because I kinda hate his arrogant, smug ass, but just because someone is an asshole doesn’t mean that they deserve to die, does it?

The back door opens and I see A.J. and Drew standing outside with a wheelchair. A.J. roughly wraps his arms around Rob’s body and begins to pull him out of the car. “Fuck! He’s like the size of an ogre,” he complains as he struggles to get Rob into the wheelchair. The fact that Rob is as useless as a wet noodle right now makes it difficult for A.J. to adjust Rob’s body in the chair. I cringe just watching it.

“I knew this was going to happen one day,” Drew says shaking his head. “The inevitable always happens.”

Shooting Drew a snarling glare, A.J. grits his teeth. “Just roll the goddamn chair into the hospital,” he instructs. Drew turns the chair around and begins to jog into the emergency room with Rob’s body leaning to one side. A.J. looks at me in the SUV, annoyed. “Well, are you coming?” he asks and I just freeze.

Do I stay? Do I go? I don’t know what to do with myself!

Taking a quick yet deep breath, I climb out of the SUV, shut the door and join A.J. on the other side of the vehicle.

“I’m horrible,” I blurt out and I can feel wetness welling in my eyes. “I’m a horrible person.”

“Dammit, Jo! I hate it when girls cry,” he complains as he shuts the other back door and begins to walk into the hospital. He pauses in his tracks when he notices that I’m not following him.

I’m frozen.

Waiting on Wednesday #1 – Last Semester

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming book releases you’re dying for!


LastSemester


Summary:

When Johanna ‘Jo’ Gold, witty college life blogger and senior at Rutan University, decides to move in with three male strangers her last semester of school, her life unexpectedly turns upside down. While dealing with her new roommates, A.J., the pompous rich kid who feels trapped in following his father’s footsteps; Rob, the prematurely engaged former womanizer who tries to force Jo out of the house at all costs; and Drew, the 21-year-old virgin genius whose encounters with women have been more than limited, Jo learns that change isn’t always easy and it’s up to her to learn how to survive the remainder of her time at Rutan the best that she can. Along with searching for her missing mother, figuring out a clever way to pay for school tuition on her own, and dealing with the childish pranks brought on by a certain roommate, Jo’s issues seem more complicated than the average 21-year-old. Can Jo endure the dramatic perils of college while planning for life after graduation?

Paperback, 360 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2017 by Corine Mekaouche

Okay. So, generally, I am not the biggest fan of New Adult novels – I prefer sticking to YA, and generally romance NA is immediately in my “not that into it” mental list when I hear someone raving.
But I’m hosting a book blitz for this book on release day (2 days from now!) and I’m getting serious New Girl vibes – and since I love it, I kind of want to read this.
Also, as someone anxious about college, I kind of want to read more college set novels.

So what do you think?
Do you want to read this book?
Have you heard of it?
Let me know!

Study Guide: SAT / ACT / Subject Tests

As a Junior in high school in America, I am firmly entrenched in the terrifying world of standardized testing.

The SAT (and usually ACT as well) is literally inescapable if you want to go to college (I want to be a doctor, I have to do LOTS of education past high school).

There are also about 4 billion services and study guides for these tests. It is a very lucrative business.

The issue is, if you anything like me, when you don’t have the time or money for a rigorous prep course, and finding information on your own makes you want to throw up from nerves (hi, that would be me).

So here is everything that helped me. I didn’t do a formal prep course (unless you count practice in AP classes). Maybe it’ll help you too.

And remember, whatever you study for one test, helps with the other. Math and English don’t exactly change from test to test.


On Standardized Tests / ACT v. SAT – A good overview on the  reason for the tests, and on picking which one to take. Though if you can, taking both is always best.

Free Practice Tests – For all the exams

Full SAT v. ACT Comparison


ACT Test Day Guide

What To Bring To The ACT

ACT Calculator Policy

Grammar Rules for ACT

31 Must Know ACT Math Formulas

What You Need For ACT Science

General Things You Should Know (1)

General Things You Should Know (2)

Types of Passages on Reading Test

About the ACT Essay


SAT Test Day Checklist

SAT Calculator Policy

SAT Grammar Rules

Complete Guide To SAT Grammar

Breakdown of SAT Math

On The SAT Essay


On Subject Tests

Subject Test Requirements


 

I got a 1430 on my January SAT (I’m retaking it in May), haven’t taken the ACT (taking it in April), got a 790 on subject test Bio E, and I’m taking the Chem and Math II subject tests in May.

If you want a reference for how well I did, before taking my advice.