Throwback Thursday: The Revenant Movie Reflection: Extra Credit

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.

The Revenant Movie Reflection: Extra Credit

The Revenant is a survival story, which seems odd for a movie whose body count reaches the double digits before we’ve even made it past the first scene. But it fits, when death is a real possibility for the characters, it raises the stakes, leaving you tense as to whether or not the characters you are rooting for will actually survive. The title is especially fitting, as revenant means “one who has returned, as if from the dead”.

The Revenant doesn’t pull any punches. Between the high stakes of death, the emotion shown by family and friends when a loved one is injured or killed it feels real. Even more so when you realize that the gore from a fight doesn’t disappear in the next scene, wounds carry and do not becomes magically healed for convenience, as is often the case in movies. The Revenant also makes use of the setting’s native language to not only make the story seem genuine, it makes it impossible for the viewer to become disengaged or distracted from the story, because you have to pay such close attention to what they are saying by keeping your eyes on the screen, lest you miss an important detail. It seems to do justice to the true-life story of Hugh Glass on which it is based, and neither glorifies nor infantilizes his struggle.

The setting is used incredibly effectively; they are not simply in a forest. The animals, even when unimportant to the plot, make noises in the background. Frost clings

to eyelashes. People cough, sniffle and shiver even when the attention is not on them. Leonardo Dicaprio conveys much of his emotion and thoughts without speaking for a part of the film. It comes as no surprise that the movie was not only nominated for, but won, Oscars.

The Revenant is a phenomenal film, with heart-wrenching, wonderful acting and amazing, if a little hard to stomach, cinematography. It makes great use of suspense and the progression of the plot, making sure you feel every consequence, and every uncertainty the characters feel. Every action comes with high stakes, and you never feel like there is a certainty in how the movie will continue. I highly recommend The Revenant.


Throwback Thursday: Fairchild Project (5th Grade?)

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.

Vicaria Blanca

(Catharanthus roseus)

(Madagascar periwinkle)

Ever been in history class and found it weird that people didn’t have medicine all those years ago, and died from common diseases? You’d think that they form of medicine didn’t work, but actually, some of those methods are still used today, and some people think they work better the usual run of the mill medicine we all use! The elder I interviewed for this project on the use of plants, as medicine was my grandfather, Jose Rios. He was born and raised in Cuba, where he met my grandmother and had his three children, my uncle, my mother, and aunt. They moved to Miami, Florida when he was forty years old in 1980, and has been here ever since. He speaks primarily Spanish and can understand English, though when he speaks it, it’s heavily accented and usually has butchered grammar. He is now 72, and he cares for my younger sister and me after school everyday.

When I interviewed him, he told me he uses Vicaria Blanca (White Vicaria) to treat pink eye, and other problems. He’s been using it since he was a child, when his grandmother used it on him and taught him how to use it. He told me that to use it, you boil the flower bowling in water, into a type of tea looking liquid, greenish-yellow in color. You then use it as eye drops or wet a napkin with it and hold it on the eye. He’s been using it for over 50 years and says it’s worked for him every time. He says he prefers to use this then over the counter eye drops because it has the natural vitamins and has less chemicals, which makes it good to use on small children and adults.

Based on the research done by the University of Florida Herbarium, Vicaria Blanca is useful for treating eye infections. Based on a study in 1995, the drops made from boiling the flower in water does help your vision. And according to Wikipedia, Vicaria Blanca, a type of Madagascar Periwinkle commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many things, including: diabetes, malaria, Hodgkin’s disease, and well as some extracted substances used to treat leukemia. On the other side however, if ingested orally, it can be fatal and if not, it causes hallucinations. So, if used on children, it should under supervision.

What I’ve learned from this, is that plants can be used as medicine just as they did thousands of years ago, and that, though I hadn’t known it, my grandfather has been using it on me since I was an infant. It seems odd that people would still use these things, but they do, I’ve also learned that they still use poisonous plants…at least people don’t poison themselves anymore!


Throwback Thursday: “The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Auden (1939) – Discussion Questions and Perfect Intro

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.

“The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Auden (1939)

Discussion Questions and Perfect Intro

Discussion Questions:

1 – The “unknown citizen” represents modern citizens, who, according to the poem, are programmed like machines. How does the title help establish the tone of the poem?

The title is an allusion to “The Unknown Solider.” The “unknown citizen” is being honored for his conformity – a parody to the soldier’s sacrifice. The citizen is unremarkable in every way, without even a name. The fact that everything about the citizen is known, yet the title calls him “unknown” shows what the state of Auden’s world values and devalues – material worth is measured and quantified, but any human value, such as a name, is forgotten, not worth remembering. The tone of the poem is clinical and ominous, touting virtues of this unknown man, with intimate details, showing the breadth of surveillance typical of this world, and the distance taken to any human emotion, with phrases like “added five children to the population” shows the clinical way the state is speaking of this citizen, wishing for machine-like conforming citizens rather than real, living, breathing people. From the title onwards, you know everything human about this citizen has been taken from his elegy.


2 – Who is the speaker? What is his attitude toward the unknown citizen? Cite examples to prove this.

The speaker in the state, or at least a mouthpiece of the state, as it is the state touting the virtues of this unknown citizen and referring to the way different government agencies reported data on him, with phrases such as “Our researchers” to show who the speaker is. His attitude towards the unknown citizen is clinical, listing statistical data rather than any human or emotional information on him. The speaker points out that he “held the proper opinions” and owned what he ought to such as “a phonograph, a radio, a car” but in referring to his children it is phrased clinically, “he…added five children to the population.” The speaker also sounds proud of the unknown citizen, conveying his conformity is a virtue and an emulatable accomplishment, listing statistics about him that they consider positive. Everything he did was right, he had “no official complaint” against him, “he bought a paper everyday”, he “was normal in every way” says the speaker with a tone that conveys that other citizens should seek to be like this unknown citizen.


3 – Identify which types of irony are present in the poem and support with examples.

There is situational irony throughout “The Unknown Citizen” because this “unknown citizen” is being honored by the state with a monument, and they know everything about him, save for his name. If you remember someone, their name is typically the first thing you know. This type of memorializing is typically for those who showed immense bravery or otherwise did something remarkable, but this man is perfectly average and remembered for conformity. There could also be considered to be situational irony in the last two lines of the poem specifically; “Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: Had anything been wrong, we should have certainty heard.” These lines give the impression that freedom and happiness are not typically sought after, though they are generally considered ideals, but rather a sign of something “wrong” with a person. Elegy’s are typically very sincere and emotional, yet that of the “unknown citizen” is clinical and distanced from him as a human being.

The context of the poem could be considered dramatic irony, as a reader in 2018 would know how much closer the modern world has come to Auden vision than Auden ever could have expected in 1939.

Perfect Intro Prompt:

The poem “The Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Auden serves to paint a picture of a world where people are reduced to statistics and government reports. In a well-organized essay, explain how Auden conveys the sterility and soullessness of the modern world, and the techniques he uses to express his attitude, pay particular attention to tone and theme. Use specific references to the poem.

Perfect Intro:

With a clinical, ominous tone and a permeating theme of conformity, W. H. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen” shows the deterioration of the modern world, as individuality is replaced by submission, and pen-and-paper statistics are valued more than a person’s soul, where sterile existence has replaced any emotion as trivial as happiness. The titular “unknown citizen” is a perfect model, but his name is irrelevant to history; Auden’s vision of the modern world is bleak, with ideal humans more akin to machines.

Throwback Thursday: “A Temporary Matter”

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.

“A Temporary Matter”

  1.    What is the significance of Shukumar seeing the neighbors walking past as he looks out the kitchen window after Shoba has told him that she has found an apartment?

The significance of Shukumar seeing the neighbors walking past after Shoba tells him she has found an apartment is that he will never again have that with Shoba, he will never again walk home with her, they have a relationship that he and Shoba no longer have.

  1.    How would you explain the symbolism shown in the short story “A Temporary Matter”? There is a great deal of symbolism, so take your time and be specific.

Many things in “A Temporary Matter” can be taken as symbols in the story. The major symbol being darkness. For the four days that the power is out for an hour every night, Shoba and Shukumar finally begin to talk to each other again. They  cannot face each other in the light, but they can in the darkness. They are in the dark physically, and to each other’s feelings and motivations. Shoba is working up courage to tell him she is leaving, he wants to reconcile with her. He knows the gender of their child. They are in the dark, but are exposing secrets of themselves to each other, really seeing each other for the first time in months.

The repair of the downed power line is also a symbol. The line fell in a storm and is being repaired. As the line is being repaired in that hour of darkness each night, Shukumar feels he is repairing his relationship with Shoba. Just as the repairs are finished early for the power line, Shoba ends their relationship earlier than their vows would have suggested.

Throughout their dinners, Shukumar stacks Shoba’s plate on top of his own. A symbol for how he puts her grief before his own, shouldering her mother’s blame of the stillbirth being an example, because she needed her mother. At the very end, he stacks his own plate on top of hers, acknowledging his own grief.

They way they are with each others mothers can also be a symbol. When Shukumar’s mother comes to visit for two weeks, Shoba cannot fully tolerate it, she goes out drinking with Gillian instead. When Shoba’s mother stays for two months, Shukumar expects this fully, and tolerates the blame Shoba’s mother puts on him, ignoring that he lost his child too. He has patience with her mother, and with Shoba herself, giving her time to grieve, putting her grief before his own many times. Shoba has less patience, is more inclined to give up rather than deal with a difficult thing, shown when she decides to leave him after six months of avoiding talking about what had happened.

  1.     The ending of this short story is very uncertain.  How do you feel this story and ends and what in the literature supports your position?

At the end, Shoba and Shukumar have not reconciled. Shoba intends to move out, but they have finally told each other their greatest secrets, Shukumar’s being the gender of their child, which makes Shoba finally understand that he feels the loss of their child ust as acutely as she does. Because they are finally getting to a place that they can talk to each other about their grief, about their stillborn child, there is hope for them to reconcile fully later on down the line. Shoba was obviously torn up about leaving him but she also looks at him in the light in more than passing at the end. Shukumar still loves her, it wouldn’t hurt him as much if he didn’t. It is very likely they they will try and work things out. In terms of support from the literature, at the very end they “wept together”, grieving as a couple instead of separately as they had been doing the past six months. Neither reached any peace or ease to their grief suffering alone, grieving apart only drove them further apart, for the first time they grieve together. Shoba also obviously still cares for him, having spent five days building up courage to tell him she was leaving, she obviously wanted to minimize the hurt she caused him, she didn’t just up and leave as she could have. That is what she would have done if it was a matter of no longer caring for him.

  1.    Do you feel that Shoba is unfair in how she treats Shukumar? If so, why?

Every attempt made by Shukumar to engage Shoba is rebuffed, until he begins to avoid her completely, until the power outages. Shukumar begins to take care of the house and cook the way Shoba used to, aware that she is grieving and still having trouble, but Shoba makes no effort with him. Shoba’s mother is rude to Shukumar, blaming him for the baby’s stillbirth, and Shukumar takes it because he knows Shoba needs her mother at the time. Shoba is unfair to Shukumar she keeps her grief to herself. She doesn’t want to talk to Shukumar about it, doesn’t acknowledge that the baby’s death affected him to.

  1.    Examine a significant theme that arises from the story. What can we learn from it?

Grief and the effects it can have on individuals and relationships is a major theme of the story. The stillbirth of their child is a killing blow to their relationship, though it takes six months for Shoba to decide to leave him and work up the courage to tell Shukumar so. Both are depressed, and feel their grief in different ways. Shoba avoids the would be nursey, but Shukumar finds solace in it for example. They had different experience with their child; Shoba carried the baby that died at birth and Shukumar wasn’t there for that, but Shukumar held their child and guarded the secret that it was a boy to spare her the knowledge, until she hurts him and he throws it in her face. Grief and hurt can make people lash out. Over the days of the power outage, their relationship once again begins approaching normalcy, but it is after six months of feeling their grief and guilt separately and it isn’t enough to reconcile by the end. Grief doesn’t have a time limit, it doesn’t go away if you ignore it or wait it out.

  1.    What indications in the story prepare us for the eventual breakdown in the relationship?

Before the stillbirth, there are indications that their marriage isn’t completely solid. Shukumar rips a photo of a woman out of a magazine, and is disgusted with himself, but feels it is “the closest he has come to infidelity”. Shoba goes drinking with Gillian instead of spending time with his mother. For their third wedding anniversary, Shukumar is depressed when she gives him a sweater vest, when for their first she cooked a ten course meal. He lies about losing it, exchanging it for money to go and get drunk midday. These are not indications of a completely healthy relationship.

  1.    How does the stillbirth of their child affect the relationship between Shoba and Shukumar ?  Is the stillbirth in and of itself significant?

The stillbirth of their child completely destroys Shoba and Shukumar’s relationship. Shoba leaves before he gets up and comes home late, doesn’t speak to him when she is home, stops caring about things she once cared about, like their home and his degree. Shukumar whose perspective we see, is wracked with guilt, we learn because he wasn’t there for her, and because he learned their child’s gender, and held him. Shukumar avoids Shoba, not knowing how to face her. He hides in the would be nursey because the room pains her. Problems existed in their marriage before the stillbirth, but it was a fatal blow to them. After the stillbirth they were both depressed and grieving in different ways and could communicate with each other about it; Shoba likely feeling slightly resentful that he wasn’t there despite having pushed him to go to the conference, and Shukumar for the secret he harbors that their child was a boy.

  1.    Examine the significance of the title, “A Temporary Matter.” After reading the short story, what do you consider its meaning to be?

“A Temporary Matter” most immediately refers to the temporary maintenance of the electricity, the temporary inconvenience. This is of course the vehicle of the story, not the point of the story. The “temporary matter” can also refer to the four-day period in which Shoba builds up the courage to tell Shukumar the truth, and Shukumar attempting to rebuild their fractured relationship; a temporary mending period. It could refer to their relationship, their love, their marriage, as a temporary matter because it is coming to an end. The title could refer to their son’s life as well.

  1.     Discuss the relationship between Shoba and Shukumar in detail. How would you describe it before the death of their baby?

Shoba and Shukumar got married quickly, having met four years before the story and being married for three years. They didn’t know everything about each other, they had their secrets, but they loved each other. They went shopping and spent most of their time together. Shoba cooked elaborately. Shukumar took pictures of her all the time; she recorded when they first ate different meals together. Before the death of their baby they had a good relationship, even if Shoba did keep some of her money in a separate account, Shukumar respected it. After the death of their baby, their relationship nearly entirely disintegrates, they avoid each other nearly completely, from Shukumar’s perspective, because he is wracked with guilt and grief when he sees her. They relationship was fracturing before the stillbirth, as evidenced by Shukumar’s account of their third wedding anniversary, and his exchange of a sweater vest for drinking money. Shoba goes drinking with Gillian because she cannot stand to be with his mother. They didn’t have a perfect relationship before the stillbirth, but they loved each other.

  1. Why do Shoba and Shukumar fail to reconnect? Do they fail to reconnect?

At the end of A Temporary Matter, Shoba and Shukumar have not reconnected. Despite their attempts over the last four days, Shoba informs Shukamar of her intentions to move out, effectively dismantling all progress they have made. This failure to reconnect comes from never having spoken about the tragedy they faced – the stillbirth of their child. Shoba and Shukumar couldn’t face each other – Shukumar didn’t want to hurt her with the knowledge that their child was a boy until she hurts him in the end. Their guilt and grief separates them. There is always a chance for them to reconnect properly after the end of the story, because they have finally begun to communicate truthfully again, even if it hurts.

  1. What is a major idea that comes out of the themes of “A Temporary Matter?”

A major idea that comes out of “A Temporary Matter” is that marriages are hard, and require effort to maintain a good relationship and communication is a major role in that. Grief can be a major breaking point.


Throwback Thursday: Biblical Allusions – Literary Basics Group Assignment

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.

No one in the English-speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible… All educated speakers of American English need to understand what is meant when someone describes a contest as being between David and Goliath, or whether a person who has the ‘wisdom of Solomon’ is wise or foolish, or whether saying ‘My cup runneth over’ means the person feels fortunate or unfortunate. Those who cannot understand such allusions cannot fully participate in literate English…

                                                        -Dan Pogreba, Helena High School

“No person in the modern world can be considered educated without a basic knowledge of all the great religions of the world — Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity. But our knowledge of Judaism and Christianity needs to be more detailed than that of other great religions, if only because of the historical accident that has embedded the Bible in our thought and language.”

                                                        –E.D. Hirsch, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Directions: For each of the biblical allusions below, find enough information to make yourself familiar with the meaning of the story. You may want to even find the passage in the Bible and add the reference.

1) Alpha and Omega—

when Jesus was entering the world, God stated that He is “the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet respectively, represent that God was there when the world started and will be there when the world ends.

2)  Cain and Abel–

sons of Adam and Eve.  When making a sacrifice to God, Abel sacrificed the best of his flock, while Cain did not.  God then favored Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s, causing Cain’s envy to drive him to murder his younger brother.  Therefore, Cain was the first man to be born, and Abel was the first man to die. Due to the murder of his brother, Cain was forced to bear what is known as the Mark of Cain, and he was also killed by stones, the way he murdered Abel.

3) Abraham and Isaac—

God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, and when Abraham bound Isaac to an altar atop a mountain, God sent a messenger, who told Abraham that he had proven himself to God as a God-fearing man.  God stayed his hand and then sent a ram so that Abraham could sacrifice it instead of Isaac.

4) Eye of the Needle—

Jesus, when a wealthy man asks him how to achieve eternal life, responds that the man must sell all his belongings, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. When the man expresses hesitation, Jesus states, “Indeed it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a wealthy man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

5) David and Goliath–

Goliath of Gath continuously provoked the Kingdom of Israel for forty days and forty nights, challenging the Israelites to send a warrior to defeat him. While all the other soldiers fled at his colossal appearance, David (youngest of eight) accepted his challenge on the forty-first day.  Goliath wielded a sword, and David the word of God. With a stone, David struck Goliath in the head and defeated him.

6) Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

This is the typical axiom “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Jesus is explaining how you should be kind and loving to your neighbor, which is quite vague, to a lawyer. The lawyer, in true student of the law fashion, tries to get an exact definition of a neighbor, and basically the outcome is that those you should consider a neighbor are those who are kind and loving, and that each person should try to be that neighbor to someone else.

7) Ten Commandments

Exodus 20

The ten commandments are:

  1. I am thy lord, thy god. Thou shalt have no other gods but me, which basically says that God wants to be the only god that people worship.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, which means the people can’t have Idols, and God admits that he’s really jealous.
  3. Thou shalt not take thy name of the Lord thy God in vain, which is God saying that you can’t use his name in any insulting or slanderous manner, and you can’t just run around saying his name, it has to be in prayer or worship or a sermon or something where it’s religiously appropriate.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. This means that, since God made the world in 6 days and took a break, the people should too, and that they must toil for the first 6 days of the week, (then Sunday through Friday) and rest the 7th (then Saturday), and they must allow anyone who works with or for them to do the same.
  5. Honor thy father and thy mother, which means respect your parents since they gave birth to you.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  10. Thou shalt not covet.

8) Doubting Thomas

John 20:24-29

When Jesus was resurrected, 10 other apostles were able to see him before Thomas had a chance to, and Thomas didn’t believe it was feasible for him to be resurrected, so he basically said “I’ll believe it when I see it and feel it for myself”. The apostles gathered together, and Jesus appeared, asking Thomas to do what he needed to do in order to believe, then saying that those who had faith and didn’t need proof were blessed.   

9) Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray to God, as he knew he was going to be killed by his “betrayer”, Judas. Though he is the son of God, he knew he has to die, but, since he is human, he is scared. He asked his followers to watch his back, but they fell asleep, as they do not believe any harm will come to him, but they are mislead, as one of their own will be the one who will kill Jesus.

10) Samson and Delilah

Samson was an incredibly strong man, whose only weakness was that if he shaved his hair, he would lose all his strength. He fell in love with a woman, Delilah, and she was paid to discover his secret. He lied to her, as he had promised God that he would keep his weakness secret. Eventually, she plagued him with guilt, and he revealed his secret to her. An army came in and shaved his hair, then bound him. They placed him on display and, though he thought he had lost God, he called out to Him for his strength to return once more, to get his revenge, and he brought down the entire temple he was trapped within.

11) Solomon

Solomon was the last leader of a United Israelite Kingdom. He was most famous for his wisdom. According to the Bible, two women came to Solomon for him to decide custody of a child that each claimed was theirs. Solomon said that since it was impossible for him to tell, he would cut the child in half and give one half to each woman. The woman that cried out and immediately retracted her claim on the child was declared to be the true mother by Solomon, as any mother would give up her child rather than have it killed.

12) Four Horsemen

The four horsemen are symbols of an upcoming apocalypse. In the bible, a scroll held in God’s left hand had seven seals holding it closed. When the lamb of god opened the first four seals, he released four horsemen. One rode a white horse, the other black, and the last two rode red and pale horses. The traditional interpretation is that Humanity will experience four calamities, where many will die. These horsemen each represent calamity, and are often referred to as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” as they are seen as symbols of death and destruction (Conquest, war, famine, and death).

13) The Flood

The flood occurred when God saw that the people on earth were wicked. He decided to flood it in order to wipe it clean, but Instructed Noah, a righteous man by him, to build an ark to save the animals. Once the ark was built, a pair of each animal boarded, and Noah and his family boarded. Then, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, until the whole world flooded and all life not on the ark perished. After that, when the waters receded, Noah and god agreed that god would never flood the earth again.

14) Job

Job was a prosperous man, who lived righteously. One day, God’s praise of Job angered Satan, who claimed that Job only loved God because he protected Job and gave him prosperity. To prove that this wasn’t true, Satan was given permission to take his health, and prosperity, but not his life. Job only responded by cursing the day he was born, but not questioning God, as all was god’s will. Later, he met three friends of his, who claimed God was unjustly punishing him. Job debated them, defending God. Later, God appeared to Job, but Job did not ask him any questions or challenge him. This proved to Satan that Job really was loyal to God. So, God restored his life and prosperity, but made it even better than before, as a reward for being loyal to him.

15) Jonah

Jonah was instructed by God to go to Nineveh to go and preach to the people there. Jonah refused, as they were the enemies of his people, and went instead to Joppa to flee to Tarshish. In anger, God sent a bad storm to the ship. The people on the ship prayed to God, and asked Jonah to pray to God to stop the storm. It failed.They then asked Jonah where he was from and why he was on the ship. After he told them, he said that they needed to throw him off the ship to get the storm to stop. They refused, and tried to plead with God instead. This also failed. The passengers threw Jonah off the ship and the storm instantly stopped. Then a fish ate Jonah, where he stayed for three days and three nights. Afterwards, he was commanded to travel to Nineveh again and preach. This he did, telling residents that their city would be destroyed. This caused the city to repent, and God decided to spare the city. When Jonah found out, he wanted to die, so that he would not be ridiculed as a false prophet. The lesson God wanted him to learn was that all people hold his love and affection, and that people who worship idols could also have good in their hearts.

16) Judas/30 pieces of silver –

Judas was one of Jesus’s original twelve disciples. Judas’s name is synonymous with betrayal and treason, as before the Last Supper, he agreed to hand over Jesus in exchange for 30 silver coins. He showed them who Jesus was with a kiss, referenced as the kiss of betrayal. This set in motion the events that led to Jesus’s crucifixion and later, resurrection. Judas later returned the money, filled with remorse for what he had done. The “blood money” was used to purchase potter’s field – a common grave for unknown or indigent people, where Judas died.

17) Prodigal Son –

The story of the prodigal son is the third and final part of the cycle of redemption, and is one of the parables Jesus shares in Luke. The parable begins with a man with two sons. The younger of which asks for his inheritance, and wastes away his fortune (prodigal meaning “wastefully extravagant”). After becoming destitute, he returns home, expecting to beg his father to make him a servant in order for him not to be sent away. The father welcomes his son with open arms, while the older brother refuses to celebrate. The father reminds the elder that he will inherit everything, and that they should celebrate that the younger has been lost and now found. The parable is meant to impart that it is never too late for sinners to ask for forgiveness in the eyes of God, because the father will always welcome them with open arms.

18) Armageddon –

Armageddon is described in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. Armageddon being the prophesied location for the gathering of the armies of heaven and hell, for the battle at the end of times. As a location, Armageddon is interpreted both literally and figuratively. Armageddon also refers the scenario of the end of the world itself. Armageddon is often synonymous with apocalypse.

19) Sodom and Gomorrah –

Genesis 19:24
Sodom and Gomorrah are two cities of the five cities of the plain. Sodom and Gomorrah are known for having divine judgement passed by God, and being consumed by fire and brimstone. The names are synonymous with impenitent sin, and their fall a manifestation of divine retribution for sin. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are often referred to as vices or homosexuality. (Sodomy) Abraham asked God to spare the cities, as his nephew Lot lived in Sodom. God says he will spare the cities if ten righteous men can be found among them. When Lot and his family are found to be the only righteous ones, God tells them to flee and not look back. Lot’s wife turns back and is turned into a pillar of salt, while the cities are destroyed by sulfur and fire.

20) Christ Figure –

Jesus Christ was the son of God, born to the virgin Mary. Christ figures in literature often display traits such as performing miracles, healing others, being guided by their father or their father’s spirit, are often kind and forgiving, and are often a martyr. Christ figures are often resurrected after their death, as Jesus proved himself as the son of God by rising from the dead three days after his crucifixion.



Throwback Thursday: Poetry Comparison Angelou/Hughes

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.

With ironic diction and differing rhyme scheme, both “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes convey the relationship, particularly for African-Americans, between being an individual and conforming to society. Irony plays a large role, contrasting expectations and realities of individuals in society.

Much of the message of a poem comes from the structure and rhyme scheme. For both poems, “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, this holds true. “Harlem Hopscotch” uses an AABBCC etc. rhyme scheme, resembling a child’s rhyming game much like hopscotch, conveying how even child can feel the pressure of society to conform. The poem is fourteen lines, like a sonnet but the rhyme scheme differs from traditional sonnet rhyme schemes, showing level of conformity to traditional poetry while introducing individual style, much as Maya Angelou is showing the balance in the relationship between individualism and conformity to society for acceptance, a delicate balance for many African-Americans. Childish things like hopscotch are often seen as unimportant or of less merit and Angelou bringing it to the center is unexpected and thus ironic. Compared to “Harlem Hopscotch”, Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B” is a free-verse poem. “Theme for English B” details an assignment he was given – likely intended to be a page of prose – that he instead turns into a free-verse poem, implying he will do the assignment, he will follow instructions (e.g. writing a page) but he will do things his own way (e.g. writing a free-verse poem, no typical structure or rhyme scheme). This shows how Hughes is retaining individuality, even as he writes about not being so inherently different from his white instructor and classmates.

Both poems, “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, use irony to give their message of the struggle to be an individual and conform to society all at once. For many African-Americans, conformity to society was a blow to individuality and dehumanizing, but also necessary. Beyond the structure and rhyme scheme of the poems, there is irony in the language. Maya Angelou shows this in “Harlem Hopscotch”, the poem details a child’s game, but also tackles serious issues like “the rent is due” which are not generally associated with children. The game is society – everybody plays but some have an easier time of it than others. There are different experiences due to skin color, and as shown in the last line “They think I lost. I think I won.” There is also a difference in outcome by difference of perception. Society may think they can beat her, but she will remain her own individual. The irony in the language of “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes is more blatant. Hughes mentions being different and standing out due to being colored, but spends the majority of the poem pointing out similar he is to his white instructor and peers, with lines like “I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.” Hughes stands his ground that he is not as different as others may want to believe due to his skin color, but he will retain his individuality. With lines such as “nor do I often want to be a part of you” he rejects dehumanizing conformity – just as he has likely been rejected from places and opportunities due to his skin color.

For African-Americans there was a delicate balance to be struck between individuality and conforming to society, which was often dehumanizing, but also the way to survive. This theme is seen in both “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes. There is irony, in that many thought of them as less capable due to their skin color, when they clearly aren’t. Their experiences and struggles were different, and portrayed through both the structure and language of their poems. The simple act of writing these poems could be considered a way of rebelling against dehumanizing conformity, and expressing individual thought.

Throwback Thursday: Certainty and Doubt Essay

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.

Certainty: To be absolute and steadfast in belief, in oneself or the world at large.     Doubt: To be skeptical or waver in belief, in oneself or the world at large. Parallels in definition. When there is absolute certainty, there is no doubt, but if the absence of doubt was not quantified, then to be certain would not exist either. Each cannot stand alone, they exist in relation to one another. A certain fact is only concrete when all doubt has been extinguished; opinions cannot be certain if even minimal doubt exists in one mind. Two sides of the same coin: That is the relationship between certainty and doubt, because neither can exist without the other; existing in the spaces between each other.

Without the concept of doubt, there would be no certainty. Without the ability to be certain, there would be no need to name the concept of doubt. Just as without darkness, the concept of light would not exist. If only darkness were to exist, it would not be darkness, it would simply be the way things were, likewise, light is comparative. If darkness did not exist, light would need not be named either. There are in inverse-relation. Similar is the existence of certainty and doubt; you can have both simultaneously to varying degrees, or one entirely, but you are always aware of the other’s existence, or potential for existence. You can be mostly certain, with lingering doubt, you can be mostly doubtful with faith in some minor degree of certainty, but the capacity for the other to take over is what gives meaning to the quantification of either.

The theory of gravity was held in doubt for a long time; how could we be certain of something we could not see? We need not be certain of the concept of gravity, as whether or not we are, we have no doubt on whether things will fall. The doubt of gravity was tested vigorously, and when the result stayed consistent – an apple falls, everything eventually falls – most of that doubt was replaced by certainty, the certainty that gravity exists because its physical manifestation is consistent, but there is always a minuscule, lingering doubt, as gravity with never be tangible thing; hence the “theory of gravity” because termed a theory. We are able to be certain, because you understand said certainty in relation to past doubt. Certainty and doubt are co-dependent concepts.

Nothing in this world exists in a vacuum. Just as day does not exist without night, certainty and doubt, as opposites – two sides of the same coin – exist in relation to the other. Certainty and doubt are a zero sum equation – you cannot become more certain without becoming less doubtful as well, or vise-versa. They either co-exist, or neither exists, each defined by the absence or potential presence of the other.


Throwback Thursday – Argumentative Essay: Distinction Between Disagreement and Dissent

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.

Democracy is founded on the view that the majority is “right”. Inherent to this, is the presence of opposing viewpoints – the minority is heard, acknowledged, and compromised with – but the majority wins out. The key to democracy with these opposing views, is allowing for disagreement – which can further progress and change through compromise between differing views – but not allowing disagreement to fester into dissent, where there is an irrevocable separation of views and an unwillingness to compromise on opposing ideals, putting discussion and progress at an impasse; creating a minority unwilling to concede to the majority, a view inherently against democracy. This distinction between disagreement and dissent can be seen throughout American history, and has further implications in modern political discourse.

This distinction can be seen throughout American history; take for example, the discussion of slavery throughout early American history. Originally, slavery incited disagreements between states, on both its legality and on slave representation, but disagreements can still foster an environment of peace and encourage democracy, as compromises can be made. Compromises such as the 3/5ths compromise which brokered peace between the Northern and Southern states concerning slave population representation – in that for every 5 slaves, 3 would be added to the state’s population count, increasing the number of votes in the House of Representatives – and The Missouri Compromise, which certified slavery legal in the south and illegal in the north – by establishing all territory and states south of the 36’ parallel open to slavery, and all territory north closed to slavery. Each of these compromises appeased the citizens and politician for a time, allowing other legislature to be focused on, furthering industry, commerce, and other governmental powers. Compromises such as these allowed for society and the country to progress economically, politically and socially despite disagreement, as progress should as interstate commerce and railroads became possible. Disagreements can foster democracy. However, as the growing tensions of slavery were ignored from the 1820’s to 1840’s, disagreements began to brew into dissent. Fighting broke out, manifesting as both pseudo-war in “Bleeding Kansas” – a skirmish between pro- and anti- slavery groups looking to claim the Kansas territory as a future slave or free state in their favor, leading directly up to the Civil War – and in a public caning in congress, legislature could not be passed, it was too late to make a compromise, Southern states seceded, and The Civil War broke out. By the time the country had split, and southern politicians had defected to form their own government, neither compromise nor peace was possible. Dissent pervaded quickly, nearly tore the nation apart, and for several years, democracy and the entire country were in jeopardy. While disagreement over slavery could build a nation despite it, dissent destroyed said nation.

After The Civil War, dissent atrophied back into disagreement. Southern states were brought back to the Union, eliminating the key element of total separation common for dissent, in order to come back to, rather than dissent, a state of disagreement. Things weren’t perfect, but even a state of extreme prejudice and disagreement enabled great changes and progress. Throughout this time, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were able to be passed – granting rights to African Americans, such as the end of slavery, citizenship with its full protections, and the right to vote. While this may not have been unanimously agreed on, the state of disagreement still functioned in society, evening allowing for reconstruction to take place in the South, building up industry and infrastructure. The overall progress able to be achieved in disagreement is seen cumulatively in the Civil Rights Act. The nation was divided on issues of segregation and civil liberties for people of color, compromises made for the induction of the south back to the union nearly 100 years prior. Had groups allowed themselves to stay separated, had further sequestered themselves politically, not rights would have been accomplished in such dissent, but in disagreement, there is an inherent fight to reach an agreement, and that agreement eventually was The Civil Rights Act of the 1960’s. The key is, that despite continued racial tensions and presence of the same opposing views as before The Civil War, the country was no longer in a state where all communication between viewpoints has broken down into dissention. Disagreements can still allow for a healthy society and progress, but dissention can kill it.

Even today, political discourse is common. Disagreements, especially the heartier ones, may not be enjoyable, but they are preferable to complete dissent. Disagreements, major or minor, are still reconcilable by nature. It is when disagreements are allowed to fester, and views allowed to polarize, to the extent of dissent, that there is an issue, because once a point of dissent is reached, it is very difficult to reign it in, and reach a state of peace once more, as normal methods of problem solving are rendered useless, and compromise inviable. Dissent is a progression of disagreement, left to an untamable extreme. While contention is never favorable, democracy can thrive in disagreement, its “life-blood” (per. Daniel Boorstin), but is choked off in dissent. When disagreements are left unchecked, or ignored, they may segue into dissent, where either side may become so entrenched in their ideal, that any original willingness to compromise may fade, leading to dissent and halting progress, breaking down the avenue by which democracy functions: compromise.


Throwback Thursday: 2009 – Inventor Report

I asked what feature people wanted me to bring back and one that came up was 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.



Ruth Graves Wakefield has earned her place as one of America’s famous women inventors.  She might not be the most famous inventor but she created one of the most popular American snacks.  The chocolate chip cookie was her invention.  The chocolate chip cookie was not her only invention.  This little chocolate chip that was created accidentally then created one of America’s largest cookie companies.

It was June 17, 1903 the day Ruth Graves Wakefield was born. It appears as if her childhood was unremarkable and there are no biographies.  It is known that Ruth went to school at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924.  She was a dietitian and lectured about foods.  Her husband’s name was Kenneth Wakefield. During her life Ruth lived in an inn named Toll House.  In the 1930’s her husband bought a tourist lodge and named it Toll House in Whitman, Massachusetts.  Toll House was originally built in 1709.  It was named Toll House since historically this is where passengers used to pay their tolls.  Ruth cooked all the meals and became famous for her cooking and especially her desserts.

Ruth created many desserts at the inn.  The delicious and now famous chocolate chip cookie was created completely accidentally.  One day Ruth was making her favorite Butter Drop Do cookies but was out of baker’s chocolate.  Ruth decided to use cut up pieces of semi-sweet chocolate instead from a bar of Nestle chocolate. Later on these pieces of chocolate would be known as chocolate chips.  Ruth expected that the chocolate would melt into the dough in order to make chocolate cookies.  Instead soft chocolate chip cookies came out of the oven.  Later on these cookies were called Toll House Cookies after Ruth’s inn.

These new cookies were popular with the guests at Toll House and the recipes were even printed in a Boston newspaper.  This lead to the sales of semi-sweet chocolate bars increasing and it caught the attention of Andrew Nestle.  Once the cookies became famous Ruth and Andrew Nestle (of the Nestle Company) made a deal.  Nestle would print her recipe on their cover of all their semi-sweet chocolate bars.  In return Ruth would receive a lifetime supply of chocolate.  Due to these new partnership sales of the semi-sweet chocolate “went through the roof”.  In 1939 Nestle started making semi-sweet chocolate morsels especially for the chocolate chip cookie.

During this time Ruth wrote a book called Toll House Tried and True Recipes in 1940 at the age of 37. This book held most of her original recipe secrets. The book also went through thirty-nine printings.  Ruth also enjoyed her success until she retired.  Ruth retired in Duxbury, Massachusetts.  Ruth and Kenneth then sold the Toll House in 1966 and new owners turned it into a nightclub for a time.  However, in 1970 another owner turned it back into an inn and back to its original form. Then on New Year’s Eve 1984 seven years after Ruth’s death Toll House burnt down.  Sadly, Toll House burned down in a fire started in the kitchen.  It is now a historical landmark.  In its place there is a Walgreen’s pharmacy and a Wendy’s restaurant.

Ruth Wakefield later died on January 10, 1977 at the age of 73.  There are not many biographies about her early life but the tradition of publishing her recipe on the back of each Nestle Toll House chocolate bar package is still honored today.  Ruth Wakefield was a great cook; an inventor and she created one of American’s favorite cookies, the chocolate chip cookie.  Ruth was also a dietician, innkeeper and businesswoman who entered into business with Nestle.  Even though Ruth died almost 32 years ago her cookie has been “alive” for almost 70 years and will never die.

The chocolate chip cookie is not the first invention you think of when asked about famous inventions.  Most people might not even know who Ruth Wakefield is.  However, almost everyone has tasted the chocolate chip cookie at one time.  Ruth Wakefield and her invention are proof the accidents are not always bad and can taste really good.  They are also proof that anything can be an invention and anyone can be an inventor.

Throwback Thursday – Argumentative Essay: Disobedience

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.

Progress comes with time, but only when catalyzed by humans. One catalyst can be disobedience. Disobedience can be anything from small defiances to nation’s rebellions, not on the individual scale, but on the global scale, on the societal one. Society must change society; one individual cannot alone create progress. Progress is by definition a large scale shift, so for disobedience to ring out progress, it must be large scale, and not for the sake of disobedience, but with a purpose.

Humans are social creatures, and social progress can only come with large shifts, not small ones. Disobedience on its own, cannot be a virtue, but can be used for virtuous means; to bring about societal change in the use of large scale disobedience. Take, for example, the American revolution. Today, the revolution is celebrated as the birth of democracy, the birth of America – a nation that prides its self on progress. Though at its inception, the revolution was nothing more than a disobedience of the colonies to its authority, Britain. If only a handful of individuals had lead said disobedience – had participated in the rebellion, it would have been labeled treason, and the only change to come would have been the swift downfall of the colonies. But, as a large scale disobedience, as a rebellion, as a revolution, ideas expressed – of democracy, of freedom – can spread in society, and produce social change, create progress.

Progress is not wrought by single disobediences. A single disobedience is punishable, ignorable. For example, if one person, alone, protests a company or business practice, it is easily ignored. If many people boycott a company, then the company changes its ways or falls to ruins: progress. If one person protests a law or ruling they are imprisoned. If a significant number of people begin to protest a law, then new representatives are elected, and legislature is changed in accordance: progress is made. Disobedience is only virtuous if it incites progress, and progress can only come about when it is wanted, society moves in the direction of the mentality of the majority. So for progress to follow disobedience, disobedience must be, if not on the majority scale, then on a scale large enough to influence the majority, if not, it is a single act of incorrigible behavior, something that, at its core disrupts society, disrupts the current status quo without the introduction of a new path, and thus, not aiding progress at all. Disobedience with a goal can create progress, without a goal, disobedience disrupts society to the point where progress cannot be made, when unity of any scale can no longer be achieved. Society requires some degree of cohesion, while a large scale disobedience can shift society towards progress, small scale disobediences can destroy that societal cohesion, and impede progress when the majority becomes frightened of an unknown status quo.

In terms of disobedience and progress, the ends justify the means. It is the progress achieved that renders disobedience able to be labeled a “virtue” – only in particular instances. Disobedience is not inheritably virtuous or valuable, nor generally celebrated, but as with most human acts, it has its place, and is imbibed with value by its uses and abuses.