Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Feed: Utopia

After having left the moon, Titus and his friends do not want to remember the experiences they went through for the last few days. They are discharged from the hospital and go out to Earth with their feeds completely working so they do not feel out of place anymore. The group of teenagers go out and do crazy things like go in 'mal' just to feel like they are alive and do things that are the popular thing to do. Titus is in a tight spot because he is surrounded by people who conform to society and follow all of the fads. A great example of this was the lesions that people were getting on their bodies. The lesions were occurring because the environment was less able to sustain human life because of the detrimental effects of all the damage done by man. Once the famous people from "Oh? Wow! Thing!" got the lesions, people started to think it was really cool so if they didn't already have them, they would go get some made without any second thoughts as to why people had those lesions in the first place.
This section had the largest part of the plot; especially most of which has to do with Titus and Violet getting to know each other and their dating. Titus was in a tough place because he was stuck in between his friends which were conformist and his girlfriend which was a nonconformist. Titus wanted to fit in with the group he hung out with as it is human nature to fit in with a group but oddly enough, he was attracted to Violet because she was different from everybody. He was always jumping from one of their sides to another and at the end of the section it did not work out for him. They were at a party and wanted to have a good time but then Violet started to criticize Quendy's lesions and bring stuff up that both parties did not agree on. Then when she could not move because she had problems with her brain because of the feed and passed out, all of Titus' friends were unmoved and wanted her to leave instead of trying to help. Titus was the only one that helped her out and had some compassion for Violet to get help but could not imagine his friends acting in such a crude manner. Thus, Titus was faced with a dilemma as to what he chose to be: conformist or nonconformist.
Another part of the section that stood out to me was the way the consumerist and political systems were manipulating the people. The president could say whatever he wanted to say about other countries or people and then later another announcement would come on talking about how the whole nation misinterpreted the president and his curse words actually meant something nice. Then the companies were trying so hard to figure the consumers out so that they could get them hooked on buying something. That is the very reason Violet did not get to receive help to fix her feed because when she went shopping with Titus and looked at a lot of weird things and did not buy any of it, they could not figure her out so she was not an asset or something they cared to help because it was not going to benefit them in any way. What was amazing to me is that the companies are already trying to do something similar to this on the internet. According to what we search, look at, listen to, and buy the search engines like google are formulating our persona and through the use of mathematics try to figure out what we would like or would possibly buy. It is kind of scary how things are already so similar to the story although it seems far fetched.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Feed: Eden

I don't particularly know why this section is titled Eden but it takes place once Titus and his crew have become hospitalized for getting the transmission to the feed about the demise of society. They do not have connection to the feed at this point because that man messed it up. While stuck in the hospital for that period of time they do things to pass the time like mess with the medical supplies and make games out of them. Even though the whole group of people did not enjoy their time on the moon they seemed to have a better time in the hospital. The difference between this section and the rest of them is that they were much shorter. It was probably due to the fact that they were not exposed to the feed and could only be exposed to what they were surrounded by and not the feed. The fad-following girls really missed the feed. They pretty much depended on it for every decision they made. A prime example is on page 52 when Loga went to visit them and she went into the bathroom to change her hairstyle because popular hairdo was different and then the girls did the same thing because they saw that it was the current style. They relied so much on the way that the feed told them to dress and cut their hair that their disconnection from the feed was much worse.
The part that stood out to me the most was the attachment to electrical devices that many people have. They feel as if they are not connected to the world if they do not get on the internet or have their phone right beside them. It may be that we are so dependent on these things to keep up with people instead of having an actual conversation or encounter with them. I have personally seen how our minds grow accustomed so quickly to the things we do and then there is a greater need for them that it is almost impossible to not have it. Sadly, many people are like Calista and Quendy who do not try to be their own person but follow whatever the feed tells them is the popular thing to do. Supposedly this society is even more focused on the concept of individualism and being yourself, independent but this quality of following the trending topics is displaying quite the opposite in the practice.

Feed: Moon

The first setting in Feed was the Moon. This futuristic American society seemed to be very far fetched with their travels to the moon and other planets. The main character Titus has his group of friends with which he hangs out with and they all seem to be entranced with the idea of being on the moon until they come to the conclusion that it sucks. Calista, Loga, Quendy, Marty, Link and Titus were all on a quest to get to all of the parties and do a whole bunch of crazy stuff just like most teenagers. All of them have this feed that is like a receiver in their brains that works to connect with others as well as for the propaganda of companies trying to sell their merchandise. While at one of these parties, Titus comes across this girl that seems to be different than all of the rest. She stood out to him for wearing a wool dress-an uncommon material for clothes in those days- and that she was looking at them in such a condescending way. He became intrigued with her and her differences from everyone else. The end of this section was when another person that was different was at a club with them and he touched them and transmitted the phrase "We enter a time of calamity!" and ended up on many of  their feeds.
Although this book is set for the future, it could very easily be paralleled to our life in America today. Many people have social networking sites and are smartphones which means that for the most part they stay connected to the 'feed' which allows them to speak to anyone. For this service to remain free, there has to be businesses that will pay these social networks to put ads on their website because of the myriad of people that can potentially see that ad and want to buy some of their stuff. So we too are bombarded with propaganda of many sorts so that we would want to purchase more and more. It is mind boggling to think that so many people are becoming very dependent on them and pretty much live off of them. I think this is a new trend because of the technology. In the other reading selections there was never a strong dependence to something that was not necessary. I remember someone saying one time that back in the day there was no technology and the people were able to finish everything they had to do for the day. Now that we have technology, supposedly to save time and do things quicker, we don't seem to find the time in the day to finish what we have to do. This is so true because we try to do so many things in one day because of how quick we can accomplish them but end up not having time for all that we had planned. It is amazing how times have changed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"The Red Convertible" Louise Erdrich

 "The Red Convertible" is a story about these brothers that were Native American and went on to be good friends. Lyman, the brother narrating the story, started working and he and his brother bought a Red Oldsmobile. They got to enjoy it for at least one good time traveling to many different places and meeting people. Henry Jr. did not get to enjoy the convertible for a while because he had to go to the Vietnam war. Lyman took care of it as much as he could and would only write Henry about that car while he was away. Then when he came back, they could tell that he was different because of the war. Lyman bought a color television and Henry would act really weird when he was watching it as well as with the rest of his family. On one occasion they were watching the television when Henry just bit his lip and even while they were eating he did not try to clean it off so ate food with his blood all over it. Lyman then proceeded to devise a plan so that he could try to get his old brother back. He tore the convertible up so that it would seem almost not able to fix but Henry does not think it isn't beyond repair. All of a sudden Henry starts to fix the convertible and gets it in tip top shape. They go for one last ride and then when they go to the river and have some beers, Henry wants to give Lyman the car and he does not take it. They fight and I think he goes into the river, Lyman goes to the car and turns on the lights so he can see his brother and the convertible goes into the water also. That is why at the beginning of the story, Lyman says that his brother took the whole car and he is walking.
This story was really sad because the people that come back from the war are never as they were before. The things that they see in the war are so traumatic that people cannot really go on without having those images drown through their everyday lives. It cannot be easy to have to come back to civilian life after a war and trying to tell people about what they went through but no one understands. It must really feel lonely especially when Lyman wanted to be close to his brother but they were not connected as they were before. Relationships are fortified through the things both parties have in common and shared living experiences so Henry must have felt like they were not as close as they could have been for him to understand. It must be sad that these people got stripped of their lives because they had to go to war against their will. This goes back to the whole trying to control the people in order for them to do what the government wants. The soldiers are broken down to follow the orders.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

excerpt of Charlotte's Web -E.B. White

The part of the reading from Charlotte's Webb was close to the end if I am not mistaken. They are taking Wilbur back to the home because the fair has finished. He won the prize for being a good show pig thanks to Charlotte, the spider, who made a web that had words on it and was a wonder all around the fair. This excerpt was taken from the point when Charlotte is dying and Wilbur wants to take her sac of eggs so that he can remember his best friend. So Wilbur asks for Templeton to get the eggs and rushes him to do so before the men take them away. Templeton goes on this rant about how he is always doing whatever everyone else wants and they really don't care about him that much. He does not like the fact that they want him to do things for them but do not value him and just lays around. Wilbur promises to give him the first of the slop whenever he gets it and finally Templeton took the offer and went to fetch the sac of eggs. In the end Wilbur does not end up just being another meal for the humans but becomes a mini celebrity and Charlotte's offspring are all over the place although, none of them ever replace Charlotte. 
The part about when Templeton is expressing his feelings caught my attention. He has been and is the person that collects trash and lives with that purpose. The way that Charlotte made the miracle web was because of Templeton finding the words on scraps of trash that he picked up. Even though he does play a critical role in this society people don't care about him and cast him aside as if he were not important. I know Templeton is not meant to be liked but his arguement is valid. Wilbur and Charlotte have this nice friendship and Templeton is just another brick on the wall wh does stuff for them and does not usually get anything in return, not even a friendship. Wilbur did nothing to be Charlotte's friend, he was just nice to her and everything happened from there. Templeton had always been there but he did not fit in so he never became anyone's friend.  Technically, if it wouldn't have been for Templeton's help in them writing the words on the web, Wilbur would have died a quick death. Templeton could be representative of the people who are at the bottom of the hierarchy of people (even though some people might not agree to there being one). He does so much but in the end is only motivated by what he can get or fulfilling the basic needs. This is probably why he doesn't care so much even though he does talk to Wilbur about having friends. He is really just thinking about he basic needs because that is the only way that he can survive to the next time and friendships are not necessary when you are just trying to live.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Blossoms Li-Young Lee

This poem is about a pair of people who are driving along a road in the season when peaches are harvested. They see a sign on the side of the road marked "Peaches" and they abruptly stop to get some. The second stanza goes back in time creating a mental image of the peaches coming from "laden boughs, from hands
from sweet fellowship in the bins" in other words the people harvesting the peaches and putting them into the bins. This couple is really enjoying the peaches and they seem to have stopped and gone to a little place close to the orchard to eat them while they are taking in the whole day to remember it. They end up having a pretty nice day and forget about what it  was they were supposed to do that day.
As opposed to many of the writings we have read from the 20th century, this poem was really optimistic. They aren't thinking about what things are going wrong but rather focus on the beauty of what is around them, the fruit they are eating, and their enjoyable day. They describe the peach like having a "round jubilance" and being "succulent" which leads me to believe that this couple really must be happy about those peaches! Or like they say when you are in a relationship and you are happy everything else seems perfect. At first I thought that this pair of people could either be good friends or it could be a romantic relationship and it could really go either way.
The last stanza really says a lot about what the speaker feels. He enjoys the great moments in life which makes the bad things not overshadow or even come to mind. It pretty much says that the best life lived is the one which lives because they do not have death in mind. This is partly true because if you are constantly worried about how something can cause you to die then it would be hard to even get out of the bed for that very fear. A constant precaution is always taken and nothing that is spontaneous is welcome. The speaker is completely opposite because none of the things that are written in the poem had been previously planned. From the time they swerved onto that road selling peaches everything else just happened and that was a very nice occasion. So if you do welcome the spontaneous things and just try to enjoy life for living then those moments will come along on their own.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The School

Trees, snakes, herb gardens, gerbils, white mice, salamander, tropical fish, puppy, orphan, parents, grandparents, students, all twelve of these were dying all around the students of Edgar's class. Edgar tried to help the students by giving reasons for why those things happened continuously but could not come up with a good explanation. The rate of death was unfathomable and the children were distraught. When they had a class discussion about what was going on they wanted Edgar to make love with Helen so that they would not be sad by what was going on around them and they would not lose hope. After their "demonstration" a gerbil came in the classroom and the children had completely forgot about everything and were happy once again. This is one very sad story almost hard to believe.
Not only was the death of everything around them unbelievable, but the way the children responded when they were thinking about those deaths. When I was reading, the students seemed to be in elementary school, not past the third grade. But then they say "is death that which gives meaning to life?" and "but isn’t death, considered as a fundamental datum, the means by which the taken-for-granted mundanity of the everyday may be transcended in the direction of –." I am pretty sure that most little kids would not have such opinion about death even with all of the things happening. I guess the reason Barthelme put it in the story was just to give one of the usual explanations for death that no one is satisfied with but does settle for.
Death after death of all of these things reminded me of all of the incessant wars, conflicts, genocides, tsunamis, earthquakes, and disasters that have taken place in the world; people die everyday. We are always bombarded with the deaths of people everyday and many wonder why things like these happen but still strive to make that connection with those around us like try to find love. Why do people do this if there is a possibility that they will die the next day or within a short period of time? Because we still have hope for life and a better future just like those little kids when the gerbil came in. Just like Ecclesiastes 3:11 says we have " time indefinite put in [our] hearts" in other words, nobody wants to die. 
Who did Edgar and Helen represent, if anyone/anything?
Why was Edgar always using petty explanations for what went wrong?

"A Silver Dish" not a Silver Spoon

To tell you the truth I did not understand anything that I read the first time around. It was really confusing because of the various characters and the way the plot was structured. What I did gather was that the story started at the end then went to the beginning. The son's name was Woody and the father, Morris. The biggest part of the story is set during the Great Depression even though it is only a memory of Woody's when he is older. Morris was known to be a con man and had many vices in addition to cheating on his wife. During this time Woody was going to a seminar school and his father got into a bind and needed to get money for his mistress. So he meets with his son and tells him that he wants to ask Mrs. Skoglund for the money. Woody does not want to go because that lady is also his benefactor. Being the son, he doesn't have a choice but to accompany his father to ask for money. Morris is not a very religious person and I believe the story says that he is an atheist which is completely different from Mrs. Skoglund, a devout woman. While they are in the parlor asking for the money Mrs. Skoglund gets a minute to pray to God to give her guidance. Now Morris gets worried, not knowing if she bought the story or is going to give him money, so decides to steal a silver dish from her just in case she says no. After fighting with his father, they came to the consensus that if she does agree to it they will put the dish back. Mrs. Skoglund does give them the money but Morris doesn't put the dish back. Later on Woody leaves the family to go with Halina but does not leave them without meeting their needs- he has already applied for them to receive welfare. In the end, Morris dies at the hospital after years of struggle.
One of the aspects of the story is the religion. The Selbst family is majorly christian but they were Jews before. The father is mostly an atheist  and does not care for religion because it "was a demonstration on behalf of real life and free instincts, against religion and hypocrisy." In his eyes they were just fools that were being caught up the things people told them and not for what was real. Many times Morris was just trying to use them but interestingly did not let his son become part of what he did not agree with. Even though Morris is depicted as a bad person, he seems to be above the whole religion thing which makes him be more level headed and logical when it comes to this aspect. Unfortunately many religions are only trying to take away people's money and say whatever the people want to hear so they can keep on coming. And the sad thing is that the bible shows us that there is a specific way of worshiping God and it is not what most religions are doing.
Another aspect that struck my interest was the way that Woody devoted most of his time to serving others but in the end he was not happy with his life.
     "Woody did her shopping on Fridays, filled her freezer. Also, Friday night he always spent with Helen.     Saturday he did his big weekly shopping. Saturday night he devoted to Mom and his sisters. So he was too busy to attend to his own feelings except, intermittently, to note to himself, “First Thursday in the grave.” “First Friday, and fine weather.” “First Saturday; he’s got to be getting used to it.” Under his breath he occasionally said, “Oh, Pop.”
It is sad that he did not enjoy his life because of helping other people. So it raises the question of how much we should help others and why we should do it. Maybe it was because the people he was helping did not care much for him. But Woody cared a lot for his father, I feel like if he knew that he really did care for him just did not express it in the conventional way. He knew that Woody did not like seminar school so devised a way to get him out and even though he left it was with the intention (probably) to not let his children go hungry.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Howl" -Allen Ginsberg

Wow! This is by far the most confusing poem I have read. After reading it, I don't even know if what I thought I understood was actually right. The mood of the poem seemed to be of a wandering nature. The first part was writing about how all of these geniuses of his generation were being destroyed by madness, poverty, disillusionment, along with many other fallen or even better, deferred, dreams. They really seemed not to have a reason to live and just roamed around doing things they did not care for and did not have any kind of morality. The people are living in the same place but they do not seem to share or communicate.
This poem is really different than the rest of the poems we have been reading because it is way more graphic. One of the prime examples is that these people "let themselves be [f*****] in the [a**] by saintly motorcyclists" showing how much the society had been degenerated. The poem talks a lot about the amoral society but it oddly also has a religious aspect to it. It has multiple references to when Jesus was on Earth. Golgotha was the place were Jesus was put on the torture stake and died while the expression "eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani" means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Maybe he uses this expression to symbolize how people feel like there really isn't anything that can make all of the things going on around the world better. I guess this is an aspect of the 20th century writings. Many people look for pleasure in drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. to escape from reality or believe in something better but they just end up achieving nothingness. 
The second part of the poem is also related to religion because it is pretty much speaking to Moloch which is the god to which people sacrificed their children to. The people seem to be forced to offer sacrifices to him and offer themselves while ending up disillusioned because the god they were sacrificing so much for did nothing for them and really could not help make anything better. Many people may feel like that but do not do anything about it. This poem was similar to the story of "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" because the country boy is also wandering around and in the end he is the victim of the vices of the city people. After realizing how the city life is, he realizes that he cannot rely on anybody but himself. 
Why is this poem called Howl?
What does the third part of the poem mean?? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Harrison Bergeron" -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

The year is 2081 and the human race has reached its goal of being completely equal. Not only in the sense that they are treated the same way but their intelligence is the same, looks, strength, and everything else. The people who are above average are hindered by the Handicapper General where they are made to wear things in order to be just like everyone else. The couple, George and Hazel, have an "abnormal" child who tries to fight the system. He was in jail and then manages to escape into a ballerina show where he induces a ballerina to be his Empress and they take off their handicaps and begin to dance to the musicians which have also taken off their handicaps. These conspirators end up dying and Harrison's mom is watching and actually forgets what she saw so in the end she is completely unaffected by what happened.
This selection reminded me a lot about Feed because the author's portray the society as people that are not interested in learning or thinking but rather they are concentrated on what others tell them they have to think or be. This story was written around the 1960s which is along the time that a lot of hippies were going around talking about all of the conspiracies that were going on. The way Vonnegut describes the government certainly did not put in a favorable light but was trying to portray the amount of control it could have over it's people and not letting them even have an opinion or try to change what they do not agree with. I think one of the differences is that the people in Feed treated it more like a fad and weren't forced to do this by law because not everyone had it. They willingly accepted people thinking for them and choosing what they like or dislike. But in "Harrison Bergeron" we see Harrison fighting against it while others simply acquiesce. George seemed like he wanted to go against it but he really did not have that strength and just let it happen while his almost superhuman son took action. Of course him getting shot trumped the whole revolution but it was a sign that some people wanted something different and not to be dragged down. The constant noises that George heard in his head from the handicap were torture just for him not to think too much about something. This shows that people did want change but did not want to be the ones to start it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Good Man is Hard to Find

A good man is hard to find especially when you are looking along the same road where the escapees from jail are. This short story by Flannery O'Connor is about a family that is going on a trip and the grandmother with her cunning ways, manipulates the children to go look at a house where one of her past suitors lived. There is a foreshadowing of the story at the beginning of the story when the grandmother is reading the paper and tells the family about the Misfit, a man that just escaped prison. This family is completely the opposite of what a perfect family is and it is noted that all of them are acting in a way that is not contributing to keeping the peace while on this trip. Once they do get on that dirt road the cat jumps out at Bailey and the car flips. When they are trying to get help the Misfit comes up and ends up killing the whole family while the grandmother is only trying to spare her own life. Then she gets shot herself and the story abruptly ends just like that.
This story was written during the 1950s when everybody was trying to achieve the perfect family status in their nice house with a white picket fence and two or three children. This family appears to be perfect but it is obviously not the case. The poor man cannot assert his manliness because he is being drowned out by the two women in his life-his mother (mostly) and wife. The grandma is really trying to make the decisions her son should be taking and doesn't even care about the daughter-in-law which is probably why her name is not even mentioned. The children are horrible little people. They don't care to do what their parents tell them and don't give a hoot about what the grandmother has to say to them either. The children have pretty much lost all of their respect for the older people and really like to voice their opinions. The one thing that stuck out in my mind was the way the grandmother took advantage of the whole situation so that they could do what she wanted and she did not even care that they were killing the rest of the family out in the woods. The only person she was worried about was herself until she realized how erred she was in her ideas and touched the man which resulted in her dying. Her actions made her the antithesis of a "good" woman.
The husband was really quite the character. He would get really annoyed by what the family was doing and then he would go off but later on he just did things the way they wanted instead of taking a stand. But if you look at many of the commercials and tv series, most of the time the man/husband is depicted as being the weaker, dumber person and the wife always makes the decisions for the household. And most of the time I hear that women want to be the ones to wear the pants in the relationship. So isn't this really what women want? They want to be the man in the relationship but when things happen like what we read in the story, the man is the one that gets the blame for acquiescing to what the rest of the family wanted. So the husband really could have done better but I am not sure if the women would have been pleased if he actually stood up to them and said no.

Why is the title "A Good Man is Hard to Find?"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Dream Deferred... I mean "Harlem"

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be an astronaut/doctor/teacher/insert profession of choice here. Every kid no matter what will always answer you with great enthusiasm what they want to become when they are grown ups. The wonderful thing about children is that their possibilities are limitless, no one can tell them they cannot do whatever it is they say. In the poem "Harlem," Langston Hughes is most definitely thinking from the perspective of a young boy, but rather someone who has been around long enough for their dreams to be set aside for various reasons. Hughes describes the various routes a deferred dream can go, none of which are very appealing. Who wants the stench of "rotten meat," or the view of a festering "sore," or even the weight of a "heavy load?" All of these things are undesirable but the reality is that dreams that are put off are inevitable. It is impossible to know the future and so even less probable to make sure that we can do what we have been planning for many years. Unexpected things happen and eventually pull us away from what we wanted to do in the beginning but what would be worse is having dreams deferred because of skin color or race.
Appropriately this poem was named "Harlem" seeing as it is one of the places where many African Americans lived and had to share in the common struggle for reaching out for something more in life and becoming something in this world. Many of those dreams were deferred. Even if they did want to succeed in school or get an education, they found out that they really couldn't do much because their world was ruled by the white man so they could not advance as much as they would have liked to. Many old people probably also had to put their dreams on hold because they unexpectedly had children or for the same laws that did not allow for them to get ahead in their careers. The last part was kind of ambiguous for me because it could be taken in a positive light or a negative one. When he asked "or does it explode?" does it mean that they decided not to let it stop them from doing what they wanted or that they got tired of the oppression and resorted to violence for what people had done to them?

Theme for English B for English 2200

This young black man is coming out of his English class thinking about what he should write for the assignment the professor asked for. This is what is happening to the young man in the poem "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes. Although the young black man is going to a university during the 1950s, life is not as wonderful for him as it may seem. He was the only African American in his class and was not close to his family during that time which only emphasized the sense of loneliness he felt when he was thinking of what to write about. Then he thinks about things to write on and realizes that even if the instructor might not like it, he and his students (even the speaker) have so much in common that the color of the skin does not even make a significant difference. Of course, he admits that neither of them want to agree to that but it's true.
I really liked the way that Hughes wrote this because when I first read the poem I imagined the young man walking from his class through those streets, the park, all the way into his room at the Y. That imagery alone made me as a reader see the struggle he went through everyday and the two completely opposite worlds he was a part of. But as much as they were different, the speaker made them fuse together and become a part of him, to be him. When he thinks about Harlem he says, "I hear you: hear you, hear me---we two---you, me, talk on this page" and also when he is talking about his professor tells him that he is "yet a part of me, as I am a part of you." Being a black man and an old white professor is as contrary as one could get, but yet the speaker lists multiple things they have in common like "eat, sleep, drink, and be in love [...] work, read, learn, and understand life." And even the fact that they are both American puts them in a category where they could even have similar tastes in music like "Bessie, bop, or Bach." I think what the man was trying to say was that since we have constant interactions with people and even the places we go to or live in are close that we share common goals, interests and that we inevitably become part of another person just by coexisting.
Why did the speaker say that the man was only "somewhat free?"
What did he think the white man was could/would learn from him?

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Heritage" -Countee Cullen

"Heritage" is a poem that describes just that, Countee Cullen's African roots. Although this poem tries to describe the way Africa looks the way people describe a good memory, but it is noted that the writer has a hard time trying to achieve that goal because he repeatedly states "One three centuries removed

From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,   

What is Africa to me?"

    It isn't that he doesn't want to claim where his family is from it's just that he cannot, he has never been there. The third stanza accurately describes the fact that Africa is so unknown to him because he says it is like a book that you look at but all of those things are unremembered. He has probably heard and read about all the things he mentioned in the poem but cannot accurately picture it in his mind because he has never been there. 
   Then Cullen describes the people and from Africa along with some of the animals. It's funny because he uses terms that don't really describe them as people but more like savages. They are "young forest lovers" and "jungle girls and boys" and I personally thought that when he was talking about the "juggernauts of flesh" they were the strong black men walking around the jungle.
   Cullen really felt disconnected from either places. He could not fit with the Africans because he had never been there and could not relate in any way to the culture they shared over there. Neither could he be an American because, being black, he was look down on and could not really amount to anything because his world could only be ruled and good for the white man. He even feels this way when he writes about the different religions, in America and in Africa. The gods in Africa are "heathen" but the god people worship in America is not black so Cullen feels that he could never understand what he is going through. Cullen's diction demonstrates that to a certain extent he has been influenced by Americans to call others jungle people, savages, and their beliefs, heathen. Does this have anything to do with the fact that he writes five times "so I lie?" What does it mean? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Yet do I Marvel" -Countee Cullen

The poem "Yet do I Marvel" by Countee Cullen describes the common theme that life is pointless. The "tricked Tantalus" was caught in the futile effort to eat the fruit and couldn't, while Sisyphus keeps on trying aimlessly to take the rock up the slope but it comes down again. Then he continues to speak of how God has pretty much made us live to die. In the end he also is befuddled at the fact that he wanted to express himself but he was black so it was not going to be that easy.
The idea that it is God's fault that bad things happen is a common misconception. The crazy thing is that many people usually hear from their religious leaders that God is a God of love but when a loved one dies they say that it was their time to go or even better, "God wanted another angel with him in heaven." Of course these ideas are not conducive to one another. If it's God's fault that our loved ones are dying then He cannot be a God of love because he is causing grief and all of the other negative feelings that come along with the death of a loved one. Obviously this is not the case. Jehovah is not the cause of our problems because in James 1:13 it says that "with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone." So he is not causing all of these things to happen. In reality the bible shows us that it is in fact, Satan the one that is causing all of the distress here on earth because if you read, no where in the bible does it say that Jehovah is the ruler of the earth but rather that Satan is. 1 John 5:19 says that "the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one." Therefore, God is not the one causing the problems and definitely did not create us just so that we would die.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy, I answer you.
These lines are the way T.S. Eliot begins his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" a stream of consciousness of the stereotypical 40 year old virgin. This man is sitting in a public place and there are women all around him but he is just too hesitant to do anything that in the end he really does not do anything. The poor man worries about whether he should talk to the girl or not, whether he should part his hair one way or the other... this guy was just very uncertain about anything he was going to do. This is kind of like the soliloquy "To be or not to be" which Eliot makes a reference to in line 111 because the man needs to choose whether he should do something or not. But the funny thing is that while the man is straddling between these thoughts he says he is not like the prince Hamlet so as not to seem so indecisive.
It was also interesting how this poem paints the women in a different setting than the women from "The Waste Land." Instead of being in a bar by themselves without their husbands, these women are at this place- possibly a high end cafe or restaurant-and seem to have a good socioeconomic status. This was noted from the continuous talk of the women "talking of Michaelangelo." They had to have heard of them and mention them in their conversations to impress the others. But due to the fact that this old, single man does not have a woman in his life makes him a sour person. Throughout the poem he says things like "half-deserted streets," sees the pollution all around and sees it as a cat that has just taken over the house without asking and is sad because he does not think the mermaids will sing to him. If only he had a woman in his life, everything would be a lot better and he wouldn't worry about his balding spot because his wife already loves him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" was an introduction to the 20th century writings that reflected realism, a novel way of writing at the time. In the beginning of the poem there is a very eccentric description of the relationship between people and the earth they live in. But after that the poem is more about the downward spiral that all of humanity was going through during these roaring twenties. In contrast to the other writings we have read, this poem uses many references to other writings that are in other languages like French, Latin and German.
 Most of the time when he wrote weird words that are usually not used today it was to reference something from a previous writing or from mythology.  I feel like many of those things are not very common and so are kind of lost or only a few people know about them. But it should definitely not be like that; we should acquaint ourselves with these classical writings because the quality of writing from back then is much better than most of the things that come out now. 
I really thought it was weird the way he spoke of the dead people. A man was buried and then someone asks "The corpse you planted,... has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?" (ln 71,72) I did not know what to make of this statement but the fact that when we die everything else keeps on going and we become nothing but fertilizer for the plants. Then Eliot goes on to write about the "murmur of maternal lamentation" (ln 367) which goes around all over the earth. When I read this it reminded me of La Llorona because she is said to be a woman crying out for her lost, dead children. 
Then in class I understood the story about the women at the bar. Eliot was showing us the lower class of people in the US during the 1920s. They had little or no access to dentists and this was precisely what they were talking about. The woman was supposed to have her  teeth taken out so she could get dentures and look good for her husband. But the woman does not seem to care that her husband is coming back from the war and doesn't even want to have children which is something out of the ordinary for that time period. Her experience shows the disillusionment with all that was happening around them and the unfavorable changes that were occuring. Nothing was the way it used to be and it was only getting worse; hence, the title of the poem. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"My Kinsman, Major Molineux" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a prime example of the move from the age of enlightenment to romanticism. Romanticism assumed that the natural world was inherently good while civilization or society was bad and filled with corruption. There is a clear distinction between the people who are from the city and the people from the small towns and even in the story, all the townspeople could tell Robin was different. Robin's story begins when he chooses to go off and stay with Major Molineux because he was supposed to help him and essentially leave off the large inheritance he received once he passed. Since the was not the first born, then he pretty much knew he wasn't going to get the farm so had to look for other options. But once he does go to the city, Robin is not really introduced to the nice side of town. Most people don't care to help him or if not they tempt him to do things that are wrong like the woman with the scarlet petticoat. In the end, after being tarred and feathered, he doesn't really want to have anything to the Major and he chooses to make a name for himself.
One of the things that is highlighted in this passage is the mob mentality that the city folk shared. But I really found it interesting to see the differences between the nature and civilization. In this story and in Whitman's "Song of Myself" nature is seen as something that is desirable. It gives an innocent, light and pure connotation to being in nature while being in a city or civilization equates to acting in an evil way. Robin even states once that "if I had one of those grinning rascals in the woods, I would teach him..." obviously wanting to teach these "civilized" people some manners! In the story it seems as if this is the first time that Robin has gone to the city and is obviously not having the greatest experience. This woman with the scarlet petticoat was also one of the people that tempted this young man to do immoral things but seeing as he was from the small town, this "shrewd" boy fled and resisted temptation (does the word Joseph come to mind...). This idea was contrary to the idea that many people had back in the day because they usually related nature to to being uncivilized like the Native Americans, a trait that was undesirable. But along comes Romanticism and makes civilized people look really bad off and making people realize how much worse life would actually be if you lived in a city surrounded by all of those temptations. It was definitely different from the other readings but is a common ideology used today, that people from small towns or the country are more innocent and closer to the unadulterated world.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Federalist Papers

The Federalist papers were documents written on behalf of people like Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay who believed that the United States should have a strong central government and a national bank. One of the most famous quotes taken from this paper is that "if men were angels, no government would be necessary." It was pretty comical because it brought out the need there was for a government. If all the people in the world were "angels" then of course no one would need to be governed  because they would not be bad. So now that they had established the need for government, the choice of which type of government for the people had to be discussed and that was the purpose of these writings. They obviously opposed the idea that state power should be stronger and their reasoning was that if the government controls the governed then it will oblige it to control itself. The central government will be the only one to which the people must submit to and not multiple. In the papers they said that the republic would "guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part." This mode of government would enable the residents of the country to be protected by the government but also would not allow these to be oppressed by their rulers.
This writing was not like the autobiographies and other narratives we read about but it definitely highlights the current events of early American history. Since these people wanted to break their governmental ties with Great Britain then they had to come up with a better form of governing so that they could keep their liberties as well as having a say so in what goes on in their country. These writers convinced the audience that their mode of government, although covering a large range, would still allow the individual to be heard. I am sure this must have appealed to all of these thinkers to want this form of government because it allowed for self expression and representation. People would be able to voice their opinion and get the same treatment even if they were not part of the majority.
There was a quote saying that "a central government will be less capable of self government;" is this what the founding fathers wanted the government to become?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The War Prayer

"The War Prayer" by Mark Twain accurately described the actions and thoughts of people for their country and soldiers during the war. It seems to be during a time when there is war and everyone is extremely patriotic. They would do whatever they could for the war and are proud that their children are going off to serve their country.  Although they carry on in long prayers, all they really want to ask is "'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!'" The people who are going to war and their families are proud and feel like they are doing the right thing but Twain brings out the hypocrisy of these people with the prayer. Instead of being christian-like they ask for to "tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells" and all of these other horrible requests just so that their country could win the war.
This story reminded me of the way that the slaves were treated back in those days. Slaves were just like animals and the people did not care if they lived or died just used them as a machine. In the war, the people of the country the United States was fighting ended up the same in most people's eyes. They did not care how many died as long as the war was won. This also has to do with ethnocentrism- the idea that their culture is better than all the rest. If people did not have this idea then they would not look at other lives as so insignificant. But this also shows that most of the time religion the way it is commonly practiced does not really have an effect on the way that people lead their lives. But in the end, if religious leaders did not get involved in this people would also not act the same way. It even happens today; both countries ask the priest to bless the war and for them to win when in actuality, the bible does not promote war. Isaiah 2:4 says " Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore" so if people would guide themselves by this idea then there would be less problems then there are now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anti-Federalist Papers

The Anti-Federalist Papers, written by Robert Yates, was used to promote state power having more control than the central government. The reason being that once "people part with power, they can seldom or never resume it again but by force." Anti-Federalists believed that if the states lose power because of having to conform to the federal court then state power will lose dignity and respectability and it becomes the "destruction of liberty" in their eyes. The reason they want state government to have more power is for the people's voices can be expressed to the government. They weren't in favor of a standing army because that would only make the populous listen if there was a gun pointed to their heads. In sum, the Anti-Federalists argued that if the people would have a stronger central governments it would end in demise just like all of the other past countries (i.e. Romans, Greeks).
Yates' ideas are a move towards this idea of trying to cater to the individual not just the class. Instead of having more power in the central government, the states would be able to focus on what the people in their particular state need and help them satisfy that need. I don't think this idea was as liked because then it would look like each state is more like a country of its own instead of a state in the country. This system nevertheless, should be more efficient because the opinion of the people would be heard and the government could act upon it if it suited the best interests of the people.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Venture Smith

The autobiography of Venture Smith was completely different from any other autobiography that was written around that time.The difference strives on the fact that he was a former slave, not some rich or well educated white man. He was actually illiterate but got someone to write his story. It sheds a different light on slavery because it is being told from a person who lived through slavery down to being taken away from his home and traveling the middle passage to America. Smith's story is a success story because even though he was enslaved and had to go through unjust acts he was able to be free afterwards and even bring all of his family together. This was not an ordinary occurrence for many people were not as fortunate to end up the same way Smith did.
What was amazing is the way that Smith treated the slave owners. He was always respectful and submissive for whatever they asked him to do. On one occasion he was told to keep the master's keys and not let anyone touch them and that is just what he did. He did not even let the slave owner's family take it away from him, thus proving to be a trustworthy man. But, in turn, whenever the slave owner would not treat him the right way or beat him, Smith did not just let it happen. He went to the judge and the judge told the man to treat him right. Obviously Smith did not like slavery but he was not trying to fight it but rather make the best of the situation he was in. Smith was able to save money from what he earned and build towards buying his freedom and the rest of his family later on. I think Smith was trying to convey the idea that even thought life is not always the way we might have thought but through hard work and diligence it is definitely possible for anyone to make it better in the long run.
The story reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography because it highlights the idea of doing things for yourself and not waiting around for other people to do them for you. But it is different than the Sot weed factor because Ebenezer Cook was disillusioned and just did not try to make anything out of himself or have a positive outlook. There were immoral things happening all around during that time but it did not mean that people could not do for themselves and at least better the way they lived.This autobiography shows the different ways that people can react to situations although they may be oppressed by the people around them.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Frederick Douglass

The 4th of July Speech Frederick Douglass gave was very controversial for its time. Douglass spoke out against the way the government was acting, religion, those who say they are religious and the internal affairs that citizens were ignoring. He brought up the hypocritical nature of the Americans because they are advocating for freedom like there is no tomorrow while here at home they will not let their fellow man free from slavery. The religious aspect of this country is also brought out by demonstrating how people do not really take it as a guide for how they should live their lives. It also shows how the religious leaders do not care about the principle of being christian.
It was interesting that he spoke of the independence of America as "your political freedom" thus, isolating the slaves from that idea of having the luxuries that should be natural of a resident of America. In reality the slaves were anything but free in a "free country" so whenever they heard such things it was feeding on their disgust of the America they lived in. I never thought about the way 4th of July celebrations were loathed so much by the slaves but it is very logical. If America was boasting about having the freedom to be what they wanted and worship like they wanted but at the same time oppressing the slaves, then it must have been an unhappy position to be in.
Douglass had a lot of guts to say that the whole country was not acting in accordance to what the founding fathers had once stated, nor the religious people follow what the bible says. He did not have a problem with the constitution but rather said that it was made "look[ing] beyond the passing moment[s]" and "seized upon eternal principles." It was the people now that only cared about the money they were making out of having slaves that made them act the way they did. This is also the reason that the religious leaders were not in opposition to slavery: If they spoke out  against it then most, if not all people, would not go because they do not want to hear that they are doing wrong and that would equal no income. I noted that Douglass referenced the bible and Jesus a lot in his speech because there were many similarities between the way the government and religion was acting back then and in Jesus' time. They were more focused on following the minuscule details of the law (the fugitive slave act) that they forgot the reason why they came to America in the first place was for that freedom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Harriet Beecher Stowe

The tract "The Two Altars" was more like two short stories depicting the different lives of the American during 1776 and 1850. In the beginning the little kids bring our what is the major ideal of that era: sacrificing anything for liberty. There was a war and people did sacrifice things in order for the soldiers to keep on fighting for everyone's freedom. As read in the story, people did not think twice about giving them clothes, blankets, socks even their most prized possessions-- their family. The other story was the one of the black family during the 1850s in which a freed black man was tending to his family and trying to enjoy the supposed liberty in America but ended up being thrown into jail and later sold as a slave once more. Both of the stories indicated a struggle for liberty and sacrificing many things for it but it also depicts how slow things change among the human culture. After many had fought for this liberty, almost a century later there were people that were being ostracized and not able to enjoy the "liberty" this country offers.
Obviously, Stowe was trying to show that so many people died and suffered for this country which said they achieved this liberty from their motherland but did not give people the liberty they yearned for. Although the black man had achieved liberty, he was free, the power of the government made him go back to being enslaved. And even in the 20th century we could see similar occurrences. The black people were given different treatment and denied the rights any human being should have. A person couldn't receive the proper medical attention because they were less important than others with a lighter skin tone. But there is also a connection with any minority or women, even though people fought for everyone in the country not everyone here can benefit from it. I think it is good to be thankful for what we have but not always expect for the sacrifices we make to make a difference. The black family in the story did not do anything wrong but yet were going to be slaves again and not enjoy a peaceful family life. The white family was also forced to live without a father/husband so he could serve his country but nothing can ever replace the time that was lost and who knows if the father ever even came back.
Did the freed black man go to war also or was he just working for his family?
Why did they take the man back if he was free by the authority of the master?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" must not have been liked by the politicians of his day. He focused on how people do not need to be blind followers of what the government says or promotes. It is not that Thoreau is rooting for any idea in particular but would rather people think themselves and make sure that what they do is going to be in accordance to their beliefs or, in other words, their conscience. Thoreau was really trying to better the government that was in place not remove it completely. He believed that it could help the government not only aid those in the majority but even down to the individual needs of the citizens. A government, just like those who created it, is imperfect and "unjust laws exist" which make the need for every man to examine their own thoughts and do what they feel is correct. Thoreau believed that acting against your conscience was almost unforgivable on the person's part because it results in "everlasting death" thus denoting the seriousness of the situation.
The part that was really interesting was when Thoreau mentioned that the rich man is always sold to the institution that makes him rich and that if you have more money then you have less virtue. It reminded me of how the businesses today really don't care about the consumer. All they care about is making money and keeping the clientele so they can keep on making money. For example, the cigarette businesses make billions of dollars a year but they do it by slowly killing their clients. The propaganda is used to lure people into smoking and creating that addiction and that's it, in comes the money. In reality those people do not feel a moral obligation towards the people around them.
Another point that got my attention was that the majority of the people voice their opinions while a visibly smaller percentage actually try to do something about helping society or our world become a better place. Thoreau used examples like Jesus, Luther and Washington to show how they made a difference in the world but at the same time were crucified, excommunicated, or deemed as rebels. This shows how Emerson and Thoreau come together because these people made a difference in the world regardless of the unjust laws that were set in place. All of them were looked down upon by their peers for doing something that was not popular but was right according to their conscience. The way these two writings were composed leads me to believe that this era was focused on acting on what the person believed and not really caring if it was right at the time as long as you felt that you were acting right. The examples of Franklin, Venture Smith, Stanton and others backs up this idea of self reliance and focusing on following your own code of ethics.
If everyone's conscience is different, in what way would this style of government work if there are so many people?
How can laws, if there are any, be enforced if everyone goes by their own standard?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The "Seneca Falls Address" is a speech Elizabeth Cady Stanton gives in order to get the ball rolling for woman's rights. In this discourse she describes how much society has belittled women and how much in actuality she really does to contribute to the continuity of humankind. Through the use of biblical references she refutes man's idea that the bible says that women are inferior to men. I really thought that her explanation to the Adam and Eve story was interesting. She used the term men use that women are "creatures of affection" while men are "beings of reason" in this instance to show how opposite this idea truly was. According to Stanton, Eve had to be manipulated through her desire to improve her intellectual nature while Adam only followed what his wife told him to do because of his blind affection. Stanton also uses examples of cultures from all over the world trying to explain how women are treated but how they are equal to men also. Although Stanton says that women and men are equal, she talks about man in a condescending tone. The worst thing someone can do when they are trying to gain respect is belittling them also. I am not a feminist and do not argue that all of her points are valid but she does make people think of the predicament women are in. When she was making the point that men are not always physically stronger than women, she referred to the Amazonian women. I thought that was really funny.

This speech reminds me that the way they treated women back in the day was not as a person but as a property. I remember when I read what Peter wrote in the bible there was quite the problem back in the day. Women were mistreated and if the man wanted to divorce her, he would find any petty reason like because she burned the food so I don't want to be with her anymore. I read that the woman should have a profound respect towards her man and that he is her "head." I don't think this is in any way demeaning but rather establishes someone to be in charge. Man and woman work together so that they can reach their goals; furthermore, the woman is complement to the man and her opinions are taken into consideration when making decisions. Even though now in America the treatment towards women is much better than before but definitely not as well as it should be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harriet Jacobs

The story of Harriet Jacobs describes her life as a slave girl. Although she is still very young, Jacobs is forced to see and do things that are frowned upon. She grew up with her grandmother but also has fond memories of her mother which had already passed. Her will is strong and Harriet longs to be free of this suppressing environment; furthermore, she learns to read and write to make her possibilities greater. Being a female, Jacobs was forced to have sex with her master at a very young age. She tries to buy her freedom but Dr. Flint does not allow it to happen for some odd reason. Jacobs finds love and tries to get married but once again her master tries to impede her from staying with anyone that is not him but Harriet still manages to have two babies by another man. In the end Harriet is on her way to freedom but the tone ends in a bittersweet way.
Reading this selection was really sad because I realized how little control these girls/women had over their own bodies, something that is taken for granted. In the beginning she writes about how "there is no shadow of the law to protect her" because she was just property according to how the law was written. And then the wives of these slave owners were jealous of the slave girls for something they did not even want to happen. It is unbelievable how the man just got away with doing things like that and the wife would take her anger out on the slave. It was hard for a slave to be happy within the confines of her circumstance. Harriet wrote that "the light heart which nature had given [her] became heavy with sad forebodings" meaning that her joy was going away inevitably.
It is interesting to see how even though Harriet was a slave girl and the men were going to rape her, she still cared about maintaining a good relationship with her grandmother and trying to be chaste. Today's society is more open to things with respect to sexual relations and many people do not seem to care about how they are seen. Our culture has become less modest in that respect. One thing that sparked my attention was that even though Harriet was in such a bad situation she still fell in love with someone. It was sad that she was not able to marry him but does show on her part a greater love for him because she knew that if she rebelled against her master, he would have killed them both. She displayed altruism with him and with the care of her children. No other story could have displayed the trials and sufferings of a slave girl better than coming straight from someone who lived it.

Why would a man rape a girl all the time?
Did marrying a freed black man not really count by law to have any sort of power?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Self Reliance" had a lot to do with focusing on one and not worrying about what others think. It was a pep talk for each person to trust what they believe or think and not be sorry for what they say. Emerson said that in order to be great or do extraordinary things there was risks that came along with it like the general population not agreeing with what one's ideas are. I noticed that Emerson used many bible references like that of Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and others. He recognized that even though they were great figures, in their time most people looked down on them. He looked with disdain on society when he wrote that it is in "conspiracy of manhood" because it does not allow men to be individuals.
This writing was written at a time when people were exploring new thoughts and ideas. They wanted a change in their lives and were willing to take into account things that were not popular. Emerson gave just that; furthermore, he went on to frown upon many practices people have even today like charity work. I guess what he is trying to say is that when they are donating for the cause it is only because they feel indebted to being alive or they have to prove themselves. Instead of giving from the heart, "their virtues become penances." 
It was interesting that Emerson didn't like the way our memory stopped us from doing things that did not agree with what we had done in the past. He encouraged expressing the way you think without caring what others thought or if it contradicted in any way what they may have done in the past. The way Emerson wrote reminded me a lot of Benjamin Franklin because even though others did help him out, he did not try to rely on them. When his ideas conflicted with the vast majority-like education-he didn't care and went on to benefit many. The only thing I have a problem with is that it makes man look flawless, perfect. In the essay there was no place stating the possibility of human betterment just a nonconformist view on what was going on, which only means to go against the current.
"Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it"- Why would Emerson write about babies if they are at the least self-reliant peoples?
Does Emerson think we are imperfect beings?

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography was not only useful in learning about one of the founding fathers of this country but also in learning about the growth of young America. As a young boy, Franklin ran away from this brother to which he was an indentured servant-which he did not admit to in his narrative. Although he encountered a struggle in this country, Franklin did not express himself in such a manner. He seemed to breeze right through with the help of many and nothing would stop him. In his autobiography I could sense the air he had of thinking very highly of himself and did not do any wrong.  Franklin even included letters from other people almost venerating him and asking him to write about himself because his life was so great. Later on, he was even trying to perfect his personality and work on some virtues but it was obviously not an easy task.
Even though at the time education was not thought highly of, Franklin vouched for it. He did not like the educational system but what he was in favor of was self education. This concept was not popular since many were too busy working as much as they could and did not spare time for the furthering of their knowledge. Nevertheless, he started a public library in Pennsylvania to promote self education among other citizens.
Another aspect that stood out to me was the way Franklin thought of religion. He was very well versed man but was not content with the way the churches gave their instruction. In chapter 6 he wrote that "not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens." This reminded me of how most religions really don't try to teach what the bible says but would rather teach doctrine. If people sat down and dedicated time to read the bible then they would find out that what most religions are doing is not what should be done. But this idea of self education really ties in with learning not about religion but what God approves. And of course it follows that if people learn how to become better and act in consequence, they will contribute to the betterment of society.

The Sot Weed Factor

Ebenezer Cook is the protagonist of this narrative poem describing his coming to live in the newly discovered country: America. Instead of being a happy go lucky writing about living the dream, Cook is disillusioned by what he comes to find in the new world. It was described as having "plagues worse than fill'd Pandora's Box" alluding to the dark side of what was happening in the colonies while they were beginning to form. Women went to work in their "linnen blue" as slaves or working on the farm and ended up prostituting themselves to make a living and have nice things.
 The writing also displayed the duplicitous nature of the people who arrived in America such as that of the "ambodexter quack" who was an apothecary and attorney. It was very easy to become whoever one wanted to be because modes of communication were not as encompassing as they are today. People did not have a way of knowing who others said they were because the records were new if not nonexistent at the time The thing is that in those times a person did not have to have a diploma or any form of certification to show for their skills so they could assert to be someone that they are not. Cook really began to see life in America as it was and did not seem to like it. 
As I was reading this poem, it reminded me of the people who immigrate today. In Hispanic culture, the United States is looked at like the land of opportunity and some people really think that the roads are filled with money all over, paved with gold. They think that if they come everything will be easy to do and they could help the family's financial problems go away. But, just like The Sot Weed Factor it is not a reality. People may immigrate from different countries expecting it all to be so easy but they struggle finding jobs and may even resort to those that are less than glamorous just to get by. Indeed it is a disillusion but it is just what they grow up to be. When you ask a young man from Latin America what he wants to do when he grows up it will be to go to the US and send money to his family. Unfortunately, sometimes it is better to have stayed where they were.
1) Did Cook end up getting the land he inherited or did he go back to London?