Jay's blog


The Lottery

Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 15, 2011

In the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Tuan’s ideas of mythical space are proven once again through symbolism. Tuan states that mythical space can be “a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities.” (86) Though the things discussed in this chapter may be bizarre or abstract to some of us, for the people in the story it is nothing but customary.
“The Lottery” is set in the square, as the townspeople refer to it, and takes place on June 27th of every year. According to Old Man Warner, we know that it has been around at least seventy seven years. (Jackson 250) Though we don’t exactly know what the lottery entails we do know that it is held in order for there to be a good harvest during the year. As we read on, however, we find that this lottery is held so that the town can choose one person to stone to death as a sacrifice.
When reading the story we see that Jackson uses a plethora of different types of symbolism. The most obvious symbol it’s self is the lottery. The lottery represents the townspeople’s inability to break free of this tradition no matter how barbaric it is and how much they despise having to sacrifice one of their own. This is lack of interest in change is shown when we hear Old Man Warner berating a neighboring town that has chosen to get rid of the lottery. (Jackson 250)
We see symbolism not only in the event itself but in certain objects used in the lottery as well. When holding the lottery, the townspeople take turns taking slips of paper from a broken down black box to determine who they will sacrifice. This box has been used over and over and has rebuilt and hidden when not in use. The fact that people store it in places where it will be hidden is perhaps because they are put off by the fact that the color black symbolizes death and many activities having to do with death.
The characters used in the story are used to symbolize different things in the story as well. Mr. Summers the person who hosts the lottery every year is known for his relatively upbeat personality. His name entails a season that is known for its exuberance and yet it is juxtaposed with an event that ends with a stoning. Mr. Graves, his right hand man, also serves to symbolize the inevitable death that someone will encounter. The relationship between the two symbolizes the time of year that the lottery is held. Everyone in the town knows that when summer comes so does the lottery.
Another relationship that is shown in the story is the relationship between friends, Mrs. Delacroix and Tessie Hutchinson. Tessie is a relatively well known woman among the townspeople and we know so when we see that everyone refers to her by her first name. (Jackson 249) However, when Tessie is picked for the stoning we see Mrs. Delacroix tell her to be a good sport despite the brutal death she is about to undergo. (Jackson 251) The relationship of the two women symbolizes the hypocrisy of the town holding the lottery. Though they may hate having to part take in something so inhumane, they do so anyway.
Any decent human being would find the events mentioned in the story detestable and would never think of having anything like it happen within their town. However, for the people in this town, they know of nothing else. Even though it is apparent that they know what they are doing is wrong they go on about with the lottery like it is just another task.

Final Draft

Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 9, 2011

How is One’s Self worth Determined by Others?
What characteristics determine a person’s worth? Is it determined by our traits or appearances? Is it the role we play or our occupation? Is it the environment we live in? Of course one could say that not only one factor determines who we are but a combination of many factors including the ones mentioned previously. “The metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, however, proves these theories wrong. It tells the story of Gregor, an everyday working class person who wakes one morning to find that he has transformed into a giant insect. (The insect is never mentioned but one can guess that he is a cockroach.) The story does not serve to only tell of his transformation but uses it as a way to prove that he is below everyone around him. In many ways Kafka uses Gregor’s character and those around him to reinforce the idea.
A deeper look at Gregor’s character shows us that he is bound by obligation to his family. After his father’s company collapses, Gregor is forced to take on the role of the bread winner. Though this title would usually be an honor, it does nothing for Gregor’s case because he does not do so willingly. In order to provide for his family Gregor must continuously work for a boss that he and his family are indebted to. However, despite the degrading lifestyle that Gregor lives, he is still able to afford a moderately comfortable lifestyle in the apartment that his family lives in. Again, the act of providing for his family should be something to be proud of but it only further proves that Gregor’s status as irrelevant; though he may be paying for his family to live in this apartment, Gregor is confined to the space of his room at all times. This also proves the ability to claim a space also factors in one’s self worth.
Being confined to his room serves as Gregor’s way of escaping his situation. According to Yi-Fu Tuan, “the world feels spacious and friendly when it accommodates our desires.” (65) Although Gregor’s room fulfills his desire to escape, it also doubles as his jail. This is synonymous with Tuan’s thoughts on an infant’s crib as their escape and jail. (25) Like an infant confined to their crib, Gregor only feels comfortable within the space of his room and nowhere else. Though comfortable within this space, Gregor is unable to leave his room after his transformation because he does not feel comfortable elsewhere.
Gregor being reborn as a cockroach is also equivalent with a baby having to learn to live in the world in which they are surrounded. They must constantly depend on others and how Gregor has to depend on his sister, Grete, after his transformation serves to reinforce the idea that he is below everyone. She is perhaps the most dominant character in proving the idea valid.
Within the story Grete is portrayed as the blossoming Younger sibling with an exceptional talent of music as she goes to school to possibly pursue a career with her violin. She, just by living in the apartment that Gregor pays for, is automatically invading Gregor’s space. This is not only shown by Grete physically living there but by the fact that Gregor must work a job that he obviously despises in order for her to possibly pursue her musical career. However, when she is forced to take on a job to take care of Gregor after his transformation, the effect of being forced to work a job does not lower her status but establishes her as a caretaker; the job that Gregor once held.
The role reversal between Gregor and Grete drastically changes their relationship. Throughout the story Kafka uses Grete’s role of caretaker as a way to prove that she is above Gregor in most if not every way; both of their parents refuse to take care of him out of disgust. On a daily basis Grete, out of sympathy, leaves food for Gregor in his room after the family has eaten each meal. (Kafka 312) Though this may be a simple act of feeding one who is unable to sustain himself, this proves that Grete is Gregor’s life line and that he is solely dependent on his younger sibling.
Being dependent upon his sister, Gregor becomes attached Grete. After becoming a cockroach Gregor is forced to deal with hostility from other characters in the story in that his transformation puts them on edge. Being that his new transformation renders him as helpless as a child, Gregor’s attachment to Grete only grows stronger because she also assumes the role of the parent within their relationship as well. According to Tuan, “the more hostile the environment, the closer the attachment to the adult.” (24)
Despite how thankful Gregor may be for his sister’s care he is forced to hide under a couch every time his sister comes to feed him out of his own embarrassment. Though his room in the apartment may be Gregor’s space, Grete’s daily visits don’t only serve as a way of her showing concern but establishing her dominance by constantly coming into a space of which Gregor has an unofficial claim. Tuan says that “conflicting activities generate a sense of crowding,” and Grete’s dominance clashing with Gregor wanting nothing more than the escape his room provides is metaphorical of what Tuan says. (64)
The invasion of space is also depicted through Grete’s decision to move furniture out of his room on the count that he does not need them. Objects within a space are just as important as the spaces they occupy and the act of taking furniture away from Gregor’s room is synonymous with Grete taking away him as a person. Grete decides to do so not only because she feels that he needs space to crawl but because the confidence that she has gained from being Gregor’s caretaker has gone to her head. According to Kafka, the act of taking furniture out of his room would only strengthen her dominance over Gregor in that it would make his situation worse, resulting in Grete being able to do more for him. (318)
Grete is obviously correct in assuming that taking away Gregor’s furniture would take away from him as a person. Gregor’s space is not only made up of the space within his room but the objects within them. Though the extraction of his desk and his dresser would’ve left more space for him it, would’ve left him feeling less than he already was; “to be open and free is to be exposed and vulnerable.” (Tuan 54)
As the plot of the story moves on Grete, along with her parents, begin to resent Gregor because of the situation he has put them in. After hearing her play her violin for new tenants his family has taken in, Gregor is moved and decides to visit the dining room where she is located. The tenants are frightened and want to leave which in turn set off a fit from Grete causing her to admit that if he really were the cockroach he turned into, that Gregor would not put his family through what they have had to deal with. She then decides that Gregor is not worth taking care of anymore and her mother and father are too quick to agree. (Kafka 327) This point of the story not only proves her dominance but the fact that Gregor is completely at Grete’s mercy. With the dominance that she holds, she decides what worth Gregor holds as a person.
Through Kafka’s writing of The Metamorphosis we see a massive amount of our self worth is determined by the space we live in and what those around us think. Gregor being confined to his room, as a human and cockroach alike, shows how little he is appreciated. Through his sister’s eyes, Gregor is established as someone who is worth enough to take care of but as her dominance and resentment over him grow, he becomes someone who is absolutely worthless.

Young Goodman Brown

Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 9, 2011

What do we consider a myth? Is it based on things that are factual or is it purely made up of our imaginations? The perfect example that wavers on both sides of what a myth is, is the short story, “Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in Salem during the early 1800’s. The setting itself can be indicative of the constant use of myth and mythological creatures as a recurring theme throughout the plot. However, along with this theme comes the question of whether the events in this book actually happen or not. Hence, why this story proves both sides of what make up a myth.
The story starts with Goodman brown leaving his wife, Faith, alone in their house over night to set out on what Hawthorne refers to as a journey. Though the reason why Goodman has chosen to go on this journey is not immediately revealed, we find out that he is on his way to attend a satanic ritual held in the forest. Along this journey Goodman meets many creatures, some arguably human, that further prove whether myths are factual or not.
To dissect the definition of what we call a myth Yi-Fu Tuan uses his ideas of mythical space and place. We see many of Tuan’s ideas proven when he encounters a man in the forest whom is later revealed to be the devil himself by a religious woman who is also a witch. Back in the 1800’s Christianity was fairly dominant among the population of Salem and the reason Goodman is so ready to believe that the two are what they say they are is what Tuan refers to as a spatial component of world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities. (86)
Despite Goodman’s readiness to believe what happens to him, a reader’s reaction may teeter on skepticism. Any educated person would know that the rampant Christianity in early Salem was also filled with ignorance. According to Tuan, myths flourish in the absence of precise knowledge. (85) Perhaps the voices that Goodman hears and the objects he sees while continuing on with his journey are brought on by the paranoia of possibly having met the devil. It is easy to guess that Goodman was brought up within a Christian family and is naïve to the fact that his mind may be playing tricks on him. This is what Tuan calls defective knowledge that is based on the empirically known. (86)
The climax of the story comes when Goodman finally reaches the devil’s forest ceremony. He is forced to confront many paranormal activities including meeting his wife who he had thought was at home the whole night. Upon praying, however, Goodman finds that all that has been causing him trouble has disappeared. The result of encountering such an event leaves him finding evil in everyone he encounters when he gets home. Though Goodman cannot recall whether what he encountered was real or not, he is unable to get past the paranoia that he has acquired during the journey. According to Tuan, myth is not a belief that can be readily verified or proven false by evidence of the senses. (85) As we see this story showcases both sides of what a myth can be made of.

“Cathedral”

Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 3, 2011

“Cathedral” by Raymond Carver is a short story depicting the story of a man (only known as narrator) and how he finds a new sense of fulfillment after meeting a handicapable friend of his wife. This friend, Robert, is blind and is invited over by the narrator’s wife to their home after the death of his wife. This in turn sets off a chain of events that prompt the narrator to think of himself and his situation in depth; hence his new found fulfillment. The title in this story does not relate to the plot of the story but does hold significance in that a cathedral is what signifies the man’s new state.
When first hearing about Robert’s situation, the narrator becomes reluctant to invite him into his home being that his wife was the childhood sweetheart of Robert. (Carver 94) But after his wife guilts him into agreeing to invite Robert over by saying “If you love me you, can do this for me” he eventually agrees to let Robert over. (Carver 95) After getting back from the train station, the narrator’s reluctance turns into full blown jealousy. While drinking, his wife and Robert are embroiled in conversation and despite his efforts to join the conversation, is only able to respond to questions meekly and abruptly.
The way Robert is feeling is synonymous with how a child feels as an infant. According to Yi-Fu Tuan “Children develop a strong sense of property, they become strongly possessive, and are quick to defend what they consider belongs to them.” (32) It is obvious that the narrator is subconsciously possessive over his wife and home; it is seen through his inhospitable feelings for Robert and jealousy of the friend he has with his wife.
When their night takes them from their conversation to the narrator’s living room to listen to the weather channel, we see that not much progress has been made among the three. The narrator still feels awkward and constantly asks Robert if he wants to go to bed. Robert declines the offers to stay up to talk with the narrator.
The scene in the living room proves the idea of spaciousness and crowding. According to Tuan, “conflicting activities create a sense of crowding.” (64) When left to entertain Robert by him, the narrator feels a sense of crowding in that he must deal with how awkward the situation is, keeping Robert company, and being invested in what he is seeing on TV.
The narrator then changes the channel and lands on a show that talks about the middle ages. The show talks of cathedrals and since Robert is blind, the narrator is forced to explain what they look like to him. After having much difficulty, the narrator realizes that he does not do an adequate job of doing so and again feels awkward. Robert, realizing that the narrator is having difficulty explaining propositions the narrator to draw a cathedral for him while he follows along with his hands.
This is the catalyst for the narrator’s new found fulfillment. While drawing the narrator becomes engrossed in what he is doing and finds much enjoyment doing so. It is easy to see here that he now finds comfort in Robert being in his home rather than the awkwardness he felt before. After he is done, the narrator does not even need to look at his drawing to see that he has indeed created something beautiful without looking at it.
At the end of the story when the narrator says, “I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything,” marks the fulfillment that he feels. (Carver 103) According to Tuan, “out of a crowded room a feeling of warmth and tolerance can be created.” (65) The narrator does exactly so throughout the story.

1st Draft

Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 3, 2011

What characteristics determine a person’s worth? Is it determined by our traits or appearances? Is it the role we play or our occupation? Is it the environment we live in? Of course one could say that not only one factor determines who we are but a combination of many factors including the ones mentioned previously. “The metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, however, proves these theories wrong. It tells the story of Gregor, an everyday working classmen who wakes one morning to find that he has transformed into a giant insect. (The insect is never mentioned but one can guess that he is a cockroach.) The story does not serve to tell of his transformation but uses it as a way to prove that he is below everyone around him. In many ways Kafka uses Gregor’s character and those around him to reinforce the idea.
A deeper look at Gregor’s character shows us that he is bound by obligation to his family. After his father’s company collapses, Gregor is forced to take on the role of the bread winner. Though this title would usually be an honor, it does not for Gregor’s case because he does not do so willingly; In order to provide for his family Gregor must continuously work for a boss that he and his family are indebted to. However, despite the degrading lifestyle that Gregor lives, he is still able to afford a moderately comfortable lifestyle in the apartment that his family lives in. Again, the act of providing for his family should be something to be proud of but it only further proves that Gregor’s status as irrelevant; though he may be paying for his family to live in this apartment, Gregor is confined to the space of his room at all times. This also proves the ability to claim a space is also factors in one’s self worth.
The most dominant character in proving Gregor’s low status is his younger sister, Grete. Within the story she is shown as the blossoming daughter with an exceptional talent of music as she goes to school to possibly pursue a career with her violin. She, just by living in the apartment that Gregor pays for, is automatically invading Gregor’s space. This is not only shown by Grete physically living there but by the fact that Gregor must work a job that he obviously despises in order for her to possibly pursue her musical career. However, when she is forced to take on a job to take care of Gregor after his transformation, the effect of being forced to work a job does not lower her status but establishes her as a caretaker.
Through out the story Kafka uses Grete’s role of caretaker as a way to prove that she is above Gregor in most if not every way; both of their parents refuse to take care of him out of disgust. On a daily basis Grete, out of sympathy, leaves food for Gregor in his room. Though this may be a simple act of feeding someone who is unable to sustain themselves this proves that Grete is Gregor’s life line and that he is solely dependant on his younger sibling.
Despite how thankful Gregor may be for his sister’s care he is forced to hide under a couch every time his sister comes to feed him out of his own embarrassment. Though his room in the apartment may be Gregor’s space, Grete’s daily visits don’t only serve as a way of her showing concern but establishing her dominance by constantly coming into a space of which Gregor has an unofficial claim. The invasion of space is also depicted through Grete’s decision to move furniture out of his room on the count that he does not need them. Objects within a space are just as important as the spaces that they occupy and the act of taking furniture away from Gregor’s room is synonymous with Grete taking away him as a person.
As the plot of the story moves on Grete, along with her parents, begin to resent Gregor because of the situation he has put them in. After hearing her play her violin for new tenants his family has taken in, Gregor is moved and decides to visit the dining room where she is located. The tenants are frightened and want to leave which in turn set off a fit from Grete causing her to admit that if he really were himself that Gregor would not put his family through what they have had to deal with. She then decides that Gregor is not worth taking care of anymore. This point of the story not only proves her dominance but the fact that Gregor is completely at Grete’s mercy.
Through Kafka’s writing of The Metamorphosis we see a massive amount of our self worth is determined by the space we live in and what those around us think. Gregor being confined to his room shows how little he is appreciated. Through his sister’s eyes, Gregor is established as someone who is worth enough to take care of but as she grows to resent him, becomes someone who is absolutely worthless.


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