Sep 03 2016

This quote is very relatable

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I found that this quote from Extremely Loud really spoke to me. It’s very easy for me to relate.

“Every time I left the apartment to go searching for the lock, I became a little lighter, because I was getting closer to Dad. But I also became a little heavier, because I was getting farther from Mom.”

In a very general sense, I feel that everyone can relate to this quote in some way. There are many situations in which you must sacrifice one thing that makes you happy for something else that may be important to you. I relate to this quote in a fairly literal sense. Because as I try to preserve my relationship with my father, who is rarely home, I tend to choose sides between my parents. I often side with him which causes me to become distant from my mother, so Oskar’s relationship with his mother is very relatable. Does anyone else share a situation similar to this?

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Sep 01 2016

Oskar’s PTSD

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In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close it seems clear that Oskar’s actions reflecting fear are more than just fear. I believe that in the book Oskar suffers from PTSD after the tragic accident of his father’s death. It is a common misconception that only war veterans and people that have had direct experience with a tragic accident can suffer from PTSD. This is not true, and throughout the book Oskar shows many major signs of having PTSD just as much as any soldier could. His symptoms of a stress reaction due to a traumatic event last much longer than normal (over three months is typically abnormal) and causes him great distress. One of the major symptoms that Oskar has is repeatedly reliving the traumatic event. This happens to him in multiple ways. One is having nightmares, which Oskar describes towards the beginning of the book. Another is having flashbacks, which seem to be the most common for him to have. Throughout the narrative he relives the phone-messages from his father (a key part of his traumatic event) many times, whether in their entirety or in random bits and pieces. Another major symptom would be avoiding situations that remind the sufferer of the event. Some people might argue that Oskar’s quest with the key would be the opposite of avoiding the event, but keep in mind that the key reminds him of the happy memories he shared with his father before his death, and his mission helps him cope. There are certain ways in which he does this including completely avoiding public transport, fearing Muslims, fearing bridges, and many other things that little boys in New York City typically aren’t afraid of. The final symptom that Oskar shows is his negative changes in regards to relationships. Throughout the book Oskar points out many times how he and his mother have grown apart since his father’s death. Many of the scenes in which they interact they always end up fighting, with Oskar snapping and/or antagonizing his mother. He is also more distant from his grandmother, although they are still very close. When they talk Oskar typically wants to bring up his father instead of anything else.

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Sep 01 2016

Margaret’s Masculinity

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Margaret Macomber uses her sexuality and masculinity to control Francis Macomber and their marriage. As described by Hemingway, they are essentially trapped together: Margaret can’t leave because of his money, and Francis can’t leave because of her beauty. Because of this, Margaret attempts to cope, taking great joy in mentally and emotionally manipulating Francis, humiliating him, denying him the dominant role in their relationship, and having sexual relations with multiple other men. The only reason Francis tries to be brave when hunting the lion and the buffalo is not to impress Margaret, but to turn the tables on her. For what seems to be the majority of their marriage Margaret has played the masculine role, and it’s obvious that Francis has trouble controlling her. Toward the end of the story, when Francis kills the buffalo, there was a clear change: “Macomber’s face was shining. ‘You know, something did happen to me,’ he said, ‘I feel absolutely different.’” The power had finally shifted to Francis, as was clear by Margaret’s reaction to his confidence. She seemed to shrink, remaining in the corner of the car, acting like a petulant child rather than the strong woman she normally appears to be. This is obviously why Margaret shoots her husband. She was losing her power quickly, and so she ended him. It was no accident that she killed him.

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Sep 01 2016

Is it Really a Man’s World?

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On the surface, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, seems to purely focus on the oppression of women in it’s fictional society. But upon delving deeper into the story, it’s obvious that not only are the women oppressed by the right-wing extremists of the novel, so are the men. Although the men are better off, as explained by the commander in one of the later chapters of the book, they are still deprived of choice, true emotion, love, and freedom. Atwood tends to describe male characters that are close to Offred in a more compassionate and sympathetic light as compared to other, unfamiliar men. It gives a more realistic and in-depth idea of what the men suffer in this society; it’s a double-edged sword. The commander is lonely, Nick seeks love and understanding, Luke has lost his family and is likely dead. While these men cling to their problems, they must also go through their daily life and perform their jobs in order to remain invisible in Gilead. When analyzing these characters, it’s clear that Atwood wanted to bring forth not only the societal issues of women, but of men as well. She brings the issue of men being denied true emotional freedom (in fear of being seen weak or effeminate) through her male characters in many scenes of the book.

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Sep 01 2016

Who is Right in The Handmaid’s Tale?

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Not only does Atwood depict the Republic of Gilead as being caused by the advancements of right-wing extremists, she tends to put blame on others as well. Specifically some of the more…over zealous feminists of an earlier age, before Gilead. She personifies extreme feminist ideas through the actions of Offred’s mother in older times, such as wanting to completely ban pornography, and committing the act of “man-hating”. As a character in this novel, Offred’s mother plays a role in forewarning the reader of the backlash that can result from pushing your ideas to the extreme. Like in my last post about The Handmaid’s Tale, this is a double-edged sword. While Atwood tends to place most of the blame on right-wingers and (typically) men, she isn’t ignorant. She knows that trying to push the feminist agenda in an extremely negative or violent fashion will only result in women taking a step backward, such as in the fictional society of Gilead. And so she makes an example of Offred’s mother, the feminist she never wanted to be (nor see anyone else be). I find this idea to be important, not only in regards to the issues of women’s rights in society, but any other rights being fought for or against. If your are truly observant in regards to our society, you will realize that there is no way to be fully correct in regards to civil rights, nor is there any way to be fully incorrect. Every issue is a spectrum, and within our society what’s right and wrong is constantly changing.

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Aug 31 2016

Short Happy Life

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Ernest Hemingway emphasized masculinity and a part of what makes a man a “man” in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. Hemingway did this through immersing the readers into a safari in the “Darkest Africa” where Macomber is overcoming fear in hunting. Hunting can be a normal practice, but when exotic animals are involved it feels more wrong. Regardless of morality, it gives the opportunity to show sportsmanship and courage with lions, rifles, and bromance, oh my! Hemingway shows the theme of masculinity not only directly, but through contrasting it with femininity and cowardice. I thought it was interesting that Hemingway told the story through several points of view, emphasizing the feelings of others. He mentioned several times that Macomber was unaware of how others were feeling: the lion’s alertness, Wilson’s aggression, and Margot’s disinterest.

I don’t like the way Hemingway portrays women or the relationship in this short story, but it provided a real conflict that fit with the story. Margot built a case for herself throughout the short story where she could kill Macomber, but it still doesn’t seem right. If Margot knew she wouldn’t leave him, would that mean she could kill him, or that she wouldn’t? The buffalo was about to kill Macomber, so if she didn’t shoot he still would’ve died, which makes me believe she shot to kill the buffalo. His happiness only begun shortly before his death, after he shot three buffalo and had “no bloody fear.”

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Aug 31 2016

Red

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The Handmaid’s Tale

  • color of the Handmaids’ cloaks, takes power away from them
  • associated with shame, ripeness, and fertility
  • used to describe blood, the life force that courses through the body

 

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

“Drink,” said Wilson.

“I don‟t think so,” she said. “Francis drinks a great deal, but his face is never red.”

“It‟s red today,” Macomber tried a joke.

“No,” said Margaret. “It‟s mine that‟s red today. But Mr. Wilson‟s is always red.

(Wilson’s face – sunburnt, Francis’s face – embarrassment, Margaret’s face – shame.)

 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The letter from Oskar’s grandfather to Oskar’s father contains red markings. There is a mix of grammatical and punctuation errors being circled, but there are also keywords and phrases circled. The red could symbolize mistakes/errors, like how Oskar’s father circled the NY Times in red. Possibly, it progresses into passion, heat, and emotion. Also, the “Black” was written in red pen.

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Aug 31 2016

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

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Did Wilson feel any attachment to either Francis and Margot? Is his sarcasm a defense mechanism or does he not care at all?

“That was a pretty thing to do,” he said in a toneless voice. “He would have left you too.”

“Why didn’t you poison him? That’s what they do in England.”

Wilson shows no emotion and does not seem the least bit in shock, why? He goes along with the Macomber’s shenanigans, never having to deal with any repercussions. Francis conquered his fear and is immediately killed by his own wife, but Wilson gets to continue life, sleeping with the wives of rich men and illegally hunting buffalos from cars. After the unfortunate events, Wilson is left completely unscathed.

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Aug 31 2016

Francis Macomber Thoughts

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This was my favorite read of all the assignments, mainly because of it’s length overall. In reality, I can’t pick a favorite. Nonetheless, this short read made me think right from the start. Such thoughts can be read below. As always feel free to leave comments on your thoughts. 🙂

My first overwhelming thought was the marital issues that presented themselves. ‘I’ll have a gimlet too. I need something,’ Macomber’s wife said” (Hemingway). The social use of alcohol is one thing, but in context it seems as though Macomber’s wife is trying to numb the situation. She appears to be fed up with the situation, almost like a child being dragged out of bed early. “She did not speak to him when he came in and he left the tent at once to wash his face and hands in the wash basin outside…” (Hemingway). What can clearly be seen is the avoidance between the two of them. I wish there was background to all of this, or a fight they may have had, alas there are no further clues. I wonder if Francis did something she didn’t agree with, or try to impede on his masculine affairs. Along with the marital side of things, the Wilson’s are equally puzzling. I found that Margaret is quite controlling of situations. She repeatedly tells Mr. Wilson to put his hat on and yet he still is contradictory in his remarks. Now I’m not sure of the families present in the story, I found them confusing. If someone could clear that up, I’d be most appreciative.

Slavery is touched upon in some aspects of the story. Talks of slavery always anger me, because due to the time of this story, the white man tries to justify his actions. Despite the degradation and horrible sides of slavery, both of the men continuously remark on the good side to slavery. It seems as though they begin to empathize with the slave, but it turns out to be just a jibe. “”Not strange, really,” Wilson said. “Which would you rather do? Take a good birching or lose your pay?” (Hemingway). At first one would think they are trying to empathize with a slave but it’s just a form of understanding those who are different. They use means such as this to connect thought processes to actions.

While this was just a glimpse of what I had written notes on, it gives a good idea as to the way I thought while reading.

 

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Aug 31 2016

EL &IC continued..

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In finishing the book, a whole slew of thoughts popped into my head. As per the last post I made, I decided to follow suit in just listing some of those thoughts. Let me know what you think. 🙂

1.) Beatles Reference: I know I’ve talked about this before, but the Eleanor Rigby reference on page 163, with the context just hit me. It made me a little sad in a way too. “My boots were so heavy that I was glad there was a column underneath us. How could such a lonely person have been living so close to me my whole life? If I had known, I would have gone up to keep him company.” It makes me sad because Oskar is willing to give up his time and put himself aside to make another less lonely. Oskar too is lonely and sad but he has no one to make him feel better.

2.) Stephen Hawking’s letters: On page 200 is where I start to really notice this occurrence, but it seems that Stephen Hawking is another rock for Oskar to hold onto. From this page on, anytime there is a super stressful event or Oskar has heavy boots, the letter will appear. It’s interesting because after he gets closure from helping the other man, thus finding where the key goes, the letters don’t mean as much. Stephen Hawking being Oskar’s aspirations also paints an image of two debilitated people. Oskar has to deal with such a crushing blow to his emotional self, thus breaking him down. Stephen Hawking, while he can never truly recover, finds hope in younger generations of scientists in the world. The two of them need each other, and that made me quite happy that two very different people can come together.

3.) The use of eyes: The grandmother uses her eyes to communicate with the grandfather, but towards the end of the book, eyes are used as a connection to Oskar and the 9-11 terrorist. Eyes can tell you so much about a person, pain, hunger, sadness, happiness, regret, etc. I wonder what the terrorists eyes would show? “I hate you my eyes would tell him. I hate you, his eyes would tell me” (244). I personally see the hatred, but also wonder the other end of the story. Oskar hates the terrorist, and frankly who wouldn’t, but what happened before all the attacks? I’d imagine that most people would want to know just the same.

4.) Quotes that struck me:

“Everything that’s born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers” (245).  I don’t think out of context this would make sense, but the book makes it. To show the fragility of life in a single quote, yet correlating back to the attacks made the quote perfect. It was placed at a rather needed time too, when Oskar is up in the Empire State Building, he is seeing the beauty and vastness of the New York he has been exploring. Oskar needed to go up to that building to come to terms with it all, and truly see what he has been doing.

“…that song, in his voice I heard my own voice, and my father’s and my grandfather’s, and it was the first time I’d heard your voice” (276). You know the sappy family portrait that people occasionally get? Well in reading this quite, that’s what I saw in my brain. I thought it was quite awesome that the author wrote this.

“And how can you say I love you to someone you love?” (314). The accuracy of this quote is beyond words. It’s the truth though, how do you truly express love? Especially if you are in love or infatuated with someone. There really is no way to show or say how much you love something.

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