Aug 21 2019

Post #3 for Jonah F.: EL&IC

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This book was a very well written book, but at times, confusing and difficult to follow. However many themes were prominent, such as the idea of death and how it drives us. For some, death drives us together, while for others, it drives us apart. It also focuses on the power of a family, especially in times of tragedy. Also the focus on descriptive language, is very apparent. Even the tile, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, uses strong words that are seen multiple times throughout the novel.

And then a thought came into my brain that wasn’t like the other thoughts. It was closer to me, and louder. I didn’t know where it came from, or what it meant, or if I loved it or hated it. It opened up like a fist, or a flower. What about digging up Dad’s empty coffin(pg. 259)?”

The title can be seen in this somewhat randomly placed quote, but it is defining for Oskar!

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Aug 21 2019

Post #2 for Jonah F.: The Handmaid’s Tale

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I also read The Handmaid’s Tale, and I enjoyed the novel, but there are many things I found quite odd. I believe the novel, in some points, lacked emotional touch like what occurred in The Scarlet Letter. They both have many similarities such as dystopian style literature, the focus on a woman and her independence and drifting away from the societal norms. One major thing this novel focuses on is the need for women  in power. With men, Margrett Atwood basically states that the government will go hopelessly sideways, while also focusing on the need of identity. 

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Aug 21 2019

Post #1 for Jonah F.: Frankenstein

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Last year, I did not take Honors English 11m I took AP Language which did not require Frankenstein as a novel. So I read it this summer and I absolutely loved it! I went to a leadership worldview conference in PIttsburgh with my brother Evan and my best friend Ian, and it is a camp on Worldview and Leadership. One of the lectures was by a guy named J.F. Baldwin who talks about the difference in Monster’s- Frankenstein’s monster and Jekyll and Hyde. The idea is Frankenstein’s monster is only evil because society as portrayed and made him this way; if society would have accepted and loved it, the monster would not have killed anyone. While the Jekyll and Hyde monster says that there is evil in everyone, no matter how saintly you appear. This was before I had finished Frankenstein as a novel but this struck me at how culturally, people believe society makes them do evil or wrong, and are able to push the evil they do on circumstance, and not human condition.

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Aug 20 2019

The Underground Railroad – Cora’s Garden

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Of the parts of the story I enjoyed the most, Cora’s story of her garden was the one that I enjoyed the most and was instrumental to understanding her character and position in the story. Cora, who was still very young at the time, fought to keep the small land Ajarry and Mabel claimed. She stood her ground against her fellow slaves despite them being in a greater position of power than her, which led the other slaves to leave her plot of land alone despite their attempts to seize it for themselves, such as Ava and Blake. The two tried to take the land in different ways: one through manipulation and the other through force. Ava had Cora moved to Hob over it, but in spite of her move, Cora maintained her claim on her garden. Blake, an intimidating man, uprooted Cora’s plants and built a doghouse upon it, which Cora hacked to bits. Despite being the stronger of the two, Blake backed down and sought revenge, yet he and the others didn’t bother her garden again. This goes to show that Cora, much like her grandmother, was someone not to be trifled with and acted upon what she believed, such as Cora defending Chester or Ajarry defending her plot of land and not believing it was worth it to run. This builds upon the opening where Cora declined Caesar’s offer, where it was described as “her grandmother talking.” However, Cora later accepted the offer, where it was described as “her mother talking” since Mabel was the only slave to successfully escape the plantation prior to the beginning of the story. This builds upon Cora’s character, where she has been shown to be similar to her mother and grandmother, along with the development of her character, where she initially did not want to try and escape the plantation, much like her grandmother, to running away from the plantation, like her mother. She was also shown to once be more similar to her mother upon leaving the plantation, where Mabel was described to have been a Hob woman before it was a term, much like how Cora had been exiled to Hob over politics among the slaves and had to fight for her plot of land, unlike Ajarry whose claim was respected.

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Aug 20 2019

The Handmaid’s Tale Historical Notes

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At the end of The Handmaid’s Tale was an additional chapter titled Historical Notes, which I found to be an interesting resolution. Unlike the previous chapters, the Historical Notes takes the form of a transcript of an event that occurs further in the future that is about the story of a Handmaid found on cassette tapes. The people in this future are trying to understand and interpret the meaning of the recordings they found and addressing the difficulties of trying to find answers to such an account, along with understanding the society the Handmaid lived in. I find this chapter to be a realistic resolution to the story of the narrator, such as the discussion of her ultimate fate, which is only speculation. This parallels the narrator’s various ideas of Luke’s fate, where now the narrator is the one who has vanished, with only speculation remaining as the only way to determine her fate. The transcript also provides explanations for various actions and events of the Gileadan government, such as the role of Aunts, the fate of at least one ship of Jews, the end of the society, and many other important parts of the story that are glossed over or not discussed by the narrator but complement and supplement what the reader already knows. The Historical Notes allows for worldbuilding that deepens the reader’s understanding of Gileadan society and what led to the radical change from what was once he United States to the state it was in during the story. Overall, it was one of the chapters that I liked the most since it provided explanations that were impossible for the narrator to know of and further build upon what she did know so that the reader could come to a better understanding of the novel and its characters as a whole.

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Aug 20 2019

The Handmaid’s Tale and Though the Looking-Glass

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Throughout The Handmaid’s Tale there were many references to flowers in various forms, however, I had also noticed a few references to cards, such as “tableau” to describe the standing women during the first Ceremony recounted by the narrator and “solitaire”, a type of individual card game, which the narrator used to describe herself at one point. This, along with other game references reminded me of Lewis Carol’s Through The Looking-Glass, where flowers were personified and could speak and there was also a card suit theme with some characters. The way Alice was essentially lost in a different world until the end of the book, where she awoke, resembles how the narrator of The Handmaid’s Tale wound up in a strange new world, reminiscent of the world she was in before until she eventually made her way out (as in her escape from the house she lived in at the time), as the Historical Notes section implies. The chaos of the Women’s Salvaging is also similar to the chaotic questioning the Red and White Queen subject Alice to at the end of the novel. Overall, Through the Looking-Glass could have been an influence for some of the events and details of the novel, such as the recurring card references that are sporadically used combined with the ever present floral theme and the references to other games.

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Aug 20 2019

Oskar -Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

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Something that really intrigued me in the book was the Oskar’s intelligence and his ideas on religion. Oskar says in the beginning that he is an atheist. One of my favorite quotes was on page 86, Oskar is talking to his father about the purpose of life in this huge universe and once his father explains it to him, Oskar responds, “‘I’m God!'” to which his father says, “‘You’re an atheist.'” Oskar says, “‘I don’t exist!'” And they laugh. Towards the very end of the book, on page 324, Oskar says, “I don’t believe in God, but I believe that things are extremely complicated,” It is clear from the beginning of the novel and just becomes clearer throughout reading that Oskar is extremely intelligent and mature beyond his years. Oskar has thoughts and views on life that most 9 year olds don’t have. It makes me wonder if Oskar has some type of high-functioning autism or Aspergers or something of the sort, I have read other people speculate this as well. Either way, he is an extremely thought-provoking and fun character to read about.

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Aug 20 2019

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Evie

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This was my favorite out of the two books that I’ve read. I’ve always felt distant from 9/11 – probably because I was born after it happened, but even going over it in school didn’t make me feel like this book felt. Jonathan Foer connects the reader to the event through a child’s perspective- innocent and pure of heart. The multiple story lines allow for different points of the plot be revealed at different times throughout the novel, making the book easy to read. There  were also many life lessons repeated throughout the book- not wasting time, live with purpose, speak your mind, etc. I appreciate this book, and the different perspectives throughout it.

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Aug 20 2019

A Combined Analysis

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In both The Handmaid’s Tale and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the narrations contain scattered thoughts that demonstrate the feelings and emotions of the narraters, while also uncovering the storyline. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred’s flashbacks and dreams reveal the process that the Gilead regime undertook in order to get to the current point in time. She is also extremely descriptive, which allows for the reader to relate to her emotions and feel like they are experiencing events along with her. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Oskar’s narration truly lets the reader experience what it is like to be inside the mind of a young boy who has experienced intense trauma. However, Oskar’s scatter-brained thoughts developed his character, which changes the storyline from a sob-story about a boy who lost his dad, to an insightful journal from a unique young boy who just so happens to be coping with intense emotional trauma. This unique narration method used by both authors actually intrigued me while I was reading and improved my understanding of the characters.

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Aug 19 2019

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Novel Format

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a compilation of letters, journal entries, pictures, and narration from Oskar that all work together to establish a storyline. However, I couldn’t quite discover exactly how all of the documents included developed a consistent theme. For example, Oskar’s grandparents’ story was included through letters, but I wasn’t able to draw a connection between their story and Oskar coping with his father’s tragic death. I did appreciate the scatter-brained narration from Oskar, though. I truly felt as though I was inside the mind of a young boy who was experiencing mental trauma. The discussions he had with himself painted his personality and allowed for me understand his perspective throughout the novel. This character development seemed the be the main focus of the novel for me solely due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out what exactly the author wanted me to do with the various documents and storylines. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else though the main idea of this novel was and maybe together we can figure out how the intertwined storylines and documents all contribute to a single theme.

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