American Novels Influences
Eileen Chang’s Literary Works and Their Influences Research Paper
Updated: Nov 5th, 2020
Eileen Chang is a prominent figure in the Chinese literary world of the 1940s. Chinese literature encompasses a wide range of literary theories and genres associated with many cultural factors. However, Chinese literature traditionally has been male-dominated and the voice of the Chinese women writers was marginalized. However, Eileen Chang is one of the few female authors who have successfully made a mark in the male-dominated Chinese literary circle. Her work transgressed all the traditional literary boundaries and created a new literary style, distinct from the classical technique.
Her familial heritage and residence in a cosmopolitan city enabled her to express her feelings more openly, which others found exceedingly difficult in other parts of the parochial country. Moreover, her distinctive personal observation and understanding about life, society, culture, and politics created a unique ensemble in her stories that the writers of her time were unable to capture. Her presence in the Chinese literary circle has created a separate space for women writers as well as made space for new literary ideas. Her writings show the modern life of Shanghai and how modern western ideals clashed with traditional Chinese values to create a unique culture. Therefore, the aim of the essay is to discuss the characteristic of Eileen Chang’s literary writings and the significant influences, which her literary writings bring to contemporary literature.
Significance of Eileen Chang’s Literary Works
Eileen Chang’s work assumes a significant place in Chinese literature. For decades, literary critics were unsure as to where her works should be placed. They were uncertain about its genre and technique as well as the themes. More importantly, they were unsure as to where her works could be placed in the historical literary process of Chinese literature. Her work is significant as it reverberates a new form of reality that the Chinese literature did not exploit. For instance, in modern Chinese literature, there are varied ideas about the definition of an ordinary man. Some believe that the literature of the ordinary man should comprise of an unadorned and pure story of the life of the common people as opposed to that of the nobility.
Thus, there should always be an element of morality and existence in stories dealing with the ordinary man. Then the proliferation of the communist literature in the 1920s gave birth to a distinct class identity known as the common or the ordinary people. Broadly, Chinese literature has defined common man opposite to the hero or the superhero. However, Eileen Chang completely altered this idea of the ordinary people in her literary works. From her point of view, the definition of “common man” was not based on the character’s social, political, or economic background as was prevalent in traditional Chinese literature. On the contrary, she believed that the best way to create the character of an ordinary man was by describing their personality, spiritual inclination, and lifestyle choices.1
Chang’s characters are not heroes. They are not extreme or have no tragedy. They are simply the common people living through mundane modern life. The absence of any tragic or comic focus ends the possibility of completion. Her characters are not tragic. They are desolate and it is in their desolation they gain a revelation. Her characters are “ordinary, weak people without the strength of heroes” and she believes it is these ordinary people who are better in “representing the totality of this era”.2 In her anthology of essays, Eileen Chang defines the term ordinary people as she has used it. These characters are not morally upright or faultless. On the contrary, they are wicked and weak, hideous, and meek. Thus, her characters are more real and human than her predecessors as she created people who bear the burden of the era instead of those who fight and do something great.
Chang’s idea of human existence in modern times also digresses from that of her predecessors. She believes that we live in a disorderly world. Even though her characters live in a historical era, their existence depends on the memories of the past that assist in identity creation.3 However, there arises a discord between the memory and the reality that creates the disharmony of modern life. Thus, her concentration, as opposed to her predecessors, is in the trivialities of life that presents no serious consequence to society but molds the way the common man lives.
Eileen Chang’s work is significant as she made the characters more realistic. The mingling of individual characteristics, with the dawn of modern life, and the rise of the necessity to exist rises above thematic representation of the text. She believes literary works with a specific and broad theme are less successful as literary works when compared to those with no significant theme but a strong story with human characters.4
Characteristics of Chang’s Works
Eileen Chang did not adhere to the conventional storytelling formula of setting a theme and developing characters and plots based on the theme. The question that now arises is what are the characteristics of her writing.
The three main characteristics of Chang’s fictional writings are a distinct feminist characteristic, the use of uneven contrast as a literary style, and aestheticism.
Distinct Feminist Characteristics
Eileen Chang’s literary writings differ from traditional Chinese literary works written mostly from a male perspective. Her early realization of the difference between the two genders instilled in her a desire to surpass her male counterparts in intellect.5 Chang’s writings introduce female voice and perspective, creating space for the subverted feminine voice in both Chinese society and literature.6 Though the distinctive feminist aspect is abundantly clear in her writing, Eileen Chang, unlike other feminist writers, does not conform to revolutionary feminism. She showed the pain of the upper-class and middle-class women who suffered loneliness and desired companionship.7 Her female characters are entrapped and depressed.8 Her high-modernist style is an outspoken criticism of the idealist social structure imposed on the citizens of new China in the 1930s and 1940s. In her work, she shows the damaging effect of Chinese modernity on the female body and psyche.9
Chang in her essay “My Writing” states, “I like writing that uses uneven contrasts because it is close to reality”.10 She claims that this style of writing is better than direct contrast as she felt modern life could not be replicated using the classic model of absolute opposites. It is believed that uneven contrast had been a predominant stylistic character of Chang writings. She, like most modern writers, is concerned not only about the fictional representation but also about representation itself. In this particular literary style, Chang brings forth the memories of the past in her writings. Her intention is to create a disruptive reality that interrupts the monologue of mundane, nondescript modern life. The deep-rooted influence of the historical, social, and political upheaval in China during the forties shaped her writing sensibilities that searched for the meaning of societal and cultural realities. Moreover, her cosmopolitan upbringing in Shanghai and a broken family left a deep sadness in her that subsequently affected her literary style. Her situation in life made her realize that life can never be a conglomeration of absolute emotions. She broke away from the traditional literary style to represent the modern Chinese experiences in her work.
Aestheticism / Romantic Style
Chang’s writings are usually romantic with a subtle presence of melodrama. However, the style can hardly be called romantic.11 Her fictions talk of love and romance between man and woman, and how their fate meets a “(non)romantic” end due to the socio-political affair of the country.12 In her literary works, Chang uses graceful words, unique metaphor, and meticulous psychological depiction and vivid description of the characters set in modern Chinese cities.13 She joins modern elements of a novel with that of the romance that is antithetical. Therefore, her novels are both realistic as well as romantic.14 In a way, they seem anachronistic as the characters are modern but their society and ideals are set in the past. The presence of romance in her writings antithetically stands out against the traditional romantic style. The elements of romanticism are intelligently utilized in her fiction to create a uniquely modern style.
Eileen Chang’s style presents a departure from the traditional Chinese literary tradition. Her writings presented a uniquely feminine perspective of the patriarchal Chinese society. Her fictions are both realistic as well as romantic and that is due to her use of uneven contrast and distinct literary aesthetics. These features make Chang’s work both distinct and irreplaceable.
Chang, Eileen. “My Writing.” Modern Chinese Literary Thought: Writings on Literature 1893-1945, edited by Kirk Denton, Stanford University Press, 2005, pp. 436-442.
Leng, Rachel. “Eileen Chang’s Feminine Chinese Modernity: Dysfunctional Marriages, Hysterical Women, and the Primordial Eugenic Threat.” Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies, vol. 2, no. 3, 2014, pp. 13-34.
Liu, Joyce Chi-Hui. “Filmic Transposition of the Roses: Stanley Kwan’s Feminine Response to Eileen Chnag’e Women.” Feminism/Femininity in Chinese Literature, edited by Peng-hsiang Chen and Whitney Crothers Dilley, Rodopi, 2002, pp. 145-158.
Sang, Tze-lan. “Romancing Rhetoricity and History.” Eileen Chang: Romancing Languages, Cultures and Genres, edited by Kam Louie, Hong Kong University Press, 2012, pp. 193-214.
Wang, Xiaoping. “Eileen Chang’s Cross-Cultural Writing and Rewriting in Love in a Fallen City.” Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 49, no. 4, 2012, pp. 565-584.
Yang, Bin. “Under and Beyond the Pen of Eileen Chang: Shanghai, Nanyang, Huaqiao, and Greater China.” Frontiers of History in China, vol. 11, no. 3, 2016, pp. 458–484.
Zhang, Ailing. Written on Water. Columbia University Press, 2005.
Zoren, Zhou. “Women and Literature.” Modern Chinese Literary Thought: Writings on Literature, 1893-1945, edited by Kirk A Denton, Stanford University Press, 1996, pp. 228-232.
- See Yang, especially page 471 for a clear understanding of Eileen Chang’s literary style.
- See Chang, especially her ideas about writing and what she wanted to write about. The quotation is taken from page 438 of Chang’s essay “My Writing”.
- See Chang, page 438 for a detailed discussion of her worldview.
- See Chang, especially page 440 about her belief in literary writing.
- See Zang, especially page 150 to understand the feminist aspect of Eileen Chang’s works.
- See Zoren, especially pages 228 to 231 to get a clear view of the subversion of Chinese women and its reflection in Chinese literature.
- See Zang, page 165.
- See Liu, especially page 165 for a detailed discussion on Chang’s female characters.
- See Leng, especially page 32 to understand how social structure altered Chinese identity post 1930s.
- See Chang, page 437.
- See Wang, page 18 to 20 for a discussion on the romantic theme in Chang’s writings.
- See Wang, page 18.
- See Yang, page 474 for a brief understanding of how Chang’s characters opposed traditional romantic ideals.
- See Sang, page 192 for a clear understanding of how Chang’s writings were both realistic as well as romantic.
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In Search for the True Meaning of This Land Is Your Land: What the Present-Day Americans Fail to Understand Essay
Updated: Aug 26th, 2019
As inspiring and honest as they were, the songs that Guthrie sang were a product of its era. This Land Is Your Land appealed to the American citizens that needed cooperation in order to stay calm and united in the heat of the fight.
Since modern U.S. citizens are unable to re-live the experience of the infamous Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, they cannot possibly embrace the ideas of loss and despair communicated in such lines as “A sign was painted said: Private Property/But on the back side it didn’t say nothing” (Guthrie para. 4).
When it comes to thinking what exactly modern American people fail to understand in Guthrie’s song, the weirdest thing is that Woody is much more famous now than he used to be in the era of the Great Depression, yet his present-day fans cannot quite put their finger on why exactly the song has gained such recognition and what makes it stand out of the range of songs concerning similar issues.
The fact that Woody was the first to write a song about the desperate state of the people trapped in the Great Depression does not seem to be the determinant in Guthrie’s case – a number of songs written to mark a particular historic event vanished without a trace, while their descendants appeared to be much more successful. Perhaps, there is more to the lyrics of the song than meets the eye.
One of the element that sets the song apart from not only the rest of Woody’s songs but also from the rest of the songs regarding the phenomenon of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, is its tendency to embrace the life of the entire United States; as if willing to take a family picture to cement the phenomenon of the Great Depression in people’s minds, Woody sang, “From California to the New York Island,/from the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters,/This land was made for you and me” (Guthrie para. 1).
The space that Woody embraces in his song gives a very tempting opportunity to read numerous innuendoes into the given excerpt, starting from the idea of togetherness, up to Woody’s concept of Communism as the principle of sharing at the time of nationwide trouble. In fact, a number of present-day critics interpret the given line as Guthrie’s call for people to join the ranks of Communists in order to fight the Great Depression.
The given interpretation is quite common for the present-day critics of Guthrie’s works; moreover, the discussion of the Socialist implications in the song often escalates to voicing the suspicions about Guthrie trying to spread Communist propaganda in the USA.
Considering This Land Is Your Land a tribute to the Communist ideas, however, would be quite a stretch. Instead, it would be more reasonable to view the song through the lens of a typical dweller of American South, who lost all possessions and was in desperate need for help. The people who were at the brink of going insane because of losing everything that they had did not need another blues song.
Instead, they wanted to hear about the Promised Land, where they could find a shelter from all their troubles – the place where the mere concept of property could be disregarded for the sake of feeling secure once again: “And on the sig it said ‘No Trespassing’,/But on the other side it didn’t say nothing” (Guthrie para. 5).
Therefore, the problem with understanding the meaning of Guthrie’s song is not that the people of the USA of the XXI century have no idea about the Great depression, but that people are trying to read into Guthrie’s song something that was never meant to be there.
“This land was made for you and me” is not a call for people accepting the Communist ideas readily – it is a reproach to the state authorities, which led the U.S. to the state of the Great Depression, throwing it into the Dust Bowl and leaving millions of people without anything to eat, anywhere to sleep and anyone to ask for help: “As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,/Is this land made for you and me?” (Guthrie para. 6).
The song is a call for freedom and happiness, which many people can relate to today, yet, weirdly enough, link to the Communist ideas.
Although the song might seem unnecessarily upbeat for the present-day American people to represent such a dark and morbid page in the history of the USAA as the great depression, one must admit that the merits of the song, as well as the elements of originality in it, clearly shine through. More to the point, the song serves as a reminder of the lessons learned in the course of the state history.
Unless people remember the lessons that history has taught them, they are doomed to repeating the same mistakes again and again, which means that modern U.S. citizens should, probably, look into Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land.
Guthrie, Woody (Singer and songwriter). This Land Is Your Land. 1940. Web.
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Samuel Beckett, Endgame Essay
Updated: Jul 5th, 2019
Samuel Beckett wrote the play by the name Endgame in the year 1958. The play centers on the effects of apocalyptic disaster on Hamm’s family (Beckett 713). In the play, Hamm, Clov, Nagg, and Nell are trapped in single room. Having been trapped, the four characters are forced to carry on with their everyday chores. Notably, the survival of the four individuals depends on their ability to work together.
Based on the events that unfold in the play, Endgame can be interpreted pessimistically and optimistically. In this regard, this article seeks to analyze the probable reasons for such opposing reactions. The play begins with a pessimistic tone (Beckett 713). Despite being daytime, the room is lit with minimal light. The windows are depicted as being small and elevated.
Equally, the picture hanged on the wall is not visible. The author points out that the sheets covering the ashbins are old. The phrase emphasizing on the age of the sheets is repeated to reinforce a negative attitude about the room. In general, the pictures depicted on the first scene make the play pessimistic.
Equally, the sense of pessimistic future is depicted through the author’s use of clocks. The author uses sunset as a natural clock. Sunset indicates the end of 12-hour period. In the play, the sun does not fall and emits gray radiations. Usually, the rising and falling of the sun indicates hope and renewal of continuous cycle. However, in the play the sun does not fall representing the destruction of hope in the future.
As the play progresses, the author enhances the play’s pessimistic tone when Hamm asks Clov to terminate his life to end his sufferings (Beckett 720). Hamm considers himself useless because of his state and does not see any reason for him being alive. He relates how he has been poor in the past to the extent that he walked barefoot. As Clov is about to leave for the Kitchen, Hamm expresses his disappointment with Clov for leaving him.
He warns Clov that if she leaves him, she would not manage to survive on her own. As illustrated above, the play can be interpreted as pessimistic but a closer examination of the play reveals that it is optimistic. Throughout the play, no one is satisfied about his or her situation. Nell and Nagg regard their precedent time as happy lives, while Hamm longs for the day he will be able to see again.
Clov is optimistic that one day he will begin a new life in a place far away from Hamm’s home. This illustrates that even though the characters are suffering, there are optimistic about their future. Similarly, the author expresses optimism when Hamm asks Clov to forgive him for subjecting him to torture. At this moment, Beckett illustrates a relieved Hamm who had earlier been harsh to Clov.
When Hamm sees movement in Clov’s legs, he becomes optimistic that Clov will one day be able to move despite their miserable conditions. In the same scene, Hamm requests for his painkillers twice with hope that the drugs would reduce his pains. The story of the tailor narrated by Nagg depicted the Englishman as optimistic. The tailor made a promise to his customer that he would make him a pair of trousers in four days’ time.
After the four days elapsed, the customer came for the pair of trousers as prompted earlier. On his arrival, he was disappointed because the tailor had not fulfilled his promise. The tailor apologized for the inconveniences and promised that he would be through with the task in the next few days. This went on for three months as the man kept showing up regularly.
Although, the Englishman was disappointed with the tailor, he was optimistic each time he went to confirm on the completion of his pair of trousers. Nagg tells Nell the story to keep her optimistic that one day, just like the Englishman, their suffering would end. Finally, the author enhances the theme of optimism in the final scene when Clov looks outside through the telescope and realizes that the situation was getting better (Beckett 732).
He explains his vision as having seen many people moving and expresses certainty that these were happy. In this scene, hope is enhanced among the characters signifying that their tribulations were ending. In conclusion, it is apparent that Beckett portrays both optimism and pessimism themes in the play. Both themes have been enhanced by the characters’ acts.
For instance, in some scenes the characters are optimistic that their lives would improve for the better. In the contrary, some scenes portray the characters as pessimistic about their future lives. In these scenes, the same characters express their unlucky situations by seeing a bleak future and unchanging conditions. Through this twist of events, the author manages to make the play fascinating and humorous. Endgame might appear to be pessimistic play, but with scrutiny, a reader will discover the opposite.
Beckett, Samuel. Endgame. London: Faber and Faber, 2009. Print.
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Critical Book Review: “Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection” by Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett Essay
Updated: Dec 28th, 2019
Authored by Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett, the book Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection investigates the existing gaps in security systems, the various protection plans, and the projected viable options of ensuring that critical infrastructure of the US is safe and free from any hazard.
In the introductory chapters, precise arguments are made on the background of the US’ department of homeland security with an in-depth analysis of the process of evolution of the US’ security infrastructure.
This goal is accomplished through reviewing primary presidential directions in the effort to enhance security and/or maintain intelligence of the security apparatus, legislation, and methodologies of the safety of infrastructural assessment.
The second batch of chapters investigates social infrastructural sectors that have been identified as central to the enhancement of security of the United States. These sectors comprise the critical and essential infrastructure for driving economic and political prosperity of the United States.
Some of the discussed infrastructural elements include “banking, agriculture, telecommunication, finance, food, and even transportation” (Collins & Baggett, 2009). With a particular focus on the department of homeland security, the authors argue that the main objective or the noble mandate of homeland security is to ensure that infrastructure is free from any act of terrorism.
In this second batch of chapters, the authors also discuss the various methodologies of protection of the cited essential infrastructure.
Some of these methods include deployment of standard systems for enhancing security, maintenance of buffer zones, enhancing of intelligence, fostering information-sharing, partnership between public and the private sector, and putting of mechanisms of continued planning (Collins & Baggett, 2009).
Additionally, in this section of the book, the authors dwell and/or dig deep into the most dangerous and serious security problems that face particular infrastructural components. They also conduct an in-depth analysis of the current procedures of protecting such infrastructural elements. Finally, they offer their recommendation on the ways through which the infrastructure can be protected to guarantee the future security.
In the third section, the authors discuss the principal pillars that make the homeland security. These are recovery, prevention, preparedness, and response. This discussion is made even more relevant upon the discussion of the concepts of hazards and the mechanism of hazard prevention.
According to the authors, security hazards involve all situations or conditions that may put the security of citizens of the United States at risk (Collins & Baggett, 2009).
Thus, prevention measures constitute all activities that are deployed to ensure that the risk of attack does not occur. However, in the event of the occurrence, an appropriate response mechanism is required to restore normalcy in the shortest time possible. Another essential pillar discussed by the authors in details is hazard preparedness.
According to the authors, an effective disaster preparedness program needs to have cyclic ways of planning, organizing, equipping, evaluation training, and testing of disaster preparedness apparatus of the state (Collins & Baggett, 2009). The recovery pillar is based on the need to make decisions for the provision of immediate and urgent help to the affected persons and infrastructure in the event of occurrence of a security hazard.
The effort ensures that all the destroyed infrastructural elements are brought back to normal operation in the event of occurrence of an attack that seeps through the security agents and security intelligence systems. The book then sums up by providing a list of acronyms.
Strength and Weaknesses of the Book
Every scholarly work has its strength and weaknesses. In the realm of the strength of the book, Collins and Baggett provide incredible explanation of the background and historical roots of critical security infrastructure that requires protection together with the designated areas, which may be termed as the essential infrastructure that requires constant surveillance to keep the economy of the United States from being heralded by terrorists.
The book has a significant strength since it provides a comprehensive package for the military and other security agents of the US to develop an adequate understanding and assessment of the various threats that may face critical infrastructure, thus driving the financial, social, and political institutions of the US.
The book brings into details the infrastructure that may be viewed by people as secure and immune to terrorist attacks. This description helps to provide a thorough understanding of the capabilities of terrorists to make life impossible for the Americans.
For instance, the authors argue that water systems, electrical systems, and other installations, which support everyday life of the American citizens are some the most fragile infrastructural elements, which terrorists can capitalize on destroying to create suffering among the US citizens.
Unfortunately, people would only consider security threat an act that only comprises attacks such as the September 11 attacks. In this regard, the book offers an expanded view of critical infrastructure that requires protection.
Collins and Baggett define critical infrastructure as “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets will have a debilitating impact on the security, national economic security, national health or safety, or any combination of those matters” (Collins & Baggett, 2009, p.65).
Borrowing from this definition, the authors are able to classify security threats into several categories. These categories can briefly be grouped into three main classes: physical, human, and cyber risks.
Conclusively, the book provides an in-depth analysis of all security threats that lie within the first two categories together with how the US department of homeland security has been responding to them. In case of the group of infrastructure that may be considered physical, the authors provide a comprehensive coverage of the various security issues and challenges affecting the efforts to ensure that such infrastructural elements are secure.
Physical infrastructure here refers to both tangible (products, components, animals, real estates, and facilities) and interminable properties. Through this discussion, a significant weakness of the book emerges since the authors do not give substantial evidence based on the ways of protecting the physical infrastructure considering that more than 85 percent of physical infrastructure is not owned by federal states.
Although the authors point out that protection of physical infrastructure may be enhanced by cooperation between the private sector and the government through the department of homeland security, the roles that the owners of the larger portion of physical infrastructure should play to enhance their security is not given magnificent attention.
Discussion of the roles of technology in enhancing security surveillance is a significant strength of the book.
While the authors explore valid ways in which technology through IT is deployed to increase security intelligence and information sharing within the department of homeland security is crucial, a weakness is introduced since there is no comprehensive discussion of the knowledge bases of the terrorists on the usage of information technology to enhance their terrorist activities.
The world is operating in an environment that is dominated by immense challenges of cyber threats. War against nations is shifting from being conducted on physical battlefields to the global network protocols through acts of cybercrimes such as offensive hacking.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett’s book Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection offers important explanations of the efforts and achievements of the US department of homeland security in ensuring that all US citizens remain free from acts of terrorist attacks. They offer a discussion of various infrastructural components that are considered critical and hence requiring adequate protection.
Amid this discussion, some weaknesses of the book have been identified in the paper. It is recommended that the authors consider integrating a detailed analysis of cybercrimes, their impacts on the security and infrastructural systems of the US, and/or how such crimes can be positively identified and/or responded before attacks are successfully implemented.
This recommendation is made in recognition of the fact that, amid technological developments of the United States, enemies are also well educated and constantly looking for loopholes for attacking the US information systems to destruct the capacity of the department of the homeland security to prevent, develop preparedness, and respond to emergency including terrorist attacks.
The security of a nation is one of the most important functions of a government. For people who wish to know and gain insights into how national infrastructure can be protected cannot run away from reading Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett’s text Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection.
The book is also valuable to the department of homeland security. It identifies possible areas for improvement to enhance protection of critical infrastructural installations in the US as a primary mandate of the department of the US homeland security.
Collins, P., & Baggett, R. (2009). Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection. Westport: Praeger Security International.
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“Breath, Eyes, Memory” by Edwidge Danticat Essay
Updated: Dec 27th, 2019
The novel breath, eyes, memory is a true manifestation of the medieval and present human society. In simpler terms, it reflects the basic elements that spun our existence. These elements are explained from the main themes of the novel. These themes form the framework of this paper because immigration, love and parenting are discussed as the main themes in the novel.
Immigration is a major theme in the novel breath, eyes, memory because it describes the foundation of the novel’s plot. Moreover, the theme of immigration is almost representative of the current and past American immigration trends. From the novel, a reader is able to see the difference in culture between Sophie and her mother. Sophie was raised in Haiti but her mother lived in New York (Danticat 3).
As the novel progresses, we can see that Martine (Sophie’s mother) invites her daughter to the US to stay with her. From this understanding, the theme of immigration is profound. After shifting her residence from Haiti to New York, Sophie discovers missing pieces of her past. In addition, she is able to adjust to the new American lifestyle.
Later in the narration, Sophie returns to Haiti to see her grandmother after she develops some resentment towards her mother. Her trip back to Haiti is also another manifestation of the theme of immigration, where she goes back to her native homeland to live with her grandmother and aunts.
However, throughout the novel, the differences in culture (between native Haitians and Americans) are exposed, and the concept of assimilation is emphasized to synchronize the two cultures (Danticat 15).
The theme of love is profound in the novel breath, eyes, memory. Love manifests in the Haitian ritual to check female virginity, where mothers test their daughters to ensure they are still pure. This is an act of love, which manifests in protection. Testing is therefore done to ensure mothers protect their daughters from the social evils of the world.
Briefly, this ritual acts as a deterrent for young women to engage in runaway sexual adventures, which may expose them to harm (Danticat 23). Therefore, due to the practice of the ritual, young women observe chastity because they would not want to be condemned if they failed the test. Though the entire experience is traumatizing for Sophie, clearly, the procedure is done out of love.
When Sophie moves to America, she finds love with her husband. This episode in the novel’s plot is a fast forward to Sophie’s life after high school (Danticat 31). Sophie becomes obsessed with the man next door and through love; they are able to court and live together. From this love, they bore a daughter.
The analysis of love within the above framework can be understood in the context of family love because Sophie and her husband lived together, bound by love. By extension, the theme of love also manifests in the bond that existed among the Caco women. Coupled by a deep sense of history, the theme of love binds the practices, beliefs and values shared by the Caco women (Danticat 31).
When Sophie moves back to Haiti, she seeks counsel from these women and consequently, their advice shape her ideals as a woman. The bravery and struggles of the Haitian women are passed down to Sophie through the love they have for her. They also treat her as one of their own because of the love they all share.
A major part of the novel breath, eyes, memory highlights the theme of parenting. In fact, Sophie’s entire experience is understood within the framework of parenthood (Danticat 40). Her trip from Haiti to New York, her experiences as a mother, and her trip back to Haiti highlight her quest and experiences in understanding parenthood.
Raised without a mother, the theme of parenting manifests in Sophie’s life during the earlier chapters of the novel when Martine (a childless mother) invites Sophie (a motherless child) to live with her in the US. Parenthood is at the center of this invitation because Sophie is curious to learn the history and life of a mother that she never knew.
Similarly, Martine is desperate to unite with her daughter. All along, Sophie’s grandmother raised her until she was 12. Everything that she knew before she joined her mother was because of the parental care she received from her grandmother in Haiti.
Later sections of the novel revolve around Martine’s parenting skills, which eventually form a rift with her daughter. For instance, the virginity test is a form of parental skill Martine inherited from her past as a Haitian girl. She passes this practice down to her daughter but Sophie is not receptive to it.
It is from this understanding that a rift is created between Sophie and her mother. This sentiment prompts her trip back to Haiti where she goes to seek her grandmother’s counsel. The entire narration manifests the need for good parenting.
The themes of immigration, parenting and love feature prominently in breath, eyes, memory because they are used to explain the lives of the main characters. These themes represent real-life situations affecting people in the society, and almost concisely, they summarize the fabric of our social relationships.
For instance, love and parenting are core foundations of family life, while family life is the core of the society. Based on this understanding, the themes discussed above are core to the understanding of the novel breath, eyes, memory and a mirror of the society.
Danticat, Edwidge. Breath, Eyes, Memory. New York: Vintage Books, 1998. Print.
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“New World Babel” by Edward Gray Critical Essay
Updated: Jun 21st, 2019
Gray, in his book, New World Babel, discusses the transformation of Euro-Americas’ views about Native American languages. He traces the journey of their notion of these languages from as early as the pre-Enlightenment period to the modern period.
From the onset, Gray is keen enough to notice the differences in the opinions between different groups during different historical periods. He observes that the Jesuits, Catholics, and Puritan Protestants had varied opinions about Native American languages (Gray 25).
Gray correctly argues that the Catholics gave up teaching the natives Latin after realizing that their languages were devoid of abstract words and phrases necessary for bringing out truths in speech (Picker 363). However, they went ahead to teach them the Gospel using pictures and performances.
In many countries, the performances are in Latin. The decision to resort to the use of pictures and performances must have been driven by the notion that people can notice divine words without necessarily understanding their meanings (Picker 362).
On the other hand, the Puritans believed that everybody must be able to read the bible. Therefore, they used most of their time teaching the Indians how to read and translating the bible. Gray insinuates that the Puritans believed that the natives had to understand the meaning of every word before discovering the divineness in it.
Gray also argues that the advent of the Enlightenment period transformed Europeans’ thoughts about native languages (Gray 34). He correctly presents the then overriding opinion that Euro-Americans held about the existence of varied languages in the world.
Most of them believed in the biblical theory that argues that people speak different languages due to the Babel tragedy. Since everything was explained using the bible during the pre-Enlightenment period, Gray’s description must be a true reflection of the linguistic ideologies that existed during those periods.
He cites Locke’s act of discarding Babel as the origin of the differences that exist among different language speakers as an example of the new Enlightenment ideologies about language (Picker 365). Locke argued that human beings’ different experiences at different times were responsible for their differences in culture and behavior (Picker 364).
This argument is also a true reflection of the ideologies during the Enlightenment period since that period was dominated by arguments supported by scientifically tested facts.
The way Gray presents the information demonstrates that sometimes there was progressing and regressing in terms of what the scholars at different times thought about the Native Americans. He argues that the New Americans had initially thought that Native American languages marked boundaries between their speakers (Mandell 201).
However, they discarded this notion when they realized that many groups of Native Americans spoke different languages but had similar cultures (Picker 362). As a result, they began viewing the native languages as ways of understanding the primary and universal nature of human beings (Mandell 201).
They used native lexicons as insights for their own European languages. This move was driven by the belief that the native languages represented the fundamental and universal nature of language (Picker 364). They showed how all languages looked like before they were tainted by social refinements and intellectual development (Picker 362).
Such a practice was only possible after the Enlightenment period. In their study, they discovered that Native American vocabularies came from sensation and emotional aspects as opposed to Europeans vocabularies, which derived from calculations and politics (Mandell 201).
The regression happened in the 1800s, where elements of human universality were substituted by notions of static national and racial variations from the Romantic era (Mandell 201).
Gray also takes note of the prejudices that Euro-Americans had towards Native Americans. The new Americans always considered themselves superior and more civilized than the Native Americans (Mandell 201).
As a result, they came up with a theory that argued that the native languages were primitive because the speakers’ minds were inferior compared to theirs (Picker 361). Gray quotes Jefferson’s argument that the diversity of native languages was a result of the speakers’ simple and savage nature to demonstrate this notion (Mandell 201).
Therefore, according to Jefferson, the Native Americans’ mental deficiencies were responsible for their discord and linguistic confusion. He went further to argue that language had nothing to do with the environment or the progressive evolution of human beings.
Instead, he believed that it was due to the cultural biases and mental deficiencies (Picker 364). Such an argument is clearly biased and subjective since it favors the speaker and is not backed by empirically proven facts.
The lack of objectivity is also evident in the arguments that existed during the Romantic period. Whereas some Romantics such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge celebrated Indians’ appetite for poetry, others proposed the elimination of the many native languages for the sake of civilization (Mandell 201).
Since this period was dominated by English conquests in different parts of the world, the English wanted their language adopted as the only one spoken all over the world (Mandell 201).
Such a standpoint vividly contradicted arguments by more objective people such as John Eliot and Samuel Johnson who argued that “truths are universal no matter the language” and “languages are pedigrees of nations” respectively (Picker 361).
Gray, Edward G. New World Babel. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999. Print.
Mandell, Daniel. “Canada and the United States.” The American Historical Review 105.1 (2000): 200-201. Print.
Picker, Joshua. “New Turn for the Linguistic Turn.” Reviews in American History 28.3 (2000): 360-366. Print.
This critical essay on “New World Babel” by Edward Gray was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Realism and the Unreal in “The Female American” by Winkfield Critical Essay
Updated: Jun 21st, 2019
It is hard for readers to ignore the many peculiarities that are found in Winkfield’s novel including the rare multicultural heroine and the book’s deviation from the antagonist/protagonist approach in literature.
The novel also introduces several facts that are difficult to place in the eighteenth century society including the roles of female missionaries in the spread of Christianity and the heroine who alters the fate of an entire population.
The peculiarity of this eighteenth century novel has invited various scholars to criticize the realism and the relevance of Winkfield’s work in the then society. In addition, scholars have often attempted to map the novel’s social placement in light of its far-fetched realism.
Some of the scholars who have examined Winkfield’s novel have found it to be wildly inaccurate in a manner that diminishes its literary value. There are contentious issues that touch on realism and the unreal aspects of Winkfield’s novel including gender, class, imperial, racial, and national issues.
It is easy to dismiss Winkfield’s work as mere fantasy but the novel highlights credible realism on several instances. Some of the cultural and social fantasies that are outlined in the novel are deliberately crafted to deliver some real aspects of Winkfield’s society.
This paper presents the argument that the presence or lack of realism in Winkfield’s novel is used to shed light on both the real and unreal aspects of its eighteenth century society.
The most striking instance of realism in the novel is the situation surrounding the main character’s activities. In the novel, the main character does not face any insurmountable challenges as is common with other heroes and heroines.
Unca Eliza is stranded on an unknown Island but she does not struggle in any manner to find her way around. In many works of fiction, the labors of the main characters and their self-subsistence are often used to make them real and relatable.
Upon her arrival at the Island, the main character stumbles upon a ‘magical’ manuscript that makes her journey through the strange Island to be quite easy (Winkfield 23).
Eliza is also rewarded with several goodies upon her arrival at the Island. The main character’s smooth sailing makes it hard for self-discovery or self-determination to occur. These contradictions highlight the lack of realism in Winkfield’s novel. Self-discovery journeys are not instantaneous and they often take a toll on the travelers.
Consequently, “The Female American” appears to be exempt from the realism that is associated with authentic literature.
Another instance of misconstrued realism is revealed through the main character’s ability to fit into her newfound society. For instance, although Eliza is the stranger in the Island she is still able to supplement the hermit with survival accessories.
In addition, it appears that Eliza is able to speak different languages but the author does not offer an explanation for this ability. The main character’s multilingual abilities are a contradiction to realism. In the novel, Eliza is able to speak English, Greek, Latin, and other Native-American languages with admirable fluency (Winkfield 32).
Further research into the ‘native’ language that is used by Unca’s mother during her exchange with a Christian convert indicates that this dialect is a mixture of Indian and Greek or Hebrew.
The mixture of languages can be interpreted as lack of realism. However, the various languages could be used by the author to reiterate the hybridity of the main character. The hybridity of the Atlantic front during the eighteenth century was real and the author might have used the main character’s fantasy to highlight this fact.
On the other hand, it can be argued that Winkfield’s story like her made up language are components of unintentionally crafted fiction. Consequently, the heroine would bear no significance in relation to the eighteenth century transatlantic society.
“The Female American” was supposedly written when the first European-American encounters were taking place. Therefore, Eliza’s experiences in England should resonate with those of other American individuals who had ventured into Europe in the eighteenth century (Hunter 102).
This coincidence gives the reader a chance to explore the realism and the unreal aspects of Winkfield’s book.
During the eighteenth century, visiting delegations of Native American tribes would be received with outmost curiosity in England. Consequently, the sightings of the Native Americans and their colorful mode of dressing became artistic inspirations for Londoners.
The main character’s description appears to be in line with the artworks that depicted Native Americans. For instance, the narrator speaks of “her lank blank hair that is adorned in diamonds and flowers, and a bow and arrow that are hung on her shoulder” (Winkfield 49).
It is unlikely that a woman who is stranded in a strange Island would appear as the narrator describes her. It is important to note that the overstatement of the costumes that are adorned by the main character is only supposed to appeal to those who encounter Native American Indians in works of art.
The author’s focus on American iconography can be used to point out both the real and the unreal aspects of “The Female American”. It is also likely that the author of the book had very limited knowledge of the Americas and its inhabitants. Consequently, she has to rely on her artistic knowledge of the Americas when she was writing this book.
The American iconography continues with the resemblances between the Indian-themed monument that Unca designs in honor of her mother and the war themed monument that was installed in London around 1761.
There is enough evidence in the book to indicate that the author of “The Female American” was trying to depict her Americas in a relatable manner. Consequently, it is difficult to argue for or against the realism of Winkfield’s book using these aspects.
On one hand, the portrayal of America in the novel might be meant to satisfy the reader’s fantasies. On the other hand, the portrayal of the Americas by the author could be meant to add realism to the book. The author could also be mocking the travel-genre by trivializing the appearances of America to the people of England.
There are several aspects of the novel that articulate its realism or lack thereof but its portrayal of the Americas within England is not one of them.
One of the most obvious fantasies in Winkfield’s book involves the scenes that depict a ‘magical’ oracle. Unca Eliza, who is a Christian convert, uses a pagan oracle to impress the native Indian communities (Winkfield 79). In addition, Unca uses the oracle to prophesy about the introduction of Christianity in her community.
This scenario does not bear any similarities to any other recorded missionary accounts. It is hard to decipher what the author was trying to accomplish with this unreal incident.
Some scholars argue that the author was trying to indicate that the spiritual nature of the Indian tribes was not being taken away from them but it was just evolving into a new form. A further examination of the literature of the time indicates that oracles were not accepted in Christian circles.
For instance, one eighteenth century author explored the conflict between Christian and oracle-related issues. According to this author, there is no clear-cut difference between Christian miracles and oracle-related practices. The oracle is one of the aspects that indicate that Winkfield’s work was not meant to portray any social reality.
On the other hand, the novelist might have been setting new realism standards by portraying futuristic aspects of Christian missionary work. The popular belief among Christians in the 1700s was that the powers and abilities that were possessed by oracles were evil and diabolical in nature.
Consequently, the marriage between oracles and Christianity as is portrayed in “The Female America” defies most aspects of realism.
“The Female American” has often been considered as an unpopular but significant work of literature. The author of this book goes through a lot of trouble to hide the novel’s connection to realism and reality. The main character’s overcomes hurdles easily and integrates into her new society in record time.
This lack of realism is common in the book but there are other incidences that contradict this ‘unreal’ aspect of the book. “The Female American” is a quagmire of realism and ‘unrealness’ that is well disguised by the author.
Hunter, Paul. Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction, New York: WW Norton & Company, 1990. Print.
Winkfield, Unca Eliza. The Female American: Or, The Adventures of Unca Eliza Winkfield, New York: Broadview Press, 2014. Print.
This critical essay on Realism and the Unreal in “The Female American” by Winkfield was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Resilience Through Adversity Research Paper
Updated: Dec 23rd, 2019
In his novel In the time of the Butterflies, Alvarez presents a recount of events that happened in the Dominican Republic in the 20th century. The story centers on Trujillo, a self-elected leader who is rigid, greedy and dictator. He leads the country into turmoil through brutality.
Four sisters join a revolution in opposition of his leadership. These four sisters face brutality as three of them are killed in pursuit of freedom and good leadership. One of the appealing characters this paper delves on is Minerva. Minerva best portrays a theme of resilience through adversity.
In the novel, Minerva is portrayed as an intelligent, beautiful and high minded woman. She is a third born in Mirabel family, a family of four sisters. She has a vision and a keen eye on studying law (Crystal 14). Her dream does not fade away amidst many challenges. She is committed to realize her dreams and goes to the law school in her adulthood.
Minerva encounters obstacles in her studies when her license is withheld by El Jefe and deters her from practicing law. While at school, she meets Monolo and marries him (Alvarez 3). They give birth to two children named Manolito and Minou. She is in the forefront in calling for justice and liberations of the country.
Portrayal of the theme, ‘resilience through adversity ’
Minerva portrays her character in different situations in her life through resilience. She encounters hardships but she manages to overcome them. One of the situations that depict Minerva’s resilience is when she is stopped by a police in a company of her sister as they traveled to Monte Cristi. She is courageous and faces the police and identifies herself as Minerva Mirabel to protect her little sister who was nervous at that moment.
Despite being a woman, Minerva shows resilience on how she participated in politics and revolutions in her country. She is not going to be held back by any forces.
She argues her fellow women to rise up and fight for their rights. In the first chapter, she shows frustration in the leadership of the country and demonstrates her passion and vision of the country. She says,” it as just what this country needs…. It’s about time we women had a voice in running our country’ (Alvarez 54).
Furthermore, Minerva’s involvement in government is cautioned by Patria who believes that politics is a dirty game and that she is risking her life by becoming vocal in her agitation of the rights of people. To demonstrate her commitment and resilience in ensuring that the people and women are liberated, she vehemently answers Patria, “it is a dirty business, you are right.
That is why we women should not get involved’ (Alvarez 276). This shows how Minerva is committed in ensuring that there is good leadership in her country. She is brave and nothing seems to hold her back.
She is also resilient in fighting for the equality of women. She says, ‘women had to come out of the dark ages” (Alvarez 286). By saying this, she aspires to fight and persuade women never to relent in their quest to demand for their rights and equality in the government.
As a woman, Minerva is principled and protects her moral standards. When they are invited to a party by the king-Trujillo, she refuses his advances and goes ahead to slap him. This is very risky to her as well as her family members because the leader has power to induce suffering to them. She is therefore resilient when she is faced with such circumstances (Crystal 15).
Furthermore, despite the state of governance, amidst dangers and difficult situations she gets into, Minerva participates in a political meeting that was illegal at Patria place. The meeting involved the four sisters and their husbands. In the meeting, they discussed various issues and plotted a revolt against the leader Trujillo.
Unfortunately, this meeting was known by the leader who organized for a road accident. Minerva escapes the death as the other three sisters succumb to death.
Minerva is therefore represented as an ambassador and a character that goes against her will to defend and fight for freedom and liberty amidst difficult circumstances.
The leadership of the country is corrupt and makes people suffer through brutality, rape and other atrocities that are not expected in a society. Minerva’s character is therefore manifested as a woman who goes against all odds to ensure that people and leaders respect the laws.
Minerva is ambitious, motivated and would not let anybody come into her ways. She works hard to achieve her objectives (Rodriguez 55). In the novel, there are situations in which she is discouraged by people who surround her, but that does not make her relinquish her visions. For instance, she is committed to pursue Law, which she manages to achieve in her adulthood.
She succeeds amidst many challenges within the environment. She therefore manages to overcome adversities by being resilient. She believes in what she stands up for. She goes to prison and that does not change her stand about her quest to liberate the people.
In conclusion, Minerva is a character who has been depicted in the novel as resilient. Various situations demonstrate how she goes through adversity because of her resilience. She beats all odds to achieve what she stands up for.
Alvarez, Julia. In the time of the butterflies. New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1994. Print.
Crystal, Parikh. Regular Revolutions: Feminist Travels in Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies: Journal of Transnational American Studies, 3(2011): 14-17. Print.
Rodriguez, Maria Cristina. Political Authority Figures as Distant Memories of a Forgotten Past: Julia Alvarez’s ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ and ‘In the Name of Salomé’ and Cristina García’s ‘The Agüero Sisters’: Journal of Caribbean Literatures, 6. 2(2009): 55-63. Print.
This research paper on Resilience Through Adversity was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Masculinity in Fight Club Research Paper
Updated: Jan 15th, 2020
Today, media represents men and masculinity in different ways. Different sources point at how men are required to behave and present themselves in order to appear like male. With time, the different aspects that would associate with masculinity are gradually fading and new ideas quickly emerging to define masculinity. In the past, people used masculinity to identify with one’s gender (Clark “Fight Club” 411).
Nevertheless, the onset of equality in the contemporary society is gradually making it hard to see the distinction between femininity and masculinity. In the United States and other developed countries, capitalism is putting immense pressure on masculinity. In her chef-d’oeuvre article, Ta laments how capitalism, through the aspect of creating and accumulating profits, has affected masculinity in the American society (265).
Moreover, increase in advertisement programs is making people change their views regarding masculinity. It is becoming hard for modern men to achieve definite ideals attributed to masculinity (Clark “Fight Club” 413-419).
In trying to assert his masculinity, today, the contemporary man portrays his masculinity through addressing his pain and fears, as well as through violence. This paper seeks to bring out the theme of masculinity in the masterpiece, Fight Club.
Nature of masculinity
Fight Club is one of the narratives that effectively bring out the state of masculinity as well as the nature of masculinity in the modern western culture. In addition, the novel brings out the level of crisis in masculinity, which is prevalent in the current capitalist culture. It would be imperative to note that masculinity does not necessarily portray in an individual’s physiological attributes.
Instead, one’s behaviors portray masculinity. Both men and women may display masculinity based on their behaviors. Consequently, masculinity is not entirely an exclusive male attribute. In Fight Club, numerous scenes portray the theme of masculinity.
For instance, in one of the scenes, Jack opts to attend the meetings held by the “remaining men together” as a way of helping him retain his masculinity (Fight Club). This group consists of men who have lost their testicles due to cancer.
Nevertheless, their association helps them retain their masculinity. Being together allows them to engage in activities that are mostly associated with masculinity, thus regaining their masculinity.
In her article, Ta posits that Jack endures a false emasculative fear, which borders on the baseless belief that all things are terrifying to his priapic abilities (270). The only way to overcome this suffering is by ensuring that he associates with other men and partakes in games or fights that are attributed to masculinity.
Women may portray masculine features, while men may exhibit feminine features. Normally, attributes like autonomy, affluence, and strength represents masculinity. Nevertheless, traditions dictate that females should not exhibit masculine characteristics (Faludi 547-551). With time, changes in the Western culture have resulted in male victimization.
The emergence of consumerism and capitalistic culture has given way to a crisis in masculinity. In her book, Susan Faludi shows how consumerism has led to male victimization. She posits, “After World War II, manhood signified the guarantee of novel borders for their lads to surmount a culture where historical inherent qualities of masculinity could be carried on” (Faludi 597).
According to Faludi, the consumerism culture led to men embarking on the business of enriching themselves, and in the process, they abandoned activities that once portrayed their masculinity (599). Initially, features like scars, muscles, and courage portrayed masculinity. Nevertheless, capitalism has substituted these features with affluence and power (Foucault 123).
More and more women have become wealthier than men have, thus leading to male victimization. In Fight Club, male victimization has affected Jack mentally, eventually forcing him to come up with a fight club. He establishes the fight club as a consolation since it gives him an opportunity to meet with other men and engage in activities that assure them of their masculinity.
Masculinity and identity
One of the roles of masculinity is that it helps in establishing one’s identity especially in men. In Fight Club, Jack struggles to establish his identity. He ends up attending numerous support groups and tries to associate with them in the name of seeking self-identity. He ultimately joins the fight club after realizing that he could only establish his identity in such a place (Fight Club).
In her well-researched book, Men and Masculinity, Sweetman, “Identity only becomes an issue when it is in crisis, when something assumed to be fixed, coherent, and stable is displaced by the experience of doubt and uncertainty” (14).
In Fight Club, Jack perceives this uncertainty and qualm as a change in masculinity. In the past, features like endurance, strength, power, and knack to tolerate pain were regarded as some of the masculine traits (Palahniuk 65).
However, since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, technology has significantly substituted these traits. Faludi posits that the industrial revolution led to a transition from creation of goods to the creation of knowledge (487). Consequently, industrial revolution took away most activities that satisfied men’s masculinity, thus leaving them with limited activities. Currently, men enjoy “ornamental” masculinity.
Men like Jack were confined in rooms to work with phones and computers. The masculine rebirth that Jack and Tyler are going through compels them to establish the fight club (Palahniuk 65).
The fight club gives Jack and other men an opportunity to engage on physical combat, which that reinvigorates their masculinity. In one of the scenes Tyler posits, “We have no great war, no great depression… our great war is a spiritual war…our great depression is our lives” (Fight Club).
This assertion confirms Tyler’s belief that men can only regain their masculinity through violence. When Bob meets other men in the “remaining men together”, he reminds them “We’re still men” (Fight Club). Bob goes on to apply some masculine techniques during his fight in the club. He uses these techniques as a way of showing others that despite losing their testicles they are still men and thus have all it takes to be men.
One of the factors that make Jack join the “remaining men together” group is that it allows him release his emotions as a man (Palahniuk 68). Some activities can lower one’s masculinity if done in public; for instance, if a man cries in public, it would show that he is not mature enough.
Hence, at times, men suffer emotionally in the name of preserving their masculinity. Therefore, joining the “remaining men together” group gives Jack an opportunity to release his emotions through crying.
Media and masculinity
In the Fight Club film, Tyler makes numerous comments regarding consumerism and identity. For instance, when travelling in a bus, he makes a comment on a Calvin Klein advertisement. Tyler uses the advertisement to bring out his perception on what men ought to look like. In his elaborative book, Masculinity and Culture, Beynon goes ahead to coin a new word, viz. “mediated masculinity” (64).
He shows the different ways that media portrays masculinity. Today, media has a significant influence on masculinity. Different media presentations and advertisements portray masculinity in different ways making it hard for people to identify the real and ideal masculinity. For instance, in a bid to come up with a mental representation of Tyler, Jack almost buys to the masculine ideas brought out by media.
According to Jack, Tyler carries all the ideal qualities that he believes a real man ought to portray. He has everything that entails masculinity and that Jack lacks (Lee 418-421). It would be correct to assert that Tyler is a super-masculinized replica of Jack. At the end of the film, Tyler returns in a more advanced masculine state. His muscles are well pronounced and he has shaved his head as a symbol of asserting his masculinity.
Castration and masculinity
Fight Club refers to castration as one of the aspects that kill male identity. In the later scenes of the film, Tyler makes some remarks on Jack’s house after it is destroyed. He tells Jack to relax and be thankful that nothing worse happened like a woman cutting off his manhood and disgracefully tossing it out of a speeding vehicle (Fight Club).
According to this remark, Tyler shows that material things do not necessarily portray masculinity. In spite of Jack losing his house, he still has his masculinity. Losing manhood is one of the ways through which men may lose their masculinity. Throughout the film, Tyler shows how castration is a major threat to masculinity by threatening to chop off the manhood of those men opposes his policies of the project mayhem.
Tyler feels that people in the higher echelon of capitalism are responsible for the rampant emasculation witnessed in the society. Therefore, to ensure that he overcomes this emasculation, he threatens the perpetrators with castration. Later in the film, Jack kills himself as away of eliminating Tyler (Fight Club).
In a way, this move symbolizes castration. Tyler possesses numerous masculine qualities that Jack lacks. Hence, to do away with these qualities, Jack opts to kill himself as an avenue to eliminate the masculinity attributes in Tyler.
Fight club brings out numerous insights into the elements that underscore the current mode of bonding amongst men. Throughout the film, men relate with one another by shunning what they perceive to be feminine. In one instance, Tyler and Jack discuss their fathers and the responsibilities bestowed on them as men.
Jack claims that his father abdicated his responsibility as a parent by leaving him in the hands of his mother for upbringing. Rather than taking care of Jack, the father went out to marry numerous women.
On the other side, Tyler goes on to claim, “We’re a generation of men raised by women; I’m not sure if another woman is what we need” (Fight Club). This aspect signifies the level to which men in the capitalistic society are trying to do away with issues to do with feminism as a way of retracing their masculinity. They feel that associating with women would make it hard for them to regain their masculinity.
Capitalism has made it hard for men to have a father figure that acts as their role model. Hence, the modern man is turning to media in pursuit for a male role model. Throughout his early life, Jack lacked a father to look upon as his role model. Hence, he did not develop a burly male bond. Therefore, to ensure that he develops a male bond, Jack opts to only associate with fellow men and do away with women.
Tyler goes on to claim that he has not managed to achieve all the expectations bestowed on him by his father (Palahniuk 67). He posits that at different stages in his life, he is expected to complete his college education, get a job, and marry. Nevertheless, he asserts that he is not ready to get married since he still feels immature.
Due to lack of proper fatherly upbringing, Jack and Tyler are incapable of assuming their responsibilities as men. Fight Club shows how capitalism is leading to the emergence of a generation made up of “eternal adolescents” (Palahniuk 69). There is no paternal bond between fathers and their sonnies.
The overriding bond between the two protagonists underscores another type of attachment in the film. Prior to learning that Tyler is a replica of Jack, one may treat the two as different personalities. At the beginning, jack views Tyler as the exact opposite of himself. Later, he develops interests in Tyler’s entire viewpoint on life and perceives him as his chance to snub capitalism and its weakening effects (Palahniuk 45).
Another male bond stands out conspicuously in the fight club. Jack is strongly attached to the cohorts of the project mayhem. Initially, the bond between Jack and Bob is emotional, but later it becomes violent upon the establishment of the fighting club. The establishment of the fighting club brings together men from different backgrounds that are tied together by their desire to surmount the emasculation caused by consumerism.
As the film progresses, the fight club transforms into project mayhem, that is, a group established with the sole objective of fighting capitalism, which the group members perceive as the main cause of their emasculation.
Fight Club brings out the current level of emasculation caused by capitalism as well as the possible risks posed by the current crisis. Capitalism and its effects receive a vehement condemnation throughout the book as well as the film. The film blames capitalism for the prevailing meagerness of the contemporary masculinity.
Michael Clark warns that violence would do little to help in curbing the current level of emasculation that men are experiencing. Rather than resulting to violence and discrimination, Clark assets that the way out is probably “not to battle consumerism, but to abandon it, to begin increasingly making other, non-consumerist kinds of choices, within the web of relationships that constitute our…communities of life” (“Faludi, Fight Club” 74).
According to Clark, men ought to come up with solutions that involves all the stakeholders rather than excluding women in their struggle (“Faludi, Fight Club” 76). This move would help in bringing together the two genders to solve a common problem.
It would help men to shun from engaging in self-destructive activities like the establishment of fight clubs. Instead, both men and women would come up with strategies to reignite the sense of social efficacy, thus encouraging cooperation and somehow convince men that their masculinity is not under threat.
Beynon, John. Masculinity and Culture. London: Loutledge, 2003. Print.
Clark, Michael. “Faludi, Fight Club, and phallic masculinity: Exploring the emasculating economics of patriarchy.” Journal of Men’s Studies 11.1 (2002): 65-76. Print.
Clark, Suzanne. “Fight Club: Historicizing the rhetoric of masculinity, violence, and sentimentality.” Journal of Advanced Composition 21.2 (2001): 411-420. Print.
Faludi, Susan. Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. New York: William Marrow and Company Inc., 1999. Print.
Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. Twentieth Century Fox, 2002. DVD.
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. New York: Random House Inc., 1995. Print.
Lee, Terry. “Virtual Violence in Fight Club: This is what transformation of masculine ego feels like.” Journal of American & Comparative Cultures 25.4 (2002): 418-423. Print.
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2005. Print.
Sweetman, Caroline. Men and Masculinity. New York: Oxfam, 1997, Print.
Ta, Lynn. “Hurt so good: Fight Club, masculine violence, and the crisis of capitalism.” The Journal of American Culture 29.3 (2006): 265-277. Print.
This research paper on Masculinity in Fight Club was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King Explicatory Essay
Updated: Dec 20th, 2019
The fundamentals of the novel
When speaking about the book Green Grass, Running Water written by Thomas King, I would like to consider some fundamentals of the novel.
So, first of all, I would like to point out that the author “begins to extricate his characters’ lives from the domination of the invader’s discourses by weaving their stories into both Native American oral traditions and into revisions of some of the most damaging narratives of domination and conquest” (Cox 221). However, this fact is difficult to accept, as the so-called traditional Western discourse does not support the aspect.
Generally, the novel Green Grass, Running Water, which appeared in the early nineties, seems to be the reflection of distinctive features between both Native and Western realities. On the other hand, one is to keep in mind that fluctuating plot themes are also discovered in the novel. King’s novel is recognized to be a perfect example of cultural perceptions.
The symbolic meaning of the main character
The most essential issues the author wants to draw his readers’ attention to are the transformative capacities of people and language. To my mind, the style of the writer is really unique, as the author provides his readers with an opportunity to find their own answers to important questions. For instance, King’s use of repetitions is of particular significance, as this language device shows the importance of people’s moral values.
“Where did the water come from? Said Alberta.
Where did the water come from? Said Patrolman Delano.
Where did the water come from? Said Sergeant Cereno.
Where did the water come from? Said Lionel” (King 104).
The quotation explains that it is not important whether people can find an answer to the question or no; on the contrary, the author shows that people are ready to accept the unknown reality. A sense of cohesion seems to have a symbolic meaning in relation to this example.
Generally, the author describes the lives of five Blackfoot Indians, whose existence is disclosed in unusual manner; thus, King’s novel combines comical, cosmic, and coincidental elements. The most interesting character, however, which I would like to analyze in detail, is a university professor Alberta.
In my opinion, Alberta is not a strong character, although she is the main one. A university professor is considered to be a positive character, as she possesses a strong female intuition and innate charm.
However, the fact that the main character is in love with two men, gives us an opportunity to suppose that her intentions are not serious. On the one hand, it seems that Alberta’s situation is rather funny; however, on the other hand, it is obvious that the woman has no will power, as she wants to have children, but cannot resolve her inner conflicts. For this reason, one can make a conclusion that Alberta’s story is considered to be a drama.
Taking into account the main character’s worldview, it becomes obvious that one of the key themes the author highlights is considered to be independence. The need for balance is recognized to be one of the primary issues Alberta is to think about. Thus, it is also necessary to state that through this need, King shows what important issues modern Native North Americans face.
Alberta’s dissatisfaction with her life gives us an opportunity to suppose that another key theme of the novel seems to be the concept of self-discovery. The woman is honest and intelligent; however, her desire to be independent has led her to keep both men at a distance. In other words, it is evident that the key reason of Alberta’s unhappy life is her unwillingness to lose herself in Charlie and Lionel.
In my opinion, Alberta’s cynicism and some unrealistic romantic visions reflect her inner contradictions and the conflict of the mind. On the other hand, it also seems that the author wants to highlight important criticism of government action. So, Alberta is considered to be the so-called symbolic character, as she is a reflection of all complicated issues in the novel. For instance, Alberta says:
You know the tribe isn’t going to make a cent off that dam. And what about all
that waterfront property on the new lake […] What happened to all those lots
that the band was supposed to get? […] You know that the tribe isn’t going
to make any money off the entire deal (King 116-117).
The conclusion. The symbol of the traditional struggle
Generally, one is to keep in mind that the novel Green Grass, Running Water combines two plots. On the one hand, the author depicts the so-called quasi-realistic events; on the other hand, he describes the myth of world creation.
The novel discloses numerous complicated issues, which are extremely important for Native North Americans. One of the main characters – Alberta reflects the traditional nature of the struggle between two opposite forces. Alberta’s doubts and inner conflict have a symbolic meaning in King’s novel.
Cox, James H. “All This Water Imagery Must Mean Something: Thomas King’s Revisions of Narratives of Domination and Conquest in Green Grass, Running Water,” Lincoln, NE, American Indian Quarterly 24.2: 2000. Print.
King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water, New York, NY, Bantam Books: 1994. Print.
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