War and peace Essay
Pacifism may portray various meanings to different people. One common meaning of this terminology is the ability to settle disputes without engaging in real war. To pacify primarily means making peace. However, the terse questions still remain unanswered. Is it possible for a Christian to remain pacifist in the contemporary world? Can conflict be avoided at any point in life in spite of being a Christian?
Can we employ force to stop an intruder from interfering with us? When we use violence as Christians in regards to certain issues, does it reflect the authentic position of God? What about the will of God in mankind when the latter is faced with difficult moments? These are some of the questions that ought to be explored even as we investigate the subject of Christian pacifism.
If indeed the act of being a pacifist is Godly, then Christians are definitely compelled to understand that it cannot be addressed as a separate entity from other values of Christianity. For example, pacifism ought to be explained alongside other aspects of Christianity such as trusting in God, rejecting the pleasures of this world, and love for one another.
We all appreciate the fact Christian pacifism is a true value of Godliness. However, the point of diversion comes when the very Christians are faced with challenges that may demand violence to resolve. Even in the life of an ordinary Christian, greed and lust for worldly possessions may lead to sin.
Hedges observes that “there are always people willing to commit unspeakable human atrocity in exchange for a little power and privilege” (88). If the latter is true, then it implies that human nature if full of violent acts aimed at seeking the best opportunities for survival.
At a personal level in the life of a Christian, engaging in war or acts of violence in order to resolve emerging conflicts is not part of the biblical doctrine. Christians are called to be peace makers (according to the beatitudes). Even in instances when we are wronged, we are supposed to not merely forgive those who offend us. We should also pray for them so that they may come to know the truth.
In fact, Christians should ‘turn the other cheek’ to be slapped by an intruder without turning to violence or retaliation. From this perspective, it is vivid that Christians should not engage in war (Lon 84). According to Hedges, “the enduring attraction of war…can give us what we long for in life.
It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living” (3). The latter appears to be rather contrary to the biblical principles as comprehended by Christians. In the physical world of a Christian, any form of violence cannot offer any meaning or purpose in life. On the other hand, if the above statement by Hedges is understood in the spiritual realm, then it can make great sense to any serious minded Christian.
Spiritual war gives reason for living as a Christian. Christians continually fight in the spiritual world with the principalities of darkness. They do so through Christian practices such as prayer, fasting, meditation, purification of oneself, and even worshiping God in the spirit. When this Christian perspective is embraced, then any form of physical war is not within the will of God for mankind.
The writing by Hedges do not address spiritual war as mentioned in the previous paragraph. It speaks of physical war in practicality. All the same, the author still stands against any form of war as noted down when he comments that “in the beginning war looks and feels like love. But unlike love, it gives nothing in return but an ever-deepening dependence, like all narcotics, on the road to self-destruction” (162).
Hedges adds that “it destroys the outside world until it is hard to live outside war’s grip” (162). Hence, there is no doubt that violence is dangerous even in the physical world. If that is the case, why should Christians engage in war in order to resolve the challenges facing them?
If war is detestable in the physical world, why should christens serving God in the spiritual realms engage in violent resolution to problems? Christians should embrace pacifism at all costs so that they can remain true to their faith in God.
Perhaps, it is not spiritually profitable to listen to radical schools of thought in regards to Christian pacifism. For instance, there are those who may be tempted to argue that even God promised victory against nations that would be hostile to Israel. Well, we have witnessed Israel going into physical war with Palestine several times. Besides, Israelites have commanded victory over rival nations since the Old Testament times.
Hedges in his book asserts that the “the moral certitude of the state in wartime is a kind of fundamentalism…has come increasingly to color the modern world of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam” (428).
From this outset, it is clear that the contemporary world has largely adopted the ideals of fundamentalism as the expense of pursuing peace. Even the world’s major religions are following the same suit.
During the Old Testament times, God spoke to his people directly and would command them whether to make war or peace. The modern day Christians are supposed to be guided by the Holy Spirit and not physical desires (Lon 92).
In conclusion, it is spiritually logical for Christians to maintain sanity by being pacifists. From the above deliberations, it is vivid that even physical war is unhealthy to any nation irrespective of its global status. Christians are called to be peace makers since “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Mathew 5:9).
Hedges, Chris. War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2002. Print.
Lon, Edward Le Roy. Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians. Louisville: Knox Press, 2004. Print.
In the Realm of the Queen of the North: Reading between the Lines of Erin Robinson’s Work Essay (Critical Writing)
It is hard to nail down what exactly makes dark stories so appealing to the general audience. Whether it is the fact that the author leads the reader beyond the boundaries of the socially acceptable or makes a cautious warming about the threats that await for the reader in the craziest of all the crazy worlds, the weird charm of “dark” stories magically works, and Edin Robinson’s “The Queen of the North” is a graphic example of that.
A very dark parable about a young teenage girl who had her fill of suffer, “The Queen of the North” offers a journey into the mind of the victim who managed to fight her own way to finding her own identity and leaving the tragic past behind.
Among the issues that immediately drive the reader’s attention, the scene where Jimmy finds the gift and tries to take his revenge on Josh on Karaoke’s behalf (Robinson) must be the most tension-filled elements in the whole story. As a matter of fact, the vengeance thread in the story disrupts the atmosphere of desperate, yet accepting state that Karaoke is in.
Though one might think that the given thread is included into the fabric of the story to restore the balance between the good and the evil and introduce the idea of a noble vigilante, the actual meaning of the given scene is much more prosaic. Succumbing to the cruelty of the world around her, Karaoke is dragged to share the same ideas of morality as her offenders have.
Thus, the picture of despair is complete – even the victim is unable to escape the vicious circle of meanness. At the same time, the fact that Karaoke and Jimmy succumb to the meanness of their environment means that they finally become accountable of their actions and are ready to take decisive steps.
The above-mentioned turns the story into a farewell to the childlike innocence that the lead character used to have and signifies her maturity and readiness to enter the world of adult life.
Among the specifics of the Queen of the North, the fact that Robinson put Karaoke’s life track in the context of history is rather peculiar. Helping Robinson allude not only to certain issues, such as feminist or anti-colonial movement, but also to exact instances of violation of people’s rights, the historical context serves its purpose perfectly in the book.
The novel renders the numerous aspects of feminism as much as it explores the gloominess and loneliness of being a teenager. Karaoke is, perhaps, one of the few female teenage characters that are neither taken for granted, nor introduced into the novel as a token girl and a damsel in distress.
The story is told from the perspective of the lead character, and even the title of the novel points to Karaoke and her life track. At this point, the reader starts understanding that the scenes of violence in the book were actually added not for the sake of raising shock values, but for the sake of showing the audience the reverse side of chauvinist world.
Finally, the issue of anti-colonialism should be addressed. Though voiced in a much more subtle way than the feminist ideas and having considerably less emphasis on it, the problem of colonialism is also considered in the novel. On a more subtle level, the idea of colonialism as a completely pointless practice that was bound to wear its welcome very early is expressed through the liberation of the main character.
As it has been mentioned above, getting rid of her naivety, Karaoke finally learns to take account of her actions and make mistakes. The given transformation makes Karaoke a symbol of the victim of colonialism that was finally liberated.
However, even incorporating the elements of feminism and hope into her work, Robinson still does not let the reader shake the weird feeling of despair off the shoulders; in the chosen settings and with the chosen life story to tell, there is no wonder that the reader feels dismay.
Absorbing the bitter experiences that the humankind had to go through over the past few decades, including the new wave of feminism that has helped women win over several positions, yet did not lead to any cultural revolution; the effects of colonization and the hopes that went astray as soon as the colonization showed its negative side; and the relations of power, which proved another bubble to burst, the story leaves a lot of food for thought and even more questions to be answered.
Erin Robinson has shown the reader the dark side of life, leaving no room for naïve delights. However, the darkness pays off; knowing the enemy means winning half the battle, and Erin Robinson knows it. The Queen of North still keeps hear head high, which means that not all hope has been lost.
Robinson, Erin. “Queen of the North.” Traplines. Toronto, CA: Knopf Canada, 2011. 207–208. Print.
“Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States: An Overview” by Bonita Lawrence Essay (Critical Writing)
The article “Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States: An Overview” by Bonita Lawrence talks about the Native people, the way the laws and relationships between the modern world and long standing traditions have changed and shaped the present treatment of a whole population.
It is evident that previously Native people had a much different life and the population of Canada and the United States has drastically changed the lives and freedoms of Natives. Presently, things have changed for the better but there is still much discrimination that is seen everywhere.
There is no doubt that the Native population of Canada and the United States was greatly segregated and deprived of their land and freedoms, at the time of colonization. The white man has taken possession of land as if it was empty of people who lived there for generations. The Natives of North America had established traditions and cultures, which were not considered and abused during the populating of the Americas.
The Indian Act was put in place to regulate and control the Native people and greatly limit their freedom, movement rights, ability to participate in the country’s matters and use the land that was rightfully belonging to Natives (Lawrence 5). It is clear that the Act itself and the actions of people who came to the North America are much discriminator.
The oppression that Native people faced was accompanied with much violence and unequal treatment. Even the word “Indian” itself is politically incorrect and shows how little attention and care people have paid to those they have deprived of rights, equality and deserved ability to enjoy a life free of stereotypical behavior. The land was divided and Native people were placed into Reservations, which were strictly regulated by the government and the necessary laws.
The Indian Act violates the rights of Native people, it limits their movement, deprives them of the rights of possession towards land and the available resources, as well as their reputation and acknowledgement. Gender is another major issue that is present in the Indian Act. A woman of Native descent would lose her Native status after marring a white man. This is ridiculous, as it is unreasonable and is not admissible.
This sort of thing does not happen to people of other races and origins and so, the discrimination is clearly evident here (Lawrence 8). Another article titled “Housing America’s Native People” by Wendy Helgemo, talks about the legal provision of housing that the government has put in place towards the Native people. A large number of Native population was homeless due to the hardships they had to experience.
This has become a significant problem and the government was forced to change several things. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was created to administer changes and provide Native population with housing (Helgemo 10). The policies that are being enacted in the present days are the proof of how much segregation Native population had to face. The change in laws and the life of a whole population have changed the conditions that go back very far in history.
For thousands of years Native people have enjoyed their freedoms unmarred by the forced ruling of others and the “civilized countries”. Staring in the 18th century, the colonizers would use gifts and promises of prosperity to the Natives, in order for them to change into their culture and forget their own.
This was a trick to assimilate the whole population and enforce own rules and government. The Europeans dominated in power and technology and thus, were able to enforce their influence and will. The seeming peaceful relationship that was prevalent at the first stages of the interaction was very temporary.
There were a number of treaties that were based on peace and mutual cooperation and communication. But, it seemed that there was no obligation for Europeans to honor those Treaties and many were ignored and broken. There are many examples of how colonizers used trickery and deviant ways to fool the Native people.
The trading and influence of alcohol was one of the major changes that Natives have experienced in their relationship with the “white man” (Trigger 205). It is outrageous that such a great number of educated people from Europe were able to behave in such a way towards others. The disrespect that was so great that often there would be violent conflict, as Natives had no other avenue to fight back.
Overall, this sort of behavior from colonizers is nothing new. This has been happening all over the world with all the Native people. The colonizers think it is their right to use their technology and knowledge, to discriminate against those of different cultures and way of life. The fact that Native people have different traditions and beliefs that the colonizers cannot understand, does not give people the right to take over and deprive of respect and natural rights, which have existed long before any colonizing took place.
Helgemo, Wendy L. Housing America’s Native People. Washington, United States: Poverty & Race Research Action Council, 2008. Print.
Lawrence, Bonita. “Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States: An Overview”. Hypatia, 18.2 (2003): 3-31. Print.
Trigger, Bruce. Natives and Newcomers: Canada’s “Heroic Age” Reconsidered. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP, 17.6 (1986): 10-13 Print.
Götz and Meyer, written by David Albahari Research Paper
Fictions on holocaust are often shocking because they depict murders by the Nazi prosecutions and cold-blooded massacre of Jews. Such stories are full of unsparing depiction of human sufferings and genocide to such an effect that, one fails to see perpetrators as humans, who used to be viewed as faceless entities that were programmed to commit murders.
The book Götz and Meyer, written by David Albahari, tries to prove the fact that the perpetrators have a human face. It is emphasized that the protagonists in the novel, who are two Nazi drivers of the gas trucks, are not mere murder machines. The author humanizes the characters in order to present a different way of perceiving the nature of evil. Through the humor and empathy implemented in the novel, the characters that embody two Nazi soldiers are given human faces instead of the sole image of a murderer.
A nameless teacher from Belgrade narrates the story about the destruction of the Serbian Jews during the war. He was obsessed with reconstructing his family tree, therefore, he toiled endlessly in the archives to gather information, but failed miserably for he could find only a few members of his family while there were sixty of them killed.
The narrator says, “For me to truly understand real people like my relatives, I had first to understand real people like Götz and Meyer.” . The novel is about these two characters, who were Nazi soldiers, being unknown to the narrator though.
When the narrator begins his narration, he knows nothing about William Götz and Erwin Meyer except for their names: “Götz and Meyer. Having never seen them, I can only imagine them.” Initially he describes them as unknown people or characters as described in a tale. They were German soldiers, they were SS commissioned, who were assigned the duty of driving a large truck for a “special purpose”. Their duty was to drive the truck every day to and from the fairground in Belgrade. The narrator constantly repeats the following line, “Having never seen them, I can only imagine them” (1) in order to imprint their images in the mind of the listeners, as well as in his own mind. One might say the narrator plays a dangerous game by trying to understand the characters at the risk of becoming them.
At this point, one must note the importance of memory in the novel. Robert Eaglestone in the book The Holocaust and the Postmodern highlights the fact that “memory” helps to “evoke nearly everything there is to a person and to a society.” (74) Eaglestone also believes that the way “we remember the past” helps in framing our identity.
Like most of the Holocaust fictions, the narrator too is nostalgic of his destroyed past and tells the story from memory. However, unlike most Holocaust fictions, Albahari does not depict an ugly picture of the time. His stories deal with death, killing, mass murders in gas chamber, but they do not describe all the sufferings in detail to haunt the reader’s imagination of the Nazi carnage. Rather, the “memory narration” of the novel builds a humane figure for the two people who were Nazis.
Albahari describes the two protagonists, playing with children on the ground before they go back to work. He further underlines that both of them are married and worry about the children at home. One of them, maybe Meyer (again the narrator is unsure which one of them) is fond of children and like presenting them chocolates.
Now these children could easily be Jewish youngsters at Belgrade Fairground whom he had to transport in his truck. Such a scene shows that these two men were the victims. They were there to perform their duty, in reality, they were not monsters with evil eyes and poisonous fangs.
The narrator talks of the ambitions and desires of the protagonists. One of them, (again the narrator is unsure which one), wanted to be a pilot, and the other one has other dreams in his mind.
The narrator is often unsure how to differentiate between them, and often forgets to stress out who was doing some particular things in this or that scene, but these characters are not presented to the readers as caricature of evil villains. Rather, they are presented as individuals committed towards one task. The narrator describes the truck that the protagonists drive:
The truck was a Saurer, a five-tonner with a boxlike body, 1.7 meters high and 5.8 meters long … A full hundred people could stand in the back … During these trips, the souls became real souls, no longer human in form. Götz and Meyer most certainly knew what was happening in the back of the truck…After all, the people they were driving had no souls, that, at least, was a commonly known fact! Jews were nothing more than milder on the face of the world! And so, day in and day out, they would repeat their practiced routine.
This paragraph shows two protagonists in a bad light to the readers, showing that they were carriers of death to men, women, and children they carried in their truck and believed that they were soulless and faceless creatures. The routine involved the protagonists in the destruction of the Serbian Jews.
The novel shows a host of killings that were conducted by SS squads; they shot hundreds of people face to face. However, such mass killings made the German soldiers weary and took a toll on their morale. Therefore, a less personal means of massacre was employed through these mobile gas vans. For the first time, the readers view Götz and Meyer as murderers who helped in asphyxiation of many women and children in their truck.
The narration of the killings makes the narrator more involved, he describes how the protagonists would drive the truck into the distance, and one of them would put the exhaust pipe into the truck. After that, they were never involved in killing. Then, the dead bodies were driven to the Serbian prison where the bodies were dumped. While this gruesome process is being put into effect, the narrator imagines Gotz and Meyer “chatting with their commander”, again enabling the readers to look at these two bearers of death as humans.
The memory of the narrator plays a major role in the description of the biographical or historical fiction, especially that of the Holocaust . This piece of fiction is also drawn from the memory, but the narrator is truthful enough to say that he has not met the characters Goth and Meyer, and therefore, he is obliged to draw from his imagination, which of course has been discoursed with stereotypes.
Individual memory exists in a collective form, adhering to the social norms and framework . For example, in the story, the memory of the narrator was reconstructed by events and incidents that had been externally infused in his mind by those groups that influenced his memory.
Consequently, it is obvious that he will embitter feelings towards the two German soldiers he describes. His imagination is bound to have the stereotypes, and Jewish constructs influence his description of the story as well as the characters. This has helped in humanizing the characters as well.
The novel can be called humorous due to the deadpan tone of the narrator, presenting the story to the readers in a satirical tone. This gives the novel an uncanny comical feature. Once the readers pick a book on holocaust, the prevalent stereotypes play in their mind and eventually they expect a horror story of human atrocities and sufferings.
The element of empathy and humor present in the story is evident in the way the narrator describes the two Nazi protagonists. In a non-committal voice, as if he was narrating the story of any other man, he described how Götz and Meyer were performing their work and duties. He tried to imagine these men, having with their personal lives, full of concerns and problems. The implementation of humor in describing an act of atrocity makes it more tragic .
Humor in holocaust fiction does not imply that the whole story becomes a “carnival”; what is strives to portray is a different perspective of life at the time when it seems it can only be filled with death . Presence of puns and double meaning in dialogues is the essence of Holocaust fiction that is reiterated in Götz and Meyer.
The episode when the narrator describes his untimely desire to itch in the classroom and the episode where he subsequently visits a dermatologist is full of dark humor. After school, the narrator visits a doctor to get the problem of his itching examined. The doctor inquires of any past complaint of skin disease in the narrator’s family. To this query, the narrator sarcastically answers, “Most of them died of poisoning” .
Another instance where the narrator presents a case of dark, double edged humor was when he asked his students to imagine a journey to the camp and when he tells one of his students that she will not be allowed take her pet to the camp. She then contemptuously says “Why, this is inhuman” . Even the protagonists Götz and Meyer are subjected to dark humor as the narrator, making them human as well as inhuman at the same time.
The story uses various tropes to show Götz and Meyer as humans. One of them is when the narrator directly questions the readers:
What kind of man would … consent to do a job that meant putting five or six thousand souls to death? I find it hard to give a student a bad grade at the end of the semester, let alone at the end of the year, but that is nothing compared to the way Götz and Meyer must have felt.
The narrator at once makes the protagonists human and the very next moment brings out the ugly side of their work. By comparing his work as a teacher and their job as killers, the narrator puts two juxtaposing professions to bring out the satire in it. Thus, through interplay of human and inhuman characters to demonstrate the protagonists, Albahari has actually made Götz and Meyer two ordinary men rather than Nazi soldiers.
Albahari, David. Gotz & Meyer. London: Random House, 2005. Print.
Eaglestone, Robert. The Holocaust and the Postmodern . London: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
Pres, Terrence Des. “Holocaust Laughter.” Pres, Terrence Des. Writings into the World. London: Viking, 1991. 279-286. Print.
Witchcraft Fiction Essay
The Malleus Maleficarum is a historical book that was written in the middle age. The term Malleus Maleficarum means ‘The witch hammer’. The book guided investigators as they eradicated witchcraft in the society. The effect of this historical book is intensive in the modern society despite the time that has elapsed since it was first published.
The essay will discuss women’s victimization and affirmation in relation to witchcraft. Moreover, the relationship between witches and demons will be outlined. Historical ideologies based on witchcraft as discussed in the Malleus Maleficarum and how such ideas can be transformed by fiction will be scrutinized.
Christianity doctrines failed to accept the existence of witchcraft and dismissed the ideology of Malleus Maleficarum as mere superstitions.
Witchcraft victimized women to a great extent as sentence of witches was fatal. The historical book solved the problem of uncertainty, as witches would only be branded if they fitted the description. In fact, approximately 9 million women were hanged or burnt alive after they were regarded as witches.
Before the guidelines, witches were branded based on mere suspicion or failure to comply with Catholic doctrines. The Malleus Maleficarum intensified the works of investigators and was regarded as a book that was soaked in blood. The witch hunting exercise took place for a period of 250 years and realized good results (Kieckhefer 24).
Witchcraft Fiction Transformation
Witch hunting was meant to eradicate evilness that was associated with witchcraft in the society. Emphasis was on witches and not wizards since women engaged in witchcraft more than men did. The investigators’ court judged both witches and those that were accused of sacrilege.
The Catholic doctrines did not agree with ideology of existence of witches who could transform nature permanently. According to Christians, belief in magic powers of witches was regarded as blasphemy. The devil and witches could not cause permanent transformation on human beings, according to Christian doctrines.
For example, the suffering that was inflicted on Job involved natural factors like diseases, which are manipulated by God. Christians argue that if witches and demons had power to transform nature, then there would be a lot of disorganization in the world (Ankarloo and Clark 11).
The Malleus Maleficarum argues that the power that is influenced by physical factors, like that of a witch cannot exceed natural phenomena (Broedel and Hans 9).
The devil has power to study the stars and witches call on his intervention in their evil acts by observing certain star patterns. It should be noted that, the devil and witches cannot manipulate the pattern of stars; nature cannot be transformed by demons or witches. The craft that is used by the devil, like in the instance of studying the stars, can never be adequate to transformation nature permanently. Permanent situations like disease or cure can only exist by other power and not that of devils and witches (Ankarloo and Clark 16).
Power influence among the witch, devil and God has been scrutinized in the Malleus Maleficarum. Permanent transformation can only occur when the superior power influences the weaker powers. For example, the devil could cause permanent transformation of nature only when permission is granted by God.
There are those scholars who postulate that witchcraft and magic do not exist. Others argue that there is witchcraft although its influence and effect on nature exists in the mind. In addition, there are postulations that although magic may be imaginary the cooperation between the witch and devil is real (Kieckhefer 20).
The three postulations have been nullified in the Malleus Maleficarum as none of them adequately explains the effects of the devil and witches. According to Thomas S., witchcraft exists and it is a sacrilege to argue that there are no witches. However, transformation of nature by demons and witches is only possible if permission is granted by God. Notably, it is wrong to postulate that effects of witches are imaginary.
Devils have power over men and can transform them if God permits. According to Malleus Maleficarum, angels who fell from heaven became devils and were more powerful than human beings. Witches are defined as women who try to behave like these devils and win more people to their religion (Kieckhefer 12).
The belief that the effects of witchcraft can only be presented mentally was also misplaced and its application led to false persecution of people. For example, there are women who were branded as witches simply because they confessed having a strange illusion. According to the Canon law, witches were supposed to be killed as stated in the Holy Scriptures.
Malleus Maleficarum has been associated with death and suffering of many people based on social structure. The book encouraged hunting of witches and in the process innocent people were killed. It should, however, be noted that Malleus Maleficarum also had positive impact especially on women.
Witch branding was more specific and there were more investigations than judgments after Malleus Maleficarum was introduced. There are arguments that the historical book was discriminative as women were the only victims. Moreover, the method used to suspect and brand witches was not fair. Witch hunting was the only way to cleanse the society off evil and prevent spread of crime to male gender (Ankarloo and Clark 17).
The scientific field was regarded as being sacrilegious in the middle age. The historical book used the information that was well known to enable people cope and understand nature. Malleus Maleficarum tried to unite people by eradicating witchcraft in the society in the best way possible.
Although Christians differed with the analogy of witchcraft, the effect of Malleus Maleficarum was intensive and penetrated all levels. It should be noted that, before the Bible, Malleus Maleficarum guidelines were universally used to save people from evil (Broedel 16).
Women Victimization and Affirmation
There are different approaches that have been used to comprehend the nature of witchcraft. The female gender has been associated with a higher incidence of witchcraft as compared to the male gender. The Malleus Maleficarum compares a woman, tongue and Ecclesiastes as they commonly reach extremity.
When a woman is holy and righteous she is known for the best virtue and when she becomes evil her wickedness is extreme. A woman is described as evil that can never be avoided by the society. Women are portrayed as being naive and are easily tricked by the devil into witchcraft.
Moreover, women are easily influenced by spirits than men thus are easily converted into witchcraft and superstitions (Kieckhefer 18). In addition, women are portrayed as gossipers and, therefore, spread evil to fellow women at a higher rate than male gender. There are postulations that the subordinate role assigned to female gender renders women vulnerable to witchcraft and superstitions. Society victimizes women and they shield themselves with witchcraft.
There are perceptions that women are less intellectual than men are and are thus likely to fall into witchcraft. For example, according to Malleus Maleficarum, only one woman could comprehend philosophy. Furthermore, the first woman was formed from a bent rib, which shows that women are imperfect and cunning. Women are described as being weak in faith and easy trusting, traits that are required in witchcraft (Ankarloo and Clark 11).
There are allegations that the women who were weak and intellectually challenged by men saw witchcraft as the only means of vengeance. Women are associated with poor memory and most married men said that their wives were the cause of their sorrow. Women who practiced witchcraft had their love converted to hatred and by all means sought vengeance.
The voice of a woman is said to be deceitful, as she does not mean what she says. Most of kingdoms have suffered due to women wickedness. For example, wicked Jezebel was cursed due to her wickedness and led to destruction of Jews. Women are also known to go to extremity to get what they desire.
For example, women dress and adorn themselves to capture the attention of men. According to Malleus Maleficarum unsatisfied sexual desires that are more pronounced among women are the root causes for witchcraft and superstitions. It should be noted that witches are more likely to be infidel, ambitious and sexually unsatisfied. Since women were most likely to be involved in witchcraft as compared to men, Malleus Maleficarum aimed to reduce the majority (Broedel 27).
Despite the wickedness that is associated with women, there are instances where they are praised in the Malleus Maleficarum. When the naive nature of a woman is not corrupted by witchcraft, then she will be holy and righteous. For example, God appointed Mary to be the mother of Jesus Christ because she was righteous.
Women innocence is greatly valued as virgins are seen as being pure and not evil. Sex was sacred and adultery was punished by death. Women accused of having sexual relations with the devil were branded as witches and killed (Kieckhefer 22). On the other hand, those who valued their purity were greatly rewarded.
Women, Satan and God
According to varied arguments, witches work in conjunction with devil and it is impossible for them to cause harm on human beings without cooperation. The Malleus Maleficarum uses various approaches to determine whether harm can be a sole responsibility. The analogy of Job in the Bible has been used to show how devil inflicted suffering on him in absence of a witch but with permission of God (Ankarloo and Clark 21).
The superior power of the devil must not consult the inferior power of the witch before any action. Consequently, inferior power only consults superior power when the task is beyond its ability. Christians dismiss the idea of existence of any power that can transform nature permanently. The Malleus Maleficarum states that permanent transformation can only be done in accordance to the will of God.
The devil does not need the witches to complete his mission but rather uses them and in the end destroys them. According to this perception, witches are used involuntarily by the devil and should not be punished for actions that are beyond their control. On the contrary, there are arguments that evil is voluntary and should not be seen as a responsibility. For example, a person rapes for pleasure and not obedience to some power. Witches should be punished because they find pleasure in evil deeds (Stewart 8).
Since the devil is in a spirit form, he requires witches to get in contact with humans. It is impossible for the devil to cause harm or cause permanent transformation without any intervention by witches. There are arguments that transformation can be realized by power of imagination and not necessarily by body contact. For example, a person is not likely to sit on a broken chair simply because he imagines the possibility of falling.
Transformation in this case is not caused by body contact but by invisible power of imagination. Malleus Maleficarum argues that magic should not be associated with evil powers simply because we are not aware of how the effect of transformation is realized (Broedel and Hans 23).
Malleus Maleficarum played a great role in eradication of witchcraft in the middle age. Women have been prejudiced and affirmed in this literature. Scholars and psychologists have different perceptions in regard to Malleus Maleficarum. There are those who criticize the book for being responsible for deaths of many innocent people in the middle age while others appreciate its efforts.
Historians should appreciate the efforts of Malleus Maleficarum in eradicating witchcraft. The guidelines could not be perfect to ensure that no innocent soul was lost during the witch hunting exercise. The approach was directed to women because they were the majority, and this should not be seen as discrimination.
Ankarloo, Bernard, and Stuart Clark. Witchcraft and Magic in Europe in the Middle Ages. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2002. Print.
Broedel, Peter. The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft: Theology and Popular Belief. Manchester: Manchester University. Press. 2004. Print.
Kieckhefer, Richard. Magic in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Print.
Stewart, Maxwell. Witchcraft in Europe and the New World. New York: Palgrave publishers. 2001. Print.
Leadership Skills: “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli Essay
The Prince is a story written by Niccolo Machiavelli after his downfall in the government as a diplomatist and political consultant. Machiavelli directs his pieces of advice to both readers and leaders assuming that all of them have similar leadership skills or strategies.
Although it is an ancient story, personally it is a revelation to good governance and enables me to understand the behavior of our current leaders.
During his tenure in the government, Machiavelli rubbed shoulders with prominent politicians in his country. His role as a diplomat and political consultant enabled him to study politicians and governors. Therefore, The Prince is not only advising the princes, but also anybody else (reader) with intentions of acquiring leadership positions especially in the government.
In addition, Machiavelli intention is to enlighten the public or his readers on governing skills and the common behavior observed in leaders or princes.
Machiavelli career as a politician and diplomat motivated him to write about princes and governance. At only twenty -five years old, he joined government therefore, being fully involved in politics.
Unfortunately, he did not exhaust his role in politics when the ruling government was overturned leading to his imprisonment, harassment, and eventual exile. The hopes of rekindling his political career motivated him to write the story, The Prince.
The prince is a story set in the ancient republic of Florence in which Machiavelli once worked. According to Machiavelli, princes who receive praises from their subjects have different ruling qualities from those who continually receive opposition (1513, cited in Kishlansky, p.17).
Anger, oppression, and cruelty lead to opposition, while humanity and humbleness promote good governance. On the other hand, Machiavelli calls for princes to distance themselves from their subjects because close ties lead to insecurity (cited in Kishlansky, 2002, p.19).
Furthermore, he advises princes not to fully trust military or mercenaries because they might overthrow them. Finally, princes should honor their subjects through holding parties or festivals and giving them awards.
When Machiavelli was writing his story, he assumed that princes who rule all the states in the West have a similar method of governance. Additionally, he assumed that all subjects, army, and mercenaries under the governance of a prince have similar behavior. He also assumed his readers are political aspirants with intentions of acquiring political offices.
Personally, Machiavelli doctrines are true because he describes the consequences of good and bad governance. The prosperity of a kingdom or government is always in the hands of the ruler whether a prince or any other leader.
In summary, Machiavelli directs his doctrines to readers with intentions of leading in future. His hopes to continue his career as a political consultant motivates him to write the document, which explicitly outlines leadership skills.
During his writing, he assumes all states in West are under the governance of princes while all subjects have similar behavioral conducts. Personally, I believe in the document’s doctrines because Machiavelli compares failure and achievements of leaders. Therefore, all leaders should adapt humanity, equality, appreciation, and peace for prosperity of their kingdom or areas of jurisdiction.
Machiavelli, N. (1513). The Prince. In M.A. Kishlansky, Sources of the West Reading in Western Civilization (4th Ed.). (pp. 17-20). London: Longman.
“Triumph at Kapyong: Canada’s Pivotal Battle in Korea” by Dan Bjarnason Essay (Book Review)
‘Triumph at Kapyong:Canada’s Pivotal Battle in Korea’ by Bjarnason, is a book that revolves around Princess Patricia’s second battalion comprised of about seven hundred participants who were dispatched into the line of the United Nations forces with the aim of plugging a hole.
Starting 24th of April 1951 at night, a group of Chinese troops which were battle –hardened communists crossed into Kapyong with the intention of surrounding and destroying the Canadian strong points completely. The number of the troops was estimated at more than five thousand.
The Canadians did not surrender but instead kept on fighting the troops. The number of their rivals outnumbered theirs by almost seven times. The PPCLI managed to counter serious attacks that threatened causing Seoul city, the capital of South Korea to fall.
The book is a tribute that recognizes not only a war that was often neglected, but also the vital play and significant contribution that Canada made to peacekeeping and how it actively thwarted the incursions spearheaded by Chinese communists.
The book was released as the celebrations of marking 60 years of the war were in progress. Its date of release was as important as the story itself.
While the focus of the book was the Kapyong battle, a tiny collection of hills to the Northeastern part of Seoul, Bjarnason deemed it necessary to explain the circumstances that triggered Canada’s involvement in the war, the establishment of the combat group that was instrumental in fighting the new war, and the courageousness of the main leaders in ensuring that the command closely worked with the wider UN personnel, but remained free of direct control from the Americans.
Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses of the Book
Bjarnason succeeds in identifying the key people who participated in the war and represents them very well in the book. Through such key individuals, the book focuses on the crucial role Canada played in a defense mission sponsored by the UN to secure the sovereignty of South Korea.
The defense led to the loss of lives of more than five hundred Canadians. The book tells the story in such a manner that the soldering of the Canadians is notable and the reader can quote their stories.
Among the important people highlighted in the book is platoon commander Mike Levy who led the PPCLI to defeat the Chinese communists despite the many challenges they were going through. In the book, Bjarnason describes the leadership portrayed by Levy during the war as having originated from his character as opposed to the training he had received.
The strong character of Levy that led to their success is explained in the book when a lull was experienced during the battle. The author points out that Levy overheard instructions from a Chinese commander urging his troops to move and finish the American pigs.
He understood Chinese well and shouted back at the officer and informed him that they were Canadians and there were a large number of Canadian soldiers. When the communist troops were about to overwhelm the Canadians, Levy devised an SOS and DFSOS tactic that defeated the Chinese communists.
This is a strength of the book since it successfully brings out the strong character of Levy who used his bravery to drive the Chinese communists away during a time they almost overwhelmed the Canadians. Bjarnason concludes that the bravery portrayed by Levy was a legendary stuff.
He writes that the battle was eventually forgotten just like the war had been forgotten. He says that the story of Kapyong is representative of the qualities of modesty, courage, self-belief and initiative that the Canadians believed constituted the national character of the people.
The soldiers who were on the battlefront at Kapyong were Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry second battalion. The troops had proved themselves capable and had earned respect at Ortona and Vimy. As a result of what they had achieved in the past, they were given the first priority to participate in the Korean battle.
The book successfully, explains how important leadership was for PPCLI, starting with the brigadier who commanded the troops, John Rockingham. Brigadier Rockingham was a highly treasured veteran in combat activities whose desire was to have the job executed in a professional manner.
There were also other subordinates who facilitated the Kapyong defense. The book gives a detailed explanation of the crucial role played by Lieutenant-colonel Jim Stone, who commanded PPCLI second battalion. He had trained the soldiers in such a way that they were prepared to face a first fire trial in a dangerous territory against an enemy who was heavily armed and attacked mostly at night.
The book presents a clear picture of how a US patrol was brutally massacred after they were found in their sleeping equipment. During this period, Stone instructed that his men on patrol were to use only blankets for keeping themselves warm.
The idea behind the blanket was that it would only provide them with minimal warmth that would not prevent the soldiers from launching counter attacks. The US troops on patrol had been massacred because they were in the sleeping bags hence they were caught without their knowledge.
That attack carried out at Kapyong was motivated by the fifth phase of the Chinese 1951 offensive. It might have been likely that majority of historians knew little of the role Canada played in the battle, but probably they knew about the serious fighting that was witnessed at the Gloustershire Regiment, which was part of the British army to the west.
There were also tales of the defeat of the third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment after the war intensified. While these groups were losing their ground in the battle front, the Canadians remained strong and prevailed at the end.
The book manages to make a clear comparison of the defense and victory of Canadians to stands such as the Spartans and Little big Horn. While the PPCLI was not widely known like the British section during the battle, it was able to counter an onslaught from about five thousand Chinese communists hence averting a deadly attack although they lost their ten members.
The book provides an undoubtedly fast-paced and engaging comprehension. Bjarnason points out that the scope of the book is to reach a high number of readers for them to appreciate the sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers as opposed to having it read by only military historians.
Bjarnason briefly outlines the history surrounding the formation of the unit following the Second World War thus enabling the readers to acknowledge the sacrificial nature of the soldiers and the circumstances under which they fought and eventually lost their lives.
Bjarnason very effectively includes a personal perspective to the battle when he mentions the men together with their prior history, during the war and after the war ended.
Some of the personal tales mentioned in the book include the deeds of Wayne Mitchell who received the DCM medal since he offered fire support using a Bren gun at the height of the attacks. He sustained injuries two times as he attempted to rescue his colleagues by offering covering fire.
Bjarnason also points out that Mike Levy exhibited bravery during the fighting at Kapyong through provision of artillery and mortar fire. At the same time, Levy was hurling insults at the opponents because he understood Chinese.
The book also points out that Captain Mills received an award for his important role of passing information between the support units and the soldiers while Levy’s concentration was on fire.
Bjarnason attempts to make corrections on historical records by describing the valiant performance portrayed by Levy and how his Judaism proclamation made his actions lack the right recognition. This was a form of anti-Semitism that prevailed in the 1950s. Detailed accounts of how the soldiers acted bravely and sacrificed their lives adds strength to the authors attempt to explain the commitment of the soldiers.
The book offers a clear description of the joint effort where the Americans assisted the Canadians to get into the battle front together with the efforts shown by the gunners from New Zealand and medical personnel from India.
The author uses the concerted efforts from different parties to clearly show that the battle was the efforts of the United Nations. In addition, Bjarnason interestingly brings out how Colonel Stone clamored for acclimation, training and patrols in the regions before the soldiers were taken to the line, something that assisted the Canadians so much in surviving the most dangerous stages during the battle.
Despite the strengths that can be pointed out in this book, it nevertheless has some weaknesses. One of the weaknesses of the book is that it cannot be regarded as an absolute military history. Use of maps was enough in complementing the story, but its clarity could have been improved if advanced tactical maps indicating the movements and locations of the Canadian soldiers and the Chinese communists had been used.
Through the book, the reader is provided with various histories of the battle and an outline of the historical role played by Canada in the war. Such works are responsible for giving a big picture view of the war.
Nonetheless, it is of essence to take into consideration that the book does not give a comprehensive war history, rather it highlights the first key battle that the Canadian soldiers participated in Korea, and the crucial nature of the battle that might be sidelined.
Regardless of the nationality of the Korean natives, the book manages to bring out the sense of being slighted experienced by Koreans because they do not have adequate information on their war. Most of them lack information on the horrific situations that prevailed on the Peninsula of Korea.
For instance, there were constant patrols and the war seemed static meaning that the conditions were terrible and the disparities in fighting material among the participants. Bjarnason explains that the Patricia’s used a bolt Lee-Enfield rifle which was slow to counter attacks from the Chinese fighters.
However, what brought about the difference in the end was the bearer of the weapon rather than the weapon itself. The book manages to capture the contribution made by the Canadians in the war and the sacrifices they made including losing their lives.
Highway of the Atom: Essay (Book Review)
The book commences with an explanation by the author about the meaning of its title, Highway of the Atom. The author bases his work on a certain period in history about uranium mining and the impact it had on the local natives in Canada.
The mining at Port Radium at Great Bear Lake affected the inhabitants of that area and the environment. To grasp the gist of the mining tragedy, the author goes through phases of the reconstruction background where all this happens.
In the beginning of his research on this piece of work, he attempts to get archived records about the mineral exploration by the Eldorado Mining and Refining Company. However, he gets other sources of information on which to base his research. This Company was in charge of the uranium mining at Port Radium at the Great Bear Lake region from 1930 to 1960.
The author tells the story how the foundation of the North was laid. He also reveals various views of many writers that seek to grasp what it is all about. From the various field notes on the different parts of the North where he travelled, the reader gets the different aspects of the region and its people.
The author comes up with a constructive argument about different perceptions about the North, and the reader plunges into this debate. Once the background and foundation is laid in the reader’s mind, the author describes the process of exploration of minerals before and after 1930.
His information on this period of time comes from different sources about the discovery of the uranium at Port Radium. He explains the Dene’s involvement in the discovery of the mineral and the mining.
He gives an account of his interactions with the Dene community and their responses. This entire exercise does not yield to the answers he expected to receive, but gets a deeper insight into what really happened during the mining period and afterwards.
The author tries to argue the ethical stand of the Dene community who were victims of the uranium mining at Port Uranium. They took responsibility for the Atomic bomb explosion and apologized to the Japan bomb victims. How could they take responsibility for something they did not knowingly do?
The Dene community sent a group of elders to Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan to apologize for their involvement in the mining of the uranium used to make the atomic bomb that killed almost 80,000 people in 1945. This is an ethical move because the Dene has been suffering cancers and related diseases that have been linked to their unprotected handling of nuclear active material.
The uranium and radium leaked as it was carried to the boats, they used the bags to construct their houses and slowly these materials got into their bodies and surrounding environment. The author takes the reader through a journey to understand who these people are, where they come from and what made them do such an admirable thing.
As we embark on this journey, one asks how the writer became an authority on nuclear material issues. In 2005, he researched on nuclear activities at a plant in New Mexico which formed a prequel to the Highway to the atom. The book examines the mining process and the impacts on the lives of all the involved at Great Bear Lake. The author explains what the highway to the atom denotes in this book.
The first definition is the highway or colonial path used for the purposes of trade. The Great Bear Lake was a path way of northern frontiers where goods and people passed through.
The second definition of the high way would be how the uranium was carried from the mines to the boats and affected people in form of cancers and other diseases. It is a history that persists in the present in form of ruins and memories (Wyck 21).
The author’s goal is to explain the Dene mining tragedy in Northern Canada. He starts by explaining his sources of information that makes him come to certain conclusions. He is able to communicate this by explaining how the mining started, the involvement of Dene and the repercussions of this uranium mining.
The pace of the story is a little slow at first, but it is consistent and finally makes sense as one reads on. After making the title of the film ‘Village of widows’ and visiting by ten Dene members, the author decided to find out more about these people and the tragedy brought about by the uranium mining around 1930.
It is said that “Something happens here and there because it really happened over there and then’’ (31). The mining company that discovered the uranium at Great Bear Lake hired Dene to move the uranium from the mine to the boats in order to transport it to various places and different companies. for example the Manhattan project.
The nuclear material mined at the port radium found its way to Manhattan and was a part of the uranium used for manufacturing the World War II atomic bombs. The uranium contaminated the environment around it and the people who were in direct contact with it. The mineral leaked in transit contaminating the travelling vessels.
After the closing of the mines, they felt the effects uranium poisoning around the Great Bear Lake region. Radon gas found in the uranium causes lung cancers, that is way the miners who were working in the mines during that period developed related diseases.
The miners and their families are still exposed to radiation through the contaminated environment. Many men who were working in the mines died from cancers related ailments due to the radiation exposure. The Dene people did not know that the uranium could harm their health and had no idea of its use until the end of World War II.
The arguments presented by the author are good, the reader gets to ponder over and wonder with him as he seeks answers. They are well-supported with content of well researched and thought out material.
When explaining the authenticity of various sources of information about the discovery of the uranium, the writer presents various sources from local newspapers to accounts by the explorers. There are different versions of the story how Gilbert LaBine discovered the uranium ore deposits at the Great Bear Lake.
The author takes the reader through several occurrences leading up to the discovery of the uranium ore. He creates vivid pictures in the reader’s mind about the places he is writing about with help of the pictures and detailed descriptions.
The author uses the field notes of the places he has been to in his research to bring out various perceptions by people and places. When I have read this book, I have learnt a few things about Canada’s history since 1945. It was actively involved in World War II. The Mining Company sold uranium mined at Port radium to the Manhattan project to make the atomic bomb that ended World War II.
Canada acquired the Eldorado mining and refining company and was responsible for the safety of the mine workers.
This shows the injustice towards the Dene and other native tribes in northern Canada. The crown owned operation did not even bother to clean up their radioactive waste which is still lying in the ground of the lake area affecting both animals and plants. The former mine workers are dying of cancers and other related diseases from unprotected labor during the mining of the uranium ore.
The Southern and Northern parts of Canada are distinctively different. The idea of the north has been shrouded by myths and fascination. One can describe it as an inhospitable, dark and cold frontier (Wyck 12).
The author leads the reader to get a perspective of how to define the North as he tries to lay a foundation for his research and the reader tries to get the background of the unfolding events. This is mostly influenced by the works of various writers concerning the idea of North.
There have been attempts to make the Canadian government compensate the Dene for the exposure to radiation as they worked for a crown owned company.
As much as there are disputes going on about the cause of death and cancers in the Deline community and the supposed radiation exposure, scientists from the government claim that there was no direct link between those deaths and the radiation exposure.
It is also argued that none of the Dene worked inside the mine, so the level of exposure was minimal as they only transported the ore to the boats.
The ideas and arguments presented by the author are consistent; this is evident from the beginning of the story as he develops the meaning of his title and background for his research. He follows through to explain how the mining took place, the Dene involvement in the project and the effects of the mining.
From the very beginning and up to the end, reader gets the entire image of the book as ideas combine with each other giving a flow to the work. The research that he bases this book on seems credible since he considers all the sources of information in his study.
His interaction with the Dene and their elders gives him more information for his book. At the beginning of the book, the author explains his attempts to get archived documents about the mining process by Eldorado Company. He is unable to do so because of the access and privacy legislation that protects such documents as Eldorado was a crown owned entity.
He was not able to get information on the policies, practices and directors of the mining company.The Library and Archives Canada contain these records. He gathers information from Journals written by people who lived at Port Radium before and after the mining began.
Maps and photos can link ideas in this history. The author had to separate the truth from the myths of radium mining and the North. He started his research 9 years before the publishing of the book, I am sure this gave him enough time to research thoroughly the material used in this book.
He spent time with the Dene community and interacted with them. Although at first, the people were not really interested in what he was there to talk about, as most of those who had worked in the mines were dead. The author could get information that confirmed what he had already known from other sources and see a new perspective.
The author presented his ideas clearly throughout the book. He even used photographs of the places relevant to this history which make the reader get a better understanding of these places.
In the first chapter of his book, the setting takes place in Great Bears Lake in 2003, he starts by examining the meaning of the title of his book, the road the uranium atom takes, which is from Port radium to Manhattan and eventually to Japan thereby ending World War II.
It leaves a lot of destruction and deathes along the way with leakages and waste dumping at the mining sites and radiation exposure to the miners and ore carriers. The highway that was used as trade route became the highway of contamination and death.
The 2nd chapter is about the author’s inspiration to tell the story of the Deline community in Northern Canada. He is intrigued by the Dene community elders’ journey to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and questions why they took responsibility for something they did not do.
The documentary Village of Widows by Peter Blow played a great role in inspiring Wyck to write this book. The 3rd Chapter focuses on what happened around 1930; there were explorations North of Canada aided by the local natives before the discovery of the Pitch Blende.
Based on information from journals and newspaper clippings from that period, the author highlights the fact that copper and natural silver mining brought a lot of people to the Great Bear Lake region.
Gilbert LaBine was one of Eldorado mining and refining company’s directors and claimed that he discovered the Pitch Blende that had the uranium ores. The people of the Dene say that Gilbert stole a sample of the uranium from one of their members and did not just stumble on the Pitch Blende ore, but was led there.
This chapter also explains how the uranium found its way to the Manhattan project. Upon the discovery, the Canadian government acquired shares in the Eldorado mining and refining company.
During the War period, all the allies wanted to increase their uranium deposits making the demand high and this led to the reopening of the mines around 1944 with the aid of the government. In this chapter, the author visited the Dene community to get answers from them.
His experience sheds light on the native communities of Canada in the North and their relationship with the South. The last chapter concludes this history about the Dene community, the historical implication of the uranium mining as well as the effects.
The author makes an interesting quote that death can make claim on the living through the highway of the atom. The contaminated bodies show all the awful consequences through their progeny.
The contamination of the land and body is only seen as disease through the poisoning of someone or something (Wyck 4). The Dene only discovered later on that the radium rock they carried for Eldorado and the Canadian government was causing cancers among their people and also poisoned their soils.
Wyck, V. Peter. Highway of the Atom. Canada: McGill’s University Press, 2010. Print.
In the World of Mirrors: Looking for the Author’s Image Explicatory Essay
The Scent of Garlic: China Postmodernism and Mo Yan
In spite of the fact that postmodernism in China, like every influence coming from the West turns into something completely inimitable and unique, the art of Chinese authors can be still understood by the European dwellers. Among the issues which modern Chinese writers touch upon the one concerning the political life of the country takes one of the key places.
Since expressing direct critique is not the Chinese refined style, Mo Yan, one of the most prolific modern – or should it be said, postmodern? – writer uses the most refined and exquisite style of metaphors. As Jensen explains, “Interfamily struggles and intrigues, involving complex and sensitive historical and political issues, lend the novel an allegorical quality” (166).
Putting his ideas into his characters and making them speak the way he does and think the way he thinks, the Chinese author creates the world of his own where there are no boundaries for people’s will, the specific “’my’ world” (122), as Lu says.
Exploring the political issues is one of those spheres where Mo Yan is most brilliant. With the most subtle hints and the most picturesque descriptions he exposes the life of the ordinary people to the eyes of the audience, making the readers live in China fro a while.
Thus, plunging into the fascinating, wise and enticing stories, one can touch upon the versatile and yet so conservative Chinese culture. Cai explains this in the following way: “the post-Mao move toward modernity has also been designed and implemented under an acute awareness of the need to position china in an increasingly globalized environment” (154).
However, like a real wise man, Mo does not speak his ideas in the novel, leaving this complicated issue to his characters. And they do talk, in an impressive and convincing way. Yet there is quite an important question: whom should the reader listen to?
The Faces of the Author
No matter what one can read between the lines of a novel, the author will never reveal his/her true face to the reader. However, trying to draw certain parallels between the lead characters of the book and the author him-/herself, it could be possible to come to certain conclusion. Thus, it would be better to consider the ideas which the works of Mo Yan are shot through with.
What Mo Yan was trying to convey in his book was the desperate state of Chinese peasants in the so-called Paradise County. His heart was aching for the country stamped into dirt straight after its short revival. With great pain for the results of the situation in China, he managed to express his sorrow through the novel. However, Mo Yan did not accuse either of the parties. Like a wise man should do, he only observed what was going on. Not able to speak out loud, he created the characters who could speak the truth louder than anyone else.
Thus, Sollars comments on the works of Mo Yan in the following way:
In Mo Yan’s The Garlic Ballads, the rural world is moved to China in the 1980s. Set in the fictional Paradise County in northern China, the novel relates the stories of Gao Yang and Gao Ma, two peasants participating in a riot of the garlic farmers. (533)
Pointing that Yan is greatly concerned with the political situation in China and its tragic past, Sollars gives a hint to understanding which character speaks the words of Mo Yan.
It is obvious that the character whom Mo Yan has chosen as the herald of the author’s own opinion is supposed to be a person of certain social position concerning the politics of the Chinese “the powers that be”, with the soul of a rebel and with the eyes of a wise man. Contrasting to the typical Shifu who will “do anything for a lunch” (Yan 50), these self-assured little people have great power and even greater influence.
It seems that Mo Yan has added a piece of his own ideas into each of the characters – otherwise his novel would not have been so impressive and convincing. One of the characters who could convey Mo Yan’s ideas was the lawyer. The author’s idea of justice for China and lenience to the politicians who led China to its decay was perfectly demonstrated by the lawyer and his position towards the chaos in China.
Another character who could impersonate Mo Yan and speak his ideas was the Storyteller. Old and wise, the man merely observes the situation, the people and the results of their actions, and keeps the story for the descendants. As Yang said, “Mo Yan has never persisted in the ideal of root seeking” (207).
Yet it seems that the one and only character who could embody the ideas of the author was the blind minstrel. It is a peculiar detail that Mo Yan’s pen name is translated as “Don’t speak”. Mo Yan cannot speak openly about his ideas; likewise, the minstrel cannot see what is going on. Yet both of them know how to make the situation change, and they change it. The minstrel convinces people to create a riot, which drives them to even worse condition than they used to be.
Because of his concern for the country and its citizen, Mo Yan cannot keep silence, yet knowing that bald accusations would be of no use, he makes the characters of his novels speak on his behalf. With such simple and yet efficient way of making people listen to his reasons, the author can afford being as sincere as possible.
Choosing different characters with various backgrounds, Mo Yan can make readers see the versatility of the aspects which he discusses. Proving his geniality, Mo Yan revives the old stories and makes his characters completely alive.
Cai, Rong. The Subject in Crisis in Contemporary Chinese Literature. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2004. Print.
Jensen, Lionel M., Timothy B. Weston. China’s Transformations: The Stories Beyond the Headlines. Lahlam, MD: Rowman&Littlefield, 2007. Print.
Lu, Tonglin. Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Chinese Literature and Society. New York, NY: SUNY Press, 1993. Print.
Sollars, Michael D. The Facts on File Companion to the World Novel, 1900 to the Present. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2008. Print.
Yan, Mo. Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh. New York, NY: Arcade Publishing, 2003. Print.
Yang, Xiaobin. The Chinese Postmodern: Trauma and Irony in Chinese Avant-Garde Fiction. Ann Atbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2002. Print.
Children’s Literature for Literacy Essay
Literature is one of the most amazing forms of art in the world. Words of different writers, their ideas, and unbelievable imagination – all this make each piece of literature unique and captivating. Nowadays, in the world of literature, there are no limitations, inequality, and other problematic issues. Everyone has the right to enjoy a story and learn something new. However, if a person is at the age of 7 or 12, the works by Dickens, London, or Ngai will be a bit complicated to comprehend.
This is why literature may simply divided into adult and children’s one. “One of the delights of children’s literature is that it does not fit easily into any cultural or academic category.” (Hunt, 2001, p.1) Children literature deserves lots of attention; it provides the reader with an opportunity to investigate the worlds of different people, analyze oneself, and comprehend each piece of information because of such features as a friendly and simple language, captivating illustrations, and the length.
There are three brightest examples of children’s literature to discuss: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, and Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan.
Bridge to Terabithia is one the best works written by Paterson. It is a story about a young boy, Jesse Aarons, his neighbour, Leslie Burke, and their imaginary world called Terabithia. Jesse has no friends and tries to find a kind of support from Leslie’s side. Leslie is fond of captivating stories and likes to create unbelievable things. The desire to invent something together leads to the creation of Terabithia. This is a wonderful world without enemies and quarrels.
Leslie, as a queen, and Jesse, as a king, decide to visit this country together only. However, one day, Leslie makes a decision to go there without Jesse (he has a meeting with a teacher he falls in love), and accidently, she falls into a creek and dies. Jesse cannot but blame himself. He has no right to leave Leslie alone, and now, she is gone, and he has to continue living, living in Terabithia without her. “How could they dare? Leslie belonged to him. More to him than anyone in the world.” (Paterson, 2004, p. 145)
This story is about friendship, love, trust, and fantasy. Our life is so unpredictable, people do not know for sure when it is their time to leave this world. This is what the author wants to tell the reader. Even if people have own worlds and share them with the others, nothing can save from the destiny, good or bad.
In 1989, Mem Fox presented Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, another interesting work for and about children. This is a story about a boy with such a complicated name – Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. One of the peculiar features of this character is his burning desire to know more and ask questions.
“There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old, either. His house was next door to an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there.” (Fox, 1989) Lots of them have some health troubles, the others just have no place to go. Wilfred befriends with one old lady, Miss Nancy, in order to help her brainstorm some memories. His actions are so naive and kind. His desire to help elder people is the best lesson the reader should learn.
The peculiar feature of this very book is that it can be interesting either adults or children. There are several types of children literature: books written by children, books for children, and children books for both parents and children. This story may be interesting to parents because it describes how children may be helpful. This book also presents several methods, which may help to train child’s memory and even improve it.
Gary Crew and Shaun Tan present another amazing children story – Memorial. In spite of the fact that it is a short picture book, it calls lots of emotions and feelings. Illustrations created by Tan are really powerful and splendid. The attention to each detail, correct shapes, and sense of light – this all is about one little book, the book that will be interesting both for grown ups and children.
This story is devoted to soldiers and their families, who struggled for our future generation and happier life. Memorials, built in soldiers’ honour, remind people about the courage and fame that play a crucial role in this life.
With the help of such book, children get a wonderful opportunity to learn more about people’s duties and even comprehend deeper the sense of life. Illustrative examples and a simple language make this book clear for children. The structure of Memorial reminds a kind of box full of memories. In such case, this book serves as an artifact and comprises both functions as an educative device and a kind of entertainment.
There are so many worlds, people can share with each other. It may be an imagery country without evil (Bridge to Terabithia), a real world, where children and elder people live together (Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge), and a world of history, which is necessary to respect (Memorial).
It does not matter what kind of world you prefer, the major point is that they all are available within children’s literature pieces of art. “The status of children’s literature as the focus of serious study is relatively recent. Indeed the definition of what constitutes a children’s literature has been a subject of debate.” (Hawkis-Dady, 1996, p. 138) However, it is not quite reasonable to start arguing about the role of children’s literature and its position in the world of literature in general.
Children’s literature helps to investigate and analyze the inner world of any person from two possible perspectives: adult and child. It is important to have an opportunity to analyze and study life from early years. For lots of children, it is not that easy to comprehend the essence of all books, so they get a chance to learn the world of literature by means of children literature. It is a good beginning of something really important and crucial in this life.
Crew, G. & Tan S. (2004). Memorial. Simply Read Books.
Fox, M. (1989). Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. Kane/Miller Publishers, Incorporated.
Hawkins-Dady, M. (1996). Reader’s Guide to Literature in English. Taylor & Francis.
Hunt, P. (2001). Children’s Literature. Wiley-Blackwell.
Paterson, K. (2004). Bridge to Terabithia. HarperTeen.