Thursday, September 29, 2011

Huck Finn Chap 38-the end

     So I have to admit that I didn't really like the ending of this book.  Don't get me wrong though I'm glad Jim is free but Tom just annoyed me to no end during the last few chapters of this book.  I felt so bad for Jim during chapter 39 when Tom insists on putting spiders, mice, and snakes in his tiny cabin with him for no apparent reason.  It would torture any normal person but it especially bothers Jim since he is so superstitious.  Tom is simply unable to focus on someone else for any real period of time.  This is evident when Huck says, "....Tom most lost all patience with him; and said he was just loadened down with more gaudier chances than a prisoner ever had in the world to make a name for himself, and yet he didn't know enough to appreciate them."  Tom makes Jim's experience so much worse that Jim swears if he ever gets out he will never be a prisoner again, not even for money.
     In chapter 40, Jim almost escapes but Tom gets shot in the leg setting everything back.  Naturally, the doctor ties up Jim and turns him in as a runaway after he helps heal Tom and probably saves his life.  Because he did this good dead however, the doctor encourages the farmers to treat him no worse than they see fit (chapter 42).  Through this scene, it is obvious that no matter what slaves did they were never viewed as humans or anyone that deserved anything.  It is important to note that no matter what the farmers did to Jim, he never even considered turning Huck in.  He remains loyal to him the entire time (like a dad) even when it hurts.
     Tom surprised me in the end when he wakes up and hears that they have Jim tied up again.  He becomes extremely upset and demands that they untie him and set him free because he is legally free by Mrs. Watson.  This part also angered me because Tom was aware of his freedom the entire time but still insisted that they carry out the adventure of setting him free.  Tom used the entire situation to his benefit no matter what it meant to those around him.
     The last line or two is also very important in this work: "But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it.  I been there before."  It is obvious through this statement that Huck does not want to be a part of the slavery ridden, religious civilization anymore.  He wants a fresh start somewhere far away where there is room for him to be his own man and have his own adventures and that somewhere is the beginnings of the wild west.

Huck Finn Chap 21-37

     The first few chapters of this section are pretty significant and have many events worth noting.  In chapter 21, Sherburn confronts Boggs and ends up killing him for no apparent reason other than he was being a nuisance.  In chapter 22, Sherburn makes a huge speech discussing the idea of the mob mentality which was very interesting to me and reminded me very much of Hawthorne's writing we read earlier in the semester.  My favorite quote from the speech is "The pitifulest thing out is a mob... but a mob without any man at the head of it, is beneath pitifulness."  Sherburn claims to know all about people and human nature and has complete confidence that he will be ok and the mob will not take his life.
     Another interesting scene was in chapter 22 when Huck is telling us about the circus scene and how the ring-master was fooled by his own company.  I think Twain was trying to paint the reader a picture of how human nature has no problem deceiving others to simply get a laugh.  I think Twain was trying to uncover a characteristic of human nature that people don't often talk about and that is the secret desire to see other humans deceived and fooled.  In chapter twenty three, it is obvious that Huck's view of what makes a human is changing through his journey with Jim- "and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n.  It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so."  This statement is just yet another example of how society made even little children believe that black slaves were not humans at all.  Through these lies, America made it easier to mistreat slaves through dehumanizing them.
     In chapter 24, the king and the duke begin their lies and deceiving in order to rob a family of their inheritance.  Even Huck is disgusted by this act which is obvious when he says, "It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race."  Here, Huck realizes that humans are capable of just about anything.  Through the king and the duke, Huck learns to never underestimate what people are capable of.
     I thought the scene when Huck is talking to the Hare-lip girl in chapter 26 about slaves in England and in America was ironic.  She asks Huck how they treat slaves in England and Huck comments that, "A servant ain't nobody there.  They treat them worse than dogs."  I was reminded through this statement that slaveowners truly believed that they were doing slaves a favor by giving them the bare minimum and working them into the ground.  Their lies are further explained later in the chapter when Mary Jane tells the Hare-lip girl, "The thing is for you to treat him kind, and not be saying things to make him remember he ain't in his own country and amongst his own folks."  The slave-owners knew that there were certain ways to lie and deceive the slaves themselves and also to deceive the society around them.  Around the same portion of the chapter, it becomes apparent that Huck indeed does have a conscience and knows what is right and wrong for himself when he decides to steal the money away from the master deceivers (the king and the duke).  Even though Huck is a young boy, he has no problem deciding for himself what is right or wrong and following through at all costs.
     In chapter 27, Huck witnesses the separation and selling of slaves which reminded me of Stowe's narrating of a slave trade.  Huck claims it was  a horrible sight to see and it is something he will never forget.  Huck sees here once again, that slaves are indeed people too and have feelings and family.  This reinforces Huck's decision to expose the king and the duke and in chapter 28, Huck follows through on his decision and tells Mary Jane the truth and helps her devise a plan. 
     In chapter 29, the duke and the king are discovered for who they really are and the town once again adopts a mob mentality in order to get rid of them.  This entire time, Jim and Huck are keeping from each other their true convictions about the men.  They don't want to be around them anymore, but they don't know how to go about getting rid of them.  In chapter 31 however, they both get pretty scared due to the king and the duke's changed attitude's and they decide that they will not get involved with anything else they are doing once and for all.  In chapter 31, Jim also disappears because he is captured as a runaway.  Huck once again struggles within himself about what the right course of action is.  He isn't sure whether he should cooperate and tell Mrs. Watson that her slave has been found or if he should help Jim escape.  He wants to do the "right" thing, but knows deep down inside that it is not the right thing.  Huck can't even find anything against Jim!  He has been nothing but good to him throughout their entire journey.
     In chapter 32, Huck sets out to find Jim at the Phelps's farm.  When he arrives, the family thinks he is Tom which Huck naturally plays along with.  This is when Tom really becomes a presence in the story.  In chapter 33, the town finally gets organized enough to tar and feather the duke and the king.  Even though Huck wanted to get rid of them, he realizes the seriousness of what they have done to other human beings.  He says, "It was a dreadful thing to see.  Human beings can be awful cruel to one another."  Huck is definitely not too young to understand the society that is taking place around him and disagree with it.
     In chapter 34, Huck and Tom begin to devise their plan to set Jim free.  It is obvious right off that Tom is in charge of this plan because Huck doesn't even put much effort into his plan.  He knows that everything Tom does has to be romantic.  It is also obvious that Tom doesn't even view Jim as a human being when he says to Jim, "If I was to catch a n- that was ungrateful enough to run away, I wouldn't give him up, I'd hang him."  He is only participating because it is another adventure for him.
     In chapter 35, the differences in Huck and Tom become even more apparent when discussing education.  Tom says to Huck, "Why hain't you ever read any books at all?"  Tom cannot understand why Huck is so simple-minded and to the point.  Tom enjoys the adventure and the details of every situation because of all the books that he has read.  Because of this inconsistency, they cannot communicate effectively or understand where the other one is coming from.  Huck puts it the best when he says in chapter 36, "He was always just that particular.  Full of principle."  Poor Jim in the situation, "...couldn't see no sense in the most of it, but he allowed we was white folks and knowed better than him."  This part of the book really frustrated me because Tom is obviously wasting time, and only views Jim and his situation as something entertaining and fun for him.  He doesn't appreciate his situation or even see Jim as a real person.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Huck Finn Chap 5-20

     Chapter six is a turning point in the story because Huck Finn goes to live with his father out in the swamps by the lake.  He leaves the "civilized" life and ventures into the "uncivilized" life filled with exploring and living off of the land with his father who is drunk a majority of the time.  Huck Finn enjoys this laid back life style and describes it as "...kind of lazy and jolly..." (chapter six).
     Tom Sawyer's character continues to be developed and in chapter seven, the reader discovers that Tom is the fancy, almost romantic sort of character.  The quote from chapter seven describes this perfectly: "I did wish Toy Sawyer was there, I knowed he would take an interest in this kind of business, and throw in the fancy touches." (when he fakes his own death to escape from his abusive father).
     In chapter eight, Huck Finn catches up with Jim who is now a runaway slave.  This is the beginning of their journey together through the swamps down the river.  An important quote is made in chapter eight when Jim is talking about the importance of money and how if only he had money he wouldn't want for anything else.  This is an important aspect of slavery that I think gets overlooked sometimes.  Slaves had nothing as far as resources and money.  If they did, it was very little and certainly not anything substantial.
     Jim develops more as a father figure for Huck as the story continues especially in chapter nine and ten when they discover the dead body.  Jim is very protective of Huck and doesn't allow him to look at the gruesome sight.  He looks out for Huck like his real father should have done.
     In chapter eleven, I thought the scene when Huck pretends to be a runaway girl was very interesting. The woman that he is staying with makes an ironic statement when she says, "You see, you're a runaway 'pretice- that's all.  It ain't anything.  There ain't no harm in it.  You've been treated bad, and you  made up your mind to cut."  She makes this statement because Huck is a white boy.  She previously talked bad about Jim because he was a runaway.  She would never make the same statement about Jim even though he was in the same (if not worse) situation as Huck was pretending to be.  Such irony and inconsistency!  Chapter fourteen also deals with some racism and prejudice in a more overt way when Huck and Jim are discussing the different ways that people talk.  It is obvious that they are not on the same wavelength so to speak.  They view the situation completely differently.  Jim is looking at the heart of the issue asking what makes a man a man.  Huck on the other hand has been taught that because people are different they should be treated differently.  Huck in this scene represents what society was teaching children pre Civil War and how children absorbed that prejudice within the lines but also with their own childish innocence as a guide.
     I feel like chapter fifteen really sealed Jim and Huck's friendship when Huck played a nasty trick on Jim and Jim made it obvious that he did not appreciate it- "en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed."  Huck in this situation knows that he did Jim wrong and decides that he will never do such a thing again.
     Juxtaposed to this scene is chapter fifteen when Huck really starts to feel guilty about helping Jim obtain his freedom.  Huck has been taught that freedom for black people is a bad thing and he knows that he is to blame.  He has this mental battle with himself really struggling whether or not to turn Jim in but he finally decides not to mainly because it is too much trouble to do so.
     In chapter sixteen, Jim and Huck become separated and Huck ends up staying with the Grangerfords for a while.  I really enjoyed these chapters because they made me laugh!  It is interesting to me that they were so hospitable to Huck but had a fierce feud with the Shepardsons.  This reminded me of the Early American writings we read.  I suppose some of the hospitality from that time period carried over into Huck's time.  In chapter eighteen an interesting statement is made by Huck's friend Buck Grangerford:  "If you notice, most folks don't go to church only when they've got to."  Obviously religion was more of a burden to the majority of people during Huck's time period more than anything else.  It doesn't really seem like they let it control any major parts of their life.  Huck also reunites with Jim in chapter eighteen. Also in this chapter, Twain paints a true picture of what feuds used to be like and how gruesome and ridiculous they were- "I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that night, to see such things.  I ain't ever going to get shut of them- lots of times I dream about them." (Huck referring to his witness of the feud's consequences).
     It is also obvious throughout this reading that Huck and Jim really enjoy the "uncivilized" life out on the river on his raft.  "We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all.  Other places do seem so ramped up and smothery, but a raft don't.  You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft." (chapter eighteen towards the end).  On the raft, there is not restriction of society for either Huck nor Jim.  They can freely be friends.  Jim is on his road to freedom and Huck doesn't have to go to school or church or have any manners like he did at the Widow's house.
     It chapter nineteen, Huck makes a reference to tar and feathering.  It is obvious that this practice also carried over into his time from early America.  Society's opinion of you still meant a lot to the people of Huck's time and society's approval was something that was taught as imperative to young children like Huck.  The Duke of Bridgewater and The King of France are also introduced.  They are important to this story because they discuss principles of life with Jim and Huck.  They bring in yet another view of society- the rich, privileged section that fell at some point and now have nothing except for valuable stories and life lessons to share with others like Huck and Jim.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


     I really enjoyed this reading.  Douglass argues his opinion very professionally and truthfully attacking every possible reason a slave holder could give for justifying his oppression.
     In the beginning, Douglass addresses the past and goes to great lengths to express his respect for the founding fathers of our nation (all the risks they took, all the oppression they were under, etc.)  I thought it was very interesting how he used the pronoun your in paragraph four when addressing the nation.  He does not include himself in the discussion.  I think he is subtly making a point that he is not the same as all the other free, white men in the country.  I also want to point out a quote he made in paragraph nine; "Oppression makes a wise man mad."  Throughout his entire discussion of the past, Douglass is making veiled references to slavery asking the men he is addressing to reconsider the American tradition of slavery.
     In the present discussion, Douglass becomes more obvious about the argument of his speech.  I thought the biblical metaphor to Abraham and Washington in paragraph one was very powerful and shows just how much Americans respected George Washington.  The altar symbol that was introduced in Stowe's writing is reintroduced in paragraph two.  It is obvious that religion and American patriotism were closely tied together in the early years of American history.  In paragraph four he begins to point out the irony of his speaking at this particular engagement and in paragraph six makes a very bold statement: "...the great sin and shame of America!" referring to slavery.  Immediately after this he backs himself up with specific examples concerning state laws in paragraph seven.  This is something about Douglass I really admire.  Not only does he speak what is on his heart and mind, but he never fails to provide specific examples that other people can look upon and understand where he is coming from.  In paragraph twelve he introduces "scorching irony" which is what really highlights the disgraces of American slavery (or it did for me anyway!)
     The internal slave trade section reminded me of the scene that Stowe illustrated in her writing.  Here, Douglass utilizes his personal experiences to convey the hypocrisy of Americans when it comes to slavery when referring to his mistress and how she sympathized with him when it came to slave trading.  I think this is smart of Douglass because it makes his speaking more convincing.
     The conclusion of his speech addresses religion in America and how the churches around him are being hypocritical at best and doing nothing about "the great sin of America."  I think these sections are what "seal the deal" when it comes to his speech.  The majority of citizens in this time period were not going to do anything unless the church approved.  Because the church approved or did not blatantly disapprove of slavery, it was a powerful tradition that took lots of time and hard work to get rid of.  Douglass begs his readers and the leaders of churches to take some action and put into practice the words of the Bible that they revere so much.  I thought it was interesting that Douglass sees slavery as endangering the Union entirely!  We've seen that in previous readings and it is very interesting to me how people predicted the Civil War.
     I really admire how Douglass ends his speech with hope and respect for the country.  It takes a good man to say that he has hope in the country that has caused him so much pain and distress personally.  Talk about a convincing speech!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


     I really enjoyed this writing by Harriet Beacher Stowe.  It gave me a new insight to the word liberty and once again made me reconsider the culture of slavery in our country and what it truly meant for those directly involved.  These two writings are juxtaposed when it comes to the idea of liberty.  The first writing gives the more traditional, accepted definition of liberty: one of American sacrifice, pride and loyalty.  On page three the "altar of liberty" is first introduced and it is a symbol in each writing.  The Ward family in the first writing gives up everything that makes them comfortable and puts it on the altar of liberty.  Are those really sacrifices though?  The mother tells her son in the writing that she can replace what they have given away fairly quickly (page seven).  With this sacrifice on the altar comes a human's self worth which is seen in Grace when she is trying to give away her stockings for the soldiers on page five.  Because of her hysterical reaction when she learns her stockings are not appropriate to give, the reader can tell that she obviously thinks less of herself and is scared of being looked down upon by those around her.  On page four gender roles are referred to when talking about fetching wood chips which is a direct relation to the Stanton reading and discussions we've had in class.
     The second reading painted a darker picture of the idea of liberty and the other sacrifices that lay on the altar.  In this reading a man's self-worth, life, and his family's father and husband is put on the altar.  I think in this reading it is obvious that Stowe is asking her readers to reexamine the traditions and laws of America.  In the last sentence she flat out tells her readers that there has not been any change since the start of the country's independence.  Through her picture of the altar and her heart-wrenching narration of the selling of men, women, and children she is begging her readers to start a change.  The illustration of the altar of liberty really convinced me just how much slavery was a part of American culture and how it was the key to their independence and being a free Union (page eleven).  I also want to highlight a quote that really made me stop and think from page eleven, "...truly American spectacle,-the sale of a man!"  Slavery was a part of American culture, liberty, and everyday life.  As normal to them as some of the less attractive parts of our society today.  The continued but more subdued gender inequality, racism, and downright indifference to others?
     One question I had and also one quote I would like to point out; the last sentence of the first writing.  Is Stowe being sarcastic here or is she highlighting a generation of boys and girls who were willing to do anything for their country simply because that was the way they were raised and they cannot imagine a different life?

Sunday, September 18, 2011


     Thoreau's writing is clearly political.  He has a vision of what America should be and he wants the men involved in government to also see his vision.  In part one Thoreau starts off by clearly stating his opinion on government.  He believes that it gets too involved in the lives of the people and that more than anything it is a tradition (paragraph two).  This reminded me of the discussions we've been having in class and the question that keeps coming up: What are traditions and can we break away from them?  Something I thought was interesting was in paragraph ten when Thoreau is discussing what he thinks truly makes a patriot.  My favorite quote from this section was "there is but little virtue in the action of masses of men."  Here, Thoreau is highlighting the importance of the individual and how they perceive the world around them (which includes the American government).  In paragraph thirteen he continues this idea with pleading his readers to be your own man!  Thoreau argues here that there is no virtue in being the person who is sitting on the fence.  Make up your mind and do something about it!  I think our politicians could learn a lot from his writing.  So often we have men and women in government who are too afraid to point fingers and step on toes that they just sit back and watch and do nothing.  That is not what makes up government and that is not what this nation needs.
     In part two, Thoreau starts off by asking his audience questions in paragraph one trying to get them to really think about the government that they so easily trust which I think is a good writing strategy.  He continues his argument to be your own person (paragraph five), and goes on to describe his idea of a peaceable revolution (paragraph nine) which I found to be very interesting.  In paragraph seven he makes a direct plea to Abolitionists to be bold and radical in their beliefs and start taking action to make their beliefs come true.  He also makes a biblical reference in paragraph ten line six which I think is another valuable writing strategy because the population that he was writing this to were for the most part a very religious society.  I think his reference to the bible added validity to his argument and made people really pay attention to what he had to say.
     In part three, Thoreau discusses what it was like to be in prison.  In paragraph thirteen he compares America with parents which I found to be an interesting comparison.  I think what he was trying to say there was that we must measure respect with individuality.  In paragraph sixteen he refers to the "Defender of the Constitution."  Who is he referring to there?  I really enjoyed paragraph eighteen.  I think the first sentence was a bold one to be sure.  Above all, Thoreau believes that the people are what make America great not the government.  If the people of America would simply stand up and respect themselves, America and the government would take care of itself.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


     Stanton in this writing, is discussing gender inequality and fighting for women's rights.  She begins her argument with the statement that men are very different from women and because they are so different they cannot begin to understand why women want their own rights (paragraph one page one).  I think this is a smart way to begin her argument because her audience is largely men who are powerful during this time period.  While she was also speaking to women, Stanton knew that if any changes were going to be made they had to do some convincing when it came to those that were high up.  She goes on to quote a poem from History of the Condition of Women which describes being a woman as being a slave.  A slave to her family, and society as a whole.  This poem is important to her writing because it shows that there is no way out for women in the society that they find themselves in.  Stanton is trying to convey the seriousness of the inequality that is so often glazed over and I think she does a good job of it with this poem.
     As Stanton goes on to argue her point and show that women and men are in fact equal, she references other works that have already been published.  I really admire this about Stanton because it reinforces and backs up the points she is trying to make.  An example of this is on page two footnote twelve.  I really enjoyed reading letter two because it addressed specific ways that men were supposedly superior to women in a clear, concise manner that I could easily understand.  Another thing I really admire about Stanton's writing and speaking is how she utilizes history to reinforce her statements.  She does this on page three paragraph four when discussing Webster, Van Buren and Clay.  I think this further legitimizes her point and also appeals to her audience of wealthy, educated men who without a doubt know these historical figures and how important they were to society.  I also admire how Stanton brings in other countries and cultures to show how gender inequality is present everywhere.  This proves her point and shows the seriousness of the situation (page three towards the end).  I think it was also smart of Stanton to reference the Bible periodically in her writing (paragraph one page four).  During this time period (mid-eighteen hundreds), religion was a substantial part of the population's life.  The church controlled a lot of what they did, and the way they thought.  I believe these references may have been what sealed the deal for some who were listening to her argument.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harriet Jacobs

     I found this reading very interesting.  I have never really read about the master slave girl abusive relationship before this reading.  Jacobs in this story is narrating her adolescent years during which she goes through trials that most adults don't have to endure.  In chapters five through seven, Linda has a generally optimistic outlook on life and her situation even though things look very bleak and she knows deep down there is no hope for her (line 52 chapter six).  It is not until her first true love leaves her, that she realizes her life will be the same torture she has always known (chapter seven line 66).  I think this heartbreak she has is what makes her true character.  I think this situation shows her that she can no longer sit back and be optimistic about the hand that life has shown her but she must look for other ways to reach a better life whether that is through immoral relations with powerful white men or simply running away like she does in the end.
     When Linda was having conflicting emotions about her children and whether or not she wanted them to live, I was reminded of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  I think the same themes of slavery, and the strong motherly drive to protect even if that means no life at all are evident in both works.  Linda makes the statement several times that slavery leaves no room for morals.  Her life certainly proves this point.  At some point, the slave has to decide if she is going to be true to herself and the ones that she loves, which will most likely end in death, or if she is going to choose life however hellish it may be.  
     Even though a large portion of her hope goes away with her first true love, hope is a recurrent theme in this work that keeps leaving and then returning again with a new idea of how to obtain a better life for herself, and then the ultimate crushing of all her plans.  Hope is what keeps Linda going throughout this work.  As soon as she gives up hope, she gives up her life essentially.  She has then surrendered to the fate that the world has decided to hand her.
     One question I have: Is this Jacob's story with Linda posing as herself?  Did she not want to use her own name?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


     Poetry is always difficult for me to read.  However, I think I got the general idea of what Whitman was trying to say in his poem.  His main argument was that he is in everything and everyone.  There are not that many differences when it comes to the core of what makes up an individual.  This is evident in lines two and three when he refers to the atoms that make up people.  It is also evidenced in lines 327-329 at the very end of the reading.  
     Whitman begins with a discussion of nature that is detailed and very personal to Whitman himself.  This is evidenced in lines twenty and twenty one.  It is obvious that he values nature very highly and longs to be close to it.  This kind of writing is very characteristic of the Romantic age of literature.  I really admire lines 40-43 when Whitman is valuing the present for what it is.  I think that is a very positive, healthy way to live as long as it is not taken to the extreme.  I don't think we as Americans live that way for the most part.  I think we are constantly looking to the future, making money for the future, trying to provide for the future, etc. that sometimes we forget to look at what is right in front of us.
     Similar to Emerson, I think Whitman sees everything as being inherently good.  I see this in lines 134-135.  While I do not personally agree with this view, it is obvious that it was a popular view during the 1800s.  Lines 189-198 reminded me of The Sot Weed Factor but in an opposite view.  The speaker of the poem was nice to the runaway and allowed him up to his level for a couple of weeks which was unheard of during his time.  The speaker here is putting his money where his mouth is so to speak.  Because he believes that he exists a little in everything and everyone, he should be able to be kind equally to everything and everyone.  This idea is further supported in line 307 when the speaker is talking about the prostitute that everyone either looks down upon or makes fun of.  The speaker sees beyond that and sees her as a person-who she truly is.        
     During section six, was Whitman discussing the grass as the nature that it was?  Or was that supposed to be a symbol for something else?  A bigger idea perhaps?  Also, in lines 214-216 is Whitman referring to the mob mentality that was illustrated in Emerson's writing?  

Thursday, September 8, 2011


     In continuing with the Romanticism idea of independence from society, Emerson wrote this particular work.  He addresses religion, society, and history as he implores his readers to think for themselves and be courageous.
     My favorite quote from this work is at the end of page four when he writes, "but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."  What great insight!  Emerson here is making the point that true independence requires courage and a certain amount of virtue.  Not everyone can break away from the crowd and still be a functional part of society.  Emerson also tells his readers that nonconformity will come at a price when he writes, "For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure." (page five)  I think this is a pretty fair warning to give his readers.  Oftentimes, people think that it is easy to follow their heart but here Emerson is saying that change is inevitable.
     One question I had in particular was on page six when Emerson is discussing God and religion.  Is he saying that one cannot truly know and follow God if they also claim to be self-dependent?  Another characteristic of this writing that I found particularly interesting was at the bottom of page eight when Emerson is discussing the beauty of nature.  This is so different from the earlier American writings we read because they either didn't discuss nature or when they did painted it in a very poor light.  Emerson however, speaks of its "...poise and orbit..." (page eight) and suggests that humans should be more like nature when it comes to self-reliance.
     The mob mentality that we saw in our last Hawthorne reading reintroduces itself around line 260 on page nine.  Emerson here implores his readers to go alone and find their own genius.  I think that it is important here to note that even though this is an old writing, many of the same ideas apply to today's America.  We may pretend to not care what other people think but honestly no one wants to be the outcast of society.  It truly does take courage to stand up to society and break the mold so to speak.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Romanticism and Hawthorne

     Romanticism was definitely a huge transition for the world as well as the United States.  The political papers we read before transitioning to Romanticism were placed perfectly because in the papers we begin to see why the need for government was so prevalent.  It was because the individual was being valued and highlighted!  The Romanticism age simply reinforces this statement.
     Hawthorne's story was easy to read in the sense that it was written as a story.  It was a lot easier to follow and understand than the Federalist paper was.  However, I did not pick up on the ultimate meaning of the story until the very end and I might have misinterpreted but to the best of my understanding, this story is highlighting the importance of independence and an individual taking ultimate control and responsibility for his or her life.  This is evident in the very last paragraph of the story when the kind stranger encourages Robin to make something of his life without the help of beneficiaries.
     I think Hawthorne was also making a general statement about society through this story.  All throughout, Robin meets strangers along the way on his journey to find his relative who he believes can help him succeed in life.  He looks to them for simple directions and help, but everyone either refuses to help him and outright ignores him or they mislead him in some way.  Hawthorne here is trying to tell his readers that society in general is not something to reach out to in times of need.  They cannot lend a hand and ultimately the individual is on their own whether they realize it or not.  Society is really just laughing at you which is evidenced by the ending scene in the last few paragraphs.  I think Hawthorne here is trying to make a bigger point by saying that society doesn't want to watch you succeed or get where you want to go; they ultimately want to see you fail.
     This particular story made me think of The Scarlet Letter that I read in high school my junior year.  In that work, there was a lot of discussion about the Puritan society and Hawthorne similarly utilized lots of  symbols to convey a bigger idea about society and even humanity.    

Monday, September 5, 2011

Huckleberry Finn Chapters 1-4

     In chapter one, we discover that Huckleberry Finn lives with a woman known as the Widow Douglas.  It is obvious that he has no family that can properly take care of him.  She is a typical religious, southern proper character and he is the complete opposite being a restless, troublesome boy.  Huck Finn's friend Tom Sawyer is also introduced.  Something that I found interesting in the very beginning of this chapter was Finn's reference to previous adventures he has had with Tom Sawyer.  I have never experienced that in any other work before.
     In chapter two Jim is introduced.  He is the main servant of the house and it is evident through him and the way that Huck Finn talks about him that African American servant society is a big part of white people society.  Tom Sawyer's gang is also introduced along with Jo Harper who is the second captain of the gang and Ben Rogers.  The gang plans to "rob and murder" or in other words, to play pretend like all little boys enjoy doing.  On page six we learn that Huck Finn's father is indeed no role model for him to follow.  His father will I think prove to be a significant character in Finn's life as well as the story.
     In chapter three we learn that Huck Finn does not buy into all the religion that surrounds him and makes up his southern society.  Nothing about it makes sense to him especially the whole concept of prayer.  It is obvious that Huck Finn is an intelligent, observant person through the issue with his father.  While the whole town thinks he drowned, Huck Finn knows he didn't simply by hearing about how the body was found.  Also in this chapter, the gang broke up because the boys discovered that it really was just all pretend.    
    In chapter four Huck Finn is starting to adjust and get used to his new life.  He has obviously not lived with the Widow Douglas for very long.  Finn discovers his dad's boot markings in the dirt which is a foreshadowing of later events to come.  Judge Thatcher is also introduced as well as a fortune?  It obviously ties together Huck Finn, Thatcher, and his dad but where is it coming from?  Along with being a religious society, Finn is also surrounded by a superstitious society.  We learn this through Jim who predicts his future and says Huck Finn is going to make it in life and be ok and not turn out like his father.  It is interesting to me that even though Jim is black and a servant, Huck Finn obviously looks up to him and values what he has to say.  The chapter ends with Pa in Finn's room scolding him for getting an education and making something of himself.  His father obviously is a very selfish person since he takes everything Huck Finn does as a personal insult.  The law cannot protect Finn from his father; he will prove to be an interesting character to the story.


     Something very different that I noticed in the Federalist paper the writer starts off immediately trying to convince people of why his view is correct.  He doesn't have a small introduction like the writer of the Anti-Federalist paper did imploring the people to put the best interest of the country first.  It is interesting to me though that both writers appeal to human nature and draw on it for their very different opinions.  The writer argues that government is itself human nature and in order for it to function properly, it must be intertwined with the people it is representing (paragraph four).
     The main argument of this particular paper is the interdependence of federal government between its three branches (paragraph six).  The writer believes that because the country has become so large and diverse, a federal government is necessary in order to help the states function properly.  He believes that current responsibilities are too much for the individual states to bear (paragraph seven).
     The writer's second point is particularly interesting to me.  While I don't understand every part of it, I did pick up on a couple of points the first one concerning the rights of the majority and minority.  It is evident that the speaker believes that federal government will secure the rights of both parties.  He continues to stress the interdependence of the different sectors of federal government and also the federal government with the people they are governing.  Another point I found particularly interesting was when he wrote, "Justice is the end of government.  It is the end of civil society."  Did he mean this literally?  Immediately after he makes this point, he argues that sometimes liberty can be lost in the pursuit of justice.  A very interesting observation however it would have been helpful if he had included examples from history with this like the Anti-Federalist writer did in his letter.  Another significant difference in the Federalist writer and the Anti-Federalist writer is that the Federalist believes that the larger the society, the more capable it is of self-government.  The two writers could not differ more on this point when the Anti-Federalist was convinced that the country was in fact too large to have one single self-governing representative.
     While both writers have very different view on America and the way it should be governed, they also have similar views when it comes to people and human nature.  They both realize the importance of it and the power it possesses.  


     The speaker in this work, while addressing the citizens of New-York, is also addressing all the citizens of the United States.  I find it interesting that the speaker starts off his work with the best interest of the country in mind.  He states right off the bat that if a Constitution would help the country then the citizens should stand behind it.  He implores the people however, to really give time, thought, and consideration to what they are voting for.
     He begins after the introduction, to list off reasons why he doesn't approve of a Constitution that gives power to somewhat ambiguous federal figures.  One of the most important reasons I think that the Anti-Federalists were wary of the Constitution was the power it gave to enforce taxation (paragraph six).  It is important to note that the citizens during this time came from England where they were brutally forced to pay outrageous amounts of taxes that served no purpose and ultimately made them suffer.  It is understandable that the Anti-Federalists would be nervous about that particular part of the Constitution.
     The Anti-Federalists also take into account simple human nature when considering the Constitution.  They argue that it is natural for a person to want to acquire more power and authority once they have tasted it.  The speaker utilizes the great civilizations of the Greeks and Romans as examples of this particular human characteristic which leads him into his next concern of the ability of the federal government to keep an army in peacetime.  The speaker believes this will fuel the fire so to speak when it comes to a desire for power and authority and ultimately destroy the very idea of liberty.
     The last major concern the Anti-Federalists have with the Constitution is the figures that will be representing the people.  The Anti-Federalists believe that the country is too large and too varied in character to have one national government representing all the different states.  The Anti-Federalists feel that an adequate representation is impossible (fourth paragraph from the end).
     I really admire the writer of this particular paper.  It is obvious that he has strong convictions about what he believes and he truly has the best interest of America at heart whether or not he is right.  He pulls specific examples from history to prove his points which when it comes to humans, is the only logical thing to do.  It is apparent that he simply wants citizens to make clear, thought out decisions when it comes to the making up of their own country and he doesn't want history to repeat itself.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Richard Allen

     Similar to all of the previous writers, Allen has a preface explaining why he is writing and how much he thinks his story will benefit others.  This is obviously a trend with autobiographers.  Both Cartwright and Allen have very similar experiences but they also have different ones.  First off, Allen's conversion experience is completely voluntary and on his own while Cartwright's was influenced heavily by his devout mother.  One thing they have in common however though is that they both experience deep feelings of guilt right after they get saved and have lots of conflicting feelings before they experience peace (page two).  One thing I found interesting about this reading and Cartwright's as well was the fact that preachers regularly came to houses to preach.  That would be, in today's time, considered a somewhat invasion of privacy.  On page three, Allen reminds me of Franklin and Venture when he is describing all the manual labor he does.  Allen is obviously physically strong.  Through pages four, five, and six, Allen describes his ministry and all of his travels.  Something very different about Allen and Cartwright however is that Allen faces much opposition to his ministry from people that should be supporting him simply because he is black (page six line 180).  Both Allen and Cartwright highly value the Methodist denomination (page 9).  They also both urge future Methodist preachers to remember the old ways of doing things and stick with old values (page ten).  Allen and Cartwright and Franklin and Venture are black and white almost mirror images of the corresponding pair.