Wednesday, November 30, 2011


     Feed has proved to be an interesting book to read this semester.  It has tied together the entire semester's themes and main ideas including isolation, education (or lack thereof), technology, and government control and manipulation just to name a few.  While this novel is focused on the future, it can definitely be applied to today's society.  The population that makes up this novel is so obsessed with being like everyone else that they have no sense of identity or uniqueness.  The government that they find themselves under takes advantage of their minds by manipulating them and making them think whatever benefits the government.  Titus the main character in the story does not seem to care what is going on around him until he meets Violet, a girl who challenges everything that is going on around them.  She questions the feed and the government and what really makes up a person in their futuristic society.  Her standing up to the government eventually led to her demise because the government did not see her as a valuable consumer or investment because she could not conform to any specific mold the government was trying to fit her in.  A good example of Violet standing up to the world around her is when she and Titus go to the mall and she picks out the most obscure unrelated things in different stores. Because the feed cannot understand her or figure her out, they eventually kill her by destroying her feed which consequently affects the rest of her body.  I think through Violet's character, Anderson is warning readers of the consequences of being a nonconformist in a culture where being a conformist is considered "cool" and in some cases is necessary for survival.
     Education is also a main theme in this book.  The society that Violet and Titus find themselves in does not need school or education in the way that we view school and education.  Because they have all the information that they could possibly need right in front of them, they have no need or motivation to study or learn information on their own.  They don't even need teachers which is evident through the holograms they have simply for looks.  Anderson asks his readers through this society 'what is intelligence and wisdom?'  He forces his readers to reexamine the overload of information that is always in full force around society.  He is asking his readers to question whether or not this information overload could have negative consequences and how it changes the perception of fundamental ideas such as intelligence and smarts.
     The cuts and lesions that are prevalent throughout the novel are a disturbing illustration of how conformity can be life threatening.  In the novel, the cuts and lesions become popular when they appear on the show Oh Wow Thing!  It suddenly becomes popular and cool to make cuts and have huge sores all over your body.  It is not relevant that it is life threatening and at the very least damaging to their very own bodies.  The cuts and lesions represent just how far some people will go to fit in and be considered part of society.  Anderson is asking his readers how far they would go to become part of something.
     Disconnect from society and each other is also prevalent in this novel.  Because they have the feed, their is virtually no need to have face to face conversations with each other and isolation becomes inevitable.  Their form of communication in the novel consists of "mchat" and sending each other messages through the feed.   This aspect of the book is definitely evident in our society today.  Because of texting, emailing, and skyping, their is virtually no need to have a face to face conversation with anyone.  The idea of confrontation is almost completely eliminated from our society.  Anderson is suggesting through his book however that this is the root of the feeling of isolation that so many people have.  How is it possible with all the technology we have today that people still feel alone and separated from society?
     All throughout this book, Anderson is asking his readers to step back and really examine the society they find themselves in.  Many other authors that we have read this semester were doing the same thing but Anderson's book is interesting because it is set in the future but has so many contemporary elements to it.  I would definitely encourage others to read this book because it really made me look closer at the society and information that surrounds me today.  It reminded me of the importance of filtering what you are told and what you hear.  At some point, you are inevitably going to have to take a stand like Violet did and listen internally to what you think and feel.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Contemporary Poetry

Actual Poem: "Edge" by Sylvia Plath

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flash Fiction

It almost seems like flash fiction is the modern form of reading for today's society that barely has time for anything extra anymore.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


     This story about the red convertible is very sad.  It is not uplifting like E.B. White's story is at the conclusion.  There is no sense of peace or hope at the end.  The red convertible in this story is what ties Lyman and Henry together.  It represents their relationship before Henry went off to war when things were innocent, free, and happy and also it represents their relationship when there is no hope left and things do not make sense.  It is obvious through this story that Henry went through some very traumatic experiences when he was in war.  He is the perfect example of someone who has trouble coming back home and being normal.  I think sometimes our society expects veterans to just be able to come home and flip the switch but it is far from being that easy and Henry is a good example of that.  I think it is also important to note that they are Native Americans living on a reservation.  Because they are a minority, it makes them harder to seek treatment for Henry (although it would've been hard for any veteran coming home after the Vietnam war to find any mental help).  The reader can really tell that Henry is mentally sick towards the end when he is acting as if everything is ok and then drastically drowns himself.  Lyman definitely did not see that coming.  It is interesting that right before he does this to himself, Lyman describes him as looking peaceful and almost normal like he used to.  How ironic that there was some sort of peace before the storm.  By getting rid of the convertible in the end, Lyman is offering himself closure.  Because the car represents everything about their relationship, he cannot keep the car around just to stare at and mourn his brother's loss even though it seems like that's what his brother really wanted him to do.  It seems appropriate that everything that represents their relationship should die in the same way that Henry did.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


     In this excerpt from E. B. White's Charlotte's Web, White is making a statement about life and the people that move in and out of it.  It is clear in the beginning that Wilbur and Charlotte are very good friends.  They obviously fulfill each other's lives and have many meaningful conversations.  This is a characteristic that is different from the other Realistic works we have read in which the people have no connection to each other and simply go about their own lives.  Wilbur and Charlotte are different though.  They cannot imagine life apart which is best seen when Wilbur discovers that Charlotte is dying and begins to hysterically break down crying.  Charlotte makes it clear when talking to Wilbur that he has made her life a little more meaningful just by being there for her and being a true friend- "'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte.  'That in itself is a tremendous thing.'"  I think White is making the statement that without a few true friendships, life is virtually meaningless and it is easily forgotten once it is gone.
     The act of Wilbur saving Charlotte's offspring is the ultimate symbol of his love and their friendship.  Once Wilbur realizes that their is no way around Charlotte's impending death, he desperately searches for something to keep her around even after she is gone which of course is her 514 children that will soon be born.  Templeton then enters the story and I think represents the skeptical, cynical people in life that are reluctant to help others and really only agree to help when there is a reward for them in the end.  It is obvious that Wilbur's emotions of desperation and anger do not phase Templeton at all.  He is like the people in life who are unmotivated, lazy, and have a hard heart.  They are moved by very little.
     Charlotte's death is the perfect illustration of the raw act of dying.  She dies alone without any of her friends or children there.  Not only is she physically dying, but the world around her is "dying" as well.  The fair grounds are being torn down and it actually looks "forlorn."   Charlotte dies in the background just like she lived.  I think White was trying to paint the perfect illustration of how death really is.  It is a painful, isolating process that goes virtually unnoticed by those around you.
     But even though White painted a perfect picture of death, he also painted a perfect picture of life (the scenes of the barn and farm).  Life is good in the barn with the animals that he interacts with and his owner Mr. Zuckerman taking care of him for the rest of his life.  Wilbur never forgets Charlotte and none of the other spiders can take her place in his heart.  White is trying to say here that some things in life change and move on, like Charlotte dying and Fern growing up and out of childhood things like the barn, but some things stay the same like the barn life in general.  But these things that enter into our life and then leave, change us forever; they change our outlook on life.  Wilbur will never forget Charlotte and it is obvious that their friendship has changed his heart and life forever.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


     I'm having a hard time interpreting this poem but the imagery and language is obvious.  The speaker is describing the peaches of summer and the joy they bring him in their entirety- "not only the skin, but the shade, not only the sugar, but the days," etc.  The speaker sees the peaches in their entirety and everything they represent.  The hard work of the pickers, the blossom in the very beginning, even the days and times that the fruit represents.  I think the summer days that the peaches represent are important because they represent a fleeting time of youth and summer free of complications such as death but instead overflowing with joy.  Perhaps the peaches represent this very idea of summer and a carefree, innocent time of childhood that the speaker longs could be back in his life again?  But perhaps he knows they will never be a part of him again-"sweet, impossible blossom."

Thursday, November 3, 2011


     This short story strikes me as very unusual.  Death surrounds this classroom and makes the children question what makes life important.  I feel bad for the children in this story.  They are obviously younger since they are experimenting with trees and animals in class.  I feel as though they shouldn't be bombarded with death as they are in this story.  It seems to come from all directions whether it's as insignificant as trees or as crushing as a parent or family member.  It's almost unfair that they would have to make sense out of these circumstances at such a young age.  I think if I was a child in this story, I would be questioning the school itself too!  It's almost as if there was a curse put on them when in actuality, they are just suffering from life and bad luck.  I think the children do a lot of growing up in this story which is scene by how they almost start expecting things around them to die.  I think they really begin to see how life brings bad circumstances sometimes with no warning.
     I think the scene with Helen is important because I think it marks the point where the children realize that the only thing in life that is worth investing in is other people and relationships with them.  I think the children see something eternal and meaningful in intimate relationships with others.  However, I think they are too young to really know and understand what that means because they have not intimate relationships with others at this point in their lives.  Therefore, they want to see an example of that intimacy.  I think the children are desperate for something good and pure that is full of life since death surrounds them everywhere they go.  The children even say, "we require an assertion of value, we are frightened."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


     This story was frustrating for me to read.  The father figure Morris is not really a father at all to Woody taking off and abandoning his family because he simply couldn't live a life like this anymore.  This scene is what really makes Woody a man.  Through this change in his life, he realizes that he is in charge of what goes on around him.  After this scene in the backyard, I think Woody fully takes responsibility of his own life.
     The time period in this story is important to note.  It takes place during the Great Depression in the 1930s where money is scarce and luxuries are non existent.  This is most evident in the scene where Morris and Woody visit Mrs. Skoglund.  She is the perfect example of an immigrant who has worked their way up in society even if it was done through her wealthy, late husband.  She is someone whom less fortunate people feel they can call upon in their times of desperation (Morris with the $50).  I think the silver dish in this story represents all that Woody and his family is not.  They are not the picture perfect American view of immigrants who fully realized the American dream.  They did not become wealthy and acquire luxuries. Instead, their family is separated with no connections.  They instead are dependent on their son to provide them with everything they need to survive.
     Religion also plays a significant role in this story.  Bellow illustrates it as hypocritical, and materialistic (through Woody getting paid to give false testimony and work, etc.)  It is something that this immigrant family tries to turn to for hope and some sort of direction in life but it doesn't really take.  Woody and Morris are overtly nonreligious and find no worth in it.  Woody's mother and sisters however, pretend that they are fully invested when in reality they are just playing the part.  They are truthfully no more religious than Woody and Morris.  I think Bellow may be making a statement about religion in this story.  Here, it actually keeps families separated and construes Woody's view of the world and reality (Jews and salvation).  Does religion still do that today?
     Woody is the perfect example of a loner in this story.  He has no real connections with any other human being except for maybe his father but it could be argued that they have no connection but instead simply identify with one another.  In other words, they are similar but have no emotion or feelings towards the other person.  I admire Woody in this story however because he does the right thing when it comes to family.  He looks after his mother and sisters who are too poor and helpless to do anything for themselves.  He even does the same for his father who walked out on him and his family when he was still only a boy.  You have to admire Woody's loyalty to family even if there is no connection there.
     One question I have- What is the deal with the woman who smelled like milk?  Is she the only person that Woody has ever had any connection with?