Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The House of Manipulation

I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I did not feel any sympathy towards Lily when she died. I kind of felt like singing “ding dong the witch is dead.” She was manipulative and really self-centred and a character that I could in no way relate too. Her death was kind of a relief; there was no way for the character to continue on from where she was. Her death was the only real way to end the novel, and I kind of felt like she deserved. She could have been happy with Seldon but she was a money grabbing, social climbing witch who was too concerned with money to think of her own or other people’s happiness.
I realise I’m being a little harsh but as a reader I just could not find it in me to sympathise with her at all. I mentioned in my last post that I almost felt like congratulating Bertha on her outsmarting Lily. The whole dramatic plot of the novel seemed to be caused by Lily refusal to accept happiness over money. I just found the novel to be a little underwhelming and the plot seemed a little predictable. I couldn’t relate to the book or the characters at all and that kind of stunted my enjoyment of the novel as I didn’t really care what happened to the character.
I have a new found respect for naturalist novels but I wish we had read some more happy novels in the course. One happy ending would have been nice, just for a change. Although I enjoyed most of the books in class; with the exception of Moby Dick (I really didn’t like Moby Dick, there is only so much whale chasing one person can take). Overall I’ve really enjoyed this semester in the class, and have learnt a lot.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We do not have a cliche problem at this school...but you do have to watch out for frenemies

I think I would have liked House of Mirth a bit better if we had not just spent the last few weeks covering naturalist novels, I may be alone in this view but I was kind of hoping for a happy story. I’m not talking about books were the walk off into the sunshine or all live happily ever after. Just, you know something mildly happier. I think we are all at the point in the semester were something happy would have been a nice little boast in class morale to tide us over until Thanksgiving break (I’m used to started term in September, having the last week in October off, and then finishing classes at the end of November. So this has been a very long semester for me.).
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy House of Mirth, some of it seems mildly odd but it is well written and not as tedious to read as McTeague. However, as far as Lily goes I’m not sure on how to take her. I realise that back then women weren’t allowed the same freedom as we are today and that Lily is trying to work within the constraints of her society. She annoys me as a character simply because at points in the novel I find her to be very conniving. I mean she’s great at rocking what she’s got but it feels as though she schemes a little too much for her to be an incredible likable character.  I can’t really feel sympathetic; I’m more inclined to applaud Bertha for outwitting Lily at her own game.
I think as always I will wait to see how the book plays out (although I got mildly spoiled when I looked online so I have a feeling I will not enjoy the ending) and offer my full comments next blog.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

McTeague: The Ugly, The Bad, and The Downright Strange

I struggled with the narrative style of this novel; for a book that is meant to be objective the narrator is very judgmental. Wikipedia is kind enough to describe McTeague as simple minded; however, the narrator completely abuses him. He is referred to using a number of cruel adjectives. It kind of defeats the purpose of a naturalistic novel, I mean aren’t they meant to stay objective, to observe from a higher plane. In the fact the narrator of the story continually speaks as though he believes himself to be above the people he is representing in the novel.
Also some of the characterisations seem a little too harsh, call me an idealist but surely they cannot be that driven by greed. I just feel as if this is a really offensive view of the characters. Okay so Trina could have used her lottery winnings to help them out but is it not a sensible idea to save one’s money? And McTeague seems to go from okay to horrible very quickly. I realise that he becomes an alcoholic and that can change someone but the transformation lacked realism for me. Like it was too sudden, to overnight in a way. It is as of Norris wants to show the very worst of the characters and as much as I usually love characters without redeeming qualities I feel like these characters do have redeeming qualities, Norris just doesn’t want to look for them or to show them.
I’m going to hold the rest of my judgement until I have finished the reading next week because Norris may be able to convince me otherwise in the meantime
Also I really enjoyed the class discussion on literature in general; it’s nice to see everyone’s opinion on the matter and how they interpret. Although I maintained that if we are to be judged by Twilight I am going to deny being a part of this generation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alice and Celia, Catholic and Methodist, to be or not to be....

The damnation of Theron Ware was really interesting to read, it was nice to break away from the race culture we have been looking at; and look into the role of religion in identity.
It was strange to see so many different religious views presented within the one story or narrative. Different characters all represent different forms of belief; we have a catholic, a protestant and an atheist. It helps to have all these different views. Also the different way in which they approach their beliefs, despite being an atheist I defiantly preferred the catholic approach over the fire and brimstone of the Methodists.  Although I will admit that when we spoke about religious thing in class on Tuesday I got a little confused, unless it is the fall of Lucifer, the nativity or the Easter story then I don’t know about it. So I could be entirely wrong in my perception of the Methodists or protestant faith, as most of what I learnt about religion, I learnt from Supernatural.
One other aspect that I liked was the contrast between Alice and Celia; they are almost entirely different from each other. Celia is more street smart, she’s formed her own opinions from her own experiences whereas Alice repeats the views and opinions that others have taught her.  Celia represents a more modern minded woman; she doesn’t need to rely on anyone because she can support herself. Also she seems to be more at ease with the people around her. Alice, on the other hand, uses Theron as a kind of crutch or safety net; she isn’t really capable of being alone and she is a far more traditional character. Celia represents the new woman making her own way, and Alice is the traditional housewife, it’s a nice contrast to have.
Like I said the religion stuff did confuse me a little and I had to look up some of the references. However I did enjoy the book and the fact that it didn't try to preach or put a certain religion forward as better.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autobiography of an ex-coloured man

I like The Autobiography of An Ex-Coloured Man.  It’s a good book, it is short enough not to be boring at points and it explores a topic I find very interesting. I find the concept of racial, religious and social differences and they’re effect on society to be an interesting topic. I’ve never seen the point of basing your opinion of someone on their race, religion or class. So I get very curious as to why some people put such a big emphasis on these things; it’s something I like asking people about although I admit it has occasionally gotten me into arguments.
However there were a few scenes that stuck out in my mind. The first one was in the school; the scene where the teacher asks the class to raise depending on their skin colour, it’s the first time in the novel where it is pointed out that the main character is black blood, I’m assuming that comes from the one drop rule. It seems unnecessarily cruel as the only reason for the teacher to do this, is to point out the differences within the class.
The other scene that really stuck in my mind was the lynching scene. I’m not going to lie; I may have cried a little reading that scene and seeing the way people reacted to it. The lynching itself was horrible however the reaction of the crowd was worse, not so much the people cheering but the people who knew what was happening was wrong but did nothing to stop it.  I’ve always been of the opinion that if you don’t try to stop something bad happening then you are just as bad as the people committing the act. Therefore to see people stand back and watch this happening was kind of horrifying. I mean I can’t imagine what it would have been like to speak out against it but I can’t believe that people would stand there and watch.