Creative Project

 

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May 17, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   No Comments.

This Is How You Lose Her (Part III)

The pattern continues.  Whenever Yunior is with a girl who wants him, he pushes himself away with any excuse he can come up with.  When a girl leaves him, he desperately cannot let go and wants her back.  Naturally, this behavior is influenced by his father and brother, whose behavior contradicts with Yunior’s morals.  However, he often gives into this behavior he frowns upon.  As he tells himself, “Maybe if you were someone else you would have the discipline to duck the whole thing but you are your father’s son and your brother’s brother” (158).  “You had hoped the gene missed you, skipped a generation, but clearly you were kidding yourself” (161).  Is Yunior really as powerless as he believes?  While I understand the Yunior’s decisions, only he has the power to change himself and stay true to who he is…and I’m pretty sure that his decision-making ability is not genetic.  However, this internal conflict within him makes him hate himself and feeds the vicious cycle.  This conflict can be seen by his nightmares, that wake him up with blood dripping from his mouth.  He even says, “You swore you wouldn’t.  You swore you wouldn’t.  And you did” (175).  As hard as he tries to do the right thing, he cannot help but fall back into his pattern.  Even when he gets back on the right track, pursuing running and yoga, he gets injured and the cycle starts again.  It’s as if Diaz is forcing him into this inevitable doom.  Still, these activities are done alone, forcing Yunior to separate himself from the external influences that push him into acting a certain way.  In the end, Yunior finally focuses on himself and what his true beliefs are.  He later mentions that it takes willpower to free the mind and move on.  Through writing a book about his experiences, he seems to have undergone a catharsis and is ready to start again.

It seems as if Yunior is playing tug of war with himself.

It seems as if Yunior is playing tug of war with himself.

This inevitable cyclic nature of the story and father-son relationship reminded me of “Barn Burning” and Stein’s ideas of the continuation of generations.  Just as the boy in “Barn Burning” leaves behind his father in pursuit of his own goals, a similar change is seen in Yunior as he changes towards the end of the novel, breaking away for simply being “his father’s son and brother’s brother.”

May 16, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   1 Comment.

This Is How You Lose Her (Part II)

Just like the Yasmin’s disappointment with America, we get a glimpse of Yunior and his mother’s unpleasant experience in the States in “Invierno.”  This is likely the earliest recollection of Yunior’s memories and we begin to see the experiences that have shaped him into who he is in the other chapters.  I feel like I understand his logic having been exposed to his early childhood and the influence of his father.  His father has taught him how to view girls, such as when they are walking out of the barber shop and his father asks him what he thinks of the girl who just walked by.  Yunior thinks, “I wanted to blurt out that I didn’t like girls in any denomination, I said instead, Oh yes, and he smiled” (129).  Yunior’s father nearly stripped him of his identity and shaped him into the disconnected person portrayed by Diaz.  His father makes him shave off his wild Dominican hair, literally exposing Yunior’s scalp as he strips him of his Domincan identity.  Similarly, Yunior’s mother is unhappy in America.  She had a “guarded smile that seemed to drift across the room the way a shadow drifts slowly across a wall” (140).  In America, women had to take care of the house, stay home, and had no friends or family nearby like they did in their home country.  His mother is invisible without connection or purpose, like a shadow drifting in the background.  Yunior says, “If this is the United States, mail me home” (131).  Clearly, the American dream was a disappointment to immigrants as Diaz portrays.  This is similar to the ending in Of Mice and Men where the dream is unattainable for Lenny.

It is also important to notice how dialogue throughout the novel is absent of quotation marks, showing that the stories are told from an unreliable narrator’s perspective and how he has remembered past events to this day.  At times, it is confusing to pinpoint who is speaking which shows how the narrator is just as confused as he is making the reader feel at times.  The fragmented storyline further shows how the past was all just a blur with a common recurring event: losing girls.  Because a majority of Yunior’s experiences have been with losing women, he has become stuck in the cycle and cannot break out of it even if he claims to have found love.  Yunior recalls about his time with Flaca, “Out of nowhere you said, I love you.  For whatever it’s worth” (85).  Although we can tell that Flaca was important to Yunior, he often contradicts his feelings, such as not saying that he loves her back and ending the story with a fragment of a sentence as if unsure of his true feelings himself.  Perhaps this is a defense mechanism of not getting to close to girls because he is caught up in a cycle where the end always comes to losing her.

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Yunior cannot seem to completely let go of his past

May 14, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   No Comments.

This Is How You Lose Her (Part I)

Starting with the opening lines and continuing throughout the novel, the vulgar language Diaz uses to objectify women is immediately apparent.  However, there are hints that the speaker, Yunior, did not always view women in this way, and perhaps all of his negative experiences with women have led him to use this description.  Back in his childhood, Yunior recalls how he met Nilda.  “Remeber that day we met? she asks.  I nod.  You wanted to play baseball.  It was summer, I say.  You were wearing a tank top.  You made me put on a shirt before you’d let me be on your team.  Do you remember?  I remember, I say” (42).  The young Yunior was innocent and did not view women objectively.  As he grew up under the influence of his brother, Rafa, and his absent father, he has changed his view on women. Is the title “This is How You Lose Her” referring to a guide on how to steer clear of women?  Or does it have more of a regretful tone as in Diaz saying, “this is what NOT to do”?

In the story “Otravida, Otravez,” a new speaker, Yasmin, is introduced.  In this story, I was constantly reminded of the presence of the failed American Dream.  She describes, “The best picture is of me in front of the building at the university.  There are no students but hundreds of metal folding chairs have been arranged in front of the building for an event and I’m facing those chairs and they’re facing me and in the light my hands are startling on the blue fabric of my dress” (62-63).  This image could be seen as hopeful or bleak.  Either the light represents the hope of one day being able to sit in those chairs that she is currently facing, or the empty chairs will never be filled and it is a lost hope.  This latter bleak image parallels Yasmin’s views on how she is unhappy.  After giving Samantha money, Yasmin observes, “She is so happy.  Happier than I was when we moved into the house.  I wish I could be as free” (73).  Moving into a house in America, the ultimate American Dream, is not as romantic as it appears to be; in fact, it’s entrapping.  The process of looking for the house is difficult, and the house they settle for is falling apart.  When they buy the house, Ramon puts his head on the table and cries either from disappointment or joy.  The ambiguity of these lines show the confused emotions associated with pursuing and achieving the American Dream.  Diaz writes,“To own a house in this country is to begin to live,” but I can’t help but question if he really means what he says (69).

In the end, Yasmin is pregnant, symbolizing establishment and life in America.  However, a pregnant Yasmin contrasts with Ana Iris who is “is thin and worn.”  Yet, Ana Iris is happy, “she can still smile, though, so brightly it is a wonder that she doesn’t set something alight” (74).  Does this mean that settling in America is not as good as remaining where you are “thin and worn” but still as happy as can be?  Diaz writes, “This is what I know: people’s hopes go on forever” but they may not necessarily be achieved (72).  Hope is what gets us through it all when we know the truth deep down inside us.  Yasmin says, “I know that bread is stronger than blood,” showing how family is not necessarily as important as wealth and the pursuit of the American Dream as much as she wishes the opposite were true (67).

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May 13, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   No Comments.

Audre Lorde

In Audre Lorde’s essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” she talks about how society’s attempt to unite feminists actually creates an awareness of differences amongst women.  She suggests that we must embrace these differences as a channel for creativity when she says, “Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic” (3377).  The differences among us can be used as a powerful tool because diversity allows for the good in everyone to present itself in order to create a powerful force against a patriarchal society.  I found this to be an important and often overlooked point: that although defined as feminists, many women still see differences between themselves and other women who may be colored, homosexual, or of a lower class.  These differences must be embraced and used as a tool to dismantle patriarchy, which wishes to illuminate our differences.

This idea of difference is carried in Lorde’s work, “Power,” in which she states boldly, “The difference between poetry and rhetoric/ is being/ ready to kill/ yourself/ instead of your children” (3372).  Although the work is structured like a poem, Lorde adds in rhetoric through quotations and the subjects she addresses.  As a result, she uses both poetry and rhetoric even though she states in the first line that she must learn to differentiate them.  However, doesn’t this thought go against her suggestions in her essay, which calls for uniting differences rather than acknowledging them as a barrier?  Perhaps there is no true difference between poetry and rhetoric, and that using both together creates a powerful message, as implied by the title of the poem.  If we acknowledge that there is a clear difference between them, then this would hinder the creativity that could come from using both in conjunction.  Still, the way Lorde addresses the difference makes it seem that such difference is a matter of life and death, highlighting the importance of differentiation.  Poetry is introspective whereas rhetoric is persuasive in order to convey a message to the future generations.  Is one really any better than the other?  Lorde clearly highlights the complexity behind the meaning of difference throughout her works.

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May 11, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   No Comments.

Driving into the Wreck

I was fascinated at how Adrienne Rich uses simple language yet her common words are powerful symbols that hold a heavy meaning.  In Driving into the Wreck, the narrator’s descent into the ocean to find the wreck was an urge to revisit the past on the journey of self-discovery, “I have to learn alone/ to turn my body without force/ in the deep element” (3334).  The narrator is used to having much control over life, always preparing by reading books of myths, loading the camera, and checking the knife-blade (3333).  There is a sense of fear in such a preparation: a fear of the unknown.  However, the narrator faces this fear by having to enter the ocean, or the past, alone in order to learn to let go.  “The sea is not a question of power” or the past does not have control over the present.  The past holds truth when viewed as it is, simply a wreck and not “the story of the wreck” (3335).

When the narrator finds the wreck of the past, Rich writes, “And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair/ streams black, and the merman in his armored body….I am she: I am he” (3335).  At the beginning of the poem, the narrator describes suiting up in “body-armor of black rubber,” which provides a false sense of protection from the past.  However, through images of the dark flowing hair of the mermaid and the armored body of the merman, together within the narrator, shows how the past still remains with us even though we may gain a new outlook, or a freedom, from making peace with the past.  This is illustrated through the recurrence of the armored merman but gaining the component of the mermaid, or the narrator’s change in character.

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However, this journey extends beyond a personal individual journey.  This journey is one that belongs to everyone, as Rich states.  Therefore, I found this to be a response to the Beat poets, who place an external blame on America instead of turning the lens inward to reflect on the self and the individual’s role in creating America.  Perhaps, Rich is saying that Americans must learn to self reflect in order to make sense of a changing America instead of placing the blame externally.

May 7, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   1 Comment.

A Party Down at the Square

Ellison creates an unusual setting that highlights the whirlwind of feelings associated with the lynchings.  To have the burning of the man occur on a rainy day amidst the chaos of the plane is rather unusual yet captures the inexplicable gruesomeness of a horrifying act.  Rain usually puts out fire creating a sense of hope that the lynching will not take place.  However, this is not the case.  There is no hope in this hope, and the rain only brings the cold and unpleasantness.  The plane is described “like a big bird lost in the fog” (2716), which was heard by all except the burning man who “didn’t even look up” (2715).  I found the plane and the burning man to be alike in many ways, both are lost in the fog or smoke on the verge of death.  However, the plane is given more importance as the people are distracted and frightened by it.  The plane was able to escape a crash, but not the burning man of his death.  In essence, a big metal object is given more importance than the life of a man.

Ellison furthers this odd situation by giving life to non-living things.  The plane is personified as a female, “Then I saw her.  Through the clouds and fog I could see a red and green light on her wings” (2716).  The crashing plane is glorified as if bringing some sort of saving grace for the narrator who is able to be distracted from the horror of watching a lynching for a moment.  However, this sign of hope is erased as the plane brings disaster and a woman’s death.  In contrast, the burning man is not given the same lively discription.  Instead, he is simply described as as a lifeless barbecued hog (2718).  Does this description remind the narrator of something enticing?  Why does Ellison choose to relate the man to food?  Food is essential for life, yet the description seems to belittle the importance of the man.  Even the narrator is reminded of him every time he eats barbecue.  Furthermore, “The bronze statue of the general standing there in the Square was like something alive…smiling down” (2715).  Again, the narrator seems to be finding comfort in lifeless objects by personifying them.  In the midst of the plane’s presence, the narrator looks towards the statue and considers finding shelter under its legs.  Why is a sense of comfort found in statues and planes?  Perhaps this shows how hopeless he is, that the people have lost themselves and their morals/character.  All these extreme images really further the gruesome effect and attitude towards lynchings, which Ellison ironically labels as a “party.”

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May 7, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   1 Comment.

Snyder and Jeffers

Snyder and Jeffers touch upon similar themes in their poems.  They use natural images and describe the inevitability of death.  In Milton by Firelight, Snyder writes,“No paradise, no fall/ Only the weathering land/ the wheeling sky/ Man, with his Satan/ Scouring the chaos of the mind/ Oh Hell!”  There is no paradise, but there is also no fall.  This means that the world is stuck in a dull state, making the mind go crazy for there is no progress made and no paradise reached.  This will be the fate of the land if we do not turn to the conservative ways of our ancestors.  Similarly, Jeffers writes in To the Stone-Cutters, “For men will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun/ Die blind and blacken to the heart/Yet stones have stood for a thousand years.”  Death is inevitable, and the only things that may hold eternal life are lifeless rocks, which hold the secrets of the past.

There are multiple references to stone and rock in the poems, which are symbols of sturdiness, strength, and everlastingness.  Stone can be manipulated and changed gradually over the years but it never dies.  If “life’s end is death” (The Purse-Seine) and imagery of everlasting rocks reappear throughout the poems, what are the poets trying to say? These rocks hold a story as “each rock [is] a word” (Riprap).  Rocks are also cannot be captured by a net or vulture leading them to death.  What is the tone towards death in the poems?  When Jeffers compares heaven to a vulture, there is a mixed tone behind death.  Vultures are vicious creatures that eat carcasses, and heaven is a beautiful place to strive for.  He describes the vulture eating his body as, “a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life.”  This line does not glorify death and seems sarcastic.  Other poetry we have read refers to death as a new beginning.  However, here, death is simply an end.  This mentality reflects the hopelessness throughout the poems and the dull beaten landscape that will be the end of us.

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May 2, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   No Comments.

“I Am Waiting” and “America”

As I read “I Am Waiting,” I could not help but think of how helpless the narrator seems to be.  Instead of waiting, why not make the change you wish to see?  There were lines that struck me as odd.  “I am waiting happily/ for things to get much worse/ before they improve” (2986).  How can the narrator be so hopeful in the face of all the change that needs to take place, it does not seem realistic.  He later says,  “I am waiting/for the human crowd/to wander off a cliff somewhere/clutching its atomic umbrella” (2987) which struck me as rather violent compared to the rest of the poem, and seemed out of place.  Ultimately, the only way to bring about all these changes is to start from scratch, “for a reconstructed Mayflower/to reach America.”  The poem ends with, “I am waiting/perpetually and forever” (2989).  This repetition of waiting forever shows how he is aware that none of these things can actually happen, yet the tone of the poem remained hopeful.  Perhaps the poem is meant to be sarcastic, going along with the message in “America.”

I was fascinated by how interestingly America was brought to life as a person in the poem, “America.”  The narrator is accusing America for not giving back to its people.  Americans struggle with where to place the blame in the chaos of the country.  Blaming the land itself is a way to place this anger and find some sort of understanding and expression.  He writes, “what we are, these people you made, us, and nowhere but you to be” (3038).  We are devoted to our country and expect so much from it.  What is the narrator expecting from America?  Does America even have the obligation of returning a favor?  In past history, it was a privileged to live in America.  The voices in both poems seem to be taking a defeated tone as Americans begin to lose hope in the face of chaos.

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April 30, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   1 Comment.

Howl

The strong language in the poem carries a heavy passionate tone.  In the first part, there was connection of the rapid forward movement to the ancient past.  Since the world is changing so quickly, writers make sense of this chaos is returning back to the past.  One line that stood out was, “anglehead hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night” (2963).  This line captures the desire to connect the past to the unknown future.  The “machinery of night” suggests that there is only one correct way that the world works.  Any other extra parts that will cause the machine to stop working is not welcomed.  Also, the “anglehead hipsters” suggests innocence in the face of the “dynamo” of the night, or a place that will destroy innocence for it is a dirty world.  The longing for the past is also portrayed through the line, “boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night” (2964).  The repetition of “boxcars” shows a sense of movement sounding like a train when read aloud.  However, the train, representative of movement towards the future, is ironically heading to the “lonesome farms” of the previous country life into “grandfather night,” further emphasizing return to the past.  Does this suggest that the world’s progressions are actually a step backwards, and if so, why?

Furthermore, I noticed the presence of sexuality in the poem.  Knowing that Ginsberg was a homosexual, the way he uses sexuality in his poetry is interesting.  He writes, “Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!  Moloch whose name is the mind!” (2969). Does this mean that being sexless is the most favorable way to be?  Moloch controls the workings of the mind and perhaps being sexless is easier in a world that does not accept homosexuals.  He also describes his generation as having “big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin” (2965).  Here, sexuality is favorable and alluring.  The animation of Moloch as a big angry bull in the movie adaptation of this poem brought to life the author’s attitude towards Moloch, a dark force controlling his life and he wishes to escape.

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April 30, 2014.     Category: Uncategorized.   No Comments.

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