LITR221 – American Literature from Civil War to Present
Part I: Many of the elements can be found in various other formats. Lyrics, movies, and even television shows all spring from the written word. Select a song, movie, or television show and discuss how one of the literary elements contributes to the power of the work. You will need to be specific, so you are certainly welcome to focus on a specific episode or even a certain line of a song. Please include a link, if possible, so that everyone can get a clear picture of what you’re discussing.
Part II: Tell us which novel you have chosen to read for the last half of class. Why did you select it? Based on your initial reading, how does it relate to your life?
Submission Instructions: As with every “main” discussion post, please make comments substantive (in at least 300 words). Use quotations to support your points, but make sure to balance them with your own original ideas.
Each of the reading sources this week are available at Gutenberg.org and Amazon as a Kindle download, as well as the links listed.
At Fault by Kate Chopin (Available as a Kindle download from Amazon)
The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris, available from Archive.org
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, available from Literature Project
The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains by Mary Noailles Murfree, available from Archive.org
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, available from Archive.org
Student Response #1 – Jonathan
Part I: My love for music runs deep. I am attracted to the written words that singers and songwriters artistically express. There are things in this life that I enjoy much more than music but at the same time music is what I allow myself to joyfully indulge in on a consistent basis. My love for music has created turmoil within myself. I pronounce myself a Christian but knowingly sin everyday due to my obsession. My obsession does not make much sense and could therefore be categorized as an addiction. My name is Jonathan Sterling and I am addicted to rap music. Such nonsense could not be understood by the most intelligent of minds. I grew up in rural America, graduated a high school that boasted a senior class of 75 people and am currently serving as a police officer. How could this be? How can someone of this background lyrically challenge the youth of the inner city? What enjoyment do I receive by listening to the powerful words that explain a life that I cannot identify with? This is my confession.
While searching for a song (as there are so many to choose from) I wanted to find beauty combined with 21st century artistry. I knew that I need not look any further than The Artist Drake. I was truly ecstatic this past summer as I traveled to Cleveland, OH to see him in concert along with Lil Wayne. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions of the arts which I expect my opinion to be the least represented this week. However, it is impressive when you consider that those two were on stage for more than two hours and they went hit after hit. Literally every song performed was one that had struck the radio waves. Sometimes they only performed the hook of a song while still providing non-stop action! Another amazing aspect of Drake’s is his following. He attracts a following from varying races and communicates well with both genders.
When Drake paired with singer Rihanna in their song entitled Take Care I was consumed by their artistic vision. The song communicates two lovers that have been hurt in the past but vow to take care of one another regardless of their fears instilled in them by their prior relationships. The literary elements become quite powerful as the inner strife between the two partners regarding their commitment is communicated. As Drake’s verse goes, “all so convinced that you’re following your heart cause your mind don’t control what it does sometimes”. Amazingly the artistry and beauty of the song is not just lyrical. Rihanna’s soft and assuring voice allures the listener. While at times it cannot be determined if Drake is singing or rapping. Truly a work of the modern day. The music video that depicts the literary elements in a visual manner communicates simplicity as Drake is seen during the black and white show wearing a plain T-shirt. The literary elements are expressed by symbolism as the video uses animals to explain the pains of love. Even the strong beautiful bull can be harmed by arrows. And even the beautiful and free flying bird must rely on a tree to land. That of which was symbolically destroyed by fire.
Part II: I chose to read At Fault by Kate Chopin. I selected this book because I wanted to challenge myself. I admitted in week one that I am not a reader and the description of this book communicates a love story. This is the kind of book that I would never read so I am challenging myself to find some enjoyment in it. My hope is that the old and ruff plantation lifestyle will provide some relief from the soap opera love triangle that I am about to partake in. However, plainly put, this book does not relate to my life. It takes place during a time period of slavery, on a plantation, with a widowed women. I cannot relate.
Student Response #2 – Dana
Part I – I chose to go with a poem this week for part I. It is a poem that runs through my mind quite often and I take it literally. “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, is that poem. I recall first reading it when I was probably in 6th or 7th grade. I absolutely love hiking in the woods. I tend to research trail systems that are not very popular so I can feel like somewhat of an explorer. Almost every time I go on a hike I will inevitably come to a point where I will have to choose which path to take. This poem has both actual and literal roads that have to be chosen from, and the lines,
“And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,” always come to my mind (Frost).
The split in the road is a metaphor for a choice. Practically the same path but one that is slightly less traveled. I will always take the less traveled path because I like to find out what awaits me that others were afraid to seek. Sometimes it’s just a dead end, and on other occasions it has been an awesome pond for my dogs to swim in or an amazing overlook into a valley. I’m never disappointed.
Having to choose the “road not taken” has come up many times in my career as well. I have had the option to choose the easy way that has little to no unknowns and the answers are already there for me and I will learn very little or I can take the other road that others are afraid to go down because of the unknowns and I can learn for myself and grow as a person, a Soldier, and a leader. It’s not the “sexiest” way to go about things but I believe that is how I learn. Sort of like trial by fire.
Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation. N.d. Web. 30 Dec 2014.
Part II – The Novel I chose is “The Prophet of the Great Smokey Mountains” by Mary Noailles Murfree. I chose it solely because of its title. I absolutely love the Great Smokey Mountains. If someone told me I was going to die tomorrow, I’d take the first thing smoking out of Kuwait and head straight to the mountains of North Carolina. If you’ve never been there, then you are truly missing out. It is quite possibly the most peaceful place I’ve ever been. The people are the most friendly you’ll ever meet and the views from the overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway are absolutely breathtaking. The descriptions in first couple pages of this book brought all those memories, of my time spent there, flooding back. I am really looking forward to reading this book.