Mario  E.

 Wolfe     History  of  Dramatic  Literature     First  Submission     ‘Other  Desert  Ignorance’         The  expression  “ignorance  is  bliss”  has  been  an  expression  that  has  been  
Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:04 PM
Comment [1]: Read  this  sentence  over   again;  you  repeated  a  couple  words,  and   that  makes  it  sound  a  little  clunky.  Since  this   is  your  first  sentence,  you  want  it  to   captivate  your  audience.  Do  you  feel  like   this  succeeds  in  doing  so?  

stated  throughout  history.  This  expression  is  most  commonly  used  in  the  context  of   children,  specifically  when  speaking  on  the  preservation  of  a  child’s  innocence.  But   many  others  in  the  world  use  the  expression  as  a  crutch  or  as  an  excuse  to  withhold   information  and  the  truth  from  certain  people.  What  many  of  the  people  who  follow   this  cardinal  rule  religiously  fail  to  realize  is  that  many  of  the  world’s  greatest   discoveries  have  come  out  of  the  revelation  of  the  truth.  From  the  cartographers   inflating  what  was  once  a  flattened  earth  to  the  birds  and  the  bees,  it  is  simply   impossible  to  live  by  that  expression  when  so  much  good  has  come  out  of  one   discovering  the  truth.  So  ignorance  is  not  bliss,  ignorance  is  in  fact  the  quicksand   that  keeps  the  explorer  or  in  a  more  general  sense  the  misinformed  from   progressing.  Whether  that  progression  is  through  a  treacherous  jungle  or  in  her   own  life  and  career  like  the  character  Brooke  Wyeth  in  Jon  Robin  Baitz’s  Other   Desert  Cities,  progression  and  truth  go  hand  in  hand.         In  Other  Desert  Cities  the  parents  of  the  Wyeth  household,  Polly  and  Lyman,  

Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:05 PM Comment [2]: Great  distinction;  you’re   already  showing  the  negative  sides  of   ignorance.  By  noting  that  many  people  use  it   with  children,  you’re  showing  how  it  might   not  apply  with  the  adults  in  the  plays.     Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:27 PM Comment [3]: Great  examples!  They   illustrate  how  this  applies  across  age   groups,  settings,  and  time  periods.    

hide  a  secret  from  the  rest  of  the  family  members  that  is  very  detrimental  to  the   family’s  future.  Polly  and  Lyman  Wyeth,  the  parental  figures  of  the  family,  helped   fake  their  son  Henry’s  death  after  he  partook  in  a  crime  that  he  very  much  was  

Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:12 PM Comment [4]: I  like  the  metaphor,  but  the   way  this  is  worded  confuses  me.  I  had  to   read  the  first  half  of  the  sentence  a  couple   times  before  I  understood  what  it  meant.   “progression  and  truth  go  hand  in  hand”  is   clear  and  argumentative;  you  wouldn’t  want   that  to  be  overshadowed  by  wordiness  in   the  rest  of  the  sentence.       Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:13 PM Comment [5]: You  gave  us  their  titles  in   the  previous  sentence  already.    

guilty  of.  Henry  at  wits  end  went  along  with  his  parent’s  plan;  faked  his  suicide  and   fled  to  Washington,  where  he  would  no  longer  stay  in  contact  with  his  family.   Instead  of  informing  the  rest  of  the  immediate  family  members  of  this  plan  Polly  and   Lyman  act  as  if  the  suicide  had  actually  affected  them  as  well.  For  years  the  parents   of  the  household  kept  this  secret  brother  their  children,  not  thinking  of  the   ramifications  that  would  come  with  this  lie.  In  fact  a  ramification  of  the  truth  being   withheld  from  the  family  was  Brooke  Wyeth  falling  into  a  deep  depression.  This  six-­‐ year  long  depression  would  affect  the  entire  family  as  they  migrated,  temporarily,  to   New  York  to  take  care  of  her.  Brooke  was  emotionally  scarred  by  an  event  that   never  happened.  This  could  have  easily  been  avoided  if  the  Wyeth  parents  would   have  told  their  children  the  truth  from  the  beginning.     Polly  and  Lyman  Wyeth  could  have  simply  confessed  to  their  family  that  in  
Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:31 PM Comment [6]: There’s  some  fishy   punctuation  in  this  sentence;  we  can  talk   about  this  in  the  conference,  but  as  a  reader,   it  forces  me  to  go  back  and  reread  the   sentence.       Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:19 PM Comment [7]: Do  you  mean  “kept  this   secret  brother  from  their  children”?    

order  to  protect  their  son,  Henry,  they  sent  him  away  to  live  in  Washington.  Their   remaining  children,  Brooke  and  Trip,  being  so  young,  might  not  have  completely   comprehended  what  had  happened  to  their  older  brother  Henry,  at  the  time.  But  in   the  long  run  the  family  could  have  avoided  the  strain  that  they  eventually  grew  to   know  and  instead  they  could  have  grew  closer  from  the  situation  together.       Eventually  at  the  climax  of  the  play  Polly  and  Lyman  both  confess  to  their  
Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:23 PM
Comment [8]: So  here  it  seems  like  you’re   arguing  that  the  temporary  pain/confusion   is  worth  it  in  order  to  avoid  future,  long-­‐ term  pain.    Do  you  think  they  redeem   themselves  in  eventually  telling  Brooke?   How  could  they  have  grown  closer  from  the   situation?  How  would  that  have  affected   Brooke’s  development?  I  see  where  you’re   going  here,  but  if  you  give  more  specific   hypothetical  situations,  it  will  give  me,  the   reader,  a  stronger  grasp  of  your  argument.    

family  what  they  had  done  and  the  truth  is  finally  set  free.  As  a  result  at  the  end  of   Other  Desert  Cities,  it  is  evident  in  the  final  scene  when  Brooke  reads  from  her  latest   book  that  she  has  more  so,  if  not  completely,  come  to  terms  with  the  loss  of  her   older  brother.  In  fact  there  was  even  a  hint  oh  hopefulness  when  she  said  the  line   “how  will  I  find  him  [Henry]?”  It  reassured  the  reader  that  though  this  might  not  

Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:26 PM
Comment [9]: This  is  an  example  of  a  run-­‐ on  sentence  due  to  a  missing  comma.  This   happens  a  couple  times  throughout  your   paper.  Though  it’s  not  a  huge  issue,  we  can   talk  about  it  in  the  conference,  and  I  think   you’ll  be  able  to  easily  identify  the  areas  in   which  this  occurs.    

have  been  her  ideal  way  of  finding  out  about  her  brother,  one  can  insinuate  from  the   final  lies  in  the  play  that  she  is  still  hopeful  that  one  day  she  and  her  brother  Henry   will  be  reunited  again.       Brooke  would  not  have  been  able  to  get  the  closure  she  needed  to  progresses  

Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:24 PM Comment [10]: Here,  you  mix  present   and  past  tenses  in  talking  about  quotes  and   reader  reactions.  Which  tense  do  you  think   is  more  conducive  to  this  paper?     Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:23 PM Comment [11]: Lines?  

in  life  if  her  parents  had  left  her  ignorant  for  the  rest  of  her  life.  After  her  parents   stopped  trying  to  shield  her  from  the  truth  she  did  in  fact  progress  in  that  she  was   able  to  mentally  get  to  a  place  where  she  could  be  hopeful  once  again.  Which  is   something  she  would  not  have  been  able  to  do  had  her  parents  continued  to  hide  the   truth  from  her.       Though  the  justifications  of  those  choosing  to  manipulate  another’s  

Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:25 PM Comment [12]: Good  way  of  addressing   the  hypothetical  again.  I  like  how  you  argue   that  truth  allows  closure  that  leads  to   growth.    

ignorance  are  understandable.  It  is  not  to  say  that  everything  that  is  justified  is  right.   All  parental  figures,  of  course,  want  what  is  best  for  their  children.  Unfortunately   many  parents  are  misguided  by  their  own  beliefs  and  feel  that  by  withholding   information  from  their  children  that  they  are  protecting  them.  But  sometimes  the   truth  is  what  helps  a  child  to  grow  and  mature  healthily.  It  was  good  that  Polly  and   Lyman  Wyeth  from  Other  Desert  Cities  were  able  to  confess  the  truth  to  their  family   but  if  they  had  been  honest  and  told  the  truth  in  the  first  place  who  knows  how   much  happier  the  family  would  be  and  how  many  less  hospital  bills  they  would  have   had  to  pay  if  they  hadn’t  believed  that  “ignorance  is  bliss.”       Mario,   Thanks  for  letting  me  read  your  draft.  I  really  enjoyed  how  in-­‐depth  you  went   with  Other  Desert  Cities.  In  your  intro,  you  address  the  counterargument,  that   ignorance  is  bliss,  right  away  and  then  refute  it.  Your  argument  that  knowledge   leads  to  progression  also  shows  that  you’re  looking  toward  the  future  for  these  

Gina O'Neill 11/12/12 1:26 PM
Comment [13]: Did  you  mean  for  these   two  sentences  to  in  fact  be  one  sentence?    

characters,  which  makes  it  relatable.  There’s  a  life  outside  of  the  time  frame  of  the   play  that  animates  it  for  audience  members,  and  you  talk  about  that.     Within  your  Other  Desert  Cities  analysis,  I  was  kind  of  confused  by  the   sequence  of  events.  First,  you  talk  about  how  Brooke  would  not  be  depressed  if  they   had  told  her  earlier  on,  and  then  you  jump  to  how  they  tell  her  later  in  life.  If  you   clearly  outlined  how  each  aspect  of  her  life  promoted  or  prevented  her  growth,  it   would  be  addressing  your  argument.  It  would  also  walk  me,  the  reader,  through  the   stages  of  growth  or  stagnancy.     There  are  a  couple  areas  in  your  draft  where  it  feels  a  little  like  plot   summary,  though.  While  I  would  love  for  you  to  address  how  each  step  of  her  life   relates  to  her  growth,  I  think  you  could  concentrate  more  on  analyzing  that  and  less   on  what  happens.  This  might  also  be  due  to  the  fact  that  you  chose  to  analyze  only   one  play.  You  demonstrated  that  you  know  the  ins  and  outs  of  the  play  well,  and   that’s  good.  However,  if  you  included  at  least  one  more  play,  it  would  show  how   applicable  your  argument  is  to  every  situation.  It  would  make  your  argument  more   credible  to  see  that  it  rings  true  in  multiple  settings  and  time  periods.   I  mentioned  a  couple  times  in  my  marginal  comments  that  a  couple  of  your   sentences  are  wordy  and/or  missing  punctuation.  This  is  something  we  can  discuss   in  the  conference,  as  it  will  most  likely  become  apparent  when  you  read  it  out  loud.     If  you  have  any  questions,  feel  free  to  contact  me  before  the  conference  or   come  prepared  with  them.  I  look  forward  to  meeting  you  on  Wednesday  at  4  p.m.!     Gina          

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