The Complete Essays and Writings of Rudolph C.
Klein (Thus Far)
Written and compiled by R.C. Klein
All rights reserved copyright MM-MMV © Reuven Chaim Klein No parts of this publication may be quoted, photocopied, printed, or otherwise transmitted electronically or not, without the expressed written consent of the author.
Self-published by: Reuven Chaim Klein 12366 Chandler Blvd. Unit B Valley Village, C.A. 91607
First Edition: October 2005
Table of Contents:
Unit I -- Academia: Chapter 1: Beowulf: A View of Civilization ................................................................... 1:5 Chapter 2: A Timeless Classic: Canturbury Tales ........................................................... 2:6 Chapter 3: Macbeth .......................................................................................................... 3:8 Chapter 4: Machiavelli: A view of leadership ............................................................... 4:10 Footnotes to Machiavelli: A View of Leadership .......................................................... 4:12 Chapter 5: The New Land .............................................................................................. 5:12 Chapter 6: A Point of Agreement .................................................................................. 6:13 Chapter 7: Puritanism in Literature................................................................................ 7:14 Chapter 8: Nathaniel Hawthorne: Trust in Others ......................................................... 8:17 Chapter 9: A Melting Pot or Salad Bowl? ..................................................................... 9:18 Chapter 10: A biographical sketch of Edgar Allan Poe ............................................... 10:19 Chapter 11: New Romanticism .................................................................................... 11:20 Chapter 12: Two Views of Death ................................................................................ 12:22 Chapter 13: Stephen Crane: An analysis ..................................................................... 13:23 Chapter 14: Leggatt: An Unusual Secret ..................................................................... 14:27 Chapter 15: A biographical sketch of Abraham Stoker ............................................... 15:27 Chapter 16: Allan Sillitoe: A View of an Individual ................................................... 16:28 Chapter 17: Barbara Tuchman: Revolutions................................................................ 17:32 Unit II -- Fiction: Chapter 18: The Briefcase ........................................................................................... 18:33 Chapter 19: The Chaser ............................................................................................... 19:35 Chapter 20: IQ Day: The Story .................................................................................... 20:36 Chapter 21: The Haunted House .................................................................................. 21:37 Chapter 22: The Ditcher............................................................................................... 22:39 Chapter 23: The Problem ............................................................................................. 23:40 Chapter 24: The Empty Room ..................................................................................... 24:41 Chapter 25: The Greatest Singer in the World............................................................. 25:41 Chapter 26: Graduation ................................................................................................ 26:42 Chapter 27: Risk .......................................................................................................... 27:43 Chapter 28: Boy King Get Coroneted .......................................................................... 28:44 Chapter 29: Releasing It............................................................................................... 29:44
Chapter 1: Beowulf: A View of Civilization Although the concept of a hero today is similar to Anglo-Saxon times, during the large gap of time between the two periods, the “hero” took on another role. Religion (for the remainder of this work, religion refers specifically to a monotheistic belief system like that of the “Big Three,” namely, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is the determining factor about morals and values. A lack of religion or a recession in religious growth and/or identification (usually) causes a demoralization of a given society. In Anglo-Saxon times, a hero was essentially a warrior. The warrior culture demanded a warrior to possess the following character traits: fearlessness, a belief in fate, a bold and strong mind, bravery, courage, and formality. While the women (who are said to be more morally awake then their male counterparts) of this society did all the work, the men constantly fought in an attempt to win glory and an honorable reputation. The Scops—the Anglo-Saxon recorders of oral traditions—sand praises of the warrior after his death to mourn him in a nostalgic fashion. These Anglo-Saxons were of various pagan faiths. Today’s standards deem these people uncivilized due to their lack of organized rules and leadership. These pagans believed in a “wergeld” that is a rule that allowed, and even promoted, the act of revenge on someone for his wrongdoings. The monk who wrote down Beowulf criticized the old Anglo-Saxon’s glorification of a warrior—and in essence their entire meaning of a hero—because this monk was, by definition a religious cleric. The monk stated that in times of terror, sacrificing “to the old stone gods” was all that these warriors could do (see lines 86-90). In the same stanza, the monk writes how these warriors made “heathen vow,” hoped for hell’s support, and looked to the Devil for guidance. All of these are distinguishing qualities commonly attributed to some sort of Antichrist Devil worshipper. The poet puts down the warrior by “telling him” that the One above “could not hear / his praise nor know his glory (lines 9798).” This monk was a faultfinder for the Anglo-Saxon society due to his Christian ideals. The Roman Catholic majority in Britain constantly attempted to persecute or evangelize “heathens.” This monk, although making a great contribution to present-day understanding of the Anglo-Saxons, was no different and thus expressed faults in the warrior. The monk compared this warrior to his own definition of a hero: A modest man with fear of heaven, no temptations, (or only suppressed ones) for doing evil deeds or gaining any pleasure, and consistently commits random acts of kindness for those less fortunate. There is a popularly held idea that in the Victorian Era in England, the populace was so modest that even furniture legs had to be concealed under heavy fabric so as not to be too suggestive. If the average person was this modest in Victorian England, how much more so would, he is in a Fundamentalist Christian society such as England in the time of out monk? It is against this background that our monk wrote down the oral tradition of Beowulf. There is no doubt as to why the monk condemned the warrior; the warrior was a wild, showy, boastful man who did the horrible act of murder—even in public—as if it was second nature to him. The warrior publicly shows his intoxication at the mead hall. (The reader is now to be reminded about the Christian point-of-view on the evils of alcohol; confer with the 18th Amendment of the
Constitution, 1919, regarding the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States of America. Fundamentalist Christians mainly led the temperance movement, albeit nonreligious social reformers played somewhat of a role also.) In current times, the definition of a hero has shifted closer to that of the Anglo-Saxon definition that to that of the Middle Ages or even to that of eighty years ago. The growing number of people in present society (2004) who identify themselves as “atheists” has caused this shift. Atheism causes a recession in religion, which in turn causes demoralization of society. The alcohol flows freely and the legs (of furniture and women) are uncovered. Our heroes are the richest men, who cheat and steal all the money they can; the powerful men, who smooth-talk, back-talk, lie, evade questions, twist facts and statements, and accept money as bribes to get economical, physical, political, social, and psychological power over others; those with the physical power even use illegal drugs to gain maximum strength. Our heroes are athletes who rape women, singers who abuse boys and politicians who act otherwise immoral. All this is accepted nowadays?! Today, Beowulf is looked at as the “good guy” who fought evil. Perhaps, the monk who wrote down Beowulf looked at Beowulf and the other “uncivilized” warriors as the bad people and Grendel was an emissary of G-d sent to punish them. Just because Beowulf would appear to be the hero in Anglo-Saxon times, as well as in the present (morally twisted) times, that does not necessarily mean that was the intention of the monk who wrote down the story.
Chapter 2: A Timeless Classic: Canturbury Tales On the subject of the characters in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canturbury Tales, eighteenth-century English poet William Blake remarked, “Every age is a Canturbury pilgrimage; we all pass on, each sustaining one or [an] other of these characters.” The correlation between the characters in Canturbury Tales and present-day people is quite apparent by looking at the descriptions of the Merchant, Oxford Cleric, and Monk. If one “reads between the lines” he will notice a wide resemblance between these characters and their seeming successors. The Merchant can be seen in current times in the form of the stereotypical lawyer. The lawyer (even is he is as good a lawyer as the merchant “was [an] expert at currency exchange,” line 282) is often depicted as a sleazy “slime ball” who uses any means necessary in order to have an added victory on his track record. This lawyer will twist ideas and statements around to suit his own points and logic. The supposed typical lawyer will vehemently state his opinion as fact. This is comparable to the merchant as “He told of his opinions and pursuits/In solemn tones, and how he never lost” (lines 278-279). Any given attorney tries to dress himself in the most expensive and luxurious suites in order to exude an image (in the eyes of the judge, jury, plaintiffs, defendants, spectators, and other judicial officials) of high esteem. The Merchant was also fancily dressed (“motley dress”). His esteem is to be regarded as stemming from the fact that he had a stately posture while sitting high on his horse, and wore a Flemish beaver hat on his proud head, and a pair of daintily buckled boots on his feet. This flamboyance is said about the
Merchant and the present-day lawyer whether or not they are in debt and can even afford such a lifestyle. Although the lawyer, like the merchant, may be an “excellent fellow,” that is only in regard to his personality (if at all), but in their business, they are both ruthless men. The Oxford Cleric can be represented by a certain modern day Yeshiva student. This student –who by all means can be classified as an adults for he is almost twenty years old and almost has a full beard—parallels the Oxford Cleric in many ways: “He was not too fat” like the Oxford Cleric (line 291). In fact, this student has been seen eating only one slice of bread and drinking multiple cups of water throughout an entire three-day period. He did so out of a genuine disinterest in tangible/worldly matters. It was said of the Oxford Cleric that he did not seek out secular employment, for he deemed it a pursuit “too worldly.” The same could be said about the Yeshiva student. This specific pupil, like the Oxford Cleric, exchanged prayers for others with money to buy (intellectually stimulating) books for himself. The following passage could, theoretically, be applied to both the Yeshiva student and the Oxford Cleric (lines 306-310): “His only care was study, and indeed He never spoke a word more than was need, Formal at that, respectful in the extreme, Short, to the point, and lofty in his theme.” The student learns almost all day and night (of course, he does need about four to five hours of sleep!) and, in the rare instance when he is not alone, he is always “formal and polite in speech.” Much like the Oxford Cleric, the Yeshiva Student will readily admit his flaws or lack of knowledge on a given subject and would “gladly learn” more about it. He would also “gladly teach” if he was asked to do so. The Yeshiva Student and Oxford Cleric had both “taken logic ago” (line 290); they have mastered the skill of logic and now devote a portion of their time to learning (Maimonides’ and Nachmanides’) philosophy. The personality expressed by the Monk as well as his character portrayal in the prologue to The Canturbury Tales can be best described in modern terms as similar to that of the (in) famous Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson had failed political career (he unsuccessfully ran for President twice, but did not even merit his own party’s nomination), yet yielded great political power in the large scheme of things (he was a “buddy” of Democrat President William Jefferson Clinton). This is very much like the Monk, who Chaucer calls “A manly man, to be an Abbot able.” Logically, one can infer that the Monk had the advantage of leadership (see below) over his fellow monks, so why did he not actually become the supreme ruler of his monastery? Perhaps it was due to his failed political pursuits. The Monk, although outwardly he was righteous and followed St. Benedict’s rules for monks, sought after such worldly matters as riding (the Greyhound which he had) and hunting. The gravest of the pursy monk’s sins can be seen from the passage, “He had a wrought-gold cunningly fashioned pin; /into a lover’s know it seemed to pass.” What sort of lover would a monk who was “Prior of the Cell” have? Chaucer was obviously referring to some tainted affair that this monk had with some unscrupulous lady. (Perhaps it was with the Nun, as sometimes big monasteries are joined together with nunneries and the self-righteous celibate people often slept together
in the same room. Furthermore, the Nun attempts to pass herself off (as well as she can) as a chaste prioress, but Chaucer’s satirizing of her reveals a different description.) Jesse Jackson, as it has been recently revealed, broke his nuptial vow of fidelity and bore (and “discarded”) an illegitimate child. The Monk also broke his vow of celibacy. William Blake essentially calls Canturbury Tales a timeless story; he does so with good reason. Two completely opposite, the Oxford Cleric and the Monk (whom obviously Chaucer had different attitudes about because the former is idealized and the latter is basically mocked) show up nowadays in the forms of the Yeshiva Student and immoral politician Jesse Jackson, respectively. The Merchant’s character (who is satirized by Chaucer) can be seen in present-day’s typical lawyer, who, as prominent as he might seem to be, deep down is an egotistic maniac who discredits others’ opinions for his own just to win a trial. These three mean are what make Canturbury Tales come alive, even today.
Chapter 3: Macbeth The story- rather the play- of Macbeth is simplistically a mere series of choices, temptations, and the effects of both of those. The story starts out with some subtle choices which seemingly have no bearing on the main story (i.e. the witches decide when to meet again, one witch decides to take revenge on a certain sailor’s wife, etc…), but subtle choices give way to more serious choices that have real outcome (i.e. Thane of Cawdor chooses to rebel, Duncan chooses Macbeth as the new thane, Duncan chooses Malcolm as his royal heir to the throne, etc…) These more serious choices give way to the most serious choice which is the climax of the first half of the story, namely, whether or not Macbeth should kill his noble cousin Duncan. This choice was greatly influenced by temptation. Temptation is a major factor in Macbeth, because it sways Macbeth, who was the thane of only Cawdor and Glamis, in his internal battle of whether he should kill Duncan. In this scenario, temptation took the form of a “prophesy” from the “weird sisters” that Macbeth would become king (and was even more strengthened when the first part of their prediction came true) and in the form of Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth who is the personification of evil in this play and who is a nagging woman who egged Macbeth on to kill Duncan. The effects of these choices coupled with the temptations had drastic effects on the outcome of the play. These effects caused Macbeth’s moral degradation with numerous murderers, they caused Lady Macbeth to commit suicide (albeit indirectly), and most importantly, they caused the once strong Macbeth to lose his mind (and eventually his head): He was floating daggers (before the murder, but the choice was made), hears knockings, and later on even sees ghosts because of the effects of these choices.
Among the various outlooks on life, there are three conflicting ideas to which almost everyone subscribes at some point. Namely, they are: fortune, fate and free will. Fortune is the belief that things occur through karma, luck, mazel, randomness or the like. Fate usually consists of a belief in a higher deity (namely G-d in most places) who has control over the world and decides what shall happen. Free will is simply the belief that a person can control his own fortune and his own actions and/or choices are the only forces which have bearing. Macbeth is an intricate Shakespearean character who utilizes all three of these characteristics at different points in the story, almost to a point where his actions contradict themselves. At first, he believes in fortune because he feels he is fortunate enough to be Thane of Glamis and win the battle. Afterwards, he believes in fate when the witches reveal to him that his fate is to become the Thane of Cawdor and King. But then he neglects fate for free will when he believes that in order to become king (which was already guaranteed to him through the witches), he needs to affect his own future by killing Duncan. A similar neglect for fate occurs later on when Macbeth disregards to an extent the warning of the above-mentioned “bearded women” about his downfall when “Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane” and by “a man not born of a woman’s womb.” So we see that Macbeth easily switches his ideals to suit his own personal ambitions. I, much like the famed Macbeth, believe in a mixture of the said three ideas. I say that there must be a G-d who controls the universe down to every last detail and anything which occurs has been pre-planned by Him. In addition, I believe that using one’s free will to G-d’s bidding and not bad things can cause these plans to change for the good or even be decreed for good from the beginning. In my vocabulary, the word fortune means that I merited having G-d reward me with something, as opposed to the conventional translation which implies randomness (i.e. a “fortune cookie”) and that definition of fortune is considered to be, by my standards, a sacrilegious idea for one to keep in his mind when doing actions. Two more main themes in Macbeth are loyalty and courage. Loyalty is customarily defined as one “sticking with another, even in dire situations.” Courage is basically considered one’s ability or will to do something extreme. In Macbeth, there are numerous instances of loyalty. MacDuff remains loyal to Malcolm despite putting himself down and pointing out his flaws. Macbeth remains loyal to his wife despite her mental deterioration and in the inverse is true despite Macbeth’s moral degradation. The three witches remain loyal to Hecate by submitting to the Goddess’ will regarding the circumstances with Macbeth. Examples of courage and loyalty are rampant through out the play. Not including Macbeth’s initial courage to kill Duncan and usurp the throne, Macbeth killed Banquo (indirectly). Macbeth stood up to the witches and cursed them. MacDuff uses courage to remain headstrong about fighting Macbeth. MacDuff’s son has courage when he calls his murderers-to-be “liars!” In conclusion, we see various themes which play over and over through the duration of Macbeth. These themes about Macbeth’s personal beliefs, courage, loyalty
and others are a lesson to every person. It shows how even one is evil attempts to balance his different traits in an attempt to keep decent in life.
Chapter 4: Machiavelli: A view of leadership There are a few accepted concepts from the Renaissance period1 concerning leadership of a state or government. Niccolò Machiavelli spilled much ink to explicate a monarch’s responsibility to his subjects and vice versa. The same responsibilities should apply even at the present time between governments and their constituents or even between any person and body in a position of power (i.e. religious leaders, employers, teachers, etc…) A major area of interest during the Renaissance was war. Most of those ideas hold true even in current times. Although, it is not necessarily true that the same physical fighting transpires currently as occurred during the Renaissance period. While fighting and conflicts is a major portion of global society, it is to a different degree than it was during the Renaissance: During the Renaissance, war was mostly a military fight between two territories, and was on a on a smaller scale an economic or cultural battle. In current times, there is less physical fighting between sovereigns and more economical or cultural hostility. Instead of merely lining up soldiers on opposite sides of an imaginary line and then firing with all power, - to declare the victors as the side whose most people are still standing – the definition of war is now merely a confrontation which can occur on many faces. These confrontations occur mostly as arguments on economics, religion, government or other issues. The result, although it could be equally or even more deadly than a tradition war, causes a conflict more subtle than open combat. We have the tax war which occurs when one country imposes an import tax on imports from another country and the other country counters with its own tax on imports from the first, prompting the first country to higher its tax on the second, and thus setting off a whole chain reaction of taxation. While a tax war might not actually directly cause deaths, it can cause poverty, starvation and frustration which leads to violence and deaths. Even though excommunication is not a strong force as it once was, it still greatly influences world politics and is also classified as a “silent” war. No words are exchanged, no arms are used, but the outcome can hurt more than guns and knives can. According to Machiavelli, war and an army is integral to a king or prince’s arsenal. A leader should have multitudes of soldiers at his disposal. He shouldn’t be afraid to use the army frequently to remind the people who is in charge. A Machiavellian leader is characterized2 as “ruthless” and “unscrupulous.” He believes terrorism and deceit are justifiable means of achieving a peaceful reign. Nonetheless, his ultimate goal is just that, a peaceful reign. This was a novel idea proposed by Machiavelli; previous monarchs focused less on domestic affairs, and concentrated more on world domination. As a result, Machiavelli praises3 such heads of state as Julius Caesar who made the people into his friends by giving the poor free bread, and reprimands Alexander the Great for spending the bulk of his short-lived reign on campaigns in foreign countries which he wished to conquer. To the latter’s credit, Machiavelli writes that after Alexander’s death,
Persia, which Alexander conquered from Darius the Persian, did not rebel. Machiavelli attributed this phenomenon to the fact that Alexander set up a government in Persia which mimicked the Turkish government of Machiavelli’s time, namely a “one man show,” run by Alexander and only Alexander. Of course, the Persian had resentment toward the Greeks for killing their beloved king, and two generations later, they ousted Antiochus the Syrian-Greek king. Alexander violated one of Machiavelli’s principle4 rules. He did not make friends with the people whom he invaded. Alexander the Great seemed to have forgotten the idea that too big of a land to govern is a recipe for rebellion. A highly respected king5 once wrote, “A king is not saved through many soldiers.” Rather, a king is saved through finding favor in the eyes of his subjects. This must be done in moderation because a prince shouldn’t be a miser for it breeds rebellion, yet earning a reputation for generosity will “come to grief.”6 This same balance should occur between cruelty and compassion, as well as being feared versus being loved.7 In short, a monarch should retain its power to fascinate, to frighten, and to instruct; but should still be liked by its subjects. By comparing the government to the church, one can transitively apply Machiavelli’s rules for government to the church (and perhaps other facets of life, especially religious entities). Kissing one’s hand signifies a submission to the kissed8. MP’s elected to Parliament, as well as people elected and appointed to certain offices in the United States, are squired by law to confirm their oaths of office by kissing the Book. It is customary for one meeting a sovereign to kiss his hand as a symbol of servility. This same custom has been adopted early on for a pope also (although it was later changed to kissing his feet) 9. The fact that Charlemagne10 required Papal approval to be deemed “Holy Roman Emperor” proves that the church is actually the ultimate governing body. The church “governs” the kings. The English, Scottish, Italian, French and Spanish kings attempted to gain prominence in the Vatican by heeding to the calls of a holy war coming from various popes. The result was a series of crusades into the Middle East by Christian forces between 1095 and 1272. In current times, there exist theocracies in religious states such as Iran. Although in Jewish law, a proper Jewish king is the supreme ruler of all Jews, he is still bound to the Sanhedrin, or Jewish High Court of 70 Elders. This body serves as the legislative, judicial, and to an extent, executive branches of government. Machiavelli calls Moses an “outstanding” prince11. It should be noted that Moses isn’t historically celebrated as a prince, but it rather remembered mainly as a religious leader and prophet. Nonetheless, Machiavelli still applies his axioms about government to Moses. Machiavelli’s main thesis is that a person who is brought into a position of power because of his own achievements has less to “prove” to his subjects than does a person who merely inherited his position or was granted it by windfall. This idea can be applied almost anywhere A king who inherits the throne from his father, mother, or other relative, or any nobleman who inherits a title needs to prove his worth more than one who becomes king or is bestowed a title due to his victories (in battle or in intelligence). A vice president who takes over for a president without winning an election is less likely to have a favorable public opinion than a president who went through a fair election and won. A teacher who was granted his job because he was the son-in-law of the dean has
more to prove to his students and fellow teachers than does a teacher who earned his or her place. In all these situations, if “the people” (a president’s constituents, a king’s subjects, a teacher’s students) are dissatisfied with their “ruler,” then they have a “native and original” right12 to protest, rebel or complain (respectively). This is inherently what Machiavellian ideology attempts to avoid. Footnotes to Machiavelli: A View of Leadership 1. The Renaissance period is the time between the mid-fifteenth to mid-sixteenth century when a convergence of social, economic, and political forces occurred especially in Italy. 2. Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham (1810-1897). “The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase & Fable”, London, 1970 (entry on Machiavelli, pg. 670) 3. Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469-1527). “The Prince”, New York, New York, Penguin Classics, 1961 translated by Prof. George Bull (section IV.) 4. ibid. (section III.) 5. King David. (Psalms 33:16) 6. Machiavelli. (Section XVI.) 7. Ibid. (section XVII.) 8. See Kings 19:18 which refers to a few Israelites who had not bowed to the Baal and the language of the verse states “every mouth which had not kissed him.” We see that the Bible uses the expression “kissing” of one symbolizing his submission to another. 9. Brewer. (pgs. 609-610) 10. The first Holy Roman Emperor. (742-814 A.D.) 11. Machiavelli. (Section VI.) 12. John Locke. “The Second Treatise of Government,” 1690
Chapter 5: The New Land There are numerous differences between the selections “The New Land,” by John Smith and The Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford. These differences are not just in the style and content of the writings, but are also in the mood and purposes of the writings. Finally, the writers have different personalities and attitudes toward the New Land. Both passages, from John Smith and William Bradford, are dissimilar. John Smith writes his description of New England as a persuasive advertisement, in an attempt to entice Englishmen to live there. William Bradford, whose account was written in a diary form, merely wrote his account to chronicle the events of his voyage to Massachusetts. Thus, although written only four years apart, the two cited are not the same. In contrast to John Smith, William Bradford was a religious man, making his journey to Plymouth for religious reasons. John Smith labels one a “master” if he has sufficient skills, “as carpenters, masons, Fishers, Fowlers, Gardeners, Husbandmen, Sawyers, Smiths, Spinsters, Tailors, Weavers and such like.” His philosophy contradicts that of William Bradford, who wrote on September 6, that a profitable person is a member in church. Almost uncharacteristically, Captain John Smith first mentions the Native
Americans as potential converts to Christianity before anything else in his description; whereas, the Puritan, William Bradford, only mentions the natives in comparison to savages. John Smith was sent to America by the London Company; while William Bradford was fleeing religious persecution. Perhaps it was William Bradford and his group’s strong religious, anti-Anglican beliefs which caused his colony to flourish, while Smith’s was eventually destroyed. The moods set by the two authors are in disagreement. Throughout the whole story, Bradford sets a dark and gloomy background, with the deaths of the blasphemer and William Butten, and the apocalyptic references (a big exception is John Howland’s heroism). John Smith, on the other hand, tells of a false utopia with pleasure in the minds of its dwellers, “with Fields, Gardens, Orchards, Buildings…” The two citations, “The New Land,” by Captain John Smith and Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford are unalike. There is sufficient stylistic and textual evidence to prove such a statement. The tone and ideas conveyed in each quotation differ from each other. They are almost like two different places being described by two different people; yet the object of both expositions remains the same: America. In conclusion, the seemingly insignificant discrepancies greatly separate the two compositions.
Chapter 6: A Point of Agreement Although Judaism produced Christianity, they often argue on the most fundamental beliefs. This has been so, throughout the centuries. An exception is the American Colonial theologian, Jonathan Edwards, whose ideals conveyed in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry G-d,” very much parallel those taught by Jewish Scholars. Both religions accept, as part of everyday life, two main attributes of G-d: justice and mercy. Jonathan Edwards states that the bow of G-d’s wrath is bent. Had his bow been straight, that would imply that G-d’s wrath in complete; but, now we see that he has mercy, from the words “is bent.” Judaism also believes in these two traits of G-d. This explains the seemingly contradictory elements of “The Thirteen Attributes [of G-d’s] Mercy” and the widely accepted postmortem Judgment Day. Christianity, as well as Judaism, believes in repentance and the wiping away of sins. One infers from Edward’s sermon that should one make reforms in his life and continues to lead a religious life; the punishment of G-d will stop. This is in agreement with Judaism’s outlook which says, “And return to your G-d HaShem … and he will pity you… (Deut. 30:3)”; this returning refers to contrition for wrongdoing. A famous passage quoted many times in the Day of Atonement liturgy states, “For on this day, He will forgive you, to purify you, from all of your sins, in front of G-d you will be purified (Lev. 16:30).” This refers to the wiping away of sins. Jonathan Edwards makes three comparisons to returning to the faith. Although Jews don’t quite agree with Edward’s comparison to water, they do agree with his comparison to fire. While Jewish tradition likens water to the Book of Law, it likens G-d’s wrath to
fire, as does Jonathan Edwards. This is like what the Jewish Bible says by punishing transgressions, “sulfur and salt burn all the land (Deut. 29:22).” The Judeo-Christian religions have many disputes. They have different ideas about the Messiah, redemption, and other such elements to be in the future. Despite these many arguments, the author of this essay is almost positive that Rabbis would have conceded to the cited selection by Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry G-d.”
Chapter 7: Puritanism in Literature The Puritans were a significant and influential component in early Colonial America. In addition to setting the tone of American literature for many centuries, the Puritans also set various standards for American mores. Their influence produced four distinguished personalities who were in essence the predecessors of American literature. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), probably the most eminent theologian that America has yet to produce, is acknowledged as an exceptional writer whose powerful, almost poetic, sermons awakened the hearts of penitents for hundreds of years. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) worked his way up from being the son of a poor Boston tallow maker, to being a printer’s apprentice, to owning a printing shop and printing his own almanacs, to becoming a world-renowned scientist, to playing a key role in America’s fight for indecency from Britain, to serving as a foreign ambassador to France, and eventually to living as one of the most popular Americans of his time; but, most importantly he was an understandable and persuasive writer. After America was granted its independence, Washington Irving (1783-1859), the “Father of American Literature,” showed Europe the true literary potential of American authors and as a by-product enlightened Americans about their Puritan ancestors (figuratively not literally ancestors). Lastly, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) arrived on the scene attempting to atone for the sins of his Puritan great-grandfather, Judge John Hathorne (sic), by educating the general public. Franklin and Hawthorne not only gave a reasonably accurate portrayal of Puritanism in early America, but they genially satirized Puritans. We can understand (at least superficially) various facets of Puritan life from the images depicted by Edwards, Irving, Franklin and Hawthorne. It is clear from Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker” and Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” that the Puritan precursors to future American urbanization were paranoid about everything beyond the margins of the town limits. The forests are viewed as the home of evil, from where witches and the Devil himself operate. Old Indian burial grounds are also looked at as sources of sin and the occult. The Indians themselves exemplify pagans who deal with the Devil. Evil, the Devil, and witches with (supposed) supernatural powers are considered serious dealings. This is the obsession of the Puritan culture. While they always tried to “purify” themselves (whether in their service to G-d, to themselves, to each other, or merely to purify themselves of hated Catholic rites), they were also always fearful of a counter-effort being undertaken by the evil forces in the world. Such paranoia can lead to McCarthyism, in which persons would accuse their fellow Puritans of associating with evil or sin. In order to exonerate one’s self from such allegations, one
must be triumphant and victorious in a “trial by ordeal.” This can be done by taking any trivial task and attaching a stipulation to it stating that if the accused where to be successful in completing the task, it must be looked at as a sign from Above and he or she shall be proclaimed innocent. A trial by ordeal can be as simple as flipping a coin, sinking in water, or outweighing a Bible on a balance (the latter two were taken from Franklin’s “A Witch Trial at Mount Holly”). So is the fate of an inhabitant in a Puritan theocratic oligarchy (which is ruled by a council of elders). Irving and Hawthorne enlightened the world about the Puritan outlook on marriage and its sanctity. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne describes the idealized wife. The perfect wife yields to all of her husband’s desires and requests. Brown’s wife allows Brown to go off on a mysterious journey into the darkness of the forests, as opposed to contesting his request and coming across as a rebellious, unruly, disobedient wife. In the short story “The Devil and Tom Walker,” Irving shows us the antithesis to the perfect wife: Tom Walker’s confrontational and quarrelsome wife. The couple themselves distrusted each other and even conspired to cheat one another numerous times. Using his light exaggeration, Irving points out that a hen merely cackled and Tom’s wife was already plotting and scheming to the newly laid egg. All in all, the essential factor in a Puritan marriage is not merely trust as contemporary marriage analysts postulate, but it is a total submission to the husband’s will on the part (and to the detriment) of the wife. One spouse is the boss while the other remains merely his lackey. But, one’s wedding day is still viewed as an extremely happy and important day in Puritan civilization, even though it symbolizes one’s gender’s overpowering of the other. This is evident due to the contrast in “The Minister’s Black Veil” from when Reverend Mister Hooper went from a funeral (the “saddest” day) to a wedding (presumably, the “happiest” day). The two seemingly contradictory themes of happiness and submission epitomize the conflict of the main two themes of Puritanism, namely family life and selfreflection (probably mistaken by Franklin as self-perfection). Jonathan Edwards, the originator of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry G-d,” advocates personal growth in his sermons. In order for Puritans to purify themselves and achieve sainthood, they must subject themselves to a detailed self-examination. Such self-examination will lead to supposedly lead to self-improvement, which in turns causes repentance and thus improves one’s relationship with others and with G-d. This allows one to be proclaimed a saintly and righteous. Franklin satirizes such self-examination and dismissed it as being too subjective. This is the role of his satirical work “Moral Perfection” in which Franklin tries to criticize himself objectively to stimulate excellence. (What type of person is going to grade their self fairly? Perhaps that is the test in itself.) Additionally, as seen from Hawthorne’s two works (cited above), self-improvement does not necessarily generate repentance, but rather it first causes a middle step of the initial reluctance which one survives through before carrying out the actual repentance. Edwards also neglects to mention the ugliness which occurs after one repents: Irving and Hawthorne ridicule Puritans for this distortion of the truth and specifically mention the sorrow and pain which occur in the lives of their main characters after they realize the wrong which they did. Goodman Brown is depressed for the rest of his life after finding
out the truth behind his Puritan community. Tom Walker is in denial after he realizes his sins and spends his last few moments of life living in gloom. The conflicting motifs of Puritanism (mentioned above) produce disastrous effects. Puritans are supposed to find flawlessness in themselves and they live in concentrated and densely packed communities. As a result, the Puritans sometimes confuse these two defining aspects of their lives and seek to raise themselves (to piety and humility) by putting other people down. Instead of finding how inside themselves they are faultless, they justify their misdeeds by pointing at their neighbor. What occurs is a society filled with people trying to find faults in others in order to elevate themselves in the eyes of their contemporaries. Witch accusations were a frequent occurrence in early Puritan America because by being critical of others, Puritans can advance themselves. Franklin satirizes this in “A Witch Trial at Mount Holly” were the Accused are already considered guilty by the Accuser and judge (who serves as the figurative jury and executioner as well), it was just a matter of what experiment will they fail in order to be pronounced conclusively guilty. “The Minister’s Black Veil” ridicules this Puritan quest for perfection and its unfortunate consequences. Rev. Mr. Hooper puts on his black mask over his face to symbolize the Puritan struggle for perfection and its failure. Should Puritans be successful in their strive for flawlessness, they would share the same fate as the venerated Biblical Moses, who upon descending Mount Sinai, was gifted with a special glowing of his face and the sheer radiance of the glow caused him to put on a mask lest the Israelites flee in fear of his shimmering face (see Exodus 33). The content of this social criticism of Puritans was already known by the merchants are frontiersmen in early America, and this fact eventually caused the merchant and frontier class to reject Puritanism (in its conventional sense) and start a new brand of way of life known as Yankeeism. This purely secular entity held religion in esteem while with the same actions, it satirized and belittled religion. An example of such a Yankee is Benjamin Franklin who wrote in “Moral Perfection” (which the very title alludes to the goal of Puritans) that he intends to stop eating with lifelessness and drinking to the point of drunkenness. Franklin is known in history as a big man (in both his physical stature and important) it makes very little sense to say that a man like him would give up casual drinking and eating to achieve moral perfection. Franklin was a scientist and as such, he did not act on emotion but rather on fact, and there was no conclusive evidence to prove that one’s ethical standing is based on the amount of abstinence from physical pleasures. Asceticism only equals piety in a Puritan culture (like we see from the deprived characters in the various stories cited above); Franklin was trying to disprove that perception. He wanted to show that one can achieve holiness and still derive benefit from this world. This is contrary to Puritan opinion; however, it is the impression that Yankees (who evolved from the Puritans, much like the Puritans evolved from the Catholics by rejecting some of their principles and retaining others) have of the world.
Chapter 8: Nathaniel Hawthorne: Trust in Others Nathaniel Hawthorne insinuates that an American should never completely trust another person. Although some degree of trust is required for society to exist, Hawthorne seems to advocate that Americans should be wary of everyone else. This might make a person to seem border-line paranoid, but too much trust can be detrimental to a society. If too much trust is invested in one person or faction, that person or faction will garner too much power and would then be able to get away with anything. Nathaniel Hawthorne specifically warns Americans of the disadvantages of such a society. In doing so, he follows the practice of the “Father of American Literature” Washington Irving. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne shows the reader what misfortunes can occur when too much trust is endowed to one individual. From the onset of the story, Faith Brown seems to be suspicious of her newlywed husband. She “interrogated” her groom of three months before allowing him to go off on a journey in the middle of the night. But, being a naïve female Puritan, she gave in to Puritan indoctrination and wholly trusted her husband to leave to the dark forest. In the forest, Goodman Brown happens upon the supposedly pious Goody Cloyse. Of course, she was actually out in the forest to cut a deal with the devil (a concept popularized by Washington Irving). No one would have ever suspected such a virtuous goodwife to be doing such a thing. That is exactly the point. No one would have ever suspected her because people blindly afford too much trust to others, and sometimes consider them “faultless” people. How much more so would one not suspect a whole town in “New Israel” to be Devil worshippers? Everyone is human and thus makes mistakes, so one should not trust another to the extent that the other is looked at as impeccable. However, in some societies, there is no room for open suspicion. Had Faith not let Goodman Brown leave, what would have happened to her? She would surely have been accused of rebellion and truancy against her husband. She would have been accused of being a witch herself; she probably would be punished by torture or death as was common in Puritan territories for women who even slightly “rebelled” or disobeyed their husbands. Sometimes it is more harmful to question those to whom trust is afforded because of the backlash. The questioner might be punished; the trusted might be lowered in the eyes of his inferiors, and other such consequences. One should carefully balance his traits of trust and skepticism. Too much trust can cause an overdependence on others and a granting of immunity for others’ misdeeds. An overabundance of outspoken skepticism perhaps leads to direr consequences. Goodman Brown is a confused individual. He seems unsure whether to fully believe the dogma fed to him by his Puritans educators; but unwilling to deny this creed he appears stuck in the middle. Normally there is nothing wrong with being a moderate, but in such extremist religious societies, they believe one either accepts all or accepts nothing (commonly known as the “all or nothing” approach). In theory, there should always be room for a middle ground, yet fanatic leaders attempt to close their societies from people who have even a fragment of “disbelief” or disagreement. This was the tenet by which the Puritan population carried on. This same perception is used by the radical Muslims in their ruling over Iran. Some claim that it is even used to some extent by the so-called fanatic Jewish Rabbis in Israel. Such societies proclaim that one who deviates,
even if ever so slightly, from the accepted norm or pronounced directives is actually an enemy of their society. Goodman outwardly expressed his belief in normal Puritan values as is evident from him accepting the appellation “Goodman” as a married Puritan man. But, as seen from the content of Brown’s dreams, Brown fancies a different type of society. Hawthorne is trying to show that too much belief in one leader (like autonomy) or select group of leaders (like an oligarchy) is what can cause such an un-idealistic civilization. This conflict between freedom and conventionality recurs as a motif in “Young Goodman Brown.” Following the suit of Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne sought to teach his American readers a specific lesson in morals. Irving wanted to rebuke avaricious Americans; Hawthorne, trusting ones. The two authors used the settings to appeal to Americans to further their cause. When an American reads Irving’s story about a miser who loses everything in the end, he is more open to the possibility that he might end up like that if the story occurred in a familiar area (namely, Boston in “The Devil and Tom Walker”). Hawthorne takes this idea from the “Father of American Literature” and sets his short story “Young Goodman Brown” in Salem. The names of these familiar American towns grab the attention of the American reader. Irving uses abandoned Indian forts and forests to connote curses, evil, darkness, and the Devil himself. Hawthorne also makes uses of forests to connote such darkness outside the light of Puritan colonies. Such forests and neglected forts are widespread throughout America. Using an early American setting and references to the British establishment in America, Hawthorne and, his more famous predecessor, Irving publicize the ills of a “far away” society; but readers can associate those problems with the troubles in their own the social orders. Using the background and tone of their particular stories, Hawthorne and Irving teach the general American public specific lessons in morals. They both try to educate the public about the model relationship between a man and his wife by detailing the matrimonial existence of their central characters (i.e. Tom and his brutal wife, and Brown and his “holier-than-thou” wife). In addition, Hawthorne seeks to teach Americans a particular piece of guidance regarding how one should decide whom to trust and to what extent should that person or entity is trusted. An abundance of absolute trust or a complete lack of trust can bring about similar consequences.
Chapter 9: A Melting Pot or Salad Bowl? A multi-cultural country is either described as a "melting pot" or a "salad bowl." A "melting pot" is a country where the different cultures successfully blend together to produce a new culture which is a mixture. A "salad bowl," however, is a country where there exists a heterogeneous mixture; inasmuch as the cultures are significantly separate, yet are forced to be in one "bowl." According to Hector Saint John de Crèvecoeur, an American is an outcome of a "melting pot," as opposed to a (or as seen in Crèvecoeur’s letters there should be an "an) European. This still holds true today.
Early in his essay, Crèvecoeur provides his own definition of an American. He states that an American is nothing like a (n) European. One infers that this is because a (n) European would introduce himself as a "Spaniard," "Frenchman," "Englishman," or "Dutchman." This is in contrast to an American, who even in present times, refers to himself as an "American," not a "Californian," "Hawaiian," "New Yorker," or "Pennsylvanian." He does not even refer to himself by his former homeland; and in the rare instance when he does, he always hyphenates his identity with "-American" (i.e. African-American, ItalianAmerican, even Native American). Although racism and the persecution of peoples was a major problem for America, this problem is now virtually non-existent (at least openly and/or legally). There are laws against discriminating against a person based on his place of origin, and these laws contribute to the blending of cultures. While interracial or international marriages are quite popular within the United States, it is barely present in Europe. Usually, Irishmen marry Irish Women; Slovak men marry Slovak women and other such instances. This was true in the late eighteenth century, as Crèvecoeur makes a special point to say he knows of an American with a family from all parts of the world: an English Grandfather, Dutch wife, and a daughter-in-law from France who bore him four grandsons each married to a woman of a different nation. Although, currently, Europe is unified under the European Union, they are still separated by Crèvecoeur’s main elements of unification; namely, religion and language. At the time of Crèvecoeur’s writing, most of British America was Puritan and spoke the English language. Although the religious aspect is no longer true, nor applicable, because of the (supposed) separation of church and state, the now-evolved American-English dialect is currently spoken from coast-to-coast. Europe is and always was made up of several religions: Islam, Catholic, Anglican, and more. A European may speak one or more of possible languages: French, Italian, Spanish and more. While visibly dissimilar, only in Europe, the different ways of life are fully integrated into one culture in America. Europe is likened to a "salad bowl," whilst the unified colonies in America are like a "melting pot." In conclusion, whether or not Crèvecoeur wrote "What is an American?" before or after the revolt of the thirteen original states (or even if he wrote it yesterday), America is still a land where different cultures are conjoined.
Chapter 10: A biographical sketch of Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe was an American poet, short-story writer, and literary critic who had a tragic life story beginning at childhood. In 1809, Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts into a family of traveling actors. After his father abandoned the family when he was at a young age, the mother died in 1811. After his mother's death, John Allan, a wealthy merchant, adopted him. They moved to Great Britain, where the Allan family lived from 1815 to 1820. His adopted father beat him and never was very fond of him. Soon after he was adopted, his adopted mother, whom he loved very much, died......
In 1826 living in Richmond, Virginia, Poe enrolled as a student of the University of Virginia, but accumulated gambling debts that his adopted father refused to pay. Poe was forced to drop out of college. After he had withdrawn from college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1827. During this time, he published his first book, “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, by a Bostonian (instead saying by Edgar Allan Poe). In 1829, he published his second book of poetry entitled “Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems”, while still in the U.S. Army. In 1830, he was transferred to West Point in New York, where he studied as a student many languages, but was expelled for neglecting his duties in 1831. When his adopted father died, Poe had many financial problems that he had hoped to resolve, but could not because he was not included in John Allan's will. In 1831, he wrote two poems, “Helen” and “Israel”. In the 1830s, he wrote about his caring Aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia Clemm. In 1833, he married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. During the 1830s, he created some of his finest tales, “Ligeia,” “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and “William Wilson.” During the year of 1839 these and other stories were published in “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque”. In 1841, he became the editor of “Graham's Magazine”, and was responsible for the writing of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, which was the first modern detective story. His prizewinning story, “The Gold Bug” was composed in 1843 and published in the “Philadelphia's Dollar Newspaper.” Toward the end of his career, in 1845 he wrote “The Raven”, which is the poem that made him famous and made him the most money. In the 1840s he published many writings, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Philosophy of Composition”, “Marginalia”, a collection of critical notes for various periodicals. Suffering for 5 years, his wife, Virginia Poe, finally died of tuberculosis in 1847. He became very lonely and ill from depression and his career declined. In the late 1840s his lectures on "The Universe" later were transformed into “Eureka: A Prose Poem” in 1848. During the year of 1849, he was going to marry the Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton, a widow. On October 3, he was going to pick up Mrs. Clemm, his aunt, when he stopped at a tavern in Baltimore, Maryland where he was found semiconscious and delirious. He died fours days later of an unknown cause. Throughout his life, he was deprived of two fathers, the latter who did not love him and three of the most important women to him in all of his life, Virginia Clemm (first wife), his first mother, and his adopted mother. He wrote many tragic and unhappy stories, tales, and poems because of events in his life.
Chapter 11: New Romanticism In the early 19th century, an evolving spirit began to take root in the world. This spirit shifted the world into a period when literature was realistic. Nonetheless, there remained writers of an older school who conveyed the ideas of Romanticism and Transcendentalism. They did not necessarily believe in Enchantment like their medieval fore-runners, but they did reject the idea of “randomness” that contemporary scientists and philosophers (like Darwin) preached. Two such writers were the celebrated poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Wordsworth made use of the Romantic style when writing “The World Is Too Much with us.” The poem is written as a fourteen line sonnet. In the poem, Nature is described as an active, busy entity. The interjective fragment—“Great G-d!”—seems to be the focus of this religiously motivated poem (see line 9). Wordsworth is trying to remind his readers from the onset of the Industrial Revolution that a central creator, a “foreman” of the world does exist. He implies this deep religious principle not only by putting down pagans (“I’d rather be/A Pagan…” on lines 9-10), but by mentioning certain gods of Greek mythology as if to say that the idea of G-d even existed in Greek and Roman times. Wordsworth makes another allusion to the existence of a Romantic far-away overseer of the world by capitalizing the word “Nature” in line 3 as if it was a deity. Wordsworth uses this Romantic idealism to spread his moral standards in a light genial fashion. In opposition to people’s “Getting and spending” (line 2), Wordsworth tells his reader that “we lay waste our powers” (ibid.). This means that to pursue gluttonous and physical acquisitions and pleasures is a mere waste of human powers and abilities (and resources). Wordsworth compares life to a song, and in doing so, he rebukes us by stating “for everything, we are [all] out of tune” (line 8). For all of our sins, we have ruined the synchronous harmony of the world. “We have given our hearts away” to unholy pursuits and for this “sordid” affair, we shall eventually be punished (line 4). The howling of the wind at all hours and various references to the rising sun serve to evoke the emotion of repentance in the hearts of the readers; who would want to end up like the sinners in the generation of Noah –underneath a world flooded in seawater? These usages of Romantic ideals would scare the reader into amending his ways. In his elaborate poem “Kubla Khan,” Coleridge employs Romantic literary devices as well as s continuation of the Romantic tradition. To influence the reader’s reaction Coleridge uses internal rhyme (like line 4), alliteration (“Five miles meandering with a mazy motion” in line 25), and the repetition of vowel sounds (“A stately…decree” in line 2). Coleridge also makes contradictions to bewilder the reader. An example of such occurs on line 14 in which the palace in Xanadu is described as both “savage” yet “holy and enchanted.” This is the Romantic collision alluded to on line 12. As another means of intriguing the reader, Coleridge personifies some of the adornments in Kubla Khan’s “pleasure dome.” The rocks dance (line 23), the earth wears pants (line 17), and the walls and towers and girdled (line 7). These bizarre and distant elements help contribute to the Romantic style of Coleridge’s writing. Coleridge’s poem is the epitome of Romantic beliefs. The entire poem is a recording of a flow of consciousness stemming from the imagination and dreams of Coleridge. He dreamt that he was writing a poem about a vision in which he saw Xanadu. The Romantic belief is that poetry should flow from one’s mind and onto one’s paper, even the most impulsive spontaneous ideas. A dream or vision is a sufficient source of inspiration for Coleridge. The enclosure of the lush romantic landscape of sixteen miles under a dome serves to remind the reader about the existence of G-d who has his own
palace in a distant world which is protected from human entrance (Genesis 3:24). This is Coleridge’s Romanticism. Poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth use the existence of a higher authority to relay to the readers their own personal dogmas. The two use a Romantic poetic style as opposed to a realistic prose-like formal way of writing. This method emphasizes certain points in their poems while it downplays others to further the cause of Romanticism.
Chapter 12: Two Views of Death William Cullen Bryant’s poem “Thanatopsis” is not akin to John Donne’s Sixth Holy Sonnet. Although the two poems have minute resemblances, they are remarkably dissimilar. The central theme in both is one of mortals’ most controversial topics, namely death; yet they both have different outlooks on the subject. This is enough to contrast the two, but their parallelisms may thwart one from doing so. “Holy Sonnet 6” by John Donne was written from a religious perspective, while “Thanatopsis” was written by a teenage American poet looking for recognition. In the latter, William C. Bryant used eighty-one lines to convey his ghostly message about death; John Dunne took a mere fourteen lines. They both make mention of kings, yet for opposite and contradictory purposes: John Donne says that death is a slave to kings and William Bryant implies that death can affect even kings. Death, according to Bryant, is an element of nature to be feared because of its drastic effects on everything. Donne, who addresses death as though it were a mere person, says to death that death is not as “mighty and dreadful” as he is assumed to be. He claims immortality as he says “nor yet canst thou kill me.” Even with many differences between the two poems, internally, they can be considered very similar. “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant and “Holy Sonnet Six” by John Donne are very much in agreement. They both agree with the metaphoric comparison between sleeping and falling dead. Bryant calls a grave an “eternal resting place” and the last lines of his poem states that a person who is going through death is “like one who wraps the drapery of his couch” (presumably to sleep), and he “lies down to pleasant dreams.” On the same hand, Donne tells death that he is not needed for one can use pappy or charms to sleep (meaning die). Donne lived in the time of the Romantic Movement, thus it is appropriate for him to use such words as “thou”, “thy”,”thee”, and “shalt.” Similarly, borrowing from Romanticism to set his serious philosophical tone, William Bryant uses an archaic syntax like Donne’s. Many of the similarities listed above can be disproved to widen the wedge between William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” and John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 6.” Perhaps their agreement in the figurative likening of death to sleeping is only a particularity in the wording of their poems. It is also possible that Bryant used a similar vocabulary and phrasing to that of Donne’s in order to emulate Donne’s success as a
professional world-renowned poet. In conclusion, stylistic and word choice evidence in not conclusive enough to illustrate a strong semblance between the two poems. John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 6” is very much contrastive to William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis.” The latter, meaning (in Greek) “view of death,” refers to the hold of Thanatos (i.e. the Angel of Death) over mankind. The former is addressed to the overseer of eternal rest to inform him that he has no power. Their language in phraseology, although is quite similar between the two, is no means of drawing an equivalence between the two. The Old World poem and the New World (American) poem (“Thanatopsis”) are thus completely different from each other.
Chapter 13: Stephen Crane: An analysis Stephen Crane’s short stories express a precise and complex outlook on life. His philosophy seems to be that although any given individual is insignificant compared to the enormity of the universe, a responsible person should still do all he can to productively contribute to society. Despite the everlasting naturalist struggle against a stronger, more powerful force, civilization urges (or even requires) an individual to conduct himself with restraint. He must bear in mind the fact that he is a modicum part of a larger existence but that this fact is not an excuse to do whatever he pleases. Crane depicts life as a grim futility composed of poverty, cruelty, war, and suspicion. This element of the famed journalist’s writing is a form of realistic writing which overtook Transcendentalism and Romanticism in the late 19th century and early 20th America. From an historical perspective, Crane’s objectives seem very clear. When Crane was born, and began his rapid ascent into fame, America was still recovering from the Civil War. The Civil War was the result of decades of sectional conflicts over issues (essentially) between two regions of America. The South believed in slavery and state’s rights, while the North had many abolitionists and believers in a more powerful federal government. Years of tensions produced years of bloody war, the bloodiest in American history to date. After the unpleasant war, regionalism became stronger than ever, with the West playing a bigger key role than it did before. As a result, people created all kinds of stereotypes about other peoples whom they hardly knew. Crane wanted to end such regionalism by showing the world is brimming with all kinds of diverse people. Consequently, he introduces his readers to various characters not only to represent their ways of life, but also to demonstrate the diversity of their different attitudes toward life. One episode most likely occurred numerous times during the Civil War, and Stephen Crane recorded this event in “An Episode of War.” A stray bullet hit a certain warmhearted lieutenant (although neither he nor his rank is important) while he was preparing coffee for his squad. Due to the lack of medical technology during the Civil War, the unfortunate lieutenant was destined (doomed) to have his arm amputated. How could such a thing happen to a person who was not even involved in battle? Such was the reaction of the men around him who “gazed statue-like and silent, astonished and awed
by this catastrophe which happened when catastrophes were not expected…” Such is the irony of war and the indifference of nature. Crane reveals the reality: Life is grim; it is comprised of war, difficulties in growing industry, poverty, and class struggles. People are always struggling against a greater force, like the lieutenant. Crane is not writing his own novel ideas about life; he is merely expressing the reality. Even in the end, when the lieutenant accepts his unfair judgment for life (that he will require having his arm severed); his sentiment is still antagonistic toward reality because his family feels bad for themselves and not for him. It is noteworthy to mention that Crane used the word “episode” in the title to his story. That term implies one event in a compilation of loosely related stories. “An Episode in War” is simply one of many stories that emerged from the Civil War. Obviously, compared to the world, the lieutenant is small. This is why Crane makes his story appear as “just another episode” in the bloody tale of the Civil War. A deeper meaning of his story is to teach the reader that he should always downplay the diversities between people—no matter how apparent they are—to avoid direct conflicts. Calling attention to different types of people can lead one group to feel superior or inferior to the others. The sectionalism of 19th century America caused the Civil War, and then after the gruesome war, when Crane wrote, it was still stronger than ever. There was a plethora of brands of Americans, not just abolitionists and slave supporters. The differences between labels of Americans became more apparent because at that time regionalism separated people. There existed all forms of Americans: Easterners, Westerners, Northerners, Southerners, Midwesterners, Cowboys, Seamen, and various breeds of immigrants. A convergence of some of these typecasts occurs Stephen Crane’s “The Blue Hotel”. Stephen Crane’s almost pessimistic attitude about life makes the reader feel small. When one reads “The Blue Hotel”, he constantly reminds himself that life actually does exist outside of his native America; the world is much bigger than he can see. This is what the presence of the Swede serves to remind the reader. On a more in depth scale, the presence of the Easterner and the Cowboy, along with the Swede, represent a convergence of various ways of life, showing that one local color does not override another. Even within one country, there are various regions, each with its own lifestyle. One way of life is no “better” than another way. Additionally, since there are so many different modes of life, the main one is unidentifiable. Along with the authors of his time, Crane wrote to end regionalism. In his ideal world the Easterner (representative of Northeastern American society), the Cowboy (a lonesome westerner who is in transit between jobs), and the Swede (an early immigrant) should be able to meet in Nebraska without any judgmental bigotry on the part of one group of persons against another. Their place of meeting happened to have been in the hotel of Scully (a typical Irishman) and in the presence of the passionate youth, Johnnie (who is a reflection of the American dream of doing as little possible, but at the same time gaining as much as possible i.e. he hopes to make money by cheating). However, the reality is not so, a person from one area does have a stereotypical image of another in his mind and acts accordingly with him. Crane’s point is that people should not do so because every type of person has positive and negative attributes. The world itself is so colossal that it houses thousands of different ethnicities and none of them has the right to claim superiority over the other. However, in the end,
this unlikely grouping of people all contributed to the killing of one individual. The Easterner said it best when he exclaimed, “We, five of us, have collaborated in the murder of this Swede.” One cannot rationalize crimes like murder by countering, “I/we only killed an individual he’s nothing compared to the world”. In “An Experiment in Misery”, Stephen Crane used his unique arrangement of realism and impressionism to shed light on a common urban crisis in his times. There was an influx and increase in the number of transients. They were a result of a large-scale class struggle between the upper, middle, and lower classes. The transients were those who lost their jobs for various reasons (a deficit in mental capacity, or perhaps the large industrial giants fired their workers in order to hire immigrants for lower wages). They eventually became homeless, and had to live on the street. Because of the looks they got from passersby, they felt like criminals. To remedy this situation, late 19th century America established flophouses as part of a system of social reforms. For a small price, mendicants had room and board, as well as food. Nevertheless, as Crane describes through the eyes of a “bum”, these flophouses were indistinguishable from a cemetery. The flophouses gave off a death-like aura with its bad smells, “skin and bones” residents, and volunteers (to distribute food) who Crane likens to priests behind an altar and telling over someone’s last rites. That is the reality of the flophouses and the guilt, from which a homeless person suffers. To give his readers a greater impression of the extent to which homelessness was “criminalized”, Crane emphasizes the fact that the young man “appeared like an assassin steeped in crimes performed awkwardly.” Not only is this a blatant reference to death, but it also demonstrates the impact of society rejecting “hoboes”. The few are oppressing the many; and that is the actuality of life because a greater force always stands in opposition to people. The rules of naturalism apply here with the entire world supposedly looking down on one class – if one can even call them that—of people. Even within regional parallels, there are still different classifications of people. Crane again shows in his short story “The Open Boat” that even people within the same provincial bracket can be (and are) very different. All three main characters are seamen— humbled “babes of the sea”—who react differently to the same situation. The Captain responds to the disaster of shipwreck by doing what a good captain does: he takes charge. The cook takes a different approach and tries to alleviate the severity of the circumstances by cracking jokes with his lowbrow humor in order to break the ice and boost morale. Sitting on the same dingy as the others, Billie the oiler – the working class whipping boy of the boat’s crew—does most of the work. Similar to nature working against the crew of the boat, nature worked against Billie to put the burden of labor mainly upon him. (This also represents the worker versus boss struggle of the Industrial Revolution.) Crane relates, “When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples”. Nature does not care about any given individual because compared to the enormity of the world he is a speck. Crane implies that the individual is disposable and worthless. When
the cook realized that his demise was imminent, he thought, “I am going to drown? Can it be possible? Can it be possible?” At that point, Crane noted, “Perhaps an individual must consider his own death to be the final phenomenon of nature.” As Crane writes about his own experience going through a shipwreck, he expresses the reality of the common adage, “desperate times call for desperate measures”. As stated above, some people (like the cook) react to serious issues by making light of them to make them seem less critical. In drastic circumstances, people do weird things. A prime example of this is when those on the boat were jealous of the birds that flew above them freely and represented freedom in their industrially recluse world. One displays his or her true self, when in such a situation. The group on the dingy displayed their true feelings of nativism in the situation chronicled by Crane. The group even argued about trivial things to assuage the stress of their predicament. However, in the end people will always get closer by living through calamities together. They did not allow anxiety, insecurity, and the inability to anticipate the future to get the better of them and totally act out. “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” shows the reader a reality that one normally does not notice by himself. When Sheriff Jack Potter left Yellow Sky to get married in San Antonio, the town of Yellow Sky kept going even without Potter. Usually one assumes that the world revolves around him (pardon the cliché, but one must wonder whether the teacher is really reading this). Thus, Jack Potter thinks that if he leaves, Yellow Sky would fall apart without him, everyone would be wondering where he is, and if he returned with a wife, people would react immensely. The reality, as expressed by Crane, is not true. The town conducts itself as normal because Jack Potter was only a small part of the town. The drunks still get drunk; the troublemakers still make trouble... The absence of one individual does not make a difference. Similarly, the myriads of other people’s thoughts, plans, and actions almost invalidate against the thoughts, plans, and actions of one individual. If the reader applies this lesson to himself, he should realize and understand that measured up against his town, county, state, country, continent, planet, solar system, galaxy, and surely universe, he is insignificant. This philosophy does not give permission for people to go around committing any crime or sin that they want; people must still conduct themselves with restraint. When the drunk noticed that he was in the presence of a lady, he took control of himself and did not carry out his planned act of murder. The very style of Crane’s works—a journalistic one—shows the reader that he is but a mere a drop in the metaphorical bucket that is the world. By magnifying the scope of any other drop, Crane moves focal point of the world to that specific place. A journalist properly conveys the importance of any event, no matter how trivial is might seem, by using impressionistic elements to paint a more elaborate picture. He can exaggerate an incident into a worldwide affair, making the reader realize that his existence is infinitesimal compared to the prodigious extent of the marvelous universe. Of course, this is not an excuse to act unscrupulously, immorally or corruptly.
Chapter 14: Leggatt: An Unusual Secret One of the characters in Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer” is the unusual fugitive Leggatt. Although Leggatt is an essential character in the short story, he is also symbolic of the narrator’s hidden dark personality. His similarities with the Captain show that they share some sort of a bond together. This bond can be very dangerous. Leggatt and the Captain quickly become companions due to their similarities. They are both the sons of parsons in Norfolk and attended Conway. They both feel like strangers on the Captain’s ship, not knowing the crew nor knowing the ship herself. Despite this, they are both sea-fearing men, more specifically high ranking sea-fearing men; because the Captain runs a vessel and Leggatt is a former first mate on the Sephora. The two are, generally skeptical of things: The Captain was not sure whether to admit Leggatt on board his ship, or not. Leggatt himself was doubtful as to whether or not the Captain was sincere in believing his story of killing (not the usage of the word “killing” and not “murder”) and supplying a safe haven for him. This is why he continually asks questions like, “Am I a murdering brute? Do I look it?” Eventually, they end up living their lives almost the same by wearing the same clothes and living in the same quarters. This uncanny resemblance between the two is hazardous not only to the Captain, but even to his entire crew. The on-board presence of the mysterious Leggatt threatens the ship and its seamen. Towards the beginning of the story, Joseph Conrad foreshadows to the reader that Leggatt is a shadowy and ominous person by writing that initially the Captain did not see Leggatt’s head and thought he was a fish. A headless person and a fish (which is symbolic of one’s animal instincts) are both seen with a perilous attitude. The sailors are required to do extra work by periodically cleaning the Captain’s stateroom and personal quarters. This addition to the daily chores decreases morale which can, in certain instances, lead to a mutiny against a captain whom they barely know. This labor was added by the Captain because of Leggatt; the Captain’s suspicion that his crewmen knew about the fugitive he is harboring grew; this caused the Captain to almost force his men into a situation where they would have a chance to be in the Captain’s private rooms and search –to not avail—for the elusive fugitive (who the Captain, in his “foresight” has already moved elsewhere. The above, coupled with the fact that Leggatt is an admitted killer (who killed out of rage no less) is sufficient to label him a dangerous person. Joseph Conrad tells a fearful tale in his short story “The Secret Sharer.” Of the small pool of characters, Leggatt is the most dangerous. Just his bizarre parallelisms with the Captain would be enough to convince a reader of his supernatural-ness. It is these parallelisms which make him into such a menacing power.
Chapter 15: A biographical sketch of Abraham Stoker Every person living in the world tries to become a prosperous person. Very rarely some accomplish these goals. Most do not become successful because of many set backs throughout their lives. Abraham Stoker, became a success despite his many set backs.
Abraham, or Bram, Stoker experienced many hardships during his early life. When Bram was born on the Eight day of November in the year 1847, he was a handicap. He was not able to stand or walk until he became seven years old. At that age, Abraham outgrew this weakness and excelled in soccer. His family was very poor; his father was a measly civil servant clerk and his mother made no money working for charity and as a writer. Even with all of this, Abraham Stoker graduated Trinity College Dublin in 1867, with a major in Math. During Bram Stoker's middle portion of life, Bram suffered from many afflictions and still prospered. After college, Abraham became a civil servant like his father. This job made so little money that Stoker was forced to taken on other jobs, and he worked as a free lance journalist, a drama critic and editor of the "Evening Mail." Nine years after graduation, in 1876, while still juggling two jobs, Bram Stoker managed to become friends with Sir Henry Irving, a famous actor. Stoker accepted a job as a personal secretary to Irving and decided to move to England. Bram married Oscar Wilde's former sweetheart, Florence Balcombe in 1878, while Oscar was trying to 'get her' himself. He published his first book, "The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland," in Ireland, before immigrating to England in 1878. Towards the end of Bram Stoker's life, he went through a lot of misery, but came out victorious in the game of life. In 1879, Florence Balcombe Stoker, Bram's wife, gave birth to a son, Noel Stoker. Even with all of the activity of raising a son, Bram still was able to supplement his income by writing a large number of sensational novels, his most famous being the vampire tale, "Dracula." In 1905, Bram suffered the tragedy of his best friend and boss, Henry Irving's death. Through the lamenting and sadness, Stoker wrote many books, including "Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving". With the combination of being the business manager of The Lyceum Theatre, writing independent stories, and nurturing of his son Noel, Bram Stoker died from exhaustion at the age of sixty four.
Chapter 16: Allan Sillitoe: A View of an Individual Alan Sillitoe’s works illustrate the failures of alienated individuals. As a common motif throughout his stories, Sillitoe depicts the failures of these estranged persons in the midst of the class struggle in England. Their lack of success is usually the outcome of a major tragedy that occurs in the end of Sillitoe’s stories. During the 1950’s, England was experiencing a social and economical recession. It was no longer the world power like it was before World War II. The wounds of the war were still healing, both mentally and physically, although from some the mental scars will never disappear. A generation of sons of soldiers was entering adolescence and of course, crime was their favorite hobby. These young teens rebelled against their still-angry veteran fathers and their moneyhungry mothers. On a broader scope, there was conflict between the upper class and the growing middle class. People opted for isolation. Sillitoe tried to reconcile these differences by showing what can happen to a lonesome person. He preached that individuals should always have a companion -- whether a spouse, a child, or a friend. It is
not an excuse for one to justify that he was “born” into his problems, because it is the way of philosophers to teach that one always can overcome such setbacks and reform oneself. The disgruntled former soldier is a usual character in post-World War II Britain. In “Uncle Ernest,” he takes the form of Ernest Brown the upholsterer. Ernest is a lonely man after World War I who constantly relives his memories of the war and questions why he survived. Because of his attachment to a previous life, he retains some of his soldier-like regimen even after the war. Ernest even covered for deserts of the army that is a sign of his discontent with fighting. The man maintains a habitual routine, which he follows. This involves spending his hard-earned money on booze and breakfast. His simple breakfast consists of tomatoes on toast, perhaps this is a reflection of his wartime tendencies of being inclined to army rations. He eats with a soldierly precision as he slices his toast. This sad depressed man is typical of returning soldiers after World War I, and so when Sillitoe wrote about this character in his own era after World War II, he sought to teach his readers a lesson. He hoped to teach that one should always associate himself with other people in order to avoid loneliness. Loneliness, Sillitoe implies, leads one to becoming a hermit. At a later time, when such a loner innocently tries to do good for others (as “Uncle” Ernest did), the narrow mindedness of society will cause his motives to be questioned and will make him look guilty. Eventually, the recluse will revert to the only life he knows, an isolated one. One needs the complete opposite in order to be successful. The direct converse of a discontented ex-soldier is a happy civil worker. Harry the postal worker, from Sillitoe’s “The Fishing-Boat Picture,” is the epitome of such a character. Harry has been a postman for almost three decades and is an out-going active man. His fall was not noticeably because of a lack of socialization, but rather it was apparently due to outside factors (i.e. his insatiable wife discussed later). Nonetheless, in fact, as Sillitoe tries to imply, his failure occurred as he went into the world of books and then selfdepression following his wife Kathy’s departure. He denied the benefit that she had to his life and expressed no intention of attempting to retrieve her and settle their differences. This refusal to acknowledge the advantage of having a partner caused Harry’s downfall, his greedy wife was only a means of bringing about this refusal (and in the end, she was the one to take advantage of his sad state). The money-hungry woman is a common character in Allan Sillitoe’s writings. In “The Fishing-Boat Picture,” she takes the form of Kathy. Immediately after Harry was able to settle on a steady job, Kathy almost forced him to propose marriage to her. Sillitoe juxtaposes this passage to the passage detailing Harry’s financial affairs as if to imply that Kathy only married him as means of leeching off his money. Following a trivial argument, Kathy left her Postal worker for a housepainter. When money was running low with him, she went back to Harry the postal worker to swindle the poor man out of more of his money (i.e. the Fishing boat picture and beer). Additionally, she was getting fortytwo bob per week at the Ambergate lace factory. This stereotypical character makes a brief appearance in “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” as the mother of Smith. She defends her scandalous son (a fellow member of the lower middle class)
against the authorities in the hopes that she can reap the fruits of her son’s catch. This same woman, who as a grieving widow, gluttonously splurged on the insurance money that she received for her bereavement following her late husband’s loss in a battle against throat cancer. Smith said about the five hundred dollars that his mother received: “Now I believe, and my mam must gave thought the same, that a wad of crisp blue-back fivers ain’t a sight of good to a living soul unless they’re flying out of your hand into some shopkeeper’s till, and the shopkeeper is passing you tip-top things in exchange over the counter, so as soon as she got the money, mam took me and my five brothers and sisters out to town and got us dolled-up in new clothes. Then she ordered a twenty-one-inch telly, a new carpet because the old one was covered with blood from dad’s dying and wouldn’t wash out, and took a taxi home with bags of grub and a new fur coat. And do you know—you wain’t believe me when I tell you—she’s still near three hundred left in her bulging handbag the next day, so how could any of us go to work after that? Poor old dad, he didn’t get a look in, and he was the one who’d done the suffering and dying for such a lot of lolly.” The lesson one is supposed to learn from the avaricious women is that one should not rely on money or physical voracious pursuits for entertainment or status, but that one should rather “spread the wealth” by befriending others. Perhaps if Mam would not have used the granted money on herself (for her material pleasure, such as a new television, a new carpet, a taxi ride, bags of food, a fur coat etc…) and would have taught her children proper manners, Smith would not have ended up a convicted felon who stole money. It was because of Mam’s malediction that Smith used his cunning to fuel his (sometimes drunken) rebelliousness and quest to acquire more money. This introduced Smith to petty crime, which evolved into heavier, troublesome offenses. Alan Sillitoe tries to teach parents the way not to raise their children. His examples of the angry ex-soldier and money hungry women, coupled with neglectful parents (like those of “On Saturday Afternoon” who leave their pre-teen child alone at home while they go out and enjoy the movies and in doing so, they needlessly exposed their innocent child to evils of society) are intended to teach parents how not to behave. One might think that he or she must neglect his beloved children -- because of his class rank that requires him or her to work extra time in order to gain more money—but such reasoning is flawed. Parents should not raise their children as “latch key kids”. Sillitoe wrote the story “Uncle Ernest” in order to refute such a baseless argument. The working mother (a typical working class widow trying to supplement her income) neglected her two poor girls and forced them to draw from Ernest Brown. Ernest was not on a higher class than the two girls’ mother was; he merely possessed a kinder soul. As busy as Ernest was, he still found time to support his two “surrogate” daughters. After Ernest began to share company with the two girls (“his” two girls), his isolationist tendencies decreased. He no longer spent all his hard-earned income on booze. Instead of drinking alcohol, he focused his money on his “assumed” children. For the period that he helped Alma and Joan, Ernest emulated the ideal parents. This story
should have ended happily if not for once feared factor: the class struggle. In the end, the police officer, who represents the decent side of the law, takes away a purpose in life from Ernest. The copper’s presence serves to remind the public that there is a higher, more powerful force in England, namely the Queen and her noblemen. This higher class is the “them” as opposed to the “us”, as alluded to in the beginning of “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”. Of course, Ernest does not realize that the class above him is not as perfect as they seem. Everyone has guilt and shame that try to keep hidden, the “skeletons in their closets”. About this class struggle and indignity of the higher class, Smith exclaimed, “…And if I had the whip-hand I wouldn’t even bother to build a palace like this [Borstal] to put all the cops, governors, posh whores, penpushers, army officers, Members of Parliament [MP’s] in; no, I’d stick them up against a wall and let them have it, like they’d have done with blokes like us years ago, that is, if they’d ever known what it means to be honest, which they don’t and never will so help me..” In Smith’s eighteen months in Borstal, his humanity keeps him motivated. In his mind, he thinks—better yet, knows—that he is better than the governor of the Borstal is. Smith believes that the governor is a dishonest, stupid, and selfish man who only wants to earn the blue ribbon in running for his own pride and esteem. Smith decided to act with cunning and slyness and he therefore purposefully lost a significant race. In doing so, he feels that he protects his entire class from abuse by the hands men like the governor. He felt that he lost the race, but gained the respect and life experience that he sought. Smith thought he was better than the governor was and more cunning than he was. To sum up his opinion, “Cunning is what counts in this life, and even that you’ve got to use in the slyest way you can; I’m telling you straight: they’re cunning, and I’m cunning… The one fact is that all of us are cunning, and because of this there’s no love lost between us.” By dividing the world between “them” and “us”, Sillitoe express the actuality that the two classes major class divisions are radically different and that there is little to no liquidity or movement of individuals between the various classes. With such an attitude toward the class system, life is grim and sluggish. This is the obvious cause to the mind-set of the desirously greedy woman and the depressed war veteran. The result of a union of these two is a confused rebellious child. An important common character in Sillitoe’s writings is the mixed-up disobedient youngster. He is the result of the experiences of his veteran father and craving mother. A typical product of such a marriage is the chap who tried to kill himself in “On Saturday Afternoon”. That sad disheartened (or “black” as the story alludes to his sorrow) postadolescent bloke felt that his mission in life was to be dead. He used all the effort he could exert in order to kill himself. His pre-teen observer, who very likely could be in the same situation in later years, was dumbfounded and wanted to witness the life changing event. Perhaps because of the failures of the attempted suicide, this lad would never consider such a drastic solution. Maybe he will use this experience to make sure that he would never be down enough even to contemplate killing himself. In the end, despite the coppers attempts to keep this man alive, a yard-working woman informed the lad of his
neighbor’s demise. One can assert that the man was successful, for his goal in life was to die, and he effectively did so. However, in reality this man horribly failed: He failed when he set death as a goal in life; he failed in his first suicide attempt; he failed in debating the cooper; and ultimately, he failed in life as a whole. Such in is the product of loneliness in combination with a class struggle, failure. Failure, Sillitoe affirms, is a result of seclusion; but success is the result of companionship. After Kathy left Harry (in “The Fishing-Boat Picture”), Harry exclaimed, “All I can is that it was a stroke of G-d’s luck [that] we never had any kids.” This implies that should Harry and Kathy have had kids in their quarrelsome and confrontational state, those kids would have more likely than not grown up as failures. His or her failures would be a result of a father’s seclusion into the world of books and a mother whose worldly pursuits caused her to go after her temptations. Nevertheless, within the same paragraph, Harry somewhat retracts his statement and says, “It might have been better if she’s had kids though; you never know”. The implication of this is that the company provided by having extra household members, would be able to change the relationship between Kathy and Harry for the better. One sees from here that extra companionship is a source of rejuvenation and happiness. Just as the camaraderie and bond between Uncle Ernest and the twosome of Alma and Joan brought a new sense of existence to Ernest Brown’s miserable life, so too is can bring happiness to anyone. This is true whether the person is of the working class or of the leisure class because despite class differences Sillitoe stresses that every human is subject to the vicissitudes of life.
Chapter 17: Barbara Tuchman: Revolutions There was a famous passage stated by Barbara Tuchman that goes along the lines of the following: “Every successful revolution puts on in time the robe of the tyrant it had deposed.” This statement has been proven by the ultimate verification throughout history. The following scenario has taken place many times in the past, although the names may change: When one ruler, Emperor James, who is classified by his subjects as being “bad,” “vile,” and/or “wicked,” arises, the seeds of a revolution are sowed. He passes a few questionable laws. Then, an idealistic person, George, comes up with the thought that he would make a greater ruler, and thus begins to preach. His oratory gains for him followers, who in turn recruit more followers for his cause of overthrowing the current evil ruler. A revolutionary war breaks out. After a few glorious battles, this once idealistic person now becomes a harsh dictator like the one before him. He may have changed his title to something less obvious than his predecessor had, like King, President, Mayor, ruler, sovereign, head of state, leader, prime minister, Shah, chancellor or the like, but he is still a tyrant. He may be the most beloved person in the territory, but he can still do what he wants. He can have all of his loyal followers screaming his name while he comes outside on a balcony, with thousands of supporters there, but when he declares, “Stop the dance and start the work,” it starts once again. He has revealed his anti-dance
principles and his pro-work standards, which makes him, like Emperor James before him, the most hated man in the realm. When Emperor James became the ruler of the monarch, whether through a “glorious” revolution of his own, or by the genes he inherited from his family, he thought that he would be the best Emperor ever. He believed that he would be the kind, benevolent Emperor that will bring his region into a great state of power, wealth, peace and prosperity. Did he know that there exists a famous idiom, which declares that power corrupts people? When a simpleton like George begins a large-scale uprising, does George know that should he rise to a position of power, he too would become like Emperor James? The obvious answer to both questions is of course not. They both held in the minds that they would become the chief of the most influential and greatest area in the world. (It might even be true that when they do rise to such an appointment of authority, they still hold true to these ideas, even when making regulations that seem to imply the opposite.) Countless instances throughout history prove Barbara Tuchman’s essential theory. When the Americans revolted against the British in the war commonly known as the Revolutionary War, they did so because they felt the British withheld their freedoms granted in the Magna Carta (The Great Charter). The African-Americans in return petitioned to the Anglo-Americans to grant them more rights as citizens, which had been supposedly granted to them by the famous Bill of Rights. Towards the end of the glorious era of the Hasmonean Dynasty, the Jews who were fed up with King Artistobulus revolted and affirmed King Hyrkanus, his brother’s kingship; The Jews in turn revolted against King Hyrkanus and reaffirmed King Artistobulus’ kingship. These constant uprisings in the region eventually led to the take over of Judea by the Romans. Russian communism was look at as vindictive; this was true even after communism took place of the czar-ship. Many more instances of this sort of counter-rebellions are evident throughout the day of old. In conclusion, the logical facts stated above and the historical examples without a doubt confirm the assertion of Barbara Tuchman that declares, “Every successful revolution puts on in time the robe of the tyrant it had deposed.” We see this throughout history with different peoples such as by the Jews, the Hasmoneans run under Hyrkanus in contrast to Artistobulus; By Russia, being a communist entity as opposed to a czarist one; By the African-Americans and by other nations and races. We have also looked at the successor of a hated dynasty or string of rulers whom were revolted against, and seen that those new directors of state become equally despised as their forerunner, if not more so.
Chapter 18: The Briefcase I tightly grip the brown briefcase in my shaking sweaty hands. With my father’s gruesome death it is my duty to guard the contents on the briefcase with my life, as he once did. There used to be men in black suits chasing after him. That was until they finally caught him. I was deeply saddened with his “death.” I wanted to take a sweet 18:33
revenge on those men, if only I was able to figure out who they were. My thoughts kept alternating, until I finally decided to dig up my father’s grave and find clues about his murder. I hovered above where my beloved father was supposedly lying down for eternity. The thought continued to haunt me, which I would find something that I wasn’t meant to. I heard a loud howl and immediately turned around. All that was there was the dark night sky with the full white moon shining more brightly than ever before; or so it seemed to me. Feeling the cold metal crowbar in my hand, I made a final resolution: I will dig up my dad’s gravesite no matter what interferes against me. Another wave of fear came upon me, but I quickly overcame it, as I slowly moved the crowbar nearer to his wooden casket. Again I heard a howl coming from what I thought was right next to me, but I took a quick glance and saw there was nothing but stationary greenstone tombstones all around me. I have had a fear of ghosts since I was a, but a little boy, nonetheless I never felt like I did then. The great fear which I possessed developed into a dreaded panic. Trying not to think about anything else which would arouse me frightening feelings, I opened the casket. The screeching creak that I heard barely registered with my brain, immediately before I found my father’s cold dead bones. They have obviously begun to decay little by little, but what I noticed next was far more shocking. It was a dusty brown briefcase, the one which my precious father has held with himself for the last twenty-five and a half years of his life. That was all before his untimely death, because of those wretched men in black suits, with whom he began to hang around, about a quarter of a century ago. When I heard helicopters above me and felt a light shine on top of me, I clutched the briefcase in my hand and quickly closed the cheap coffin. I scurried out of the graveyard, running home with all my might. The helicopter above the horizon was gone. As I sit here in my room, with the briefcase well within my reach, I ponder the situation. Should I open the briefcases which belonged to my late father? If I do, the men in the black suits will surely know and will probably come after me, causing my own death. But, if opening the briefcase would be suicide why did my father right this in his last will and testament: “…and to my oldest and youngest son, my only son, my precious (name edited out for effect of anonymity of the persons involved in this story), I leave to you all of my assets, wealth, goods and belongings which I haven’t stated above. This includes my sacred briefcase, which you should guard as if it was one of your own children…” As I recall this article in the document written by ‘daddy,’ I hear a rustling in the bushes outside the window; I shrug off the thought that it was a person, under the pretense that lately I am being too paranoid. I decide to open the briefcase, but meet up with a predicament: I forget the code. I decide to cut it open with my razor, which I keep in my pocket since the funeral. As I pull out the razor blade from my left pocket, I feel something cold hit my in the back. It is some sort of metal, and as I tried to pin-point its exact location in my back, another one hit my hit. They are silver bullets. With my last strength, I turn around and consequently see a man in a black suit smiling outside my window. I then proceed to close my eyes, forever.
Chapter 19: The Chaser I can't believe no one believed me. It is already the sixth day. I felt like a fat smelly Cardassian (an alien from Star Trek, I'm a big Star Trek fan), that everyone ignored. Some tall, skinny guy with a black and blue shirt was following me all day. I kept telling everyone about it, but no one believed me. I told Joey, my best friend, my mom, my dad, my teachers, and no one believed me. When I walked home from school, I saw no one was behind me, so I snuck in my house. I looked around, and saw a shadow out the window. I screamed. I looked at the shadow, it moved. I started to walk outside the front door. As I turned the knob I heard a thump. I opened the door faster, and looked around outside. There was no one. Then I thought to myself, I am expecting something in the mail, while I am out here, I might as well go see if it came in yet. Even though I wasn't able to remember what it was. As I walked to the mailbox, I saw my fat and short neighbor Jim. I put my ring finger with my pinky and my index finger with the middle one and raised my hand. I said, "Live long and prosper." That being a Star Trek catchphrase of my favorite character Mr. Spock. On my way back to the house, with the mail in hand, I saw the tall skinny guy. I screamed, "Hey you, come here." He said, in a deep Mexican accent, "que Paso?" He ran away. I was able to catch a good glimpse of his back, as the sun gleamed on him, as he ran. I went back to my house and decided to call the police, before my parents came home. I told them that a man with a black and blue uniform that was tall and skinny, with a Mexican accent is stalking me. He has blackish brownish hair. It goes about on half a foot down his neck. They laughed and said, "Many people say that, we'll never find him." I rested my head in disgust for the US police. Then I looked out the window. I saw him, but he didn't see me. I took a rock from my room. I was ready to smash the window and grab him, but I saw something. It was a badge on his shirt; it wasn't a black and blue shirt, but rather a green shirt. The badge said, "Pony Express Delivery." Where have I heard that name before??? Hmm... Hmm.... Oh yeah! My dad told me that they are the best delivery company, if they can't find you, and then they will chase after you, until you get what was sent to you. I took the rock and smashed the window. Before he could say a word I said, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "gfijds." I brought in my neighbor who was Mexican, and he said, "This guy is speaking poliknese. I know that too, this means 'picture.'" I opened the box in his hand, and saw a cardboard cut-out of Spock. I ordered it years ago. It finally came in." ALL THE OTHER MYSTERIES IN THIS STORY ARE YET TO BE REVEALED
Chapter 20: IQ Day: The Story I left the Vice-Principals office, and walked down the hallway. I stayed in the bathroom, because today, like everyday I didn't "feel like going" to Mister Sulka's boring science class. I opened the door. I walked into the bathroom. The lights were off. I opened the lights. I heard voices scream, "SURPRISE, HAPPY IQ DAY!" I thought to myself, "What is IQ?" Principal Haberwoman led the group of kids in the bathroom, to the social hall. For the rest of the day we ate and partied. None of this made any sense to me, but I played along anyway. When I arrived home that night, I needed to figure out what was happening. I started to dial Principal Haberwoman's phone number. I punched in "555-0273."I remembered that wasn't his phone number. I looked around and found Principal Haberwoman's phone number. I dialed it. It rang. Once, I was shaking. Twice, I was waiting. Three times, I was about to hang up. "What do you want?" I heard a gruff voice say. I answered, "I-" A nice soft voice said, "leave a message after the beep." It was an answering machine. I hung up. I called up my friend Davey Johnson. I asked him what IQ day is. Then I had no idea what was happening, but I now know what had happened. This is what happened in contrast to what I thought happened: He picked up the phone and said, "Hi!" I introduced myself. He screamed at me and said, "Get away from me." I thought he was mad at me and didn't want to talk to me anymore. In reality, Mrs. Johnson was calling Davey to go to bed. He said, "Go away." Of course I didn't know that then. I angrily slammed the phone in its place. The next day, I went crazy, not being able to comprehend the incidents yesterday. I left my house in the morning and ran to the bus. I walked down three aisles and made a left on the fourth. I sat down. I was wondering why Davey wasn't sitting with me. We sat together here in this same spot for the past four years together. What happened in reality was Mrs. Johnson beat Davey until he went to the hospital. This was because he didn't go to bed last night, when he was talking to me on the phone. I didn't know this, and I thought that Davey, my friend for four years, was ignoring me to not tell me what had happened yesterday. The moment I arrived to school, my feet uncontrollably walked me to the principals’ office. I walked in. He was gone. I heard a footstep. I turned around. Mr. Sulka was there. He grabbed me by my ears and took my to Vice Principal Xavier Hemlocks' office. He had me suspended for ditching school almost everyday. My mom brought me home. I sat angrily on the couch in my house all day. I decided to call Principal Haberwoman. I dialed "555-0274," and waited for him to pick up. "Hello, what do you want?" I heard a gruff voice say over the phone. "Hi this is Jack Daniels and I have a problem." I said, "can you tell me-" I paused.
"Yes, go on..." He said in a nice soft voice. "Can you tell me what IQ day is?" I asked. He didn't answer. I said in an unsure voice, "Sir?" "Please... Call me Hank." He continued, "I meant to tell you about this. Due to the fact that you scored in the ninety-ninth percentile, our school is getting rewarded: Along with us teaching a genius, your grade brought our school up to the federal requirements for scholastic funding. And so-" I interjected and said, "Who is the genius?" Principal Haberwoman said sarcastically, "the man in the moon." I understood. He continued, "Since you brought up our grade point average. We are getting a ten thousand-dollar grant. Thus, I decided to throw an IQ Day party, in your honor.” I wished Hank Haberwoman farewell, and hung up the phone. I let out a sigh of relief. I have finally solved the mystery that drove me nuts for almost two days. I then remembered something. I looked back at my highly detailed diary. It said for two week ago: "I looked outside the window, and saw the pigeons flying around. They looked so beautiful. SMACK! I slapped myself in the face. I must concentrate on this test. This test judges weather I am a genius or a stupid idiot. This is so hard. "I went back to the real world.’Bill E.' screamed my teacher, "finish your test, you only have thirty minutes left." I looked down at my test and saw that I was still on question one. I quickly filled in the next 83 questions. I followed the pattern, 'BCDA, BCDA, and BCDA.' all the way to the end. After I finished the test I quickly handed it in, and left class." I looked at my diary entry for two days ago, and this is how it started: "After a three hour conference with Principal Haberwoman, I received the results of the test. The test was a joint evaluation by the state and federal government. I looked at the paper with my results. It didn't make any sense. The paper said that I was a genius. How is that possible? I was supposed to be stupid? I left the principals office and went to the bathroom..." That was enough. I, William Edgar-Jonathan Peterson, now know what happened. I finally learned the lesson of life: Even if you passed every test in the world, you can still not be the smartest person in the world, unless you are able to apply to the outside world.
Chapter 21: The Haunted House I reluctantly accepted an intricate assignment from my favorite English teacher. I was supposed to compose the greatest narrative in the entire history of writing. I was totally out of ideas. Within three minutes, my mind went mad searching for some
inspiration, but it was then that I recalled an incident, which I heard about from a man, named Choni V. Anonymous; it was extremely fascinating: Choni said that he and his brothers, Ploni and Anown, went into a mysterious haunted house. It was so mysterious that Choni and his siblings did not even know the name of the scary place. Immediately upon entering the old Victorian-style mansion, a huge hand, about six meters big, came out from a corridor and snatched Choni. Choni, screaming, was taken farther and farther away from his beloved brothers. Ploni and Anown began to run down the long hall in order to follow the strange hand. The bizarre hand glided through the air as if it was a knife in butter; the hand was much faster than the brother had expected. All of a sudden, as the brothers ran down the hallway, an unforeseen ditch was in the floor, and both Ploni and Anown fell inside. They screamed at the top of their lungs, pleading with all their heart for someone to liberate them. No one came. The same logical thought went through both of their heads: The interior of the house was much grander than the exterior of the manor. In the meantime, Choni, who was taken away by the odd hand, was sitting in a wooden rocking chair eating warm food that he found on an unusually long table. He heard faint screams and registered their voices as his brothers. As he stood up to go run to their aid, the hand tried to grab him once again. He evaded the eerie hand with his expertise in running, which he learned in Nameless City High School. He ran, as fast he was able to, down the antechamber. He was trying to reach his brothers in time, before their premature death. Choni Variable Anonymous prided himself in saying that he is more practical than his two older brothers are, because he always looked at the ground when he walked, ran, or merely strolled. This prevented him from stepping into unwanted objects or into holes, and gave him a better sense of where and which was he was going. Choni once again used this magnificent skill, and noticed the dip in the hall before falling prey to it. The screams grew louder, as Choni looked down the pitch black hole. He was not able to see his dearly beloved brothers. He started to cry for his brothers, and as the fourth cluster of tears rolled off his cheeks into the hole, gallons of blood poured into the hole, overflowing into the corridor. Choni himself was so frightened, that he immediately ran out of the house never to return there for the rest of his life. The story amazed me so much so that I decided to record all the memorable moments from in, and engraved it into my mental memory. From there, I transferred this story, via my hands and a keyboard, to my computer’s vast physical memory. Upon remembering this, I immediately jumped out of my warm soft bed, which I relaxed in since coming home from a hard day in school. I quickly booted my computer, and almost instantaneously printed the story. With a big smile on my face, I went to sleep, not having to worry about the next day’s assignment, anymore.
Chapter 22: The Ditcher I'M SO MAD! I can believe that it happened. You will never guess what happened this time. I was "caught" running in the hallway, in school, so I got detention. That didn't really happen, I was framed. The cameras in the hallway were probably malfunctioning, or someone sent it a virus, because it should me running, with a paper that said, "Y2K is coming," I did that three years ago. While I sat in detention, I supposedly talked, so I got an extra three hours. Then, at the end of those hours, I supposedly talked again, so I was punished, by having detention tomorrow. What really happened? There was a malfunction in the recorder. The recorder records every sound in the school, in case anything bad happens. The recorder's program is linked to the PA system. Someone must have sent a virus to the PA system, because it said a sound byte, of me saying, "Yeah, right!" That sound was in the middle of detention, thus making me receive extra hours tomorrow. That night I went to sleep and had the following dream: I walked to my computer at home. I looked at my microphone and digital camera. They moved, and turned around. They both had all the facial features of a human. The digital camera said to the microphone, "Y2K is coming." The microphone said to the digital camera, "Yeah, right!" Then the two jumped at me. The digital camera grabbed the mouse with its mouth, and started to hit me with it. I woke up and it was morning. I was so happy, and ready to go to school, today. I wanted to go to school because I remembered that after school, today, I'm going with my parents to Raskin Bobins, to buy Ice Cream. I quickly finished my breakfast, grabbed my backpack, and ran out the door, as soon as I heard the honk of the big yellow school bus. As I was running to the bus, I remembered from yesterday, that I have three hours of detention. As I thought about it more, I wouldn't go to Raskin Bobins. My parents would ground me because of the detention. I decided not to go to school. Instead of going on the school bus, I took the public bus, down to the park. From there on, everything went wrong. Right when I got off the bus, some teenage street punk threw a rock at me, so I tripped. I tripped onto a glass beer bottle. It cut a hole in my right foot, almost reaching to my bone. Luckily there was a doctor there, who gave me some stitches, on the spot. Later, I found out he wasn’t really a doctor but rather a quack. Those weren’t even stitches they were dental floss. I continued to play in the park for a few hours, until I saw the principal of my school, going out on a date with, my teacher, in the park. In order to run away from them, I had to go through the lake. I had no money to rent a rowboat. I sneaked jacked sixtyeight dollars from someone, which was enough to rent a boat. I rented a boat, but it wasn’t a rowboat, it was a paddleboat. That meant I had to paddle my way across the river, with a foot that has a glass cut to the bone that was closed with dental floss!
I paddled, and paddled faster, hoping that they wouldn’t see me. I paddled so hard, that my left foot cut a hole in the boat. The water seeped in, and I drowned. The quack came to help me again, but instead of giving me CPR he gave me a kiss on the lips, or so the principal told me, when I regained consciousness. When I came to school the next day, everyone was so mad at me. One of my friends told me that the whole thing with me going to detention was a hoax. What had happened was that the principal tried to frame me, me being the smartest, and most well behaved student at Emek Hebrew Academy. He framed me so that there would be a really good kick off of Color War, which started and ended yesterday. Oh, how I wish I came to school yesterday. (The moral of the story: “If you are a good student, don’t ditch school!)
Chapter 23: The Problem I have a major problem which is constantly affecting my life every waking moment. My unofficially bed time is around one o’clock in the morning at which point I cease my studies, leave the barn, and go to sleep. (I study in the barn because I had a major problem finding a nice and quiet place on our ranch to engage in my studies.) Studying takes up all the time that I have from the moment I get home at two o’clock in the afternoon until eleven hours later. (1:00 A.M.) This is because I feel that fourth grade is so hard for me that in order to pass, I must study for as long as I can. To the reader, all of this seems nice and “dandy,” but here is where the problem arises: Every morning at sunrise, my daddy’s prized chicken, Coockles, lets out a long and loud string of “cockadoodle doo”-es. This cursed chicken thus wakes me up daily at sunrise (not a minute early, not a minute late). Since I am awake so early, by the time I begin my scholastic classes, I am so tired that I must sleep If- rather the word should be when- I fall asleep during class, I miss vital information which is required in order to pass the class and I must, consequently, spend my time learning it on my own which (it is hard to do, by the way) in turn takes away from my real studying time and also my much-needed sleeping time. Indeed, it’s a vicious cycle. Come to think of it, I have a great solution: I can kill Coockles. If I would get rid of Coockles, then I wouldn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn because of that bird’s din. This (why is that bird so loud anyways?) will cause me to be awake in order to learn in class and this will give me my time to study at night. On the other hand, how can I kill my daddy’s prized cock? He will lose all of his income and will become the laughing stock of the “Egg Growers and Their Families Communal Society of Northern Iowa (E.G.T.F.C.S.N.I.).” Without any money, my whole solution is pointless because my parents would have to take me out of school (I need a “three point zero” average or more for a monetary scholarship). If that happens, then I’d have to work on the farm, and no one wants that to happen! Oh, what do I do?
Chapter 24: The Empty Room The room was silent in anticipation. Perhaps everyone was holding their breath or listening from some clues, but the same fact was on everyone’s mind: “He” had not come yet. The anxious men shook in fear speculating about the cause of “His” absence. The clock ticked slower and slower for what seemed like an eternity. The sound of the second hand moving around the circumference of the clock filled the ears of the people. One man finally lost his patience and stomped his foot on the ground, eagerly awaiting “His” arrival. “His” presence is said to be exalting, yet no one was exalted. Finally, with one swift flip of the tongue, the waiting was over: “He ain’t comin’.” All of a sudden a punch was thrown, and the entire room erupted into a brawl. There was cursing and fighting throughout the room, while the pure-men stood in shock; they merely watched, not able to do anything about the anger which overcame the men. The people felt cheated inasmuch as they were not able to meet “Him.” “He” and all “His” glory never arrived and the people wanted satisfaction. One man’s anger, when denied his compensation, caused another’s forehead to be cut open. The anger subsided as a majority of the people leaving the room in fear; but, “He” still never came. The moral of the story: “Unfulfilled anticipation can easily lead to an eruption of anger.”
Chapter 25: The Greatest Singer in the World I stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I gaze at the beautiful reflection of myself as I remembered how good looking I was. I had it all: An adorable face, a soughtafter haircut, an expensive suit, and the most important, my voice. I was the greatest singer in the world. People all over the world looked up to me as a role-model, but from afar of course; I would never belittle myself by stooping to their level and interacting with them. One time, a little boy, claiming to be my biggest fan, came over to me and tugged on my valuable Armani tie to gain my attention. I completely ignored the poor lad; I do not need some kid telling me how “good” I am, I know by myself. Sometimes, like now, I like to look at myself in my gold-rimmed mirror so that I can remember how my perfectly symmetric face looks. I sing at the top of my lungs, even when I’m not performing in a show. Everyone loves my voice, even the ones who are “shushing” me really love my voice; they just enjoy masquerading as those know-nothing critics. Despite my beloved voice, I feel that my greatest attribute in my striking good looks. Everyone knows that sideburns are cool;
my sideburns almost meet at my chin, so I must be “super cool.” My arms are bulging with muscles, much like my legs are. Some people tell me that I look like that world’s strongest man; but, being as humble as I am, I answer that I am merely the greatest singer in the world.
Chapter 26: Graduation Everything was set for our extravagant graduation ceremony. The day following the last day of school, the whole class returned after morning prayers for a quick briefing of the ceremony to take place that night. All eighteen of us listened attentively in the main sanctuary as Rabbi *** described what is supposed to happen. Toward the end of the Rabbi's elaborate description, the Rabbi mentioned haphazardly that he wanted everyone to remain after the ceremony to make up the quorum of ten men needed to pray the nightly services. This is especially because he will be leading the services, due to that day being the anniversary of one of his parent's death. That night, I sat with the rest of my class in front of a grand hall, with hundreds of people watching us. Sitting in my shiny blue robe, I thought that I should feel happy or proud for myself, but I did not. The only feeling which I experienced was boredom. All those dull, monotonous speeches made me think about the rowdy party which was going to take place after this whole graduation. I shrugged off these thoughts twice as I put on my fake smile and proceeded to receive my diploma and service award (the latter for me being Gabbai, which basically gave me responsibility over the Bais Midrash) respectively. Looking back at the milestone event, I felt happier for some of my classmates (inasmuch as them even passing eight grade) than I did for myself. Time passed slowly, but when everything was done, I quickly took off my gown, ate a few Hors d'Oeurves and prepared for the nightly supplications to the Great One. The prayers were led, predictably, by Rabbi ***; but, much to my surprise, I was only joined by one other student in my class and a handful of parents. That night, I changed dramatically. No longer was I a young naive boy, who when provoked, backed down. Now, I stand up for what I believe. When those former classmates of mine neglected to show up to the Rabbi's prayers- probably just to arrive at the post graduation party a few minutes earlier than me- I learned something about people, namely those who professed to be my friend for over a decade. This explains all the different verbal and even physical "wars" which occurred between the various factions in our class. It explains our inability to agree on anything regarding the Student Council, yearbook, graduation, Senior Trip and others. It even accounts for why eighteen boys went to seven different schools, while the corresponding girls’ class of fifty-three went to only four different schools. I was quite sure that almost everyone in the class put on their own fake smiles as did those in the audience. The speeches were totally bogus and had no real representation of what we felt. Because I was that religion meant almost
nothing to most students in my class, I took it upon myself to fill in this gap in the balance of the Jewish population. I became a fanatic and more devout than ever. (This explains my "King-of-the-World"-type attitude.) The year of fallout began immediately after the senior trip. In my mind, I made a personal vow to excommunicate each and every one of my former school-mates. This did not last long, as I was destined to have some sort of contact with this peculiar group of people for the rest of my life. These people would soon change my outlook on life at least one more time; but that would not happen for more than one year since that fateful night of my graduation on June 18, 2002.
Chapter 27: Risk Sometimes, people describe me as a traditionalist; I never take upon myself outrageous adventures nor do I engage myself in perilous and hazardous activities. When I ponder about this subject, a thought to the contrary comes to my mind. It is about an almost tragic incident, which occurred with me along time ago… It is a freezing and bitter winter day in the typically mountain-less city of Los Angles. I stand atop a monstrously soaring mountain, over a half of a mile long. Several children- about three to my junior- are gazing upon me with awe. Bob, Robert, Bobby, or whatever you want to call him, is the main organizer of the spectacular event. Will, Bill, Billy, Willy, William or anyway you want label him was his main supporter. I am supposed to jump down the enormous mountain, in order to obtain a payment from my peers in school of three hundred dollars and fifty cents. It is physically hazardous to my health, but the riches are totally worth it. The fame, which I am going to take delivery of within the next few minutes, would be vast, because I will jump down Mount Winter. Predictably, my head is filled with thoughts of uncertainty; should I or should I not jump the mountain? On one side of the symbolic coin, I would get fame and prominence, heaps of money, school-wide recognition and maybe ever gain some more associates. On the alternate side of that metaphoric coin, I would only meet excruciating pain, harsh rebuke and perhaps lose the friends I have. Then again, it is always about money (i.e. coins). My worrying parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mylastname, would theoretically be greatly saddened to expose the fact that I, their single son, was badly injured in this “stunt”, which they explicitly told me not to do. My treasured friends, who also relayed to me an exceedingly important message, not to jump; will forsake me but, the smiles on the faces, conveying happiness, of those students patiently waiting for me to jump made me want to do it even more, because I have nothing at all to lose. OF COURSE NOT! I have everything to lose, for example, the most precious article that I have in this world, my own life. My final and utter decision came out to be that I should not jump. I would not regret that conclusion for as long as I live, or so I thought. Although those that are here begin to call me a “chicken,” or “coward,” those that are not here would be proud of my final verdict: My
adored mother, Mrs. Mylastname, my beloved father, Mr. Mylastname, and all my closest friends for examples Joe, Jack, John, Jeremy, Justin and Jacob. I began to feel semi-guilty for letting down those who were going to pay me the capital, but at least I am still able to preserve my greatly valued life. Now, thirty long years later, I vaguely recall that historic event in my life. People still call me an old school person, because no one knows what might have happened. That occasion at which I almost jumped off from Mount Winter on that extremely cold day three decades ago still haunts me to this very day. Although I feel no regrets about that fateful day, sometimes I still wonder what would have happened had I actually leaped from the great geological anomaly referred to as Mount Winter.
Chapter 28: Boy King Get Coroneted CAPTIAL CITY (KYGLA NEWS)-It was the happiest day in our young king’s life today. Actually, this great event took place at night- midnight to be precise. The elders of this great country placed the golden crown, underneath the light of the full moon (as prescribed by royal tradition), atop the lad’s head. The event caused great happiness throughout the kingdom because it marked the end of the tyrannical reign of one king and the beginning of the hopefully benign reign of this new king. Except for a small pocket of rebels, who were in jail from the previous monarch, the entire population attended the coronation of our new king. The rebels are expected to be killed tomorrow morning by order of our new king to avenge the death of his father, who, according to some critics, deserved his assassination. Things are looking good for our country because our new king has promised to rid the burden on our wallets caused by the infamous Ink Tax; and, the latest rumors say that the new king will once again allow us, his loyal subjects to enjoy the benefits of electricity which was unfairly outlawed during his father’s reign. From Capital City, this is KYGLA news, your number one newspaper publishing company.
Chapter 29: Releasing It I took a step and stood in my pace for what seemed like an eternity. My weary eyes closed; this sharpened my keen sense of smell as I inhaled the fresh air from the nearby river. I felt the sun soaking into my coarse skin, as my feet made contact with concrete floor below me. My eyes open quickly when I heard the sound of a long red fire truck driving down the road beside me. I shivered at the contrast between the cold and dark room, from which I recently emerged, and this sunny outdoor climate. I felt an extreme build-up occurring inside me; it was something I had to let out of my tired body.
I held this in because I was attempting to enjoy the beautiful weather. Like the sting of a bee, the following three things swiftly happened: I sneezed. I yawned. I took another step. Chapter 30: The Fight The bellicousness of my stance showed my enemy that I was ready for “war”. I stood in a war-like position with both my hands read to “fight”. Before I started the “fight”, I decided to dissent against normal protocol and disagree with the segregation laws which separated my people from them. As my enemy stood antagonistically in front of me, the dissimulation was obvious on his face; he tried to masque his fear of me. After the “fight”, there was no clear victor, so my “friend” acted as a “judge” to arbitrate the “case”. He decided that although Congress has acted egregiously when they passed the hated laws, they were still legally allowed to do so because they have discretionary powers to pass laws. From then on, I conducted myself with a rancorous attitude to my former friend, the “judge”.