Charles Fort's We Do Not Fear the Essay

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Charles Fort's We do not Fear the Father and Louise Edrich's the Lady in the Pink Mustang, what are the metaphors, similes and allegories in these two poems? How do they enhance the meaning of the poem?

A pink car signifies that she wants to be a girly-girly with a simple life, but the car, proud, and different. The car is a mustang, which is a wild, fast, and promiscuous creature. "The sun goes down for hours, taking more of her along than the night leaves with her," reflects the kind of empty work that she does during the night, and that she only belongs to herself in the day time when she is not performing. "It is what she must face every time she is touched, the body disposable as cups." Could the girl in the pink mustang be a stripper, a showgirl, or a prostitute? Regardless, she feels that men are taking advantage of her and body and disposing of her like a cup.

This poem focuses on the physical attributes of a father who works hard and his body bears the scars and wear and tear of physical labor -- a fact that could make him repellant to young people, or frightening to his children. This father works with his hands and they are the tools that provide for his family. His hands and his body are worn like garden tools used regularly to grow food, to nourish a family. "We did not fear our father until he stooped in the dark." But at some point, the father becomes too different, too worn, too distant from his children. Those who benefitted from his labor feel guilty because of how tired and crippled the old man has become from his efforts of taking care of his family.

Immediate reaction to June Jordan's Many Rivers to Cross. What structure or organizing strategies is she using? Is her personal narrative effective?

"We will not die trying to stand up: we will live that way: standing up" (361) Jordan's narrative is feminist. Jordan uses the metaphor of "crossing rivers" as a way of stating her new purpose in life. At the end of the essay, the reader understands that Jordan has written to honor all women: her mother, Mrs. Hazel Griffin, her cousin Valerie, herself and all the women she loves. Her mother is the first river that Jordan writes about. When her mother commits suicide, Jordan is at work. Women's work is deconstructed as Jordan tries to figure out how women should work in society. Work is a metaphor for the strong constitution of women -- Jordan does not see women as the weaker gender. Her style is to use multiple images to try to reach all her readers. She writes that something is "like a mother without a husband," and then as a variation on a theme, uses the analogy "… a poet without a publisher…" From a woman's perspective, Jordan describes the ex-husband by his actions that impacted women. The reader learns that the ex-husband left the woman and ended up with "another man's wife." Jordan asserts "that new women's work will mean women will not die trying to stand up: we will live that way: standing up." The absence of Jordan from her mother's life -- her omission at her mother's side -- is a metaphor for the gap or the separation between them. A separation, Jordon concludes that was socially constructed. This awareness lets her assert that "I am working never to be late again." She was too late to save her mother, and she vows never to be late should another striving woman needs her in the future.

Answer the following questions from James Joyce's Araby.

(1) Why do you think the boy's eyes burn with anguish and anger? Has he learned something about romantic love? Was he in love with Mangan's sister?

"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger." I interpreted the lines to mean that the boy's expectations and hopes had been dashed because he had to wait so long for his drunken to come home and give him money to go to the bazaar. Joyce certainly had a crush on Mangan's sister. As the character says, "All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: 'O love! O. love!' many times." The boy struggles because of the tension between the morality of his feelings and the teachings of his faith. "But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires."

(2) If this story is partly autobiographical, what is Joyce's attitude toward his younger self? Are you sympathetic or critical of your own initiations into the complexities of relationships?

Joyce's remembers his own adolescent emerging from boyhood fantasies into the harsh realities of quotidian life in Ireland in the late nineteenth century. The time that Joyce captures in his story is one of self-discovery. And it is also a time of idealistic first crushes -- which can only be remembered favorably after a sufficient passage of time. Joyce captures the phase of adoration that young people pass through as they try to figure out their roles in society as men and women. The idolizing of women by knights is good example of immature attempts to perfect the object of one's desire -- but it has absolutely no relation to reality.

(3) Reread the first and last paragraph. In what ways might they be connected?

The first and last paragraphs convey a perspective of separateness that the narrator attains when he allows himself to really look at and experience his surroundings. At the beginning of the story and at the end of the story, the narrator is quite alone and not engaged with others in his environment. He is an orphan in society and an orphan in this place in the world. He may never quite belong, but in not belonging, he may eventually gain a greater understanding of what is real and what is not.

(4) Find examples of religious imagery. What do you think is its purpose? The books that are mentioned in the story are explicit religions representations. The empty house was once occupied by a priest is symbol of the emptiness that accompanies the boy's feelings about religion. The bazaar was empty and silent like a church after a service. Mangan's sister, who is seen as unattainable, goes on a retreat at the convent, an act that makes her seem even more pure to the boy

(5) Do you think the boy's quest has symbolic meaning? Do you think cultures can also search for something?

The young boy's quest is very much a symbolic coming-of-age story. He seeks, as most young people do, perfection -- a utopia -- of the world that he is beginning to know and that he will eventually inhabit on his own. Certainly cultures can search for something -- this is the foundation of organized religion, and even perhaps the forms of government that people adopt.

How do Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail refer to prison not just as a physical structure but also a psychological condition? Are both authors effective in doing this? King's text is more overtly religions in its references than Thoreau's text. Do you think this is a significant difference? Why or why not?

Martin Luther King captured well the physical prison and the psychological condition of being retained in a jail cell for civil disobedience. On Easter weekend in 1963, he wrote, "There are two types of laws, just and unjust…One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." Thoreau's essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience was written following his act of civil disobedience when he refused to pay poll taxes to the government. His jail stay was just a single night as his taxes were paid anonymously in his behalf. Thoreau's view was individualistic and elitist, but it conveyed an idea that has been influential across many years and many oceans. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was inspired by Thoreau's defense of his actions on moral and philosophical grounds. King would was a devout Christian, who mostly substituted religion for philosophy, borrowing from the teachings of Jesus and Gandhi on nonviolent resistance. King's religious beliefs were deeply held -- they were not a conceit to influence people -- but his faith had a profound influence on black people in the Civil Rights movement. Faith was long a substantive part of the lives of Southern blacks, as was beautifully demonstrated by the Gospel music that was as much closed protest music as it was hymn. The message of hope from Dr. King, that was first smuggled out of the Birmingham…[continue]

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