Monday, May 23, 2011

25 Random Facts About Me!

In the tradition of Facebook notes (but on Blogger, at the request of my teacher), here are 25 Random Things About Margaret.
  1. I have just found a horse that I'm going to ride this summer.
  2. I've gone to Prince Edward Island, Canada every summer since 2004 (except for 2006)
  3. I still read picture books.
  4. I have an unhealthy addiction to the interwebs.
  5. I am related to about half of Harford County.
  6. I almost never cry at movies.
  7. I've been to Europe 6 times.
  8. I'm dying to go to Greece, France, and Italy.
  9. I have never been to Disney World.
  10. The first time I was on a roller coaster was the summer before 7th grade.
  11. My favorite food is cheesecake.
  12. I take way too many things to heart.
  13. I take lots of pictures of lots of random things. And delete none of them.
  14. I tell all my secrets to my dog, cat, and the horses that I ride.
  15. I am always stressed.
  16. My favorite books are City of Bones, City of Glass, City of Ashes, and City of Fallen Angels. It's the Mortal Instruments series.
  17. I went to a tiny, tiny, elementary and middle school called Harford Day.
  18. I love music and I wish I could still play an instrument.
  19. When I'm home alone, I sing.
  20. Books are my refuge. They take me far away from all my worries.
  21. I pray every night.
  22. I went to crew camp at the Naval Academy last summer, and I'm going back this year.
  23. I am a TERRIBLE decision maker.
  24. I'm discovering that art is a fantastic way to take out my emotions.
  25. I would die without my friends and the people that I trust.

Me and Jib (the dog) in shadows.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Caesar vs. Brutus

Julius Caesar

Heroic Traits
  • Valiant
  • Honorable
  • Faithful to his friends
  • Brought home many captives for ransoms
  • Cried for the poor
Tragic Flaws
  • Ambition
  • Prideful
  • Intelligence tainted by hunger for power
  • Extremely headstrong
  • Oblivious

Marcus Brutus

Character Traits
  • Wants what is best for Rome
  • Does not want to kill uneccesarily
  • Treats his wife as an equal, though he technically has power over her
  • Wants to be loyal, but holds the good of Rome over his friendships
  • Natural leader
Tragic Flaws
  • Trusting (believes the motives of others)
  • Nieve
  • Unselfish
  • Takes actions to the extreme/ a little impulsive
  • Feels guilt
  • Puts his public life above his private life

Julius Caesar Picture:
Marcus Brutus Picture:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Traversing to Washington D.C.

Yesterday, our entire Honor's English Class traveled to Washington D.C. to visit the Folger's Theatre and see a medley of Shakespearian plays. When I first walked in, my reaction was that this was a stage that I wanted to act on, and the entire room was gorgeous. The show was very entertaining and Bill's Buddies presented several ways to make reading Shakespeare easier (using action cues, sound, and paraphrasing) as well as showing how his plays related to life now. I was really impressed by how well they could act out the scenes with almost no props, costumes, or backdrops and only three or four people, yet still make it feel realistic. There were also many interactive activities where they called students up to help bring Shakespeare to life. The ways that they taught us to help ourselves interpret Shakespeare were actually very helpful, and I especially liked acting out a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

After the show ended, we walked to Union Station to get lunch and look around the station for about an hour. My friends and I ended up eating at what we later realized was the loudest and creepiest part of the food court, so it was quite an interesting experience to say the least. After finishing our pizza, we went back upstairs and treated ourselves to some very expensive truffles (we didn't realize just how expensive until we had already gotten them) and looked around the shops. After lunch, we walked to the Capitol, but did not have time to visit the Library of Congress, which was very disapointing.

Overall, this trip was a lot of fun, but there were some things that could have made it better. The show was interesting and helpful, but some of the younger kids in the room were constantly talking and spoiled it a bit. That was something that could not be controlled, though, so I'll just say that the show was fantastic. Our trip to Union Station was an experience, to say the least, but looking back on it now is really quite funny. I really wish that we could have visited the Library of Congress, since I was very excited to see it.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Review of Their Eyes Were Watching God

As we read Their Eyes Were Watching God, I quite enjoyed the book as a coming-of-age story. At first, I was not a huge fan of the dialogue in the book, as it made it harder to read, but by the end of the first few chapters, I was able to read it much more easily and found that it really added to the setting of the story. The narrative was gorgeously written and there was beautiful imagery in almost every section of narrative. The characters were well-developed in general, but I got very annoyed with some of them--especially the men--and at times felt like the story got a little repetitive. There were also a few times in the book when Hurston wrote conversations or monologues that had almost no context and were very difficult to follow, or did not add to the plotline at all. I feel as though this story could be taken in many different perspectives--such as an innocent love story, or a judgment of the black people and reinforcement of many negative stereotypes--and judged very differently on the way that it is viewed. Personally, I see this story as one of growth, love, and loss; essentially, a coming-of-age story. It was easy to see changes in Janie's character from the innocent girl, to the abused woman, a lady in love, and finally a person who had lost her one and only love. However, this character as well could get annoying at times, in fact, there were a few times in the book when I wanted to slap Janie in the face. Overall, though, I liked the book and loved many of the themes and gorgeous examples of imagery in the pages of Their Eyes. I would recommend this book to other teen readers, but it would not be my highest recommendation.

My Rating: Three and 3/4 Stars

Me, the Reviewer (riding Okay, the Shetland)

Imagery in Their Eyes Were Watching God

This novel by Zora Neale Hurston is also filled with imagery. Imagery is words or phrases that form a picture in the reader's mind. Many pictures are certainly formed in the reader's mind during this book as Hurston's descriptive language enhances the storyline immensely. This list includes a quotation of imagery in Their Eyes, the page number it was found on, and a short explanation of the imagery, all classified by chapter.
Chapter 1
1.  “The great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume,” Description of Janie’s hair, which is a big symbol in the novel. Page 2
2.    “Time makes everything old so the kissing, young darkness became a montropolous old thing while Janie talked.” Time loomed on as Janie told her story to Phoeby. Page 7
3.    “These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human.” The gossipers sitting on their porches were treated as no better than pack animals when they were working during the day, but in the evening, they could finally act like humans again. Page 1

Chapter 2
1.  “She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life but it seemed to elude her.” This compares Janie to the blooming pear tree and how it is blooming as she is growing up and becoming a woman. Page 11
2.  “Mind- pictures brought feelings, and feelings dragged out dramas from the hollows of her heart.” Nanny is trying to raise Janie while remembering the past things from her life, and trying to do better this time. Page 16
3.  “’Have some sympathy fuh me. Put me down easy, Janie, Ah’m a cracked plate.’” Nanny calls herself a “cracked plate,” meaning that she has been through a lot of hardships in her life and they have affected her deeply. Page 20

Chapter 3
1.     “The new moon had been up and down three times before she got worried in mind.” It had been a long time before Janie started to worry that she wasn’t falling in love with Logan as she hoped she would with time. Page 22
2.    “She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether.” Life is fast changing and constantly moving. Page 25
3.    “He ain’t kinnin’ yo’ mouf when he carry on over yuh lak dat. He’s kissin’ yo’ foot and ‘tain’t in uh man tuh kiss foot long.” Nanny is saying that when Logan is doting on Janie by bringing in wood, he is sucking up to her, not showing his true love. Page 23
4.    “She knew that God tore up the old world every night and built a new one by morning.” Every day is a new start.  Page 25
Chapter 4
1.  “They sat on the boarding house porch and saw the sun plunge into the same crack in the earth from which the night emerged.” This is symbolizing the start of a new day, and Janie has a new start for happiness. Page 33
2.  “Ah aims tuh run two plows, and dis man Ah’m talkin’ ‘bout is got uh mule all gentled up so even uh woman kin handle ‘im.” When Logan states his intention to have Janie help plow with a mule, it refers back to the image of the black woman as the mule of society. Page 27
Chapter 5
1.  “And furthermo’ everything is got tuh have uh center and uh heart tuh it, and uh town ain’t no different from nowhere else. It would be natural fuh de store tuh be meetin’ place fuh de town.” Building a store in Eatonsville symbolizes that the town is really becoming a community with a center. Page 40
Chapter 6
1.     “The fact that the thought pictures were always crayon enlargements of life made it even nicer to listen.” Listening to stories and talking makes life seem a lot better than it is to Janie; it idealizes things. Page 51
1.  “Every morning the world flung itself over and exposed the town to the sun.” This quotation is talking about the emergence of a new day in Eatonsville. Page 51
Chapter 7
1.  “She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life benieath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels.” Janie eventually was so worn down by Joe’s abuse, that she had no reaction to anything and showed no emotion. Page 76
2.  “For the first time she could see a man’s head naked of its skull. Saw the cunning thoughts race in and out through the caves and promontories of his mind log before they darted out of the tunnel of his mouth.” Soon,  Janie began to be able to predict what Jody was going to do, say, and the meaning and emotions behind it long before he actually said or did the thing. Page 77
Chapter 8
1.  “Death, that strange being with the huge square toes who lived way in the West. The great one who lived in the straight house like a platform without sides to it, and without a roof. What need has Death for a cover, and what winds can blow against him? He stands in his high house that overlooks the world. Stands watchful and motionless all day with his sword drawn back, waiting for the messenger to bid him come. Been standing there before there was a where or a when or a then.” This is the image that Janie has in her head of Death, which she knows will soon claim Jody. Page 84
2.  “Rumor, that wingless bird, had shadowed over the town.” Rumors had spread across town that Jody was dying. Page 84
3.  “The icy sword of the square-toes one had cut off his breath and left his hands in a pose of agonizing protest.” Joe Starks has died, in the midst of protesting against Janie’s accusations. Page 87

Chapter 9
1.   “She sent her face to Joe’s funeral, and herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world.” Though Janie presented a mournful face to Joe’s funeral, she is really ecstatic. Page 88
2.  “Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.” Just like everyone, Janie had tried to dig through the layer of problems that tried to smother her shine. Page 90
Chapter 10
1.  “’B’lieve Ah done cut uh hawg, so Ah guess Ah better ketch air.’” Tea Cake is saying that it looks like he has upset Janie, so he had better be gone. Page 97
2.  “So its [the moon’s] amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.” Janie watched as the light of the moon seemed to spill over the ground and cool it from the heat of the sun. Page 99
Chapter 11
1.  “’Look lak we done run our conversation from grass roots tuh pine trees.’” Tea Cake is saying that he and Janie have talked so long and about so many things that their conversation  is spent and it is time for him to go. Page 106
2.  “He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps. Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took. Spices hung around him. He was a glance from God.” Janie is describing Tea Cake as though he is a gift from God and even the air around him smells like it is full of herbs. Page 106
Chapter 12
1.  “’Ah jus lak uh chicken. Chicken drink water, but he don’t pee-pee.’” Pheoby is saying that she can listen to secrets, but she will keep them inside and not tell anybody else. Page 114
Chapter 13
1.  “Janie dozed off to sleep but she woke up in time to see the sun sending up spies ahead of him to mark out the road through the dark. He peeped up over the door sill of the world and made a little foolishness with red. But pretty soon, he laid all that aside and went about his business dressed in white.” This is describing the sunrise, with the first little rays of light, then red light, and finally the white light of the sun that lasts until sunset. Page 120
2.  “So her soul crawled out from its hiding place.” After being hidden deep inside her for many years while she was married to Jody and could not show much emotion, Janie’s soul is finally coming back up to the surface. Page 128
Chapter 14
1.  “It’s hard trying to follow your shoe instead of your shoe following you.” It is a hard life when you are walking around to find money and work instead of the work and success coming to find you. Page 131
2.  “People ugly from ignorance and broken from being poor.” The people who were coming to the much for work were certainly not glamorous and confident, but dirty and desperate. Page 131
Chapter 15
1.  “A little seed of fear was growing into a tree.” Janie’s fear that Tea Cake would leave her for Nunkie was growing. Page 136
2.  “’You’se something to make a man forgit tuh git old and forgit tuh die.’” Tea Cake is saying that Janie is so beautiful, he could focus on her and completely forget to grow old or die.  Page 138
Chapter 16
1.  “Janie’s coffee-and-cream complexion and her luxurious hair made Mrs. Turner forgive her for wearing overalls…” Janie’s complexion and hair were different from that of other black people and drew Mrs. Turner to her because they were similar to the features of white people. Page 140
2.  “Like the pecking order in a chicken yard. Insensate cruelty to those you can whip, and groveling submission to those you can’t.” Mrs. Turner sees the relationship between people of different skin colors like that of a chicken yard, with the darkest skinned people at the bottom. Page 144-145
Chapter 17
1.  “’She figgers we’se jus’ uh bunch uh dumb n**gers so she think she’ll grow horns. But dat’s uh lie. She’ll die butt-headed.’”  Mrs. Turner thinks that she will have power in the muck because she is better than everyone else, but Tea Cake says that she will not have any power over the people of the muck. Page 149
2.  “It got so the floor was knee-deep with something no matter where you put your foot down.” Mrs. Turner’s diner was so destroyed by the end of the fight that broke out that the entire floor was covered in glass, tables, chairs, and many other things that one could not step without stepping in layers of debris. Page 182
Chapter 18
1.  “It woke up old Okechobee and the monster began to roll in his bed. Began to roll and complain like a peevish world on a grumble.” The storm made lake Okechobee begin to churn and rush, as if it was waking up from a slumber. Page 158
2.  “They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.” In the midst of the raging hurricane, Janie, Tea Cake, and Motor Boat realized that their lives were truly in the hands of God and only He could save them. Page 160
3.  “Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands.” The darkness of night had taken hold of the world, and there was no light to see by. Page 158
Chapter 19
1.  “And then again Him-with-the-square toes had gone back to his house…His pale white horse had galloped over waters, and thundered over land.” Death had swept over the land with the coming of the hurricane, but now it was over, and its consequences had to be dealt with. Page 159
2.  “But something Sop had told him made his tongue lie cold and heavy like a dead lizard between his jaws.” Tea Cake wanted to talk to Janie about his awful sickness, but something that his friend had told him made him stay quiet and filled him with dread. Page 179
Chapter 20
1.  “The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner of the room; out of each and every chair and thing.” Janie’s horrible experience of the day when Tea Cake died all came together and made the very room seem to sigh with memories. Page 192
2.  “She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” Janie had lived a full life, so she sat back to reflect on the things she had seen in her life, rather than constantly moving and chasing her dreams. Page 193

My favorite piece of imagery from Their Eyes is found on page 25 and reads, "She knew that God tore up the old world every night and built a new one by morning.”  I love this imagery because it describes how each day is a blank canvas. Each sunrise brings a new day to start fresh and new without the burdens of the last day to drag you down. It also recognizes that God is the one who builds the world and causes everything to happen. These two themes truly resonate with me.

Symbols in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston has many, many symbols. This is a list of the most prominent symbols and some less prominent ones.
  1. Roots of Trees
    1. Symbolizes: African people without any roots
  1. Trees (especially the Pear Tree)
    1. Symbolizes: Janie's womanhood and coming of age
  1. Mule - Black Women
    1. Symbolizes: Black women getting the worst treatment in society
    2. Example: Logan tired of treating Janie as a princess and then wants her to work, so he buys her a mule for heavy labor
  1. Gate and Road
    1. Related to the metaphor in the beginning of the book
    2. Gate is the shore and the road represents the waves as Janie tries to find her dreams in the "sea"
  1. The New Horizon
    1. Janie is constantly looking over the gatepost, down the road, to a new horizon (a dream or new start)
  1. The Eatonville General Store
    1. Represents the center of the first all-black town
  1. The illumination of the lamppost
    1. Symbolizes: The start of a new all-black town
    1. Also shows that Joe Starks is all-powerful and likes to make others bow down to him, including Janie
  1. Joe and Janie's two-story house
    1. Represents his similarity to a plantation owner, while the townspeople would be like slaves living in shack-style homes
  1. Tobacco spittoon
    1. Represents Joe's wealth and power
  1. Head rag
    1. Symbolizes: Joe's control over Janie
  1. Long braid/hair
    1. Symbolizes: Janie's freedom
  1. Blue
    1. Tea Cake and Janie's willingness to make compromises in their relationship
    2. Symbol of love
  1. Fish and Frying fish
    1. Symbolizes: Sharing relationship between Janie and Tea Cake
  1. Checkers
    1. Symbolizes: Janie's equality in Tea Cake's mind
  1. Booker T and Mrs. Turner
    1. Booker T symbolizes getting rid of racism
    2. Mrs. Turner symbolizes racism, so does not like Booker T 
  1. Dirt/Soil of the Muck
    1. The rich soil represents the working class, growth, and the ability to be oneself
  1. Hurricane
    1. Symbolizes: God's almighty power
  1. Rabid Dog
    1. Symbolizes: That when something good happens, life then changes; things can't stay the same
  1. Guitar
    1. Symbolizes: The playful side of people that is often shown in the Muck
  1. Overalls
    1. Symbolizes: The working side of people
  1. Packet of Seeds
    1. Symbolizes: New life and simultaneously remembering love

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Zora Neale Conflict

The book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is now considered a classic story by most, but when it was written, the book was heavily criticized by other black writers of the Harlem Renaissance. These writers criticized her on the basis of her portrayal of African-American men and women, saying that it reinforced the stereotype that they had been labeled with by the whites and that the book portrayed African-American life as too idyllic. However, most white authors praised her story and writing style.

One of the most famous critics of Hurston and her book was Richard Wright. About Their Eyes Were Watching God, Wright says, "Miss Hurston voluntarily continues in her novel the tradition that was forced upon the Negro." He also spoke about how Hurston wrote about negro life in a way that was meant to appeal to the white audience, who could read the story with a "piteous smile on the lips of the 'superior' race." Another critic was found in black author Alain Locke. He wrote a criticism almost as negative about the book as Wrights. Though Locke highly praises Hurston's writing ability, he too says that Their Eyes is guilty of, "...oversimplification!"

In my opinion, Their Eyes Were Watching God does not deserve this harsh criticism. Even though I am not even halfway through the book, Zora Neale Hurston has developed her characters very well already and I almost feel like I know Janie. The portrayal of her life is very realistic and added to by the fact that it is written with the southern dialect. For the most part, I also do not agree with the claims that her life is portrayed too idyllically. Janie's story is told with the harsh realities of her husbands' abuse--physical and verbal--and the struggle for the black people of Eatonville to build their own town.  However, I do agree that the book can be oversimplified at some points and very confusing at others. Overall, I think that this story deserves the praise that it is recieving now, not the harsh criticisms that it gained while Hurston was still living.

Alain Locke Review : Opportunity, 1 June 1938.
Richard Wright Review : New Masses, 5 October 1937: 22-23