Saturday, May 19, 2012

Race: A Social Construct?

Race, according to this website, is something that evolved as an excuse. As the concept of race evolved it became a justification for the exclusion of people like immigrants and a justification for the extermination of others. Race wasn't created by humans but racism was.

Race is thought to be a modern idea that began with the use of slaves to grow cash crops in America. Before that slavery was just a result of a conquest over an enemy that had nothing to do with how they looked. It was a way of making them weaker and taking over their lands.The slave trade brought a new idea that people that looked different were "less" and could be used to others advantage. I found it really interesting that the idea of race became what it is today thanks to this because we all believe race has been around since the beginning of time. Yet one small change in trade spurred this evil monster known as racism.

In the website they talk about how in ancient times there were no prejudices of race as there are now. That race is a modern idea. Yet, having taken my AP World test less than a week ago, I must disagree. In India they had the caste system that still affects them today that began in 1200 B.C.E. So if this is a modern idea how is it that in India it is a classic idea?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Romantics (No Not That Kind)

The Romantics, a BBC documentary, is not about the kind of romance you are thinking about. The documentary is about the time period following the French Revolution and the American Revolution  which caused a change in thinking known as The Romantics.

In the documentary, the narrator talks about three poets from this movement. The documentary not only gives the information clearly but the portrays of the poets and reconstruction of the events keeps the watcher interested. Sure its a little freaky when they make the narrator seem like a member of Ghost Hunters International but the spooky effect adds to the general feel of the documentary. 

The first poet mentioned is Samuel Taylor Coleridge who despite being a great poet, struggled with opium addiction. In the documentary they act out how he wrote a poem about Kublai Khan based on a vision he had while being high. As soon as he was himself again he started writing it but lost the vision. He was able to complete the poem after having another trip to high land. I wonder if his method works not only with writing poetry but also with taking exams. Say one this Thursday?

Next in the documentary were John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelly. John Keats used to be a surgeon (no anesthesia) but then decided to devote entirely to poetry. Its interesting to see how he would add what he knew about the human body to his poems. He lived away from the spotlight and lived a calm life. He died young of tuberculosis and become more known after death. Shelly on the other hand was known for his crazy views. He was an atheist and published Necessity of Atheism in which he talks about how can he believe in a God there is no evidence of.  He also lived a pretty scandalous life since he believed he didn't have to be tied down to his wife. His poems are pretty dark and deal with these topics that were controversial for the time.

The last poet discussed in this part of the documentary was Lord Byron. What was interesting about Lord Byron was that instead of being kind of underground like the others, he embraced his popularity. He became kind of the first celebrity. He was also of the upper class and no one expected someone from the aristocracy to become a poet. Despite being very well liked, he was criticized by others like Shelly and with celebrity-hood came false rumors that threatened his reputation. Still his poetry was very appealing to everyone and he managed to fight off the rumors.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tell Me Through A Song

The use of songs is present all the time in the novel. There was a song when the protagonist walked alongside the homeless man and after reading the letter, on the bus ride a man was whistling a song. The songs relate to what is happening to the narrator and match up to his mood.

The song from the bus, reflects the mood of the protagonist that he has been used and left to suffer:

" O well they picked poor Robin clean
O well they picked poor Robin clean
Well they tied poor Robin to a stump
Lawd, they picked all the feathers round from Robins rump
Well they picked poor Robin clean." (pg 193)

The protagonist relates to Robin since he was also in a way used. He reflects on the idea that they don't explain why they did all this to Robin. He also has no idea why Dr. Bledsoe has let him down in such an extreme way. Being a smart person the protagonist wants to know how they got from point A to point B and the fact that there is no real explanation up to now, only makes him seek revenge.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lose Yourself

There are times in life when we don't fully understand who we are or are doubtful of       what we want in life. This could become a loss of identity since we become more concerned with how the world views us rather than ourselves. The protagonist of Invisible Man has this loss of identity or rather he chooses to lose himself to achieve what he wants.

In page 178, the protagonist pretends he is not southern. He feels insulted after the countermand offers him a very southern breakfast since he assumed just because, he would want it. He decries all this as the change he wants to be accepted in the college as a better man.

The protagonist says he "would be basically the same ... Yet so subtly changed as to intrigue those who had never been North" (pg 178). From this the reader can infer that the narrator wants to trick those around him thinking it is a good idea but in reality, he will basically be losing himself to appearances.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On the Bus

In chapter 7, the narrator gets on a bus to go up north. He is not the only one in the bus and the reader is surprised to find that the vet is in the bus as well. It is in this chapter that this character stands out as the foil to the narrator. While the narrator always wants to please his superiors particularly “the white men”, the vet speaks openly against this behavior. He describes them as a big man that “pulls your strings until you refuse to be pulled away anymore” (pg 154).

The metaphor the vet says shows his dislike of the white man and how they only use the people. He also generalizes whenever he speaks saying that “they” envelops every person that is white. While the narrator has hoped that some white person will help him, the vet only antagonizes them. It’s also interesting that the person who sees clearly how the narrator is being used is a crazy person and not the educated one.

Even after all the conversation with the vet the narrator still firmly believes that he is on a righteous path. Clearly the fact that the book starts with him in such a dark position and what the vet says, shows that this path he believes is his destiny, wont take him there. There are clear warnings about this and he chooses to ignore them. Even though the book begins with the ending, the reader could foreshadow the characters fall through his interactions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Colors and Turning Away

Continuing with the reading of Invisible Man, the reader begins to notice the importance of colors. It is clear that the novel has the theme of racism in it but Ellison uses the colors to show the distinction of the colors through the eyes of the narrator. In class we discussed how color is a social construct and and in this novel, the author uses color to highlight the importance of how things are described. A house is not just a house it is a “white house” and windows are not windows they are “black windows”. Ellison doesn’t use all the colors of the rainbow in these descriptions but uses those that go with the racial differences of the time like brown, white, or black, to name a few.
Directly linked to the idea of color is how the narrator uses a lot of imagery. Descriptions aren’t simple but seem to absorb every detail that surrounds the narrator. It also seems as if the surroundings go with the feelings of the narrator. For example when leaving the Golden Day the description of the gray concrete has a metaphor which is that it is like “the weary tones of a distant bugle blown upon still midnight air” (pg 98). Despite that the late afternoon sounds seemingly pleasant; this metaphor highlights how the narrator is fearful of the consequences of his actions by using such a drastic metaphor to explain something so simple.
The reader notices that in the novel white and black is used to show something that the narrator makes seem opposite or impossible, in other words a pun. For example when discussing the future of the narrator, Dr. Bledsoe doesn’t have a positive response to what the narrator says. The narrator then describes the situation as though he had said that white is black. The reaction of Bledsoe could be that idea of not dealing with the topic and letting it linger in the air.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh Syntax, You Did It Again

The classification of the characters becomes clear again because of the use of syntax. After leaving the Golden Day and returning to the university, the reader notices that everyone in this setting speaks dramatically correct. The narrator even describes this difference in page 47 by saying that "us" as in the people of the college and the peasants were different. Ending the part about the Golden Days there are aphorisms like “high as a Georgia pine"(pg 87) and also what I think is an allusion when the vet says "a little child shall lead them"(pg 95). Somehow this aphorism and allusion add to the effect of the setting. Since the character finds himself with Mr. Norton in what has become a mad house, the reader can see how the prostitute that said the aphorism is different from the vet that said the allusion by tge display of different backgrounds. This goes back to the idea that the invisible man is surrounded by all of this and has a close mind dowager all of it because he thinks he us superior.