Forum | Literature homework help

Part One: Several of our works this week portray family relationships that are less than perfect. Choose one that stood out to you as particularly moving or engaging. Describe the relationship and explain its personal resonance with you.

 

 

Part Two: Research one of this week’s authors and tell us what about his or her biography struck you as being reflective of issues in the work. Be sure to cite all biographical information you report.

 

 

Part Three: Post-modern work is sometimes ambiguous. What do you think happens to Connie at the end of Oates’s story? Explain why you think so. Use direct textual evidence to support your assumption. In O’Brien’s story we meet a soldier who goes AWOL- he leaves his post and a squad of men is sent to find him. How do you think this story ends based on what you see in this short excerpt? What clues can you tease out of the chapter to give an indication of where this story might be headed? 

 

 James Baldwin: Author Bio

James Baldwin: Sonny’s Blues
Flannery O’Connor: Author Bio
Flannery O’Connor,:Good Country People
Tim O’Brien: Author Bio
Tim O’Brien: from Going After Cacciato
Joyce Carol Oates: Author Bio
Joyce Carol Oates: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

 

Post-Modernism

 

Here is a mouthful, from Perkins: “Post-modernism” is a set of ideas that call into question the assumptions of Modernism, a perspective rooted in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and the emergence of science, 

rationalism, and empiricism. While the latter sought to produce a “grand narrative” of truth and to publish it as an answer to problems inherent in scholasticism and issues of “faith,” Post-modernism recognizes that the alleged orderliness of a universe controlled by discernible and definable “natural laws” masks a great “disorderliness.” Within the chaos are “chunks” of “lesser truths,” discrete elements that, in the terms of computer sciences, may be captured and digitized. Knowledge must be understood as discrete facts that may or may not have significant relationship to anything other than the relationships that may be subjectively imposed upon them.

 

Literature of the “Post-modernist” period, dating from around the 1940s, tends to be discrete in its subject matter and often highly localized. Some observers claim that its themes are not large and its characters commonplace as opposed to heroic in purpose or stature. This characterization recognizes the homogeneous settling of world views that reflect a separation, if not a widening gulf, between the individual and the globalization of systems of control from which the character has no real recourse.

 

That is all to say that Post-modernism is an era that is roughly defined as starting around the time of the Atomic Age ( the dropping of that atomic bomb marking the end of WWII). Some believe that we are still in the Post-modern period. Others believe that we have evolved into something else, but there is much debate about this.

So what exactly makes a work “Post-modern”? There are many qualities that are present in literature of the late 20th century and early 21st, but the main feature is a sense of anxiety….not unlike Modernism. This is anxiety is borne of the fear of nuclear annihilation- a underlying fear that our lives can be obliterated at a moment’s notice. This underlying fear reveals itself in several prominent forms: divorce, drug addiction, illness, criminal threats, adultery, suicide, repressed homosexuality. All of these are ways that writers show how our seemingly happy homes and normal lives can be shattered. Post-modern works often feature normal family life threatened by some outsider or some unpredictable occurrence. The philosophy as to how we rebound or go on despite this seeming ‘chaos’ differs from work to work. 

 

A large number of contemporary writers, songwriters, and television/movie writers are concerned with these themes ( crime, infidelity, etc.), and this reflects some of the anxiety of the Post-modern world.

 

 

Ways of Reading: Psychoanalytic Criticism

 

We’ve looked so far at schools of criticism that might appeal to different personal preferences. If you tend to like history, you might like New Historicism; if you tend to notice gender issues in life, you might be primed to see literature through a Feminist lens; if you enjoy thinking about man vs. The Man, you might engage well with texts when you try on a Marxist lens. 

 

If you are the kind of person who enjoys criminal procedural shows like Bones, NCIS, Criminal Minds, etc., or if you just like thinking about what ‘makes people tick’,  and you believe that what concerns us most is colored by repressed wounds, fears, unresolved conflicts, or guilty desires ( especially those present in our childhood), then you are bringing a Psychoanalytic (Freudian) eye to a piece. As with gender criticism, you will want to explore more about the writer’s biography  to see what kind of connections you can make with your knowledge of the writer and the apparent meaning of his/her words.    

 

If you are a Psychoanalytic Critic, you might try asking the following:

 

Who is the author? What’s his/her story?

Is there anything unusual or traumatic in his/her life?

What motivated the author? What did he/she fear?

What are the significant relationships in the author’s life? Were they good or bad?

Did the writer have any issues with drugs/ alcohol? 

Was there any repressed sexual issues or other sexual or romantic trauma in his/her life?

Was the writer in love? Married? Divorced? Betrayed? Happy? 

 

Reading enough of a writer’s biography to understand what makes him or her tick and what emotions might be influencing his/her work can go some way toward understanding or giving a reasonable interpretation of a work.

 

Submission Instructions:

Your initial discussion should be at least 200 words. It must include MLA citations – both in-text and an end citation. Citations are not counted as part of your 200 word count requirement. Please also respond to a minimum of  two of your classmates’ initial posts and bring together pieces of the discussion and take those ideas further.  These responses should be at least 150 words.

 

CLASSMATE 1: Part I

Throughout the stories that were provided for us, the one that caught my attention the most was “Good Country People”. I think of the main reasons that this story grasped my attention the most was because she a person that experienced a lot in life and was such a brave person. She has medical issues in which were unavoidable and that didn’t define the person she was. Towards the end of the story it is as if Joy is the only one that can receive redemption or grace towards the end of her dilemma. I feel that I too can relate to this condition and can see how difficult situations can change you as a person. I once got really sick because I used to model and I had to maintain a specific weight. It was difficult for me because I got sick and ended up being bulimic. I felt that I was a alone and that no one could understand my situation. Like Joy, I felt empowered when I was able to defeat it and I felt like a happier person overall. My family were trying to be there for me yet it was something that I was able to do on my own, just like Joy.

Part II

I read about Tim O’Brien, who was famous for writing novels on Vietnam War. He wrote about the good and the bad. He wants against war but conscripted into the United States Army and was sent to Vietnam. His war experience influenced him which resulted in his writing techniques. “According to him, sometimes the fictional truth is more realistic than factual one. It is because of the fact that fictional truth appeals to the emotion and feelings which makes the literature more meaningful” (Famous authors.org). 

 

Part III

        Oates is characterizing Connie as a girl who seems to be afraid of Arnold Friend. However, she is actually somewhat intrigued by him. I think that she was appalled and somewhat scared of the way that Arnold approached her and spoke to her. There was a part in which she even told him he was a crazy person and the real people do not talk like that. She was faced not only with his odd statements but with Arnold’s friends as well. His friends would try to convince her that she belonged with Arnold and somewhat held her against it. Towards the end, I think the story is headed towards them actually being together. Although he was a bit strange, she was intrigued by it.

References:

Famousauthors.org. (2016). Tim O’Brien Biography. Retrieved from: http://www.famousauthors.org/tim-obrien

Perkins, George, Perkins. American Literature Since the Civil War – 2015 edition. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 11/2008. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

 

Classmate 2:

Part One: Several of our works this week portray family relationships that are less than perfect. Choose one that stood out to you as particularly moving or engaging. Describe the relationship and explain its personal resonance with you.

For Part One, the short story, “Good Country People” written by Mary Flannery O’Connor most resonated with me. (O’Conner 1955) It stood out to me on several accounts. The first account was, “They carried on their most important business in the kitchen at breakfast.” (O’Conner 1955) This was very true at my grandmother’s house. The kitchen was the meeting place and most if not all business was conducted here usually over a glass of southern sweet tea. My grandma passed away in 2013; yet as I was growing up if she were heading to the garden she would wear an old skirt and yellow sweatshirt with the sleeves cut. O’ Connor writes, “six-year-old skirt and a yellow sweat shirt” (1955). 

  Part Two: Research one of this week’s authors and tell us what about his or her biography struck you as being reflective of issues in the work. Be sure to cite all biographical information you report.

In Mary Flannery O’Connor’s biography it states “she lived in coastal Savannah, Georgia” … “move inland to a farm in Milledgeville”. (vitalsource.com) She used words that I was accustom to hearing growing up in the south: “hedgerow, swig, don’tcher”.  (O’Conner 1955)   

Part Three: Post-modern work is sometimes ambiguous. What do you think happens to Connie at the end of Oates’s story? Explain why you think so. Use direct textual evidence to support your assumption. In O’Brien’s story we meet a soldier who goes AWOL- he leaves his post and a squad of men is sent to find him. How do you think this story ends based on what you see in this short excerpt? What clues can you tease out of the chapter to give an indication of where this story might be headed? 

I think Connie is abducted and murdered. Oates writes, “She thought, I’m not going to see my mother again. She thought, I’m not going to sleep in my bed again.” (Oates 1970) In the last line, “so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it”, I feel is a reference to heaven. (Oates 1970)

I think the story ends with the AWOL soldier being captured. Then brought back to be punished and imprisoned. The last line says, “You’ll do fine,” Cacciato said. “You will. You got a terrific sense of humor.” (O’Brien 1978) That leads me to believe he will endure being locked up by himself and his sense of humor will keep him from going insane. 

Brian

Work cited:

O’ Connor, M. F., “Good Country People”. 1955. Web 12May2016. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/1259759296/cfi/6/22!/4/[email protected]:33.6

Oates, J. C., “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. 1970. Web 12May2016. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/1259759296/cfi/6/22!/4/[email protected]:33.6

 

O’ Brien, T., “From Going after Cacciato”. 1978. Web 12May2016.

 

 

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