Monday, February 28, 2000

George Gershwin

“True music must repeat the thought and inspiration of the people and the time. My people are Americans. My time is today.” The composer that said these words was George Gershwin. In the following paragraphs, I will review some historical facts, on this fine American composer, who took jazz to another dimension from classical music. I will critique one of his notable compositions, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Finally, I will review his contribution to the development of music during his time which has resilience in today’s music. (Art of Humanities, pg 199, 2009)

George Gershwin was born as Jacob Gershwin on September 26, 1898. His parents were immigrated from Russia prior to his birth. Of the four children in his family, George pursued his interest in music at an early age. George was mentored by a piano instructor named Charles Harbinger who introduced him to European classical tradition; whereby, the accompaniment was repeated with the left hand; therefore, making the accompaniment reinforcing the melody. George left high school and went to work in Tin Pan Alley. He eventually worked as a pianist for Renmick’s music publisher making roles for player piano; while at the same time, moonlighted as an accompanist and experimented with composition (G.G.: His life and work, pg 78, 2007)

While Moonlighting on his off-shift in Tin Pan Alley, he was exposed to the so-called “stride pianists”. These musicians were educated in the classics and combined the ‘intricate textures’ of the classics and blended ragtime melodies with their riff. What these musicians created was a ‘syncopated melody’ against a march like bass’, with an additional rhythmic accent. However, they gave the classics a little pizzazz where the right hand plays the melodies or riffs while the left hand plays the rhythm. Rhythm usually is improvised by “striding up and down the keyboard while sustaining notes on beats one and three until the following cord is played”. The riff could be played slow or fast. So to one’s ear – the person actually is hearing a festival sound of music with in a solid melody. On March 17, 1917, George Gershwin quit Remick Company and wanted to go into operetta or musical comedy. He was fond of Yiddish musical theater and Gilbert and Sullivan. His Fascinating Rhythm was also produced by Judy Garland, Jack Gibbons, Earl Himes, Mark Murphy, Benny Goodman, T he Spinners, Sarah Vaughan, Paul Whiteman, and 52 other artist. In 1923, a band leader named Paul Whiteman decided to do a concert in Aeolian Hall. Whiteman asked Gershwin to contribute to a concerto-like piece for an all-jazz concert. Rhapsody in Blue began in the “An Experiment in Music” in 1924. // [single purchase]Gershman’s methods or musical elements came through “Rhapsody in Blue”. It is one of the most popular concert pieces. The interesting fact of this composition is that Gershwin composed the piece while traveling on a train. “It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that so often is so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise...And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper – the complete construction of Rhapsody, from beginning to end.” The title of Rhapsody of Blue was actually collaborated with his brother Ira, who also did the lyrics for Rhapsody. The solo piano was played by Gershwin accompanied by Whiteman’s band which included an added section of string players. The opening measure of the concert was done by a clarinet. Originally, the clarinet was played as a joke during rehearsal; however, Gershmen enjoyed the whimsy so much that he told the clarinet player that he should open the concert with his performance, but “to do it with a lot of wail as possible.”(Wikipedia, 2009, GG: his life and work, pp 74-77, 2k7)

As you can see Gershwin incorporated many different styles into his work. He utilized the techniques of the stride and novelty (train) in his rhythmic – improvised piano style. “In the 1970s, this arrangement was revived by Michael Tilson Thomas and the Columbia Jazz Band in 1976 and by Maurice Peress with Ivan Davis as part of the 60th anniversary reconstruction of the entire 1924 concert.’ Even today, look at Youtube, Gershwin is still playing. (Wikipedia, 2009)

Anonymous. (2009). Rhapsody In Blue Part 1 [vorbis download]

Retrieved August 16, 2009, Archive website

Anonymous. (2009). Rhapsody In Blue Part 2 [vorbis download]

Retrieved August 16, 2009, Archive website

Anonymous. (2009). George Gershwin

Retrieved August 16, 2009, PBS website

Anonymous. (2009). George Gershwin

Retrieved August 16, 2009, Wikipedia website

Janaro, R.P, Altshuler, T.C. (2009) Beginnings of Modernism: Emily Dickinson.

(pp. 199), The Art Of Being Human, Ninth Edition. Pearson Education, printed in

United States.

Khurana, S. (2009). George Gershwin

Retrieved August 14, 2009, Classicalnote website

Anonymous. (2009). Stride Music

Retrieved August 16, 2009, Wikipedia website

Pollack H. (2007) Life. (pg. 74- 77),

The George Gershwin: his life and work. University of California, printed in

United States.

Sunday, February 27, 2000

Kill a Mockingbird review

A Northern Mockingbird is noted for its beautiful songs. It is the Mockingbird that sings for you. “It is a sin to kill the Mockingbird”. This quote, is not only found in the novel,” To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee; but also has been quoted from the dialogue in a great American film “To Kill a Mockingbird”. This American classic was actually based on the novel. For the purpose of this paper, I will be critiquing the 1962 film, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I will also evaluate the components of the plot, cinematography, relationships of the characters, major social conflicts, and conclusion in the following paragraphs. ("Kill A Mockingbird C.E ", DVD, 2006 ) ("To Kill A Mockingbird.", pg 94, 2002)

This culturally significant film portrays a widowed Southern lawyer who defends an African-American of rape of a Caucasian woman during the early 1930s. The film exposes a racial atmosphere while at the same time deals with children’s innocence being exposed to the darker side of reality. This film also promotes a basic human foundation for integrity, which also creates principle and strong personal character. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006 ) (Art of Being Human., pp 320-21, 2009)

The time setting occurs in a small southern town in the early 1930s during the Great Depression era. Poverty has taken its impact on the town’s people; however, the dominance of being prejudiced takes its toll on the people in it. The viewer establishes another element of the movie which is the 'fear of the unknown'. This applies to one of the characters named Boo Radley who appears to be the town’s enigma because not much is known about him. Many stories had been whispered among the adults and children regarding the evils done by this reclusive young man. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006 )

Another prominent character which is exposed from the movie is a man named Atticus, who faces the day to day events, raising his children with his maid Calpurnia. Atticus, a single parent attorney, who holds his principles as the highest standard regardless of consequences. He also promotes well-being and education for his children. One can easily see Atticus’s relationship between he and his children, Scout and Jem, is based upon a love with a guiding and steady hand. Tom Robinson, the accused, had the reputation of being an upright, honest, family man in his black community. Bob Ewell, another important character, took poverty to the negative side of the spectrum. He exposes his prejudice and ill fate. In contrast to Mr. Robinson, Bob Ewell was a town’s drunk, unbeliever in education and acted out his hate and despise through his daughter Mayella. Mayella, another character, is trapped in poverty and experiences a world without love. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006)

Figuratively speaking, the south was brought to Hollywood. Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula had staff research the south for a perfect setting for the movie. After doing a lot of research in the South as far as staging, the staging director decided it was more cost worthy to salvage bungalows from a Southern town that were marked to be torn down for a Los Angeles freeway. The cost of the movie was approximately $250,000. The movie setting was actually constructed in 15 acre back lot of Universal Studios. The set contained 30 buildings divided in two sections. Downtown area was one section that included the court house, surrounding stores, and main street. The other section included family homes and residential streets. Another interesting fact is the two men who constructed town, bought the houses from Monroevilla; home of Harper Lee, and moved them to Hollywood to be a replica of it. The cost to the studio was $25,000 vs. $125,000 if they had to build it from scrap. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006 ) ("Production Notes", DVD, 2006)

The film was done in black and white which had a great impact in narrowing down the era of which the movie was supposed to take place. Like a photograph from a camera, black and white film produced characters and scenery with vividness. With black and white film, one was able to see the pattern contrast of shadow more vividly in some scenes that promoted a certain mood that the film maker wanted to establish. In some scenes, it accelerated the mood. An example of this is when Atticus was sitting outside the jailhouse for the Sherriff, while protecting Robinson from the Mob. The viewer had an intense image of the situation. Another example, would be the ghostly shadow that was reflected on Boo's house. Both of these scenes would have been obscured if the film was done in color. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006 ) (Art of Being Human, pg 300, 2009) ("Production Notes", DVD, 2006)

The film's introduction music had a child-like theme. The film starts out with a child humming without accompaniment and a watch ticking. It is not until a marble rolling and hits another marble that the introduction music fades in. In order to continue this child-like flavor in the music, the composer wanted to establish the simplicity of a lone piano and coordinate it as if a child was playing it. The music in the rest of the movie was sparse; however, the impact that the music created was very affective. A good example of this was a scene of Boo's house. The music was mysterious and ghostly; thereby, created a mysterious mood for the viewer. ("Kill A Mockingbird CE", DVD, 2006 ) (Production notes, DVD, 2006)

The camera movement was very controlled and very specific very effectively. In this film, a lot of stills were produced instead of panning. A lot of the camera shots were directed from a child point-of-view. One scene especially accented this view of thought. The camera focused on Boo’s house allowing the viewer to observe an unoccupied swing gently move back and forth from the night’s gentle breeze; thereby, creating an eeriness of the scene. The total ghostly amplification of this scene was accented with music and sounds of the night such as the owl’s hoot. This highlighted the effect of the moment. A subtle zooming-in was another aspect of camera usage. This kind of usage of the camera was used to create an atmospheric view of the town. The camera usage of close-ups was used for enormous power and impact. This was a prominent camera technique that was used in the film. One good example of close-up was portrayed in Atticus reading the book to Scout while at bed time. This scene was highlighted with a still camera. The shape and design of the court-house was constructed in such a way in order for the camera to maintain focus on the children and the segregation of the townspeople during the court scene. ("Kill the Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006)(Art of Being Human, pp 299-303, 2009)

The rhythm of the plot moved at a southern pace without a lot of melodrama. The film's Southern flavor was also amplified though the narration in the film. This was created by using a mature female, with a Southern accent, telling the story of her childhood. I thought this was cleverly done as well as informative. I believe the producer not only wanted the impact that the narration provided for the viewer, but also formulated the plot better. ("Kill the Mockingbird", DVD, 2K6)("Production Notes", DVD, 2K6)

The characters who were chosen in this film were unknown Broadway actors. The producer wanted to arouse the ‘sense of discovery’ to the viewer. The only exceptions were Gregory Peck who played Atticus, James Anderson who played Bob Ewell, and Paul Fix who played Judge Taylor. Robert Duvall was not an established actor at the time of the film. The children of Atticus Finch, Scout, and Jem were unknown, and non-professionals to the public. The young girl Mary Boldham who played Scout had done no acting at all, and the young child, Phillip Alcord, who played Jem acted only in an amateur stage production in his home town. The children in the film were encouraged to be themselves and received minimal directions from the director. The director gave them free reigns in order to accomplish the children's natural effect. There was no over-dramatization of the characters in the movie. To show the vulnerability of this film at the time of the release, one actor, Jimmy Stewart refused the major role of Atticus, because it was too liberal for him. Either Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck would have been a good pick for Atticus in my opinion, but Mr. Peck won out and reaped an Oscar for his “impeccable” star performance. Another interesting fact about the characters was James Anderson who played Bob Ewell actually played the part with hardly acting. In real life, he was a drunk and a very aggressive mean man; however, in this film he promised the director that he would behave himself on and off the set while filming. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006 )("Cast and Filmmakers", DVD, 2006)

The major social conflicts were very prominent in this film. The segregation of black and white in the town was very prominent. The individual who possessed a different view was discriminated against for not giving into the norm. Two examples, I would like to highlight with this statement is Atticus view about people, regardless of race, is that “you do not know what another man is thinking until you walk in his skin” Atticus was a man of his word and honor and he believed everyone deserved respect and understanding. The second example, is even though Atticus proved that Tom Robinson was not guilty, the townspeople rejected that fact, because in their view the blacks were always guilty. Another element this film accomplished was the ‘fear of the unknown’ as I mentioned earlier. This was especially evident in how the town’s people treated Boo Radley. They foolishly made wild assumptions about him and tagged him as an enigma in the town. At the end, it took a child to prove them wrong. Thirdly, Robinson, who was wrongly accused and lost his life was essentially due to racism. Here is a righteous man, who did not commit a crime and because he was born with the wrong skin color; the jury and the community believed a town’s drunk and ill-spirited young lady of the accusations. The real crime here was Bob Ewell’s covering his guilt and the town’s people promoting their prejudices. ("Kill a Mockingbird", DVD, 2006)

Scout's and Jem's views also changed throughout the story from a child's innocence to the growing reality of society. There are several events that I think evolve change in the children. Their exposure to the angry towns people in front of the jail house; their father's perseverance to justice and dignity, the injustice done to Robinson during the trial and afterwards; the actions of Bob Ewell to their father and to themselves; their acquaintance with their new worldly child friend and finally the reality of Boo who ended up to be the savior to the children. Scout's nonjudgmental, child's compassion towards Boo at the end of the story made a big impact on how the children had changed. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006)

The racial undertones of the story were active in the 1930s to the 1960s. It was a time where Klu Klux Klan had a heavy hand on society in the South. Racial inequality was very much a commonplace. Even today there remains some racial prejudice in our society. A second lesson from this film might be concluded on how acts of integrity and strong principles can promote strong personal character. Thirdly, we cannot hide wrong doings of others from our children, but we can encourage wisdom and moral values. Lastly, the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a story in itself. It is a story of an imperfect life that produces hope for the future. As quoted earlier “to kill a mockingbird is a sin”, another way one might view these words is as a philosophical advice for one to maintain an open mind in order to promote the decency in all of us. ("Kill A Mockingbird Collector's Edition", DVD, 2006)

Saturday, February 26, 2000

Persistence of Memory review

In this paper, I will detail the visual aspect of Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory. Afterwards, I will detail the contextual aspect. Third, I will detail his iconographic aspect. Fourth, there is the historical aspect. Fifth and finally, I will explain my personal opinion on Persistence of Memory. The Persistence of Memory was made in 1931 and the sequel was made in 1954.

This surrealistic, extremely creative, art work is highly regarded by popular culture. Salvador DalĂ­ has a theory of 'softness' and 'hardness' of time. Salvador Dali was Spanish. At the time, Spain was under communism and anarchy. Both the Persistence of Memory and The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory are a symbol of surrealism. Clocks that are soft is pretty cool, but we all know that time is a change of events chronologically from point-to-point and that there are no black monoliths that appear out of nowhere, but it is fun to look at. It doesn’t slow down or speed up, but decay with gravity make it seem that way. Its visual appeal is the clocks are folded over a tree branch, on some cloth, a block and a cliff near a lake in the distance. I do not know what the ramp or gutted clock is for. In this oil on canvas painting, he mixes dark with light colors. The dark browns represent the soil. The Chiaroscuro was equal in my opinion. The light colors represent the sky, pocket watches, blankets, and body of water. The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory has all the major features of the Persistence of Memory, but it has a tree split up, a cliff split up by the body of water. It looks like the black monolith blocks are speeding towards the viewer and the body of water following it as it splits up clocks, cliff, trees, etc. It had alteration, because both have altered physics to the clocks. (suite101, 2009)(Art of Being Human, pg 154, 2009)

The contextual aspect is hard and soft time. It makes no sense, yet it wasn’t supposed too. The clocks get softer as these objects deteriorate. Soft time is where the watches don’t represent real time, because every planet has its own “day” or “year” in terms of hours depending on their orbit.

The only iconographic aspect I can tell is from the sequel where time disintegrates, because it is called Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory. Time gets soft as it disintegrates. Then the black monoliths are displayed describing time-space continuum. You couldn’t see those in the first picture, because Salvador wanted to make a sequel. He was involved in Spain’s cinema of the 1920s and 1930s and like many producers, he wanted to make sequels. In the 1930s, there was the Great Depression in US and a recession in other countries. Everybody was creative with what they had anyway. (suite101, 2009)

Persistence of memory is a popular choice to represent either modern art or surrealistic art. About Salvador Dali soon becoming one who invented the flamboyant mustache. He had a habit of drawing attention to ultimately self-promote himself in the spotlight. Due to his career in painting surrealistic art with addition of his sarcasm, Salvador Dali was seen as goofy fellow by multiple societies. He has been obsessed with the Freudian belief that there are two drives. The first drive I the need for sex which we should be hidden and the death wish, which is pain. This was to capitalize on Freud in an attempt to start a controversy. Dali gave the public what they wanted with both paintings. I would go to Minneapolis Museum of Arts and I could tell immediately that the strangest paintings are also the most popular on the tour. (suite101, 2009)(Art of Being Human, pg 154, 2009)

It captures my interest, because when I did search on modern abstract art, Persistence of Memory was one of the highest rated picks in the ladder. Who wouldn’t like melting pocket watches? Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory had some black monoliths similar to in the movie 2010 just before Jupiter imploded into a star, based on the book of Arthur C. Clark, one of the most famous science fiction writers. It was also highlighted in The Art of Humanities on page 154.

The Persistence of Memory and Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory is a significant leap forward for modern artists. The Persistence of Memory is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. The Disintegration of Persistence of Memory is in Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Either painting is really cool looking and has a ton of imagination in each. I believe it is good example of an artist who can give the tourist what they really wanted which is why I picked them. Dali can go slightly insane trying to meet that benchmark due to the public’s pickiness.


Anonymous. (2009). Salvador Dalis – The Persistence of Memory

Retrieved August 07, 2009, suite101 website

Janaro, R.P, Altshuler, T.C. (2009) Unreal Realism (pg. 154)

The Art Of Being Human, Ninth Edition. Pearson Education, printed in United States.

Monday, February 21, 2000

Bill Gates my hero

My hero is Bill Gates III, because he funded not the most stable, but by far the most useful operating system; Windows XP or better, and the most useful office suite on Earth. I have picked the achievement of his personal and CEO achievements that has undergone a lot of seemly unrest via court cases against the US Government in the 1990s, as a no small accomplishment. US government jury trials were obvious attacks on closed source software and its profitability. He also took a journey into the unknown by leaving his safety and conventional way of Harvard.

If it wasn’t for Bill Gates, I wouldn’t be as nearly as productive as I have been. In a parallel universe there probably would be Apple and PowerPC ruling 90% of the market with Commodore International still in business taking place of “Apple Computers”. Bill Gates had the over endurance with all, he prevented Microsoft from being split up by the government, and that is a good thing, because other countries have federally funded Linux, such as China has Red Flag Linux, for their PCs and I do not want that. I’d rather have a closed source operating system for personal usage so Gates is a hero here for keeping Microsoft together. My hero is a certified border-line genius. He has a score of 1590 out of 1600 on a SAT test. Unlike me, he read encyclopedias and had a similar intellect as the main character in the movie “Good Will Hunting” where he obsessively read books so he could pass the high school academics, or became bored. I respect that he led Microsoft without much collateral damage during the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigations in the 1990s. He has a couple PH.D’s in Science and is Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire conferred by Queen Elizabeth II. He also is a humanitarian. (Biography, 2009)

He worked in the computer lab at school with his friend and hijacked the software vulnerabilities so that he could have more computer time available. He eventually got kicked out of the computer lab, and then at a later time, was requested to debug the terminal that he hijacked. (Biography, 2009)
I tend to agree with his 1976 open letter to computer hobbyists when he says that open source software should not be shared, but sold; therefore, promoting better software development though better engineering creativity. Through creativity, the development of very sophisticated speech recognition software was available to the general public. This software was called Nuisance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking 10.1. He also is involved with videogame development and has given many incentive speeches at the Game Developers Conference. (Biography, 2009)(Nuance, 2009)(Cnet, 2009)

In 2006, he received the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian award. He has been awarded by many countries for his charity as well as putting some of his net worth into the Bill and Mellissa Gates Foundation. As well as acting as charity, the foundation does major grants for vaccine and immunization programs, HIV and AIDS research, and public education in the US. The Bill and Mellissa Gates Foundation is the world's largest private philanthropic organization. The Bill and Mellissa gates foundation is preferred by billionaires, receiving about $80 billion. (ITU, 2006)

I like his quasi dress attitude where he dressed for comfort and causality when he is at work or for an interview such as when IBM interviewed him for the MS-BASIC operating system. I would like to note that the Japanese MSX (except for American clones) had MS Basic in 1984. He cleverly bought an operating system from a programmer. As an entrepreneur, his success was based on imagination and endurance which I admire. (Biography, 2009)

All in all, Bill Gates’ operating system, with its ingenuity and software support, will be a force far in my future as I will be working with his products a lot. I wish I had a SAT test score of 1590 out of 1600, any geek would. I also believe that the Gates Foundation does decent humanitarian work. At best, I need to restrain myself when I talk about Bill Gates and his accomplishments; however, his inspiration for me has been a novel one. To me, Bill Gates is like a fairy tale story. His courageous journey in his belief system has served him well, while at the same time, benefited others.

Friday, February 18, 2000

Emily Dickerson ~ Hope ~ review

This is the poem, “Hope” written by Emily Dickerson :

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—
I've heard it in the chilliest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity
It asked a crumb—of me.

Emily Dickenson writes the poem “Hope” as a metaphor in itself. Hope is a metaphor “with feathers — that purchase within the soul”. She is referring to a bird as a personification of the meaning of hope. In the verse, “sings a tune—without the words”, hope develops within all of us in our soul, not in words. She then talks about how the personification of the hope undergoes hardships in life such as “never stops at all”, “sweetest – in the Gale – is heard” and “score must be the storm”. She also continued with “abash the little bird – that kept so many warm”. This also could mean we should never stop hoping even under life’s difficulties and never give up. In the writing of her poem, she uses traditional iambic meter; whereby, some of her line rhymes are in coupling form. She also uses a style of modernism; whereas, some of her lines do not rhyme. She alternates her rhyming lines with lines that do not rhyme. (Art of Being Human, pp 98-99, 2009)

I think what she said was true to a point. I like how her poem was cleverly compressed in a simplistic style; with a lot of play of words. The impact of this poem reminds me of when I lost hope at one time; I became a grouchy and not a very nice person to be around with. I looked at everything in a negative light. Like Emily, I also believe that hope is a desire or feeling that should never be lost. Without hope, one is likely not to believe that life can bring much enrichment to oneself. (Art of Being Human, pp 98-99, 2009)

Thursday, February 17, 2000

Flight Patterns

Characters drive stories. They stimulate us, uncover our humanity and reveal to us complex motivations. They have to be believable with all their human charms and blemishes. Without the believability factor, no other element will matter and the story will fall flat. The characters in Sherman Alexia's “Flight Pattern” and Eudora Welty's “Why I Will Live at the P.O.” have their similarities and their differences; however, they both will show 'why' good character development gives the feeling of substance and realism into a good story.

In order to compare and contrast the characters in these two stories, it is important to establish essential elements that make up a good character in a particular story. The introduction of a character, especially a central character, is like meeting a person for the first time, a 'getting acquainted' period that captures personal information. A good character must grow, learn, and develop over time while presenting a familiar flare about himself or herself, such as an acquaintance, or a friend or a dislikable person. Realism is what brings that character to life. Finally, each character should have their own unique personality, with a hint of imperfection. People have a hard time relating to perfection, in some situations being perfect becomes irritating. As with most people with imperfections, characters need to be complete, rounded, complex and believable to spark the interest of the reader.(Introduction to Norton Literature, 6-7,17-20,119-123, 2006)

Character development takes on a domino effect in these two short stories. The main character's flaw or inner conflict drives the story forward.(A2) The emotion created by the conflict establishes the theme that correlates to the character who drives the story.(A9) The central character or the protagonist defines the other characters as the story progresses. (A6) These other characters are minor and only exist to benefit the protagonist.(A5) Finally, stories need an antagonist, a negative force or character that has conflict with the protagonist.(A1) (Introduction to Norton Literature, A1, A2, A5, A6, A9, 2006)

In “Flight Patterns”, the protagonist named William, is an Native American Indian who is physically fit, has a fetishist on how he dresses, enjoys music from the Patsy Cline era, can “quote from memory the entire Declaration of Independence” (37), and is a think-tank who sells ideas to businesses. “William [is] an obsessive-compulsive workaholic who [is] afraid of pills. So he suffer[s] sleepless nights and constant daytime fatigue” (38). (Norton, pp 37-50, 2006)

At the beginning of "Flight Patterns", two Native American Indian characters Maria, wife of William and Grace, William's daughter, both minor characters, provide the motive for one of William's conflicts, which is Maria and Grace both love and need him as much as William loves and needs them. This love and need for his family produces another one of his inner conflicts which evolves around flying . He does not sleep well the night before his flight and fears flying not only from the “September 11” incident (40), but also due to the inability to protect his family while he is away. Terrorism became a new realization in every American household, making some people at airports more prone to profile. Profiling is one of William's pet peeves. People often “sniff” (40) around him at the airport because he is a “little brown guy” (40); however, William subconsciously does the same, when he scans “the airports and airplanes for little brown guys who reek of fundamentalism” (40). (Norton, pp 37-50, 2006)

Another inner conflict is “No matter where he live[s], William always feel[s] uncomfortable, so he enjoy[s] other people's discomfort”(43). One example of this is at the airport, William finds it amusing watching “the white people enduring random security checks” (43). William feels proud in being an Native America Indian although he does not display it in a worldly fashion. He just wants to blend with the rest of society while still maintaining his cultural integrity. He does not intentionally “insult” (42) people; all he wants from society is “the world to be a fair and decent place” (42). On the other hand, people are sometimes insulted by William because he is stubbornly independent, doing things his own way, like keeping or handling his luggage when it is the other person's job to do it. (Norton, pp 37-50, 2006)

Fekadu, a minor character, is the taxi cab driver who takes William to the airport. Their initial contact with each other can only be described as awkward. Fekadu's first impression of William is a “Strange American” (42). During the drive to the airport, it is Fekadu who breaks the silence by directing questions to William about his family and if he misses them while he is away. William shares his thoughts with the taxi driver. “I miss them so much I go crazy, I start thinking I'm going to disappear. . . if I'm not home. Sometimes I worry their love is the only thing that makes me human, you know? I think if they stopped loving me, I might burn up, spontaneously combust, and turn into little pieces of oxygen and hydrogen and carbon” (44). He surprises himself by answering so "honestly" and "poetically" (44). While William is explaining how he misses his family, William notices Fekadu has a scar on the right side of his face and neck. This observation arouses William's suspicion. He begins to profile Fekadu as a “black man with a violent history” (Norton, pp 37-50, 2006)

The question and answer session between the two men eventually turns into an intriguing exchange where they find common ground, laugh together, and understand each other. Fekadu learns that William is not “Jewish”(44), but a “Spokane Indian”(45) who has a beautiful wife and daughter whom he loves very much, and misses them terribly when he has to leave them behind. William learns that Fekadu “studied physics at Oxford”(47), was a Selassie fighter pilot who “dropped bombs on his own people”(48), and because of so much guilt, Fekadu defected from Ethiopia leaving behind his beloved family who he has not seen in 30 years. Only at the end does William find out the irony of the scar on Fekadu's face and neck, a taxi-car accident. (Norton, pp 37-50, 2006)

For William, his view of people, at least for the cab driver, have somewhat changed. The interaction between William and Fekadu can be indirectly viewed as a William's confession to the cab driver, the cleansing of a the soul. He enjoyed the company of the cab driver and realized his first impression was justifiably wrong. The obvious antagonist in this story is the disturbing presence of profiling and stereotyping done by our society. (Norton, pp 37-50, 2006)

In “Why I Live at the P.O.”, the reader savors a different flavored short story. The reader immediately detects characters with a dialect that is southern and rural and humorous. One such character is Sister, the narrator, the protagonist, and China Grove's postmistress. Sister seems perfectly content living with her “Mama, Papa-Daddy, and Uncle Rondo” (123), who are all minor characters in the story. That is until her year younger sister Stella-Rondo, the antagonist, came home to live after a recent separation from Mr. Whitaker. The irony of the of Stella-Rondo arrival is the day she arrived, Fourth of July. The emotional fire-works or chain-of- events begin as soon as Stella-Rondo enters the homestead. Sister is revved up with jealousy and rivalry, while using humor as a coping mechanism. Her sentiment about Stella-Rondo starts with Mr. Whitaker. “Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared in China Grove, taking “pose Yourself” photos and Stella-Rondo broke us up. Told him I was one-sided. Bigger on one side than the other, which is a deliberate, calculated falsehood: I am the same” (123). Stella-Rondo's 'lie' initiates Sister's slow activated fuse. (Norton, pp 123-132 2006)

Stella- Rhonda is no angel herself. She has a temper, dramatic and manipulative. She has a lot to hide. Stella-Rondo brings home a two year old girl Shirley-T and according to Sister, Shirley-T is a “spit-image of Papa-Daddy if he'd cut off his beard” (124). Stella-Rondo maintains that Shirley-T is adopted and she eventually schemes support from her family to her claim. (Norton, pp 123-132 2006)

Mama's character is a “two hundred [pound]” woman “with tiny feet” (127) who rules the family and refuses to see reality of the situation; in other words, Stella-Rondo marries, leaves town and returns home with a two year old child that Stella-Rondo claims is adopted. Mama makes some effort see Sister's point of view, which is Stella Rondo is the birth-mother of the little girl; however, Stella-Rondo is Mama's favorite, and if what Stella-Rondo says is true, then from Mama's point-of-view it is true. Mama denies this favoritism with her favorite reply “I prefer to take my children's word for anything when it is humanly possible” (127); what she does not say is except for Sister's word. (Norton, pp 123-132 2006)

Uncle Rondo is Mama's brother and a World War 1 veteran. The war had made its mark on him, both mentally and emotionally. He is very temperamental and easy to anger. The Fourth of July is a special time for him. Sister enlightens the reader about him, “. . . he 'd drunk another bottle of that prescription. He does it every Fourth of July as sure as shooting, and it's horribly expensive” (125). On this Fourth of July, he parades around wearing Stella-Rondo's flesh- colored kimonos. (Norton, pp 123-132 2006)

Papa-Daddy is Sister's grandfather, who is grouchy and has a sharp wit. He is a great admirer of his own long shaggy beard and does not want to ever cut it since, “[t]his is the beard [he] started growing on the Coast when [he] was fifteen years old” (125). During an argument, he likes to remind Sister that it was he who had “influence from the government” (124) in getting her the job as the postmistress. (Norton, pp 123-132 2006)

Shirley-T, the supposedly adopted daughter of Stella-Rondo, does not have a great part in the story. She remains mute though out the story except for one time after Sister ask her Mama if the child had some kind of disability. Mama then asked Stella-Rondo; shortly afterwards the child blurts out in her “Yankee” voice, “OE'm, Pop-OE the Sailor-r-r-r Ma-a-an” and starts to dance(128). (Norton, pp 123-132 2006)

Mr. Whitaker is never actually present. He is only mentioned in conversations as Stella-Rondo's estranged husband and was Sister's first romantic acquaintance. (Norton, pp 123-132, 2006)

Stella-Rondo eventually wins the whole family against Sister. Sister feeling frustrated and angry and hurt, moves out taking her possessions and moves into the P.O. for some peace and quiet. “But here I am and here I'll stay. I want the world to know I'm happy” (132). She expects no one to visit, because most of the population in China Grove, Mississippi is her family; however, “if Stella-Rondo should come to me this minute on bended knees and attempt to explain the incidents of her life with Mr. Whitaker, I'll simply put my fingers in both my ears and refuse to listen” (132) . (Norton, pp 123-132, 2006)

In both stories the central characters are developed with depth and richness in personality. In “Flight Patterns”, William's persona is filled with self-strength, sarcasm, intelligence, compassion and doubt in how he sees himself in the world around him. As the story advances, the reader obtains clues in the subtle change that overtakes William in how he views people around him. (Norton, pp 37-50, 119-123, 2006)

The Sister character in “Why I live at P.O.” is complex and self-deluded. Her family is unwilling to believe a word she says. Instead, they believe the lies from the family's favorite, Stella-Rondo. Sister regresses in the story; not only due of the family's refusal to see her point-of-view, but it is her jealousy of her younger sister and the sister's lies that takes its toll on her. This brings out the oddness in her personality to the reader. (Norton, pp 119-132, 2006)

There are a number of examples where humor is present in both stories. Humor summons the character's and reader's emotions. It reduces the intensity and discomfort of the situation. In “Flight Patterns”, William is sensitive to who he is, a Spokane Native American and how people are seen in terms of race. He infers this many times in the story. William once fantasizes what it might be like if he married a white woman and fathered their children: “Oh, the only box they have for me is Other! I'm not going to check any box! I am not the Other! I am Tiger Woods” (41)! At the airport William endures many random checks by security, because he is the “little brown guy” (40), so he chuckles when he sees white people being checked. “He [knows] those white folks wanted to scream and rage: 'Do I look like a terrorist'” (43)? Another example is when William notices the scar on the side of Fekadu's face and “reprimand[s] himself for racially profil[ing] the driver: 'Excuse me, sir, but I pulled you over, because your scar doesn't belong in his neighborhood'” (44). A final example, is when Fekadu is talking about his children and how much older they are since he last seen them. William validates what Fekadu says; however, he follows his response with a thought: “the official handbook of the frightened American male: 'When confronted with the mysterious, you can defend yourself by speaking in the obvious generalities'” (44). (Norton, pp 37-50, 119-123, 2006)

In the short story “Why I live at the P.O.” humor is rampant throughout the story not only in the conflicting situation, but also through dialect between sister and her family. The following are examples of this: It is the Fourth of July and Stella Rondo decides to leave her husband and arrive home to her family with a two year old child. This sparks the chain of events. Sister describes Stella's presumed adopted child, as a “Spit image of Pappa-Daddy if he'd cut off his beard” (124). Further in the story, Uncle Rondo decides to dressed up in Stella-Rondo's flesh-colored kimonos after he drinks a bottle of “prescription medicine” (125) and passes Sister in the hallway. Sister replies to him “Uncle Rondo! I didn't know who that was! Where are you going” (125)? Uncle Rondo replies “Sister, get out of my way, I'm poisoned” (125). Again, Stella stirs up trouble for Sister by telling Uncle Rondo that “Sister says, 'Uncle Rondo certainly does look like a fool in the pink Kimono”' (129)! The following morning at “6:30 AM” (129), Uncle Rondo with his most “terrible temper” (129) throws “whole five-cent package” (129) of lit fireworks in Sister's bedroom. This shocks Sister out of bed and she comments how “terribly susceptible” (129) she is two loud noises; whereby, she becomes “simply prostrated” (129). The noise that the fireworks made was heard by her Aunt Jep Patterson, who lives by the cemetery. She thought it was “Judgment Day” (129). Finally, at the time that Sister leaves the household, she packs up her things, “without saying 'Kiss my foot', or anything and never [does] tell Stella-Rondo good-bye" (132). She then meets a little girl with a wagon who takes “nine trips”(132) in order to haul Sister's things to the P.O. (132) Afterwards, “Uncle Rondo [comes] out on the porch and [throws] her (the little girl) a nickel.” (132) (Norton, pp. 119-132, 2006)

The most contrasting elements in both stories are the difference in the portrayal of the character's persona and their dialect. In “Flight Patterns”, William's persona can be described as a Native American Indian who is physically fit, intelligent, sarcastic, humorous, uncomfortable with strangers, compassionate, and bias toward other people. The dialogue in the story is traditional and straight-forward. (Norton, pp 20, 37-50, 2006)

On the other hand, the persona of Sister and whole family takes on the atmosphere of lying and misrepresentation; whereas, truth and openness is non-existent. Their conversation takes on the aura of an everyday occurrence. The reader can surmise that the characters of the whole family are mostly dysfunctional and at the same time views the overall family's endorsement of suspicion, accusations and negativity that feeds off of each character. The dialect represents a Southern, limited, rural accent that is dressed with humor. (Norton: 19)( This unique speech diction humanizes the characters and places them into their local environment. Two examples of this speech pattern are the following: Sister informs her family that she is leaving, where her Papa-Daddy replies “You'll never catch me setting foot in that post office, even if I take a notion into my head to write a letter some place. I won't have you reaching' out of that little old window with a pair of shears and cuttin' off any beard of mine. I'm too smart for you” (131)! The second example is Shirley-T when she blurts out, “OE'm Pop-OE the Sailor-r-r-r Ma-a-an”(128)! (, 2010) (Norton, pp 19, 119-132, 2006)

Regardless of a story's similarities or differences, the two short stories “Flight Pattern” and “Why I Live at the P.O.” have developed strong, complex characters that grab the reader. Their central characters embrace traits of hope, fear, weakness, and conviction. Emotion derived from conflict, takes center stage in character development as it does for William in "Flight Pattern", as well as for Sister in “Why I Will Live at the P.O.” It is their emotion that creates the theme, that correlates to the characters, who drive the story, with their believable charms and blemishes. Aristotle indicates this best: “Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids”. (Norton, pg 121, 2006)


Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). "Introduction"

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 6-7) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). "Fiction, Reading, Responding, Writing"

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 17-20) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). "Characters"

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 119-123) Indianapolis, IA: North,


Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Alexie, Sherman. “Flight Patterns"

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 37 - 50) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Welty, Eudora. “Why I live on the P.O.”

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 123-132) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Anonymous (2010). Eudora Welty Biography

Retrieved June 12, 2010, from website

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Oedipus the King

In any study of Greek plays it becomes apparent that the mechanics of the text of the works by Sophocles is couched in the belief systems, mythologies and the culture in which he lived. In his plays the gods brought about the hero's downfall, because of some tragic character flaw. It was the Greek's supernatural world of gods who provoked suffering and evil in men. Aristotle was impressed by Sophocles ability to use plot and structure to develop his perfectly structured play “Oedipus the King”. In any tragic play, Aristotle indicates “the plot is the soul of tragedy and the characters come second”. (Norton Introduction to Literature, pg 670, 2006)

Tragic drama originated as plays for the Athenians at an annual festival celebrating a mythical hero god of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. Actors and writers where encouraged to compete with each other at this dramatic event in order to win a prize. As a thriving tragic poet, Sophocles' first competition at this annual festival occurred around 468 B.C. where he won a prize. This launched more competitions and more wins for the brilliant poet of tragic drama. Sophocles grew up not far from Athens. He was proficient in all the arts especially music and poetry. He was also a very good gymnast. His asset in agility and the arts gave him a leading choral part in the chorus at the era's military victory celebrations and in the chorus to his plays. The Greeks loved him for who he was and his works of art. (theaterdatabase, 2010)(ablongman, 2010)

Aristotle, the great teacher and philosopher, enjoyed his universal studies and the study of the past Greek masters had its own appeal. Sophocles' “Oedipus the King” was one play Aristotle exemplified as a perfect play, because the play fit so perfectly into his definition of tragedy. “A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language; . . . in dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions.” Aristotle defines tragedy as “the imitation of an action” which is the structure of action in a play. The plot is the “primary” part of tragedy and denotes the central character's change from good fortune to bad by means of self or fate. The plot's completeness must provide unity of action and an uniform order of the universe that has a domino effect on the central character; whereby the audience themselves can envision the cause-and-effect chain that arouses pity and fear, in other words, compassion and awe. (iep.utm, 2010)(, 2010) (Norton Introduction to Literature, pg A9, 2006)

Plot and structure is the glue to dramatic plays. Conflict is the main propeller for the plot and the most revealing feature of tragedy. It is an opposing force that tightly constructs the cause-and-effect chain of action between human against human, human against environment (external forces, society, or fate) and human against self. Conflict progresses in five stages: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion. Sophocles' “Oedipus the King” clearly defines this progression of conflict and the plot's unity of action in the following manner: (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 676-679, 2006)

Exposition ( lines 1 -116)

The exposition arouses the tone and action of this play by introducing the plot's conflict and incentive. The city of Thebes is sickened by the plague. This event prompts Oedipus to send Creon to see the Apollo, the god of truth; the oracle's reply was to find the murder of King Laius and banish the person from Thebes. (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 676-679, 2006)

Rising Action (lines 262-1116)

The rising action in this play describes the various obstacles that frustrates the central character (Oedipus) attempt in reaching his goal. Oedipus acknowledges the advice from the Apollo and declares a curse on the murderer of Laius. Oedipus summons the old blind prophet Teiresias to obtain an answer of who the murderer is. The Choral ode prays to the gods to save Thebes from the plague and expresses hesitance to what Oedipus's investigation may find. “ As you have held me to my oath I speak: / I neither killed the king nor can declare / the killer; but since Phoebus set the quest / it is his part to tell who the man is.” (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 682-703, 2006)

Teiresias refuses to tell Oedipus the truth but eventually relays to Oedipus “ you are the land's pollution” and “ … you are the murderer of the king / whose murderer you seek”. Oedipus becomes enraged with this news, because he surmised himself as innocent. The Chorus is supportive to their King Oedipus. After hearing this news from Teiresias, Oedipus argues and accuses Creon and Teiresias as being treasonous toward him. Jocasta comes out of the house to calm Oedipus and quell any claims of a conspiracy. While justifying the error of the profit, Jocasta reiterates how her first husband King Laius, died. She mentions the site where her husband died, “a place where three roads meet”. This causes Oedipus to become very suspicious; whereby, he summons the only survivor, a herdsman, who witnessed the Laius's death. Meanwhile a messenger from Corinth presents himself to Oedipus and Jocasta to relay that Oedipus's father King Polybus had died from old age. Thrilled with this news, Oedipus reiterates the original prophecy to the messenger and how relieved he is that the god Loxias was wrong; at this time the messenger empathetically proceeds to tell Oedipus and Jocasta that Polybus and Merope were not Oedipus's real parents and he obtained his name Oedipus (meaning swollen feet), because “the tendons of [his] feet were pierced and fettered” He also finds out that the missing link to the prophecy's puzzle is a herdsman who was once “Laius' man” and is still lives. The Chorus confirms and directs Oedipus to Jocasta who knows the herdsman well. (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 682-703, 2006)

Climax (Lines 1117 - 1262)

The climax is the turning point of the plot. The immersion of fate is revealed. Oedipus true existence is told by the stories between the messenger and the herdsman. Oedipus' mother gives her baby (Oedipus) to the herdsman to “Make away with it.” The humbled herdsman saves Oedipus from death by giving him to the Corinth's messenger to be raised by the barren parents, King Polybus and Merope. Oedipus is so distraught by this story he cries out

“O, O, O, they will all come, /all come out clearly! Light of the sun, let me / look upon you no more after today!” The Chorus chants “Oedipus, you and your fate! / Luckless Oedipus, whom of all men / I envy not at all. (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 703-707, 2006)

Falling Action (line 1263 - 1589)

The falling action in the plot is where the conflict contains a final moment of suspense just before the central figure loses against the antagonist, in this case there are two antagonist, self and fate. The Dramatic revelation of the truth by the prophecy is Oedipus killed his father and married his mother who gave birth to his children. This realization took its tole on both Jocasta and Oedipus. Jocasta is so over come by disbelief that she commits suicide; afterwards, Oedipus finds her and becomes shamed with guilt and sorrow, and then pokes his eyes out in order to see the truth. Also, Oedipus makes amends with Creon and requests exile. Before the two men exit, Oedipus wants to remain a little longer with the children, at which time Creon gives a revealing quote “Do not seek to be master in everything, / for the things you mastered did not follow you throughout your life”. (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 707-715 2006)

Conclusion (line 1591)

The conclusion is finalize with the chorus ode singing “see him now and see the breakers of misfortune swallow him!” The audience concludes Oedipus leaves Thebes with the painful discovery of humility and the respect for the gods; the plague is resolved; and Creon becomes the next king of Thebes. (Norton Introduction to Literature, pp. 670-672, 715, 2006)

Sophocles' masterful play “Oedipus the King” exhibits what Aristotle calls the “perfect tragedy”. It is a tragic play where the gods triumph over a Greek hero. The plot, the “soul of tragedy”, unravels the five stages of conflict in a tight uniform structure. The falling action and conclusion reveals reconciliation, acknowledgement, and catharsis that is experienced not only by Oedipus but also by the audience. The words of wisdom is noted by the final Chorus chant: “Look upon that last day always. Count no mortal happy till / he has passed the final limit of his life secure from pain.” (line 1592-1593)


Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). “Oedipus the King "

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 676-715) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). “Elements of Drama"

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp 670 – 672) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Climax

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp A2) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Conclusion

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp A2) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Exposition

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp A3) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Falling Action

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp A3) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Booth, A. & Hunter P.J. & Mays K.J. (Ed.). (2006). Rising Action

The Norton Introduction to Literature: Portable Ed. (pp A7) Indianapolis, IA: North, Inc.

Anonymous (2010). Tragedy

Retrieved June 6, 2010, from Paredes website

Anonymous (2010). Sophocle

Retrieved June 6, 2010, from Paredes website

Anonymous (2010). Aristotle (384—322 BCE)

Retrieved June 6, 2010, from iep.utm website

Anonymous (2010). SOPHOCLES (C. 497 - 406 B.C.)

Retrieved June 6, 2010, from iep.utm website

Sunday, February 13, 2000

I cannot tell! Suffice to say, is one of the words the Knights of Ni cannot hear!

Dear Mr. Sanders:

I am writing this letter hoping you will engage with me in the production of Susan Glaspell's one - act play “Trifles”. The significance of this play is that it is a true story of a death of a farmer, Mr. John Wright, by his wife, Mrs. Minnie Wright. The plot exposes issues of gender, isolation, and domestic violence. The persona of “Trifles” also reveals the early twentieth century rural America through the characters' dialect, clothing, performance and the setting's environment. I propose to assist you in the production of this play in the following manner: (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
Lewis Hale is a middle-aged neighborly farmer to the Wright family. His persona weathers the life of farming. Mr. Hale presents himself a sort of a rough around the edges type, who is honest, and 'tells it as it is', and not a man to hasten into judgment. Mr. Hale was the first person to encounter the crime scene earlier the previous day. His initial visit was for the purpose of convincing John Wright to a party telephone line. He sets the scene by reviewing the events of the previous day to the county attorney Mr. Henderson. He summarizes Mrs. Wright as acting “queer”, when he found John Wright in bed with a noose around his neck. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
Mrs. Hale, Lewis's wife, is a presently plump, matronly, and a person that is intuitive in nature. Her reason to be at the crime scene is to collect articles for the imprisoned Minnie Wright. She initially presents to the scene cautiously and observant; while after time, her intuitiveness unveils the clues such as the newly baked bread, not being in the bread box, the sloppy needle work in the quilt pieces, the broken bird cage, and the discovery of the dead canary with its neck wrung. It was Mrs. Hale who knew Minnie in her youth, a time when Minnie wore “pretty clothes” and was “lively”, a time when her name was “Minnie Foster”, “one of the town's girls singing in the choir.” She also was the one who realized that being married to John Wright and isolated without family had brought changes to Minnie.
George Henderson is younger than the other characters. He is the county attorney who is the investigator and will be prosecuting Minnie Wright. His persona is more of arrogance, hast, recklessness, and quickness to judge; therefore, he misses vital details that produce clues to the crime, clues that came from Minnie's 'trifle' kitchen and details that arrived from his conversations with Mr. Hale, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
Henry Peters is a sheriff of this rural township. The day before, he was summoned to Wright's farm house by Mr Hale. He found John's body, arrested Minnie, and secured the crime scene. His part of the investigation is minimal, since the case was turned over to Mr. Henderson. In the morning of the investigation, Mr. Peters sends one of his deputies to start a fire in the stove and warm the house.
Mrs. Peters is the sheriff's wife. She is a thin wiry woman that has a nervous manner about her. Her purpose is to assist Mrs. Hale in gathering items to bring back to Minnie at the jail-house. Mrs. Peters does not know Minnie as well as Mrs. Hale does; therefore, she has no understanding of how Minne's life changed from vitality to hopelessness. She does understand rage and loneliness. When she was young, she witness her kitten being savagely killed by a hatchet from a neighborhood boy. Sometime after her marriage to Mr. Peters, she suffered a loss of their two year old child while living in a Dakota country side. Even though Mrs. Peters initially leaned more toward the side of caution over prejustice, by the end she understands the life Minnie Wright had with John Wright was nothing but abusive and proceeds to help Mrs. Hale conceal the evidence at hand. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
The difference of the sexes and the role they play gives this play its dimension. Men at this time were usually analytical, aggressive, rough and self–centered. The early twentieth century woman represented the family orientation, intuitiveness, sensitivity and compassion. This is demonstrated in the beginning scene where the men portrayed their leadership and dominance by entering the farmhouse's kitchen first while conversing among themselves about the case at hand, while the women followed slowly afterwards quietly standing by the open kitchen door. Another example of this difference is that women are only addressed as Mrs. and not by their first name. The woman's sphere is wonderfully described through sheriff Peter quote in the play: “Nothing here but kitchen things.” Men ignored the women's world, the kitchen; therefore, they looked for clues in all the wrong places.
Although the characters in the play have a vital impact into the development of the plot, I intend to maintain the integrity of the American rural twentieth century environment. To do this, the costumes, staging, and lighting needs to portray the rural life during that time, although emphasis on the kitchen decor will be in the confines of the Wright's. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
The clothing of the characters does convey the rural, early twentieth century America. The women characters are dressed in long ankle length skirts and long-sleeved cotton blouses. Since the season is winter, the women's outer-wear consists of a long Winter wool coats, simple wool hats, and zip-up boots. The farmer, Mr. Hall, will be clothed in coveralls and a long-sleeved wool undershirt. The sheriff will wear a simple wool pants with attached suspenders and long-sleeved cotton shirt. The county attorney will be dressed in a simple wool suit and a simple-looking tie. All the men's Winter outer-wear will be short wool winter coats, along with felt rimmed hats and galoshes. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
Since all the performance take place in a gloomy unkempt kitchen setting, my proposal would be to have essential props to create that ambiance; however, it should influence the era's rural farmhouse's kitchen that represents wear and tear over the years. The back drop should be colored with a drab off white. This either can be painted on wood or material which ever you prefer. A cast iron pot belly stove is essential for the initial scene. There needs to be good size cast iron sink with one open shelve underneath to arrange iron pots and pans . On the side of the sink, there should a metal pail fill with water and a metal ladle resting inside and a wash bowl. There needs to be one towel roll smudged with coal resting by the sink and one white towel to cover raising bread on the table. A bread loaf and bread box should be seated on a open shelf underneath the cupboard. There also needs to be a small simple wooden table with two wooden chairs. The chairs should be stable enough for an actor to stand on. A wooden cupboard is needed to contain a couple of leaking canning jars and one intact canning jar filled with cherry preserve. A damaged old metal bird cage with the door hinge bent outward should be enclosed in the wooden cupboard. One important item is a narrow wooden stand with one shelf to place the quilting basket containing quilt pieces and sewing material. A stuffed canary is needed for a prop, as well as a decorated box for its tomb. Lastly, a door strategically place for the main entrance used by the actors and actresses and two-side entrances with or without doors in order for the acting crew can come and go accordingly. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
Since this is a simple old farm house kitchen, I believe a single hanging light bulb should give the kitchen its final touch; however, I would present it as old and worn to match the ambiance of the kitchen. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
I will direct the play as it was intended in its original form. I see no need to alter the performance and direction of the actors and actresses. I believe once you have chosen the correct cast for this play the dialogue indicates the actions of the character and the direction they obviously need to go. There is much to be said about how “Trifles” exposes guilt verse innocence and the ability to sympathize with Mrs. Wright purely through the dialect and actions of the cast, especially Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale. Dialogue is the main vehicle used to describe the life and personality of two absent main characters Minnie Wright (the murderer) and John Wright (the murdered) who are not seen on stage and yet their images take center stage in the plot. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)
In the past, I have found that audiences do appreciate one-act presentations mostly due to the following reasons: (1) The plays are short and focuses on a single environment; (2) The characters are limited in number; (3) The characters' personalities are developed at a very quick pace.
“Trifles” is an excellent example of a good murder mystery with its progressive twist and turns in the plot. I believe the audience will truly enjoy this one-act murder mystery. Thank you for your time and consideration. (Introduction to Norton, pp 653-663, 2006)

Saturday, February 12, 2000

According to Emily Dickinson II

     One American nineteenth century poet, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, lived her entire obscure life believing she was a 'nobody'.  Ironically, death gave her a second chance and the exposure she well deserved, in order to become, a “Somebody! / the livelong June- /To an admiring Bog!” (Dickinson, 1861, p.1669) of the twentieth century.  With this in mind, this paper will and provide some enlightenment in why Emily Elizabeth Dickinson deserves the recognition of being one of the  greatest American poets to this day.   This paper will also include an analyzed the poem called “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” ( Dickinson, 1865, p. 107-108) which will expose Dickinson's  writing style through her own poem's advice:  “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant - / Success is Circuit lies”.    (Dickinson, 1872, p. 108)              
     In order to find the truth about Dickinson's life, more than a hundred years later, scholars are still putting the pieces together about her life as a poet. Emily kept her private life private.  According to Richard Sewall, author of “The life of Emily”:  “She (Emily) told the truth, [. . . ] nearly a hundred years after her death, and after much painstaking research, scholars still grope with certainties.” (Sewell, 1998, p.3)
     Born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Elisabeth (named after her mother) was the second of three children ( Austin-1829, Lavinia-1933) of Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson.  She spent her entire life, as well as her ancestors did since 1630, in the small town of Amherst. ( Sewall, 2003, p. 17)   The prominent and prosperous Dickinson family lived strictly under the Congregational / Calvinistic doctrine.  Emily's paternal grandfather, was one of the founders of Amherst College; her father Edward and older brother Austin were both lawyers with political ambitions.  Her father served in the General Court of Massachusetts, the State senate, and the United States House of Representatives.  Much of Emily's formative years were exposed to a household that was the centered with the culture, academia, and social activity. ( 2013)
       Regardless of the glamour and influence the Dickinson's family had on the community, Emily developed into a normal intelligent, vibrant,  independent, hopeful young woman.  For an example, Emily writes positively about herself in a letter to a friend on May 7, 1845: “I am growing handsome very fast indeed!  I expect I shall be the belle of Amherst when I reach my 17th birthday.  I don't doubt that I shall have perfect crowds of admirers at that age.  Then how I shall delight to make them waiting my bidding, and with what delight shall I witness their suspense while I make my final decision.”  ( Todd, M.L., 1894, p.6)
       At sixteen, Emily already knew, poetry was her calling.  Another example of her poetic prose is the following letter she writes to her friend describing her visit to Mount Auburn, written September 8, 1846:  “Have you ever been to Mount Auburn?  If not, you can form but slight conception of this 'City of the Dead.'  It seems as if nature has formed this spot with distinct idea in view of its being a resting-place for her children, where, wearied and disappointed, they might stretch themselves beneath the spreading cypress, and close their eyes 'calmly as to a night's response, or flowers at set of sun.'” (Todd, M.L., 1894, p. 20)
       Dickinson only ventured outside her family circle from 1847 to 1848 in order to attend Mount Holyork Female Seminary.   Because of recurrent illness ( Bright's disease), she returned home and seldom left.  She became more and more reclusive, associating with only her family members, an occasional visitor, or through letters to her friends and acquaintances.  Her simplified life dealt with doing without, also meant doing within her creative mind.  Over 1775 poems were written and bounded in hand-sewed volumes and hidden in her room for her eyes only.  The volumes were later discovered after her death in 1886 by her younger sister Lavinia.   Many of her poems were initially edited into the traditional nineteenth century style of writing.  In 1955, a publication of Thomas Johnson's editions of Emily Dickinson's poems finally gave the reader's a complete and accurate text. ( 2013)
     As for modern poetry, Emily Dickinson made her mark in American literature.  Her artistic poetry was very radical for her era.  However, her frequent use of dashes, characteristic capitalization of nouns, slant rhymes, broken meter, bold imagery, and copious usage of metaphors have contributed to her reputation as one of the most innovative American poets of the nineteenth century literature. Many modern critics have come to appreciate the accomplishment of Dickinson's language and poetic structure.  Though Dickinson was inspired by poets, such as, William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Shakespeare, she distinguish herself with her characteristics style of form and structured verse.
     The most common characteristic of Modernist writing was an unpredictable writing style which Emily Dickinson had.   Because modernism basically rebelled against traditional style of writing, experimentation and individualism became virtues. Women during the nineteen hundreds were mostly marginalized. Dickinson had those makings of modernist, because she had a voice; that voice of rebellion was expressed through her unconventional methods of writing.  Her themes were original and provided a variety of subject matters, such as love, nature, doubt and faith, suffering, death, and morality.  Dickinson essentially saw the world internally in her safe haven of her ingenious mind and expressed it through her elliptical style and contracting metaphors.  As Marbel Loonis Todd states in the “Letters of Emily Dickinson”:   “The whims and pretences of society, its forms and realities, seemed to her thin and unworthy.  Unconventionalities, while they amused, exasperated her also.” (Todd, M.L., 1894, p. X) (, 2013)
     In the poem, “A narrow Fellow in the Grass”(Dickinson, 1865, p.107-108),  Dickinson used her canny wit to call attention to every element in the poem.  If read aloud, the visualization and sound of the poem becomes more intriguing.  The dashes, the capitalization, the question mark, and usage of syntax in the condensed fleeting phrases are all used elements that has created the surprise image of realization that the narrow fellow in the grass is (in this reader's choice)  is just a snake.
     The interpretation of “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” (Dickinson, 1865, p. 107-108),  is the following:  The speaker ( notice the gender) is apparently a 'young' “boy”(line 1), who is “barefoot”(line 11) or perhaps it is a man who is looking back in time when he was a boy.  The “I”(lines 12, 18, 19)  in the poem is the speaker and not the poet herself (Dickinson's trade-mark).  The setting is open and grassy, conceivably a lower area in the landscape, “[like] a Boggy Acre” (line 9).  Another trade-mark in Dickinson's writing is her slant rhymes usage.  In this poem we hear a 'near-to', 'not an exact' rhyming pattern in the second and fourth lines in each stanza, such as “rides” and “is” (first stanza), “seen” and “on” (second stanza), “Corn” and “Noon” (third stanza), and “Sun” and “gone” (forth stanza) a ABCB pattern.  However, rhymes exist in the second and forth lines in the last two stanzas, such as, “me” and “Cordiality” (fifth stanza) and “alone” and “Bone” (sixth stanza) a ABC pattern.
         As mentioned earlier, Emily spent her entire life in a Calvinistic community.  She is very familiar with hymns sang in church; however, in this poem, like many others, has a meter rhythm of a hymn, but a rhyme sequence of a ballad.  A hymn rhymes in a ABAB fashion.  Ballads rhyme only in the even lines ABCB.  When reading the poem aloud, you can hear a pair syllables where the unstressed syllable followed by a stressed (like a heart beat- daDum) called iamb, such as nar/row'.  You should be able to hear eight syllables or four (tetrameter) daDums in the odd lines and six syllables or three (trimeter) daDums in the even lines; however, Dickinson likes to keep the reader on their toes, by slipping in seven syllables instead of eight, in the odd lines in stanzas three to six. ( Muller, G.H., Williams, J.A., 2003, p. 57 )(Booth, A, J.P. Hunter, Mays, K.J., 2006, p.506-507)
     Finally, the key to Dickinson's poems are her metaphors.   In the poem, “narrow Fellow” (metaphor)(line 1), “Whip Lash”(metaphor) (line13) and “Nature's People”(personification for the natural world) (line 17) all could be symbolism for the snake who “divides [the grass] as a comb (a simile) ( line 5) and  “closes at your (the boy's bare) Feet” (line 7).  Dickinson also likes to open her poems with interest and close with a complex surprise.  In the last stanza, a theme presents itself which might be  'fear'.   “But never met this Fellow / Attended or alone /  Without a tighter Breathing / And Zero at the Bone.” (line 21-24)  This can be visualized as if the young boy was a little shaken, holding his breath and feels disturb by Emily's “narrow Fellow” (line 1) the snake that he almost step on or perhaps the snake gave Dickinson a chill.  “Birds, songs, crickets, frost, and winter winds, even the toad and snake, mushroom and bats, have an indescribable charm for her, which she (Emily) in turn brings to us.” (Todd, M.L., 1894, p. XI)
       This paper has only brushed the surface of the truth in Emily's life. Ironically, death did give her a second chance. If it wasn't for her memorable poems, and letters, the rest of the world would never have known her.  Her writing has inspired not only the reader, but attributed of modernistic style of poetry.  One can understand from the works of Emily Dickinson, that she has likely influenced poets from her death to the present.

anonymous. (2013) Final Analyst: Emily Dickinson (1858-1955)
              Retrieved February 27, 2013 from website 
Baym, N., Levine R.S.  (2012) I'm a Nobody, are you a nobody? (1864)
      p. 1669  Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume B, 8th Edition. Norton,
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Baym, N., Levine R.S.  (2012) A Narrow Fellow in the Grass  (1866)
      p. 108  Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume C, 8th Edition. Norton,
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Sewell, R.B. PhD.  (1998) Preface
      p. 3  The Life of Emily Dickinson, Harvard University Press,
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Todd, M.L. (1894) Letters of Emily Dickinson (p. x, xi, 6, 20)
Retrieved February 28, 2013 from website
anonymous. (2013) Literature
              Retrieved February 27, 2013 from uncp website 
Muller, G.H., Williams, J.A.  (2003) Meter and Rhythm
      p. 57  Ways In – Approaches to Reading and Writing about Literature and Film, 2nd Edition. 
      McGraw Hill, United States of America
Booth, A, J.P. Hunter, Mays, K.J.  (2006) Chapter 12 – Sounds of Poetry
      p. 506-507  Norton Introduction to Literature, Portable. 
      Norton, United States of America