Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Bitter Earth

In the performance of the play we watch in class, this song was played on the phonograph by the Ruth character as the curtain comes up on Act II. She is ironing but listening intently. Beneatha then comes in and says, "Enough of this assimilationist junk!" and puts on some Nigerian folk music.

"This Bitter Earth" is a classic. A beautiful song made famous by Dinah Washington. Lyrics below. Why might Ruth, in particular, be moved by these lines?

This bitter earth
What fruit it bears
What good is love
That no one shares
And if my life is like the dust
That hides the glow of a rose
What good am I
Heaven only knows

This bitter Earth
Can it be so cold
Today you're young
Too soon your old
But while a voice
Within me cries
I'm sure someone
May answer my call
And this bitter earth
May not be so bitter after all

Raisin In the Sun Assessment

Questions: A Raisin in the Sun

Identify the following items:

• Lena Younger
• Ruth Younger
• Walter Lee Younger
• Beneatha Younger
• Travis Younger
• Joseph Asagai
• George Murchison
• Karl Lindner
• Bobo
• Willie Harris
• Clybourne Park
• Springfield
• Flags and Spears

Answer the following questions on your own piece of paper:

1) Explain the different ways Travis’ parents respond to his request for 50cents. Explain how they deal with each other on this subject. What does this reveal about the characters?

2) The check. Explain all that the check seems to represent in this play.

3) The plant. Explain all that the plant seems to represent in this play.

4) What things does Mama tell the family about the past—both the history of their family and their larger history of black families in America?

5) Examine the emphasis on fatherhood in this play. Who are the different fathers in this play? In what ways is the play about manhood and fatherhood?

6) Who says the following and at what point in the play? Explain the importance of the passage:

“Oh—Mama—they don’t do it like that any more. He talked brotherhood. He said everybody ought to learn how to sit down and hate each other with good Christian fellowship.”

7) Does this play offer encouragement or example or moral models for all audience members or is it just about a black family in the fifties? Do you find something in this play that speaks to you? Explain.

Monday, March 21, 2011

CRQ4 Fahrenheit 451

English 12 ENG12PLC
Fahrenheit 451. Critical Reading Questions #4: pages 44-66

a) On page 46 Montag thinks about an old joke about a man who called his wife to ask her what’s for dinner. Why?
b) Summarize what we learn about Montag’s marriage on pages 44-52.

c) How does Montag learn what happened to Clarisse? What has happened to her?

d) Describe Mildred’s attitude toward what happened to Clarisse. Describe her attitude toward the burning of the old woman and her books. Describe her attitude toward her husband as he struggles with what he had to do at the old woman’s house. Then, compare Mildred’s attitude toward these things with her attitude toward the people she calls her “family.” Are they her family? Who are they? Now think about this whole complex set of questions and explain what Bradbury is saying about where we might be headed. He wrote in 1950. How did he know to make such eerily accurate predictions?

e) On page 55 we learn how Montag became a fireman. “In my sleep I ran after them.” What does he mean?

f) On page 55 Capt. Beatty shows up at the home of Guy and Mildred Montag. On page 57 Beatty starts a kind of history lesson that continues through page 66. Summarize the process he describes. “When did it all start?” What does he mean by “it all?” What drives the process he describes? Explain the role played by the following items in the process Beatty describes:

• Photography, motion pictures, radio, television
• Books
• Population
• Speed
• the “pastepudding norm”
• cutting—condensations, digests, tabloids, the one page Hamlet
• from nursery to college and back to nursery
• school/discipline
• zippers
• theatres,
• sports, recreation
• minorities
• facts vs. philosophy (a sense of motion without moving)

This is a complicated task, this question f. You may have to reread Beatty’s “lecture” to Montag until you understand. Make sure your explanation is consistent with this important part of the lecture: “There you have it, Montag. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time . . . (page61). In other words, your explanation must not claim that the Government imposed these things on the people. Beatty makes this clear.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Richard Wilbur Poem. AP students, get familiar with this one.

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World


The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every bless├Ęd day,
And cries,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,
“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”

Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” from Collected Poems 1943-2004. Copyright © 2004 by Richard Wilbur.

note: can't get the line breaks exactly right. typed it up correctly but html seems to "fix" certain lines. you will receive a better copy in class.


Definition of Dystopia: (adapted from Wikipedia)

In literature, dystopia refers to a futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live as we do, this kind of future might be the consequence. A dystopia, thus, is regarded as a sort of negative utopia and is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government.

Common components of dystopia:
• Repressive social control/lack of individual freedom
• Constant warfare--often used as rationale for the sacrafice of personal freedom.
• Human values threatened by technology—technology evolves faster than human capacity to understand how to use it appropriately.

In some literature and films the above are imposed upon the society. Often--and perhaps more frightening--it becomes clear in some dystopian fictions that the society somehow chose this course—or failed to choose a healthier course—and bargained away incrementally what we currently value (what we say we value?) in human life and society. They bargain away freedom in exchange for security. They bargain away genuine human interaction in exchange for technological convenience, etc. (Does this perhaps sound familiar, my dear zombie children who are enslaved by cell phone and facebook?)

here's the old man's handout on syntax

AP English Language/Comp.
Paper revision: Syntax. Improving sentence style

Are your sentences all sentences? Does each have at least a subject and a verb? (Sentence fragments. If one appears, is it intentional and apt and used in a way that makes a legitimate contribution to the text? Should some long ones be broken up?

How long are your sentences? (Count the words in your paper. Then count the sentences. Divide to determine average length.)

Find your longest sentence. Compare the length of the sentence that precedes it and the one that follows it. If your longest sentence is not either followed by or preceded by a short sentence, change one of its neighbors to a short, crisp sentence.

Sentence Structures
simple sentence: one independent clause
ex: I like tomatoes.
compound sentence: two or more independent clauses
ex: I like tomatoes and I eat them often.
complex sentence: one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses
ex: I like tomatoes that are organically grown.
compound-complex sentence: two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
ex: I like tomatoes and I eat them often, but only if they are organically grown.

Count (in your paper) each type of sentence structure described in the box above. Record your totals. What type of sentence do you rely upon most? Edit for variety.

Sentence types (in terms of purpose--aka mood)
Declarative—makes a statement: I eat tomatoes.
Imperative—gives a command: Eat that tomato right now.
Interrogative—asks a question: Who can resist tomatoes?
Exclamatory—for emphasis—makes an exclamation: This tomato is delicious!

If all your sentences are declarative, make an effort to include—where appropriate—one or more of the other three types listed here.

Sentence Styles
Periodic—begins w/subordinate elements, postpones main clause. (builds suspense?)
ex: Now truly depressed and sadly glancing at the trashcans while thinking, “here is a metaphor for my meaningless life,” he vowed to never again go a day without tomatoes.
Loose sentence—subordinate elements come at the end to call attention to them.
ex: He lost interest in school, sports, even tomatoes, caring only about the number of “friends” he had gathered on myspace.
Interrupted sentence—subordinate elements in the middle, often using dashes.
ex: Mikey—after months of eating only tomatoes while locked in his room—ran away with a girl he met online who shared his love of the delicious red fruit.
Parallel Structure—repeated grammatical structures.
ex: We must not ignore the schools without access to quality books, the children without access to quality healthcare, and the honest citizens without access to organic tomatoes.
Balanced sentences—grammatically parallel components balanced against each other.
ex: Outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend; inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. (Groucho) ex2: His garden was well-tended and full of tomatoes but his brain was neglected and bereft of ideas.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Thinker by Thomas Eakins

Fahrenheit 451 critical reading questions 3

English 12 ENG12PLC
Fahrenheit 451

Critical Reading Questions 3: pages 23-44
a)“Hey. The man’s thinking.” Who says this? To whom? In what context? What does he turn out to be thinking about? How does the conversation go from this point? (page 23)
b) What does Mildred do while Guy is at work? What does she consider fun? Is she articulate when asked about it? Explain. What does she want?
c) On page 25 Guy runs into Clarisse again. What does she have to say about:
• Rain
• Trying things
• Dandelions
• The psychiatrist
• Birds and butterflies
• Montag’s response to her moon questions (compared to others)
d) Explain the mechanical hound, it’s response to Montag and his concerns about it.
e) Why does Clarisse apologize to Montag on page 32. How does he, in turn, respond? Explain.
f) Why isn’t Clarisse in school? How does she describe school? What classes is she supposed to be taking? What is our writer telling us about education in this world?
g) Clarisse is apparently “abnormal.” What are the normal kids like in this world? What do they do?
h) What does Clarisse do all day instead? Where does she go? When she listens to people what does she hear? Why do you think this is the case?
i) How does the world feel to Montag on the day Clarisse does not appear?
j) On page 38 Montag suddenly asks a question as if Clarisse is speaking through him. What does he ask? How do his colleagues respond?
k) On pages 39-44 the firemen go out on a call. They burn an old lady’s books. How did they find out about the location? How does the woman respond? What reasons does Beatty give for burning the books? What happens to the woman? On the way back, who is it that knows the reference to Master Ridley and the candle? Why him? Explain the historical/literary reference.

Fahrenheit 451 critical reading questions 2

English 12 ENG12PLC
Fahrenheit 451
Critical Reading Questions 2: pages 8-23

A) Before meeting Clarisse, what was Montag thinking about as he walked home? Why? Explain?
B) How does Bradbury build suspense or reader interest in the encounter with Clarisse? How does he set the scene before she actually makes an appearance? Why do you think he does this?
C) The physical of Clarisse is detailed. What does she look like? Why so detailed?
D) Before she even speaks, Clarisse makes Montag feel a certain way. How does she make him feel?
E) Once Clarisse speaks to him, Montag has another unusual feeling about the encounter. How does Bradbury explain this?
F) What does Clarisse ask/reveal about:
• Reading?
• History of firemen?
• Laughter?
• Jet cars?
• Billboards?
• Dew on the grass?
• Happiness?
G) After arriving home, Montag thinks of Clarisse’s face as a mirror and then wonders at “what an immense figure she was on the stage before him.” Explain these metaphors.
H) On page 15 Montag opens his bedroom door. Describe what he expects to find. Then describe what he actually finds. What has happened to Mildred?
I) Describe Mildred’s treatment by the emergency personnel. A reader might say that what is horrifying about this incident is not that it is dramatic but that it seems so routine. What details does Bradbury include to make it seem so?
J) How does Montag respond to the incident with Mildred? What does he hear when he opens the window? Why do you think the writer included these sounds from across the “moon-colored lawn”?

Fahrenheit 451 critical reading questions 1

English 12 ENG12PLC
Farenheit 451
Critical Reading Questions: First Glance and Afterword
A) Write down the title of this novel. Explain its significance. What does it mean? Why do you think this title was chosen?
B) How is this novel organized? No chapters? Explain.
C) What is the title of part 1?
D) What is a hearth? What kinds of associations does this word evoke?
E) What is a salamander (in a mythical context)? What might this image evoke?
F) Part 2: “ The Sand and the Sieve” What might that mean? What does this image suggest?
G) Part 3: “Burning Bright” What might that mean? What do you think is burning?
H) Desribe the first paragraph of this novel. How does it work? What does it do for the reader?
I) Describe the imagery of the second paragraph.
J) The first four paragraphs depend on unexpected or surprising images. Explain this.
Afterword (page 173-179)
K) When was this novel written? Where? Why there? On what kind of technology?
L) What does the writer say about the connection between the content of the novel and the place where it was written?
M) Into what two art forms was the novel later adapted? Who is Francois Truffaut?
N) What does the writer reveal about the names Montag and Faber?