Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

“Cask of Amontillado” Reflection Questions

1. How many characters does Poe include in The Cask of Amontillado? What are their names?
-Two; Montresor and Fortunato

2. What drink are the French most famous for?

3. Does Montresor have something of great value to him that we might consider to be his treasure? Hint: It is not the Amontillado wine (which is Spanish anyway, not French, and doesn't really exist-it is merely a trick to get Fortunato to go down into the catacombs). 
-Revenge is of great value to Montresor

4.  How did Fortunato cause Montresor to lose face in the story?
The third paragraph of the story appears in full below. Read it carefully and try to imagine how Fortunato might have insulted Montresor.

"He had a weak point—this Fortunato—although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity to practice imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and gemmary Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of
old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially;—I was skillful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could."

-The story never says why Montresor seeks revenge on Fortuanto.

5. Does Montresor seem to have much respect for Italians? Which lines in the 
paragraph above reveal his contempt?
-No, Montresor refers to the Italians as quacks. Meaning someone is fake not genuine.

6. What was Fortunato's insult?

7. Why does Montresor entertain Fortunato with wines from his collection?
- Montresor entertains Fortuanto with wines while in the catacombs to get him drunk. Montresor does this so that Fortuanto is not able to fight back or realize what is going on.

8. In what two ways does Montresor imprison Fortunato?
-Montresor chains Fortunato to the wall and builds the wall.

The story, The Cask of Amontillado, first appeared in an anthology of Poe's
stories entitled Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Arabesque comes from the word Arab and refers to ornaments, decorations and motifs in Arabic art, where figures of flowers, fruits and sometimes animal outlines appear in elaborate patterns of interlaced lines. particularly those which have been borrowed by other cultures. Such arabesque patterns are reflected in some of the designs and motifs of the batik of Indonesia and Malaysia.
By analogy, then, an arabesque story is one of intricate design, which is told
through the use of fanciful language. Because arabesque graphic designs sometimes depict fantastic creatures, Poe and others also applied this term to tales that dealt with fantastic or supernatural happenings. Grotesque refers to something distorted, ugly, abnormal, fantastic, or bizarre to the point of being ludicrous or absurd. In a grotesque story, characters are physically or psychologically deformed and engage in actions that may be abnormal or comically absurd.

9.  In what ways is The Cask of Amontillado grotesque? First, which of Montresor's actions are abnormal?
-It is grotesque because the main character buries his enemy alive.

10. Is there anything grotesque about Fortunato?
-Fortuanto is rude, cocky, and he is mean enough to insult Montresor to the point that Montresor wanted to kill him.

11.  List three examples of foreshadowing in the story.
-“I’m not going to die from a cough,” says Fortuanto, “True—true” replied Montresor.
-Montresor and Fortuanto’s names.
-Montresor toasted to Fortuanto’s long life.

12.  What mood is imparted on the reader?
-A chilling, gloomy, eery mood is imparted on the reader.

13.  What is the setting of the story?
-The story takes place inside Montresor’s catacombs. At the time of Mardi Gras, or carnival.

Humor Hunt

There are also numerous comic touches that Poe adds to this grotesque tale. 
•Fortunato's name means lucky in Italian. This is ironic language play, as he was
hardly the lucky one in this story.
•Fortunato is dressed in a court jester's or fool's garb, complete with striped outfit
and cap and bells.
•The jingling of the bells of the cap in the catacombs.
•Montresor's exaggerated concern for Fortunato's health.
•A joke: Not knowing Montresor plans to kill him, Fortunato says, I shall not die of
a cough. To which Montresor replies, True-true.
•Pun: Montresor telling Fortunato he is a mason. (Fortunato was referring to
members of the society of Freemasons). Montresor reveals the trowel (a tool
used to apply mortar or cement) which he will use to build the wall which
entombs Fortunato.
•Fortunato's drunken condition.
•Fortunato bumping into the dead end of the niche where he will be entombed
and then looking bewildered.
•Fortunato's delirious laughter at the end.
•Another pun: Let us be gone. Montresor repeats Fortunato's words, not saying that they shall leave together, but that Fortunato will be gone from this life.

Poe and the Short Story
Testing Poe's Theory of the Short Story on his own writing
Many critics consider Poe to be the father of the modern short story. He was the first writer to define the short story as a distinct literary form. In a review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's anthology, Twice-Told Tales in Graham's Magazine, May 1842, he described his personal theory on how to construct a "tale":

"A skillful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents: but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents—he then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tends not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In the whole composition there should be no work written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction."

3 things Poe feels that are important in a short story.
Base story on one event.
First sentence must pull you in
The story should leave you feeling one clear way.

How well does Poe follow his own rules?
14. What is the single effect of the story on the reader?

-The story is shocking.

15. How do all incidents help Poe to establish this effect?

-Montresor buries Fortuanto in the wall. Montresor yells and screams back to Fortuanto while he is in the wall.

16. How does the first sentence bring out the horror of the tale?

-It clearly says that this is a tale about revenge, and as a reader you are eager to read on and see what is about to happen.

17. How does the whole story follow a single pre-established design?

-Montresor brings Fortuanto down to the catacombs, and kills him.

18. Does the reader feel satisfied at the end of the story?

-The story left me feeling really chilled and creeped out.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lottery Blog Post Due: Monday, September 15th, 2014

1) Through “The Lottery,” what point does Shirley Jackson make about tradition?
  • Identify at least one piece of evidence to support your observation.
-Throughout “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson makes it quite evident that although tradition may have been useful in the past, sometimes certain things become useless and need to be disregarded. The author makes this evident when she mentions the “other towns” that have done away with this tradition. Shirley Jackson also shows us that many people are oblivious to the wrongs of their traditions, until it negatively affects them! An example of this moral would be Tessie. She was one of the most impatient people in the crowd, eager to get on with the stoning. It wasn’t until Tessie realized that her life would be impacted that she felt that the system was unfair, and wrong. This moral can be applied to our everyday lives! People are so quick to jump on the bandwagon if it secures their safety, but as soon as it can hurt them they want to voice their opinion. Sadly, by then it is too late, because everyone around you is doing to you what you would have done to them. And Tessie learned that the hard way.

2) What foreshadowing clues does Shirley Jackson incorporate into her story?
-Shirley Jackson drops subtle clues about what is going to happen later on in the story. Little hints like, the boys gathering rocks, the “tradition” being discarded in other towns, and the overall murky tone amongst the people (at the beginning of the story); let you know that the lottery was not an event we particularly expected. 

3) What is the setting for “The Lottery”? Why is that so important to the theme of the story?
-“The Lottery” was depicted to take place on a beautiful summer’s day on June 27th. The reader views the town and its peoples to be very traditional; the children eagerly anticipate the summer and the adults partake in light gossip. This setting sets the reader up to feel as if “The Lottery” should depict a rather happy story. However, this setting takes an unexpected and ironic turn when we learn that the true meaning of the gathering is to kill one of their town members. Also, by omitting the year, we can only fathom when this story occurred. Did it happen in the past, present of future? We will never know!

4) What mood does “The Lottery” instill in its readers? How does it do this?
-The mood of the story changes as soon as the reader reads the conclusion. We shift from a very joyous feel to one of horror and surprise.  The story does a great job of creating this ironic feel by not revealing its true colors until the very end. We are set up to feel quite comfortable, but this feeling of comfort is soon ripped away when we learn of the town’s true motives. Subsequently, leaving the reader(s) to feel quite shocked and horrified at the actions of the townsfolk.

5) What do we know about when the lottery was started? 
-We don’t know much about the history of the lottery. What we do know is that its true meaning was lost a long time ago, but the people still partake in it due to a sense of tradition.

6) How do the townspeople feel about making changes to the lottery? How do you know?
-The townspeople are not too keen on making any changes to the lottery. Old man Warner, in particular, isn’t too fond of the towns that have done away with the lottery. He views the lottery as something that keeps the town civil, stating that without it the town would be synonymous to barbaric times. “There’s always been a lottery,” Old man Warner states, and its pretty evident that he and the town believe there always should be.

7) What is the general attitude of the townspeople as they wait for the lottery to begin?
-As the townspeople wait for the lottery to begin they are quite anxious. They are nervous to be called up, but likewise they are quite excited. Some are under a sense of security as to not being chosen, however the overall undertone is the fear of actually being chosen. 

8) What specific evidence in the text helped you determine this?
- Pieces of text such as “Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband, and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully. "Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie." Mrs. Hutchinson said. grinning, "Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you Joe?" and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson's arrival.” As well as,“The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions: most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around.”  These two pieces display the town as quite nervous for the event that was about to occur, however people like Tessie were quite secure in their position.

9) Is the lottery a collective act of murder? Is it morally justified? Is tradition sufficient justification for such actions? How would you respond to cultures that are different from ours that perform "strange" rituals?
-Personally, I do view the acts of the lottery to be inhumane and unjustified. However, this is a tradition unlike my own, and I do not feel I have the right to judge others on it. If it were me I would speak up and voice my negative opinions on this ritual, but ultimately this is their tradition, and it is highly unlikely that they would take the views of an outsider. To put this into better perspective I doubt that we would ever change our yearly holidays, such as halloween, thanksgiving, or even christmas, based on the views of another. So what makes this any different in the case of “The Lottery”? 

10) What genre of literature would you classify this story?  Why?
-Personally, I would classify this story as horror. The reason being, it is the type of story that inflicts fear. It causes you to gasp  as you think of the twisted nature of their tradition. It causes you to cringe as you think about how long this has been going on, and how many lives it has consumed. It causes you tremble at the origin of this holiday. And lastly, it causes you to shudder as you begin to contemplate how you would react in such situation. All of these emotions embody a horror, and “The Lottery” is respectfully so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By: Stephen King

There are thousands of books that sit on shelves, collecting dust, in silence. So why choose Carrie by Stephen King? Is it because of the horror and suspense behind the name “Carrie” alone? Could it be because of the fact that North Broward Preparatory School only gave me eight books to choose from? Or could it be out of plain curiosity? In all honesty all of these hypotheticals actually have some truth to them, for the real reason I chose to read “Carrie” by Stephen King is due to all the reasons listed above.
One aspect of “Carrie” that I truly enjoyed is the message about bullying. Yes, Carrie does end up destroying her whole town, but in hindsight it was for a good reason (just wait, I’ll get there)! The whole premise of the book is about a girl named Carietta “Carrie” White, who is constantly picked on by her peers. Carrie is made to feel like the outcast, constantly getting stared out and made fun of. To make matters worse, she is under the watch of her mother, a very religious lady that feels Carrie is the devil’s spawn. Between the constant torment of her peers, and the sporadic actions of her deranged mother, Carrie is driven to the point of no return. However, she has an eccentric gift, she can move things with her mind.
You know that point in the story where you are either crying, screaming or trembling as your eyes glance past each word? It’s that point in every book that you are sitting there yelling at the pages, as if the characters can hear you! Now if you were to take this feeling, you would have the exact emotions I felt when Carrie went to prom. In this specific scene, Tommy Ross, your typical high school hot shot, asked Carrie to prom. Although Carrie was extremely skeptical, after all, all these kids ever did to her was torture her, she finally gave into his request. Fast forward to the night of prom and everything seems perfect to Carrie, but as the reader you are literally screaming, “CARRIE DON’T DO IT! DO NOT WALK UP THOSE HIGH SCHOOL STEPS!” However, no matter how much you shout, and no matter how much you plead, Carrie White enters her high school building and goes to prom. Music plays. Frivolous teen compliments fly. But, we are still at the edge of our seats waiting to see the disaster that is about to go down. Meanwhile, back at home Carrie’s mother, Margaret White, is losing her mind thinking about all the sins Carrie is committing by going to prom, something she views as the devil’s work. Ms. White sits at home pondering how she is going to rid her daughter of these sins. Back at prom, Carrie is having an amazing time with Tommy. They are voted prom queen and king, but things do not go as planned. As Carrie walks up to the stage to receive her crown she feels extremely apprehensive. She never wanted to be prom queen, based solely on the fact that she feels this was one big joke. What if it was their final prank? What if this was their final act of torment? Sadly, Carrie was right, because as she stands their upon the stage, a bucket of pig blood is dumped on her! For a moment she stands there, frozen in humiliation. But, that soon wears off and Carrie White becomes a person of massive destruction! She uses her mind to set the whole town on fire, electrocute people, and rid the town of all the people that took part in her torment. Four hundred and nine people died that night, and forty-nine people were missing. Among those dead bodies laid Margaret White, Carrie’s mother. When Carrie finally went home hoping to be comforted by her mother, she is stunned to see that her mother is waiting to kill her. Between the telekinetic powers, and ‘sinful’ actions of her daughter, Ms. White thought the only way to vanquish these sins, was by the death of her daughter. Ms. White ends up stabbing Carrie in the shoulder, and Carrie ends up slowing Ms. White’s heart to the point of no pulse. Carrie makes her way outside where she stumbles onto the road, disorientated and wounded. She laid there, and at that moment Carrie White was dead.
In my opinion there was no part of the book that was a let down for me. Every page left me wanting more. I spent hours laying in my bed wondering what was going to happen next! Questions, anger, frustration, and triumph; all words I use to explain this book. Why did they torment Carrie? Why was her mom so psychotic? Why didn’t Carrie put an end to this bullying earlier? Why didn’t the teachers intervene sooner? It hurts me to know that these questions will never be answered, because the truth lies only in the writer’s mind. But, in my opinion what is even more frightening is the fact that bullying like this goes on everyday. Kids are harassed by peers, teachers sit back, and sometimes parents are never around to be a shoulder that their child can cry on.
The message behind this book is actually beautiful, and it is for that reason that I would recommend it to everyone! Behind the horror, behind the suspense, and behind the words, was a message of karma and bullying. You never know how your words can scar someone, and you never know how your actions will come back around and get you. But, the true question is how will the reader take this message and apply it to their lives?

Karma comes back around, too bad many had to learn that the hard way.