Impact of Janina’s Narration in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

The narrator of Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Janina, tells the story in a way that twists the minds of the readers. The use of an unreliable narrator results in many different perspectives on the story. We are introduced to Janina and immediately are put in her mind to see the old, innocent woman we think she is. The way Tokarczuk chooses to have Janina be the narrator really alters the reader’s view of the events in the story and causes us to believe Janina is innocent for most of the story.

In addition, in class, we discussed how being in Janina’s mind caused us as readers to be missing a lot of important information and resulted in us just thinking she was a crazy old lady with insane theories. Her belief that the animals killed all those people also made us think that she was just a madwoman and could not be capable of the murders.

All in all, the unreliable narrator really enhances the plot twist at the end because from the beginning of the novel Tokarczuk wrote in a way so that the readers would sympathize with her outlook on life and belief in animal rights.

The Impact of Comedy in Forrest Gump

The movie Forrest Gump is a light-hearted comedy that many people are familiar with. What many people don’t see is how the comedy in the movie is used to enhance our understanding of the world.

Aristotle defines a good comedy as “a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character.” This movie definitely fits this definition as the main character, Forrest Gump, goes through a very unexpected yet remarkable life journey. Even though it is a comedy, there are various life lessons within the movie that show the importance of comedy when discovering larger meanings in life.

One commonly known part of the movie is Forrest Gump running. When I first watched it, I definitely found it comedic to see him start sprinting after he gets his heart broken. He continues to run for an extremely long period of time but within his journey, he explores the world, learns about himself, and grows as the main character in the film.

The unrealistic parts of the movie are what make it truly a good comedy, while it still comes across as a meaningful piece of film. Through comedy, many other larger themes are explored in Forrest Gump such as love, family, optimism, and being appreciative of life.

Sexist Stereotypes of Women in Tech Jobs

There are many satirical commercials and videos out there but one particular YouTube video by a non-profit organization “Girls Who Code” caught my eye. The video uses ironic responses from women when asked the question: “Why can’t girls code?” to highlight the larger issue of women in tech jobs who face stereotypes daily.

The main technique of satire utilized in this video is irony, as we see that in one of the opening lines a woman responds, “I can’t code because my long eyelashes make it hard to see the screen.” There are many other similar responses from other women in the tech industry who give reasons as to why they can’t code due to their emotional state, makeup, or body. This interview is clearly using irony and parody because while working in a male dominant industry, they are emphasizing how absurd the reasons why women are too incompetent that people come up with are. There is also humor incorporated into this satirical video as one of the women responds, “It’s hard to code when you can’t stop crying.” Every line spoken is comical and is aiming to make fun of the ridiculousness of the idea that women are less capable than men in the tech industry.

The video’s aim is not only to make fun of how absurd the sexism is, but the organization wants to actually criticize the stereotypes they experience at work. Although the video is intended to be funny, the organization ultimately wants the sexist stereotypes to come to an end and they want to spread awareness using ironic content.

Ambitious Women in “King Lear”

“Attacking women in power goes back centuries”

– ‘Nasty Woman’: Why Men Insult Powerful Women

Shakespeare’s play “King Lear” is based on the king of Britain, exploring various themes of family, authority, power, and justice. Another prominent theme that struck me was gender roles because it is so common in the current world and in the past.

The article “‘Nasty Woman’: Why Men Insult Powerful Women” by The New York Times highlights the many instances throughout history where women who have power have been verbally harassed, typically in the political field. This is out of the insecurity of men, which comes from stereotypical views of women being weak and not capable of handling power. These insecure men get upset when powerful women don’t fit into the usual stereotype of supportive, polite, and caring, and they become bothered by that and insult these women. This article also explores the idea that these insults toward women can be more subtle on purpose because they play into people’s stereotypes without them even realizing it.

Some examples that this article provides are John McCain calling Hillary Clinton “emotional” or Donald Trump questioning her “stamina.” Both of these insults play into stereotypes of women that go way back in time, suggesting Clinton is too weak to handle a powerful position or as irrational. Another subtle way that people are implying these stereotypes is by saying terms of affection. “Calm down, dear,” David Cameron, Prime Minister, says to Angela Eagle, a politician. Women in power also seem to never be able to win in these stereotypical scenarios. For example, women with children are told they aren’t capable of leading while having to tend to motherly duties, but those without children are criticized for “not living up to society’s expectations of women.” The ambition of women in power has threatened these men and caused them to lash out on powerful women.

Throughout “King Lear,” Shakespeare suggests that women cannot attain power on their own, and if they do, it will not benefit them, but bring chaos and contribute to their downfall. There are many other instances in the play where it is suggested that women are worse when it comes to being in positions of power compared to men. Even when men seem to stray from their stereotypical roles of being strong or mighty, they are seen as feminine and weak. One example is after two of King Lear’s daughters, Regan and Goneril, profess their love to him, his third daughter, Cordelia, refuses, which challenges the gender role of women and Lear becomes unhappy with her. Cordelia gains power and independence by refusing to fuel her father’s ego as the king, and Shakespeare makes his view on gender roles clear when he chose to express the corruption that occurs when women stray from their stereotypes. As Cordelia defends the gender system, she has to use authority to fight the spiteful actions of her sisters.

Despite Cordelia’s righteousness, she had to be punished in the end due to her actions of going against the stereotypical gender roles set by society. The play ends with Cordelia’s death, which Shakespeare decided to include because of the play’s theme of following gender roles.

Significance of “Sign of the Times”

Harry Styles’ first ever released album, Harry Styles, includes his poetically genius song “Sign of the Times” as the second track. His debut album explores his mix of angst, frustration, and wonder about the future after his band separated and he became a solo artist. This album was released in 2017, but he released “Sign of the Times” earlier as a debut solo, and to this day, he sings it at every concert even after releasing two other albums.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that the song was about the fundamentals of life, such as struggles of equality, race, and rights in our world, and is written from the point of view as if a mother was giving birth, and although the child would be fine, she was not going to make it. Through the song, Styles touches on his belief that it is not the first time the world has been through a hard time, and it is not going to be the last. In his lyrics, he uses the story of the mother being told she will die, but her child will survive to show that the mother is aware and saddened that her child is being born into a troubled world, but that they will meet again. This song is about the mother using her last breaths to tell her child to go forth and conquer, in her last five minutes of living.

“Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times”

In this opening line, we can assume that the baby comes out crying, therefore symbolizing the message that the child knows he or she was born into a troubled world, and the mother is affirming this to the child. The “sign of the times” are the troubling events that are occurring in the world, which shows Harry’s frustration with the state of the world and that it is a sinister place. The mother telling the baby to stop crying is a symbol of reassurance, that bad things happen in the world, but it will all be fine.

“Why are we always stuck and running from/The bullets?/The bullets”

These lines seem to show the mother talking to herself, questioning why the world is the way it is. Styles also is getting at the idea that we have overcome hard times before, and that we just have to push through them, like the child needs to push past this moment with the mother, and how we cannot be afraid of the world nor try to escape what is happening. The significance of the repetition of the bullets throughout the song shows that there is always something wrong occurring in the world, and it can metaphorically be seen as the things that come into our lives that we cannot stop from happening, like the mother finding out she will die after the birth. The bullets themselves can also be interpreted to represent the hardships of the world, so Styles uses that to convey the mother’s concern for the world she birthed her child into.

“Remember everything will be alright/We can meet again somehwere/Somewhere far away from here”

These lines are introduced in the middle of the song, and the mother is telling the baby that it is only the end for now and that they will meet again. It can also be inferred that Styles is making a reference to his ex-band here (what most of his fans like to think), meaning that they will meet again sometime in the future. However, his clever use of anadiplosis in these lines causes the listener to focus on where the mother and baby will meet and be able to be happy together.

All in all, the Harry Styles fandom seems to have many different interpretations of this song, such as his love for an old band member of his, but the song has much more meaning. Styles himself said it was the song with the most personal lyrics to him and his feelings about the inequality in our world.

Camus’ Argument in “Myth of Sisyphus” Seen in “The Stranger”

Albert Camus’ argument in “Myth of Sisyphus” is that one can rise above their fate if one accepts it. In context, Sisyphus is repeatedly struggling to push the rock up the mountain, but when it falls back down, he is free from his burden and reflects that his struggle will not get him anywhere. Camus also argues that fate is only bad if people have hope, meaning that if people don’t think there is a better alternative then they can be at peace with their fate in life. In terms of Sisyphus, he knows he is struggling in his situation and accepts that struggle, therefore his punishment could only be bad if he has hope. Camus essentially believes that happiness and absurd awareness are connected and that humans can only be happy when they accept their life and true fate. Therefore, Sysphus is happy because he has accepted his struggle in his eternal fate and has risen above this fate, meaning he can be happy. Camus stating “[o]ne must imagine Sisyphus happy” also shows that he believes humans must be able to be happy through experiences without the reliance on hope or faith because Sisyphus has experienced happiness through his true experiences and accepted his fate. 

In Camus’ novel “The Stranger,” I noticed his argument about Sisyphus was applied to the narrator of the book, Meursault. At the very end of the novel, when Meursault is sentenced to death, he takes a lot of his time to think and reflect. He goes back and forth with himself, trying to decide if he should request an appeal of his sentence. He concludes that everyone is going to die anyway, so he decides to accept the rejection of his appeal. His mind believes that only after accepting that rejection, he can even consider the alternative of him being pardoned. After re-reading this section of “The Stranger,” I realized that Camus’ argument about Sisyphus having to accept his fate to be happy in life applies to Meursault while he is consulting with himself in jail because Meursault is setting himself up to not have any hope, and therefore cannot be disappointed.

Power in “The Secret Woman” by Collete

After reading “The Secret Woman” on my own, I was left wondering about many instances in the story. I was most intrigued by the lies told between the main character Irene, and her husband. At first glance, I did not really think about the meaning behind Irene cheating on her husband, but after the discussion in class, its importance came clear.

Irene and her husband both lied to each other and ended up at the opera ball alone. When Irene was at the ball, I found Collete’s description of Irene’s disguise and movements very powerful. In addition, when it is revealed that Irene’s intentions were unloyal to her husband, I was pretty surprised but I also think that the woman cheating being surprising represents a double standard. After her husband discovered this, he was stunned that she had power over herself and her choices, and he did not know how to handle the situation. I think after he caught her he felt like he did not have the power in their relationship anymore and she was in control, which he did not like.

This story reinforces the idea that in society, men cheating is normalized, but when a woman is cheating it is absurd and frowned upon.

Nabokov’s take on good readers

Vladimir Nabokov has a strong stance on what makes a good reader. He makes many good points such as good readers are good deceivers, re-readers, and observers. What really struck me about his argument was that a good reader has impersonal imagination and artistic delight. Nabokov highlights that in order to have these traits as a reader, one has to detach from the story and stay aloof while also taking pleasure in said aloofness at the same time. When I read that part of “Good Readers and Good Writers,” I wasn’t sure that I agreed with that argument. However, through the analysis of his argument and further thought on it, I now see where he is coming from. When I have read in the past, I have found myself getting so consumed in the literature that I don’t necessarily enjoy it. His point that a good reader knows when and when not to use their imagination has stuck with me because I find myself looking too much into what the author means literally and not using my imagination. I think the pleasure in the aloofness of a reader is key as well because if a reader is simply just detaching from the story without pleasure, it is difficult to enjoy or imagine things. He concludes the paragraph by stating, “We must see things and hear things, we must visualize the rooms, the clothes, the manners of an author’s people,” which essentially argues that the artistic delight aspect allows the balance between the author’s mind and reader’s mind (41). Paying close attention and using imagination when reading these details allows the reader to visualize the literature without getting too consumed.