The Deadly Pebble

The final story that Janina writes do Dizzy is incredibly important and frames many parts of the book previous to it. This short fable may seem insignificant but it is, in fact, the opposite. The story tells a tale about believing something to be true so strongly that it becomes the truth. This is what Janina does with many things in her life. For one Janina believes she knows the date of her death, similar to the monk. To Jjnaina it is a comforting thought, she knows when to be scared of death and when to live her life without the fear of dying. It is possible that with this story she is telling Dizzy, as well as the reader, that she hasn’t necessarily found her death date but instead decided on it. It also frames Janina’s actions, particularly the murderous ones. Janina had believed so heavily that she was being used by the animals as a tool for justice and because of that, she was able to murder without remorse. The monk in the story did not have to die, similar to how the commandant, Innerd, the president, and the priest did not have to die, but he believed so heavily that it was necessary so he made it happen. This train of thought is parallel to how Janina views her murders. To her they were necessary, written in the stars, and by default, she had to carry them out. 

“A medieval monk and Astrologer – in the days before Saint Augustine forbade the reading of the future from the stars-foresaw his own death in his Horoscope. He was to die from the bow of a stone that would fall on his head. From then on he always wore a metal cao beneath his monk’s hood. Until one Good Friday, he took it off along with the hood, more for great of drawing attention to himself in church than for love of God. Just then a tiny pebble fell on his bare head, giving him a superficial scratch. But the monk was sure the prediction had come true, so he put all his affairs in order, and a month later he died”(274A medieval monk and Astrologer – in the days before Saint Augustine forbade the reading of the future from the stars-foresaw his own death in his Horoscope. He was to die from the bow of a stone that would fall on his head. From then on he always wore a metal cao beneath his monk’s hood. Until one Good Friday, he took it off along with the hood, more for great of drawing attention to himself in church than for love of God. Just then a tiny pebble fell on his bare head, giving him a superficial scratch. But the monk was sure the prediction had come true, so he put all his affairs in order, and a month later he died”(274)

The 22-2023 School Year for Dummies

Good morning huskies and welcome to the official newsletter for everything orange and blue. We’ve got some big changes this year (that most people aren’t so happy about). No need to fret huskies! Here is your “How To” guide for any and everything you need to know about the new and improved Oak Park and River Forest High School.

  1. IDs! Whether you’re a fresh-faced first-year or an exhausted senior everybody must wear their IDs! And don’t worry huskies, no one, and I mean NO ONE has a good ID photo. The school has made sure of that by using an iPhone that has just been manhandled by a toddler eating Cheetos to take everyone’s pic. If your lanyard isn’t out and visible when walking through those main doors on your way into school, no way are you making it to class on time. Plus everyone behind you in line will be just thrilled that you’ve made the morning foot traffic even worse. It doesn’t matter if you walk through those doors every morning, greeted by the same person, at exactly 7:46 with your ID on. If you forgot it at home on a random Tuesday in April, you will be personally escorted out of the school by none other than Linda Parker.
  2. Keeping those hallways spick and span! I personally think the hallways could use a good sweeping, considering all the mushed cafeteria fries I see on the daily. So you can understand my disappointment when I learned that “Hall Sweeps” did not mean they were taking a broom to the main staircase. Either way, huskies, make sure you aren’t a-wondering when that bell starts a-ringing. 30 seconds or 10 minutes late, you will be missing major class time. No excuses! Bathroom was crowded? Pee at home. Couldn’t find the right room? You should be less directionally challenged. You tumbled down the stairs, broke your toe, and all your books flew out of your bag? Pick em right on up and hobble your way to class!
  3. Bright and Early! Here at OPRFHS, we go by postman rules. Rain, snow, or shine, we make sure to only unlock the doors furthest away from the parking spots you paid 200 dollars to park in. If it’s a particularly windy day, make sure you’re out the door just a few minutes earlier, to avoid getting blown over. Refer to number two as to why you don’t want to be late. And remember huskies, the early bird gets the worm or the bone or whatever.
  4. Lunchtime! Last but not least huskies it’s time for lunch. Fourth, fifth, or sixth period, lunch is a nice break from your stressful school day. Last year we could eat anywhere we wanted, it was chaos! Now we don’t care if the 100-decibel level noise emanating out of the north and south caf hurt your ears, or if the horrendous led lights require sunglasses, everyone must eat in the lunchroom. Unless of course you cover your food with a garbage bag because that is much less suspicious than carrying a chicken sandwich through the hallways.

Any way you decide to spend your school time will surely be improved by these simple tips. Have any more questions and you know where to find me, frantically running to my next class to avoid being taken out by a broom. And here’s to a healthy and happy 22-23 school year. Cheers huskies!

A Father’s Daughters

There are only three main female characters in King Lear, all of who are defined by their relationship to men. Each one has their own unique story and participates in their own play. Through Shakespeare’s lens powerful female characters are not seen this way. Instead, women with power are portrayed in Shakespeare’s tragedies as evil. If they are not evil their story is downplayed to fit in the male storylines.

Goneril and Regan are portrayed as distinctly evil and cutthroat throughout this play. They begin by immediately conning their father and pushing him out onto the street. They are constantly referred to as animals by Lear and other characters, dehumanizing them. They later both cheat on their husbands with the same man, becoming labeled as unpure, although Glouster has obviously also cheated on his wife due to the fact that he has a bastard son and is not labeled in that manner. I could personally appreciate their characters as villains if they had been fully fleshed out in that storyline. Although I can not do this because their villain stories simply exist to further the stories of male characters. Their outcasting and disrespect of Lear exist as a way to develop his madness and expedite his dissent. The audience never sees how they came to this decision, they are not complex characters but rather Shakespeare’s definition of two-dimensional evil women. We as readers or viewers very rarely see the behind-the-scenes of Goneril and Regan or their relationship with each other, making them seem even less like well-rounded characters.

Cordelia is the one main female character who starts off strong, with an immediate test of power against her father. This is empowering until she promptly disappears for almost four acts and it becomes obvious that her rebellion was simply a part of Lear’s dissent into madness. Lear’s first questionable act seen in the play happens after Cordelia goes against his wishes. Lear immediately responds with a crazy decision and his description as mad begins. Cordelia finally returns at the end of act four, immediately forgiving her father and coming to his aid. We see none of Cordelia’s healing process or reasoning behind forgiving her father. In the end, her death is off-stage and Lear continues to talk about her appearance and insult women as he mourns her. Her death furthers the power structure between parent and child that Lear struggles with. Lear’s madness comes from his struggle with power and when he is able to release that obsession with the power it allows him to begin understanding the world in a more sane way. Cordelia’s, as well as Goneril and Regans’s deaths exist not as their own but as a way for Lear to release part of his obsession with power.

A Poets Poet

The song “Dylan Thomas” by Better Oblivion Community Center, a band comprised of singer-songwriters Pheobe Bridgers and Conor Oberst appears in the band’s self-titled and only album. Bridgers and Oberst are known to have been long-time friends and partners in the music industry and although both contributed to lyrics for this song and others on the album, this particular song was written by mainly Oberst. This song encapsulates the feeling of knowing catastrophe is coming but not being able to do anything about it. Oberst and Bridgers use the combined circumstances of existing during the Trump administration and being overcome with addiction to portray this feeling. Bridgers herself is known to reference current events and popular media in her writing and this song follows that form. The song itself has many references to the poet Dylan Thomas with the first line being,

It was quite early one morning

This is a reference to Thomas’s collection of prose titled “Quite Early One Morning”. Bridgers and Oberst use Thomas, infamously an alcoholic, to portray the idea of addiction. They write,

So sick of being honest

I’ll die like Dylan Thomas

A seizure on the barroom floor


Im strapped into a corset

Climbed into your corvette

Im thristy for another drink

These lines explain to the listener how the speaker is tired of trying to get better and would prefer to die in a similar manner to Thomas, who famously drank himself to death at 39. This furthers the feeling of doom the speaker is trying to portray in the way that they know there is no hope for the future and going out with a bang seems easier. The second section also portrays this idea, the speaker feels they are living a life that simply repeats itself over and over in a mundane way, despite knowing that disaster is coming. Similarly, Oberst and Bridgers write,

If it’s advertised we’ll try it

And buy some peace and quiet

And shut up at the silent retreat

As well as,

I’m getting used to these dizzy spells

I’m taking a shower at the Bates motel

The first section is referencing rehab, which is constantly advertised through media and the speaker seems to be going along with the idea of getting help, but in the second section, it is clear that the speaker does not wish to get help because it feels hopeless in a world in which you know the disaster is coming anyway. This is portrayed by the last line, which is another reference to popular media, in which a character from the movie “Psycho” is stabbed in the shower at the Bates motel. This is referencing the idea that the speaker is willingly going to “shower at the Bates motel” or doing something they know is going to bring on disaster because nothing seems to matter anymore. It is also clear that the speaker simply wishes to continue on with the life they live as they are “getting used to these dizzy spells” alluding to the fact that they are comfortable with their addiction and would rather continue to live with it than get help.

Along with the idea of addiction Bridgers and Oberst also use this song to make commentary on the Trump administration and the feeling of hopelessness it brought many Americans. They write,

Starved for entertainment

Four seasons, a revolving door

This is a reference to the Four Seasons landscaping company where the Trump administration held a press conference, instead of the Four Seasons resort. This along with the first line explain how the speaker is so baffled that an administration such as Trumps could be running the country, and how they feel the world is simply “starved for entertainment” as in it doesn’t seem that anyone else is as concerned with the state of the government as the speaker is. Bridgers and Oberst continue this by writing,

These talking heads keep saying

The king is only playing

A game of four dimensional chess

This section is a reference to news reporters or “talking heads” speaking about the Trump administration. The speaker is emphasizing the feeling of being controlled, knowing that there is nothing they can do about the state of the government or their addicition but they have to continue, feeling like a pawn in a chess game. The feeling of despair and fear that the speaker feels is encompassed by Oberst and Bridgers in the line,

They say you gotta fake it

At least until you make it

That ghost is just a kid in a sheet

The speaker is emphasizing how their addiction and feelings of despair play out in such a way that they feel as if they must put on a happy face. The speaker also understands that while they are suffering they know that the world is in crisis and thier fears and problems are not as important or “that ghost is just a kid in a sheet” which is also a refrence to Bridgers solo work which fetures imagry of children weaing ghost costumes.

The Importance of Family “Trust” and “The Stranger”

Family is a constantly recurring theme in both the film “Trust” and Albert Camus’s “The Stranger”. In both”Trust” and “The Stranger” family is seen as a value that many side characters hold highly while the main characters, Maria and Meursault, either dislike or choose to disregard. In “Trust” Maria is constantly being pulled into a traditional family dynamic by her mother, who wants her to live at home and provide by doing chores and participating in the family. Matthew also constantly urges Maria to participate in a traditional family dynamic by asking her to marry him and raise her child with him, despite it not being his child. In “The Stranger” Meursault is told by Salamano that he should be upset that his mother died and he no longer has a family. He is also urged by Marie to marry her and participate in the family in that way. Meursault disregards both these conversations and feels as if he is not wrong for feeling nothing toward his mother and her death. He is later prosecuted on the basis of this and made to seem cold-hearted for not caring about his family. Maria similarly is made out to seem like a bad person for getting an abortion, as represented by when the nurse discusses how her car is vandalized, there for ending her traditional family. Both characters later have their family destroyed in some way. Meursault, who realizes how his mother was content with her newfound family, Perez, and Maria who has Mattew physically pulled away from her by police.

The Importance of Mystery

The story The Elephant Vanishes leaves the reader with more questions than answers. As a reader, when I finished this story I felt a sense of a sort of empty disappointment. I was reading through many details of a man’s life as well as his connection with this elephant. From the moment I read about how the elephant disappeared I was hungrily searching for an answer to my questions. Wheat happened to the elephant and the caretaker? Where did they both go? Why did the town move on so easily?

The story ended abruptly leaving me with more questions than answers. As a reader, I was judging the story too quickly. Waiting for what I believed to be a classic mystery, to be resolved. When it inevitably wasn’t I was left confused and upset for the main character. I think this was an important choice the author made. Using aspects of mystery, like the main character being suspicious about the disappearance of the elephant. And magical realism, like the elephant and caretaker changing size, put the reader in the shoes of the main character.

The main character ended his story feeling confused and empty, so the author made sure to end the reader’s story that way as well. The mystery not being solved was necessary to play on the reader’s feelings and leave them with the same emptiness the main character was feeling about the entire situation.

All kinds of writers deceive, Nabokov

In “Good Readers and Good Writers” Nabokov argues that “Every great writer is a great deceiver”. Nabokov continues to argue that a good writer is someone who invents. A person who is able to construct entirely new truths out of nothing. The idea that a good writer is someone who manipulates their readers into truly immersing themselves in the story and believing whatever the author may write is a bold statement and a difficult task. At first, I did not agree with Nabokov’s description of a good writer. This was because there are many great writers who don’t create entirely new stories or truths. There are many great non-fiction writers or journalists who take already true facts and construct great writing with them. As I re-read Nabokov’s article I realized the purpose of his argument. It is the construction of the facts, real or imaginary, that does the deceiving. Even writers who publish non-fiction must build their writing in a way that the reader can believe and follow. Journalists must know what statements to use and how to put them on paper to display the story they want to get across to their audience. It is not just the fiction writers who are inventors but every writer, because every writer has a reason for the story they tell. And they must use imagination to portray that reason.