The White Foxes

In Olga Tokarczuk’s novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, part way through the story white foxes start showing up. The towns folk realize the must have these foxes have escaped from the pelt farm that the Innerd a rich townsfolk owns. The first mention is on page 124 when someone says,

“Have you heard about the foxes that have been seen out on the Plateau near where you live? Fluffy, white foxes”

Janina the main character and narrators freezes at this seemly normal remark. At the time the reader has no idea why she reacts this way but after finishing the novel the reader realizes why. At the ends when she shares, she killed the Innerd along with multiple other townsfolk. She describes how she opened the foxes cage but couldn’t get them to leave. The reader realizes she freezes because that means the foxes escaped and she accomplished the mission of letting the foxes free.

In the story the foxes represent purity and freedom. They are this majestic clean creature and them being free shows the Janina what she does it right. She wants these creatures to be free as she views them highly but the ones trapping, she feels nothing for, and they can die as they often do when she kills them. The characters that wind up dead are often negatively described through the book often as inhuman and evil. The foxes are always these pretty pure creatures in comparison. The Innered however is this being that is first described hardly sounds human. She wants these foxes to escape her country that she thinks is not right with the way it treats its animals and escape to the Czech Republic which she thinks is this beautiful perfect place. She thinks these deserve a utopia and not the problem ridden Poland she lives in.

Raising the Red Lantern and the Lowering of Women

Directed by Zhang Yimou, Raising the Red Lantern is a film that follows Songlian as she is married to a man as his 4th wife and how she navigates her new life. 

As soon as Songlian is married she is thrust into this new life and we observe how she navigates and learns about her new life. This is where the audience can observe gender roles in action. While the men are out and about often not home doing activities unknown the women stay home and have their own activities. These activities are much different and can be observed as almost warfare between the women. In the film the mistresses plot ways to get the husband to stay with them. Songlian claims to be pregnant so the husband will stay with her and she hopes to eventually become pregnant. The 2nd mistress will betray the others to gain favor. Even the 3rd mistress will act sick or sing loudly to disturb the others. 

The film shows how the women have gone from university students and famous singers to fighting over a man. This shows the deep societal expectations on women at the time. The framing of the movie even shows the role women are trapped in. Songlian is often boxed in a room or closely trapped by a frame of a bed or door. This represents the role she is trapped in with how she can’t escape being a wife and mistress. Finally at the end of the movie she is not framed in this way. This is after she has been declared crazy and is let more roam free. While not a happy ending she has been freed in a way from the social constructs placed on her by society at the time. 

The audience is left feeling conflicted about how they should feel. Are they happy she has broken free in a way and does not just have to please the master. But she has seemingly gone mad wandering around and is left completely alone. Before she had servants and relative power. Now she is a wandering crazy person. This leaves the audience thinking deeply about the movie which accomplishes the task of the director in creating it.

South Park and its Satire

South Park is one of the longest running shows that is currently still airing. The show takes place in a small town in Colorado. It mainly follows a group of elementary school students and what they get up to into their town. However, most of the adventures the characters get up to relate to a larger meaning have it be about politics, race or religion. The show shows how stupid many of the beliefs we have our and the prejudice we have for groups is by putting the characters in certain situations. Though its comedy and irony it is able to show people the absurdity of many of the beliefs we hold. To satirize some larger idea. The main character they use is Eric Cartman. He is a racist, homophobic, antisemitic, white power and many more awful traits being just a 9-year-old. The writes of the show use him to represent these traits some Americans have. From covering police brutality and gun laws to white power ideals and the nazis cartman as shows the often-dark side of the land of the free. The South Park episode “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow” is a prime example of the show’s masterful satire. In this episode, two of the show’s main characters, Stan and Cartman, accidentally damage the biggest beaver dam in the world, flooding the adjacent town as a result. The two decide against telling anyone and instead want to wait for things to settle themselves. Sadly, it appears like nobody wants to assist the residents of the flooded town. Stan questions his father, Randy, as to why no one has come to their rescue. Randy responds, “That’s not important right now, son. It’s crucial to determine who is to blame for this. That short remark sums up the typical attitude people have toward many issues these days nicely. Through stupid situations like this South Park is able to show to the viewers many situations they may laugh at but then realize they do themselves. The show perfectly captures aspects of life, displaying our own behaviors through idiotic characters to show how ridiculous we are. People can laugh at the different characters’ antics, but also see themselves in their actions.

Albany and what he represents

The duke of Albany, husband of Goneril is one of the few characters standing at the end of the play. Why of all characters is he standing. Albany starts off the play as much more of a weak character. He can be seen being basically ordered around by his wife. He can be seen as being meek as he does not stand up for what he believes. This can be observed early on in the play when he says

My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant

Of what hath moved you.

This quote shows a number of important things about Albany. This is after his wife his just treated her father king Lear horribly. He seems genuinely confused as to why she treated the king this way, which shows mainly that he is not part of her plans and has no idea what her goal is but also he does not approve and has better morals than his wife. We understand he is a better character morally and does not approve. He loves his wife as he states later but has a hard time looking over what she has done but he does for now. He continues to get pushed around by his wife for the next few acts. Goneril complains she is acting like the man in the relationship because she wants to act quickly but Albany understands they should think it through. 

Albany represents good in the story. He discusses later how he feels bad for Lear and even if he must fight against them he supports the ideas of Cordelia. While Albany might be good he represents how bad can overcome evil. His much more evil wife is able to manipulate him and do what she wants. However Albany grows throughout the play and by the end he is a strong character. He leads an army and wins the battle. Defeat the plot against him set forward by his wife and her new man. He is able to survive the turmoil of the time and the battle because he sticks with his. He stays true to good ideals and this allows him to live at the end and he could even become the king if he wants but he declines it. Albany represents a good character who becomes stronger and stands up for himself. He shows how people can stick to good even when confronted and pushed by lots of evil and manipulation. While he might not seem like the deepest character over the play he goes through great change and represents an important character with many layers. 

Letting someone go and what you lose

Often times someone does not realize what they have until its gone. Sometimes you don’t realize the true value of someone and all they bring until they are gone. This is what happened to singer songwriter Passenger and he wrote about it in hit Let her go in his album all the little lights. He wrote this song after a breakup and the lyrics are about him realizing how important this person was in his life and all the factors they brought to his life. He uses long metaphors and strong language to convey what he feels and tells it as a cautionary tale of beware of what you can lose. He starts out the song with the multidimensional lyrics

Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

The quote talks about how you don’t realize you need the light or the sun until its gone and one realizes all it did for you. The word burning is strong as it can show his love is still burning for the person, the candle light is low, and he feels like he is burning now that he feels empty. The multiple uses of the word conveys all the different emotions he feels as he is writing this and trying to convey them all in the song. He also uses metaphors to show what his love was like when he says

Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

He comparing the feeling of being homesick when you miss your home to how he misses the person he loved. This also shows the anaphora in the song. The melody that is repeated multiple times starts with only. This repetitions shows all these different things come together to show how much he loves her and misses her.

Finally he uses imagery to convey his emotions to fully help the listener understand what it is like.

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart

The imagery of someone heartbroken in the dark after the light before mentioned went out feeling empty is well conveyed here. He is able to convey his strong emotions into the words and that is why this song is a form or poetry. Many different ways Passengers is able to convey the feeling he has and what he has realized after the person he loved is gone.

Is Meursault truly happy?

In Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger Meursault the main character thinks vastly different than the average person in society does. He does not value relationships, emotions and bonds the same most of us do. He doesn’t put as much meaning in relationships and lives his life without trying to create them. We see this with Marie who wants to further her relationship with Meursault while he does not want what he thinks are pointless ideas of love and marriage. While there are good parts of his way of life like him being able to live in the moment and cope with difficult situations there are downsides to his ideology.

To many outsiders like those at the funeral and pastor at jail he seems sociopathic. He is apathetic to almost everything, has littler motivation and drive and does not connect with others.

I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone” (123).

If one has to question if ones is happy and only says yes so, they feel less alone, are they happy? I don’t believe that Meursault is happy, and he realized in prison he truly isn’t but as to not admit his life was wasted, he claims he was. He just simply lived one day to the next hardly striving for anything and didn’t have anyone. While some may claim that these ideas are concepts to most, they do bring true happiness. Most people would not be happy if they were in Meursault’s position, and I believe Meursault was not either

The power of information and values in a relationship

In “The Secret Women” by Colette the story is about a man who follows his wife at a masquerade party and watcher her encounters with other men. There is little background information given for why he suspects she might be cheating. Has she been caught lying? Is she more distant recently? There is very little answer given for this.

He watchers her kiss and interact with a number of men and his reaction proves people have different values. At first, he wants to catch her for some reason, and he follows her inside the dance. He misjudges multiple interactions she has as he wants to catch her cheating. The reader might question why he wants to catch her instead of finding out she is faithful.

What I found most interesting from the story though as even though she possibly kissed multiple people he seems almost fine with it.

He was sure now that Irene did not know the young man, drunk with dancing, who she was kissing, nor the Hercules; he was sure that she was was neither waiting nor looking for anyone, and that abandoning the lips she held beneath her own like an empty grape, she was going to leave again the next moment, wander about once more, collect some other passer-by, forget him, and simply enjoy, until she felt tired and went back home,

He believes she is just enjoying herself and not in an affair. His values might be different from the reader who would be upset if their significant other was kissing other but to him, he seems fine with it. The man could also be withholding information that changes the perspective. For example, if he was cheating it would change the way the reader would look at the story. Overall, his reaction is interesting and the lack of background on the charter has the reader question why they react the way they do.

What is a good reader?

What does it mean to be a good reader? Vladimir Nabokov argues that a good reader is one who rereads and one who doesn’t put themself in the story. The reader also detaches themself from the story. I see his idea of how when you reread a story you begin to see the bigger picture and what the author really wants to get across. I also can see what he means by detaching yourself. The author wants you to get something out of the story and if you put yourself in it and use your imagination you might miss it.

But at the same time shouldn’t a good reader be one who reads how they want and what they enjoy doing. Especially if reading for your own enjoyment isn’t the biggest purpose of reading to enjoy yourself. Sometimes people read to lose themself and transport themself to a different place and does that mean they are a bad reader? Overall, I see Nabokov’s argument but is his way the only way to be a good reader or are there others?