Beds Are Burning

The song “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil, an Australian rock band from the 80s, wrote this song to protest the taking of native lands from the tribe Pintupi. They wrote this song in an attempt to highlight the effects it had on the native tribe. The song starts out with a description of the land, using imagery to allow the listener to grasp that they are in the desert.

Holden wrecks and boiling diesels
Steam at forty-five degrees

The lines above are from the very end of the first stanza, they are almost like an introduction. They allow the reader to infer that it is extremely hot, it would be around 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and it paints a picture in the listener’s head using imagery. This song is written from the Australian’s POV, the second stanza and part of the chorus talks about how they need the take accountability and give the land back.

The time has come, a fact’s a fact
It belongs to them, let’s give it back

Those lines are in the second half of the stanza. The use of rhyme with “fact” and “back” empowers the song and helps it flow better onto the next part of the chorus. By using these lines as the chorus, it helps reinforce their message about giving the land back. The second part of the chorus, the third stanza, puts the song in the POV of the natives.

How can we dance when our earth is turning?
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?

These lines are repeated twice in the stanza. That, along with the use of “ing” at the end of each line signifies that this conflict is still going on. The song title is also used in the chorus to reveal the effect the stolen land had on the Natives. Their beds weren’t literally burning but when eventually forces back to their native county, the Kintore ranges, which are extremely hot. This has the double meaning that it is so hot they can’t sleep but also the meaning that they are angry with the Australians and want their land back. Finally, the use of “dance” in the first line also has a double meaning. At first, it means that they literally can’t dance because of their uprooted lives but it also means they can’t be happy since they were forced to leave their homes. In the second to last stanza, Midnight oil changes one line in the chorus.

It belongs to them, we’re gonna give it back

They change the original line “let’s give it back” to this and it also changes the tone of the song. By the end of it, they seem determined to hold Australia accountable for the things they did to the Pintupi tribe. The use of the pronoun “we” blames the whole country not just the people in power which is a part of their message. Overall I really like this song because the use of rhyme and repetition really adds to the meaning of it.

How “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads connects to “The Stranger”

The song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads was released in 1980 and is centered around the idea that life keeps moving you along with no explanation. The verse “Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down/Letting the days go by, water flowing underground” is not only repeated throughout the song but also represents that as days go by the forces(water) will keep you moving. Also in the song, there are questions such as “Well, how did I get here?” or “Am I right, am I wrong?”. These questions represent the unknowingness of life and how random it is. In the story “The Stranger”, many bad things such as death and conviction happen to Meursault and he just accepts it as life and keeps moving on. He asks question such as “I thought how peculiar she was?”, but then follows it by saying “but forgot about her a few minuetes later”. This shows that he understands that life is random and there is no time or way to stop the flow and ask irrational questions with no answer. Another example from the stranger is when Meursault is in prison and is refelcting on the tradgic times of his life. He begins to accept his fate after he screamed at the chaplain and was going to die happy even though many people hated him. He again realized that the flow of life can’t be stopped and there is no way to prevent his death.

Giving a voice to the Vanishing Elephant

The story “The vanishing Elephant” is narrated by a man who is very invested in the vanishing elephant and works throughout the story to try and understand why the elephant disappeared. The man starts off this with a detailed background of the elephant and his keeper, both old but very unified with each other. We don’t ever read about their thoughts but I think that the narrator is their voice, especially the elephant. It shows unity between the keeper and the elephant in a very divided community because some want the elephant killed. We can see through the narrator’s thoughts, “They[the elephant and the keeper] had been together for more than 10 years, and you could snse their closeness in every gesture and look”(313), that the keeper cares a lot for the elephant and vice versa. When the elephant vanished we learn that the narrator would watch it from afar and the day before it vanished we learn that the narrator thought he saw the elephant shrink. I think it is not that it shrunk but that the narrator actually saw the keeper and the elephant as equal. Because the community saw the elephant as either a burden or a symbol of the town, it wasn’t really seen as equal to people and therefore not seen as having feelings. This is why the narrator gives us insight as to why he imagined the elephant as shrinking. He may have seen them as both having feelings and both equal.

Can you read well and for fun? Nabokov

After reading Vladimir Nabokov’s “Good readers and good writers” I found the passage that explains how you cannot read well if you identify with a character or event in the writing very interesting. When I read for fun I usually relate to a character or event to sort of put myself in the position of the character to understand their thoughts and feelings. But after reading Nabokov I understand his point of view. He argues that when you relate to a character you may become biased or immersed in their story so much that you may miss important details about the rest of the plot. I understand this if you are trying to fully understand the book or if its for an assignment but I wonder if this apply’s to when you read for fun. After I reread the passage I don’t think that it does because if you read for fun you usually read for the story, you read to get that tingle down your spine and maybe, when reading for fun, to get that tingle you need to relate to a character to get inside their head and feel what they are feeling. Also when you read for fun you don’t necessarily read to understand all of the content of that book unlike you would do for school. When I read a book I try to imagine the plot like its somewhere i’ve been to, as Nabokov said, “get clear the specific world the author places at his disposal”. This helps me imagine the characters as if I am in the world the author has created.