Baby Kochamma’s role in The God of Small Things

Baby Kochamma is an essential character to understanding the impact of social status and class on the characters in the novel, The God of Small Things. Baby Kochamma has always strived to belong in the highest social class possible. Her image is extremely important to her which is why she needed to have Velutha taken out of her life when she found out about Ammu’s affair with him. Her pure Syrian Christian niece was not allowed to have an affair with an untouchable because it would hurt the family’s reputation and look negatively upon her.

Baby Kochamma is similar to a lot of older people in America today. She is unwilling to change with the times even though the caste system was abolished about 15 years beforehand. However unlike in our world today some Americans believe that they are superior to other races but the civil rights act was passed 60 years ago. Just like Baby Kochamma’s treatment towards Velutha they try to put themselves above others and continue to oppress humans because of the color of their skin which puts them in a lower class. The book teaches the importance of social classes and even when abolished the prejudices held against people that were once considered lower class.

Baby Kochamma believes that she is superior to everyone else because of her superiority complex that being a Syrian Christian gives her. Roy portrays her as a negative and unlikeable character since she possesses old fashioned ideology that needs to be abolished.

The Role of Gender in “God of Small Things”

In the novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy the mastery of women is a typical topic that is showed by every generation in the novel. Roy expounds on the loaded social issues that plague Indian culture; she composed The God of Small Things after the corrupt system had been removed in India, yet it still controls the country. Roys views serve to see the imperfections within Indian culture, and therefore composed a novel with a message that demonstrated the issues that exists and still goes unmentioned. Through the significant subject of gender identity, Roy passes on a message that all individuals ought to be equivalent regardless of the sex of an individual. The idea is that sexual orientation is only a presentation since society has created. The figment is to suppress their internal wants and adjust to society’s optimal picture and portray the issues that make up a lot of restrictions.

Gender is a constrained job for the characters in The God of Small Things, and it exists essentially as a characterizing social develop. The genuine sexual orientation of the characters is created, on the grounds that the characters in the novel would be thrown out of Indian culture on the off chance that they acted in a way other than the one that was anticipated. The women of the novel are compelled to remain consistent within Indian culture, or, the results are unsuitably unforgiving. Gender identity should come from the acts and gestures that a person chooses to perform, not by the sex they were biologically assigned at birth.

The abuse that Mammachi endured by her husband influenced her in a strange way,

At Pappachi’s funeral, Mammachi cried until her contact lenses slid around in her eyes. Ammu told the twins that Mammachi was crying more because she was used to him than because she loved him. (49) 

The static nature of Mammachi’s life is evident, making it clear that she hated the idea of change, regardless of whether that change was the passing of her spouse or something else. Mammachi proceeds as a lady who lost her caring husband at his memorial service essentially in light of the fact that she was used to her job as a compliant lady who brought herself down to acknowledge her significant other’s disparaging nature towards her for the sum of their marriage. Mammachi had the chance to begin a real existence that would not be constrained by her significant other, however she would be unable to genuinely get away from the maltreatment that was perpetrated intellectually on her by Pappachi’s physical beatings and the end he put to her as a musician.

Numerous individuals despite everything stick to customary thoughts that people ought to carry on in manners that fall into explicit classes decided exclusively on their sexual orientation. However, male or female gender-specific identities are irrelevant in modern, civilized society. Gender roles are social builds created after some time and are not founded on normal human conduct. This is on the grounds that gender roles have advanced as an approach to arrange the vital errands done in early human culture. Some may state that because of the way that customary gender roles have been portrayed for such a long time, they ought not be changed, and are currently a key component in human advancement. Nevertheless, in many of the modern societies today, there is no need for traditional gender roles, because both men and women are able to do many of the same necessary tasks, thereby making gender-specific behaviors irrelevant.

Colorism Lies Everywhere

It’s really interesting for me to be reading God of Small Things and also this book called The Blacker the Berry for my African American History Class. One book highlights the disparities between those in an Indian culture, and the other highlights the disparities between those in an African American culture.

I’m pretty sure God of Small Things never fully said that the Paravans were all dark in complexion, but based off of the descriptions of the paravans in comparison with the Mol family it seemed that their color also had a play in the caste system.

In Blacker the Berry, the basis of the book so far is colorism and how a dark skinned girl is continuously discriminated against and seen as less than just because she is dark.

It’s so interesting to me that even when people of color have to deal with racism and general discrimination and oppression of their people, they even create ranks inside of their own culture. And much of it is based on how light your skin is.

I know that being more fair was seen as more attractive in white people as well in the past, and there is a degree of colorism in almost every single ethnic group. It really makes me wonder how the idea that being lighter is better even came about it in the first place. Colorism is still very much alive and well today.

Jeremy Lin: Life of an Asian Athlete

I’m not saying that it is hard to grow up in Oak Park as a half white half asian boy, but our bubble isn’t always as perfect as it is made out to be. There have been times where I have felt the pressure of orientalism; most notably when I have played sports.

There are many prejudices and assumptions I’m sure people unintentionally make when they hear that I am asian. I’m sure the possibility of me being smart is pondered. I’m sure my height might come into question. One thing that is probably not assumed is my athleticism. Since I could stand, my parents had me playing soccer and baseball. My love of sports only grew when I began to understand the competitive nature of winning and losing.

This continued into elementary school where I began to hoop. Basketball has been one of the great loves in my life. My interest has risen and fallen over the years, but back in fourth grade, when my love for basketball was at maybe an all time high, I began to really follow professional basketball. Coincidently and almost simultaneously, one of the greatest runs of any professional athlete of all time occurred. Jeremy Lin had one of the best two weeks of basketball anybody has ever had. He scored points, hit game winners, and he even beat Kobe.

If you look at professional sports today, I could probably list all of the professional athletes in both the NBA and NFL that are asian without running out of any fingers. It was even worse back when Linsanity happened. Linsanity was huge for me. I was finally able to see someone who like me is asian and was able to make it.

Ever since Linsanity, one of the go-to things my opponents have called me on the court is Jeremy Lin, which I would retort “[expletive] you, I’m Kobe.” But nowadays, when I hear it I’m proud that at least there was an asian good enough and famous enough that when people talk to me on the court there is somebody’s name they can call me.

Sex, Gender, and Orientalism

Typical examples of Orientalism, at least historical examples, seem to have a preoccupation with gender, power, and sex. In the interview with Edward Said, many paintings are shown depicting women in positions of sensual weakness, either being generally exposed or being aggressively handled by men. This idea of women being sexual objects to be used by men carries over into many of the more popular concepts in Orientalism. The concept of the harem, for example, is one where several women are in a sense owned by one central man and are used by him for sex, often existing in addition to the man’s wife or wives.

There is also the concept, popular in times of over conflict between the United States and the Middle East, of the ravaging Middle Eastern man sexually assaulting women and children in battle. This concept is not exclusive to Oriental/Middle Eastern stereotypes, but it goes hand in hand with depictions of Islam in Middle Eastern countries being one with female oppression and assault at its core.

Finally, I want to talk about the concept of Middle Eastern women being commodities not only for Middle Eastern men to consume, but for Western men to consume. Even in children’s films such as Aladdin, the main woman, Jasmine, is shown in clothing that is often associated with belly dancing. Belly dancing itself is largely considered sensual, centered around the movement of the hips. Its typical clothing involves a low-rise skirt and something to cover the chest, with flowing fabric that moves with the dancing. When Googling belly dancing in order to write this, I found YouTube videos with “sexy” and “hot” in the descriptions. I also found some Halloween costumes for children, which I don’t have much to say about as an intellectual point. Just thought it was weird.

What is up with this preoccupation with Middle Eastern people as either sexual objects or sexual aggressors? As to the sexual objects, I think it has something to do with how India and the Middle East were (and still are) viewed as commodities themselves. Colonialism views the world as full of things to be taken and owned. Often times, those things include people. White, straight men traveled around the world and took everything they possibly could. In a way, portraying these women as scantily-clad, sensual women that were regularly dominated by the men in their countries already made it seem as though they were asking for it. Asking to be dominated, abused, and owned by the white colonialists. For the men, I think it has something to do with similarly justifying the violence and ownership of themselves, their possessions, and their land. When we portray people as savages, less than human, it makes it that much easier to abuse their rights.

Check out this video by Lindsay Ellis if you’re interested in Orientalism and musical theatre; it’s a fascinating breakdown of one of the more obscure, yet fetishized characters from Phantom of the Opera.

A Bird’s-Eye View

The personal is political.

Second-wave feminist slogan

In AP Literature Class, we’ve talked a lot about power, including massive power structures such as race, class, and gender. However, I know that for me, sometimes these concepts can become very abstract. I don’t always connect our talk of these issues with the real world, because in my everyday life, power structures have always just surrounded me, as seemingly natural as the air I breathe. I am desensitized to them, and I have no way of seeing the extent to which they actually shape my life. That is, until, every once in a while, a really good piece of literature makes me zoom out and gives me a bird’s eye view of life with which I am able to realize how much large-scale power structures do impact individual lives. In my opinion, The God of Small Things might do this the best of any book we’ve read this year. 

The God of Small Things deals not merely with power dynamics, but it makes clear their consequences in a very poignant way. By juxtaposing the characters’ personal power struggles with their power struggles on a systemic level, it shows how large-scale power structures can have deeply personal impacts. 

One quote that I believe shows this very strikingly is on page 101. It consists of Estha’s thoughts as he has just come back into the auditorium after being molested by the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man and is watching the Sound of Music. He wonders if one of the characters from the film, Baron von Trapp, would be able to love him and Rahel and be a father to them, and imagines that Baron von Trapp has the following questions that Estha and Rahel must answer before he can decide.

(a) Are they clean white children?

No. (But Sophie Mol is.)

(b) Do they blow spit bubbles?

Yes. (But Sophie Mol doesn’t.)

(c) Do they shiver their legs? Like clerks?

Yes. (But Sophie Mol doesn’t.)

(d) Have they, either or both, ever held strangers’ soo-soos?

N… Nyes. (But Sophie Mol hasn’t.)

“Then I’m sorry,” Baron von Clapp-Trapp said. “It’s out of the question. I cannot love them. I cannot be their Baba. Oh no.” 

To me, this quote is particularly heartbreaking because it highlights so many of Estha and Rahel’s vulnerabilities and insecurities due to both the state of their personal lives and their status in society. 

First of all, their desire for Baron von Trapp to be a father to them shows their yearning for a father figure in their lives because of the absence of their own father. While this is personal to them, it is also connected to the political because the reason their parents divorced was because their father was abusive, and the reason Ammu even got into a relationship with an abusive man in the first place was because she was desperate to escape from her own abusive father and was not allowed a college education because she was a girl, so she had few options other than marriage (38-39). Therefore, Estha and Rahel’s lack of a father, while it is very personal, is also connected to issues of women’s rights and feminism. Likewise, Baron von Trapp’s questions about whether Estha and Rahel blow spit bubbles and shiver their legs also shows how their relationship with Ammu can be tense because they sometimes remind her of their father (especially when they blow spit bubbles an shiver their legs) (80), and therefore how the effects of something as large as sexism can be felt even in a deeply personal sphere.

Another way Roy blends the personal and political nature of Estha and Rahel’s insecurities in this quote is the mention of all the ways Sophie Mol meets Baron von Trapp’s standards while Estha and Rahel don’t. Estha and Rahel are acutely aware of how much their family adores Sophie Mol, and this not only sparks in them children’s natural jealousy at another child seeming more loved by their family than they are (if any of you have little siblings, you might have felt this when they were born), but also a sense of inferiority based on a WHITE/person of color and WEST/east power dynamic. Estha and Rahel are cognizant of the fact that Sophie Mol is so beloved by their family not only because eight-year-olds are cute and it’s always fun to see a family member who you haven’t seen in a long time, but also because the fact that Sophie Mol is white-passing and British makes her somehow extra special and superior. Thus, once again, Roy shows how large-scale systems of power such as racism influence things as intimate as family dynamics and children’s’ self-esteem. 

But for me, the word that blends the deeply personal and the political the most strikingly is the word “clean.” 

(a) Are they clean white children?

No. (But Sophie Mol is.)


The idea of Estha and Rahel not being as “clean” as Sophie Mol and the white children in The Sound of Music is a really loaded concept in this passage in so many ways. On one level, it reflects racism, as people with darker skin have often been seen throughout history as less “clean” than people with lighter skin, particularly in the West and countries that have been subject to Western colonialism. However, it also relates to Estha’s experience of abuse, as it is not unusual for survivors of sexual abuse to feel they have been made “dirty” somehow by their abusers if they have not yet been able to come to terms with what happened to them. So, as Estha sits watching The Sound of Music, he feels doubly “dirty” both because of what happened to him on an individual level and because of what society tells him about who he is. To me, Roy’s multilayered use of the word “clean” and her repetition of it throughout the chapter is a perfect example of how the lines between personal struggles and political struggles can become very blurry for marginalized people and how each type of struggle can have an impact that is extremely profound.

“Crazy Rich Asians”, a Rom-Com with a Deeper Meaning

The film “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) directed by Jon M. Chu is one of the highest grossing romantic-comedy films of all time and is the first film in 25 years to have an all Asian cast in Hollywood. This rom-com was adapted from a novel also titled “Crazy Rich Asians” written by Kevin Kwan. “Crazy Rich Asians” not only broke box-office records, it also increased representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood.

The film centers around Rachel and Nick, a young couple living in New York. Nick and Rachel have been dating for quite some time, and Nick invites Rachel to go with him to his best friend’s wedding in his home of Singapore. As Rachel and Nick leave on their trip to Singapore, Rachel (who was born and raised as a part of the middle-class) begins to realize Nick’s secret; his family is insanely wealthy.

When the couple arrives in Singapore, Rachel learns that Nick is one of the most “eligible bachelors” in all of Singapore, and women are fighting to be with Nick. Rachel, who has never once been in the spotlight, gets to know Nick’s elite and eccentric family, as well as learn the ways of extremely wealthy socialites.

The comedic elements of the film are not solely represented through one-liners and jokes, but rather a much deeper social meaning. The film focuses around a female protagonist, who, in the end of the film, is the one person to make the biggest choice that determines her and Nick’s future as a couple. Rachel is the one who is given the choice whether or not to marry Nick, as marrying Nick would force him to break off ties with his mother, who disapproves of their relationship. Rachel loves Nick, but also wants for him to be able to have a relationship with his mother.

These power dynamics are very interesting and quite ironic, as the middle-class woman is the one who is making this major decision for an extremely wealthy man.

This irregular shift in power dynamics is very comedic, because in today’s world, all too often, money equals power, but in this instance it didn’t. In addition to money, Nick is also a man, and it is a “norm” in society for the man to make major choices in a relationship. The woman of normal economic status was the one making the decision that would impact Nick’s entire family with either choice she made.

Rachel made the decision to not marry Nick out of love for him, as she did not want him to lose contact with his family. But, in the end, Nick proposes to Rachel with his mother’s ring, and reveals that she has given them her blessing to marry.

The comedic element of irony is quite present in this film, and it is used to reveal the roles of gender and class, and how our views of them impact our perception of the world. Personally, I found it quite comedic that Rachel was the one to make the choice, when Nick and his family are of elite social status and great wealth.

I now realized after more closely analyzing the comedy in this film that it has a much deeper and socially rooted meaning, as it discusses the issues of gender and wealth, and how we view people according to these factors.

Comedy Can Also Be a Profound Art Format

Long time ago, I used to think only great tragedy like King Lear can give reader not only the impact of story but also some meaningful message. These messages transmitted by the miserable ending of those characters always make us think about the society or humanity. We empathize with the story, feel the power from it and make some changes about ourselves or the things around us. However, as I have appreciated some famous art works all over the world recent few years, I gradually recognized the appeal of comedy.

One of them I watched last year called Operation Love . It is a famous Japanese TV series. The story mainly tells a young man who is attending his best friends’ marriage ceremony looks at the slide show of their past and regrets. He believes the bridegroom should be him, but he never has the courage to transmit his feeling to her. He finds Rei(heroin) always kept a sad countenance in the photos which makes him feel even regretful. At this moment, a fairy occurs and gives him the chance to travel back in time and fix those sadness. The plot itself is not so amazing since it is a very classic time lapse. However, as you keep watching, you will probably get fascinated by Ken’s character. He is hard-working but also clumsy. In order to find Rei’s favorite coffee milk, he spent all his afternoon searching in the city. He knows he is a ordinary person, but he doesn’t follow the rules and is willing to take risks to accomplish impossibility. He looks very optimistic, but he is actually anxious and timid. Even though he has tons of weakness, he shows me what is the true persistence looks like.

Ken uses the number of each Japanese character to calculate the success rate of his proposal
Ken

As I noticed his efforts, I received a huge amount of courage from him. I tried to express my feelings more straightforward just like him. There is a famous joke came from this show which called Japanese run because Ken is always running in the story. He failed again and again during his time lapse and blamed on the destiny, but he finally speaks out his true voice. Except for pursuing his own love, he helped others during his trip as well. He once encouraged his friend who feels very inferior because of his height to confess his love manfully. What’s more, since he came from the future, he knew that Rei’s grandpa would die soon at that time. So he persuaded Rei to visit her grandpa and tell him her gratitude personally. This behavior made Rei eliminate her biggest pity in the future. The humor of the character, the exciting music, the sincere friendship and the pure love all make the Operation Love a literal great work. I learn so much from Ken and his experience. If a show can make an individual grows and has a better understanding of the world, that’s enough to call it “meaningful. ”

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

We all know of Charlie Brown, or Peanut’s, a cult classic that has shaped children’s literature for a while now. Charlie Brown is known for it’s lovable characters, american archetypes, and silly situations, and recently, a continuation of the Charlie Brown universe was created, but this play gives us a completely new twist.

Dog Sees God takes the characters and relationships in Charlie Brown and sets them years in the future, when the characters are teenagers. Instead of dealing with their previous innocent problems, the kids have new ones to deal with. Charlie Brown (now CB) is grieving the death of his dog, meanwhile questioning his sexuality and place in society, Sally (CB’s sister) is goth, and throughout the show questions her life’s true philosophy, and Lucy (Van’s sister) has been institutionalized for setting the little red haired girl’s hair on fire. The characters go through life in high school, dealing with others while dealing with their own personal issues and conflicts, and I won’t spoil it but the end brings tragedy and illustrates the unfairness of real life. Dog Sees God is about as far from the sentiment of Peanuts as you can possibly go, but somehow maintains the relationships and archetypes of the characters within their universe.

This play is full of satire. The most obvious would have to be parody, as this play is a direct parody of the original Peanut’s comics. Taking the original characters, this play twists them into extremely realistic adult versions of themselves, playing off of the little quirks the characters originally showed and exaggerating and forming them into phobias, diagnoses, and larger plot points. This play is also full of all types of irony. Verbal irony is used throughout the show in dialogue and interactions, bringing attention to the relationships between the characters and acting as a way to point out the extreme natures and flaws of some of the characters. Situational irony coats the entire show as many of the things the characters do we wouldn’t expect from them, such as PigPen ending up the “bully” of the show or Lucy acting as a psychiatrist for Charlie Brown from the confines of the institution she was placed in.

This is a comedic show (at least for the beginning), but the use of satire especially when in relation to such a classic children’s story brings forward the real problems with the social structures created in a high school environment. The characters from peanuts create a surprisingly good base for the archetypes of modern teenagers, so this parody works very well as a commentary on the toxicity of interpersonal relationships and friendships. The work is funny and comedic in the lines but also manages to bring light to issues like homophobia, sexual abuse, and addiction, especially when it pertains to teenagers. And by the end of the show, illustrates the consequences that can come from these actions when they are let grow and go untreated.

Satire in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Image result for ricky bobby

Ricky Bobby was a man who was born to go fast. Born in the backseat of a race car, Ricky lives by his dad’s saying, “If you ain’t first, your last”. Talladega Nights delivers more than dark comedy, this movie highlights problems that circle marriage, revenge, social standards, and peace within one’s self.

Check out the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zPcMma_C7A

From the start and to the finish, there are many moments within this movie that implement a variety of satirical methods. One example is dramatic irony. Within Ricky Bobby’s journey to success, he is very concerned with his image and how to deals with others. Especially with his wife and the media, these two things grow and complicate his life as the story progresses and causes dramatic irony to reach the audience. In light of the bigger picture, this movie mocks the idea of marriage and its burdens that come with success. Overall showing that marriage is not as pleasant as it is socially seen.

In addition to dramatic irony, there are many accounts of parody within the movie. On the whole, there is a taste of both tragedy and peace. Specifically, the use of deliberate exaggeration adds the comedic effect to stress the peace of Ricky’s life. As well as peace, Ricky also faces getting revenge on his former partner who stole his wife. Although seen as funny, this moment demonstrates social norms with a twist of comedy. All in all, it is important to view these things as the movie progresses, the bigger than comedy subjects are dealt with.

Overall, this movie points out the stresses of life, taking a comedic turn, and summarizing them through traditional forms of tragedy and comedy all in one movie. From rising to falling, to rising again, Ricky Bobby fights through social constructs and finally achieves happiness.

The Satirical Comedy of “The Truman Show”

The Truman Show is a movie about an average guy whose whole life is recorded and screened as a tv show. Although he doesn’t know it, all of his friends and family are actors and he is part of a huge tv set. Throughout the movie you can see how the director manipulates the factors in his life to evoke a reaction out of Truman so that the audience gets what they want. Truman gradually finds out the truth and makes the decision to leave and start a life of his own – one not recorded nor controlled by a director.

Check out the trailer:

There are plenty of satirical methods used in The Truman Show. One of the biggest ones used is dramatic irony. For example, throughout the whole movie the audience knows that Truman ‘s life is constantly being recorded even though he doesn’t. Truman believes his friends are real and is completely oblivious of the show that he lives in which is ironic since the audience knows the truth.

The Truman Show is also a parody of media and reality tv shows. Truman is an average guy just living a regular life. No one would truly be interested in anyone like Truman so the director spices up his life to make it more entertaining to the audience. It exposes the reality of media and how it controls people’s lives just for the entertainment and enjoyment of others. Media is all controlled by likes and followers and Truman’s life, although not willingly, is controlled by the audience and what they find entertaining. It is so hard to find real people on media because its over a screen and people can act fake just to get more popularity. Truman reflects this idea by leaving the show to find his truth and to finally be in control of his life.

Jim Carrey, who plays Truman, stars in many comedies and usually plays roles that are mostly for entertainment purposes rather than satirical purposes. Although, this movie is very comedic and exposes the media in funny ways, the overall message that it is trying to convey is one that is real and one to learn from. It isn’t just a movie to make people laugh and to entertain but also to convey a message: stay true to yourself and don’t let media, technology, or popularity control who you are and the way you choose to live your life.

The Office: Gender Inequalities in the Workplace

The Office is a sitcom television series that depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The Office uses satire to play on issues that exist in actual corporate offices such as sexism, racism, and other stereotypes through humor.

One episode that touches on sexism in the office place is “Boys and Girls.” In this episode, Jan, the Vice President of Sales at Dunder Mifflin, takes the women to a seminar called “Women in the Workplace.” This meeting is to discuss issues that women face in the corporate setting, but Michael, the branch’s regional manager, gets upset because he feels excluded, therefore he forms a seminar for the men to talk about “men things.” 

Michael centers his seminar on the idea that it is a “guy’s gripe session” where they can use the time to discuss their issues with women in the office and women in general. The whole idea of pitting women against men plays into gender differences because of how often men and women are pitted against one another in the corporate environment. Michael also mentions how the break room was once made into a “lactation room” which he finds disgusting and hopes that the women are not planning to do that again. The show uses humor to touch on the issue of breastfeeding in the workplace and how it is viewed often times viewed negatively by men. Michael was also demeaning Jan for her traditionally “masculine” qualities like her authority and assertive nature. This was illustrated when Michael called her a bitch shortly after her departure in order to relate and fit in with the other guys, which is reflective of how powerful/successful women are often labeled this way in the workplace and society in general. The episode ends with Michael saying that you need both men and women in the office because the purpose of women is to create sexual tension to keep things interesting. This line was particularly satirical because sexual harassment in the workplace is often fueled by this ideology. 


The Office mirrors actual societal views and issues that are present in society and the corporate environment. This episode, “Boys and Girls” does a great job of satirizing actual gender differences that exist in the workplace. In The Office, the gender representations, while exaggerated for humor, carry an important message of how inequalities still exist in office environments across America.

On the train

Years before I read a very profound article on a magazine and it was called “on the train.” The story stated author’s experience on the train of a business trip. Since he came alone, he felt extremely boring about the trip, at last, he decided to make friends with the people on the train to kill the time. His eyes first fixed on a young man on the opposite side of his seat who seems shared a similar age with him. When he was thinking how to start the conversation, the young man opened his phone and started checking the social medias. Then, he looked around and recognized a beauty was sitting beside him. He recovered his energy and tried to speak as gentlemanlike as he could, but after his cordial introduction of himself, he didn’t receive any reply. Then, he saw a black string down her long hair. So she was enjoying the music and tried to separate herself from the carriage, he thought. However, he still didn’t give up, he stood up and walked towards an amiable old man who just like his father. To his surprise, as the old man saw him moving towards himself, he hid his handbag behind him and face his body to the window. This made the author felt very awkward and discouraged. He slightly shook his head and arrived at the back of the train. He lighted up a cigarette and sighed heavily. At the same moment, a little boy came, grasped his pants who can hardly speak but still bravely opened his mouth and asked:”Mr, are the big tall trees over there called oak tree?”

The story itself is very short and precise. It shows authors wish for communicating with people gets discouraged several times. His feeling grows from the initial excitement, to boredness that lets him want to talk to someone, to discouragement and finally to distress. The best part of the story is the insertion of a little boy who just learned how to speak at the end. The author used the radiant boy compare to those indifferent adults to emphasize the problems in nowadays society. That’s a satire towards not only the people on the train who refused to communicate with others but also the wry modern world. It should be a happy thing that the technologies become advanced, but it also become an obstacle between people. We choose to chat with those we familiar with online instead of encountering others in the reality. We watched the horrible news about robbery, theft, and killings on the television and assumed those back lucks also may happen on us. We scared and shook at home and separated ourselves from the whole world. The author used this specific article to tell us that all these behaviors are wrong. We should always be positive, keep a curiosity of the life like the little boy and discovery the beauties in the world. Even though we are scared about, we got hurt in this cruel world, we should never give up our hope like the author who keeps endeavoring and finally find the people that are willing to talk to him.

No matter how dark the world is becoming, the darkness should never get into our hearts.

Alone on the train

Sober Up

Sober Up” by AJR featuring Rivers Cuomo from their album The Click is a song about losing yourself in adulthood. The song evokes a feeling of innocence, and the lyrics describe someone searching for their young love and innocence that has been swept away by adult life.

The song starts with:

Hello, Hello

I’m not where I’m supposed to be

I hope that you’re missing me

‘Cause it makes me feel young

Last time I saw your face

Was recess in second grade

The song is introduced with the speaker lost in his surroundings. His one lifeline is remembering a person from his past because they remind him of happier times in his life. The connection between them has been distant for some time, yet he still yearns for it.

The second verse includes lines like:

‘Goodbye, goodbye,’

I said to my bestest buds

We said that we’d keep in touch

And we did our best

The speaker begins to give more background on the situation he was in and the situation he finds himself in now. He uses “bestest buds” to describe their old friends because they were all truly close, but their communication fell through once they all went their own ways. The song then transitions over to describing the new people in his life by saying,

All my new friends

We smile at party time

But soon we forget to smile

At anything else

The new people are just “friends” because they don’t really have a genuine, heartfelt connection. The speaker tried to fill the gap of friends with new friends, but those friendships do not last. Smiles are a way to express happiness, and when smiling around people usually means that they make you happy. The speaker only smiles with his new friends during parties, so they don’t really make him happy. 

Throughout the song the lines “Won’t you help me sober up?” and “And I want to feel something again” repeat multiple times. The speaker is calling out for help. He realizes that he is in a toxic lifestyle and reflects on the last time he was happy: his childhood. This song is not only a cry for help, it is a reminder to search for your own happiness and that it is okay to ask for help.

Cosmic Love

Florence and the Machine’s “Cosmic Love” has been with me for a long time now. From the first time I let this song fill my ears, Florence’s heart-wrenching words and explosive tone have taken me to a completely different world. It is both powerful and sentimental, beautiful and tragic. Out of all the songs I have listened to, this one is the closest to poetry.

The very first lines of the song are:

A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes

I screamed aloud, as it tore through them

And now it’s left me blind

Here, Florence Welch is describing how she was completely blinded by her love for this individual. Using several elegantly crafted metaphors, Welch compares her blindness by love to a star that fell from her love’s heart and right into her eyes. The metaphors help to build an image of not only the experience, but of the feeling. This is one of the fundamental qualities of poetry.

In the second verse, Welch sings:

And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat

I tried to find the sound

But then it stopped, till I was in the darkness

So darkness I became

In this stanza, Welch is illustrating her feelings of depression and hopelessness that her relationship has led her to. She spent so long in the dark searching for love, that when her love eventually left her, she was still stuck there. The repetition of the word “darkness” emphasises her feelings of despair. The repetition of words in this way is a key characteristic of poetry that I have seen in many other famous works.

In a heart-wrenching bridge, Welch sings:

I took the stars from our eyes, and then I made a map

And knew that somehow I could find my way back

Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too

So I stayed in the darkness with you

In contrast to Welch’s previous lines that describe feelings of blindness and despair, this stanza holds a spark of hopefulness in it. This is the turning part of the poem, where she decides that she will love this individual, despite the darkness that he has pulled her into. She realizes that he is just as lost as she is, and she will be there with him, in the darkest of times. Like in previous stanzas, this bridge represents the climax of an experience, and tells the story right at its core. That is a key element of poetry.

Finally, in a beautifully powerful chorus, Welch sings:

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out

You left me in the dark

No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight

In the shadow of your heart

This chorus is arguably the most powerful stanza in the entire song. It elegantly describes her feelings of being left in despair and depression from a relationship but wanting to stay in that relationship nevertheless. By comparing her emotions to various interstellar forces all throughout the song, Welch recounts her experience in a way that people will understand. Unlike simple stories, or artless information, experiences and emotions are harder to explain. That is why Welch’s use of understandable analogies is truly helpful to the reader of the poem.

All in all, I feel that this song is a true example of poetry. The stunning diction, rich metaphors, and powerful structure all contribute to the poetic element of this song. “Cosmic Love” illustrates not only a story, but an experience.

Cosmic Love

Where’s The Karma for Life?

Image result for karma ajr

Ajr’s newest album Neotheater contains a total of 12 songs, one of them being called Karma. I consider Karma to be a very poetic song because it contrasts the meaning of the lyrics with the emotion of the music. When you first listen to it, the song is upbeat and it’s suppose to make you feel happy. One might say that this song is a “mood booster.” However, when you begin to hear the lyrics you start to realize that this about a broken man that’s slowly losing hope in life. The beginning of the song starts with the chorus which you don’t hear much nowadays which makes it even more unique. The chorus is:

I’ve been so good, I’ve been helpful and friendly

I’ve been so good, why am I feeling empty?

I’ve been so good, I’ve been so good this year

I’ve been so good, but it’s still getting harder

I’ve been so good, where the hell is the karma?

I’ve been so good, I’ve been so good this year

We’re told the speakers problems just from listening to the song for at most 25 seconds. The speaker tells us that they’ve been helpful and and friendly with others this year, however, they witness that life is only getting harder and they’re not getting anything in return for all the good deeds. This chorus introduces the concept of whether we keep doing good things just for the good feeling or to expect something in return, a quid pro quo. Most people would say to keep doing it for the good feeling, except this speaker shows a problem. The speaker has been doing good things but he’s felt nothing good about the things that he’s done. On top of that, life has been throwing more challenges and obstacles at the singer. From this chorus alone, the singer questions the act of goodness and whether or not he should keep doing it. The first verse goes like this:

Why, are you asking me why?

My days and nights are filled with disappointment

Fine, oh no, everything’s fine

I’m not sure why I booked today’s appointment

In this first verse, it seems the speaker is experiencing a bit of depression because of the fact that they can’t find any enjoyment throughout their entire day. The third and fourth represents him talking to a therapist or a doctor of some sort. Although he booked the appointment himself, he’s doesn’t feel ready yet to open up to his doctor and discuss the problems that he’s been having. After another section of chorus, the second verse is:

What, am I normal or not?

Am I crazier than other patients?

Right, I’ve done everything right

So where’s the karma doc, I’ve lost my patience

The speaker in this verse finally opens up to the doctor and begins to question whether he was the problem. The line “Am I crazier than other patients?” indicates his inner conflict with himself showing how he doesn’t fell normal. The speaker can’t form the definition of “normal” for society so he seeks help from others, like the doctor, who can somehow help him. The speaker truly believes that he’s done everything right, but with the way life is going for him, he wants to get revenge for his pain and suffering.

Karma is very poetic is a sense that it captures the sadness and anger of a man who just wants to live a happy life. Life had been cruel to the speaker for no particular reason and the speaker believes that the only way to combat this is for life to find karma. If life receives karma, then it would have no other choice but to send good things towards the speakers way ensuring a more happier life.

Is “Beloved” a Ghost Story?

In reading “Beloved,” a question arose in my mind. Is “Beloved” a ghost story? Clearly, there is a ghost or spirit of some sort in the form of Beloved. While Beloved is a spirit, what was Morrison’s motive to include a ghost in a story about post-slavery America? While one of Beloved’s main purposes is to haunt Sethe, what more does she represent?

There are a lot of questions there. But in my opinion, “Beloved” is not a ghost story. Personally, I think to call it so is simplifying Beloved as a character. To call “Beloved” a ghost story is to overlook many important events in the novel. As readers, we see many different time periods and events throughout African-American history throughout the book. We see a newly post-slavery United States through the “present” eyes of Sethe and Paul D. We also get to see flashbacks of Sethe’s and Paul D’s back to Sweet Home and slavery. We even get flashbacks to Sethe’s childhood and her mother, who spoke a different language, where Sethe would have been around people who could’ve remembered the middle passage. Morrison uses Beloved to fill some of the gaps missing in this history. As readers, we get vivid, horrible, brutal images of the middle passage through Beloved’s description. This is a part of the history that would not have been included in the story otherwise, but is very important in understanding the history of slavery in America. Beloved is also the one who asks Sethe so many questions about Sweet Home, providing the reader with more information about Sethe’s experience as a slave. Although Morrison could have found other ways to delve into Sethe’s past, Beloved is a natural and interesting tool that Morrison can use in order for us as readers to learn more about Sweet Home.

In this way, I think Beloved as a character serves a much larger purpose than just to be a ghost in the story and haunt Sethe. For this reason, to call “Beloved” a ghost story is a bit of an insult to the book because it holds so much more than that.

Aurora’s “Winter Bird” Resembles Sethe’s Journey

In Beloved, Sethe spends a good portion of the novel remembering her hazardous trek to 124 after she had escaped from Sweet Home. She recounts how she had to walk through cold and trying conditions while she was pregnant with Denver. The stunning imagery that Toni Morrison uses to describe this journey parallels the lyrics and overall tone of the song “Winter Bird” by Aurora.

When listening to this song, a few lines caught my attention in particular. The first I noticed was, “like the naked trees.” Aurora then goes on to ask if they will ever wake up again or if they have dreams. I found this line to parallel Beloved‘s motif of trees during Sethe’s journey. The trees themselves serve as a symbol for the overall mechanism of slavery, while the tree Aurora describes symbolizes her own dreams and curiosities.

Another line that struck me as similar to Morrison’s novel was the phrase “lay me by the frozen river, where the boats have passed me by.” This line stood out to me because it reminded me of when Sethe was giving birth to Denver in a boat. She has to have her baby in such horrid conditions because most of the white people do not care enough to help her, similar to how Aurora feels that the boats do not see her as important enough to stop for.

When Aurora sings the main line of the chorus “all I need is to remember, how it was to feel alive,” I couldn’t help but think of Sethe’s journey from Sweet home to 124. Specifically, this reminded me of the scene that Sethe recalls when Amy was massaging Sethe’s feet. Amy states that “anything dead coming back to life hurts.” Similar to Aurora, Sethe’s feet probably don’t remember the feeling of being alive.

Finally, the last line that stood out to me was “only wake each morning to remember that your’e gone.” I found this line to be especially powerful because it resembles Sethe’s emotional journey after she leaves Halle. She constantly wakes up every morning hoping that he will come back to her, but after a while, she knows that he is gone forever. She also looses her children later in her story and knows they will not come back to her.

Along with the lyrics themselves, the sad and heavy tone that Aurora sings this song with contributes to its similarities with the book Beloved. The book is not a happy one, so the tone of the book also has a heaviness to it. All in all, the tone and the words of this song paint a similar picture to that of Sethe’s memory.

“Winter Bird” by AURORA

Why Can They See Color?

Color is a motif throughout Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I think that color has many different meanings in the book. It often symbolizes very specific things such as how the color red represents the traumatic experiences of the past and the desire to forget them. More importantly, I think that it is intentionally used to demonstrate the transition into becoming a complete human being.

Color shows up a lot after Baby Suggs’ and Sethe’s escapes and during the characters present life. Color represents emotions which is important because even though slaves can have emotions it shows how they are not valued because they are not treated as people. They are not able to have emotions or other human behaviors because they are not treated like them. When describing Baby Suggs death Sethe says “…pondered color her last years. She never had time to see, let alone enjoy it before…I don’t believe she wanted to get to red and I understand why because me and Beloved outdid ourselves with it” (237). Even after they escaped into the north there was still a possibility that they could be caught and taken back into the south. Even if this possibility did not occur they were treated differently because of the color of their skin. I think that she is able to see more color as she approaches death because she is starting to become the most free version of herself, a soul. She is no longer lesser than anyone because what divided her, her body, is no longer there. You are able to see color when you reach freedom because only then are you able to have emotions.

Beloved and The Middle Passage

In class one day, we discussed that passage in which Beloved talks about where she came from. Beloved doesn’t name a specific location of her origin, but rather gives the reader a detailed description.

Beloved described the place that she came from as “dark” and “hot. Nothing to breathe down there and no room to move in” and that “A lot of people is down there. Some is dead.”

This description sparked much discussion and interpretation among the class. Some commonly agreed upon ideas within the classroom were Hell, a coffin, and a womb.

Then, Mr. Heidkamp gave a suggestion that nobody in the class had brought up, that Beloved was describing her journey through The Middle Passage.

The Middle Passage is the route slaves took from Western Africa to North America, where they would be sold into slavery. The Middle Passage was described by some slaves as the worst form of punishment, and in most slave autobiographies, this middle passage through the Atlantic Ocean isn’t even mentioned.

About 50% of Africans forced onto these slave ships died in The Middle Passage due to little to no food, water or shelter, as well as disease. Many debates in the colonies and later on, the states, involved whether these slave ships should be “tightly” or “loosely” packed with slaves.

The extreme dehumanization and of these people on The Middle Passage speaks to the horrors of slavery, and the disgusting actions the European colonists in North America.

Beloved expressed her dislike, and possibly even fear, of the place that she came from earlier on in the novel. It made me think a lot about this Middle Passage, and the other horrors that people faced due to the abuse of European power and force.

After I left that day in class, I heavily reflected on the emotional and physical impact of this passage, and how if a person was able to survive it, they would still be left with the horrible emotional trauma of the gruesome journey.