Monday, March 8, 2010
"Babylon Revisited" By: F.S. Fitzgerald. Babylon: An ancient, prosperous city in Mesopotamia, associated by the Hebrews and Greeks with materialism and sensual pleasure. This story is set in Paris, where before the stock market crash of 1929, the city was filled with the rich and over-indulged. Charlie is back after a few years after the crash, and has noticed how much the city has changed, how much he has changed. Before the crash, Charlie lead an exciting life, filled with alcohol and other substances. He did permanent damage to the relationships around him. His wife died, he lost custody of his daughter, his ex-sister-in-law can't stand him, see, very bad indeed. But, after cleaning himself up and retaining a good job, he wants to seek custody of his daughter before she is beyond the impressionable years. Marion, his ex-sister-in-law, has other ideas. She doesn't think he is fit to take care of Honoria, his daughter. He has tried to show Marion how he has changed and is stable enough to have Honoria, but she is convinced that he will go back to his degenerate ways, and it didn't help that some people from Charlie's past interrupted a family meeting, and caused Marion to flip out and force the custody to wait another six months. Poor Charlie, he's trying so hard to do the right thing.
"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" By: E. Hemingway. I have to say, I think this is the first story I've read that I didn't like. The story is of a man, with his many regrets and pessimistic attitude that drowns out the rest of the story. I couldn't get past the "woe-is-me" and the, "I'm disgruntled, so I'll take it out on you," fame of mind. He's dying from a would that wasn't properly taken care of. So, he's purposefully distant and uncaring towards those who've been there to take care of him. So, he dies, and it's the end. Thank goodness!
"A Streetcar Named Desire" By: T. Williams. Wow! What a story! Love, betrayal, lies, abuse, you name it, this story has it. Stella and her husband Stanley live in a lower working class neighbor hood in New Orleans. Stella's sister Blanche comes to visit. The visit seems innocent enough in the beginning. Blanche is happy to see her sister but is overwhelmed with the conditions her sister is living in. Blanche has lots of quirky little habits that begin to take there toll on Stanley. Stanley, we find is a hot-bed of a temper, while playing a poker game with the guys, he flies off the handle when Blanche turns back on the radio. Stella having heard the commotion tries to intervene, but Stanley hits her instead and she leaves. Here is the famous scene where Stanley is yelling for Stella, at the top of his lungs. So she returns. Blanche can't believe her sister would just go back, and devises a plan to get them both out of there. But, Blanche just spins more lies to her sister. Come to find out Blanche had been staying in a seedy motel called the Flamingo, where less than reputable women earn their living. Stanley uses Blanche to his liking, and in the mean time Stella thinks her sister is having a nervous breakdown, and has her carted off to a mental hospital. Loads of family bonding.
"The Road Not Taken" By: Robert Frost. This is a very poignant poem about a man looking at life and choosing to take the road less traveled. I think in every one's life they come to that point in the road. The pinnacle Y. Which way do we go? Only you can answer that, and hope for no regrets.
"The Lost Phoebe" By: T. Drieser. What a sad look at what happens when we lose someone we've loved for many years. We take a mental look inwards and then project our grief onto everything that reminds us of that person we lost. The little old man in this story did just that, he saw his wife who passed away, in their bedroom, kitchen, and even in their yard. Day and night he would search for her, looking around the yard, going to her friends' houses, all the while he thought she was playing with him. Eventually he wondered far away from his home and came to a small cliff of rocks. He thought he saw his wife in the valley below the cliff, and went rushing into her arms, right off the cliff.
"To Build a Fire" By: Jack London. This is a story about a man alone in the woods in the dead of winter in the Yukon. The temperature was thirty-five below and dropping as the sun was going down. He was looking for a couple of boys he had go hiking with. He had the advice of a seasoned guide in the back of his mind and it would come to the forefront when he would notice how cold he really was, but yet he would ignore the sound advice to get a fire started and trudge on. Eventually he wondered too close to a stream and ice had formed over part of it and the snow covered the ice hiding it. His leg feel through and the cold seeped in rapidly, by this point he needed a fire and pronto, but he was already having problems with feeling his fingers and hands. He made a desperate attempt to get a fire going and each time he thought he had succeeded the fire would smolder then go out. He was beginning to feel very tired and the feeling in his hands feet and legs were declining. By this time he was facing his own mortality and regretted not using the advice he had gotten to his advantage. Feeling very drowsy and numb he laid down and closed his eyes hoping a brief rest will help him to retry the fire. He never woke up. This story has lots of meaning in everyday life. Someone always gives sound advice, and it's ignored and then the results are not good.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
"The Storm" By: Kate Chopin. Ah, the infamous storm that rocked a small Louisiana town. Calixta a wife and mother finds herself in the midst of a storm like no other. Her husband and son go off to procure a few items from the local grocer, when they notice the change in weather on the way. The wind picks up with a roar and begins to rain heavily. Back at home Calixta is outside pulling clothes off the line when a man approaches and asks if he can find shelter on her porch. She agrees and he helps to pull the clothes down, when they finish she invites him in, because the wind is so great the cover on the porch may not be enough. Inside the house it is apparent that these two are well acquainted with each other. As the storm blasts away on the outside, inside things are heating up. Calixta and Alcee find themselves enjoying the opportunity the storm has afforded them. As fast as the storm came in, it left in the same manner. Alcee soon left with a smile and a wave. Calixta was in a much better mood and fretted over her husband and son's safety when they finally returned home. They expected to be chastised for their muddy appearance, but none was forthcoming. Instead Calixta promised a feast for dinner with the shrimp they bought in town. Alcee sent a letter to his wife stating that if she was having a good time that maybe she should extend her stay. Alcee's wife couldn't have been more happy to receive his letter, because her stay with friends was the first break of her wifely duties she had received since their marriage. The storm may have been disruptive, but all were the happier for it.