Please also respond to a minimum of two of your classmates’ initial posts and bring together pieces of the discussion and take those ideas further. These responses should be at least 150 words FOR EACH STUDENT.
Student # 1
Part I: Describe the qualities of life in America that TWO of our authors this week were criticizing. Do these criticisms seem valid to make of today’s America?
For my first reading I chose Mark Twain’s ‘War Prayer”. As a former soldier this appealed to me. Prayer for the safety and victory of our soldiers has always been a way of life it seems. I know that during this time the U.S had invaded the Philippines and that this invasion did go over well with a lot of people. Based on Twain’s writing it seems that he opposes the invasion. By describing what people are silently praying for he is describing the realization of what war is. These criticisms were valid through out both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
For the second reading I chose “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson. This short story is applicable in our world today. It seems like a lot of people want to look like or be like someone else without even knowing the individual. They only see what is on the outside. As was the case in this piece. Everyone admired and looked up to Richard Cory, but know one knew what struggles he may have in his life. This type of scenario happens all the time in our world today.
Part II: Try a gendered/ feminist reading of 2 readings not mentioned in your Part 1 response. Describe what the writers seem to be saying about masculinity and/or femininity. Are these stereotypes/expectations still present in contemporary life?
For part II I chose Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Miniver Cheevy”. Based on my reading, Miniver Cheevy wishes he lived or was born in a time when masculinity was at the forefront. He looks at the world he lives in, from a males standpoint, as weak compared to previous times. In many ways this type of outlook applies today. The world has changed, men are not the only “providers” for their families and are not the only ones to protect our country.
The second one I chose is the “Yellow Wallpaper”. This piece, to me, is evidence of a time when women did not have much of a voice. They were housekeepers, child bearers…etc. When she voiced her opinion or how she felt the result was she was over thinking or not being rationale. This type thinking is not as prevalent today in my opinion.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. Project Gutenberg. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=2009456&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed 14 Aug. 2019.
Robinson, Edwin Arlington. Miniver Cheevy. http://ebooks.apus.edu.ezproxy1.apus.edu/LITR221/Miniver%20Cheevy.pdf. Accessed 14 Aug. 2019
Robinson, Edwin Arlington. Richard Cory. http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook?sid=13c4548c-75f1-4acc-bfdb-3cc4b304d705%40sessionmgr102&vid=0&format=EB. Accessed 14 Aug. 2019
Twain, Mark. War Prayer. http://ebooks.apus.edu.ezproxy1.apus.edu/LITR221/The%20War%20Prayer.pdf. Accessed 14 Aug. 2019
Student # 2
Week 2: Social Realism
Professor Hunter and class,
This week’s assigned readings focused heavily on social realism. In short, social realism is the realistic depiction of art in contemporary life, as means of social or political comment. Mark Twain’s short story “War Prayer”, helps to bring light to something that is still quite relevant – even in modern times…the costs of war. The story begins by depicting a parade chocked full of patriotism as Twain writes, “the drums…. beating, the band playing, the toy pistols popping” all through the town (Twain). Immediately, the reader is immersed in patriotic sentiment as it was clear that the country was involved in a war, and the country’s participation in the conflict was a good thing. The next day, prayers for the safety of our soldiers and requested blessings of success in battle were uttered by the gathered townspeople. As the vicar prayed for these things, a stranger interrupted the service. The stranger was described as an “aged stranger…. his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet” — he was the messenger of God (Twain). The messenger came to warn the townspeople that the prayers being conveyed to God were praying for the loss of someone else’s life; thus, promoting bloodshed, tremendous sadness, and heartache for the enemy and their friends and families.
Twain’s satirical approach used in his writing, especially about war, describes a situation that continues even in modern times. It is common among armies and their leaders to invoke the blessings of God in securing victory over their enemies. Somehow, putting a religious “spin” on war helps us to forget that our enemies have friends and families that love them very much. Praying for victory is the same as praying, “tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells” and “wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief” (Twain).
Edward Arlington Robinson’s poem, “Richard Cory” also is reflective of modern society. The primary theme associated with this poem centers on economic class and how it is tied to isolation. The main character, Richard Cory, is well-known throughout the town because of his wealth as he is proclaimed to be, “richer than a king” according to the townspeople (Robinson). Due to the economic disparity that is present in the town, other townspeople have significant difficulties in relating to him; thus, Cory is isolated. By the end of the poem Cory has “put a bullet through his head” (Robinson). Robinson is criticizing the lack of understanding of one another between social classes by writing that such isolation caused Cory to kill himself. If the townspeople and Cory had taken the time to understand each other, perhaps Cory would not have killed himself. This poem’s message rings true in today’s times as there continues to be tremendous disparity between the lower class and the upper class.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman provides the reader with an introspective as to how women of the time were treated, especially those suspected of having some form of mental illness. The story begins with a couple moving into a new summer home. The wife wonders how they can afford such extravagance. From the very beginning, it is apparent that the wife was not permitted to deal with financial matters as it was a “man’s duty.” The wife feels trapped inside the home as the husband tries to hide her from society due to her illness. Sadly, after the loss of her child, the wife likely suffers from post-partum depression. Gilman’s story demonstrates how women were treated during the time by their husbands and society when mental illness was suspected.
Wharton’s “Roman Fever” is another example of a literary work that demonstrates the treatment of women at the time. The story is very clear in describing traditional gender roles. The story details two women, Alida and Grace and their tumultuous friendship that is based on societal customs instead of real feelings and emotions. During those times, southern women were expected to act with charm and grace to everyone – even those that they may have looked down on. Grace was looked down on by Alida. However, should Alida have shown outward disdain for Grace, she would have been looked down on.
Perkins, George. American Literature Since the Civil War – 2015 edition. McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 11/2008. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.
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