Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 14 Blog

While reading Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice, the story took a turn. I was expecting it to be a war story, or simply about the things offered in the title, but it was much more.

The relationship between the man and his father was very complex and perplexing. It was confusing, and I feel like I was able to understand it just about as well as the father and son. Due to their past history, it seems as if both didn't know how to interact with one another or where they stood in their relationship.

In the middle, where the son is recalling his father's story, I got a little lost. It was hard for me to transition from which time frame the narrator was speaking, as well as who was speaking. Maybe the author intended this confusion to imply the thought process of the son.

It was very intriguing to here the girl tell the son, "You're romanticizing his past, to make sense of the things you said he did to you." This paints a picture of the son and his father's relationship, as well as the idea that often we can not see our motives, but they are very clear from the outside looking in. When this was said to the son, this realization sent his mind spinning. He was able to search himself to find out what he truly wanted.

The quote, "Even then, my emotions operated like a system of levers and pulleys: just seeing him had sent them irreversibly into motion," is a perfect analogy that the author uses to show the relationship. Their love was not real for each other. It was forced, and confusing. The term family was simply a guideline that they had to follow.

The end of the story was confusing to me. When the son repeatedly said, "if I had known what I knew later," I was unsure whether this meant that the father in fact did not burn his writing, or whether this means the father had his son's interest at hand. I wish it was not left is such an unknown ending. And the final sentence he describes their relationship to a frozen river capable of being shattered by a stone. I feel as if this analogy can be taken in many forms. For example it could show mending of their relationship, or show how the son felt he had bonded with his father, but one mistake could ruin it all.

vocab: eddies-Move in a circular way.
congealed- Solidify or coagulate, esp. by cooling: "the blood had congealed into blobs".

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 13 Blog

The theme of story telling was very apparent, and as the narrator explains, "Disbelief was permanently suspended, for nobody expected truth or information, just he pleasure of being in the story and, maybe, passing it off as their own. It was different in America: the incessant perpetuation of collective fantasies makes people crave the truth and nothing but the truth- reality is the fastest American commodity." This simple theme of story telling further enlightens the difference in America and other countries. Also, it shows how immigrants are able to view certain rituals. He also explained how Rora was the ideal story teller who could capture his audience and read whether to withhold information, balance suspense, or qualify his laughter.

One quote I found very interesting and insightful was when Brik says,  "A human face consists of other faces- the faces you inherited or picked up along the way, or the ones you simply made up- laid on top of each other in a messy superimposition." It seems such a different way of looking at the human face.

When Brik describes his wife as a "full-blooded American", it was interesting to see his description. It was filled of baseball, kindness, smiles, using "we", receiving a car for her 16th birthday, and wanting to make a difference. It seems to me that these are all good things, and things Americans should be proud of. I couldn't tell whether he was laughing at the matter, or being serious.

I found it much more difficult to follow the story of Lazarus than the story of Brik and Rora's travels. Perhaps the story of Lazarus was more difficult due to the names, and broken story line.

Brik is constantly bashing Christianity and faith, and it also seems as if he is curious and searching for some sort of faith of his own.

proclivities: A tendency to choose or do something regularly.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 12 Blog

When I saw the title Cowboy Chicken, I was extremely curious to see what the story could be about. As I read the title seemed obvious as to what it was about, but for some reason I was expecting something different. I found it so interesting to see the different outlooks on the "American way". It seemed to be so interesting how it was so divided.

For me, the food that Cowboy Chicken served was so normal to me, but for the Chinese it was so abnormal. This is such a simple concept but the way that Ha Jin wrote it made it much more interesting.

One thing I realized after I read it, is that although it was written in English, the characters spoke about how they didn't know english. They would speak in English and then say that they didn't know what it meant such as when Mr. Shapiro said, "Let me tell you, you are all terminated!" Later he had to have the word terminated written again so he could figure out the meaning. He then said that it was unnecessary to write the explanation mark, he understood.

They Chinese viewed the American way of business as new, interesting, and different. They wanted to take note and copy they way, although some opposed. I loved reading how they reacted to the buffet. They truly were amazed at the concept of the buffet. They gorged and stuffed their faces.

Capitalism is a common theme. "Everyone was infuriated, and even the two part-times couldn't stop cursing capitalism." It seemed to create anger in all Chinese.

gall- Bold, impudent behavior

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 11 Blog

While reading "Orbiting", it took me a while to be able to follow the story. It has a very different tone and style. It is almost as if some times when she is speaking she uses dialogue with quotations, and others she just fits it into the paragraph. It was really hard for me to pick up on the characters as well as dialogue. The short story almost seems like it is missing a few pages at the beginning where the story is introduced. As you read through the story it will randomly give background information when necessary, but can be confusing.

When Ro says, "How else will i know you are as beautiful as I think you are? I would not want an unprized woman," it really took me off guard. Rindy seemed completely fine with the situation, yet it doesn't seem like her personality to admire that remark. Earlier she spoke of how her mother and father view each other, and how her mother told to her to find a man. But the men she found did not seem like "keeepers" to me.

Transitions are slim to none throughout the story. It jumps quickly from scene to scene and at times I was unable to follow the order of events, or their meanings.

One scene that really stuck out to me is when she says, "I cringe as he spells his name. My parents are so parochial." I feel like this shows the different ethnicities, and how we all seem to have mindsets and stereotypes. Also, this simple line really develops the characters. A few lines later she says, "I make the kiss really sexy so they'll know I've slept with this man." It shows Renata is rebellious and not afraid to break the mold her parents often place people in. I have never thought of how men stand differently in different cultures, but I would love to know if this is true, and the meaning behind it.

The very end was written very well. It takes a turn of tone from nonchalant to in depth and meaningful. It says how Ro has come from a culture of hurt and pain as she describes the scars on his back. This whole comparison comes from Renata carving the turkey. As she carves the different parts, she relates them to different aspects of Ro.

parochial: Having a limited or narrow outlook or scope