The foremost concept of Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, is the fear of rejection. We all have felt rejected to a certain degree, but Morrison explains a particular type of rejection in the foreword to her story. She examines how race orchestrated ideals of beauty in the mid-twentieth century, and how that ideal affected the lives of even the most innocent characters. When dealing with such vulnerable characters, Morrison’s primary concern was how the audience might pity them instead of self-reflecting. I can understand why this might raise issues for Morrison. How is one supposed to change their perceptions through sympathy? One must feel empathetic in order to look within. Another concern for Morrison was that this pitiful character was a unique representation, not a “representative” one. I agree with this claim because although the plot of the story was possible, it was not the norm. With that, people may not receive the message that Morrison wants them to receive.
Toni explains one of these messages in her foreword, “When I began writing The Bluest Eye, I was interested in something else. Not resistance to the contempt of others, ways to deflect it, but far more tragic and disabling consequences of accepting rejection as legitimate, as self-evident.” I think this is how Morrison may have chose such a unique situation that was the essential part of the story. Yet, it was also the downfall. The main character of the story, Pecola is a symbol for how race deconstructs to self-loathing and tragedy. Without her the story wouldn’t be what it is, she is what makes it so interesting. But at the same time, she is a character to be pitied. And she does not depict the reality of most young, black girls in that generation.
The term Shirley Temple may only resonate the idea of a sugary soda to 21st century kids. However, during the early nineteen hundreds Shirley Temple was an iconic actress, that captivated the hearts of the nation. As a child, Shirley was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel. She set the standard for beauty in her era. That idea of how a young girl should look was detrimental to young African American girls. Toni Morrison exemplified this issue in her novel, The Bluest Eye. Claudia, the black, adolescent main character experiences violent feelings for Shirley temple that she expresses during the first chapter. “Frieda and she had a long conversation about how cu-ute Shirley Temple was. I couldn’t join them in their adoration because I hated Shirley.” On the surface it is obvious that Claudia is jealous of this phenomenon. But aside from that, she is powerless in the situation. There is no way for her to change who she is, but there is also no way to change society’s perception of her. So the question is, what can she do? Whatever options she may have, she decides to hide her anger towards blonde, white girls behind a mask of false love and kindness.
For my second writing assignment I chose to write about social media. Although we already covered this topic in class, I feel that I gave a fresh, and unique approach. In my opinion, the strength of my draft is how I came to a resolution about how to limit social media, while still reaping the benefits from it. One thing that concerned me about my paper, was how to incorporate all of my ideas. There are so many factors that come into play when contemplating social media, I struggled to select the ones I found most appropriate to my paper.
I was surprised by how easy it was for me to forward and counter the ideas of other authors. I originally thought that I would have a difficult time adding to what people had already said, but as I was writing, my own perspective neatly unfolded. I was able to add my ideas to the paper, based off what others had said. Also, I could use direct quotes in a way that still furthered my own argument. However, it was a little more challenging for me to counter ideas rather than to forward. I think the reason I struggled to counter topics was because not many sources disagreed with the fact that social media has addictive qualities.
Since my first writing piece of the semester, I have noticed some changes in the way I write. I feel like I’m constantly improving, and it is easier to organize my thoughts onto paper. I found the personal narrative much more challenging for several reasons. First, it was the first major essay I had ever created in college, and I was a little unsure about how to approach it. Next, it was a personal essay, and I found it much more difficult to sit down and write about myself for three pages. My life is not all that thrilling, so making the piece interesting was a stretch. The second essay was easier because I was able to choose any controversial topic I pleased. Social media had such a realm of information, it wasn’t hard to find research about it. But I did find this essay more challenging in the way that I had to draw in other resources. Whereas in my first essay, I was able to write straight from my own head. Overall, I feel more confident about my second essay. I think that I gave a more well articulated and organized paper than my first, with clear examples of improvement in my writing.
I think we all can agree that social networking has become an essential part of modern society. It is the primary way we interact. This idea of social networking is also a huge controversy, due to it’s many pros and cons. Brendesha M. Tynes argues, “Online social networking can facilitate identity exploration, provide social cognitive skills such as perspective taking, and fulfill the need for social support, intimacy, and autonomy.” Although this is well thought out, I have several doubts about this argument. First Tynes says it helps with “identity exploration”. The internet is full of propaganda of how one should act/ who one should be. So is it really safe to explore who we are online, when there is so much pressure of who we should be? Next, the idea that social networking heightens social skills, and intimacy seems like a far stretch. When there is a room full of people, with their eyes to their phones, is that really helping social skills? It hurts one’s ability to articulate and speak to other people face to face. Also, there is nothing intimate about online communication, you miss out on facial expressions, reactions, laughter, and other kinds of details that can only be experienced in person. Even in the most basic sense, how can you get to know someone if you can’t look them in the eye? Or shake their hand? A person could completely hide behind a false identity, and be completely different in person.
War can make anyone lose their sense of reality. That is the most important concept I took from Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things they carried. This motif guides the themes of memory, reality, truth and fiction. The plot switches between past, present and future to exemplify how war memories stick with the alternating narrators. However, O’Brien suggests that memories are skewed by perspective and can be quite different from actual reality. In the chapter How to Tell a True War Story, he states, “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.” What O’Brien means by this is that as a soldier there are so many different thoughts and emotions that distort the actual image. There is a very fine line between truth and fiction. O’Brien speculates the two concepts and concludes that war stories never tell the full truth and that sometimes making up details to evoke emotion is actual more truthful. “In a true story nothing is ever true”, so does it really matter if the story is exaggerated? A good war story makes you feel, the truth doesn’t matter.
O’Brien uses many great narrative strategies throughout the book, but the one that struck me the most was how he lists the physical things the soldiers carried and what those things symbolize. Each soldier carried some kind of personal item, Kiowa carried a copy of the New Testament, Dave Jensen carried soap, Henry Dobins carried his girlfriends panties around his neck. These items represent the uniqueness in the characters, how they’re real people too. It made me relate more to these characters. However, O’Brien then continues to list all of the standard items they’re required to carry, weapons, explosives, etc. This brings a sense of conformity into play. These soldiers were all in the same terrible situation, with the same feelings. Throughout the story O’Brien switches narrators and we unravel what the soldiers really carried, the pain, confusion, love and sorrow of war.
I am so used to writing a standard five paragraph essay, that this past writing assignment was very new to me. In High School, I was never given the freedom to personalize my work. It was very interesting writing an essay with narrative elements. I felt like it gave the piece more spark and helped draw the reader in. Also writing about my own stories made the essay much more personal. It was strange writing about myself, but refreshing in a way. Writing about my life abled me to self-reflect in ways I never have. I never considered the impact of writing and reading on my life until I started brainstorming for this paper. I feel I have a strong first draft. I like how I used specific examples from my life throughout the paper. I also chose my favorite book and showed how it affected my development, not just as a child but as a reader and a writer. I think another strength of my paper is that is transitions from one topic to the next naturally. There was one area of my paper I particularly struggled with. When I wrote about how I used writing as an outlet for the time my father got into a car accident, I was faced with a challenge. I wanted to incorporate enough details to make the story interesting. However, I was afraid to create too much detail and go off track. I believe I did a good job of adding the right amount of imagery to the essay without making it into a narrative.
After writing the first draft of my narrative essay, I feel confidently about the way I transitioned from describing how reading is important to me, to why I love writing. I think that if there is anything I have left to do it is to add more examples of how other texts have shaped my life. But i’m afraid that might make my essay too long and drawn out. During the peer review, here are some questions I would like answered about my essay. Is the essay clear and organized? Is there anything I should rearrange or remove from the piece? Are there grammar mistakes? Is the essay transitional? Do you have a good understanding of the purpose of the text? Is the essay long enough or too lengthy? Do my sentences have structure? Should I add more examples? Overall, is there anything you think I should do to better my essay?