Author Archives: mjtoomer

“Heart’s Blood”: 2009 version of “Beauty and the Beast”

This up to date version of Beauty and the Beast, I believe to be the most current, is one I found quite interesting. It was written in 2009 by Juliet Marillier. To summarize it quickly, the main character, Caitrin, is on the run from an abusive past. She makes her way to Whistling Tor where she comes across a deformed man, Anluan, whose family and hisself are cursed. As time goes on and Caitirin learns more about the man and sees him through his bitterness, she falls in love. This version differs tremendously from our classic “Disney” version we are most familiar with. In that version, we see Beauty running off to save her father, whereas Caitrin in “Heart’s Blood is running from her past and looking to find something new. Her (Caitrin’s) beast is not truly a beast but a man who has a curse on him which left him crippled and deformed. In our classic version, the curse on Beast left him as a “monster” and once broken. turned him back into the handsome man he once was. We do not see Caitrin longing to want to be reconnected with her family or escape from the castle as Beauty did. Instead, she finds her new home somewhat “safe” despite is terror and wickedness. This version of the tale puts a unique twist on it as we can connect with this “Beauty” (Caitrin) more than we can with “Beauty”. Her escape from an abusive past/family leaves us to question why/what caused the abuse she suffered and to learn more about her background. As with Beauty, we know she was already the “prettiest” of her sisters and treated like an angel by her father, which doesn’t make her past as interesting. This version puts a unique spin on the novel and no longer leaves it as a “bore” as it once was in the classic version.

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Fight for Survival in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale”

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred along with all the other women can be seen fighting for survival. Their “fight” can be seen as doing as they’re told and maintaining their roles and/or titles because if they disobey or become rebellious, their life could be at stake. Offred’s fight was once I found the strongest. Day in and day out, she played her role as a handmaid to the Commander and did as she was told–to lie on her back when ordered to. She knew what was happening to her was not right but knew if she were to fight against it, her life would be at stake. Longing to survive and not die at the hands of the Commander or the Republic of Gilead, she did as told and played her part well. Her strength to keep on pushing is what inspired me. Although she was not in the best situation, she made the best of it. Throughout the novel, I looked at her as somewhat of a heroine. She saved her own self, if that makes any sense. She did what she was instructed to do in order to get by. There are many women who would’ve probably given up or tapped out if they were in her shoes. But she tried to think of what her Aunt Lydia had told her, “Don’t underrate your freedom.” For she is “freer” than women once were with her type of freedom. The fact she held on to the end as she planned her escape is what amazed me. She was her own heroine by saving her own life and making it out of captivity alive. Her fight for survival shows us how strong women can really be even in the toughest situation. Atwood’s description of Offred shows her strength and determination as a woman.

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The Sense of Dying to Belong in “Blu’s Hanging”

A theme that occurred to me recently that can be seen in “Bl’s Hanging” is the sense of dying to belong. We can see o=it occur within all the children as they try to cope and make it in the world after their mother’s life. Each child is stuck trying to find their purpose in life and deal with their struggles they each have. All they want to do really is find peace within their selves and live out their lives that were destined to them. Prime example, Ivah wanting to go off to school after her mother dies and she is left to raise her younger siblings. Her father, Poppy, even blames her for abandoning her siblings by making this decision. All Ivah really wanting to do is make something out of her life, get past her mother’s death, and do something to help better herself as a person. Instead, she is looked at as the “bad guy” by her father for wanting to do so. She is dying to belong and live her life as a child (which she still is). However, childhood has been taken away from her before she even gets a chance to live it. Her mother dies, her father turns to drugs to cope, which leaves her no choice but to help raise her siblings—losing her childhood She’s curious to know what it is like to live that childhood life, be able to go to school, get an education, and do the things she sees other children doing. Instead, adulthood has already met her with an unanswered childhood being left behind her for her to only dream about. A sense of dying belong is heavily seen throughout the text.

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“After Dark” Follow Up: What is the genre of this novel?

After our intense class discussion of After Dark, I decided to come back and do an in-depth analysis of the novel. This novel by far is the most unique one we have read all semester. The fact that everything occurs within one night amazed me. As it was brought to my attention in class by Thomas, The Tempest also took place in a day’s span. But what intrigued me more with this novel is it took place within a couple of hours of night. The novel’s genre is one I found most difficult to decipher. Is it science fiction, a dystopia, speculative fiction? What genre would actually fit for this novel? To me, it appears as if the novel transcends into different genres. Science fiction, an obvious one, is seen throughout the course of nightfall and all the “magic” that takes place. For example, Eri getting sucked into the television and trapped in the room. I also found this to be connected to speculative fiction, as the two genres do not differ much. The dystopia can be seen in general with the “After Dark” part of the novel. When nighttime falls, a whole new world begins. We see things that we do not see occur during the daytime and everything appears as a blur. So what genre is truly suitable for this novel? I see so many different possible genres as the novel unfolds and transcends genre throughout the occurrence of nighttime. This is why I feel the novel is the most unique one we have read. To label it what one genre seems nearly impossible and I like how it challenges me to think of one that is suitable for it.

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Close reading of “A Small Place”

A passage I found interesting in A Small Place that I would like to go back and evaluate is on page 14 when Kincaid calls tourists ugly human beings. She states, “The thing you have always suspected about yourself the minute you become a tourist is true: A tourist is an ugly human being. You are not an ugly person all the time; you are not an ugly person ordinarily; you are not an ugly person from day to day; From day to day, you are a nice person” (14). In this quote Kincaid criticizes tourists as being “ugly human beings”. However, she says you are not an ugly person. The ugly person only exists and comes into being once you decide to be a tourist. As a matter of fact, she says, you are a nice person when you’re living you’re day to day life. But once you make the decision to become a tourist all of this goes away. The fact that Kincaid separates one as a tourist and one as “their self” into two distinct categories is quite interesting. How can one human being portray two different sides when making one petty decision. A tourist is what turns you “ugly” and “bad” from the “beautiful” and “nice” person you once were. Kincaid’s meaning behind this passage goes to show how much she despises tourists. Her evaluation of them in this passage is one that makes you, as the reader, stop and think, do I want to become this “ugly” person, the tourist? Or do I want her to accept me for me–the nice, beautiful person I am living my day to day life in my own city. Kincaid’s view of tourists will make us as readers who love to travel stop and think for a second if this is truly how all natives of islands/places we visit think of us? Or is this just Kincaid lashing out on tourists? Either way it goes, the novel in general points its fingers at all who travel and become tourists of a place when they do. She wrote this book for us.

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Bluebeard and its Poetry

While reading The Classic Fairytales this semester, the one I found most interesting was Bluebeard. New to me, Bluebeard put me on the edge of my seat as I read further and further into the tale. Seeing his wife be so curious about what was in the locked room and disobey him by going into it, its gruesomeness and suspense kept me intrigued. Doing some research on the tale, I found out there were many films that had been made of the tale, most recently in 2009, Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard). While watching the trailer just now, I found it quite interesting to see a modern-day remake of the tale. However, with this being a literature class, the first question that came to my mind was , Does the tale have any poetry? When researching, I quickly found the answer to my question–yes. The poem I found most interesting was one by Leon Gellert. Titled “Bluebeard’s First Wife”, the poem tells the tale of the murder of his first wife. I love the analogies used to compare her death to the earth (sky, clouds, etc.). For example, “One by one on the stone, The blossoms shudder and die.” This line refers to the women who were murdered at Bluebeard’s hands.  “The dark blue face of the sea” she is claiming to have loved refers to Bluebeard. The context of the poem gives us an idea of her death, why it occurred, and explains her love she had for the “dark” man.

I lie by the garden wall,
Buried and all alone;
The brown camellias fall
One by one on the stone.

Buried and all alone,
Because I had loved the sky!
One by one on the stone
The blossoms shudder and die.

Because I had loved the sky—
The dark blue face of the sea!
(The blossoms shudder and die)
He murdered me at his knee.

The dark, blue face of the sea.
Nothing so dark as the tomb!
He murdered me at his knee.
I knew the truth of the room!

Nothing so dark as the tomb
For the vile revenge of the vain.
I knew the truth of the room
And the price of his hidden stain.

For the vile revenge of the vain
I suffered the knife at my skin,
And the price of his hidden stain
Was two and eleven a tin!

I suffered the knife at my skin;
I knew the dye that he used
Was two and eleven a tin.
I confess I was somewhat amused.

I knew the dye that he used.
I heard the stitch of my shroud.
I confess I was somewhat amused
At the fury that burst like a cloud.

I heard the stitch of my shroud,
And all of the world disappeared
At the fury that burst like a cloud
From the heaven’s blue of his beard.

And all of the world disappeared!
I lie by the garden wall.
From the heaven’s blue of his beard
The brown camellias fall.

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“Red Riding Hood”: 2011 film vs. The Classic fairytale

About a month or so ago, I went to to see the new film “Red Riding Hood”. What I was expecting to see was an up to date remake of the classic fairytale; instead it was merely the complete opposite. The film had a romantic and was nothing like the classic version. “Little Red Riding Hood” who was not so “little”, instead a lovestruck teen who was falling in love with a woodcutter that her family failed to accept. This reminded me of the classic “Romeo and Juliet”. Seeing the Capulets not so happy with Juliet for falling for “not good enough” Romeo. The two were determined to be together, just as Romeo and Juliet were; the only difference was the two (Red Riding Hood and the woodcutter) do not commit suicide in the end. Instead both her and her village are tortured by “The Wolf”, a werewolf in this version. Many movie reviews and moviegoers note how much of a “dark twist” this version has to it. Nowhere in this version do we see “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Grandma” reciting their infamous lines– Red Riding Hood: “Grandmother, what big teeth you have.” Grandma: “The better to eat you with my dear!” As a matter of fact, the whole moral of the classic fairytale is lost in the film. “Children, especially young girls, should not talk to strangers because there are consequences.” Instead the film portrays more of a mystery as Red Riding Hood tries to figure out who the werewolf is that is terrorizing the village? The film reminded of “Twilight” as both films have the same director. This version puts you more on the edge than the classic fairytale which involves a child being eaten by a wolf which she mistakes for her Grandma. Despite its complete opposite plot, overall, I must say I enjoyed the film and especially liked how it is different from all the other versions of this fairytale. Attached is a trailer of the film for those who are not too familiar with it:

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Alienation between Eri and Mari in “After Dark”

While reading this novel, I first found it interesting that the entire story took place in one night. I can not recall reading any novel that took place over one night or day, likewise. I found this sort of significant to why the author made the novel occur this way. As I read further, I discovered alienation to be a theme of the novel by seeing the issue between Eri and Mari. We see the novel taking place as part in reality and in part, the dream. It opens up with Mari spending her night reading in a Denny’s restaurant. There she meets a few individuals, including Takahashi (who we get  an idea from at the end that Mari is involved with romantically) and the story falls into play. Alienation occurs as the eerie dream unravels with their hopefulness to reach dawn as they are “trapped” in the darkness and we learn of Eri and Mari’s relationship problem.

Alienation is also found between the two sisters, Eri and Mari. Eri is the beautiful sister, a model since a very young age, and who their parents see as the “better” sister. On the other hand, Mari can be seen as the intelligent sister, the bookworm, not so beautiful but has plenty of brains. One of them struggles under the pressure of being perfect, whilst the other suffers from lack of attention. Both problems persist with the sisters, without one of the other realizing each other’s problem. Hence, they become alienated from one another. Takahashi, who knows both Eri and Mari, provides the bridge between the two girls. He listens to Mari slowly but surely opening up about her and her sister’s complicated intertwined relationship. Both believe the life of the other to be easier; Eri thinks Mari has it easy because she has no pressure on her, and Mari believes Eri has a simpler life because she is perfect. Takahashi tries to dismiss the alienation between the two at the end of the novel by helping Mari to make the first move to reconcile herself with Eri. We can see Takahashi as the “hero” of the novel, well the relationship between the two sisters (a main concern of the novel) by helping them to get their relationship back on the right track.

 

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Deprivation of Education in “The Handmaid’s Tale” & “A Small Place”

I chose to write about this topic because we (as college students) know how important an education is to have and by having one how far it can take you. Not having one, limits your abilities and intelligence level. Education is key to success and in both novels, the government takes it away from the people and they have no clue what to think, feel, or to do to even try to begin to gain it back. The government knows their power in both novels and feel by choosing not to allow their people to receive an education will keep them in their control. A key point in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is the women only being able to decipher the meaning of pictures, not words. A key point in “A Small Place” would be the library senario–its destruction, government’s promise to repair, and it still being closed after 10+ years after the earthquake. Some things I may not know about my topic are the viewpoints of people who do not have access to education, their capabilities (which I may be doubting them of having), personally knowing what it is like not to have an education.

Some things I want to further investigate are:

1.) Even not being allowed an education and no sources being able to get one, do people still manage to become knowledgeable? How?

2.) Why did they (the women in The Handmaid’s Tale and the people of Antigua in A Small Place)  not try to teach one another how to read/write how blacks did during slavery? Do you think they were afraid of the government or simply did not think of this idea?

3.) How does having a powerless society work for the government? Work against the government?

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The Library: Faith after Broken Promises

In A Small Place, the library had a sign which clearly stated, “THIS BUILDING WAS DAMAGED IN THE EARTHQUAKE OF 1974. REPAIRS ARE PENDING.” At the time Kincaid wrote this novel, we see that the library had remained damaged for over more than 10 years. She points this out because not only did she love going to the library as a child, she had some sort of connection to it. She feels that since the library remains damaged and need repairs, there is nothing that can be done for Antigua, as a whole. The island people may not care about the library as much as she does; however, they should see since the library was not repaired (as promised) after the earthquake, that they should not expect much to be fixed/changed to help Antigua. They are living off of broken promises but at the same time, still have faith that the island, including the library will one day be restored. For them to feel this way goes to show how strong they are and how much faith they have in their island and government. However, Kincaid does not see it this way and knows that since it has already been 10+ years since the promise to repair the library has not been fulfilled, there is not much hope for the island at all. People in the town use the library to ready, better their education, and become more intelligent. But without it being accessible, how are they to learn? How are they to become educated? Get a job? They may not realize how much “damage” not having the library is causing them, but in the long run, that broken promise is causing them a lot. But yet and still, they have faith.

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