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“The One’s Who Walk Away from Omelas”

5) The locked, dark cellar represents the dark place represents the dark, hidden place in our hearts, where we lock away all of our secrets, fears, and all the things that would make society look at us as though we were wrong. It is the place within each of us that allows us to function in society and to look as though, outwardly, we are happy.  The cellar represents how, in order to function in society, to be happy by societies standards there are things we must push back and hide, even though it may make us suffer.  Other things that could be used as symbols are the city itself, which represents the way individuals act while part of society.  We all know that we have our own secrets to hide, but while in society we pretend that everything is ok, and that no one is hiding anything.  Another symbol could be those who walk away from Omelas.  They represent how some people walk away from the ideas and ideals of society and become outcasts, because they do not wish to hide things.

6) This story does criticize our society quite a bit.  The story shows that society has pushed everyone to a point, where they can’t really be true to themselves.  Everyone must take a part of themselves, which is represented by the child, and hide it away in the darkest part of their heart, which is the room, in order to function in society.  People are not able to say what they want, wear or talk any way they want, or act however they feel.  There are rules and expectations in society that keep us from being truly free to be ourselves, and yet as a group, most of society seems to be happy and fine with that. This story criticizes that happiness and asks the readers to look deeper into their hearts and see if they are truly happy, or if they are only conforming and pretending.

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Setting of “Curfew”

The setting of “Curfew”, by Ismet Prcic, plays a strong role in the story itself, as it sets up the mood and the tone for the whole story,  The narrator talks about how everything is dark and dim, and not much color is described. This is done to show how not only the characters, but also the mood of the whole story is one that is dark and dismal.  When the narrator describes the town, the connotation of the words he uses only make the reader feel more put off by the scene. “The town was ruptured. The streets were gray lunatics” (Paragraph 6). By using words like ruptured and lunatics, the author is able to make the setting seem alive, yet broken, just like the people he describes in the beginning.  The streets themselves are symbolic of the whole town, which has fallen to ruin because of the war. Not only the streets, which are dark and dismal, but the people as well.

When the narrator enters the hotel, he talks about the people as if they were dead. “Bodies stood around purposelessly like singed moths” (Paragraph 9).  I can just imagine all these people in the background as faceless, shadowed shapes who stand around like soulless ghosts just waiting for something to happen to them, because no matter what everything is the same.  They crowd in the background, making the setting more dismal, because while normally people help bring life to a story, these people are just there.  Like the snow and the darkness, they just exist and are stuck in the same empty life as the narrator.  By comparing them to singed moths, the narrator is able to give the reader the picture in his head of just how dismal even the hotel, which is the place with the most life, really is. Even when he describes the hotel, he does so in a way that doesn’t make it seem welcoming.  “It shone like a solitary porch light in the night, turned on just to attract the insects away from the real party going on somewhere inside” (Paragraph 8).  This description is not of someplace inviting or welcoming, but of somewhere with secrets to hide.  This description, along with all the other descriptions of the town and the night all help to solidify the mood of the story, which is one of hopelessness and desperate hope for change.

Settings in “Curfew

           

The Great Gatsby- Deconstructionism

In the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it helps to use literary devices to be able to better understand what is happening in the story, and all the symbolism that lies within the words.  A great example of how much deconstructionism helps the reader understand symbolism is like when you look at the following quote.

“But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.  The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic- their retinas are one yard high.  They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose” (p. 27).

Here, by using deconstructionism we can find out a few things.  First, “the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly”.  The signifier, dust is literally defined as fine powder made from a particular substance.  It signifies the hopes and dreams of the people who live in the area, that were never fulfilled.  The dreams of the people are that they wanted to be able to live the life of others, like Mr. Gatsby.  They drift endlessly, never settling or becoming true.  They drift over everyone, just out of grasp, but still close enough to cause misery.  The misery is caused because they can’t reach their true goals.

The signifier, the eyes of the doctor, signifies the idea of G*d being ever present and ever watching.  They represent an ever watching source that always looks down at the lower class.  He is watching them do everything, and there is nothing the people can do to get away from his gaze.  His eyes, which are “blue and gigantic” see everything, and pierce the hearts of the people whom they stare down upon.  By using the signifier, blue, Fitzgerald wants to show the sadness that surrounds the people.  Blue is often associated with sadness, and it and the color yellow are the only colors talked about in the grey world these people live in. The signifier, yellow, signifies death and that is will come eventually.   The fact that these are the only two colors that are seen by the people of the grey land shows that all they have to look forward too in life is sadness and eventually death.

Understanding People through Trash Digging

                         It is an incredible thing to be able to divulge information about someone, just by looking at their trash, and yet that is exactly what the narrator in Dumpster Diving, by Lars Eighner, is able to do.  Now, it is obvious that there are many forms of intelligence that the narrator must have, in order to be able to live off of what he finds, but the most obvious and perhaps the most important one is interpersonal intelligence.  The narrator is able to understand what the person is like, and what they may have been thinking just from the trash that was thrown out.  “Interpersonal intelligence builds on a core capacity to notice distinctions among others; in particular, contrasts in their moods temperaments, motivations, and intentions. In more advanced forms, this intelligence permits a skilled adult to read the intentions and desires of others, even when these have been hidden” (¶ 31).  So just by being able to see what a person throws out, but not meet the person or ever talk to them, the narrator is able to divulge a good amount of information about the person whose trash he is digging through.

            As a dumpster diver, the narrator isn’t just finding what he can use and taking it home, but he is also learning about the people he is taking things from, especially the college students that abound in his area.  He is not able to meet the people who throw away their trash, and yet he can tell much about them, like how they think when it comes to food, or how they feel about money.  “In fact nonorganic peanut butter does not require refrigeration and is unlikely to spoil in any reasonable time.  The student does not know that, and since it is Daddy’s money, the student decides not to take a chance” (¶ 26).  The narrator knows a lot about food, but he is also able to deduce what the student is thinking by what was thrown out.  If the student had been hard up for money, then he or she would not have been as likely to throw things out until the very last second, but since they did, it must be because the parents are still helping out.  By being able to tell how the students think just from how they throw things out shows that the narrator has an advanced form of interpersonal intelligence.  

Social Norms and Government During The Great Depression

One of the main ideas behind the story “I Stand Here Ironing” is how families, especially those with only one parent, were  able to manage and get by and what they had to do to take care of their children.  The story shows that, at the time of the Great Depression, daily life was much crueler than what the United States faces now.  Jobs were scarce because all the men were returning from World War I and so that made it nearly impossible for a woman of the time to get a job. The wages were low and there wasn’t much available to a single parent.  The social norms were much different, and the government could only do so much. 

The mother had no choice but to follow along with the expectations of society, which were to allow the government to help.  “They persuaded me at the clinic to send her away to a convalescent home in the country where ‘she can have the kind of food and care you can’t manage for her, and you’ll be free to concentrate on the new baby’” (¶ 26).  The social norms of the time stated that a woman was to get married and have children, so after the father left, the mother had no real choice but to be remarried and have more children.  Even with the income of the father, it wasn’t enough to support two children, so she had to do what was best for her eldest child, even if that meant sending her away. 

But the government didn’t really help.  Instead all that was available for the children was this terrible “convalescent home”. This makes the reader feel a little like the government is failing in its duties to help the families.  “They had runny eggs for breakfast or mush with lumps, Emily said later, I’d hold it in my mouth and not swallow” (¶ 32).  No child at Emily’s age could truly understand why her family would abandon her to a place that had such terrible food and yet keep the new child.  Emily, only five or six years old, was being asked to understand not only the economical state of the country, but also that, as far as her family knew, they were trying to help her. 

The government was the one who let Emily down in this situation, not her mother.  The government, who was supposed to help children stay healthy, feeding them food that did not sound appealing to a pig.  By not allowing the children to have any physical contact, they make the children cold and distant.  “I would try to hold and love her after she came back, but her body would stay stiff, and after a while she’d push away” (¶ 14).  It was the government and the social norms that caused Emily to become so distant and troublesome, and so the reader’s end up feeling a sort of disgust for both those things.  If either the government or the social norms had changed just a little bit, things may have turned out just a little bit better for everyone.