Monday, August 15, 2011

Heather's Perspective on Of Human Bondage

I am blogging this through a haze of a variety of medications, so forgive me, imaginary followers, if I am a bit confusing at times this evening. I am currently taking children's strength decongestant, Tylenol, Penicillin, half a sleeping pill every night, and as many cough drops as I can handle without choking on the Menthol. Aside from having the privilege of sitting next to a pile of tissues and cough drop wrappers, I am also not in the best mood. My school counselor is testing my patience by enrolling me (the student ranked 9th out of 453 students, who is stressed out enough as it is) in an online course and an extra class that I did not sign up for. On top of that, I'm not going to have one of the teachers I was really counting on having. And I've missed two days of swim practice, which is two days too many, and because of my dad's ability to plan secret vacations, I must miss two more this week.
Again, not in the best mood, but I will try to let go of any grudges against my counselor, father, and cold so as not to upset you poor, imaginary readers with the tales of my recent woes.
It took me nearly a week of reading in every spare second of my time to finish Of Human Bondage. I am not accustomed to this length and was quite frustrated when it took longer than the usual three days of buckling down to finish a book. I was further surprised when I discussed the book with my peers and found that I am the only one who enjoyed it.
The book takes place from 1885 onward. Think Jane Eyre. This story had basically the same plot. Kid's parents die, kid lives with aunt and uncle, kid gets sent to boarding school, kid hates boarding school until s/he makes some friends. I guess that is where the similarities end. Philip, the main character, leaves the school early to become a clerk. He discovers that he hates the job and decides to become an artist. He discovers that he's not a very good painter, and decides to become a doctor. He loses all of his money in the stock market and lives in poverty for a few years, until his uncle dies and leaves Philip enough money to finish his doctoring schoolishness and become an actual doctor. The book ends after Philip becomes engaged to a girl he does not love.
There are some things that happen in between that have nothing to do with his career. While at a painting school in France, Philip befriends Fanny Price, a girl who everyone else hates. She begins to love him, and kills herself when she no longer has money for food. Apparently, this was a common tradition back then. Her death really affected Philip, and he spent the rest of the book reminiscing the day when he saw her body hanging from the ceiling, wondering why she hadn't asked him for food or money.
Later, he falls in love with a waitress named Mildred. She's a perfect brat and treats him horribly, then marries another guy who has more money than Philip. She finds out that the other guy is actually already married and can only keep her as a mistress (Sister Carrie much?). Then she gets pregnant so the guy leaves her, and she comes crawling back to Philip, who houses her and continues to love her. Then she meets his best friend, decides that she loves him, and runs away when she finds that his best friend doesn't return her affection. Philip finds her months later and discovers that she is a prostitute. He no longer loves her, but again houses her and takes care of her child, until she tries to have sex with him. He refuses, and she thanks him for all his money and dedication by tearing up anything of value that he owns. They meet again later; Philip finds out that Mildred's baby has died and she is deathly ill.
Upon reading my description, I can't help but think that this book was pointless. A fun read, but pointless. Philip finds the "meaning of life" at some point in the book after a long struggle of looking for it. When I think of his conclusion, the phrase "dry philosophy" comes to mind, and nothing else. The meaning of life, according to Philip, was something like... Life is pointless, we are insignificant, and we'll only be happy if we choose to be that way, because we only matter in our own minds. Essentially, existentialism. 
Usually, when I read a good book, I can sort of slip myself into the character's shoes. Experience their experiences. Think their thoughts. Etc. I could not do so with this book. I was constantly aware of the fact that the book has an author. I did not like that feeling; I usually like being one with the character and forgetting that the author exists (this is coming from someone who hopes to be a future published author... How sad). The author also felt the need to constantly remind me that Philip is shy. Philip, however, did not act very shy, in my opinion. I suppose Maugham believes that if you say something over and over, it will make what you say true. I think that's an actual philosophy...
I like the girl that Philip becomes engaged to (with the gallant, romantic proposal: "Say, Sally, I wonder if you'll marry me"), though. She is clear-minded and NOT really irritating, unlike Mildred.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heather's Perspective on Brave New World

Good evening, imaginary viewers! I'm SO sorry that I haven't blogged in almost 7 months. I'm sure you cried and cried in my absence, wondering where I could have gone and why I abandoned you. I love you so much and I'll try not to let it happen again.
Since it's been so long, I suppose I'll give you a little update. Savanna is definitely not blogging again, as she is not taking AP English next year and we are no longer friends because of it (lololol, Heather made a funny). We may, however, be receiving a new blogger. I am encouraging my friend Lauren to try her hand at writing. She is the Grammar Queen of the high school, my best friend, quite beautiful, and possibly majoring in Journalism. If she does join us, I must insist that you welcome her with a plethora of applause and flowers and such.
By the way, I would really like to start another blog, but I have no idea what to blog about. So if any of you imaginary viewers have an idea, feel free to let me know.
Anyway, Brave New World is one of the seven books on my summer reading list. I've only actually read 2 books... Yes, I am aware that I am in trouble. I do not care.
I am not normally a fan of science fiction. This book, however, was pretty good. It was written well, and the author did a fantastic job of describing how he views the future.  The plot could have used better transitions, though. I have the opposite problem when writing... I always want to skip the exposition and go straight to developing the plot. We need to find a happy medium here, people.
The book started out with the explanation of the process of manufacturing babies. I admit that I was confused to begin with; I had absolutely no idea what was going on. When I finally realized that the characters were discussing the manufacturization (Chrome says that's not a word... =[ oh well) of children, I suppressed the urge to yell, "that's sick!" And I don't mean "sick" in that good way, the way that means "cool." I mean "sick" like puking up your guts and bark-coughing kind of sick. It was also a little disgustingly fascinating. 
So they put the manufactured fetuses through vats of alcohol, and left them there for certain amounts of time, depending on their predetermined caste. They were Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, or Epsilons. I appreciated the fact that they used the Greek alphabet as the basis of their caste system, because I didn't have to do any memorizing. I don't much like books that require me to think. I like to just zone out and go into reading mode. Anyway, the Epsilons were the lowest caste, obviously, which made me a little sad because I think the word "Epsilon" sounds really cool. Go on, imaginary readers. Say "Epsilon" out loud. Cool, right?
So the Epsilons are left in the alcohol the longest, which damages their brains. Then, when the Epsilons are old enough, they perform the lowliest, simplest jobs that the community requires. When the kids (of all castes) are babies, they're conditioned to believe, love, or hate certain things. For example, they didn't want people reading, so they put a book in front of a baby and then shocked the baby as soon as the baby touched the book. Doing this several times a week for a few years would make just about anyone cringe at the sight of a book. When they're old enough to comprehend speech, the children are subjected to sleep-teaching (there is a word for that in the book, but I don't remember it). They put a little "whispering box" under the pillow of each child. The box tells the kids all sorts of things, and the children grow up believing the statements that the box communicates. For example, Beta kids were told something like this:
"I am quite glad that I am a Beta. Those Deltas and Epsilons are dirty and only useful for primitive jobs. I am important, but I do not have to work quite as hard as the Alphas. I really am quite glad that I am a Beta."
Again, these things disgusted as well as fascinated me, but the author spent too long dwelling on the exposition of the future and not enough time on the characters or plots. The characters were very well indirectly described, but not much was done to directly describe them. 
The story starts out with Lenina as the main character, then switches to Bernard, then to "the Savage." (In this book, it is socially unacceptable to be with only one person, or to be with one person for too long. People are expected to sleep with as many people as they can.) Lenina is a woman (a Beta, I think?) who is caught up in the expectations of society, but unconsciously wants more than pleasure 24/7. Bernard is an Alpha, but is small in size and therefore sneered upon by his fellow Alphas. He does not like golfing. (GASP! How inappropriate and socially unacceptable!) The reader gets the idea that he is in love with Lenina, but later he gains popularity and forgets about love and any of his own original ideas. The Savage, John, comes from the reservation where there are... Indians, I suppose. 
When they talked about the reservation, I expected it to be a place where normal people lived. A place where you and I might live. They said that there were rumors of Christianity and marriage and having babies and families (*shudder*). The reservation was really a place where they worshiped God but also other gods, where they whipped one another as sacrifices to gods, and where they had absolutely no personal hygiene. Ugh.
John despised living in the rez because the other kids hated him. His mother was from "civilization," but had gotten lost and ended up in the reservation. She couldn't go back to society because she'd gotten pregnant. (the horror!) Bernard went to visit the rez, heard about John, and decided to take him back to society for testing. This was the source of Bernard's popularity... He brought an animal back from the zoo! How enthralling! 
Long story short, John's mother died and he got sick and tired of society. So he ran away to this lighthouse where he whipped himself whenever he caught himself thinking of Lenina. (who he was in love with, by the way... And she loved him in return, but had the wrong idea of love. She thought love just meant that she wanted to sleep with him... reminds me of some people I know...) He grew his own food and hunted what he couldn't grow. He was hounded by the then-modern day paparazzi, which drove him insane. Then Lenina came to visit him, and John went into a panicked frenzy and began screeching, "you whore!" and such, and whipping himself over and over. The public thought this was hilarious, because they are conditioned to think that pain and death are insignificant or even, in some cases, humorous. 
The people all finally left John's hideout, and someone came to look for him in the morning. He had hanged himself by the lighthouse's light.
The end.

...Yeah, the end. I wasn't very disappointed by the end, though, because a) society was so screwed up that there couldn't possibly be any remedy to the mess that was made, and b) I prepared myself for at least one person's death, because, well, why else would my English teacher assign it to us?
I REALLY liked the way that the author presented John's death. He said something about how you could see his feet (which were not moving), and then you could see his feet swinging from one side to the other, and back again. I had to read it twice before I figured out that he'd killed himself. I thought it was quite horrible and very poetic.
Then I spent two hours brooding about how I will never, ever be as poetic or as good at developing characters and setting as Aldous Huxley is.
I find it a bit ironic that I was more upset that a published author is a better writer than I am than by the horrific death of one of the main characters.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Heather's Perspective on Their Eyes Were Watching God

Savanna? Savannnnnnaaaaaa??? Oh no, guys, I think we've lost her. For good. Now it's just me and you faithful imaginary followers. I love you guys so much! 
On to the business at hand.
In this book, the main character, Janie, gets married three times. That's right... tres. Technically, the last two don't count, because she never divorced her first hubby. I find all of her marriages to be ironic in an incredibly amusing way. She is forced to marry her first husband because her grandma caught her KISSING some "negro trash" over the fence... THE HORROR!!! Well, that slut deserved it! Kissing random guys under such romantic circumstances! So her grandmother shipped her off to Logan's abode, a middle-aged black man who forces her to do men's work. Again... THE HORROR!!!
It was around this point in the book that I finally realized... Heyyyy, Janie is black! The author does not do a good job of emphasizing this, which is ironic because the book is supposed to be about black women independence and all that. Which brings me to the reason that her second marriage was ironic. She ran off with Jody, who treated her like a queen... A queen who is not allowed to do anything for herself and must always follow the man's orders. So Janie spends her first marriage acting like a man with her man work, and her second marriage acting like a woman in her rightful place, only doing women's work.
Her third marriage is happier. After Jody dies, Janie does this thing where she takes some time to figure out who she really is and how she loves being single. The guys of the town are like "hey dude, that's not cool... She's hidin' that FIIIIIIIINE ass, selfish brat!"
But thennnn comes along Tea Cake. This marriage is ironic because she was like "yeah, single woman power!" (power to that, man =]), and then a guy named Tea Cake comes along and steals her heart. Also, he is twelve years younger. That's right... doce. Personally, the age would be enough of a turn-off for me to shove him out my door the moment he started flirting with me. If that isn't enough, his name is TEA CAKE (did I mention that?). Oh, and he's penniless. You know, some things are just better rich: men, chocolate, cake, coffee, and men. And chocolate. So he's twelve years younger, his name and his financial status are not full of chocolate or wealth (because tea cakes are not chocolate, sadly), and he is TWELVE YEARS YOUNGER. Think about it... When she was hitting puberty, he was probably just coming out of the womb.
Despite all this, they fall in love and move to... OKEECHOBEE!!!!! The tiny little town with no prospects that now sits on top of Lake Okeechobee once HAD prospects, dude! They lived in a shack and planted some beans and got stinkin' rich and made a bunch of friends, and life was great until they saw some Indians.
Now, Indians are (were?) smart when it comes to things like the weather. In my opinion, we need to get rid of weathermen and just stick a Native American in front of the green screen when it's time for the 10-day forecast. And maybe also a translator, because what if they don't speak English, or their accent is too thick for the only people who watch the weather (people of the old variety) to understand? I bet that's the only reason they don't hire Native Americans to do the weather forecast... They'd have to pay two people to do the job instead of one. Also, the translator would get in the way of the beautiful map of Florida with the colorful masses of randomness flowing over it.
ANYWAYYYYY, the Indians were migrating away from Okechobee (they spelled it with only three "e"s in the book... weird) and warned Tea Cake about a hurricane coming. 
Well, this nice domino effect happens:
The Indians tell them about a "big storm," but they don't migrate with their neighbors like a sensible person would do. Instead, they wait until the "big storm" hits to try and get away. So they're outside in the middle of a hurricane, and suddenly the lake comes towards them. Meaning the LAKE is attacking them ( They try to get to high ground, but Janie can't swim very well so she starts drowning a little. Tea Cake, who is on dry land and who is not drowning but is very tired, shouts at her to grab on to this random cow floating nearby. She grabs the cow, and there is a dog already on the cow. The dog gets super pissed and attacks her, but Tea Cake saves her and kills the dog and drags Janie ashore.
...The dog had bitten his face, and he refused to get a doctor because that's what men do, and apparently the dog had rabies, so a month later Tea Cake attempted to kill Janie. So, doing what all good wives would do, Janie shot her husband and put him out of his misery, then was put on trial for his murder. The jury decided she was innocent.
In short: hurricane comes, they start to drown, mad dog bites Tea Cake, Tea Cake gets rabies, Tea Cake attempts to kill Janie through his madness, and Janie shoots Tea Cake. 
I really admire this domino effect. I probably would have decided it was time for him to die, then been like "then the hurricane knocked off the roof and Tea Cake was swept away, never to be seen again" or "then the hurricane knocked a ridiculously large piece of metal into Tea Cake and his bones all crushed together and he died." The series of events the author created was really clever.
I loved the plot of this book, but the dialect drove me crazy. There were a lot of creditable philosophies... For example: "there are years that ask questions and years that answer." I happened to be reading this on January 1st, so that really got me thinking about 2010 and what it did for me... I was happy to find that it was a year of answers for me. I love it when books make me think about things in my life and give me epiphanies.
This is kind of a random spot to stop, but I can't think about anything else to discuss. Soooo adios =]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heather's Perspective on The Great Gatsby

Okay, this blog might be a little confusing, because I can't actually remember The Great Gatsby that well. I do remember that I liked it. I liked it a lot. The main character, Nick, reminded me of someone I know, Nic. Funny, right? I think so. Anyway, this guy is pretty much the epitome of an unbiased third party, which sounds exactly like the Nic I know! I find it kind of ironic that the main character is a third party... Not judging, though, I loved it.
One thing I didn't like about this book was the continued symbolism of the EYES. I guess the first time it was introduced, I wasn't really paying attention to that part, or something, because I was confused about it for the rest of the book. Imaginary followers: they are supposed to symbolize God, sort of judging us when we do things wrong, or something. I think I put something similar to that on my quiz; at any rate, I got a 100. I think.
The title of this book is misleading. Gatsby is not really the main character at all, but he is part of a ridiculous love affair with Daisy, who is married to this Tom character, who is having an affair with a woman whose name I can't remember (which is a shame because you'd think a person should remember the name of a character who dies... oops, did I spoil the end for you? LOLJK, you aren't even reading the book), who is married to, um, another person whose name I can't quite remember (but he isn't important, so it's okay), and who is killed by Gatsby's car, which is actually being driven by Daisy at the time, who doesn't stop because she is scared, and therefore lets everyone in the novel think that Gatsby killed What's-Her-Face-Who-Died via hit-and-run; Daisy, being a sort-of selfish brat, lets Gatsby get killed by What's-Her-Face-Who-Died's husband, and selfishly runs off with her own hubby to Who-Knows-Where. And that basically sums up the plot of the book, minus the whole "bootlegging" deal that Gatsby was involved in (which caused no one to show up to his funeral for fear of people thinking they were affiliated with such a bad person, but let's face it, he was STANKIN' RICH while he was alive).
In case you imaginary readers were thinking, a long sentence like that overwhelming one you read just a bit ago is called a "polysyndeton." They are very difficult to create, and I am afraid that I have provided a poor example, because polysyndetons are supposed to be grammatically correct and I am almost certain that there are a few mistakes in that one. 
^^^THAT sentence, however, was quite a good example, albeit not as long as I maybe would have preferred it to be.
Anyway, back to our book! Well, Gatsby was a little clingy, which irritated me because HELLO, DAISY WAS MARRIED. True, Tom was a jerk and he---
Okay, so What's-Her-Face-Who-Died's husband killed Gatsby while Gatsby was in his pool. He had not used the pool all summer, and it was now September (I think, maybe October). Over the summer, he kept telling Nick that he needed to use his pool, because it was sitting there going to waste, but he never actually used it. Now, Gatsby knew Daisy before she got married. He was a soldier, and he left for war while they were still in love, came back and she was married... Just like a Nicholas Sparks book, except it was written much better and ended with everyone dying instead of the girl calling off the wedding and throwing herself into the arms of her forgotten lover. So anyway, I think that his pool represented all the things that he never got to do with Daisy. All the love they could have had, all the times they never shared, and then he died wallowing in it... Literally, in the pool. And it's appropriate that he died in it, because he pretty much knew at this point that Daisy was about to leave with her husband.
That makes me kind of sad, actually. I think that epiphany was so great that I should just stop right here, especially because you poor, imaginary soul of a reader are probably staring with wide eyes at your computer screen wondering what exactly Heather is smoking.
In truth, I am smoking nothing. I never have (yay!), because drugs are bad. Really, I am just.. Well, it's almost 3AM and I have nothing better to do with my time because I'm not exactly tired and it's Christmas Break. So I am blogging instead of trying to force myself to spend a few hours tossing and turning, attempting to overthrow my insomnia for once.

Insomnia sucks balls, you guys. It really does.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heather's Perspective on The Red Badge of Courage

Hmm... Haven't heard from Savanna in a while. Savannaaaaa, where are youuuuuu??
Ah well. The Red Badge of Courage:
In my opinion, it was written very boringly. There was some cool symbolism, which was... Well, cool. For example Henry wanted a wound to prove to everyone that he was fighting his part: a "red badge of courage." But for the most part, it was basically a hodgepodge of random battles. The battles didn't even have real meaning; he explained nothing about who they were fighting or what they were fighting for. The author just babbled on about the fighting, and the people around Henry being wounded. He said nothing about patriotism, standing up for what you believe in, fighting for your country, etc.
He did, however, talk a lot about fighting for the other people in Henry's regiment. Some patriotism.
Sorry, imaginary followers... My writing is just not up to snuff today. Let's pretend I wrote a great review about the things that I liked and was bothered by in this book, and move on with life.
Heather out.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heather's Perspective on Sister Carrie

Hello, imaginary viewers! =] I know that you've missed me, but have no fear... I will be blogging much more often now that the "new boyfriend" to whom Savanna alluded to earlier decided that he is no longer interested in a relationship.
I find it quite ironic that at this moment, I am blogging the book we read last week, instead of reading the book that we have a quiz on on Tuesday. The irony is increased when you take into account that my research paper for that class is based on the book we're reading (The House of the Seven Gables, in case you were wondering).
I blame my English teacher for my life's problems.
Sooo anyway, the point of me being here. Sister Carrie was one of those books that looks totally innocent. I picked it up, thinking "this is going to be one of those 1800s stories where the main character gets a job and buys new dresses with her money and is super excited about it, but reservedly so because it is the 1800s and showing emotion is improper."
Well, I was partly correct. Carrie does get a job, and she does buy new clothes with her money, but her second "job" (after losing her first due to a cold, if that makes sense to you. It doesn't really to me, but maybe I'm just being close-minded) is, in fact, as a mistress to a man named Drouet.
Interesting turn for this book! I found myself cringing a little at this point, wondering how this book was really going to turn out.
As it continues, the reader gets the idea that Carrie really only likes Drouet for his money. That greedy little brat proves this idea right when she decides she's going to fall in love with Hurstwood, Drouet's friend, who is wealthier than Drouet. Stupid Hurstwood loves her back, though, even though he's married with two kids (which Carrie does not know), and having an affair would lose him his job as well as a family and social status.
So Hurstwood and Carrie run away together, after Hurstwood steals ten grand from his bosses, and they get "married" in Montreal.
Of course the marriage falls apart eventually, because Hurstwood and Carrie are both incredibly stupid. Hurstwood doesn't have a job, and doesn't bother to try and find one. Carrie gets tired of his laziness and becomes an actress. She ends up being promoted several times and then becomes famous. After a while of putting up with Hurstwood's laziness (and ugliness: after a while he stops grooming himself... ewww), Carrie leaves him and becomes roomies with Lola, an actress friend of hers.
The story could have ended here, and I could have rolled my eyes at everyone's stupidity and moved on with my life. But noooo, there has to be more to the book...
Hurstwood becomes a beggar without Carrie's money, and eventually commits suicide. Carrie never finds out. Drouet comes to visit her, trying to win her back, and of course she refuses. The book ends with Carrie saying that she knows something is missing from her life, and she's not sure what it is.
Here are my thoughts on this book:
1) Obviously, I think Carrie is stupid. The sad thing is, she reminds me of myself from a while ago. I choose to not explain this any further.
2) Okay, Hurstwood is a douche, but... he killed himself =[ and then Carrie never found out?! What is this shenanigans?!
3) Drouet is a manwhore. When he was first "wooing" Carrie, I was yelling, "I KNOW THOSE SIGNS! DON'T LISTEN TO HIM, WOMAN! I KNOW WHAT HE WANTS! SAME AS EVERY OTHER GUY ON THIS PLANET!" (only to look up and find that my journalism class was staring at me a little weirdly... Don't worry, though, they're used to random oddities from me).
4) If Carrie doesn't know what she's missing by the end of the story, then she truly is an idiot. It's obvious that she's missing....




Okay, in all seriousness though, she let a bunch of guys take advantage of her in exchange for money and clothes. That should be degrading to even your average everyday whore.
The book was easy to get into, for me, but after a while I facepalmed so many times at the characters' stupidity that I eventually had to admit that the book was dumb.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heather's Perspective on The Crucible

This was one of the few things that we read in AP English that I actually wanted to read all the way through. So I did! And it was great! There were a few parts that drove me crazy, though... Like they spent a million years going on and onnnnn about whatever character was about to be introduced... It was really not necessary. Other than that... I loved it. I'm not much of a "play-liker", for want of a better term (yes, I know it would be easy to reword that but you know what? I don't really feel like it), but this one is definitely worth reading. It's one of the classics that is actually awesome.
On to the characters... Well, Mary Warren drove me crazy. She betrayed Elizabeth by pretending to see a giant bird or whatever, which was really stupid... And as for Abigail, I hope she DIED on whatever stupid ship she decided to run away. That girl wreaked more havoc than a gang of monkeys in a store full of bananas. 
I loved Elizabeth, though. There are two things more important to me, above all else: honesty, and love of family and friends. She possessed those qualities better than any real person I've ever met. When asked if her husband had committed adultery, she couldn't answer because she had to choose between those two qualities. When she did answer, she doomed her and her husband to either hanging or a long jail time, but I respect the way she did it.
As for her husband, Proctor... He did the right thing. And I love him for it. AND he had faith in his wife... He insisted that she would tell the truth, no matter what. That was.. well, cute. Granted, she lied and doomed them both, but who cares? They loved each other.
The end made me want to cry, though. Proctor did NOT deserve to die, and neither did Rachel. No one deserved it. Stupid Abigail killed off a bunch of people doing what she does best: bitchery.
That's all I have to say.