Journals 18-25 for 2017-18

Journal 18: Parental Advice & Orders, Freedom & Control

The play Hamlet is filled with scenes in which a parent or parent-figure offers advice or gives orders to a younger person. (For example, in 1.2, Hamlet's mother and stepfather/uncle ask him to remain in Denmark, rather than return to school in Wittenberg. They also publicly tell Hamlet to stop mourning his father's recent death. Moreover, in 1.3, Polonius gives his son Laertes a bunch of advice before Laertes returns to France. Then Polonius orders Ophelia to tell him the truth about her relationship with Hamlet, and he forbids her from continuing the relationship.)

In what important ways have you had to deal with parental advice, orders, and control in your life? Do your parents tend to offer you advice and give you freedom to make your own decisions--as Polonius does with regard to Laertes? Or do your parents tend to judge your behavior and relationships, give you orders, and try to control your behavior and relationships? Also, has this dynamic remained constant and consistent throughout your life, or has this dynamic changed as you (and your parents) have gotten older? Explain.


Journal 19: Trusting Others vs. Protecting Oneself from Deception & Betrayal

Do you tend to trust that other people are basically honest and good, or do you tend to be guarded and suspicious that other people are not what they seem to be? Why?

What is at least one specific experience, event, or relationship in your life that has influenced you either (a) to trust in the character and integrity of others or (b) to be suspicious of people’s apparent “goodness” and to protect yourself from being tricked or “used”?


Journal 20: We Were the Mulvaneys

Introduction: We Were the Mulvaneys can be viewed as a tragic and depressing novel about innocent beings who are profoundly harmed—humans and other animals who are victimized, wounded, ostracized, or even destroyed. It is also a story about bystanders who are oblivious to this harm, or who refuse to help the victim, or who feel unable to help. In this regard, it is a story about injustice—about the failure of individuals and society to protect and support those who have been wronged and to hold accountable those who are responsible. Furthermore, it is a story about secrets and about how some stories are never told due to the silence and shame surrounding topics like sexual assault—as well as the way this silence shields perpetrators from having their crimes be known. Moreover, it is a story about the isolation and unknowability of human beings—about the fact that even within the same house and family, we human beings can remain strangers whose inner lives are largely unknown to one another. Finally, We Were the Mulvaneys is a story about the passage of time and the story of one family's disintegration over time—or, to quote from Oates' short story "Shopping," it is a story about "How love begins. How love ends" (all emphasis is mine).

However, as Oates points out in her essay, We Were the Mulvaneys is also a novel about topics that can give us hope. It a story about surviving and healing. It is a story about helping those who have been wronged or wounded, a story about justice, and a story about the quest to find out the truth and to speak the truth. Moreover, this novel is about knowing our fellow human beings—about truly communicating with and understanding those “strangers” who are part of one’s own family. Finally, in a world where everything is changing as time passes, this novel tells a story about renewal, about new life in the midst of death and loss. Perhaps, most of all, this novel is a story about love—about when and why love fails, and when and why love triumphs.

Please discuss both of these topics:

1. The Epilogue - In the novel's "Epilogue," what seems significant about both (a) the multiple images and interactions Judd describes during the family reunion, and about (b) the final image of Judd and Patrick? Would you call the novel's ending a "happy ending," an unhappy ending, or a bittersweet ending? Why?

2. The Characters & the Novel's Form - In unique fasion, this novel brings to life an entire family--five individual human beings. The section "The Huntsman" focuses on Patrick, "The PIlgrim" focuses on Marianne, and "Hard Reckoning" focuses on Mike Sr. Moreover, the novel's five sections also provide us repeated glimpses into the lives and realities of CorinneMike Jr., and Judd.

Of the five characters in the Mulvaney family, discuss two characters who you find most interesting, most compelling, most important, or most thought-provoking. For each character, how does the novel bring this character to life for readers?

For each character, discuss at least a couple of the following topics: the character's main conflict or struggle, a central image that that illuminates the character, that character's chosen career and its symbolic implications, any key relationships that character develops, or a key illuminating scene that helps us fully understand that character.


Journal 21: Becoming Aware of Suffering or Tragedy Experienced by Another

The second short chapter of We Were the Mulvaneys, "The Doe," focuses on Judd's experience of witnessing a doe being hunted by a pack of domesticated dogs in the middle of the night. This experience upsets Judd tremendously, but he tells no one about it--no one besides us readers.

Writing Prompt: What was either one of the first experiences or one of the most powerful experiences you have had in which you became aware of the suffering or tragedy experienced by another being--human or otherwise?

Describe both what happened and how this experience impacted you. Moroever, has this experience had a permanent impact on you, or not? Why?


Journal 22: "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" 

Horace Miner calls the Nacirema “a magic-ridden people,” and his essay describes many of the Nacirema’s “magic beliefs and practices.”

Would you want to live in the culture that Horace Miner describes in his essay? Why?

If you did live in the Nacirema culture…

Which specific beliefs, practices, and superstitions of the Nacirema would cause significant  problems for you?

In contrast, which specific beliefs, practices, and superstitions of the Nacirema would pose no struggle or problems for you?


Journal 23: Part 1 Things Fall Apart

Please answer both parts 1 and 2 each in a thoughtful paragraph. While you don't need supporting quotations, you do need to illustrate your ideas with specific references to the text.

1. Point of View – Why is narrative point of view or (POV) important in this novel? Which specific POV does Achebe use, and how does this specific choice influence our perceptions of Okonkwo? (For example, does Okonkwo understand himself and his motivations as clearly as the narrator and the readers do?) Moreover, how does the novel’s POV influence our perceptions of other characters, such as Nwoye, Ekwefi, Obierika, Ikemefuna, and others in Umuofia? What does Achebe accomplish through this point of view that he could not accomplish as effectively with a different point of view?

2. Characterization of Okonkwo – Choose one of the following topics and discuss it:

A. In what ways is Okonkwo a “great man” within his own culture, and in what ways is Okonkwo a deeply flawed man? Moreover, how do Okonkwo’s personality “flaws” affect his relationships with others? In his relationships, what seems to be Okonkwo’s most important priority or motivation? And why is he violent and cruel to the people he supposedly “loves”?

B. How does Okonkwo live according to rigid, fixed notions regarding what is right and wrong, and see life in an extremist, “black-and-white” way? Specifically, what are the rigid, extremist, “black-and-white” views that govern how Okonkwo lives, and why does he view life this way? Moreover, how do Okonkwo’s views explain why he insists on participating in Ikemefuna’s murder, even when he is warned by a tribal elder not to do so?


Journal 24: The End of Things Fall Apart

1. Re-read Obierika's ferocious words to the District Commissioner on pg.208. How do you think author Chinua Achebe wants us to feel about Okonkwo's downfall and death? Should we agree with Obierika's opinion about Okonkwo's downfall, or not? Moreover, should we see Okonkwo mainly as a victim of fate and of forces that are too powerful to defeat, or should we see Okonkwo's downfall as mainly his own fault due to his serious errors and character flaws? Why?

2. What about the downfall of traditional Ibo society? Does Chinua Achebe suggest that Ibo society "fell apart" mainly due to fate and forces that are too powerful to defeat, or does Achebe suggest that Ibo society "fell apart" mainly due to its own shortcomings and flaws? Why do you think so?


Journal 25: Response to "Redefining Masculinity TED Talk 2017-18.

Please open the above link and answer all three parts of the journal.


Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2018, 6:58 AM