Monday, October 27, 2008

Meta-Cognition: Memoir Project

3. The third assignment I chose was composing a CD of 10 songs that I felt best fit the memoir. When I began to pick these songs, I knew that I wanted the CD to tell a similar story of triumphant and struggles, but through a collaboration of various songs. In the end, each song relates to a general topic of the story, starting from the broad idea of the days of black supremacist to Jefferson’s last day.

1. “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy: establishes a basis for the book and how during the 1940’s, African Americans had to fight, in order to have their voices heard and to obtain equal rights. The setting of the story was mainly on a plantation and this song is another method of keeping the people’s spirits up and encouraging them to continue believing that one day they will obtain all of the rights and justices that they have been fighting for so many years for.

2. “Paper Planes” ‘by M.I.A.: transitions all of the remaining songs onto the main focus of the story. This song specifically deals with shooting and robbing places and or people in order to steal their money. Essentially, if Jefferson had not contemplated whether or not he should just take the money and run after everyone in the store was dead, he might have had a chance to escape. Instead, Jefferson thought about running off with the money in draw, just as two white men walked into the store. Also, the song has a swaying feel to it, one that makes a person feel as if he is just going along with the flow of the song because it can be mesmerizing. The tone and mesmerizing affect that the song has, especially in the beginning of the song, reminded me of Jefferson because he really did not know what was going on when he got into the car. He was in fact trying to go to a club, but he ended up just going with the flow of things and he found himself in the middle of a shooting.

3. “Lock up” by Akon: by this point in the story, Jefferson has been arrested and he found out his sentencing so he is awaiting his day of execution in jail. In the song, Akon says “.. steady tryin to find my motives, why do what I do…” and at that point, he contemplates the reasons as to why he committed the crime that landed him in jail, just as Jefferson did while he laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. Jefferson wonders how he could have gotten himself into so much trouble at such as young age. He doesn’t know what kept him from continuing on with his original plans on going to the club, which would have kept him safe and out of trouble I also thought that although Jefferson is physically behind bars, everyone on the plantation feels trapped because they are not allowed to live freely. They live by the orders and commands of white people, who tell them when to work and when not to work. I feel as if the majority of the people living on the plantation are anticipating their day to be free.

4. “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado: at this point in the story, Jefferson is still in jail, but he has begun to receive visits from Grant and Miss Emma. Although the three of them don’t really speak about much, on the occasions when Grant had to visit Jefferson by himself, things seemed to go smoother. One meeting, Jefferson and Grant had been sitting in silence when Jefferson “…raised his head… and looked at the barred window. From the cell, all you could see were the yellow leaves on the sycamore tree and the pale-blue sky between the leaves.” (82) This was the first reference made to the sky and another was made about birds, however, this song relates to this section because Jefferson constantly looks outside of his cell window wanting to be out of the cell and free, just as birds are. He wants the freedom to experience life again.

5. “I Tried” by Bone Thugs n-harmony: this song is geared more toward Grant and his feelings toward living on the plantation any longer. His school teacher told him “… that most of …[them] would die violently, and those who did not would be brought down to the level of beasts.” (62) Ever since Grant was a young child, he was told that he would not amount to anything, as long as he lived on the plantation and that the only true chance of survival was by moving away from the plantation and finding work in other areas. The song in general discusses the idea of working hard to do the right things, but somehow, he still ends up right back where he started, the plantation. Jefferson contemplates whether he is just too “…afraid to take a chance out there” or if he really loves being on the plantation.

6. “How Far is Heaven” by the Los Lonely Boys: this song switches the focus back on Jefferson as he is still in jail and Grant continues to visit him. During one visit, Jefferson asked Grant if heaven existed and Grant didn’t give Jefferson a direct answer. Grant made it evident that he no longer believed in God and that he lost faith in God over the years. However, since Jefferson has been in jail for such a long time, he realizes that believing in God, such as the Los Lonely Boys say in their song, that they have gotten to a point in their lives where the only person that can really help them get out of a bad situation is God and they need to find it in themselves to believe in him again.

7. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammin Terrel: a song that focuses on Miss Emma and Jefferson’s relationship. I felt as if this song resembled the love Miss Emma has and will always have for Jefferson regardless of where he is or the type of trouble he has gotten himself into. She makes it apparent that nothing can keep her from coming to visit him, not even the fact that he refuses to speak with her during the majority of their visits. She continues to bring him food and treats because she believes that Grant will soon be able to get through to him before he is sentenced to death. Miss Emma has an amazing sense of determination and faith.

8. “Dear Mama” by Tupac ft. Anthony Hamilton: as the date of Jefferson’s execution approaches, he begins to interact more with Grant and he even decides to write his feels down in a journal so they can discuss them when Gant comes to visit. “Dear Mama” is geared toward Jefferson and Miss Emma’s relationship and although Miss Emma is not Jefferson’s mother, she has raised him for his entire life. I feel that Jefferson is now beginning to realize how much he appreciates and really loves Miss Emma for all of the things she has done for him, even when he has not always showed that he cared or even understood the caliber of the things she had to go through in order to even establish the visits to the jail.

9. “Apologize” by Timbaland: When I listen to this song it reminds me of the final walk Jefferson takes as he goes to the electrocution chair. The slow tempo of the song embodies someone walking to their final destination and essentially taking their last steps. Although he is now a man and understands that he can surpass the expectations that white people have placed upon him, reality is now setting in that he is actually going to die. He is not able to apologize for all of the hurt and pain he has caused Miss Emma and the others in his family. Also the fact that the song is not very long eludes to the idea that the execution was not a long and painful process.

10. “Waiting On the World to Change” by John Mayer: after Jefferson is executed, officer Paul Bonin drives out to see Grant to tell him the news of Jefferson’s death. I feel that “Waiting On the World to Change” is the best way to end the CD and the occurrences of the story because it seems as if a turning point has been made now that Jefferson is dead. The anticipation of his death is now over, and unfortunately he was killed over a crime he did not commit, but good things have arose from his death. For instance, at the very end of the story, when Paul comes over to Grant, Paul said “Allow me to be your friend, Grant Wiggins. I don’t ever want to forget him”(255) and they both shook hands. During the 1940s, it was rare to see a black man and a white man touch hands in a peaceful manner, however, the death of Jefferson has introduced a new sense of unity. Although Jefferson’s life has now ended, I felt as if a new beginning was born.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Memior Assignment: "filler page"

“filler page” – Anticipation

As the officer led us down a long, dark corridor, past offices and the whites’ only bathrooms, we finally reached the end of the hallway. This winding journey was far from over as we hiked up three steel stairs, then we came across a landing, with one last sharp turn, leading up to a massive steel door. As we approached the door, anticipation built because this area housed many of the quarantined prisoners. Half of the cells were empty, while some housed one or two prisoners. The expression on many of their faces was of pure amazement because apparently they had not seen anyone from outside of the walls of the prison in a long time.

Jefferson’s cell was three floors above this one; however, the officer told us he needed to make a quick stop on this level first. As we stood waiting for him to return, I noticed a boy staring at me. He was probably a little younger than Jefferson, but I approached him to find out more about him.

“What is your name?” said Grant
“My name is Greg, sir”
“What are you in here for?”
“Armed robbery, … well so they claim. You know the funny part is that I wasn’t anyways near that convenience store on the night of June third. In fact, I had just returned for the summer break after a long school year at Tuskegee University. Man, I knew I shouldn’t have ever returned to the plantation.”

“Has your family come to visit you, yet?” I asked him. But he soon became quite as he looked toward the stained and dirty floor, in shame. I immediately knew from his expression that the answer was no, but I still questioned why. If he was innocent and obviously well educated, why wouldn’t they want to visit him?

“No, sir, they have not been here. It is just too difficult for my aunt to see me in such a horrible and dishonorable place; especially after all of the hard work she invested into my future. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, but you should let that boy Jefferson know, he sure is lucky. I only wish I could see my family and eat a hot, buttery, homemade meal.

“Well good luck Greg,” I said, just as Miss Emma was about to ascend on another mile-like journey to Jefferson’s cell and I began to wonder if Jefferson anticipated our visit, just as Greg had been longing to see a familiar face.

Settings Paper


“IND AFF” by Fay Weldon, is a short story that uses its setting, to convey the most significant ideas of the story. Throughout the text, the historical events of the assignation of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are intertwined with the events of the story in order to establish a basis for why the narrator and her lover should no longer continue to pursue their untraditional relationship. The narration is told from a women’s perspective that adds to the significance of the story because during mid 1900’s, a woman’s thoughts, ideas, and presence were not valued as equally as that of a man’s, which prevails as the readers are constantly reminded that the archduchess was also included in the gruesome events of the summer of 1914 and that she should not be forgotten. As the narrator embarks on this journey, she ultimately gains a better understanding of herself and more importantly the actions of her consequences, especially when her true motivations to pursue this relationship did not blossom out of pure love.

The story begins during an unexpectedly rainy and miserable day in Sarajevo. The city once used to be a ‘…pretty town, Balkan style, mountain-rimmed…” (201) alluding to the idea that the town of Sarajevo is enclosed and protected by its surroundings. Once the rain began to fall, the people were “…sheltered from the rain in an ancient mosque in Serbian Belgrade; … now …[they]… spent a couple of days in Sarajevo beneath other people’s umbrellas,” (202) however, the readers come to discover that the rainfall is not one that just holds value for being a change in climate, but an idea that connects to the overarching conflict of the story. Professor Peter and his student, embark on this journey to explore a different area and spend time together, however, it later becomes apparent that Professor Peter’s sole ambitions for this trip was to decide “…between his wife and …[his mistress]… as his permanent life partner” (202) Although the student felt as if she was “…winning hands down…” (202) the unpredicted rain fall, lead to a symbolic cleansing idea because Peter’s wife, is a swimming coach and although she was nearly half way around the world, it was “…raining on his wife, too…” (202) The affects of the rain on Peter, his lover, and his wife leads to an idea of a cleansing process because Peter’s lover begins to believe that their relationship may not be as worthwhile as she thought once before. As the rain continues to fall, the narrator comments on how she smells chlorine on Peters forehead after she kisses him and this “… may have come from thinking about his wife so much…” (206) and the idea that the memory of Peter’s wife will always stay with him, even if he chooses in the end to have a relationship with the narrator. The readers begin to understand that there will always be this eerie sense of rain or dampness in their relationship if Peter chooses to stay with his lover.

All throughout the text, the narrator and Peter discuss the assignation of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, because this event took place in the town of which Peter and his lover were vacationing in at the time. However, on numerous occasions, the readers are reminded not to forget “…his wife…” (202) and that “…everyone forgets his wife, the archduchess,” (202) but this constant reminder of the archduchess leads to the idea of not forgetting about Peter’s wife either and regardless of how pleasant Peter and his lover’s relationship may appear, for the time being, he is still married. Although they felt this “…inordinate affection…” (204) for one another, Peter comments on how “… your Ind Aff is my wife’s sorrow…” (204) and if he chooses to stay with his lover, they will be ending a marriage of over twenty years. The idea of not forgetting one’s wife is also important because it forces them to think not only of themselves, but of Peter’s wife and three kids, and how his new relationship will ruin his family.

Due to the continued rainfall, Peter and his lover are stricken to eating in a restaurant, opposed to a private area where they usually ate and enjoyed other things. While they were waiting to be served, two waiters stood off in the distance and one of the waiters caught the narrator’s attention. One waiter was “…young and handsome…[with] … luxuriant black hair…” (206) and the second waiter, a visibly older man, looked upon the narrator with a pensively because “in a world which for once, after centuries of savagery, was finally full of young men, unslaughtered, what was …[she]…doing with this man with thinning hair.” (206) Once again, it appears that the narrator is having a revelation and she know realizes that she has many opportunities to be in a relationship with a younger, more attractive man, but yet, she is stuck in an “…old professor-student romance…” (202) This situation that the narrator now finds herself in, is interesting because it appears to connect with an earlier occasion in the story that dealt with Princip, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassin. Although Princip had tried on two previous occasions to murder the duke, before actually killing him, it was not until after his second attempt that he was jailed, but for many years, people wondered why he had attempted on various occasions to kill the duke. It was not until after he died that the only explanation people gave was that Princip, “…[died]… for the love of a country” (204) However, it is wondered if Princip made the right decision in dying at such as young age, just for his country. With that idea, the narrator begins to see herself and wonder if being with a man who is forty six and her, twenty five, as a worthwhile relationship. Especially since she has the opportunity to be with younger men and her confusion of a “…mere passing academic ambition with love,…” (206) while trying to “…outdo …[her]… sister Clare.” (206) With that idea in mind, the narrator gets up from the table, and heads home, leaving Peter behind.

Many events, in the short story “IND AFF” by Fay Weldon, such as the rain fall, the surrounding environment, and historical events lead the narrator to believe that the mere idea of academic ambitions and her desire to succeed beyond the limits of her sister were the driving forces behind her ambitions to purse a relationship with a married man. Resultantly, it appears that the narrator realizes this was all a “…silly sad thing to do…” (206) and by the narrator relating her ambitions to that of Princip, she embodied that of an assassin. All along, she was trying to create a war between Peter and his wife that would destroy their marriage, but one should “…never forget the wife… and their children…” (207) because the remnants of their presence will be on the minds of both Peter and the narrator forever, restricting them from ever pursuing a genuine relationship. By the end of the story, the narrator realizes if she had just waited a little longer, and did not allow herself to become so infatuated with academics that she fooled herself into loving her professor, she would have came to her senses a long time ago and realized her spiteful ambitions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Faulkner/Hemingway Assignment

Drifting Dionysus

Dionysus had always been a unique child. Being the only god of all the Greek Gods to have a mortal parent, Semele, and with his violent, unpredictable tempers, his father, Zeus, was forced to send him away, and to live with his grandparents on the isolated suburban area of Hampton, New York. Dionysus was god of the vine, giving him a dual nature, one that was at times joyful and the other that was angry and violent. Since Dionysus mainly lived around elderly people, he was unaware that he was not like other teenagers. With Dionysus’ unpredictable tendencies to wander, one day he found himself in the hectic and dangerous streets of Manhattan, New York,

Stumbling out of Penn Station, Dionysus was surprised to see the differences between Hampton and Manhattan. He came across a small café and he ordered everything green that he could find on the menu. As the midnight hour approached, he left the café with and walked aimlessly around the dark and cold streets of New York, until he was confronted by a group of males. The guys had spotted Dionysus from a park and they immediately thought he was one of the many rich college kids that though it was safe enough to aimlessly stroll around the streets of New York, late at night. Frightened, Dionysus began to run but the boys quickly caught up to him.

“Empty your pockets,” said the oldest boy.
“I don’t have any money,” said Dionysus
“Fine, give us your watch,” said a younger boy
“No! My grandmother gave it to me.”

As the boys fell over with laughter, the oldest boy began to beat him, but Dionysus was a lot stronger than they thought. Just as Dionysus was about to get away, the boys grabbed a rope and tried to tie him up, but every time they tied a knot, it would fall apart. Realizing that there was something weird about Dionysus, all of the boys started to run down the street, just as the NYPD came flying around the corner, in response to a robbery in the area. Out of all of the boys, Dionysus was caught once again, and brought down to the police station for questioning.

“Where were you coming from at this time of night,” said the officer
“A café on 6th street.”
“Well then, why were you running down 8th street?”
“I was being chased by a group of guys!”
“The tried to rob me and then tie me up, I swear!”

Unsure of whether or not Dionysus was telling the truth, the officer ran his name through the system and discovered that Dionysus was the son of the most powerful, feared, and admired God, (term used when referring to the highest officials of the department) Zeus, of the entire bureau.

After Zeus and Dionysus finally reunited after so many years, Zeus brought him back to meet the rest of his family, but he was not met with great enthusiasm. Dionysus and his cousin, Pentheus, immediately hated each other. Dionysus’ different way of life and his extreme passion for anything green, highly bother Pentheus. So Pentheus gathered a group of his friends, as did Dionysus, and they headed to battle.

“Get off of my property, or I will call the guards.”
“My father owns this property, so it is more mine than it is yours.”
“ Tree hugger!”
“You should not try to battle me, I have special powers!”

Pentheus’s comment about trees triggered Dionysus’ violent side and they began a bloody battle. Pentheus managed to scare off Dionysus’ followers into the hills. As Dionysus calmed down, he once again tried to reason with Pentheus, but his angry overpowered his judgment. Pentheus ran after Dionysus, only to find him surrounded by all of his follower, his sister, and his mother, Semele.

“You tried to hurt my son,” yelled Semele
“When you attempt to hurt a god, you die instead.”
Pentheus immediately realized his wrong doings, but it was merely too late.

As nightfall set, the air became cooler and damp, Dionysus’ followers and everyone
else surrounding the hills grew even angrier, but before anyone realized, Semele quickly and flawlessly lunged at Pentheus.

As the sun rose, a trail of blood and bones could be seen leading up to the hills.