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Final Questions

  1. Postwar American literature and culture.

The period in time from the end of World War II up until, roughly, the late 1960s and early 1970s saw the publication of some of the most popular works in American history.

The last few of the more realistic modernists along with the wildly Romantic beatniks largely dominated the period, while the direct respondents to America's involvement in World War II contributed in their notable influence. Though born in Canada, Chicago-raised Saul Bellow would become one of the most influential novelists in America in the decades directly following World War II. In works like The Adventures of Augie March and Herzog, Bellow painted vivid portraits of the American city and the distinctive characters that peopled it. Bellow went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976.

From J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories and The Catcher in the Rye to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, the perceived madness of the state of affairs in America was brought to the forefront of the nation's literary expression. Immigrant authors such as Vladimir Nabokov, with Lolita, forged on with the theme, and, at almost the same time, the beatniks took a concerted step away from their Lost Generation predecessors, developing a style and tone of their own by drawing on Eastern theology and experimenting with recreational drugs.

The poetry and fiction of the "Beat Generation", largely born of a circle of intellects formed in New York City around Columbia University and established more officially some time later in San Francisco, came of age. The term Beat referred, all at the same time, to the countercultural rhythm of the Jazz scene, to a sense of rebellion regarding the conservative stress of post-war society, and to an interest in new forms of spiritual experience through drugs, alcohol, philosophy, and religion, and specifically through Zen Buddhism.

Allen Ginsberg set the tone of the movement in his poem Howl, that began: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness..." Among the most representative achievements of the Beats in the novel are Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957), the chronicle of a soul-searching travel through the continent, and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959), a more experimental work structured as a series of vignettes relating, among other things, the narrator's travels and experiments with hard drugs.

Regarding the war novel specifically, there was a literary explosion in America during the post-World War II era. Some of the best known of the works produced included Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead (1948), Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961) and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). The Moviegoer (1962), by Southern author Walker Percy, winner of the National Book Award, was his attempt at exploring "the dislocation of man in the modern age."

  1. Non-conformist hero in literature and culture. J.D.Salinger The Catcher in the Rye.

 Holden Caulfield recounts the days following his expulsion from Pencey Prep, a private school. After a fight with his roommate, Stradlater, Holden leaves school two days early to explore New York before returning home, interacting with teachers, prostitutes, nuns, an old girlfriend, and his sister along the way. The Catcher in the Rye illustrates a teenager's dramatic struggle against death and growing up.

Type of Work: novel Genres: coming-of-age

First Published:  on July 16, 1951 Setting: 1950s; Agerstown, Pennsylvania

Main Characters: Holden Caulfield; Phoebe; Allie; D.B.; Mr. Antolini

Major Thematic Topics: innocence; death; authentic versus artificial; sexual confusion

Major Symbols: preparatory school life; baseball glove; red hunting cap; Radio City Music Hall; the carrousel's gold ring; the coming-of-age genre

Holden Caulfield, the 17-year-old narrator and protagonist of the novel, speaks to the reader directly from a mental hospital or sanitarium in southern California. The novel is a frame story  in the form of a long flashback. Holden wants to tell what happened over a two-day period the previous December, beginning on the Saturday afternoon of the traditional season-ending football game between his school, Pencey Prep, and Saxon Hall. Holden is 16 years old as the central story begins, tall at 6 feet 2 1/2 inches, partially gray-haired, and woefully skinny. He has grown 6 1/2 inches in just one year. He is out of shape because he smokes too much. His general health is poor. He is alternately depressed, confused, angry, anxious, perceptive, bigoted, resentful, thoughtful, kind, and horny. To put it simply, Holden is struggling.

To Holden, Pencey and the other prep schools that he has attended represent all that is artificial ("phony" is one of Holden's favorite words to describe this artificiality) and all that is despicable about any institution controlled by adults. The schools are filled with lies and cruelty, ranging in degree from the relatively harmless Pencey school motto ("Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men.") to the brutally forced suicide of James Castle at Elkton Hills.

Holden resents the adult world and resists entry into it, but he has little choice. Society and his own body are telling him that it is time for him to change. He is attracted to the trappings of adulthood: booze, cigarettes, the idea of sex, and a kind of independence. But he despises the compromises, loss of innocence, absence of integrity, and loss of authenticity in the grown-up world. He seems best at the rites of passage (smoking and drinking) that are themselves artificial if not self-destructive. Despite his limited experience, his attitude toward women is actually admirable and mature. He stops making sexual advances when a girl says "No." He has trouble being very intimate unless he knows the girl well and likes her a lot. In his confusion, he sees this behavior as a weakness that may even call for psychotherapy. His interactions with the prostitute Sunny are comic as well as touching, partly because they are both adolescents trying to be adults. Although Sunny is the more frightening of the two, neither belongs there.

Holden is literally about to crash. Near the beginning as well as the end of the novel, he feels that he will disappear or fall into an abyss when he steps off a curb to cross a street. Sometimes when this happens, he calls on his dead brother, Allie, for help. Part of Holden's collapse is due to his inability to come to terms with death. Thoughts of Allie lying in his grave in the cemetery in the rain, surrounded by dead bodies and tombstones, haunt Holden. He wants time itself to stop. He wants beautiful moments to last forever, using as his model the displays in glass at the Museum of Natural History, in which the same people are shown doing the same things year after year. Holden's fears and desires are understandable, but his solution (avoiding reality) is impossible. Life is change. His feelings are typically adolescent, feelings shared by virtually everyone who is or ever has been his age. One of the reasons we like Holden is that he is so candid about how he feels.

  1. Middle class America in J.Updike’s works.

John Hoyer Updike an American poet, short story writer and a novelist, is said to be one of the most respected, popular and prominent American author of his times. For over five decades, he has continually written fiction novels outlining the behaviors that are facing middle class people of 60's and 70's.His most famous book is the collection of Rabbit novels that ended up winning awards  more than once for the best fiction movies.

In his fiction books, he extensively looks on the American middle Class, where he uses characters that come from such class of people who end up bringing out the crucial themes like religion, death and sex. In most cases he would use the themes together. He states that he loves using middle class people because it is in the middle that both extremes meet and crash and that is still where ambiguity extensively rules.

His works invade the community strongly by mocking the taboos that may make it illegal and the covetous state of men that drive them to adulterous. Updike being honest about it, explains that the taste, texture and sight of ladies' body can be perfect cause of the lustful state of men in middle class. Supporting himself, Updike replied he has in a great way favored such imagery to fully explain and make sex real in his writing. He adds that adultery is still another theme that he greatly addresses. This is mostly outlined in the book 'Couples.' His style makes him appear like a person gone through abandonment by his family and a guilty man on infidelity.

Considering the American theme ,he mentions it with such a nostalgia mostly touching the point of the middle people in America and there lifestyle. He greatly recognizes and celebrates American wide diversity which makes America unique. In a great way, Updike differentiates and clearly outlines American beauty from what called American the Flat Jane. For the lovely protestant based in his writings and fictions that he shown clearly, it was enlightened continuous as it was unapologetic. For the series of the 'Rabbit', it can be viewed as a perfect confirmation of the outgrowing ordinariness of American way of life. As most of the time he appreciates ordinary Middle Americans, He also shows concern to the decline of the country as sometimes the downward rotation of America disturbed him.

On support of Updike fiction writings on the theme of religion which was being replaced by material possession and still on matters of sex. Updike's great theme of how America attempted to replace the faith gap with physical materials which were products of mass culture. Still he added that religious faith had been triggered by sex and luxurious things and for Updike, his hard work is greatly blessed.

Most of his fiction books outline characteristics that he himself claims he experienced when he was young. Hence he clearly uses his experience to bring out what people of his class faced and went through while growing up in middle class families. Many of his characters showed fear, the same way Updike states to have experienced when young as he did suffer greatly in his youthful age. He clearly outlines that, the fear the middle class people face make everything they commit themselves into feel meaningless ,moreover it brings them close to God. He outlines it the same way it used to happen in real life of those in middle class of 60s and 70s.

On the death theme of people in middle class, it is in a great way brought out in a clear manner. The characters in his books provide a mosaic of reactions to life. This rages from attempts to commit suicide to terror and murder. For instance, in the Rabbit Series, Rabbit Angstrom, seeing the death of his daughter and his weak faith do in a great way demonstrate a religious and real faith presence in Updike's work. And at the end of fiction book 'Rabbit at Rest', Angstrom shows a kind of probability of having faith telling his son before he dies beside his deathbed. This demonstrates how many middle class people realize their mistakes late and regret at the time when they can do nothing about. On the book 'The Centaur,' character Caldwell is afraid of the cancer he has and even he does not have faith religiously. This tries to bring out how many middle class people lose faith when they think God has abandoned them and they are in great problems. There is still outline of unseen terror the same way as how it is experienced by this middle class people.

  1. The Beat Generation and High Sixties. The role of the Beat culture in the development of American literature.

Beat Generation: A period featuring a group of American poets and novelists of the 1950s and 1960s — including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti — who rejected established social and literary values.

Using such techniques as stream of consciousness writing and jazz-influenced free Verse and focusing on unusual or abnormal states of mind — generated by religious ecstasy or the use of drugs — the Beat writers aimed to create works that were unconventional in both form and subject matter.

Kerouac's On the Road is perhaps the best-known example of a Beat Generation novel, and Ginsberg's Howl is a famous collection of Beat Poetry.

The poetry and fiction of the "Beat Generation", largely born of a circle of intellects formed in New York City around Columbia University and established more officially some time later in San Francisco, came of age. The term Beat referred, all at the same time, to the countercultural rhythm of the Jazz scene, to a sense of rebellion regarding the conservative stress of post-war society, and to an interest in new forms of spiritual experience through drugs, alcohol, philosophy, and religion, and specifically through Zen Buddhism.

Allen Ginsberg set the tone of the movement in his poem Howl, that began: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness..." Among the most representative achievements of the Beats in the novel are Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957), the chronicle of a soul-searching travel through the continent, and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959), a more experimental work structured as a series of vignettes relating, among other things, the narrator's travels and experiments with hard drugs.

  1. The Beat character in J.Kerouac’s novel On the Road. Rediscovery of America.

On the Road is a adventure about passion: the passion for the unknown, for the differences and similarities among members of the human race, for the simple things, for nature, for music, for freedom, for friendship, for youth, for life. The novel exhibits a complete search for the self and for the meaning of existence.

Sal Paradise “The road is life” translates the expectations of one entire generation. For a long time, this premise that the road is life has fed the tradition of Travel Literature. The road could be considered life in different aspects, and understood as life, through different viewpoints. There are uncountable reasons for traveling, in North American culture, traveling is very important and it is related to the formation of the myth of the American Dream, of which the positive and negative implications constitute the Beatniks’ focus of interest. On the Road takes an important place in the tradition of travel literature. It feels like hitchhiking with them around the US and Mexico, enjoying the jazz beat in the same clubs they go to or, yet, experimenting the sensations of being on the road without leaving home.

In On the Road, Sal Paradise travels from one side of the country to the other, observing different aspects of national usages in each state he passes through, questioning identity and cultural differences among his own compatriots. Except for the trip to Mexico, Kerouac shows his concerns about how Americans face the social circumstances of post-war reality.

The Beat writers found their identity as an artistic movement traveling in the States, which inspired Kerouac to put reality and fiction together in order to claim that social and artistic changes were necessary. Furthermore, the novel is about the most complex kind of travel: the search for the self, a trip which the main purpose is to get in contact with inner feelings by crossing unvisited limits and broadening personal horizons. On the Road is a landmark in traditional traveling literature for its confessional simplicity. Kerouac wrote other books about traveling.

On the Road was a story of several men and women who used time to fulfill their own personal desires, not the desires of others; they were completely unconstrained by any schedule other than their own. This view of time abruptly opposed the common post-WWII view of time.

Dean Moriarty had a personal schedule filled with events down to the very minute. He had a rationalized view of time; he saw time as something that never stopped, and he wanted to take advantage of every moment. While society viewed a twelve hour period as a constricting amount of space in which people were pressured to make something in order to make a living, Dean was not pressured by time because he used time to meet his own ends. Instead of producing materials, Dean sought sensation and stimulation. Time does not employ Dean, he employs time”. Dean was bound to movement because he lived in the moment and the moment was always moving. Living in the moment allowed Dean to remain unsusceptible to capitalism’s/society’s control. Dean had a fragmented view of time (which we will discuss later), he did not see the connection between past, present, and future; he only paid attention to the present moment.”.

Kerouac depicted Mexico as relaxed and unconstrained by time. The people may have been poor; however, they were much happier than their American counterparts. “Mexico is continually portrayed in obverse relation to an oppressive America. Things are cheaper, cops are nicer, and time sheds its constraining feel” . Mortenson noted the symbolism of Dean exchanging his watch, which symbolized “clock time”, for crystals that a young Mexican girl found on a mountain (Mortenson, 61). Dean loved the fact that everyone was so relaxed in Mexico. Throughout the book, Dean was searching for what he called the “it”. “It” refers to the pure ecstasy and pleasure of the moment. Dean used Jazz music and drugs as vehicles bringing him closer to “it.” However, when Dean was able to find “it”, it only lasted a moment.

Sal Paradise  Note the symbolism of Dean Moriarty’s and Sal Paradise’s last names. Even though Sal tended to follow Dean, Sal represented a different view of temporality than that of Dean. Compared to Dean, Sal felt the tension of the moment. “He continually looks forward and backward for release.” While at the same time, Dean saw death as the end of all existence. While Dean only cared about the moment, Sal used writing to “extend his past experiences into the future”. “Sal may attempt to follow Dean’s example, but ultimately his Christian belief in the transcendence of death differentiates him from Dean’s belief in the sanctity of the moment. Although Sal follows Dean throughout the novel, he never entirely abandons his moral conceptions. However, despite Sal’s failure to emulate Dean, they nevertheless remain united in their mutual attempts to escape oppressive notions of time”.

  1. The portrait of the generation in A.Ginsberg’s Howl.

Howl” was written by Ginsberg in 1956. The poem’s subtitle, “For Carl Solomon,” dedicates the poem to his friend whom Ginsberg met in a mental institution. TGinsberg wanted “Howl” to express the pent up frustration, artistic energy, and self-destruction of his generation, a generation that he felt was being suppressed by a dominant American culture that valued conformity over artistic license and opportunity. 

The title also expresses one of the major themes in the poem - that of madness.  "Howl" does not keep the traditional meter or rhythm of a poem but is instead meant to be an extended diatribe or association and stream of consciousness writing.  One important thing to note about "Howl" is that it is a male-centric poem. 

At the beginning Ginsberg shows the drugs have taken on his once creative friends and how they seem to be falling away from the lives they once lived. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,» His once proud, genius friends are losing it. Their minds, souls, everything is falling apart. ”angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz.”. This reads like a wakeup call. All that they had worked for was falling apart in a drug fueled self-absorbed mess. Losing sight of what they had worked for to begin with and getting lost in a false reality. It sounds so real because it is. Through the despair Ginsberg pulled himself back up and tries to put in words the loss he feels for the “family” he once had.

The Beatniks had turned into junkies and drunks, luckily Ginsberg saw this and put his mind right on paper writing honestly about what he saw going on around him. ”who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried, who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,”. It is said that Ginsberg was under the influence of the Psycodelic drug Peyote when he wrote “Howl” and in this last passage he seems to call out everyone, not just his friends but his peers. Ginsberg was looking at all the people around him and realizing that he was disgusted by the whole thing. Everything was not perfect as it had seemed. His generation was blowing it. No one had nor would fix the everyday growing problems that are our lives.

  “Howl” then goes into its second part, there are three altogether. It starts back up where it had left off only calling out normal society even more then he had to begin with. “Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb! Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!”. Ginsberg sees the government, industries, the whole lot for what it is. The society is built on the backs of the poor while the rich get richer and everyone stands aside watching as if its normal and fine. America at the time was still segregated and overtly racist. Ginsberg was an open homosexual. To speak out like this definitely brought a lot of negative attention to Ginsberg and he knew it and wasn’t afraid to speak up. It is utterly amazing to think of the amount of courage that it took to simply be who he was as a person.

The end of “Howl” is quite different. It’s as if Ginsberg is thinking about what the world could and should be. “ I’m with you in Rockland  where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won’t let us sleep I’m with you in Rockland where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself    imaginary walls collapse    O skinny legions run outside    O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here    O victory forget your underwear we’re free I’m with you in Rockland in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night”. What could America be? It is an unanswered question.

  1. Sometime during eternity

                                                       some guys show up   

and one of them

                      who shows up real late

                                                       is a kind of carpenter   

      from some square-type place

                                            like Galilee

          and he starts wailing

                                          and claiming he is hip

            to who made heaven

                                      and earth

                                                      and that the cat

                   who really laid it on us

                                                 is his Dad

        And moreover

             he adds

                         It’s all writ down

                                            on some scroll-type parchments   

          which some henchmen

                  leave lying around the Dead Sea somewheres   

                a long time ago

                                       and which you won’t even find   

         for a coupla thousand years or so

                                                 or at least for

      nineteen hundred and fortyseven

                                                      of them

                            to be exact

                                             and even then

         nobody really believes them

                                                   or me

                                                            for that matter

          You’re hot

                         they tell him

          And they cool him

          They stretch him on the Tree to cool

                         And everybody after that

                                                               is always making models   

                                          of this Tree

                                                          with Him hung up   

          and always crooning His name

                                     and calling Him to come down   

                                 and sit in

                                                 on their combo

                           as if he is the king cat

                                                            who’s got to blow   

                   or they can’t quite make it

                      Only he don’t come down

                                                         from His Tree

          Him just hang there

                                       on His Tree

          looking real Petered out

                                          and real cool

                                                             and also

                   according to a roundup

                                                    of late world news   

             from the usual unreliable sources

                                                               real dead

8) In "Marriage," Corso tackles the possibilities of marriage. It was among his "title poems," with "Power," "Army," and others that explore a concept. "Should I get married?" (1), the speaker begins. Could marriage bring about the results that the speaker is looking for? Coming "home to her" (54) and sitting "by the fireplace and she in the kitchen/aproned young and lovely wanting my baby/ and so happy about me she burns the roast beef" (55-57). Idealizing marriage and fatherhood initially, Corso's speaker embraces reality in the second half of the poem admitting, "No, I doubt I'd be that kind of father" (84). Recognizing that the act of marriage is in itself a form of imprisonment, "No, can’t imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream" (103), Corso's speaker acknowledges in the end that the possibility of marriage is not promising for him. Bruce Cook from the book The Beat Generation[3] illuminates Corso's skill at juxtaposing humor and serious critical commentary, "Yet as funny and entertaining as all this certainly is, it is not merely that, for in its zany way ‘Marriage’ offers serious criticism of what is phony about a sacred American institution."

9)«Черные юмористы» - одна из современных постмодернистских школ, по способу видения и отражения жизни примыкающая к литературе абсурда. Расцвет американского абсурдизма приходится на вторую половину 60-х годов, когда с его европейским вариантом произошло то, что неминуемо случается со всеми модернистскими школами - исчерпав свои небольшие художественные открытия, абсурдизм привел роман и драму к антигуманизму в философии и морали, к распаду человеческого образа и романной формы - в литературе. Первый базовый принцип «черных юмористов» - восприятие мира как хаоса, второй - утверждение абсолютной бесцельности человеческого существования. У них нет поизведений о домохозяйках, которые только и озабочены тем, как выглядит стойка для цветов, которую они приобрели в магазине за углом.

Итак, база абсурдистской литературы идентична теории экзистенциализма - мир абсурден. Однако решение сложившихся противоречий абсурдисты решают иначе - они абсолютно отрицают разумность жизни и пытаются защититься смехом от ее парадоксальных и калечащих человека конфликтов и противоречий. Школа «черного юмора» представляет собой философско-эстетическую общность писателей, для которых ключевым понятием становится ирония, понимаемая как способ существования в мире, как фундаментальный принцип интерпретации всего, что в этом мире происходит. Общность мироощущения у «черных юмористов» порождает использование сходной повествовательной стратегии, для которой характерно:

• пародирование всех мифов и стереотипов;

• сквозной гротеск, смех над страшным и отталкивающим;

• традиция «небылиц», восходящая к американскому фольклору и раннему М. Твену;

• обилие реминисценций и аллюзий;

• фрагментарность алогичного сюжета;

• условные персонажи-марионетки;

• игра как эстетическая и философская категория.

10)Родиной постмодернистской литературы исследователи признают США — именно отсюда постмодернизм распространился по Европе. Теория постмодернизма начинает складываться в США на волне интереса к интеллектуально-философским, постфрейдистским и литературоведческим концепциям французских постструктуралистов. Американская почва оказалась наиболее благоприятной для восприятия новых веяний по ряду причин. Здесь ощущалась потребность в осмыслении тех тенденций в развитии искусства и литературы, которые заявили о себе начиная с середины 50-х гг. (появление поп-арта, сделавшего цитатность ведущим художественным принципом) и все более набирали силу, что привело в середине 70-х к смене культурной парадигмы: модернизм уступил место постмодернизму.

Рассмотрим часть составляющих постмодернистской парадигмы:

• деканонизация всех канонов и всех официальных условностей, ироническая переоценка ценностей;

• размытость жестких бинарных оппозиций; пристрастие к технике бриколлажа, или цитатного совмещения несовместимого;

• отказ от традиционного «я», стирание личности, подчеркивание множественности «я»;

• гибридизация, мутантное изменение жанров, порождающее новые формы;

• карнавализация как признание имманентности смеха, «веселой относительности» предметов, как участие в диком беспорядке жизни;

• метаязыковая игра, игра в текст, игра с текстом, игра с читателем, игра со сверхтекстом, театрализация текста;

• игровое освоение Хаоса;

• интертекстуальность, опора на всю историю человеческой культуры и ее переосмысление;

• плюрализм культурных языков, моделей, стилей, используемых как равноправные;

• выявление плюралистического типа мышления с его раскрепощающим характером, ориентирующего на приятие жизненного богатства и разнообразия;

• дву- или многоуровневая организация текста, рассчитанная на элитарного и массового читателя одновременно, использование жанровых кодов как массовой, так и элитарной литературы, научного исследования и т. п.; сочетание развлекательности и сверхэрудированности;

• ориентация на множественность интерпретаций текста;

• явления авторской маски, «смерти автора»;

• принцип читательского сотворчества, создание нового типа читателя;

• универсализирующий принцип изображения;

• множественность смыслов и точек зрения;

• принципиальная асистематичность, незавершенность, открытость конструкции;

21. Published in 1972


The Influence of Culture on Identity Bless Me, Ultima explores the difficulty of reconciling conflicting cultural traditions. In the end, Anaya suggests that a person can draw from several cultural traditions to forge a more complex and adaptable identity. Antonio is so eager to find a single, definitive answer to the questions that haunt him because he has been influenced by many conflicting cultures. The first major conflict involves his parents. His Luna mother wishes for him to become a priest, while his vaquero father wishes for him to ride the llano. Each parent has deeply rooted cultural convictions. Next is the conflict within his town between its Spanish and indigenous cultures. We see evidence of this conflict in the pronounced tension between Ultima’s mystical folklore and the Catholic church. Another conflict takes place at Antonio’s school between Spanish and English speakers.

Anaya uses these conflicts to explore the influence of culture on identity. Many characters in the book are limited by their cultural prejudices and never learn to look beyond their own assumptions. For example, the townspeople condemn Narciso for being a drunk and refuse to acknowledge that his traumatic experience in the war might play a part in his psychological state. Ultima teaches Antonio to avoid the limitations inherent in abiding by one culture, one religion, or one creed. Instead, Ultima encourages Antonio to embrace all of the cultural influences in his life to become a better person.

The Importance of Moral Independence An emphasis on thinking independently about moral decisions pervades Bless Me, Ultima. Antonio’s progress toward moral independence is the main marker of his maturity and development throughout the novel. Antonio’s struggle to reconcile the complexities of his experience with his religion leads him to conclude that he must make his own decisions. He becomes increasingly frustrated by the failure of the church to explain the most pressing questions about morality and human experience.

Motifs: Family The recurring presence of various family relationships—uncles, siblings, and parents, especially—provides a subtle commentary on the nature of identity and ultimately underscores the book’s main theme of moral independence. Many of Antonio’s family members seek to define his future, especially his uncles, who argue about whether he will become a priest or a vaquero. Antonio looks to other members of his family to help define his identity, especially when he tries to model himself after Andrew, his older brother. In the end, Antonio must learn to make his own choices, drawing from the wisdom and experience of his family, but not being limited by their wishes and perspectives.

Learning and Education Ultima once predicts vaguely that Antonio will be a “man of learning.” Many scenes in the book explore Antonio’s education, both religious (his Communion classes) and academic (his school classes). Antonio’s growth and development serve as examples of education. Ultima believes that every experience helps inform one’s identity and perspective on life. Bless Me, Ultima is the story of Antonio’s growth from childhood to maturity. His progress is represented by his gradually expanding education, both in the classroom and in his own introspective interpretation of his experience.

22.In Sandra Cisneros's "Barbie-Q", a sudden abundance of flawed Barbie dolls makes the child narrator accepts her own identity and discards society's ideals of women.

The initial storyworld is that of materialism and perfection. What the narrator values in her dolls and what she plays with them could be seen as a reflection of her own self image, of what she thinks she should look like and what kind of life she should live. From the first few lines of the story it becomes clear that the narrator of the story is a little girl. She describes the outfits of her barbies, as if reading from the package, to her friend. "Yours is the one with mean eyes and a ponytail. Striped swimsuit, stilettos, sunglasses, and gold hoop earrings." The doll's mean eyes reveals the author's critical attitude towards the ideal it represents. This attitude also shows in the title of the story. The Narrator uses second person, as if directly adressing the reader. Who she is talking to is never defined in the story, but it is clear that she is talking to a fellow child.  The narration mainly uses only first and second person, which  realistically recreates the world of a little girl, where the narrator and her friend are the only people and Barbie dolls the only things that matter.

In the second paragraph, the girls repeat society's gender roles in their play: "Every time the same story. Your Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, my Barbie's boyfriend comes over and your Barbie steals him, okay?"  The invisible Ken doll could be seen as the author's way of emphasising her point about society's assuptions of young women's interests. The author makes the scene strange enough to catch the reader's attention.

 The flea market scene describes the mundane reality of the narrator's neighbourhood which is contrasted with the girl's aspirations that are projected tobarbie dolls that represent a different social background and lifestyle. The narrator lists the items in the flea markets just like she did with her dolls. This emphasises the contrast. The initial story world is disrupted in the flea market scene as the narrator finds flawed Barbies for sale. This scene develops in the next paragraph as the narrator gets all the Barbies she dreamed of, only all of them damaged by a fire.  

In the last paragraph, the narrator seems to accept her own social background as she understands that it doesn't matter that they can't afford all the new Barbie dolls. The narrator describes her flawed Barbie: "And if the prettiest doll, Barbie's MOD'ern cousin Francie with real eyelashes, eyelash brush included, has a left foot that's melted a little-so?" This statement could be seen as having a wider meaning, that the child also accepts her own flaws and ends her quest for perfection defined by society.

The short story Barbie-Q written by Sandra Cisneros is about two young girls that do not have a lot of money to afford everything they want.  The only thing the girls care about is having a Barbie to play with; it does not have to have the perfect hair and the perfect body.  These two girls want any Barbie no matter what it looks like because the doll is still Barbie on the inside.  The flea market the girls were walking through that morning was selling melted toys from the warehouse fire. One quote that shows the girls do not care what the Barbie looks like is, “And if the prettiest doll, Barbie’s MOD’ern cousin Francie with real eyelashes, eyelash brush included, has a left foot that’s melted a little—so?”(162).  This quote resembles the beauty that the girls see past the melted foot and how dirty the Barbie looked.

This short story shows that beauty is not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside.  When the two girls look at the Barbie, they think of what they can do to cover up the flaws it has.  In the quote when the girl says “so?” she means why does it matter that these Barbie’s are different.  The fact that the Barbie’s are melted and the girls are finding ways to make them look better, shows how they view beauty.  It shows that the only beauty the two girls see is the Barbie.  They do not care if she has a melted foot or that the hair on the doll is burnt.  All the girls see if the beauty within the Barbie.

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