Mara Dyer's Flashbacks

Michelle Hodkins third installment on her Mara Dyer series, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, is a roller coaster of non linear literature. Michelle uses flashbacks which creates a story with many twists and turns. Michelle’s use of flashbacks is to intensify the reader’s understanding of the book by giving them comprehension of a character’s past while also making it non linear. This keeps the reader wondering throughout the book. This style of writing affects the content of the book because it constantly switches back and forth from past and present.

In The Retribution Of Mara Dyer, Michelle Hodkin has flashback chapters that are separated from the regular chapters. These flashback chapters are titled ‘Before’ and appear randomly throughout the book. In the story, readers begin to realize that the flashbacks are being slowly released. Readers think that this is a way to not overwhelm the readers with a huge chapter filled with just one giant flashback. So far in the flashback chapters, readers have read about a young girl who have traveled from India to London to live with her benefactor’s wife. In chapter 20, one of the many ‘before’ chapters, readers see the young girl having a conversation with her benefactors wife, whom the young girl called ‘Aunt’. There’s not much insight on who these people are which keeps the readers curious. One passage from the story that shows this is, “There is power in a name” Sister had said. I did not want to give out the one I’d shared only with her and Uncle, so I’d given anyone else who had asked a different one instead. The name I had given to my doll, before I’d known what it meant/ I decided to give Aunt Sarah the same one. “Mara,” I told her…” - Page 151.  This flashback leaves readers with shock and leaves them engrossed in the book. They are shocked to find out that this girl in the flashbacks is the main character, Mara, but they also want to know how her past correlates with her future. They also want to keep reading. Sure, the author could have released this information in the beginning, and it still would have contained the same information, but it would have taken away from the non linear trend as well as the nagging curiosity it leaves on the readers.

Flashback chapters are not only a way to keep a reader on a non linear roller coaster, but they are also a way to give the reader insight on a character’s past. Little by little, the reader gains more and more insight on who Mara is. Not only do they learn more about her, but with context clues the readers slowly begin to realize that these flashbacks seem to not happen in Mara’s time period. In chapter 43 (before), we read about how Mara has to leave the town she lives in with her professor due to some unexpected occurrences.

“It had been over a century since I fled London with the professor, and yet he still treated me like a child.” - Page 290. Flashbacks like these make the reader realize that maybe the main character has had past lives, or that she might be older than she seems. There could be endless possibilities, but without spoiling it, the two listed above are just a few things that could be possible in this book.

Since the book constantly switches from past and present, readers are always trying to make connections between the two; the readers feel a need to always put two and two together since the book is filled with many mysteries. The readers also begin to realize that all the flashback chapters create their own story within the book seeing as how they pick up where the other flashback is left off.  In chapter 24 (before), we read about Mara’s ‘Aunt’ setting her up with someone so that they could marry.

“But I was presented at court anyway, and engaged six months later. My fiance was sweet and shy, and he loved me. Our engagement lasted three months. He died on our wedding night, just before dawn.” - Page 179. With these flashbacks, readers will constantly try to find out how her past relates with her present. In the present, readers know that Mara has a long term boyfriend named Noah, who she loves very much; but when these chapters appear, readers try to figure out how any of this leads to Mara’s present. Readers also slowly realize that the flashbacks are their own story within the story which adds on to the non linear feel of this book.

In the end, readers acknowledge just how important these flashbacks are. They add onto the story as well as filling in detail. Other readers have noticed the importance of the flashbacks as well; a review from Vilma’s Book Blog shows that. We see past (“before”) and present finally converge, as answers start to peek through the subtext of the story, making connections we never could’ve imagined. Mara’s quest for answers… for a solution… gets bloodier and more gruesome by the day as we inch towards the climactic end.” With flashbacks, readers can slowly find out how the main character became who they are. They can also find out more about other characters as well through flashbacks. Readers also stay hooked on the book through the flashbacks because of their random occurrences and the shock factor that they hold. Those random appearances keep the readers on their toes and they keep them wanting more. The flashbacks also cause the book to have an unusual feel due to it being non linear. Lastly, this writing style is a unique way to give readers insight without just simply stating it. The constant switch from past and present takes its toll on the reader the deeper they read into it.

Looking For Alaska's Structure of Time *Spoilers*

Looking For Alaska is a beautifully romantic, yet dark, depressing novel by famous author John Green. It starts with introducing the main character, Miles, a dreary teenager who is obsessed with famous last words, and the reader takes on his point of view. But the unique thing about it is that the headline of the first chapter says “one hundred and thirty-six days before.” This immediately makes the reader think, one hundred and thirty-six days before what? That was John Green’s goal of writing the book in this structure, a countdown, to lure the reader in and to prepare them for whatever it is that is coming.

Countdowns can stir a range of emotions, it depends on the person. If you are impatient, you probably won’t like it. If you love anticipation and surprises, you will love it. That’s exactly whatever it is that’s coming, a surprise. Miles, the main character, wants to get away from his life and family in Florida and signs up for a boarding school in Alabama, and he explains his deeper reasoning: “So this guy, Francois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That is why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”

As the countdown has already started, one hundred and thirty-six days, the reader probably already assumes that that is the countdown to when Miles finds his “Great Perhaps.” The reader might be questioning, why is he thinking he’ll find it at a boarding school? He gets to the boarding school, and meets his roommate named ‘the Colonel.’ They become friends and Miles’ new nickname becomes Pudge.

The Colonel introduces Pudge to his friend Alaska. Now, the reader might be assuming that the countdown relates to Alaska, because the book is called “Looking for Alaska.” He instantly falls in love with her and throughout the book he never tells her and never feels as if he’s good enough for her. They share knowledge with each other, and as time ticks on they become closer and closer. The reader may already be assuming that whatever this countdown is leading to, it may be a tragedy, which is a turn, because in the beginning you think of the “Great Perhaps” as a happy thing.

As the amount of days get lower, the reader is probably getting more and more anxious, and just wants to skip those pages all together. It locks them into the book, which was smart of the author, because who would want to leave a book and never find out what happens? Sure, you can skip pages to the part, but what's the fun in that? The structure definitely doesn’t take an instant, or as Pudge says, an instant doesn’t even exist. “What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minute, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

Reviewers weighed in on the how they feel on the structure, ¨With a structure like this, we learn the before and the after of the main event, which is something you don't see in a lot of books. Too often we're just thrown into the middle of a story with no explanation as to how the characters got there or how they know each other. However, here we start at the beginning and meet Alaska and the Colonel at exactly the same time the protagonist, Miles 'Pudge' Halter, does.¨

Without the countdown, this book would have no path. Sure, the story would stay the same, but the event could happen at any given time without any sort of preparation. The reader is there throughout Pudge’s adventure. They see him meet the Colonel and Alaska and watch his life change from boring into amazing. Although the book gives barely any details about Pudge’s past, the reader can conclude that it wasn’t anything like it was at that boarding school. Pudge is introduced to alcohol, cigarettes, pranks, actually having friends, and of course, love.

One day before. Pudge, the Colonel, and Alaska pull pranks on the Eagle, the head of the school, by setting off fireworks in the woods to annoy him, because they don’t particularly like him. They get into trouble with the Eagle a lot throughout the book, and plenty of times they were almost banned. They all go back to the room and get drunk. Things go forward with Pudge and Alaska, they kiss. But then all of a sudden Alaska starts freaking out, drunk out of her mind, saying that she has to drive to go see her boyfriend since it was their 8 month anniversary. She leaves, and the reader can already assume what will happen.

The after section of the book starts immediately in the center of the book. The reader might assume the after section already starts with Pudge knowing what happens, but it doesn’t. Pudge wakes up, still feeling alive from the night before with the love of his life, nothing feeling out of the ordinary. He and the Colonel go to the gym, because the Eagle had an announcement to make. The book is all coming together for the reader now, the answer to their everlong question, “what’s going to happen?”, is right in front of them.

Alaska died in a car accident that night. The reader is probably flooding with emotions along with Pudge. Nothing is the same for Pudge, the light was drained from his life as he reflected on the things he did with Alaska and the words he never said to her, which was that he loved her. The reader thinks it couldn’t get worse than that, until they find out the full story of Alaska’s death, and that the fireworks they were setting off in the woods was a contributing factor of the accident. Heartbroken, guilty, miserable. They are all major understatements to describe how Pudge felt.

Time passes. Miles tries to solve Alaska’s death to make him feel less empty. They talk to her boyfriend, they figure out how drunk she was, they study it to see if it was intentional. The reader might have assumed that the after section wouldn’t be as long as the before, but they were the same exact length. How the reader feels after, it really depends on them. They might've felt as if the time structure certainly fit the book, or they might feel as if it would’ve been the same without that structure. At the end, time doesn’t heal Pudge, but eventually, he comes to terms with his loss of Alaska. “At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid, and it hurts, but then it's over and you're relieved.”

"Looking For Alaska - Review." The Guardian. N.p., 22 Mar. 2013. Web. <>.

Flashback and the Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold’s novel, The Lovely Bones, is a story about a young girl named Susie Salmon. Susie was raped and murdered by her neighbor, Mr.Harvey at the age of 14. Her family and friends were made surprised and distraught by the event. Susie narrates the story from heaven, looking down on the little town she used to live in. Sebold uses flashbacks throughout the story to add details and information about the past that really shape the story into what it is. Flashbacks give the story more depth and dimension.

In the beginning of the story, you don’t know much about the characters in the story, not even the main character. Each chapter, a new emotion, action, or previous experience is unlocked and you start to know a little more about the characters. In the story, Susie talks about her younger brother, Buckley. Buckley is four when Susie dies. Buckley originally didn’t understand what his parents meant when they said Susie was dead but eventually he starts saying that Susie’s ghost is communicating with him and he is able to see her. This is important to the story but without background information on Buckley, these events aren't as impactful. A year before Susie’s death, Buckley and his friend Nate were playing in the backyard. Buckley saw a tiny stick so he put it in his mouth and acted like it was a cigarette. Buckley accidentally swallowed the stick. “Buckley was choking, his body bucking, and I carried him with Nate trailing into the garage, where my father’s precious Mustang sat. I had watched my parents drive, and my mother had shown me how a car went from park to reverse. I put Buckley in the back and grabbed the keys from the unused terra-cotta pots where my father hid them. I sped all the way to the hospital.” This quote is giving more detail to why him seeing Susie is so important. His near death experience makes him seeing Susie more realistic. Susie also validates him seeing her by asking, “Had my brother really seen me somehow?”

As stated before, the characters are revealed slowly in each chapter. Susie’s mother, Abigail, doesn’t take Susie’s death well. She has an affair with the main detective on Susie’s case, leaves her family, and makes you question if she really was ever ready to be a mother or is she loved the life she was living. Her eventually leaving her family would not make sense without flashbacks detailing her past life. A loving mother wouldn’t just leave her family after her daughter is murdered. Thankfully, the story gives some information on Abigail. From what we are told, Abigail and her mother, Grandma Lynn, don’t have the best relationship. The book refers to their relationship as “awkward.” Grandma Lynn came to the Salmon household for Susie’s funeral and while she was there, she sensed something wrong with her daughter, Abigail. Grandma Lynn decided to take a walk with her daughter around the block. While they were walking, Sebold explains their “awkward” experience from Susie’s point of view. “Now, never having tried before, having always let her daughter run as fast as she could in whatever direction she wished, . . . My mother could count on her fingertips how many times her tall father had leaned down and kissed her as a child. . . There had been no one else in the house with her but her mother and father, and then her father had gone.” All of these quotes kind of explain what Abigail did what she did. From the beginning, she hadn’t experienced much love at home. Her mother letting her “run as fast as she could in whatever direction she wished,” shows that leadership and guidance was absent. Her father not kissing her and the eventually leaving her shows that there was a lack of love and care for her and her mother. Abigail’s childhood validates her actions as an adult. That is why she left her family to be with Len. Len was showing her love and affection for the moment and her husband wasn’t at the time, even though the book tells us that Jack, her husband, loves her very much. Jack was depressed and sad that his daughter was murdered and because he wasn’t giving Abigail attention or saying “I love you”, she had an affair. All of this information from flashbacks helps us understand her actions.

The biggest person that everyone wanted to know information about was Mr. Harvey. The story starts off by telling you he killed Susie, but past information on him isn’t there. As you go further into the story, you start to learn about Mr. Harvey’s past. Jack has a strong feeling that Mr. Harvey killed Susie, but no one else believes him, except Lindsey. Lindsey wants to help her father and prove Mr. Harvey guilty so she sneaks into his house when he isn’t there. Lindsey breaks through the window. “Jackie Meyer. Delaware, 1967. Thirteen. . . Flora Hernandez. Delaware, 1963. Eight. . . Leah Fox. Delaware 1969. Tweleve. . . Sophie Cichetti, Pennsylvania, 1960. Forty-nine. . . Leidia Johnson. 1960. Six. . . Wendy Richter. Connecticut, 1971. Thirteen.” All of these names reveal a lot. This quote shows that Mr. Harvey has killed many more people than just Susie. This also shows that he is good at what he does and it will be hard to find him guilty. This also helps you understand that the women he tells people were his wives were his victims names. This quote changes your perspective on Mr. Harvey.

As stated before, the story uses flashback. A review from says,”The Lovely Bones is written in chronological order with flashbacks in between. Yet the flashbacks do not give the reader headaches like most novels do. These trips back in time are insightful, necessary, and valuable to the reader. They help to keep Sebold’s organization in check. Ray Singh did not wake up one day and fall in love with the then alive Susie; a flashback explains it took months for his feelings to strengthen and for him to work up the courage to kiss her. Abigail did not have an affair with Detective Len Fenerman because she felt like it. A flashback shows that Jack and Abigail had once been in a thriving marriage. Flashbacks give information that would otherwise be lost and enable the reader to understand plot elements in the present.” The author of this review explains that flashbacks give information and “insight” that is necessary to the story. Flashbacks help validate why the characters do what they do.

The Lovely Bones is a mysterious and heart-warming story about fourteen year old Susie Salmon. The story is placed in chronological order but flashbacks are added to give depth to the characters and to the story. Without flashbacks, characters past lives wouldn’t be expressed and there would be a major disconnect with the entire story. Flashbacks give the story more depth and dimension.

"The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold." The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

Miller, Laura. "“The Lovely Bones,” by Alice Sebold." Saloncom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

Jake Norman's Q3 BM

Analytical Essay:

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a story about The Manor Farm, a farm where all of the livestock are tortured and their goods are taken by humans. At this farm one animal named Old Major, a boar, suggests to the animals on Manor Farm to take up his philosophy of Animalism (humans are bad, treat all animals as you would yourself, and don’t engage in human activities eg. drinking alcohol, trading etc.). He wanted to stage a revolution against farm owner Mr. Jones to achieve a state of equality amongst all animals. Old Major passes away and the farm is taken over by a power-hungry pig named Napoleon. Napoleon is a formidable dictator who rules the animals of “Animal Farm” by oppressing and controlling them along with his right hand man (pig) Squealer, and a pack of ferocious hounds used to protect Napoleon and strike fear into other animals.

The events in the story are narrated in third person by an unnamed omniscient being. Narration of the third person is very important in general to the reader because it allows us to see all of the crucial moments going on at animal farm.  In first person narration, readers sometimes only see events when the characters (narrators) witness an events. Orwell’s use of narration in the third person from an omniscient being allows us as readers to be put in the place of uninformed (unintelligent or naive) animal and figure out on our own what the Pigs’ motives or ideas are.  As readers of this voice we have to make up our own minds about what is happening, what it means and how we feel about it all.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator presents as any typical unnamed and omniscient being would, by narrating descriptions of the setting and characters as well as the thoughts and feelings of several (sometimes all) different characters. As time goes on, the narrator tends to speak about events in a very naive way, almost as if the narrator has become one of the less intelligent animals in the book who are unaware of their oppression and who disregard Napoleon’s evil doing. Jason Black is a developmental editor for novels and is the author of an online article titled, How Your Novel's Point of View Affects Your Characters. In this article Black says that “[Third person narration] is ideal if your goal is to allow the reader to watch everything unfold even though the characters aren’t aware of all that’s going on.” This is exactly what what Orwell does by writing in third person narrative in Animal Farm.

The narrator starts to fall for Napoleon’s propaganda early in the book. One example of this naive point of view is in Chapter Six; pages 26-27 where the character Clover is skeptical of Napoleon and the other pigs for sleeping in beds when she remembers one of the Seven Commandments stating that “no animal shall sleep in a bed.” “Finding herself unable to read more than individual letters, [Clover] fetched Muriel. ‘Muriel,’ she said, ‘read me the Fourth Commandment. Does it not say something about never sleeping in a bed?’ With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out. ‘It says, ’No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets,’ she announced finally. Curiously enough, Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so.” If the reader falls for the ruse of an unbiased third person character, this moment could either have the reader go along with what the narrator is thinking (“if the commandments say it, it must be right”) while a more skeptical reader could have gone back to check the Seven Commandments when they were first made. This decision on whether or not to believe the statement of the narrator affects their trust of both Napoleon, the narrator and even Clover.

The third person narration style is slowly revealed in Chapter Eight, page 41. The reader doesn’t immediately know what caused the sound, the narrator describes a scene occurring one quiet night when a loud crash came from the large barn and was heard by all of the animals. “At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paintbrush, and an overturned pot of white paint. The dogs immediately made a ring round Squealer, and escorted him back to the farmhouse as soon as he was able to walk. None of the animals could form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing.” In this paragraph, Orwell has had the narrator give very important clues to help readers figure out what the loud noise was. The narrator does not ever say specifically what happened that caused the noise.  The reader has to figure out on their own what happened.

Orwell also uses the third person to paint a picture of the farm’s condition as well as it’s residents. In Chapter Nine; pages 43-44 he writes;  “Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.”  This particular statement sounds like it could have been said by either a pig or a non-pig animal, which either way brings the reliability of this statement into question. Since the narrator and Squealer both agree that “in those days they had been slaves and now they were free” anyone who trusts the narrator may also start to believe the things Squealer preaches.

If Orwell were to choose another form like first person narration from the view of a character like Boxer, the strong but foolish stallion, the story would not include the events not witnessed by Boxer. Due to Boxer’s thick-headedness, the narration of the book, if it were told from Boxer’s perspective, would include bias on what the animals think about Napoleon and crucial moments would not have been explained in full detail. In Black’s article he refers to the to third person narration as if it is “jumping into and out of different character’s heads, giving the reader a much more difficult job in forming any close emotional ties with the characters.” In this case, having Boxer narrate the story in first person has the potential of the reader connecting with Boxer. A reader seeing Boxer as the trustworthy protagonist would believe what he says about Animal Farm and would have a very skewed idea of the plot.

York Notes, an online study guide program for English literature, says the third person narration in Animal Farm provides “the animals’ interpretation of events” and the narrator is  “detached.” The York Notes also point out, “Orwell is careful to use phrases that leave us in no doubt about what is happening. . . the animals might not be aware of what is going on but it is obvious to [the reader].” It is this usage of bread crumb trails that allows the reader to figure out on their own what they personally feel about the story, the animals actions, Napoleon and what everything means.

Beautiful Creatures

Author Of Book: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

The book “Beautiful Creatures” is full of mysteries and secrets. The author started off with Ethan, who is one of the main characters, talking about how nothing ever changes in his town, then ended the first chapter with him saying, that he was wrong, that there was a curse, a girl, and a grave that he never expected. It kind of wraps up what Ethan had started talking about. Which later lead into a song that keeps on appearing in his ipod and then disappearing. A repetition like technique the author used as a way to set a grounded pattern that draws readers in. The reappearance of the verse drives Ethan crazy, because he had fallen in love with a girl he sees in his dreams, but now his nightmare is becoming a reality. The author tried to show a message through a song verse that shows up throughout the story which changes little by little leading a message to what is coming their way.

Ethan heard a verse coming from his ipod, playing out of nowhere. When he doubled checked to make sure that it was a song in his ipod, there was nothing at all,  the song was gone as if it was never there. The verse of the mysterious song said, “Sixteen moons, sixteen years; Sixteen of your deepest fears; Sixteen times you dreamed my tears; Falling, falling through the years…”. The verse made him think whether it was just a dream or was he thinking too much. He also had been having weird dreams about this girl that he tries to hold onto but she slipped out of his hand into the darkness under. This verse that the author added, was to add a hint that something unusual is going on. Ethan mom had died, his dad  locked up in the basement “working” ever since. He is now taken care by Amma, a housekeeper that had been with his family for longer than he can remember. She is very superstitious and is also mysterious. The song verse will reveal some stuff, that Ethan never knew, especially about the people around him, Amma, his dad, and even his mother.

Ethan heard this song playing from his ipod for a second time. Again when he check again it was gone. Ethan had recognized the same melody, but some of the words changed while he was in class. Ethan suddenly felt disconnected from the reality, he was falling, she was falling, he was in his dreams. He was confused. He had a feeling that connects to an uneasy feeling with the remembrance of the girl that appeared in his dreams. He then thinks of the new girl Lena, niece of a crazy man living in a haunted like mansion in town. He felt a strong connection to her the more he had gotten close to her. “Sixteen moons, sixteen years; Sound of thunder in your ears; Sixteen miles before she nears; Sixteen seeks what sixteen fears….” To him, this verse that appears, always give him a tense feeling, that something will happen. It gives Ethan signs, he knows is going on, but does not know what it is. The author, used many other form of repetition in the book, yet the particular verses from the same song makes the book connect in a unique way. After the verse plays with a change in words throughout the book, Ethan would find himself in a different place, experiencing things so real that it can hurt him, something supernatural. The repetition of the verse, this style chosen by the author, gives the book much bigger mystery and suspense that the reader sometimes can’t catch up with even though it is predicted by readers that it will show up throughout the story.

Ethan keeps on getting this same repetitive verse with slight changes throughout the story. “Sixteen moons, sixteen years,; Sixteen times you dreamed my fears,; Sixteen will try to Bind the spheres,; Sixteen screams but just one hearts....” And every time, it is almost a signal that something unusual will take place, and Ethan must be more cautious than ever. The repetition of this verse with slight changes, are what the readers look for, since it leads to the interesting parts of the book, and more secrets being revealed as the story goes along. It keeps the reader entertain and interested. The author used the repetition in a way to not make it too predictable, but instead, it makes the book more interesting. It is a repetitive thing that happens a lot to Ethan.

This style of repetition the author used in the book allows the readers to think of what the verses actually mean and understand what is going on in the story. It’s not just the things that are being written in the book that the readers are reading, but a much deeper understanding. all the other little repetition, such as his dreams, his daydream illusions, and secrets being revealed to him by Amma. It all leads up to the what the readers look for after each time the verse or vision Ethan gets. It is the small problems that shows up in the story that reveals more and more secrets that Ethan never knew. “Used sparingly and in the right context, though, repetition is a literary device that can make quite the rhetorical effect.” said Ben Huberman.

The author gave characters in the book chances to speak, in order for readers to get a glimpse into their character that builds up over time. Introducing more and more character in over time, as more verses with different wordings being revealed in the story. This allows the readers to be more in touch and build a relationship with the characters. This will result in the readers not knowing exactly where the book is leading to, but a very exciting way of keeping the readers entertain yet feeling the suspense. Repetition plays a big part in this story, the author made it connects with everything else that leads up to what the readers like.

"Rinse, Repeat: Make the Most of Repetition in Your Writing." The Daily Post. 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <>.

"The Beautiful Creatures Complete Collection (Caster Chronicles, #1-4)."Goodreads. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. <>.

Bud,Not Buddy Character Devolpement

There are many young orphans who have lost their mother and their father are no longer in the picture. Those young orphans always hope that their father will return, but they don’t have the power to go look for them. Bud not buddy is an inspiring and humorous book about a young boy who has had enough of bouncing from house to house. He lost his mother but he still has the hope of his father through a small briefcase that he carries with him. Christopher Curtis use little aspects to build his characters even if they are only mentioned in the book.

Bud has been adopted to live with Amoses, they have a son who is two years older than Bud. Todd isn’t very happy that there is a new boy in his house so he bullies Bud. Todd and Bud start fighting and got caught by Mrs. Amoses, his suitcase was taken and he was thrown into the shed. Bud soon escapes from the shed in search for his belongings. He find them but “I could tell right away that someone had been fumbling through my things. First off, whenever I put the blanket in, I always fold it so that it stops all the other things from banging up against each other” Bud is very particular of where things are placed in his briefcase. It mentions that  “I could tell right away that someone had been fumbling through my things.” This shows he is observant and delicate with the things he care about. In his mind everything has it’s place and he know when it’s not the way he wants or had it. For someone to know exactly how everything is means that they care a great deal about it. Bud obviously treasures the things in the briefcase because he has an exact order the things are suppose to be in, “first..whenever I put the blanket in, I always fold it so it stops...things from banging.” This show the expert care Bud takes of the suitcase. He does want anything banging against each other and getting damage because it’s important to him.

Bud comes off as a very respectful child, but he is really looking for a way to get himself out of a bad situation. He makes up so many rules for the lies he creates he calls them Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things to Have a Funner Life and Make a Better Liar of Yourself. He has been beaten up by Todd and when Mrs. Amoses comes in Todd tells his mother lies to get him out of trouble. Bud is surprised when it seem that Todd know his rules to getting out of trouble. “It seemed like he knew some of the  same things I know, the things I think of all the time and try to remember so I don't make the same mistake more than seven or eight times” This shows that Bud is smart and is a learner, he takes in knowledge on how to please to other people. He only needs something to happen “seven or eight times” and then from that experience he determines if he has to lie or not. Bud even calls himself the best liars in the world. To be the best at something you have to learn when to use it. To learn when to use it Bud had to practice, showing that Bud can also be selfish and deceitful. So it surprises him when other people know how to do the same thing.

Bud has left the Amoses house and is on the lame as he puts it. Before he can do anything else he looks in his suitcase. In his suitcase is a picture of his mom as a young girl. While looking at this picture he has a flashback to a conversation he and his mom would always have. She say “Bud is your name and don't you ever let anyone call you anything outside of that either...Especially don't you ever let anyone call you Buddy, I may have some problems but being stupid isn't one of them, I would've added that dy onto the end of your name if I intended for it to be there.” Bud’s mothers name is Angela Janet Caldwell. Even though she isn’t alive in the book you get to know her characters through Bud’s  flashback. For example the sentence “I may have some problems but being stupid isn’t one of them, I would’ve added that dy onto the end of your name if I intended for it to be there” informs you that Bud’s mom may have had some schooling so she was smart. You also see how sassy she was through the sentence “Bud is your name and don't you ever let anyone call you anything outside of that either...I would’ve added the dy onto the end of your name if I intended for it to be there.” If she wanted something to happen or be there then she would have put it there, if she didn’t put it there don’t say it. You can also see how obedient Bud is because throughout the whole book he tells people “My name is Bud, not Buddy.” He especially isn’t letting anyone call him Buddy because that’s not what his mother wanted.

There are very few who seem to realize Bud being as polite as he tries to be. One of those people are Herman C. Calloway. Bud has been through a long journey to find a man who he thinks is his father. He keeps a flier of Mr. Calloway in his suitcase and knows where he may be. Bud has been with Mr. Calloway for a few days and has gotten on his last nerve. He says “You throw a lot of ‘sirs’ around but you’ve still got a real strong, real smart-mouthed, disrespectful streak in you boy.” Mr. Calloways sees that Bud has “disrespectful streak” in him that no one else sees. This proves Mr. Calloways character of being a grouchy older man but also shows he doesn’t take any nonsense from others. It also show that he isn’t a very patient man because Bud has only been with him a few days. On the other hand you see some who sees Bud as being disrespectful and smart mouthed. Which Bud is he just hides that side of himself.

Through out the whole book you see a young determined orphan who is just trying to find his father but he has also gone through a lot to get there. One review from a parent  on the Barnes and Nobles website says “Bud he’s an adventurous boy. He's brave. He's strong. He's determined to do anything. He's determined to find his father. Read this book and you'll find out how he goes from adventure to adventure. From foster home to foster home. Feel as if you're Bud as you read the book. And enjoy it.” This review breaks down Bud’s character perfectly because he is brave, he went on a search for his father not knowing what he would face. He is strong because even when he was separated from his friend he found his own way to make things work. He is determine because nothing stopped him from getting to his destination.

I recommend this book to everyone, it’s a must read because Christopher Curtis uses multiple aspects to improve his book. Aspects like symbolism, flashbacks, but most importantly character development. He makes you feel the emotions that Bud feels, the boy who is obedient but also disrespectful in his own way. Not only does Christopher Curtis give you a view of the characters living in the book but also the one who isn’t, Bud’s mother, Angela Caldwell or  Calloway. If the characters wouldn’t have been developed right then the book wouldn’t have enough emotion and adventure in it to leave the lasting impression that you can do what you put your mind to.

English Benchmark About Ja Rule's Book ¨Unruly¨

   This book is called Unruly, and it’s written by Ja Rule. This story also uses uses an incredibly unique structure in this book. Ja Rule does not use the regular order of things. He sometimes places later events before earlier events. Even though he does this, he keeps the story interesting and readable. He doesn’t feel the need to follow the rules. He feels that he should do what he thinks makes his life sound good and honest. Because of his originality, his book became an original masterpiece in literature in my opinion. He is not afraid to put certain events before other events. He is also not afraid to have prison letters in between his chapters. This style seems to be unnoticed by a lot of people, which also lets me know that he did a good job. It shows that the style has not interfered with the main story for the worse.

    This technique makes it so that the reader feels how he supposed to feel. He/she feels excited about what will happen next, so they are sucked in. The prison letters in between also gives the reader a really good time to reflect on Ja Rule’s views, as well as to feel sympathy for him. This style helps prove that he is a human, and that success is not everything. He is not afraid to admit that at all. So because of this, the use of prison letters is very unique and interesting. There is so much to this man, and this style presents that. That is the cool thing about this style. Most people would never use this style in their autobiographies or their TV shows. So he took a dare when he wrote his book like that, and it paid off.

    This style is not used often. People usually keep the entire story in order without making such changes. So, this is not really a normal technique at all. This is what makes him so original. You usually don’t see tv shows styling their episodes this way. They usually keep things in the order of 1rst to last events. Family Guy sort of uses this style. Similar to how Ja Rule has prison letters in between his chapters, Family Guy has cutaway gags. Prodigy, a rapper who also wrote a book, had prison letters in between his chaptes, and he also kept the letters in order. So, he has also sort have incorperated this style into his book. He just uses this style in a way that makes the story cool and interesting. The style is really contributing because it puts the events in a good place. That, and the unorderly style in general, do this because as you read it, you feel like it’s the right time to learn about this. Especially since Ja Rule also talks about so many different themes and situations that have appeared in his life.

   There are no quotes in the book about Ja Rule’s style. Ja Rule does not reference it, but there were a lot of qotes I can use to present the order that he used in the book. One quote is,¨The beef between me and 50 was all over the news.¨ This quote talks about a rap rivalry that was very damaging, but it also shows the type of order he uses at times. This quote was about 2003, but the next quote is about events that took place in 1999, and in 2000. ¨I was in Los Angeles recording my second album, Rule 3:36¨, was that quote. And these two quotes are in the exact order. They are because those chapters were right next to each other. The one about beef was before the one about Los Angeles. ¨Ḧis body moved slowly, and he was no longer in good shape¨, is the final quote I will use. That took place in 2002, and that is in the very next chapter after the previous one. This proves that Ja Rule does not use chronological order when writing. The effect it has is making you fell excited to hear more about the past. More things that have not been discussed earlier. This style does contribute to the story this man has to tell in such a great way. That might be one of the reasons I love this book

  On, there was a good quote about Ja Rule’s writing style, which was written by Andrew Hicks. ¨The book moves chronologically, but between each chapter is an italicized “present-tense” interlude written from prison, as Ja serves 26 months for a weapons charge and tax evasion¨ He is right about the prison letters. They are in between each chapter. That makes the story different from other biographies. This is an original form of writing which I like about it. That is why it is so good. But he also places some later events before earlier events. That is also what Andrew Hicks should touched on as well. But he was correct about the prison letters. Those letters are in order, but the storyline is not. And that is one of the interesting things about this book. Also, there is a beginning, middle, and end to this book. Although structured differently, you clearly know where the end and beginning is. When CG Blake said ¨The non-linear narrative is a challenge.¨, he was right. But, that was clearly a challenge that Ja Rule could handle. He used it properly, and that’s what makes the book so good.

 The prison letters carry on for 2 years, which is how long Ja Rule was in jail. These letters really show who he is as a person. You get to see his intellect, and you get to know how he is thinking after knowing he won’t be in the same house as his family for 2 years. He talks about how terribly he misses his son and daughter, and how his wife and mother were emotionally destroyed by this. Ja Rule lets you see the pain in his heart, and you can see how much regret he has for a lot of the decisions he made. Because of this, it was important he included them in this autobiography. But, it might be better that he kept those in order. Things could get confusing if he just placing them in random places because they are supposed to show his journey in prison. So, things would not quite be right if they were placed in random order. There is something about them each being in order that I really like. I think it helps see how he has matured throughout these two years. I would not see that if these letters were out of order, and put in random order.

       This book contains a very rare style of writing. My conclusion is that it can really make a book that much more interesting if done properly. The prison letters can help you think about Ja Rule’s life and choices, and the order of the events can make them seem as if they were in order. I know because Ja Rule did that, and now his book is a classic piece of American literature in my opinion.


Sources In MLA Format

Rule, Ja. Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man. Hardcover ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2014. 1 to 242. Print.

Hicks, Andrew. "A Review of Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man." Goodreads Inc, 6 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Jan. 2015. <>.

Blake, CG. "Linear vs. Non-linear Narrative." A New Fiction Writers Forum. A New Fiction Writers Forum, 5 Dec. 2011. Web. 21 Jan. 2015. <>.

The Use of Illustration in Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions"

Ella Donesky


A - Band


Readers generally refer to Kurt Vonnegut, the author, not Kurt Vonnegut, the illustrator. However, Kurt Vonnegut conveys something very similar in both of his mediums. The images are very straightforward, and the writing style is plain, but the story is still engrossing. Historically, illustrations more commonly appeared in children’s books, books covers, or at chapter heads. Their use in adult literature, or what was considered to be more “intellectual” and “serious,” began to decline, as illustrations were not seen as so. This dilemma often arises when comparing the television and film adaptations of books, as well. Kurt Vonnegut’s use of illustrations in Breakfast of Champions changes the overall tone of the writing and enhances the reader’s experience, but also deepens their understanding of the story and the symbols and themes expressed.
Screenshot 2015-01-19 at 9.10.42 PM
Screenshot 2015-01-19 at 9.10.42 PM
In the first chapter, Kurt Vonnegut discusses the country in which Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout live, the United States of America. This prompts a further analysis into America as a country, it’s values, and symbols you may find on the dollar bill. Following the illustration of the US flag, he includes the illuminati pyramid found on the US dollar. If you were to flip through Breakfast of Champions, given that the images are the most prominent pieces on the page (they take up about half of the page), they would seem random. This is unlike many illustrations, where you don’t need to read the words to understand the story. Kurt Vonnegut’s drawings appear as being completely without context, therefore the images are very integrated into the story, which provides the context. This is very closely linked with the tone of the story. Even with the context, the drawings seem almost comically simple, though necessary, and add to the tone of the story.  Childlike drawings of a lamb, a flamingo, a pair of sunglasses, a coat embroidered with the words “Pluto Gang,” and a pair of roughly sketched speech bubbles with scrawled out cursive don’t present themselves as serious, because as technical drawings, they are colorless and undetailed, and the illustrations only depict one object, as opposed to entire scenes. Accompanying the drawing is a sort of introduction. Vonnegut usually writes, “This was it,” or “It looked like this,” or “Here’s what it said.” None of the images included are ones that could not be identified from the story he describes and in that way, Vonnegut pokes fun at us, using the images to convey a sort of irony, humorously suggesting that we cannot understand the depth.
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Screenshot 2015-01-19 at 9.15.04 PM

The imagery in Breakfast of Champions doesn’t appear as drawings, exclusively. The first example is in the title of the book itself. “Breakfast of Champions” is a trademark slogan, not meant to reference General Mills, however, the expression is it’s own sort of trademark stamp, an image. Most Americans can recognize the trademark. Furthermore, on some book covers, and certainly in every copy, on the page following the publisher’s page, the slogan appears on a t-shirt. It’s a very familiar phrase, almost invisible. Perhaps Vonnegut’s use of it is meant to defamiliarize and lend it an ironic meaning. He recontextualizes it, and in this way, the title becomes a device, a symbol which provides a deeper understanding of the characters and the ironic tone. Hoover and Trout are regular people, they aren’t champions. The recontextualized imagery contrasts between the branding typical of American culture, and the lives that are actually lived.

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Screenshot 2015-01-19 at 9.05.47 PM

The first image of the book appears in the preface, not in the actual story. It is Vonnegut’s depiction of an asshole, the image above. Earlier in the preface, he dedicates the book to a woman, Phoebe Hurty. He writes, “She would talk bawdily to me and her sons...She was funny. She was liberating. She taught us to be impolite in conversation not only about sexual matters, but about American history and famous heros, about the distribution of wealth, about school, about everything.” Upon reading this statement, it is very clear what Vonnegut’s intentions are through writing and drawing. It communicates the purpose of the images. The image of the asshole, specifically, alludes to his earlier sentiment of maturity and humor, in his friend, Phoebe. Furthermore, it is important to mention that the image wasn’t included in the story itself, but in the preface, where Vonnegut’s explains his purpose in writing the book. The images seem deliberately crude, in contrast to the aspirations of most illustrators, who want to their work to appear of higher skills and sophistication. This almost expands his job as the narrator, because he isn’t simply having access to the character’s thoughts, he is the author, a character in himself. In this way, the imagery is used not to enhance the plotline, but to deepen our understanding of the story, as the reader, because we are more connected to the author.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, an editor and critic (among other things), gave a commentary on Kurt Vonnegut’s use of drawings in Breakfast of Champions. This is what he said, “Even those dumb, lovable drawings began to pall after a time. I think I understand what he is getting at--that fictional art simply won't serve an more as he approaches middle age and a deeper insight to his own motives for writing...that the persona who is creating ‘Breakfast of Champions’ is trying to get a last desperate grip on the most simple rudiments of storytelling. But there is a certain coyness in this desperation, especially since it is surrounded by so much polish and inventiveness.” As mentioned earlier, Vonnegut’s style of writing by many is considered to be polished. However, it’s deceptively so. It doesn’t seem flowery or ornate, in most cases, it just reads plainly and straightforwardly. This is also represented in his illustrations. If at first glance, it appears as if his illustrations and stories are crude and simple, but both are actually polished. It’s so plainly written, you don’t notice it, and it’s the characters and the storytelling which become more clear.

Kurt Vonnegut’s use of simple and crude images in Breakfast of Champions, provides the reader with a new interpretation of the author’s purpose and the nature of the characters. Furthermore, it improves our understanding of the book, shifts the tone, and changes the traditional use of images in stories.

Egan, Robert, and Kurt Vonnegut. Breakfast of Champions. New York (45 W. 25th St., New York 10010): S. French, 1984. Print.

Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. "Is Kurt Vonnegut Kidding Us?" The New York Times. N.p., 2 May 1973. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <>.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

By: Toby Mast
In 1974, Shel Silverstein wrote Where the Sidewalk Ends. The book was published  as  a collection of short poems for children. The poetry, however, is very beautiful and can be enjoyed by all ages. When readers grow older they begin to realize the quality of the work. The poetry is skillfully manipulated to generate emotion, enticing the reader in the beauty of the poetry..  Silverstein often uses an unexpected  plot twist as the poem resolves, and  this idea promotes persuasiveness, humour, compassion and suspense throughout the whole book.

He uses the unforeseen ending to make the work humourus and end stronger then it started. For example,  in the poem “True Story,”  the narrator is stuck in a series of inescapable situations and manages to escape only to be delivered into the next situation. The poem's ending goes like this:

But he dropped me in a boiling lake 
A thousand miles wide
And you'll never guess what I did then then-

This ending of the poem rapidly changes the flow of the story. The piece stretches a whole page and would have ended weakly with something like “and dropped me hundred miles that way, I ran to talk to you today.”  The plot twist makes  the poem more humorous because of the irony of the fact that he would finally die after the other situations,  along with the contradiction in someone informing the reader that they had died. This humor improves the poems quality by invoking emotion. Emotion is vital to all writing.

He also improves the quality of poems with foreseen endings. In a poem “Boa Constrictor,” a person  dictates  what occurs as he is being eaten by a boa constrictor. He does get eaten in the end after a steady build up:

Oh, fiddle
It’s up to my middle
Oh, heck
It’s up to my neck
Oh, dread
It’s up mmmmm fffffffffffff

The build up was foreseen though humorous (the entirety of the poem is much longer).  The endings humor was not based on the plot of the poem but on the idea of someone trying to declare that they have been eaten while inside a snake. He kept the reader interested in order to reach the entertaining end in two ways. The first idea was using rhyme scheme and repetition, and the second was using suspense.  The reader asks “Is the man actually going to be eaten or was he going to escape like the person in the previous poem did so many times?”  The effective use of plot twists to make even more straightforward forward poems carries  the emotional roller coaster suspense.

Silverstein also uses these endings to trick the reader into a train of thought, then trapping them inside that same thought but leading into a different resolution than they expected. .This plot reversal is written in a  poem called “Listen’ to the Mustn’ts.”  This poem is written as a series of instructions: Listen to the MUSTN’TS, listen to the DON'TS.   This pattern continues until he reverses the poem when it is said(the poem is told from a perspective of an authoritative adult)

Now listen to me child 
Anything can happen, Child
In this poem he attacks the contradiction of telling a child what they cannot do, while telling them anything is possible. Most adult readers would have agreed with him for the first part of the poem, thinking that the child should not do things that are unsafe or dangerous. Then he traps the reader  by pointing out that adults often say  that anything could be. This leads to an overall more persuasive, and therefore better writing.

He also also also uses  a form of persuasiveness in the plot ending to change readers’ hearts rather than their minds. The usefulness of this technique is displayed in a poem titled and about “Poor Angus.”  The poem takes the form of an interview where the author is asking question and Angus is responding.

Oh what do you wear, Poor Angus,
When the winds blow down the hills?
“I sew myself a warm cloak, sir.
Of hope and daffodils.”

Oh who do you love, Poor Angus
When Catherine's left the moor?
"Ah, there,sir, there’s the only time,
 I feel really poor.”

Here Silverstein uses the unexpected plot twist to generate compassion. The poem had been following the pattern where the author inquires on how Angus survives when his poverty affects him. Then Angus replies that he hopes and  finds joy in other things to tolerate it.  The reader can see  on how Agnus survives the weather.  He replies that he hopes for the future and enjoys the benefits of nature rather than the disadvantages. Then here the plot takes a surprising turn when he describes himself as feeling poor when Catherine leaves.  This generates compassion  for Angus as someone who survives on little but loves so much. The ability to bring out emotion is good writing.
The increased suspense along with the humor and persuasiveness increases the overall quality of the book. This good writing made  it to sell well. Where the Sidewalk Ends received 4.5/5 stars on the Barnes and Noble website and 5/5 stars on the Amazon website with 802 reviews. Abebooks official review describes the book as  “This classic poetry collection, which is both outrageously funny and profound, has been the most beloved of Shel Silverstein's poetry.”  This method of writing, if done correctly,  is very effective and should be used more often through poetry and fiction.

Works Cited

Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems & Drawings of Shel Silverstein. 1st ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. Print.

“Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings." AbeBooks. AbeBooks Inc., 1 Jan. 1996. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings." Amazon., 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings." Barnes and Noble., 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

How the Past Reveals the Present

The structure of the Lord of the Rings is chronological with flashbacks;  this adds suspense, understanding and provides a purpose to an imaginative yet dark tale. The reader moves from event to event but we do not know the outcome. The chronology, nevertheless, increases understanding; the reader can return to earlier chapters to make an educated guess about what might happen.  While the book is not entirely chronological, such as when  Sméagol kills his friend, the structure helps the reader foresee the dangers of power. The flashbacks let the reader know how events occurred and how characters developed.

We all have flashbacks, joyful ones and even nightmares. They remind of what was and may inform us about where we are today. In the Lord of The Rings, flashbacks are used for background on characters and to develop the ongoing story. Flashbacks are included in many events ultimately shaped the outcome of the book. The flashbacks show us there where and why of the present; they bring depth to a story. Tolkien used flashbacks as a reminder of what occurred and to provide insight into why it occurred. Tolkien used his flashbacks early on because “If the flashback occurs later in the story, it can bog down the story and quickly become something that an editor or someone who is critiquing the text to abhor.” Tolkien decided to use flashbacks early on because otherwise we’d ask  “why does this ring even matter and why is it here if Sauron supposedly died?” Flashbacks started the story, but the adventure of Frodo ended it.

You know the saying “Don’t even kill a fly because it could alter the past.” You could say that about flashbacks;  they happened a certain way. Flashbacks also add suspense.  For example, when Isildur chose not to throw the ring, as Elrond said “For Isildur would not surrender it to Elrond or Cirdan who stood by. They Counselled him to cast it into the fire…” This choice in the past made by Isildur saved the rings life and led to the road Frodo takes now.  At this point, the reader did not know who would rise in power.  To “kill a fly” would have been to cast it into the fire which would have ended Sauron’s reign. When Tolkien portrayed this flashback, he provided the “why”  for a fuller journalistic summary of the events.  Tolkien helped us  understand why the fellowship aimed to reach Mordor.

Flashbacks also provide the reader with the characters’ attitudes toward life in general and insights into their life experiences that lead to the present day.   For example, the reader gains insights into Gandalf, a major character,  and Gollum, a minor character, through flashbacks. Gollum’s first flashback occurs while he and his friend fight over the ring.  To obtain the ring of power, Gollum kills his friend.  Gollum then lived half a millenia loving the “precious” ring. What Gollum lost was himself the moment he and his friend found a ring below the lake.   Another example of a flashback is when Gandalf talks about Gollum.  Gandalf said: “ Pity? It was pity that stayed in hand. Pity and mercy, not to strike without need.”  Tolkien used to compare Gollum’s era with the ring and Bilbo’s. The difference is nobody died when Bilbo obtained and left the ring. This flashback tells me how and why Gollum’s life had been miserable. The ring is dangerous;  it is what ultimately led to Gollum’s demise.

In addition, Tolkien used personification in this book series.  For example, Tolkien described a tree that could move and talk as any man. Tolkien’s use of personification was also disguised.  The ring had a “desire” and a “mind” of its own. The ring was capable of seducing and swindling a man for itself rather than riches or power. The feeling of holding it was too much for someone to refuse. The ring I could compare to a disease where the only goal is to survive. Gandalf also mentions what may be interpreted as personification when he says “The Ring has awoken, it’s heard its masters call.” The ring has “awoken” is an act of a living thing. A golden ring can’t be awoken. Personification is essential to the elevation of the ring.

The ring is relevant to  flashbacks for a few reasons. One, it was involved in all other major flashbacks that molded Frodo’s quest. Two, the ring of power is a character in itself.  In all major flashbacks in the book, there were not false memories; the ring was the real culprit.  Everything occurs because of the ring. Isildur’s mind was swindled by a ring that his people swore to destroy. As with Gollum, the ring only took life. While Gollum teetered between loving and hating the ring, he could never let the ring go. In the flashbacks with Gollum, he is smitten when he sees this ring. Gollum’s eyes glowed with a  passion for the ring;  the ring convinced Gollum that he was meant to carry the ring. This shows the choice Gollum made; this choice impacted present day Middle Earth. The ring of power was proven to be its own being;  it entirely controlled people. It deceives the minds of all, and carries part of the dark lord Sauron beneath its golden inside. The ring isn’t just the flashback;  it’s the synopsis and summary of the story. All the answers to the chronological pattern in this book lie within a ring!

Tolkien took an typical non-fiction pattern, chronological, and combined it with flashbacks to add understanding, suspense and a purpose to a piece of fictional, fantasy literature.  Personification illuminates the fantasy while providing more insights into the human and humanoid characters. While the reader experiences a retelling of a story, we do not know the outcome. The flashbacks add suspense even though they are often expected or logical within the context of the story.  At the same time, the chronology, provides understanding. The earlier chapters provides a road map for the reader while the content encourages the reader to conjecture about what will happen.   For example, the chronological pattern assist the reader in understanding the power - and danger - of the ring. The combination of a chronological pattern with flashbacks and personification enable the reader to stay with a complicated, fanciful, dark story.


"A Word About Flashbacks." Writing Is Hard Work. Writing Is Hard Work, 06 Feb. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings. Vol. 1. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Print.

Symbolism in "The Outsiders"

S.E Hinton’s The Outsiders is a book about a boy named Ponyboy who is apart of a gang called the Greasers. Through symbolism, the main character in the book sees his true potential and how he should never lose who he is. But, in an environment where crime runs rampant, and discrimination between gangs is the norm it turns out to be harder to stay the person he wants to be most in life.

During one scene in the book (Pg 77) Ponyboy recites a poem to Johnny. Neither of them get what it means, until Johnny says ”Stay gold, ponyboy, stay gold…” on his death bed to Ponyboy (Pg 148). At first Ponyboy has know idea what he was talking about, until he receives an old letter from Johnny in his Gone with the Wind book. Johnny wrote it before he died. It explains what he thinks the poem meant, and what he meant by “stay gold”. One interpretation  behind this quote was to stay who you are no matter what pushes you not to be. Johnny believed in Ponyboy, that he could always be himself, that he would never be changed by all these outside forces. Every moment of our lives are precious, and we shouldn't waste them being someone else because of the unsatisfying circumstances we may live in.

After finding out Cherry has become a “spy” for the greasers, Ponyboy is in shock wondering why Cherry would do such a thing. “No, it wasn’t cherry the soc who was helping, it was Cherry the dreamer who watched sunsets, and couldn’t stand fights. It was hard to believe a soc would help us, even a Soc who dug sunsets. “ This quote really got to me because it brought up a recurring topic in the story; sunsets. Throughout the book certain characters, especially ponyboy talk about sunsets, particularly how they like to watch them. He also uses it on other characters, like Cherry. It seems to be used as a good, redeeming quality. It shows how lighthearted both characters are, even one from a rival gang. It is also used it johnny’s explanation for “staying gold”. Watching sunsets is one of Ponyboy’s many qualities to keep Johnny in believing in him. Watching sunsets is a way to show a person’s softer side, a way to give the characters dreams and aspirations, not to just live in the moment, but for the new ones too.

This isn’t a quote, but an object in the book that is surrounded by multiple quotes. It is the book Gone with the Wind. It particularly has to do with the character johnny. On pages 75 to 76 It talks about how he loves the book and he can truly understand and relate to it. The book also shows ponyboy how deep of a person johnny is when analyzing it. Then on pages 178 to 179 you see the letter Johnny left for Ponyboy before he died. It was in between one of the pages of the book Gone with the wind. He left it in the book that represented him the most when it came to who he was on the inside. He may have seemed like just some “dumb greaser” to most people, and even to some of his friends he wasn’t any better than that. But, within that book he is so much more. He’s kind, thoughtful, and deep person, and the only other person who knew that was Ponyboy, the person who the letter in Gone with the Wind is directed too. He also mentions Dally, one of the other characters he was also close to, who may have understood him more than people thought. Overall this book represented a different side to Johnny, and even a different side we have in all of us.

There are other people who share my ideas with symbolism and the meaning of the book and well as have conflict with them. Michael J. Twinsburg from Teen Ink said The book has a strong message of staying young and innocent. It teaches us not to create a shell to block emotions and the importance of friendship.” The book did have a message of staying young and innocent, but I also thought it was saying it is possible to stay true to yourself for the rest of your life. But, it does teach us the importance of friendship, seeing how much of a strong bond the whole gang has, especially Ponyboy, and johnny.

Symbolism is important to the book because without it there are no central ideas you get from it. Sure you could state it through text, but it’s so much more realistic and interesting to figure out what it means. I think this story does a great job at using symbolism, at taking small details and making some of them the main theme of the book. We see a main focus of identity, people acting one way for some people, and another way to other. The main character is unsure who he is, who he wants to be, or he will inevitably become. Without symbolism I don’t think I could ever get the real effect from this theme. From just sunsets, gone with the wind, and a letter I see no matter who you are, or what situation you are in you should always be the best version of yourself, which for Ponyboy is who he is right now.

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  1. Hinton, S. E. The Outsiders. New York: Viking, 1967. Print.

  2. Twinsburg, Michael J. "The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton." The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Teen Ink, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

Q2: Self and the Changing World


Analytical Essay:

Unfortunately  we as humans are forced to adapt to change in order to continue living. In The Yellow Birds, Bartle serves as a machine gunner in Iraq with his friend Murch while keeping a promise to his best friends Mother. Promising to bring Murph home and to keep him safe. Bartle’s responsibilities are now altered for now he must take care of two people instead of one; himself and Murph. With a new weight on him shoulders, Bartle is hit with another level of anxiety and stress. Everyday life is always at a constant state of change. We as humans have no choice but to adapt to this change especially if it changes for the worse. As a result of choosing to adapt to change, humans live a melancholic lifestyle as a part of them still living in the past.

In order to accept change, the person needs to accept the future leave the past behind. However it is not always the easiest thing for a person to comprehend. “I didnt want to believe that I was watching the actions of someone who was already dead, so I searched for evidence that would contradict this; I searched for some grasp, at least, at life.” (p.159) Bartle doesn’t want to believe that Murph was gone. Even when Bartle went to go talk to his sergeant, the Sergeant basically shut him down and told him to give up on Murph.

A quote of Kevin Powers is “As human beings, we have the blessing and the curse that we're able to adapt to almost anything. No matter how extreme the circumstances you're in, they become normal.” How quickly one can adapt to any type of situation is a skill most if not all soldiers require while serving. Powers is trying to get across that all soldiers are faced with physical and mental pain and they have no choice but to adapt to the melancholy environment.

In conclusion, Kevin Powers’s message through the book is how fast something can change and how humans adapt to the environment. That change come unexpected and no matter how extreme the circumstances are, they eventually become normal.

Luke Risher, Gold, english benchmark (A band)

Analytical Essay:

In David Sedaris’s When You Are Engulfed In Flames, he shows himself to be an unusually skilled writer. The book is a collection of twenty-two essays from over many years of his life, covering a range of topics. The author has a unique voice which uses elaborate metaphors, fringe content, and unusual description. David Sedaris breaks the normal rules of fiction through structure, writing style, and content. This is what makes the writing appealing and keeps the reader interested.

The selection below comes from an essay in the book called “Town and Country,” a short section where the author describes his companions on a plane ride. He thought that they were sophisticated, but they sat next to him and cursed like sailors. In this quote he is making his final reflections on them.

“I wished I could spend a week or two invisibly following behind them and seeing the world through their eyes. ‘Thanksgiving dinner my ass,’ I imagined them saying.

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at LaGuardia.” (p. 168)

This is an example of the unique storyline. It would require the whole chapter to truly illustrate the vastness of the irregular storyline; but in this selection one sees how the author moves off the topic of the couple and starts a different part. The space between the sentences is how it is read. One story drops off and the other starts. This new part is a completely separate story about a cab driver that lectured Sedaris on sex. The cab driver brags about his sex life, this and that story climaxes with him yelling at the cab driver. Then the essay goes on and talks about his humorous discussion on sex with his sister. The last two are woven together in the end. He talks about how he was very negative to the taxi driver who told him to have a drink and watch porn, yet he was at his sister’s house laughing at an animal porn magazine. This larger essay has several examples of the writer’s unique style. Firstly, the storyline is not at all linear. The events are in chronological order, but not related. You have the entire storyline of the old couple and then the driver, then him at his sister’s house. Only the taxi story has a climax. The scene at his sister’s ends with a reflection on the parallels between the taxi driver’s suggestion and his situation. The first scene has some reflection, but mostly is just stating the story. A main characteristic of David Sedaris’s writing is he doesn’t connect it to larger ideas or talk about any larger concept of life or morals. Most writers (when recounting a story like this) consider the “resolution” part of the story line a solution. A greater idea is conveyed, the readers come away with something learned. David Sedaris just leaves the story sitting, without themes. In a way, he is saying, I will write for the sake of using words to tell just a scene.

The following section was taken from an essay titled “The Understudy.” Sedaris is recalling an experience with a baby sitter. She was not the regular one, and in this story he shows how she was a remarkably bad one. This section is where he is describing how he and his sibling wrote down their observations and theories about the baby sitter in a notebook. “There were pages of them, all written in desperate scrawl, with lots of exclamation points and underlined words. It was the sort of writing you might do when the ship is going down, the sort that would give your surviving loved ones an actual chill” (pg. 22). He uses strong language--“desperate scrawl” for example. This is also an extensive metaphor. It requires the reader to keep up with what is happening. While this isn’t unheard of it is more uncommon. This shows the flourishes that David Sedaris uses in his writing. It would have meant the same thing if he had said it was written sloppily, but the way he wrote it was much more interesting. The reader is intrigued by the way things are written, and how the author uses such uncommon descriptions.

This section is the very start of an essay titled “What I learned.” In it, David Sedaris talks about his experience of his college and post-college years. This is the very start of the essay. “as when I went to Princeton things were completely different. This chapel, for instance—I remember when it was just a clearing, cordoned off with sharp sticks. … this was before Jesus Christ. We worshipped a God named Sashatiba, who had five eyes, including one right here, on the Adam’s apple. None of us ever met him, but word had it that he might appear at any moment, so we were always at the ready. Whatever you do, don’t look at his neck, I used to tell myself.” This shows the kind of crazy metaphors that are used. This entire passage has little to do with what the writer is actually trying to communicate. It is an  elaborate metaphor., but also it is described in such depth. It is almost as if it were a truth. This style of using a metaphor for a very long time, or going into a strange description is used through out the book. Many readers will find this section  amusing purely because the absurdity of it. “We worshipped a God named Sashatiba” (made up) and “don’t look at his neck” are completely random details.  Any teacher would tell their pupils to take this out as it was confusing to the reader and had no real purpose. These elaborate metaphors keep the reader interested because they require one’s  attention. As a reader you might skim over this and be confused or lost, as stated the absurdity is funny. These seemingly random long descriptions provide humor, require thinking, and interest the reader. This is a large part of David Sedaris's writing and a reason why he is a good writer.

This is a book review of When You Are Engulfed In Flames published through the Independent, a mainstream UK news website. “David Sedaris is like being tickled on the ribs by someone you love: you laugh hysterically, feel a mixture of excitement and irritation, and instinctively wriggle away as exhaustion sets in. Sedaris writes about his everyday life, the co-stars being his family, partner Hugh, friends and neighbours.” The way Sedaris writes is what causes the “excitement” and humor. His way of writing is so different and counter to standard methods it creates these feelings. The quote says “a mixture of excitement and irritation.” The “irritation” comes from not being able to understand the interlaying and random paths of the story. It’s not  the way our brains are wired or taught to read in. It provides a break from the norm and excitement because of that. Although Sedaris writes about his “everyday life,” the book is very interesting. The way he uses metaphors and throws in seemingly random thoughts is fresh, unexpected, and exciting.

The way the book was written has a drastic impact on the reader. The peculiar writing style of David Sedaris brings out a level of interest that is deeper than the specific interest in  events of the story. These stories could not be standard on a  usual story-structure map. The stories go in too many directions and don’t have enough action to be centralized in a climax. In many cases, multiple separate stories are told in one section. Unique flourishes of language and complex  metaphors engage the reader. The way David Sedaris writes using metaphors, storyline (or lack there of), and description is the key to his success as a writer.


Sedaris, David. When You Are Engulfed in Flames. New York: Little, Brown, 2008. 323. Print.

"When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <>.

Flashback Writing Technique in 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'

A story sometimes begins with an ending. You see the result before knowing the cause. In ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’, this a technique used to introduce the reader to the main character, Janie. Starting with the end leads into a flashback on Janie’s life. Flashbacks provide the cause for the effect.

Flashbacks are used to give a first person point of view on an event that has already happened to a character. An example of a flashback is the ballad, ‘A Cruel Mother. In this the mother looks back on her child’s birth, life, and death. The different about the flashback in ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ is that the flashbacks are in third person point of view. By having it this way, you don’t get to see one specific character’s point of view. This allows for an overview of the overall event.

For some people the beginning of the ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ might be a bit confusing. As George Stevens of The Saturday Review of Literature had stated, ‘ begins awkwardly with a confusing and unnecessary preview of the end…..’. Some people might find it a bit confusing but it gives the reader a lead to the flashback. It is also a way to show what people thought of Janie’s decisions and the flashback gives the explanation.

Events form people’s opinion around a certain thing. When the neighbors see Janie walking back to her house in the first chapter, they start to criticize her because of her choices. Those choices are pulled out of context until we are given a look back into Janie’s life, “Naw, ‘tain’t nothin’ lak you might think. So ‘tain’t no use in me telling you somethin’ unless Ah give you de understandin’ to go ‘long wid it.” Janie’s choices and motivation are unknown to the reader when you first start to read. Flashback allows the motivation to slowly be shown and allows us to see what decisions Janie made in her life.

In ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ not even some of the characters knew the entire story. They just knew Janie off of the decisions she made while she was around them, but those decisions were influenced by events further in her past. “Ah know exactly what Ah git to tell yuh, but it’s hard to know where to start at.” When Janie tries to explain herself, she is not sure where to start for people  to be able to understand her basis for all decisions. She knew people didn’t understand and that they were judge  her for that and in order to explain there was a point in her life when she learned a lesson and used that lesson throughout her life.

Coming home, the only person who seems to want to understand Janie is her friend Pheoby. The other women in the town gossip about what she had down, running away with a younger man. On the other hand Pheoby knows that there are probably reasons and just because Janie isn’t telling anymore it doesn’t mean there aren’t any. “It’s hard for me to understand what you mean, de way you tell it. And then again Ah’m hard of understanding’ at times.” When Janie gives an explanation of why she is gone so long, it doesn’t make as much sense until Janie goes further back into her past.

Flashbacks give imagery to a book. Without them, we can only see the effects instead of the reasons. Sometimes a flashback not only helps the reader but the character as well. ‘Thier Eyes Were Watching God’ is a perfect example of that. We are shown characters in the first chapter who only saw the effects of Janie’s decisions and never the intentions. In order for them to fully see Janie and understand her, Janie has to go further in her life to give those intentions that they are missing from the overall full story. In explaining to the characters, she is also explaining through the reader. Thus the characters are discovering a new side to Janie at the same time that the reader is.


Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.

"Hurston Reviews." Hurston Reviews. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <>.

Perceptiveness and Symbolism

Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill A Mockingbird is simply iconic. It is known for its ability to portray innocence interpreting the depths of racism. It is also known for its theme of appearance vs. reality. With a 9 year old narrator living in the 1930’s in a small southern town, readers would think this would be a fairly easy read. However, the amount of symbolism and imagery in this story makes the reader take a second look into the life of the small town. The symbolism in To Kill A Mockingbird helps the reader understand the naivety of the narrator, and also helps them realize that they must look from a different perspective to fully grasp the idea of symbols. This is important to the experience of the reader because it shows them how to see multiple outlooks of various characters in the story.

Symbolism is used everyday in all media.  It is the use of a relatable or popular topic, comparing it to what a story is trying to portray, and letting a subject or audience interpret it. It appears on almost every page in To Kill A Mockingbird, because the narrator, Scout, is 9 years old and cannot comprehend some of the racist attitudes going around in her town. The reader becomes immersed in her mind because they see through her eyes. Atticus, her father, is the main source of symbolism for her in the story. He explains much of what she does not understand to her and gives her many life lessons she can use throughout the book. One lesson he gives her is, “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” When she did not understand this she asked her neighbor what it meant. Her neighbor explained, “Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Anyone would interpret this as do not kill a certain type of bird with a slingshot, but it is a key example of symbolism in the book. As the reader begins to see certain racially biased events unfold in the town, they understand that innocent people are being harmed and wronged. They slowly make the realization, with the help of Scout, that these innocent people are “mockingbirds” and that to be a mockingbird means that someone does no harm to anyone but it punished anyway. In order to grasp this ideal, they must look from a different perspective.

The naivety of Scout helps the reader to step outside of their own minds, and jump into a younger one. However it can hinder their ability to decipher what some symbolic effects really stand for. Thomas DiPiero, an English professor at the University of Rochester stated, “The challenge in reading this great American novel is not to be beguiled by its form. Remember that it’s precisely when you think you’ve understood others’ perspectives that you must recall you are not in their skin.” DiPiero is expressing that once the reader thinks they understand something in the story, they need to take a step back and look at it from another character's point of view. They must think, “Is this really what I think it is, or am I just not seeing the big picture?” The “big picture” includes all of the characters in To Kill A Mockingbird. Many readers find themselves just looking at Scout’s small corner. They must take a step back, analyze the situation, and look from every character’s experience and perspective in it.

One example of symbolism within the story is explained in this small passage, “Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children.” This example shows one perspective from a character explaining another’s death. Mr. Underwood likened the murder of a cripple to the killing of a mockingbird. Again, the reader must look from his perspective, as well as others. They must ask themselves why was the cripple was murdered? Did they do something wrong? And even if they did they were defenseless and could not protect themselves. They need to measure the situation not just from Underwood’s description, but from their own as well.

One example of perceptiveness is how Scout interprets this passage. Scout was listening to her brother describe someone he had never seen before. “Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo: Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.” The reader can interpret this in two different ways. Jem is being completely serious, or he is messing with his sister. This is also an example of symbolism as Jem has never met Boo. Jem is judging Boo when he could just be another innocent mockingbird. However many people make assumptions based on the fact that Boo is never seen outside. This is another situation where the reader must think about the entire setting and where certain characters stand in it.

Overall To Kill A Mockingbird is all about perspective. The perspective of the reader, narrator, and all characters in the story. When the reader is interpreting a passage that involves symbolism they must look at the entirety to decipher it. The symbolism in To Kill A Mockingbird helps the reader realize that they must look from a different perspective to fully grasp the idea of symbols.

Point Of View In "The Bright Forever"

In Lee Martin’s “The Bright Forever”, Martin uses point of view to communicate to the readers in an unique way. He intertwines each of the characters’ stories in order to give a single, well-rounded one. The characters all seem to have a single purpose though, to figure out who murdered little Katie Mackey. This makes it an interesting tale to the reader because the multiple perspectives allow for the reader’s own judgement and assumptions to be challenged. The multiple points of view in the book are the most important aspect of it and without it, the way the reader understands the book would be completely different.

A single, first person point of view gives the reader a chance to experience the life of that one person. Compared to one point of view, the multiple points of view in “The Bright Forever” gives the reader a glimpse into the lives of nearly all of the characters. Each character has a different life and therefore, has a different story to tell on it. Gilley Mackey, Katie’s older brother, is one of the narrators of the book. He gives a deep, personal recollection of what he remembers and how he and his family experiences the events of the story. On the other hand, Katie’s tutor, Mr. Dees has a story that is not as intimately told. This is because he is not exposed to the things that take place in the Mackey household for he is not a part of the family. For example, Gilley says, “We were eating supper. That’s what I remember, the four of us sitting at the table: Mom and Dad and me and Katie.” Only the members of the family were there at that time, so nobody else can tell that part of the story. The events of the household can only be told by a member of the family. If the author were to have Mr. Dees narrate the entire book, the reader would miss out on parts like this.

A person can only put trust in what they hear from others if they were not there to witness an event themselves. Even though this may not be true, there is nothing more that person can do because of the fact they were not there also. This makes the person that tells the story the only point of view, and by default, the correct variation of the story. Since this is often the case, multiple points of view are very useful when telling a story. The multiple points of view let the reader give their own opinion on the story. The acclaimed murderer, Raymond R. doesn’t think that he hurt Katie. He says this, “And I still can’t see anything that involves me in any way in this thing other than the fact that I was a neighbor to Henry Dees.” If Raymond R was the lone narrator, the reader may take this as true because this is the only point of view they encounter. Although, since there are various points of view throughout the book, the reader can use the other points of view to make their opinion more solid. With numerous points of view, the reader has more sources to call on when making an opinion.

The multiple points of view are used in the story to the reader’s advantage. There is never just one side to any story. This is the case in “The Bright Forever” as well. A popular and anonymous quote says, “There are always three sides to a story. Your side, the other person’s side, and the truth.” The perspective for each person is different and is almost always biased too. A person in the wrong can strongly believe that what they are saying is correct. The same goes for the opposing side of the story. If they both claim that they are correct, you can never be sure of who actually is. You can only base your opinion off of both sides because you can never be certain which one is correct. This is the case with “The Bright Forever.” The acclaimed murdered has the mentality that he did not hurt the child, even if everyone else is saying that he did. He believes this and you cannot change his mind because he thinks that he is telling the truth. On the other hand, the victim’s family believes that he is the person who killed her. With all the evidence in the world, or even if they were making false accusations, you cannot change their minds either. The truth is that neither one of the stories may be fully accurate, both being biased to fit their own beliefs.

The point of view in any story can make the whole thing different. When telling a story, people have the option to tell the truth or to tell a lie. Most people tell lies when they are put in a situation that they are trying to get out of. Mr. Dees lies to Gilley so he doesn’t have to answer to Gilley’s parents after sneaking into their house. Mr. Dees says to the reader, “I knew immediately that I could tell him any lie, and he would believe me.” Mr. Dees had the option to tell Gilley the truth and have further questions asked, or tell him a lie to avoid these questions. He chose to do the latter. If Mr. Dees were to tell the truth about his presence in the Mackey house, the whole story would be different. The book may have had a different series of events instead of what actually occurred. To Mr. Dees, the best option was to tell a lie. By telling this lie, he helped himself more than anyone else. To him, he believed that this was the best option. This is how he viewed the situation. To the reader, the decision may have been stupid but to Mr. Dees, he was doing right. His point of view at that time was that he would be in trouble if he didn’t lie, so he lied. If another person was to make a different decision, the whole story would have changed. 

The point of view in the story is what makes the reader experience the book in an effective way. The point of view structures the book so that the reader can not only dive into the lives of multiple characters, but use the points of view to create a better opinion on the events that take place in the story. If the book had been written from a singular point of view, the reader would be left without the feelings of some characters. If the story had been written from a complete third person narration, the reader would be left without knowing what goes on in the characters’ minds. The reader has more room for judgement of the events and people in the story because there are various points of view.

The Chronological Order of "The Soloist"

Steve Lopez’s book The Soloist is about the true story on when the author met a Juilliard student turned homeless and mentally-ill musician, Nathaniel Ayers.  The story begins when Steve, a writer for the L.A Times, first noticed Nathan playing violin in Pershing Square in the downtown section of the city.  He was interested in him just for a story for the newspaper, but after his story gained popularity and people came out and wanted to help Nathan out, it soon turned into something more.  They become friends and the book is set up in chronological order but includes flashbacks.  This allows reader can get a image in their head of the events in the book, the two characters’ friendship grow and see Nathan deal with his schizophrenia.

When Steve first noticed Nathan playing his instrument in Pershing Square, he decides to come back later.  He comes back  but he isn’t there.  Steve Lopez writes “But when I come back to look for the violinist in Pershing Square I come up empty.  His disappearance only makes the mystery more provocative.  Who was he? Where did he go? What is his story?”.  Steve and Nathan finally meet three weeks later. This is when the story begins.  They get to know each other better and become friends. They talk, go to concerts and other things.

As the story progresses you can see that both of the main characters grow, even if it sometimes rocky because of Nathan’s schizophrenia.  At the beginning, Nathan did not want any help from the Lamp Foundation, an agency that helps the homeless in the Los Angeles area.  But as time goes on he lets not just from the Lamp Foundation but others.  As the story goes on, Steve grows as well.  Even with the ups and downs he goes through with Nathan he helps him.  He learns how to deal with Nathan when he is having problems. He finds out that he has a soft spot for him and likes to help those with mental illness including Nathan.

The story is told by Steve Lopez, so the story is told in his point of view of the events.  “The way Steve (Lopez) writes the story, he also uses a timeline, but in a unusual way” says a writer on  “He finds a way to incorporate flashbacks about Nathaniel in the story.  Steve also incorporates events that were happening to himself at the time”.  An example of a flashback about Nathan from the book.   “The Juilliard pressure was gone, the spirit was light, the mood was festive.  And when the pianist finished his piece, Russo turned to Nathanael (and said) “Boy, doesn’t that sound beautiful”.”  Nathan demanded “What do you mean by saying “boy” are you racist?”  Steve added this to the story as a flashback because it shows the beginning of Nathan dealing with his mental-illness.  Nathan accused his best friend of being something he wasn’t. Turning a happy holiday party into a very awkward situation for not just him and his friend, Russo, but everyone else there too.  During this time, Steve was on the other side of the country.  “ While Nathaniel was at Juillard, the rare black student in the elite world of conservatory, I was at a junior college in the San Francisco Bay Area, where white suburban kids who couldn’t crack four-year schools were killing time while avoiding the draft.”  The author adds this because they were both in the same situation.  They were different.  Nathan was one of the only black kids in all white school studying a type of music only played by white people.  Steve was in college where kids more privilaged than and less smart did nothing while he worked hard.  They were both in similar situations at the same time.

Many stories are told in chronological order.  A great example of this is the Harry Potter series.  There are seven books in the series.  Harry goes to The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for seven years to graduate.  Each book represents a year and tells the story of Harry and his friends. If the Harry Potter story wasn’t told in chronological order, readers would get confused when reading.  Same can be said for this book.  John Friedlander of Southwest Tennessee Community College said “It naturally fits in narration, because when we tell a story, we usually follow the order in which events occur. Chronological order applies to process in the same way, because when we describe or explain how something happens or works, we usually follow the order in which the events occur”.  This is true.  Telling a story in the order of which the events happened is the most natural way to tell a story and also the most effective.  If you went from one point in the story then in the next paragraph something completely different is going on, the reader is going to be confused and not want to read.  When you tell a story it is more interesting when you can use the most detail you can.  The Soloist does a great job in telling the story it wants to tell.

The Soloist by Steve Lopez is a fantastic story on a really unlikely friendship between the author himself and former Juilliard student, Nathaniel Ayers.  From the start to the end it will make you want to read more and more.  The chronological order, which allows the reader to understand the events of the book more.  Flashbacks are also key to the story because it allows readers to understand the characters and their actions.  The chronological order also allows the reader to watch the two main characters go from total strangers to really good friends.


Lopez, Steve. The Soloist. New York: Berkley, 2008. Print.

Friedland, John. "Principles of Organization." Principles of Organization. Southwest Tennessee Community College, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <>

The Soloist by Steve Lopez." Teenink, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.


Understanding Robert Peace Through Jeff Hobbs

Benjamin Simon

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is a biography that captures the story of a young man from the rough, crime ridden neighborhood of East Orange, New Jersey. Robert Peace later defies all odds and goes on to Yale, but is later shot after he had slipt into the drug trade back in his hometown, at the age of thirty. The point of view of author Jeff Hobbs allows the reader to understand Robert Peace’s adaption to new cultures. The technique of point of view is often used to tell a story through a person’s eyes. The first person perspective of Jeff Hobbs creates a fantastic view on Robert Peace’s life. Their relationship started in college, when they became roommates at Yale, and later best friends. Hobbs is from the suburbs of Pennsylvania, a small private school, and a family of Yale graduates. With Robert’s mother working endless hour shifts and his father in jail for manslaughter, no one expected him to shine. But instead, he ventured off to one of the most prestigious universities in the country. The contrast between the two allows the reader to better understand how hard it was for Robert Peace to adapt to Yale and other cultures.

During the first weeks at Yale, while author Jeff Hobbs got to know Rob (the name he was most commonly referred to as), he noticed many differences between him and the other students at Yale. Hobbs describes this in many scenes throughout the book. “I didn’t know him well but I appreciated the quietude that surrounded him. Any other table in the dining hall carried the threat of having to perform for new acquaintances, to prove how clever or worldly or socially connected you were in the context of conversations about social policy. With Rob, there was no judging” (p.135) This quote shows the distance between the cultures Rob and Hobbs grew up in. Hobbs appreciates the ability to step out of the world he has known for his whole life and speak with someone who doesn’t hold him to such standards. In addition, the quote demonstrates the contrast between him and regular “Yalies” and is not adapting to the common attitude of these students. He holds the same demeanor he had in East Orange. The perspective of Hobbs helps the reader to understand how different it is for him to be around Rob, along with how detached Rob is from other Yale students.

In the first months at Yale, Rob had a girlfriend. This girl was annoying and frustrating to Rob. It always perplexed him why he went out with her. “I asked him once, with carefully premeditated phrasing, ‘What do you and Zina do for fun?’... He said, ‘She’s a real woman, not like these other Yalie b*tches’” (p. 137) This shows how Hobbs thinks that Rob sees this girl as someone he wants to spend his whole life with. He thinks this is a real girlfriend to Rob. In light of this, Hobbs doesn’t understand why they go out, because Zina is such a pest. However, Rob’s response shows how Zina, a black woman, is an outlet for him. A way for Rob to not forget his roots and avoid assimilating into the Yale community. Hobbs’s perspective gives the reader a better understanding into how Rob is reacting to a new culture, while it isn’t that different for Jeff.

There have been many reviews surrounding The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace.  Multiple mentioned the perspective of Hobbs as influential on the readers understanding, but Kirkus Reviews perfectly summarized this. “Hobbs contrasts his personal relationship with Robert with a cutting critique of university life, for the privileged and less so, capturing the absurd remove that ‘model minority’ and working-class students experience.” This shows how Jeff Hobbs was able to step back, use his personal experiences, and paint a perspective of Rob’s life as a student at Yale. It demonstrates how Hobbs was able to accurately compate Rob’s life to the “common privileged” student at Yale. In addition, he noted how hard it is for minorities to fit in at schools this. It also touches on Hobbs’s critique of Rob’s transition, by comparing the privileged and the less off.

After Yale, Rob and Hobbs grew apart. Rob found the drug trade back in East Orange and Hobbs struggled to write and sell new books. This quote shows how Hobbs viewed their changing and struggling lives. “The distance between us and the maleness of our friendship precluded revealing anything that truly matter, and at the time I was too naive to know that if you were friends with someone - truly friends - then you told them what was going on... Instead I thought that by concisely presenting the most easygoing and put-together version of myself, I was being ‘all good’. Really, I was fronting. And Rob was going the same.” (p. 295-296) This quote shows how both of their new cultures has separated them from each other. The perspective of Hobbs accurately displays how he views why they have changed and how they have struggled to adapt to new worlds. Hobb’s opinion conveys how they have moved on, and have new lives to attend to. It demonstrates how they are embarrassed that they have not done more with their life.

Later, Rob ventures off to Brazil. Hobbs use his own opinion, along with an objective one to describe Rob’s comfort level there. “He didn’t stand out for being black and wearing a skully, as he had at Yale.” (p.222) This quote shows how Hobbs saw Rob at Yale. Unfortunately, he stood out and didn’t fit in. As an outsider to Rob’s world, and an insider to the normal Yale student, Hobbs’s perspective here helps the reader to better understand how Rob fit in at Yale. It also conveys how he can step back and write from an objective point of view to describe an atmosphere. Despite not being in Brazil at the time, through conducted research he is able to properly inform the reader about the experience of a black man in Brazil.  

This structure sets up a perfect illustration of many atmospheres through the book. The perspective of Jeff Hobbs helps to convey how transitioning to a new culture is so difficult for people that have never seen or witnessed it. Without this message, the reader wouldn’t understand how different of a change it was for the privileged students at Yale and the small number of students from poor backgrounds. The point of view of Hobbs also demonstrates how people tend to lean on the culture and community they know best. Hobbs notices this first hand and tackles the idea, through his perspective and an objective one. Coming from two different backgrounds, the journey and background of Hobbs helps the reader better understand Robert Peace’s struggle to transition into new environments.


"Kirkus Review." Kirkus Reviews. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <>.

Hobbs, Jeff. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. N.p.: Simon & Schuster, 2014. Print.

Imagine Imagery

In Patricia McCormick’s, Never Fall Down, this story is written from the perspective of a little kid that lives in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, led by Pol Pot, was a bloody and shameful genocide to its own people. Historians estimated 2.2 million deaths during the era of this horrible war against its own citizens. Arn Chorn Pond was one of the lucky survivors of this war. This story is told in his perspective. One of the very unique things about this book is, it has the trait of survival. The main character suffers through so many things to live another day, and that is what makes this story so suspenseful. Because of that death can occur in any second, and just by a simple cause. The imagery of death that comes up often in the text, influence the reader to wonder and relate back to the purpose of this written story.

In the beginning of the story, the author talks more about the condition that the main character, Arn, is in, and how death is closely related to his environment and his actions. This story is clearly written to tell the reader that living is not a easy thing to do at the time of the Khmer Rouge era, and that it should be very well appreciated that a person can wake up to see another day. Arn was still a little child when he witnessed death. He might be scared at the time of this event occurring, but as the story goes on, he slowly challenge his fears, and slowly become more of a hero around his community of people. As Arn arrived at the camp with lots of people dead behind him along the way there, this is what he observed, “World is upside down. Being rich now is no good. Being poor, this can save your life. The list in the black book, that’s how they decide who live, who die.” This quote was written in the beginning of the book, still introducing the environment that Arn is living in. This tells the reader that this biography came from a person that didn’t live in a very wealthy condition. He had to make uses of everything he have. He is here today because sacrifices are important to remember and appreciate. He could have been killed in his early years, but because of his friends, he was able to survive through the Khmer Rouge struggle. Of course, like everyone else, the main character in this story does not like the action of death, but in his conditions, he learns to embrace. He might not have a clear understanding on the situation he is in as a kid, but as he grew up, he never learned to be afraid of death, but to challenge it because there are people around him that is like him, that might not see another day.

In this biography, Arn was luckily chosen to learn a special talent that may have given him an advantage into surviving the Khmer Rouge. Arn was required to learn the Cambodian Flute for the Khmer Rouge band as entertainment. Because entertainment was really important to the Khmer Rouge, Arn was “famously” known around the group of Khmer Rouge soldiers guarding his station of people. In the story, as Arn ran out one night to grab some resources for his friend that is close to death, he encountered this, “‘Traitor,’ he says. ‘Come out and show your face.’ This is death. To be out alone at night is death. To run, that’s also death.” Arn slowly turned around after hearing the soldier’s voice. The soldier ended up letting him go because he recognized him as the “Flute Boy” that played in the band. If it is not for that, Arn would simply be killed in the scene trying to bring back resources for his friend. The purpose of all biographies are to learn about ones life and to think deeply about yours, and what you can do to keep on improving. Never in my life, have I read a biography so intense like this one. Maybe because death can easily be a punishment to a character, but the purpose of book was to tell people about his life, so that they can learn from his dangerous and heroic experiences. Arn sacrificed his life to gather resources for his friend, so that he is able to see another day.

Like I mentioned before, this story shows a lot of reflecting and appreciation. Arn made lots of friends in the camp, that he now calls family. They might not have been friends for a long time, but they all wake up with the same goal everyday, and that is to survive. They are about to walk into war because the Vietnam are slowly attacking. “He says only march, and he keep his shark eyes on me so I don’t look back. Like brother to me, Siv and Kha, And not even a chance to say good-bye.” Because of the family that he made in the camp, he have come across lots of sacrifices for them, but now he might not be able to thank them because they are stepping into a battlefield which can cause them their lives. Maybe kids his age have their mom cooking for you everyday, dressing you, and getting you ready for school, the main character in this story lost his real family members, and only have his friends that help him live through each day, not knowing if they will survive another.

As some of the reader read through the story, they use the violence to help them understand the book better. For example, like what Paul Hankins suggested, “Look for descriptions and depictions of violence and torture.” Not all parts of this book are sprinkled with violence, but what the character do in those situations really determines their personality.

Imagery is a really important structure about this book because it make the reader envision the scene, so that they can understand it better, especially for the book being a biography. This book is written through the eyes of a survivor, making it so much more intense and suspenseful for the reader to simply imagine his experiences. If this book contain no imagery or if any biography contain no imagery, I wouldn’t think anyone would want to read it. You picked up a biography because you want to learn about another person’s lives, and in order for you to do that, you must experience it with them through imagery. I can guarantee this book will leave the reader the urge to meet this character in person because, believe it or not, he is still alive today.

The Effect of Francesca Lia Block's Immersion Techniques

Calamity Rose Jung-Allen

January 15, 2015

English 2: Silver Stream, A Band

Literary Structure Essay

In her novella Echo, author Francesca Lia Block spins a stunning realistic tale centered around the modern misadventures of a young girl whose name correlates to the book’s title. Our naieve protagonist ages throughout this piece from a child to a teenager to an adult, and her experiences are organized into multiple short stories that are weaved together expertly in a mix of magic and metaphor. Block uses a technique that employs quick transitions between subject and setting, fantasy and reality, and uncommon sensory reactions to invoke complex immersion in the reader.

The exposition of Echo explains the relationship that she and her mother share between the both of them. The latter is filling their home with rejuvenating crystals, plants, and her own natural brand of enchantment to create a spellbound atmosphere for her and her family. “The house was a mess of rainbows. Rainbows poured across the walls. The crystals reminded me of tiny cities with cathedrals and towers … Delicate watery music spilled through the house. The rooms smelled of lavender and aloe and eucalyptus.” (17) In this particular portion of the story, Block uses sensory reactions as her boldest point to create this ethereal mood. A tactic that is used extremely often in this author’s work is to describe objects, people, settings or feeling with adjectives that are not necessarily used to describe them in everyday life. This includes choosing to elaborate on something’s texture when it is almost always never touched, or a sound by its look. For example, music is not tangible and therefore has no consistency. It is very rarely used in the same sentence as a description that could be interchangeable with an object, but here it is labelled as watery. This adduces a clear feeling of uneasiness with the audience, in that they cannot possibly predict the next sentence or event. Consequently, they are further immersed in the story and its descriptions.

In this moment, Echo is observing her surroundings, making special note of the playing children, the tunes in the air and the colors that envelop her emotions in that second.  “In the smoggy violet of summer evenings they sat on the dilapidated porch playing guitar and singing. The children from the neighborhood came and hid behind the posts, peering out with dark eyes eyes, peering at the whiteness -- the flash of what looked like diamonds at Wendy’s and Suze’s throats and wrists and in Smoke’s ear, at their bleached hair.” (93) This chosen passages uses the quick transitions as its focal point, specializing in the bridge between fantasy and reality and making the tone both confusing and fascinating to the point of, again, immersion. One of the most obvious transitions it makes it between describing the actual setting of the children running around to the comparison to the white color describing Wendy and Suze’s throats and wrists and bleached hair. This quick switch creates a similar sense of unease that is surprisingly realistic when pertaining to one’s thoughts.

Here, Block illustrates a character’s appearance while utilizing this approach, giving us another insight into a different aspect of her descriptive style and the elements involved. When Echo meets a new man she may be interested in, her feelings and his appearance are described in minute, intertwining detail. “The veins in his arms had a thorny blue glow. He led her to the bar and grabbed a bottle of gin, pouring it, straight, into a paper cup. It flared electric in her head and he was watching her. His eyes were like full-blown poppies, like sleep.” (120) In this scene, Block is describing a person and not a setting, so, again, we receive a more in depth view into what she may see in a character’s vibes and total look, and how thought association may occur in that respect. She employs a similar tactic to the first example, where she uses uncommon and unusual adjectives and matches them with uncommon and unusual subjects. For instance, here we see that color does not have a shape nor texture, but she describes the hue of blue as thorny, which insinuates an unpredictable feeling to her writing.

In a published conversation with Interview Magazine, Francesca Lia Block commented on her use of metaphors to show magic in her writing. She said, “Metaphors are an interesting example of creating magic in prose. You can use a simile to say, "It felt like the house was on fire," or you can actually set the house on fire in the story. You can say, "He made me feel like roses were growing out of my heart," or you can actually have roses grow out of the character's heart. As writers we have the opportunity to make magic happen every day.” These quick transitions between reality and fantasy creates the atmosphere of magic she describes here. This further proves and explains her technique of skipping the formalities of similes and jumping straight into metaphors. It explains the unusual matches between adjectives and subjects, because she realizes that both of these techniques work together as a unit, and aid each other in producing the overall effect of her work.

The tone that contributes to the overall mood and atmosphere is so important because without it the story wouldn’t hold the same gravity or attitude. It is what makes the writing so interesting, and without it, a story may be dull. Often, a transition can occur unexplained when association occurs, but it is never explained. We never feel the need to explain ourselves. In that way, Block is such a captivating author, because she embodies the role of thoughts unable and unwilling to make sense of themselves. Or in other words, everyone’s minds. It plays to our deepest and more instinct drives as avid readers, and lets us be a part of the story instead of in the audience.

Works Cited:

1. "Francesca Lia Block's Elements of Style." Interview Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

2. Block, Francesca Lia. Echo. New York: Joanna Cotler /HarperCollins, 2001. Print.

Lyrical Creativity

The memoir of MK Asante, called Buck, is a beautiful, twisted, and creative story of his life. Although it is written in his perspective, we also see the perspective of famous rappers as well. MK Asante uses famous lyrics from songs he has heard throughout his life to explain or show how he is feeling or to present a certain situation in a more creative way to appeal to the reader. Music is very powerful way of expressing yourself because anyone can do it however they want. It could be saying a poem over a beat, singing, rapping, freestyling, and even screaming at the top of your lungs. The author Mk Asante is moved by music and used lyrics as another opportunity to get his feeling across to the world. This is very important because it adds creativity and uniqueness to keep the reader interested. Not only does this keep the reader interested but it also adds a soundtrack, an image, and a view of life from famous celebrities into the readers mind.

Throughout the  book, there are multiple instances where he uses these lyrics but some seem to stand out more than others. For example, around this time in the book, the writers brother is on trial. Mk states that he wishes he was a black panther and so he could just go into the courtroom and take what is his, which is his brother. Right after, he uses a like from 2Pac’s song called ¨Panther Power¨: ¨I strike America like a case of heart disease, panther power is running through my arteries...¨. Not only does this put a soundtrack into the readers’ minds but it also is a deeper way of telling how the writer was feeling at the time. 2Pac states that that he strikes American like ¨a case of heart disease¨, by this he is implying how much power the Black Panther Party has. He then says that he has the ¨Panther power¨ flowing throughout his body...implying that the panther blood is what makes him so powerful. This ties into the writer’s (Mk Asante) statement of wishing he was in the Black Panther party because he knows of their power. Their purpose was to protect African Americans from police brutality and that is what he wanted to do...protect his older brother and stop him from being pronounced guilty.

Almost in the middle of the book, the writer was going through a time of his life when he believed that money meant everything to him. Mk believed that money could buy any woman, any car, clothes, land and freedom as well. He has gotten into a business run by drugs and money and that is what he lived by. Here, Mk uses a line that the rapper AZ said in Nas’ ¨Life’s a B*tch¨: ¨Visualizin’ the realism of life and actuality, f*ck who’s the baddest a person’s status depends on salary...¨. Again, adding lyrics shows the reader the more creative side of the writer Mk Asante as he tells us how he feels through rap lines. The author at this time has had a realization of life. This lyric implies that life can only be real to a person if they actualize it, that is if they fully immerse themselves in the living experience. He is beginning to see that everyone dies at some point and he wants to live it up any way possible and that is by getting as much money as he can. At this time of Mk’s life he believed that a high status could get him whatever he needed or wanted. He was driven by status and status is driven by money.

Towards the end, Mk starts telling us about the time of his life when he mentally started ¨growing up¨. He started seeing family, love and appreciation as the true meaning of life. He also began to open his eyes and see all the problems and hate that is in the world. The writer himself added a line to explain how life in ¨the hood¨ was perceived by him: ¨Against all odds, the math’s off, forcing us into the night, where we bargain against death for discounts on life, we get half off...¨. This quote is different from all the others in the book because it is by the author who is not as famous as the other lyricist’s lyrics he added into the book. Since many people have not heard the author rap over a beat, it does not add music or a soundtrack into the reader’s mind unlike the other famous lyrics from actual famous songs. Even though people cannot create an image as easily with this lyric, it still shows the more creative side of the author. He implies that living in the hood is a constant fight for survival. The ¨thugs¨ go out at night for their money but the risks are high since they could be in danger at all times. The line ¨we get half off¨ shows/tells the reader that the life that these men are living is not worth is not worth is because their lifespan is cut in half because of the danger they are putting themselves in.

TA - Nehisi Coates, author of ¨The Beautiful Struggle¨ says that ¨Buck takes the daily words of the American streets and forges something low and lovely, angry, profane, and beautiful, it honors the best of hip-hop’s literary canon by producing work worthy of inclusion.¨ Nehisi Coates implies (in more detail) that this book shows all the emotion of the author and taps into the emotion of the reader not only by telling a great story but through hip-hop as well. As stated before, this book is amazingly creative and the use of the best lyrics in hip-hop only strengthen this book allowing it to be one of the more creative and artistic books created.

In an interview with soundcheck staff of WNYC, Mk speaks about his own book and adding hip-hop lyrics within the story:

¨Hip hop has always been a soundtrack to my life -- everybody I know growing up, we have what we call hip hop Tourettes. That means that we're just chillin', doing something, chopping onions, walking to the store, and we're just going to be spitting lyrics out, they just jump out of us at random times we can't control it. That was a realistic thing for me then -- and even now -- that I wanted that to be a part of the story. So I tried to find lyrics and songs that I listened to then. Those songs, from your childhood -- you don't forget them. It was easy to revisit those lyrics and put them in the book.¨

The lyrics within the book were one of the main aspects recognized by the reader. Mk Asante says: ¨I tried to find lyrics and songs that I listened to then. Those songs, from your childhood -- you don't forget them. It was easy to revisit those lyrics and put them in the book.¨  

This tells the reader about how connected Mk Asante is to music and lyrics specifically. He was moved by the ¨art form¨ of rap and that is exactly what he wants the reader to he was moved by rap. He tried to include lyrics that defined moments in his life and he found the perfect ones because each one corresponds to what is happening in the book in a deeper way of thinking. At times you can’t understand what Mk is trying to say and that is when the lyrics come along, and at times you may not understand the lyrics and that is when Mk is there to explain. Music is a movement that connects with everyone in some type of way, Buck is the perfect example of that. Everyone is somehow connected with music even if have not realized is yet, everyone has their music and that was also something that the story tells the reader. Mk Asante’s music is hip-hop and rap, and by incorporating that into the story it almost motivates the reader to go out and find ¨their music¨ or explore or further explore the world of hip-hop and rap.

From start to finish, Buck will have the reader wanting to read more and more. The tale of Mk Asante is one that will be remembered because of this book. As the reader ventures more and more into this book they will find either something to relate to or something to attach their emotion to. If the reader is familiar with the lyrics he incorporates then it would allow the reader to almost create a bond with Mk Asante. That allows the reader to fully relate to Mk even if they have not gone through the same experiences as he did. Throughout his life, he has been through terrible situations that some readers might not have been through but at the end of the day music is a form of art that everyone can enjoy, therefore the ¨soundtrack¨ added into the story only allows the reader to connect with him and the story he is trying to tell. This is a story to love and remember because as the famous Maya Angelou said, ¨this is a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.¨

Works Cited for Analytical Essay:

  • Asante, Mk. Buck. New York: Random House, Inc; Spiegel & Grau. 2013. Print.

"MK Asante's Hip Hop Memoir, 'Buck'" Soundcheck. WNYC, 11 July 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <>.

The Effects of Point of View in George R.R. Martins' "A Storm Of Swords"

George R.R. Martins’ novel A Storm of Swords is written in third person multiple point of view. This is when a writer writes a story from multiple characters point of views. This technique allows the reader to feel more attached to multiple characters and understand why they do certain things. It influences the reader to make them more attached to the book and want to finish the characters story. It lets the reader understand the way the character feels and it allows the reading to be all-knowing. It also affects the way certain events play out. The reader is only able to see things through one character's point of view at a time. So the reader is only able to see things through their biases.

In A Storm of Swords there are three Kings fighting for the throne. The book covers many characters and different sides to the ongoing war. Robb Stark is one of the Kings, they call him the King of the North. He made an alliance with the House Frey. The terms are, after the fighting is over and the war is won, Robb Stark will marry one of the Freys. However while in battle, Robb broke his oath and wed another woman. Catelyn, his mother was furious. She thought to herself “If you had to fall into a woman’s arms, my son why couldn't they have been Margaery Tyrell’s? The wealth and power of the Highgarden could have made all the difference in the fighting yet to come.” (pg. 200) The reader is able to see the effect that this has on the one side of the war, through a mothers eyes. Catelyn Stark is a unique mother however, she asks herself why her son could not have fell in love with a Tyrell who comes from a bigger house with more swords. She understands that this would have allowed them to gain soldiers and have a leg up in the war. All of this the reader sees through her eyes. This is a unique take because Catelyn is experiencing loss. The Lannisters hold her daughters hostage. The reader understands the struggles the North is now facing.

Tyrion was in a meeting with his Father, where they discussed marriage. Lord Tywin wanted Tyrion to marry Sansa Stark but Tyrion was a little hesitant due to her age. Lord Tywin put those worries to rest.  “The Young Wolf has taken Gawen Westerling’s eldest daughter to wife. For a moment Tyrion could not believe he’d heard his father right. ‘He broke his sworn word?’ He said incredulous. ‘He threw away the Freys for…’ Words failed him.” (pg. 271) From this quote the reader can see how both sides react to the news of Robb Stark’s betrayal. Not only has Robb angered his best ally, he has also sent this news to his enemy. Through this third person multiple point of view the reader is able to see the benefits of each side of the war as well as know secrets that many in the Kingdom may not know. This information also allowed the character to proceed with certain actions that may otherwise not have occurred.

Throughout the story there have been many battles, won and lost. Stannis had recently lost a huge battle against the Lannisters. He was in hiding gathering his troops. He named Davos his Hand(trusted advisor) and they talk about battle strategies. “Another battle will be the end of us all, thought Davos. Lord Alester saw that much true enough. ‘Your Grace  asked for honest counsel. In honesty then...we lack the strength for another battle against the Lannisters.’” (pg.499-500) In this quote, the reader can see how certain decisions are made, they figure out when one side of the battle is weak and may not survive. This allows the reader to have key information that another King in the story may not have. It lets the reader believe they know the outcome of a battle. However, this allows the writer to surprise the reader with an unexpected outcome. This is another reason why third person multiple point of view is so complex but allows for a good read.

It is difficult to achieve a successful third person multiple point of view. Some ground rules are, the writer must to be able to skillfully switch point of views without getting the reader confused. The writer will need to create multiple plot charts. Another difficulty of this style of writing is the fact that a reader will have less time to get to know a certain character and this can result in a loss of interest. The writer must make sure that they are giving an equal amount of time to each character to giving the reader a nice balance. The key to this point of view is to keep the focus throughout the entire story. This is a unique technique when it is accomplished.

In A Storm of Swords, each chapter is dedicated to a different character. This enables the reader to better understand the story. It also helps the reader predict actions that may happen in the chapter. Mark Terry commented on this technique Each chapter is labeled whose POV it is, so it works. While we're in each chapter, it doesn't wander from that character's POV.” The reader has the ability to oppose certain character through this technique. That is one aspect that makes the read so enjoyable. For example Lord Tywin is glad that Robb has broken his oath to the Freys because this gives him a larger chance at winning the war. If the reader was on team Robb, then they would be disappointed. This gives the reader more emotion throughout the story and they will feel more connected to the story.

This structure is important to the book because it gives the reader a sense of how each problem affects all sides of the kingdom. It also allows the reader to understand the reason behind a certain character's actions. If the book had been written in another point of view in my opinion, no one would be interested in reading the book because we would see simple solutions to the problems that arise because it would always benefit the protagonist, no conflicts would occur. It would result in a boring read. Because each chapter is through the eyes of a different character, it may seem as if the reader is going back through time when the same conflict gets discussed through a different character's viewpoint, however this is not the case. The third person multiple point of view leaves the reader on their toes wondering what will happen and how characters will react.


Martin, George R. R. A Storm of Swords. Vol. 3. New York: Bantam, 2000. Print. A Game of Thrones.

"This Writing Life." This Writing Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <>.

Harper, Tara K. "TARA K. HARPERWRITER'S WORKSHOP Multiple Points of View." Multiple Points of View. N.p., 2004. Web. 18 Jan. 2015. <>.

The Secrets of Character Development

Donna Tartt (the author) only gives you little pieces of a character, she takes her time to reveal them slowly. This technique gives the reader a better connection with the characters, but she also mimics characters in real life. People are very complex and Donna only scratches the surface of the character by not giving us the character as a whole.We follow the story by way of the protagonist Richard Papen and discover the characters along with him. This not only makes you more curious to read the story, but helps your understanding of the book. So that you are better able to understand the characters motivation behind their actions.

Donna Tartt wrote this text with the fact that Richard Papen would eventually be assimilated into the group of scholars that are studying Greece. Once he is finally apart of this group, he wonders if he is truly “in” the group. “That is to say: I wanted to maintain the illusion that their dealing with me were straightforward; that we were all friends, no secrets, though the plain fact of it was that there were plenty of things they didn’t let me in on and would not for sometime.” This mimics and models human behavior because people are tentatively careful and  cautious. It also speaks of how secretive we are. People in ways are excluded from some things, if that purpose might be for lack of trust or for protection. But to ¨maintain the illusion¨ shows that everyone puts up an allusion even a mask, waiting for someone right to finally take it down, someone they can trust.   

In the book Richard asks about the group that is studying Greece’s culture and language. The teacher only picked five students to teach every year, Richard arrived too late, and wasn’t able to be in the class. But to be around the idea of the Greece or its study enticed him. “I suddenly wanted to know what they were saying. I went to the bookshelf behind their table ...My back to them, I picked up a book at random- a ridiculous sociological text, as it happened- and pretended to study the index.” This reveals the type of character Richard Papen is. Slowly you get to see different aspects of his character, him being cautious and curious. He takes time out of his day to to listen to them, to learn who they are. Mainly for the fact that he yearns for something more, something that he doesn’t have. To be apart of their group.

As Richard slowly adjusted to college life, he realized he didn’t see the Greek scholars in any of his classes. But when he did happen to see them, he watched them with interest. “All of them, to me, seemed highly unapproachable. But I watched them with interest whenever I happened to see them: Francis, stooping to talk to a cat on a doorstep; Henry dashing past year the wheel of a little white car, which Julian in the passenger’s seat; Bunny leaning out of a an upstairs window to yell something at the twins on the lawn below. Slowly more information came my way.” Ricard noticed certain things about people which builds the characters of the people. What they did and what their habits are. This relates to natural human emotions because Donna Tartt gives them typical human qualities and emotion, but gives a brief blurb of who they are so almost anyone can connect to them. Richard Papen states that the they seem “highly unapproachable”, typically in general are unapproachable. Because it’s easy to form an opinion of someone without actually getting to know them.

According to a book review from Carlos Mock on a Barnes and Noble, his opinion of The Secret History “... is overwhelmed by character development. Donna Tartt is able to get inside these peoples heads to a point where we feel we are there with them. We know what they do, what they think, why they drink; what they like and dislike about each one of them,and how they interact as a group, which will explain why they did what they did.” This identifies and outlines the very bases to everybody. Donna Tartt connects us to the character by doing the simplest things, because we  can relate to them the most. She builds the characters from the ground up.

If the book was written with a different type of character development, I feel as though the story would be less enticing. The complexity of the characters is what draws you into the text. I would’ve struggled to finish reading this book if it wasn't for the character development. Donna Tartt style of writing pulls you in mainly because you can connect to those complex people, she make the characters life like. Gradually meeting and getting to know each character. It was like meeting a person in real life, for the first time. You can have a magnificent story line, but the characters that make a text, a story.

Without Chekhov's Gun

“The Elephant Vanishes,” by Haruki Murakami, is a bunch of short stories compiled together in one book. None of them connect to each other but the author makes all the stories have something in common. Though all of the stories add random selections of unnecessary information, the reader might think it will end up to bring up a different ending, but actually, the information never relates back, which confuses the reader. Throughout almost every story, he breaks the rule of Chekhov’s gun. Chekhov’s Gun is a rule that states, “You must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if noone is thinking of firing it.” This basically means that the writer should not put unnecessary information in the writing if nothing is done with it. Haruki Murakami shows in almost all of his stories that you can break this rule in order to maybe fascinate or confuse the reader. The way he breaks the rule can make the reader believe that it isn’t needed. But, if the stories didn’t have that information, it is believed that the stories would be boring.

In almost all of the stories he does this in, he starts off by talking about one subject, then in just one short sentence, he completely flips the script. He somehow changes everything you were thinking about and makes you feel like you missed some vital information. This either leaves you fascinated by the writer and his ability to do this in such short time, or confused on why the author thought to do this. In the story, “The Kangaroo Communique,” he starts off talking about kangaroos and all the things he can think about. Then, in one sentence, he changes the whole story. For example, the protagonist in this story says, “Strange isn’t it? Allow me to introduce myself.”(page 115) In this one short sentence, he goes from talking about kangaroos to talking about himself. The information about the kangaroos doesn’t follow up in the story after this sentence except for at the ending when he gives a little more information about the kangaroo. It is completely labeled as unnecessary information but makes the reader ask questions about why it is even there.

Some suggest that the author just took ordinary stories that wouldn’t seem appealing in any way, put something that would make the reader ask questions of why this was put here, and that would be the whole point of the book. Parallel worlds abound in these stories; this is ordinary life, but ordinary life fraught with unexpected and unsettling views,” says a reviewer of the book from Barnes & Noble Reviews. This shows that each reader, when reading this book, has the same feeling of confusion. The author reached the goal of confusing his readers through finding a different pathway to tell this story. The author can take an ordinary life, tell it in a weird way, and thats how readers would know that the reason they are so engaged in the book is because this is an ordinary life with a twist.

Throughout the book, the author seems to have many concepts in using ways to change the subject in the story. It is most evident that he does this because no two stories change the subject in the same way, all of the protagonists in the story seem very different from each other but are all capable of making a new point in the story. In the story, “Hitler’s Invasion of Poland,” the story changes in the same way, through one sentence, but the difference is the way the story changes, through different thought of mind. In that story, the story changes when the protagonist says, “That does it. I let out another sigh. And I continued with my diary, thinking I’d better just finish logging it in. Saturday, Hitler’s armored divisions invaded Poland. Dive bombers over Warsaw-.”(page 233) The quote is a very different way of changing the subject because the protagonist just starts from talking about him writing in his diary to talking about a piece of history. When the reader reads this, they might think why was this put here? But, they never ask what if this wasn’t put here? With this second question, you try to read the story without it, and you might see it as boring. So, without the rule of Chekhov’s Gun, the story wouldn’t be as appealing.

The author did very much excell in finding different ways of flipping the story in every story that was stated before. He could have chosen to change the story easily or in a very difficult way. He exemplifies all types throughout the book. It was hard to find one that was easily used to change the story. In the story, “A Window,” he chooses a simple transition. He starts off the story having the protagonist talking about a hamburger steak restaurant that he has heard of and decided he will go try out this famous hamburger steak. He starts to talk about how when he goes to the famous restaurant, they are out of the original hamburger steak. Instead, he must settle for a hawaiian hamburger steak without the pineapple. As the protagonist says in the book “Thanks to your letter, what I wanted most of all was an utterly normal hamburger steak made by you. By contrast, the passage on the National Railways’ automatic ticket machines struck me as a bit superficial.”(page 376) In an instant, the point of the story changes. First, the protagonist is mad that he couldn’t have a normal hamburger steak, into talking about how fake it looks on the ads. The author probably did not have much difficulty thinking of a way to make a small transition for the other part of the story. The author again, shows how you can put unneeded information and do nothing with it.

In conclusion, without this structure in the book, the book could have been construed as a fairly ordinary boring book that anybody could have written. It was important to note that this was a way of capturing the reader's attention in a way of confusion, but also made the reader want to continue reading the book. This book leaves the reader with the thought in the back of their head of what made this book so interesting. Without this key structure, it could have been compared to most books as similar, but with the structure, the reader can have the question of “How would this book have changed if it was written with parts played with the rule of “Chekhov's Gun”.” Some could agree that the author reached the goal of confusing his readers through finding a different way to path a story. Duly noted, readers can now hold this book as a bar to what books could look like.