Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hurston paper

English IV: African-American Literature
Paper assignment

February 2010

WHAT: A three- to four-page paper (approximately 1000 words) discussing Hurston’s development of the character of Janie Crawford in the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

WHEN: Papers are due, both hard copy and to turnitin.com, Tuesday, March 2.

HOW: Trace Hurston’s presentation of Janie through the major stages of her life: childhood with Nanny, marriages to Logan, Jody, and Tea Cake, and sitting on her porch telling her story to Pheoby. Locate and discuss evidence of the growth of Janie’s strength and sense of self. Which of her thoughts, feelings, and actions are most indicative of the woman she becomes through the forty years of her life? To what extent does she embody the lives and concerns of women in general, not just those of one semi-literate Southern rural experience?

Outside sources for this assigment are optional. But if you do choose to do any research, be certain to document the source of your content, both verbatim quotations and broader concepts or ideas, in the text of your essay and on a works cited page.

DETAILS: Include a word count and digital receipt number in your heading. Submit your paper under the assignment titled “Hurston paper”.

SUGGESTIONS: Think about the issues that affect women, both in life and in literature—issues such as autonomy, self-expression, the need for community, self-determination, sexuality, the desire to love and be loved, and equality—and look for evidence of these themes in Janie’s experience. Which are most important to Janie? Where does she make the most progress? Where does she remain the same?

Hurston journal entry

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Chapters 19 & 20

A few things stood out to me when I re-read the ending of the novel:

1. When the hurricane comes (even though that's in chapter 18) Janie, Tea Cake, and their friends on the Muck can't interpret the warning signs. The narrator even points out that the Seminoles and the local wildlife start fleeing before the storm, but ironically the Black farm workers are lulled into a false sense of confidence because they are making good money with their work and because the Whites are not fleeing.

2. The scene is West Palm Beach where Tea Cake is forced to work burying the dead from the hurricane is one of the few places in the novel where racism is explicitly addressed. Even in death, and despite the stench of decomposition, White corpses receive better treatment than the common grave of the Blacks, and local police use their power arbitrarily to force refugees like Tea Cake to labor without pay.

3. The death of Tea Cake is a powerful scene. It's not fully clear why Janie doesn't hide the gun she finds under Tea Cake's pillow, but she is conscious enough of the fear that is taking over his mind to turn the cylinder so that three empty chambers will be the first fired. As a result, she has time to defend herself, making sure to wait until Tea Cake's intentions to harm her are clear, after he fires all three empty cylinders. Only then does she use the rifle to keep him from shooting her with a live cylinder.

4. Janie's trial is curiously understated. She tells her story to judge and jury, but rather than let us hear her testimony in her own words, the narrator summarizes, telling us "she just sat there and told and when she was through she hushed." In a law court, as at Jody's store, Janie's direct voice is absent, reminding us that the only time in the novel she has consistently had a strong, clear voice was while she was with Tea Cake.

5. And in the telling of her story to Pheoby. Inspired by Janie's recounting of her life story, especially of her time on the Muck, Pheoby says, "Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listening' to you, Janie." Despite Janie's grief over Tea Cake's death, she has come home satisfied to be there, having learned from her life's journey, "Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got to go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves." She can sit on her porch in peace, finally able to "pull in her horizon like a fish-net." (483)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AP--February 16 - March 12

For Tuesday and Wednesday, February 16 & 17--Poetry wrap-up

For Thursday, February 18--In-class essay: Poetry analysis

For Friday, February 19: Vocab quiz, lessons 17 & 18. Read Oedipus The King, pages 1277 - 1322. Also read my Introduction to Tragedy and the questions at the end of the play. This is one of the most famous plays in all of Western literature. Why do you think that is? How does Sophocles give the play both philosophical and psychological depth in addition to developing the emotional tension which is central to the experience of all drama, especially tragedy? What does Oedipus’ story represent? How does it raise issues relevant to all human life? This weekend, group 1 will blog on some aspect of this play (entries due over the weekend by Sunday evening, please), while group 2 will post comments on at least 5 of your classmates blogs (be polite, be respectful, be responsive to others’ ideas—comments due by Monday night February 22).

[Group 1: Sarah B, Bianca, Ariel, Hannah, Maude, Basil, Yuka, Michael, Patrick, Peter, Margo, David, Margaret M, MacKenzie, Taylor, Ari; group 2: everyone else. Thank you, Spenser, for using random numbers to generate these groups.]

For Thursday, February 25: Read Antigone, pages 1323 - 1352 in our anthology. Look at the links on my blog and the questions at the end of the play. Why is Antigone’s dilemma important? What does it represent? Which character, Antigone or Creon, best fits the definition of the tragic character from the Introduction to Tragedy? Blog entries for group 2 are due Sunday evening, February 28. Comments (at least 5) from group 1 are due by Monday evening March 1. Multiple choice quiz Friday the 26th.

For Tuesday and Wednesday, March 2 & 3
--Read Acts 1 & 2 of Hamlet, pp. 1470 - 1518. Prepare an oral answer to one of the questions on page 1588.

For Friday, March 5 - Vocab quiz, lessons 19 & 20.

For Monday, March 8 - Read Acts 3 - 5 of Hamlet, pp. 1519 - 1587. Blog your answer to one of the questions on page 1589.

For Friday, March 12 - Multiple choice scoring workshop, test of 1987. Read pages 1677 - 1718 in the anthology (Acts 1 & 2, A Doll's House).