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The Multifaceted Moral Man: Morality and Free Will in Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

By Lina Zhang, V Form

The Multifaceted Moral Man: Morality and Free Will in Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

“And what, brothers, I had to escape into sleep from then was the horrible and wrong feeling that it was better to get the hit than give it. If that veck had stayed I might even have like presented the other cheek” (Burgess).

Anthony Burgess’ most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange, debates the essence of morality and the role of free will in achieving the moral man. Through following the imprisonment and release of the novel’s antihero, Alex, the story exposes the flaws and consequences of three different understandings of morality and the importance of free will. Alex’s first significant improvement occurs under the influence of Ludovico’s Treatment, where he finds himself both unable to sin and find pleasure. He then receives a version of liberty by F. Alexander, only to realize that absolute freedom is hypocritical and can only be theoretical. Ultimately, Alex comes to a natural maturation and adopts a morality devoid of any outside influences or expectations. Through providing sharp contrasts between the ideals and realities of morality, Burgess expands on the shortcomings of all three systems of thought while making a consistent strong argument in favor of the individual free will. 

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HER(short)story: Silenced Women in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Stories

By Grace Kingsbury, VI Form

HER(short)story: Silenced Women in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Stories

Chimamanda Adichie’s book of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck, follows African men and women and attempts to explain the ties between the genders. The short story “Jumping Monkey Hill” describes the conflict that a Nigerian writer, Ujunwa, faces during a writing retreat in Cape Town. The head of the writing retreat, Edward, repeatedly ogles her body and makes sexual comments to Ujunwa such as “I’d rather like you to lay down for me” (Adichie 106). The story “The Thing Around Your Neck” depicts a woman who receives a visa to live in American with her uncle. Her uncle sexually assaults her during her stay with him, so she runs away for a fresh start in Connecticut. Besides the obvious gender and race similarities between these two main characters, both women are sexually harassed in their stories. Adichie’s normalization of sexual harassment in “Jumping Monkey Hill” and “The Thing Around Your Neck” reflects the existing culture of silencing women through the unresponsive and accepting women, the bystanders, and Adichie’s cursory acknowledgment of the events.

By creating characters that do not respond to sexual harassment, Adichie demonstrates how women minimize their assault to ignore it more easily. Ujunwa in “Jumping Monkey Hill” “laugh[s]” in response to Edward’s comment “because it was funny and witty… when [one] really thought about it” (Adichie 106). She convinces herself that it is funny to diminish the pain that his comment causes her. In “The Thing Around Your Neck,” the woman “lock[s] [herself] in the bathroom closet, and the next morning” she runs away from home, in response to her uncle’s assault (Adichie 116). This represents the woman physically running away from confrontation with her uncle by putting as much distance between her and the event as possible and refusing to stand up for herself. In both of these instances, the women avoid the conflict of sexual harassment by opting to ignore the problem. By ignoring sexual harassment and sexual assault, the women facilitate further offense because they give their abusers room to repeat their actions.

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The Absurd Act of Looking for Meaning in Camus’ The Stranger

By Jake Oblak, IV Form

The Absurd Act of Looking for Meaning in Camus’ The Stranger

What is the meaning of absurdism? How are absurdist people perceived by others? How can someone be impacted by this lifestyle? These are all questions that arise from The Stranger by Albert Camus. This philosophical novel follows a man named Meursault through a portion of his adult life. His experiences in the book range from his romantic relations with his girlfriend Marie to being sentenced to the guillotine after being convicted of murder. Throughout these events, problems emerge as a result of Meursault’s absurdist lifestyle, and personal values. Consequently, Camus delivers an eloquent introduction to absurdism and negative impacts of believing in a counter-cultural philosophy, but based on his own logic looking for a message in his writing would be ignorant.

Absurdism is an uncommon philosophy compared to modern day ideologies, but its outlook on life is unique. Absurdism is defined as “a philosophical perspective which holds that the efforts of humanity to find meaning or rational explanation in the universe ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least to human beings” (New World). As this definition explains, absurdism is based on the idea that life has no meaning and is completely arbitrary. As a result, looking for any kind of meaning in life would be considered futile. Through an absurdist lens partaking in events in order to fulfill a requirement created by society is ridiculous. This is a common theme which occurs repeatedly throughout The Stranger. Absurdists believe in doing what feels right to them, rather than doing what is right in the eyes of the norm manufactured by society. (more…)

On Sherman Alexie’s “Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest”

By Cara Mulcahey, IV Form

On Sherman Alexie’s “Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest”

The short story “Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest” focuses on the grueling conditions motel maids face every day. It follows the
life of a motel maid named Marie who despises cleaning but does it for the money it provides. Marie gets physically assaulted by her coworkers, sees horrific sights in motel rooms, cleans revolting messes guest leave behind, and does not complain about the dehumanization she faces on a daily basis. Sherman Alexie, the author of “Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest,” utilizes Marie’s self vs. self-conflict about her job as a way to display the horrors motel maids face every day and why they should be appreciated in society.

Marie loathes being a hotel maid because cleaning repulses her and her coworkers have mistreated her. While she had gotten used to cleaning abhorrent bathrooms, making beds, and vacuuming, the idea of cleaning people’s leftover (more…)

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From The Tree: On Cisneros’ “The Family of Little Feet”

By Grace Kingsbury, V Form

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From The Tree: On Cisneros’ “The Family of Little Feet”

Everyone has heard the saying, “the apple does not fall far from the tree,” but is there any truth to it? In “The Family of Little Feet” from The House On Mango Street, Esperanza plays a game of dress-up with her friends, Rachel and Lucy. They are given old high heeled shoes and strut around Mango Street, flaunting their beautiful shoes and long legs. The three girls are catcalled by many older men in the neighborhood, but they enjoy the attention. In the short story “Girl,” the girl is taught of chores that are expected of young women by her mother. Her mother stresses the importance of maintaining a positive reputation and looks down on promiscuity. Due to the differences in their upbringing, Esperanza expresses her sexuality whereas the girl suppresses hers as seen in their prominent accepted hobbies, varying feedback, and female role models. (more…)

Gender Roles at Fenway Park: Analysis of “Rain Delay” by Michelle Von Euw

By Tate Frederick, Anni Zhang, Clara Hua, Tommy Flathers, Kartik Donepudi, and Elise Gobron, IV Form

Gender Roles at Fenway Park: Analysis of “Rain Delay” by Michelle Von Euw

Editor’s Note: All IV Form Writing & Literature classes embarked on a 30-20-30 Assessment (30 Minutes of Drafting; 20 Minutes of Peer Review; 30 Minutes of Revising & Editing) for a one-paragraph analysis of the short story “Rain Delay” by Michelle Von Euw. PROMPT: “What does “Rain Delay” have to say about gender? Focus your analysis on either Caroline or Kyle.”

Tate: The character Caroline in “Rain Delay” challenges the traditional gender roles used in literature because of her interest in sports and her boyfriend Kyle’s unreciprocated enthusiasm in their relationship.

Anni: Kyle acts as an embodiment for men in the society who are unaware of the other gender’s true feelings.

Clara: Caroline shows how females face more judgments and constraints in society than their male counterparts.

Tommy: By showing the difference between the reactions of boys and girls to their kiss, the way that “Rain Delay” is set up reveals the underlying role of gender that makes Caroline feel even more isolated than she already did.

Kartik: By giving insight into gender norms that guide Caroline’s actions, Michelle Von Euw uses Caroline’s situation in “Rain Delay” to highlight the expectation for high school girls to conform to societal standards when it comes to relationships.

Elise: By representing Caroline’s identity, the short story “Rain Delay” uses symbolism to communicate young women’s struggle of identity due to an underlying male superiority.

SCROLL DOWN FOR FULL PARAGRAPHS! (more…)