Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.


My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Dark Scenario

One defining characteristic of a psychopath is that he/she cannot tell right from wrong. Most people, for example, have increased brain activity when they hear alarming words such as "rape" or "homicide." Psychopaths, however, do not show this change in brain response; "rape" would produce the same response as "tree" or "chair." There are many factors involved in diagnosing psychopathy, but this lack of conscience is central.

If a psychopath goes on a killing spree and murders a family, can this person be considered evil? How do you define "evil"?

The Devil in the Forest

How do you think Nathaniel Hawthorne would define "evil" based on "Young Goodman Brown"? Do you think Miller would agree with his definition?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Individual Villainy

"When one rises above the individual villainy displayed, one can only pity them all, just as we shall be pitied someday. It is still impossible for man to organize his social life without repressions, and the balance has yet to be struck between order and freedom" (Miller 7).

Do you, like Miller, pity the people of late 17th century Salem? Do you think that we will be pitied one day? Do agree that repression is an inherent part of organized social life?

Steady Hands

"They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. We have inherited this belief, and it has helped and hurt us" (Miller 5).

What do think this passage means? What is the "candle"? Do you agree that modern Americans have inherited this Puritan attitude?

The Mysterious Unknown

"The edge of the wilderness was close by. The American continent stretched endlessly west, and it was full of mystery for them. It stood, dark and threatening, over their shoulders night and day, for out of it Indian tribes marauded from time to time, and Reverend Parris had parishioners who had lost relatives to these heathen" (Miller 5).

What role does this "edge of the wilderness" play in the lives of the characters so far?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Controlling the Past

One of the quotations on your class policies is by George Orwell, author of 1984. Orwell writes, "Who controls the past controls the future.
Who controls the present controls the past."

What do you think this quotation means, and how might it inform our discussion from yesterday regarding Disney's romanticized version of Pocahontas? Here's another way of thinking about it: What do power, control, and history have to do our perceptions of Pocahontas and the "discovery" (notice the quotation marks) of America?

How do you think Sherman Alexie would feel about this quotation based on "A Drug Called Tradition"?

As always, defend your response and show me your thinking.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Will the real Pocahontas please stand up?

Please investigate the story of Pocahontas and John Smith by searching each person at www.wikipedia.org. Jot down notes on points you find important, confusing, and/or intriguing.

Next, read Sherman Alexie's "A Drug Called Tradition." Find one passage in the story that interests you and blog about it (make a comment about it, ask a question, or both). Please include the passage itself in the comment that you post.