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.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Book Club Scribing, Day 1 (May 1)

May 1st, 2007
Tori, Lindsay, Hannah
Book Club

The Catcher in the Rye

Important Points
Why does old Spencer give him such a hard time?
oHe truly cares about him
o Teacher/student relationships
§ Care about their grades
o He flunked him
o He wanted Holden to realize that school is important so he flunks him
© Holden contradicts himself
o He likes Spencer but then he feels that he has to leave, get out of there
o He admits he lies a lot
© Why does Holden lie?
o He has nothing better to do
§ Just like horsing around
o Doesn’t know what he wants
o He doesn’t care what happens
© Why does he continue to flunk out of school?
o He doesn’t care about anything at all
o He reminds me of Logan Huntzberger in Gilmore Girls, they keep flunking out of schools because it’s fun
o Background is mysterious
§ Is it an excuse?
· Blaming it on his parents…
· Doesn’t know how to get out of it
§ He doesn’t want to talk about it
© Is Holden smart or stupid?
o Smart but he just doesn’t apply himself
o He reads a lot
§ The only class he got an A in is English because he had already read all of the books
o He reminds me of Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls, he is smart and reads all the time but he flunks out of high school because he doesn’t care
© Holden and Ackley’s relationship
o He gets annoyed with him
o But he puts down his book
§ Does he want to talk to him or is he giving up on reading?
· Kind of likes having him there
o He wants to have someone to talk to but then he gets annoyed
o Kind of the same thing as Spencer
© Why does Ackley keep coming in?
o Both do not have friends
o Does Ackley know that Holden doesn’t like him
§ Purposefully annoying
§ Doesn’t really realize
© Spencer and Holden’s relationship
o Not just a teacher/student relationship
o At one point they got along really well
§ Spencer is sick
§ Still do, Holden is just sometimes annoyed
· He is annoyed really easily
§ What happened that made their relationship more than teacher/student
· Enjoys the teacher
· Doesn’t like the class
o Spencer takes offense by that
§ He knows he can do better
© Colors
o Holden > green, yellow, teal
§ Calm, relaxed, hiding something, lies
o Ackley > neon colors
§ Can be obnoxious but still can be fun
o Spencer > Maroon, purple
§ Knowledge, vivacious, subdued, quiet
o Stadlater > red, orange
§ Outgoing, noticeable, cocky
o Percey School >brown, grey, bland, maroon
§ Black and white > good or bad >you get it or you don’t
§ Education

My Name is Asher Lev: Scribe—Ch.1
- For our opening activity, we observed two of Picasso’s pieces of art, one light (positive) and one dark (negative). Responses based on the posed question: “Do Asher’s drawings symbolize his feelings? Throughout the book, do we see that his drawings reflect his mood?”
-Responses:-Much like authors, artists often unconsciously reflect their own lives through their works. Asher realizes he is unhappy and therefore doesn’t want to draw the world as being happy. All artists draw what they see and therefore the drawings created reflect the creator’s interpretation of life, circumstances, etc.
-On pg. 20, Asher describes how he furiously worked at a drawing and afterwards he looked at the drawing and realized how his anger was expressed through the dark charcoal he used.

-Club Discussion Questions:
-Do you think Asher really knows who he is? Is he sure of himself?
-Much like any child would, Asher is trying to figure out who he is. At this point in his life, his parents are largely shaping his personality and his sense of consciousness. We felt that Asher was certainly sure of himself because he didn’t debate himself degrade himself. Asher possesses the ability to express himself at a young age.
-Because Asher is sure of himself, do you think Asher is innocent?
-We don’t feel that Asher is purposefully displeasing his father because life during this point is quite random and upset. As a reader, we had a difficult time understanding why Asher got in trouble at the dinner table because we live in a culture that encourages questions rather than degrades it. Also, Asher is attempting to define himself and separate from his Jewish society through his drawings. Asher has developed a passion that doesn’t agree with his community’s religious views and this disturbs him.
-If you were in Asher’s position, do you think you would give up you drawing for your religion?
-Because is mother is largely rebelling against orthodox Jewish ways, I believe that Asher will feel it ok to go against his father’s religious views. His mother continually encourages him to draw and therefore he will likely continue to do so, certainly is he is to lose his mother. However, at the close of chapter one, Asher says that he had “stopped drawing” (Potok 49). It’s likely that he doesn’t want to go against his father’s ways and now that his mother disagree with his idea of earth’s ugliness, he no longer wanted to express himself through drawings.
-Is Asher being overly exposed or sheltered from the world?
-Because of the setting (NYC early 1920’s), Asher is being completely shut off from the brutalities occurring oversees. Asher doesn’t understand why his father would do things simply because his father would and doesn’t understand why they must follow old traditions in a modern world. Asher is completely sheltered because of his Dad’s obsession with impressing the Rebbe. While Asher is being sheltered, we can also state that the Jews within that community are being sheltered from the world. Their religion is very literal and traditional and therefore the members in it are being sheltered from modern way in an attempt to maintain their religion.
-We talked for a long time about the Jewish religion as Michelle is Jewish. We were able to go through the book and pick out terms we didn’t understand but Michelle did.
- What is the Torah? 5 books of Moses
-Talmud: A collection of writings based on interpretations of the Torah.
-Jewish females wear things on their head out of respect. Most people, even orthodox Jews just wear a skullcap or a veil.

-Closing Activity/Extensions:
-We browsed “post secret” to discuss how people show their feelings through the art on their post cards. Because Asher doesn’t always share his art, we discussed how his art is largely an escape much like how Post Secret is.

Catcher in the Rye
During our book club of The Catcher in the Rye we discussed how symbolist paintings relate to the book in the opening activity. We related how the color of green in many of the paintings shows what could be considered a new beginning for Holden.
Does Holden underachieve on purpose to escape from the boarding school?
We think that Holden does underachieve on purpose just to not necessarily escape but because he always wants to try and "achieve" something better.
What motifs are in the story?
The motif of loneliness is prevalent in the story and it shows how growing up for many can be a lonely and a somewhat painful process. Holden seems very lonely and we think it is because of this that Holden wants to leave his boarding school.
How come Holden seems to be better friends with his teachers instead of his school mates?
We think that he can better connect to his teachers because he seems to be more like an adult and he doesn’t really like being a teenager.

Catcher In The Rye
(Day 1 chapters 1-8)

In the beginning of the meeting we opened our Chex Mix bag and Nicci started to tell us what she planned for the open activity. For the opening activity she wanted us to list all of the things Holden (main character) finds annoying in this novel. We then discussed why he hates them so much, yet decides to deal with them, how has his past made him feel this way now and why do you think he is so repetitive when stating the things he hates?

-He wants people to know what he thinks is annoying
-he hates everything
-tough time in his life, teenager,
-doesn’t want to disappoint his parents, even though he will
-He’s just bored, always says he’s bored
-Finds it amusing to annoy people
-Can’t make up his mind (Holden)
-Like Prufrock, Holden is scared to make decisions because he’s afraid of what the world will think of him.


(#8) Holden mentions that people never believe you (page 37) Do you think that he is right? Do you think that he is just saying that because he is a kid and adults don’t believe kids? Could it be that that they don’t want to hear the truth?

-people don’t want to hear the truth all the time
-sometimes lies seem better than the truth

What does he mean by “crumby?”
-just not feeling well, feeling crummy

(#9) Holden appears like he doesn’t care anymore when he talks about Allie’s death. Do you think that he is really over him? Is this why he is so judgmental?

-Doesn’t want to bring up the past
-Holden needs to look at his own life before he judges others

(#1) Holden comments on how people think things are “all true” and how they don’t notice anything (pg 9). Does he see himself as an exception to this rule since he noticed this worldly flaw? Do you think Holden is right? Why?

-He thinks he’s an exception but he’s not because he does have an opinion but he’s not objective (hypocritical).
-People notice some things but not everything. The flaws he sees in people.
-Does Holden see a flaw in everyone?

(#6) Why is Holden so nice to Ackely even though he hates all of his habits?

-Holden is scared of being alone and that’s why he’s friends with him
-Holden sees a part of himself in Ackley.

The Bell Jar
-What kind of person is Esther?
She is very impressionable, follows what she should be doing.
-Who's a better friend? Betsy or Doreen?
Betsy seems to be the better person, but Doreen fun. Esther is jealous of Doreen, who she wishes she could be. Esther also feels like Betsy is safer, she cares for her, but Esther doesn't care about her. Vice versa with Doreen.
-On page 32-33, do you see Esther becoming friends with Doreen or Betsy?
Esther changes her feelings about her friends all the time. She might not pursue the relationships later on. She could be better friends wit Betsy because they are both simpletons, however she may become better friends with Doreen because it's who she wanted to be.
-What is Esther doing now? Just trying to get by or enjoyment?
She has resentment for the people's riches, girls having things handed to them whereas she had to work for it. Esther is lost, she may enjoy the parties, but she doesn't know if she wants to continue this. She never really shows true emotions, very apathetic about everything.
-How did Esther's past with Buddy shape the night she spent with Doreen and Lenny as the third wheel?
She's used to having all the attention and she didn't get it.
-How can she be so critical with Buddy and not Doreen?
She has something against men, grudges. Doreen for some reason, is forgivable. Doreen's honest, Buddy's a liar, more of a hypocrite.
-Is there any reason for the choppy writing style?
Kind of like the train of thought writing mentioned with Virginia Woolf, it's more conversational and relaxed--she's actually talking to you. It can be kind of confusing, however it all comes together in the end. The past and present get jumbled together.
-Is there anything Plath is trying to communoicate about city life or elitism?
Not as much glitz and glamour as a story about a young girl in Manhatten. She's trying to show you the inside of a girl who's not feeling as how the other girls are feeling, how she's supposed to be feeling. Everything's shot to hell with Esther. She's not like everyone else.

A Farewell to Arms
Scribe for May 1, 2007:
(Brian had swim meet)
~Examined pictures and found physical, emotional, rich/poor struggles(Great Gatsby), pain of racism against Native Americans, owner grew up and left bear, jealous pain (green), cowardly pain(yellow)
~pg 21 Rinaldi's woman is stolen by Henry
~playing the nice guy and is good to his friend
~is only into her for the physical so its no big deal
~pg 30 Why is Miss Barkley asking for Henry's love?
~she wants to be wanted and loved
~she does not love him
~her fiance died so she is looking for a replacement
~wants excuse to be physical with him
~pg 55 why deep description of pain?
~proves soldiers opinion that war is awful
~ How characters feel about war?
~they do not like it, it makes them feel hollow
~they want to quit, but they are scared
~Why did Henry go to war?
~trying to excape someone
~he says war is not the worst thing
~went to war to get over his "bad" love before
~When he could not see Miss Barkley but he did not love her, why did he feel pain?
~like teddy bear pic-lonely
~guy in blue on scale pic is alone and no one cares about him
~he has potential energy but the kinetic energy is not being used
(potential energy conundrum)
~Significance of pain?
~everyones life has pain, you can't have a life without pain
~no pain no gain
~showing pain in all areas of life, not just war
~Who endures most pain?
~Priest-gets made fun of(emotional pain)
~Henry hurt emotional and physical
pg 9 Thumb joke~goes out virgin, comes out not
~makes fun of him being gay
five against one joke~five women trying to get him?
looked up Ernest Hemmingway to find out about dirty jokes
~married four times
~Mother Grace Hall dressed him as a girl when he was little(pain of being made
fun of for being effeminite)
~Zelda suspected Hemingway and Fitzgerald had an affair

Catcher in the Rye
We listened to Paper, Rock, Scissors by Jamisonparker. The lyrics were very closely related to Holden’s mentality in Catcher in the Rye. Listening to the song brought up questions relating to whether Holden truly loved Jane.
- Holden, like the singer, does not want to loose memories. He also has regrets of school.
- Holden might not try in school because he does not want to conform to his parent’s expectations. He wants to live his own life and determine his future without his parent’s constant input.
- We thought that Holden tolerates Ackley because he lacks character (Stoek’s comment). He avoids confrontation, is passive, and lives in the moment without concern for the future.
- I don’t think that Holden realizes that he is constantly hypocritical. He is trying to find his character, but it is undefined. He has no perspective of his own views. What Holden hates about himself he finds and seeks out in others.
- Holden’s hunting hat might symbolize his search for self. It may be an attempt to create a character for himself.
- For the closing activity, we looked at a picture of rye. Connections we made were that rye is grown in the country. Since the book takes place in the city, the picture seems completely contradictory. We were stumped. Maybe it was a symbol that you could be searching for something that was hidden. The rye might protect and isolate something/someone. Maybe this is a symbol of Holden’s search for self.

The words that flowed from the inner labyrinths of our ears...The Bell Jar
Once being informed that Silvia committed suicide soon after the publishing of this novel, our group became obsessed with death, and the catalysts in her demise.
The poet Robert M. Wilson wrote that "poets are more likely to commit suicide. You're better off numb," about being a sensitive soul. It was said that Sylvia... or Esther... doesn't feel attached to her life, and often feels silent. We also came to an agreement that it's better to feel real emotion, such as sadness, or heartbreak, over feeling nothing, or feeling "numb" because at least what you are experiencing is real. We wondered if perhaps she bottled up her emotions for the sake of her art (the poetry). Life could have been easier on her if she didn't hold back so many feelings, yet she continues to restrain herself.
Her father also died when she was young, which could have contributed to the unavoidable emptiness that consumed her. She speaks little of her parents, and from what she has said, her mother sounds unsupportive of her life's dream to be a writer.
She appears to be indecisive as well, and we feel that in her future that could rob her of options or opportunities. Without windows of chance, would she have a reason to live?
The Rosenbergs fascinated her, and she observed their deaths in detail. Alexa made a connection to the Virginia Tech shooting, and told us that the shooter apparently wrote gruesome stories, and perhaps wanted to commit this crime in order to observe what true death really looked like. It was also suggested that she might have wanted to analyze the deaths she has known because death is a person's last communication to the world and in a "wonderful death" she could become immortal.


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