Ode To English Majors

Dear fellow English majors,

You have agreed to work in a field that most people decide to abandon after eighth grade English class when they actually have to read and write. You enjoy the pain staking activities that come along with writing a fifteen page paper on the many interpretations of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and describing symbol upon symbol of “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

We English majors actually find it fun to read and reread Shakespeare and to write essays when most “normal” people would rather go out and party. Coffee and tea are basically our major food groups and if you give us a wine and a blanket we will curl up into a ball, pull our favorite novels off our cluttered bookshelves, and read until our eyes can no longer see straight.

English majors are a dying breed of college students. The English language is losing its luster and importance in schools. We work to keep the light of the English language shining bright in the hopes it will never burn out, even when it seems to be close. Reading is becoming less and less important as fewer kids can be seen going to libraries and buying books at bookstores. Writing is an art that is slowing sliding deeper and deeper into the crevices of useless tools that are not needed in the working world. Nevertheless, we know that writing and reading is a skill that needs to stay alive! We appreciate the work that comes along with understanding narratives of the 16th century. We love when a novel has so much power that is makes us burst into tears every time we read it over again. We mark pages of books that have some kind of error, and giggle to ourselves like we’ve outsmarted the publishing company. We enjoy the things that many try so hard to avoid after high school.

So here’s to English Majors!!! May your coffee cups always be full and your bookshelves overflowing! (glasses clinking)

Tennessee Williams “Life Story”

“Life Story” by Tennessee Williams is a depiction of an awkward situation after a one night stand. It is believed to be related between two men who have agreed to come to a hotel room to spend time alone. The men are only interested in speaking of themselves instead of what the other has to say. Williams alludes to the elevator finally coming to stop after an exhausting day in relation to the men’s crumbling interest in eachother.

Tennessee Williams couldn’t resist adding a little tounge and check at the end in showing that the men’s boredom ultimately ended in their death. A single cigarette is what caused their hotel room to go up in flames. A small symbol of their burning passion that dwindles down, but instead of simply dying out, Williams depicts a much darker representation of the emotions following these events.

*************

“Life Story” Tennessee Williams

After you’ve been to bed together for the first time,without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,

the other party very often says to you,

Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,

what’s your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do
sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up

a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you

lying together in completely relaxed positions

like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.
You tell them your story, or as much of your story

as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,

each time a little more faintly, until the oh

is just an audible breath, and then of course
there’s some interruption. Slow room service comes up

with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee

and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.

And then, the first thing you know, before you’ve had time

to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,

they’re telling you their life story, exactly as they’d intended to all along,
and you’re saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,

each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming

no more than an audible sigh,

as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,

draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion

and stops breathing forever. Then?
Well, one of you falls asleep

and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,

and that’s how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

Story Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180369

Cover Image: http://genius.com/5050601

Sojourner Truth “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Sojourner Truth “Ain’t I a WOman?” Speech:

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

Source:

Speech Located at: http://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/sojourner-truth.htm

Cover Image: http://www.beutifulmagazine.com/2013/03/11/why-u-s-needs-to-ratify-womens-rights-treaty/

Ethical Decisions: Life or Death

            How do ethics play within situations that can be lifesaving? Is it possible that what can save a persons life can be unethical? Within this paper we will look into a situation involving the wellbeing of victims with gunshot or stab wounds, and explore different ethical perspectives as to why or why not this activity will be ethically correct.

            Doctor Peter Rhee believes he has found a way to keep humans alive up to two hours after they have gone into cardiac arrest. He has tested his findings on pigs that have been inflicted with wounds which are life threatening. After going into cardiac arrest the doctor pumped their bodies with a cold saline solution, first into their brain and heart, then the rest of their body. This cools the body and stops most cellular activity giving the doctor more time to fix their wounds, elevating their chances of surviving. Ninety percent of the pigs survived after the solution was pumped into their bodies; of the control group there were no survivors.

David King, a surgeon who works with animal testing, does not find this to be safe and does not believe that this should take part in all hospitals because, ultimately, it is too far out there and people should not expect a miracle. Could this mean that what could save someone’s life can be unethical? We will look into the perspectives of three different ethical views: Ethical Egoists, Virtue Ethicists, and Rule Unitarianism. To explain this matter further this paper will follow the “ABCD’s of Ethical Decision-Making: A Brief Guide.”

In this situation—involving the doctor who wants to change how the hospital will handle gunshot or stab wounds—one has to be aware of the situation they are in before making a decision (the first step in the ABCD Guide). This goes for all Ethical perspectives. The situation at hand may become a legal one if the doctor decides to go about his surgeries this way despite the ruling of the hospital or law. The doctor believes that this practice will save more lives because it has already been proven to work, however, if for some reason it works differently on humans than pigs, there could be lawsuits taking place.

The second step in “The ABCD’s of Ethical Decision Making” is Beliefs: what are my moral beliefs? Will my decision help me fulfill my ethical code? For an Ethical Egoist, a person that believes that for an action to be morally right it has to work in favor of one’s self interest (SEP, para. 19, 2002), they will pull in favor of completing the surgeries with the cool saline solution if they believe it will affect themselves positively. For the doctor to decide to work on his patients using the solution, he will personally gain because he will be using his own practice. He may also feel that this will affect himself positively because he could potentially gain recognition for his discovery and breakthrough in medicine.

If the doctor is a Virtue Ethicist his beliefs will be different. To have Virtue Ethics one believes in doing what is considered “right” even if it is not what they personally want to do (Vliet, para. 7, 2015). Epictetus created a list of ideas that he believes to be morally good and are ways each of us should live. Of his list he mentions that we need to have the ability to flip a switch and take action against adversity (Epictetus, p. 269). If we come to a problem where our beliefs are tested we need to find patience in order to continue down the path that has been declared right. Virtue Ethicist have to be aware of what is the right thing to do, and when looking at this case, if the doctor has Virtue Ethics he will believe that the saline solution is the right thing to do because it has the ability to give doctors more time when fixing fatal wounds. Nevertheless, the doctor could decide to not use the solution if he has been presented with many skeptics or has been told by an authoritative figure to not go through with the procedures.

If the doctor followed the Rule Utilitarianism belief, he would come to the conclusion that the saline solution will not be the most ethical option if the outcome would break a rule that was placed in order to benefit the people involved (University, 2008). Rule Utilitarian’s believe that rules have been set in order to create the best possible outcome. If there was a rule that doctors could not put any kind of cooling solution into human bodies, then the doctor would follow that rule because it was believed to be the right choice.

The third step in the “ABCD’s of Ethical Decision-Making” guide, is to be aware of the consequence and how it will affect others and yourself. An Ethical Egoist would find that if they were to go about the surgeries in this way, the consequence could be a possible living patient after a horrific accident and positive recognition. From this standpoint, the consequences can be good, and in fact, the doctor would more likely go about the surgery from this perspective if he is confident in his studies of the solution.

From a Virtue Ethics perspective, the consequence of going through with the surgeries may be negative. If the doctor is told by an authoritative figure that he should not use the solution then he may find the consequence of losing trust in an employer to be a big factor in making his decision.

On the other hand, a Rule Utilitarian’s will see the consequence of their action as wrong if there is a rule in place stating that this action is not approved. A Rule Utilitarian wants to follow ideas that have already been in place. For example, if a teacher is a Rule Utilitarian and they are considering skipping to class because they would rather sleep in, they would inevitably get out of bed and go to class because there is a regulation stating teachers cannot skip school without warning or reason. The teacher follows these rules as a Rule Utilitarian because he believes that they show what is the right thing to do.

The final step is to decide what will be the best action. Will I be proud of my decision years to come? Will I want others to mimic my behavior? For an Ethical Egoist, they may decide to go about the surgery because they believe that it will fulfill their self-interest. The doctor would be proud for others to follow in his footsteps where they took actions into their own hands and stick to their instincts.

For a Virtue Ethicist, they may decide in favor of not going through with the surgery because they have been presented with the skepticism of others. It may be wrong for the doctor to do the procedure if he has been advised otherwise or that the saline solution has not been tested on the level that it needs to in order to be allowed into regular medical practice.

If the doctor followed the Rule Utilitarian view then he could decide that the surgery is not a moral act because of any rules or regulations. If the hospital has not studied this matter further and there is no document or regulation in place that allows the use of the solution, the doctor will not follow through with the procedure.

The ethical issue described in this case is one that deals with the livelihood of individuals that have been inflicted with a wound from either a gun or knife. The views from the Egoistic perspective is that this can be, and should be, solved through the use of a cool saline solution. “Humans being help their fellow human beings because it is advantageous to do so” (Ethical Subjectivism, para. 41), meaning, the doctors actions will be one that has some positive outcome for himself. This ethical idea can create an issue, especially if the doctor is putting lives in more danger for a practice that has not yet been properly tested before humans.

The decision made on the Virtue Ethics perspective to either go forth with the surgery or not, is based on what they find and know to be the right thing to do. The issue with Virtue Ethics is that the subject has to be aware of the right decision. This could be a problem if the doctor is unaware of what morally is right. The surgery could save the patient’s life, however, it can also be wrong because it would not have been tested on humans before and not one hundred percent proven to work.

Along with the Egotistic and Virtue Ethics perspectives, Rule Utilitarianism can also be shown to have a downside. The doctor may decide not to go about the surgeries due to a regulation or rule set against it, however, if the surgery has worked on pigs, and has been proven to give the doctor up to two more hours to fix and wounds on the subject, the doctor may be limiting his ability to save patients. This may lead the doctor to settle for a less effective practice to attempt to save patients when he knows of a better way that has been proven to work ninety percent of the time.

In making any decision, ethical perspectives are important in deciding what path we will choose to go down. Ethical Egoism, Virtue Ethics, and Rule Utilitarianism are all based on what someone will deem morally correct. What one doctor may decide in this situation may in fact be different than another. We are all different in our ideas and in how we think different obstacles should be resolved. Think about how you would act in this situation. Would you go through with the surgery?

Epictetus. (n.d.). The Art of Living.

Ethical Subjectivism: Can’t we all just get along? (n.d.). Leadership Ethics.

Philosophy, S. E. (2002, November 4). Egoism. Stanford, California, United States.

Steps in Ethical Decision-Making Process: Easy as A, B, C, D? (n.d.).

University, O. (2008, February 23). Consequentalist theory Egoism and Utilitarianism.avi. (S. Busada, Ed.)

Vliet, F. v. (2015). Ethical Theory: Virtue Ethics. Baltimore, Maryland.

Cover Image: http://www.otago.ac.nz/healthsciences/about/infosheets/medicineinfo.html

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” ~ T. S. Eliot

There is something magical and mysterious about the work of T.S. Eliot. His poem “The Love Song” has been one that has lead me to wonder about the mysteries of life and the small instanced throughout the day that go by unnoticed. His work is truly amazing with a view of the strange reality that we all live in. Our mind are strange things that ultimately control who we are. What is it that causes us to notice certain point and yet miss others? Are they simply not important or do we selfishly select what we feel is significant in our lives? And what is it about our minds that cause us to hesitate? Why do we feel such discomfort in situations that others feel to be a breeze? We are all faced with obstacles that cause us to second guess our decisions, a point that Eliot touches on in this piece.

Normally I post poems or short stories and I go through my interpretations of the piece, but for this one I don’t even know where to begin. J. Alfred Prufrock has a question for us that is life altering, but he’ll get to that later. He moves through his piece with metaphors after metaphor, comparing himself to Hamlet and Lazarus. He mentions women talking to Michelangelo, but what about? He causes many cruxes in this piece and yet he has a message for us at the end.

We navigate through this poem, trying to uncover the meaning of every part as if Prufrock has come up with the meaning of life. His question eventually never was asked. He felt insecure and decided that it was no longer important. We all have the opportunity to interpret this piece differently. I’ve heard many different possible meanings for this particular work, feel free to comment your ideas!

The poem has a clear path set in the beginning where we are told about a question that will eventually be asked (so we think). Prufrock seems to go through these ideas in his mind as he decides if her will intimately ask this question. He asks himself his own set of questions, testing where he stands with himself and with feeling comfortable. He asks “Should I part my hair behind?” and mentions that he sees mermaids singing but they won’t sing to him. He goes back and forth in many point of this poem putting himself down where the mermaids don’t sing to him and explaining that he can’t say exactly what he means. He has a clear fear and hesitates to get his point across. At the end he writes:

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Prufrock mentions his death by drowning, the sinking into one’s own self-doubt. His question was never asked, he couldn’t stand another judgment. Drowning, being that of a slow and painful death, creates an image of Prufrock’s hesitation to explain himself and refuses to let himself out for all to see and judge. This poem may have been one on the struggle of opening yourself up to judgments, and yet, the answer to this poem is not clear. We are led to believe what we wish.

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” ~ T. S. Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,

And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —

(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)

Is it perfume from a dress

That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets

And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!

Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep … tired … or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it towards some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;

That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—

And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Sources:

Poem found: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/173476?gclid=CMrx9qTfwsgCFUKRHwod5wgDRQ

Cover Image: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/rebeccataborarmstrong/popular-interesting/

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” ~ Flannery O’Connor

I feel terrible that I have not posted in quite some time, hopefully this will make up for it.

Recently I reread one of my favorite narratives, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor. It’s been about six years since I’ve encountered this literary work and it surprised me how differently I interpreted it.

For anyone who is new to this short story here is a link to where you can view it.

In short, this work shows a family that includes a mother, father, their new-born baby, two excited, bratty, adventure seeking kids, and a grandmother on their way to Florida where the infamous Misfit is said to be located. The Misfit is a man gone wrong who kills people whom he encounters, however, the kids don’t let his presence faze them and pushed the family to go about their journey.

O’Connor writes as the omniscient narrator as she gives us a look into the grandmothers ideas and actions. On their way to Florida the family reluctantly decides to make a pit stop on a bumpy dirt road where the grandmother remembers a house with a secret panel. After the kids, June Star and John Wesley, just about give their father Bailey an ear full, he steers the car in the direction of the mysterious house despite his plan to stick to a tight schedule.

While being miles along this road the grandmother suddenly realized that she was mistaken; the house she remembers is in Tennessee. Her face turns cherry red and her feet jump up, frightening her cat that lands on Bailey Boys shoulder which inevitable causes the father to lose control of the vehicle. The car jerks sideways ejecting the mother and her newborn baby while June Star and John Wesley are smacked into the floor and the grandmother is thrown into the front seat of the car as it took a tumble.

The entire family survives, to the kids disappointment, and while awaiting for help, a vehicle pulls up carrying three men. The family explains their situation when the grandmother studies the face of one of the men who turns out to be the Misfit.

In this moment we notice the grandmother, a self-proclaimed christian woman, to fall deeply into her faith. As the Misfit orders his companions take Bailey away from the rest of the family, the grandmother begins to frantically speak to the Misfit, trying to pull him towards the light in attempt for the family to be let go safely. Within a few moments there’s a gunshot. The Misfit begins to pull the rest of the family, first the mother and new-born, then the two kids.

The Grandmother is last. She faces the Misfit with hopes to show him the ways of God. What she learns is that this man used to be a gospel singer and was once in the military. At one point this Misfit was a virtuous man, raised by great people, and with a cleansed soul.

The Grandmother then mentions something to the Misfit, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (O’Connor). It could be that the woman suddenly realized that this man was in fact one of her own, or maybe she became a symbol of Christ where everyone is one of her children.

Out of fear the Misfit shot her three times in the chest. O’Connor creates an image of the grandmother lying on the floor with her legs crossed in innocence with a smile on her face while facing up towards the sky, giving the idea that she has found God and is at peace.

In the last few lines of the story the Misfit says: “She would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O,Connor). The grandmother was a woman with a great amount of criticism. In the beginning of the work she criticised the mother and father for their poor parenting of the two rascal kids. The grandmother shares a few dehumanizing words about African-Americans and sees them as more of an object instead of a fellow human. She was many things that was not in the qualities of a “good Christian woman.”

The Misfits response to this shows that even the most religious of people can be the most critical. The Misfit was a murderer, however, he had many qualities of a “good man.” The grandmother had qualities of a “good woman” but saw herself as greater than others. The title of this narrative, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is perfect for this work. Is there a direct representation of a “good person?” Or is everyone, despite their best interests, a bad person?

Source:

Cover Image: http://www.foundmyself.com/Rustic%20Images/art/old-fredericksburg-country-church/23412