Monday, February 28, 2011

Her Egg-o is Prego

13. Why did the author include the element of Ruth's pregnancy? What did it add to the story?

I think that the author added the element of Ruth's pregnancy to further illuminate the struggles of the Younger family. It also added to the characterization of Ruth and Walter and how they communicated as a couple. When analyzing Ruth and Walter's relationship, I would definitely classify it as one that has grown strained over time. They sort of reminded me of an old married couple that had lost their magic and did nothing but fight all the time. Almost immediately, it became clear that Ruth was what could be described as a "nagging" wife while Walter was a self-absorbed husband that had neglected to show her affection for a long time. Later in the story, when Mama gives him money to pursue his dreams, he begins acting completely different and even takes Ruth on a date. Her reaction and pure joy over the fact that he takes her to the movies and holds her hand is almost disheartening. It becomes clear to the audience that he hasn't treated her properly for some time. For me, this outlined his conceited personality even further because it took someone else to put his dreams into action before he could think about making anyone else happy.

Walter, don't be shellfish. Share your coconut shrimp.

11. Who is responsible for Walter's situation? Explain why.

Walter is by far the most selfish and disliked character in this play. He is incredibly self-centered, and as the play advances he becomes more absorbed in himself and his dreams than anyone else. Therefore, the only person I can consider remotely responsible for his situation is himself. It is completely and utterly his fault that he loses their inheritance, and I'm glad that he has to suffer the consequences of his actions and live with the guilt of letting down his family. Perhaps he'll change his attitude after that. Walter blatantly disregards Mama's request that he put money aside for Bennie's education, and another part in the bank. Instead, he decides to invest all of it in his own dream and puts it towards the liquor store. This plan backfires when the person he entrusts the money to runs away and steals it. In one selfish act, he allows the rest of his family members' dreams to go down the drain.

The American Dream

2. Are the characters in A Raisin in the Sun stereotypes? If so, explain the usefulness of employing stereotypes in the story. If they are not, explain how they merit individuality.

In my opinion, the characters in A Raisin in the Sun are definitely stereotypical roles. Each character possesses different qualities and a strikingly different dream for their life. For example, Walter fantasizes of becoming a successful businessman and owning a liquor store. Ruth and Mama only want a better life for their family and dream of owning a beautiful home - especially for Travis. Bennie, an eccentric young woman, has hopes of finishing medical school and becoming a doctor. As an African American female, she is one of the characters who will struggle the most in attaining her goal. What is so universal about this play is that each individual wants what so many people want today: a happy family, a beautiful home, an education, or a successful career. They each have a different idea of the American dream and that's what makes these characters come to life. Because these concepts are so realistic, it makes it easier for the audience to connect with the Younger family's hopes and dreams for their life ahead.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

my thoughts

I actually thoroughly enjoyed "The Glass Menagerie". Because its setup was so unusual, I found it refreshing and interesting. At this point in my life, I've read so many plays and literary excerpts that many of them begin to sound the same and have similar plots and similar characters. But this one went in an entirely different direction. The characters were still easy to relate to regardless of their dysfunctional relationships, and I found it interesting how Tom directly addressed the audience. Since I like to know all the extra details going on in a story, I normally like prose better than drama because it's more informative. In this case, that was not true due to the extensive stage directions. While some people may have found those irritating to read, I liked them because it gave me a much better feeling of the play overall. The one thing I'd still like to know is just how much Tom's real life influenced this play. In the introduction, it said that it was modeled after his real life except that it differed from most of its key events. It sort of confused me but I could easily see why his mother, father, and sister would all deny being like any of the characters in this story. I mean, after all, they aren't exactly ideal fairytale characters. So I'd like to know how exactly they influenced his writing regardless.

Time flies when you're having fun... or acting...

What amount of time is covered in the action? How much of the action is presented as a report rather than dramatized on stage? Is there a meaning behind the selection of events to be dramatized and those to be reported?

"The Glass Menagerie" is a play which is difficult to gauge time-wise. After reading the entire thing, it seemed to span a wide time period but gave no reference of time passing through its context. While it initially appeared to only span a few days, that wouldn't make sense for a few key reasons. One of these reasons is centered around the event of Tom inviting Jim over for dinner. When he finally does and informs Amanda of it, he asks her if she remembers when she told him to try and find a suitor for Laura. Because he uses the word remember, it implies that some time has passed which may have caused her to forget. If the conversation had only happened the day before, there would have been no need to ask her for her recollection. Part of this is probably due to the fact that he is telling the play from his memory. Most of the action is actually dramatized on stage in "The Glass Menagerie"; however, I think it would be really interesting to watch the play without its stage directions. Since the directions are so extensive, I almost think that an aspect of the play would be lost without them. Also, a unique characteristic of this play is how Tom serves both as the narrator and a character inside the plot. It brings an unusual aspect to the audience how he addresses them directly and then immediately jumps back into the scenes from time to time.

Tommy boy

Identify the protagonist. Are there any foil characters?

The protagonist of this story is Tom, which he notifies the audience of immediately when he says that he is "the narrator and a character in the play". Tom is a character who seems to be unhappy with where he is in life and craves the chance to pursue adventure. Because of this reason, he goes to the movies every night and watches them for their adventures. He speaks of how he is like is his father and dreams of leaving his family to live his life freely. As for foil characters, I don't think that Amanda and Laura can be considered ones. Through their interactions, they don't really represent characters who bring out opposite qualities in one another, but more accurately represent a complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. Amanda wants what's best for her children, but has an odd way of showing it. Despite moments of nurturing, like when she encourages Tom to put cream in his coffee, she is slightly crazy and has an odd way of taking care of her children. Her obsession with finding Laura a suitor, for instance, would be an example of this. Laura is a girl who lacks confidence and is incredibly shy. She is crippled and has a glass collection of animals that she plays with on a daily basis. It is evident that she somewhat fears her mother and tries with difficulty to please her. It almost makes the audience pity her and how she feels the need to pretend to be something she's not for Amanda's approval. An example of this would be when she gets dismissed from business school and is too frightened to tell her mother so she leaves the house and merely pretends to go there everyday. Instead, she is walking around the city for 8 hours a day before returning home to maintain the facade that she is going there.