The End

When I started this blog 16 weeks ago I was dreading all the work I had to do. But as these weeks have flown by the work has become less and less of the chore it once was. I am thankfulScreen Shot 2017-04-18 at 9.57.52 AM.pngl for this blog and the posts I’ve written. This blog forced me to jump back into reading. The books I read were all ones i had previously read in my high school years. This revisitation of familiar themes and ideas with a different view point gave me a new outlook on some of these books that I dismissed in high school. During high school I used sparknotes and summaries more than actually reading for a test or a quiz; and it worked. However, I always felt that I was cheating myself out of these great works and this blog has given me the chance to revisit them.

However, all good things must end and this will be my final post on this blog.  I have learned a lot about myself and what kind of stories I am drawn towards. I, for some reason, went back to multiple stories about dystopia, outcasts, and betrayal of love. What I find even more strange is why would my high school force these on us? These aren’t stories that make you become more self confident or form hopeful ideas of the future. I have learned that the reason for this was to prepare us properly for our future of independence and the fear of failure and insecurity that come along with it. And for this, I am very grateful.

I never was a fan of reading, I was always being forced to do so and it just annoyed me and created distain for the action. Now, I’ve found the will to read again and it is all thanks to this blog.

THE END

Fahrenheit 451 review

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Pages: 158

I remember reading this book in high school, I believe it was Sophomore year, originally with contempt. I wasn’t a fan of reading and when I heard this story was about a dystopian future, I was so annoyed (this being the third or fourth book having that). However, as I began to give in to Bradbury’s words I became very intrigued and entertained with the novel. That was 3 years ago so the story was fading in my head, I forgot nearly all the main characters and was mixing plot points with 1984. So I picked this up last time I was browsing the American Literature section of the library and dove back in. As I reread and remembered my intrigue began to rise page by page.

This novel is about “the fireman” Guy Montage and his life in a future where free thought has been criminalized. The enforcers of this law are the Firemen, who are men who drive around arresting people and burning their contraband that promotes free thoughts (books mostly).  The plot is propelled into motion when Montage begins to have small walks with his teenage neighbor Clarisse McClellan. Clarisse and Guy talk while he is on his way home. Clarisse is a very free spirited person, which is the type of behavior Guy works to eradicate. However, Guy doesn’t turn in Clarisse, he walks with her and listens to her ideas. Once Guy walks with Clarisse enough, he begins to question himself and his life. This leads to Guy, next time he’s out at a house he is ordered to burn, taking a book and hiding it under his pillow at night.

“It was a pleasure to burn”. – Bradbury

This story reminds me a lot of 1984. Which is expected when dealing with dystopian future. However, I believe this story deals more with the concept of free thought whereas 1984 dealt with the concept of emotional expression.  This book is a story about a man exploring himself and analyzing his life. If you enjoy books where the character thinks and in turn causes you to think then this is the perfect book for you. I also recommend this to fans of Bradbury’s other works. 

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This week I have began reading the book, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I’m about 35 pageImage result for Fahrenheit 451s into the full 158 page book. . Which is a novel from the 1950’s about a dystopian future where free thought, emotion, and most importantly books are illegal. The main character, Guy Montage, works as a man who finds and burns the illegal books. These workers are called “firemen”, which is an ironic name because they are the ones that start the fires by burning the books they find. The title of the book refers to this burning of the books, 451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper burns. Guy Montage lives with his wife Mildred in a home with walls that are also televisions which are interactive, meaning they can see or hear what you’re doing 24/7 . His wife is completely enthralled in the tv programs that play daily. Montage, however, doesn’t watch them, and finds them boring and annoying. Mildred is the average person in this dystopian world, while Montage is quite the opposite. He is conflicted, he thinks for himself and is reluctant when burning his books, and even keeps one. This story is a very classic idea of what we think of when we hear the word “dystopian”.

These dystopian stories came around most predominantly in the late 1940’s through the 1950’s. This is of course due to the horrors of WWII and the holocaust. This story draws inspiration from this period of time very heavily in it’s social structure and laws. The act of book burning was an extremely common practice amongst the Nazi party. This loss of free thought from the German people lead them to blindly follow or die from attempted contradiction.

“Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.”

This quote, I believe, perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of this world in the book. Everything Montage comes in contact with is falling apart or burning away. The only way to deal with it, for him, is to stand back separate himself.

 

Of Mice and Men” Review

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“Of Mice and Men” is a novel by one of America’s most famous and influential authors, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck often wrote about lower to middle class people in his works such as one of his most popular works,”Grapes of Wrath”. In “Of Mice and Men” this is no different. This story centers around two men, George and Lenny, who are migrant workers looking for their next job, their end goal (which is brought up a lot) is for the two men to have their own farm where Lenny tends to the rabbits, because of his love for soft things. George is like a brother to Lenny, keeping him out of trouble and making sure he doesn’t cause any. Lenny, is a large, strong man who is unintelligent and child like. Lenny, doesn’t know his own strength and has accidentally smothered animals while petting them. The two arrive at their new job as ranch hands. While working there, they meet the fellow workers which include Slim, Crooks, Carlson, Candy, and the boss’s son Curley. The two men seem to get along with these characters except for one, Curley. Curley, is a small man who becomes very jealous whenever someone even looks at his wife, which Lenny does. Despite the size difference, Curley attempts to pick a fight with Lenny, this altercation results in Lenny breaking Curley’s hand and causing Curley to hate the two strangers. *SPOILERS* The story goes on and not many major events occur until the incident with Lenny and Curley’s wife. Curley’s wife is a very beautiful woman who beings to talk to Lenny in the barn about her life and regrets. Since the incident with Curley earlier, George tells Lenny not to talk to Curley’s wife. Lenny attempts to do so but she pushes him to speak to her. Before she had arrived, Lenny was petting a puppy which he smothers from hugging and petting too much and too roughly. Lenny shows the concealed puppy to the wife in which she makes him feel better by telling him the insignificance of the breed. Lenny explains that he loves petting soft things, which is something the wife has in common with him. She tells Lenny to feel her hair, which is very soft. As he does this, he pets to hard, causing her to start yelling at him to let go, the yelling frightens Lenny causing him to hold onto her tighter and cover her mouth to stop the yelling. In doing this Lenny kills the wife. Once one of the stagehands find the body in the barn, Lenny and George are forced to flee the ranch. The two end up at a small river bank where Lenny is sitting on the grass and George is standing directly behind him. Lenny asks George to tell him about their dream land. While George does this, he pulls out a pistol he had taken from another ranch hand and shoots Lenny in the back of the head. The others hear the shot and arrive shortly after where George denies the murder and goes of with Slim to grab a drink. *END SPOILERS*

I remember reading this story as a kid in probably fifth grade and not really seeing it as a deep or emotional story. The main thing that caused me to return to this work was when I watched the 1992 film adaptation with John Malkovich and Gary Sinise as Lenny and George. I included the trailer so you could get a basic feel of the story. The story hit me on a completely different level especially the final scene ( LINK CONTAINS SPOILERS). The story is about friendship, brotherhood, and decision. Lenny and George are trying to make it out of the menial labor they are forced to perform and live out comfortable lives. All Lenny wants in his life is to have a farm with George and tend to the rabbits.

“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s
why.”

This quote sums up the relationship of the two men in this works which makes the ending even more hard hitting. I’m very glad I revisited this work because my childish mind couldn’t comprehend and understand what this story was truly about. I recommend this book to whoever enjoys Steinbeck’s works, sad books, and very loving stories.

“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck 186 pages.

1984 Book Review

georgeorwellxobeygiantprintset-1984coverbyshepardfaireyThe story of 1984 is a very dark and depressing look at the future. The main character, Winston, is a man that works for the Ministry of Truth, a government branch that alters the news to fit to their agenda. Winston lives in a futuristic England named Oceania in a small room above a man named Mr. Charrington’s store. The government is headed by The Party and controlled by the Thought Police. Their symbol is Big Brother. Big Brother is a scorn looking man with dark hair and a thick mustache who’s posted on the walls of buildings. Probably the most memorable or popular quote of the book is:

“Big Brother is watching you”(Orwell 1).

This quote goes along with the picture of Big Brother giving him an even more dominant and omnipotent tone. This man is a symbol for the Party. The Party is the main government and their agenda is enforced by the Thought Police. The Thought Police is a group that controls and monitors citizen’s thoughts and feelings. Things illegal in the Thought Police’s eyes are: intellectual individuality, free thought, and sex.  *SPOILERS* The story begins with Winston writing about a fellow Ministry worker named O’Brien in a journal he bought (illegal). Winston believes he is a secret member of the Brotherhood, an underground rebellion group. While at work he notices a female coworker that he believes to be following him and worries she will turn him into the Thought Police for his crimes he has admitted to in his journal. However, he is mistaken. The woman gives Winston a note at work that reads, ” I love you”. And this is where the story really begins. The woman, Julia, and Winston begin a secretive love affair that goes on for some time. Their love for each other grows as their hatred for the Party does the same. While this relationship is going Winston receives a message from a long awaited O’Brien. He directs him and Julia to meet him. They arrive at O’Brien’s apartment where he tells the couple of his hatred of the party and his involvement with the Brotherhood. Once Julia and Winston agrees with him he initiates them into the Brotherhood, giving Winston a book by the leader of the Brotherhood, Emmanuel Goldstein. Winston and Julia return to his room above the store where he reads the book to her. After reading for a minute or two, the Thought Police rush through Winston’s door, lead by an unknown informant, Mr.Charrington, who had been letting Winston use the room above his store. They couple is separated and each taken to The Ministry of Love. At the ministry, Winston, is tortured. The beginning of his torture began when a man came into the room, O’Brien, another secret member of the Thought Police. The brainwashing and torture sessions go on for months with Winston, these come to a climax when O’Brien exploits Winston’s worst fear, rats. He places Winston’s head in a cage of rats. Once the process begins, Winston is overwhelmed with fear and eventually gives up the woman he loved, Julia. This is exactly what the Party wanted and they release him out into the world. The love he once had for Julia is now felt towards Big Brother and the Party.*END SPOILERS*

I greatly enjoyed this book with it’s incredibly descriptive and dark writing. The author, George Orwell, is known for this style of work. He engaged in this form of dystopian writing so much that stories resembling his are referred to as “Orwellian”. This form of storytelling that Orwell displays in this story is a very pessimistic one of the future. Orwell wrote this book in the 1940’s, a time where the future of England didn’t seem so bright. *SPOILERS* The story starts where it finishes, it is a closed loop storyline. Winston starts at the same place he ends, in a hopeless, thoughtless life. He is a a broken man with no love in his heart.*END SPOILERS* All in all I would highly recommend this book if you are a fan of politics, dystopian futures, or Orwell’s other works.

It’s Tuesday

After finishing “the Sun Also Rises ” I decided to pick up another book from a familiar author. This was “1984” by George Orwell. I remember this was an assigned book to read in my Senior English 4 class. Despite this being the case, I never really read it. I was more of a sparknotes type of guy back then and I have to say it worked out ( I ended with an A in the class). However I felt somewhat guilty that I never did actually read the book. So I decided to revisit it. So far I’m a few chapters in and the events all come back to me as they’re happening. I remembered it being a dark, distopian future ruled by a force called Big Brother and enforced by the Thought Police. My memory was correct and the more I read the more the story returns to my memory. It is interesting to go back and see things I didn’t remember or small details that weren’t present in the summaries I read. I’m really looking forward to finishing this book off and hopefully when I finish I will have a different interpretation or perspective on the story.

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In other news, I returned home this weekend to Tampa for Gasparilla. For those of you who aren’t aware, Gasparilla is one of the largest parades in the country ( I believe it’s right behind the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, Mardi Gras, and the St. Patrick’s day parade in Boston). It’s a crazy time to say the least. It’s a day of beads, pirates, and public intoxication. If you’re from Tampa it’s most likely your favorite holiday of the year ( at least if your a high school/ college aged kid). It was great to be back in Tampa. I saw kids I haven’t seen in months and some in years. The day of fun didn’t come without a cost however. At some point during the day I lost both my sunglasses and car keys. Thank god I had a spare set in my car. But honestly that small price was definitely worth it. I wouldn’t trade that parade for anything.

“The Sun Also Rises” Review

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*This Summary may contain spoilers

“The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway is a story  of love and loss that centers around the main character Jake Barnes, who is the narrator throughout the story. The story begins with Jake Barnes describing his friend Robert Cohn, describing his achievements in boxing and his time at Yale. The two go out to a bar where they run into an old love interest of Jake, Brett Ashley, who he met during World War I when she was a nurse that helped him treat his wounds. Jake and Brett talk and it is hinted that the wounds that Jake suffered in the war left him impotent, which is the reason Brett left him. Brett’s introduction then leads to a long line of her sneaking around with men, traveling across Spain and France, and causing men to fight for her. Nearly every man in this story want to or have been romantically involved with Brett. After all this running around Brett finally ends up with her fiance, Mike Campbell, who she had been cheating on throughout the entire story.

The final line of the book is said by Jake while he is taking Brett home from Madrid in response to Brett’s thought that her and Jake would’ve had a great life together; to which Jake responds,

” Yes, Isn’t it pretty to think so?” (Hemingway 247).

This line is the most famous in the book and I believe it completely encapsulates the whole idea of this story.  This story is about chasing after something that is constantly out of reach, it’s about regret and loss of love and the extent a man will go to for the woman he loves. The book is prefaced by a quote from Gertrude Stein, ” You are all truly a lost generation”, this quote also fits this story perfectly. None of the characters have their lives in order and are just wandering around foreign countries with no real goal.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book. I have always been a fan of Hemingway’s work, my favorite book is “the Old Man and the Sea”, and this just further solidified my love for his storytelling. If you have read Hemingway before you will notice a lot of his trademarks like his use of the simple sentence, or his way of describing a menial task in great detail. I highly recommend this book for Hemingway fans or fans of stories like ” the Great Gatsby” or any other post-WWI love stories. Even though I did really enjoy this book  I wouldn’t say it is my favorite by Hemingway and there seems to be a few times where the story or dialogue drags. That being said, I believe this book is definitely worth a read.

“the Sun Also Rises” Ernest Hemingway  247 pages