Friday, December 28, 2007

The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter by Li Po (Translation by Ezra Pound)

"The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter"

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fo-Sa.

Lines 1-6
This opening stanza of 6 lines is organized around a central image of the river-merchant and his wife as a child, confirmed by the first component of the central image: the picture of a little girl with her hair cut in bangs. (The mark of an adult woman in the ancient Chinese culture was elaborate arrangements of uncut long hair.)Each line contributes to a clearer understanding of the central image of the children. The repetition in three separate lines of the verb "playing" to describe the little girl's activity at the front gate, as well as the little boy's presence on stilts and his circling around where she sits, emphasizes the natural, contented activity of children — almost as a part of the natural world referred to here by "flowers" and "blue plums." This stanza establishes the presence of the "I" and the "you" in the world of the poem.

Lines 7-10
The second stanza places the girl and the boy, the "I" and the "you," as a woman and man in the adult world. In ancient cultures, and in some cultures today, early marriages are customary, and it is often also the custom for the wife to refer to her husband by a respectful title. In the case of this poem the formality of the title is softened by the direct address of "you" added right after it.

Lines 8-9
establish the child-wife's shyness in this formal adult situation by offering a picture of her bent head and averted eyes, a shyness so extreme that she could not respond to her husband, no matter how many efforts he made.

Lines 11-14
The central image of this stanza is the growth of love between the young husband and wife. Her face, which in the first stanza has the bangs of childhood across her forehead, in the second stanza is averted and unsmiling, "stops scowling" in the third stanza. The vows of the marriage ceremony, "till death us do part," are evoked in lines 12 and 13 and poignantly reinforced by the triple repetition in line 13 of "forever." It is unclear whether "climb the lookout" in line 14 is a reference to a ritual performed in this culture by a wife after death, perhaps to look for other offers to marry that might come her way. If it is, it means that the wife as a widow does not want to do this. In any case, it is clear that there is nothing she wishes for after the death of her husband, so deep is her love for him now.

Lines 15-18
An image of separation is developed in these lines as the husband takes on his role as a river-merchant and travels the waters, conducting his work in the world on a distant island. The wife's statement of the length of his absence is expressed in one line, giving it full and emphatic force. And in line 18 the effect of this long absence is brought to full comprehension by the use of the natural image of the sounds of the monkeys that reflect back to her the sound of her own sorrow. The sounds that monkeys make are generally interpreted as chirping, happy sounds, but the weight of the wife's sorrow is so great that she can only hear the monkeys' noise as "sorrowful."

Lines 19-21
The first three lines of this final 11-line stanza are centered on the image of the river-merchant's absence. Line 19 indicates that he was as averse to this separation as she was. In line 20 the phrase "by the gate" (perhaps the same gate they played about as children), indicates that she has returned to this gate and in her memory sees him reluctantly leaving again. For her it is the scene of the beginning of his absence. And evidently she knows this scene well: not only is there moss growing there, but she is aware that there are different kinds of mosses, which she has not cleared away since his departure. They are now too deep to clear away.

Lines 22-25
In line 22 the sadness of the river-merchant's wife is again reflected back to her by the natural world, by the falling leaves and wind of autumn. This image becomes more defined with her observation of the butterflies in the garden, for they are "paired" as she is not, and they are becoming "yellow" changing with the season, growing older together. The butterflies "hurt" her because they emphasize the pain of her realization that she is growing older, but alone, not with her husband.

Lines 26-29
In these closing lines of the poem and the "letter" the river-merchant's wife reaches out from her lonely world of sorrow to her husband in a direct request: Please let me know when and by what route you are returning, so that I may come to meet you. This, however, conveys more than it would at first appear. Her village is a suburb of Nanking and she is willing to walk to a beach several hundred miles upstream from there to meet her husband, so deeply does she yearn to close the distance between them.

Source: Exploring Poetry, Gale. © Gale Group Inc. 2001.

Telling Lives: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in NO NAME WOMAN by MAXINE HONG KINGSTON

No Name Woman” is the first section of Maxine Hong Kingston’s earliest book, the acclaimed The Woman Warrior.

Analyze “No Name Woman” in terms of its genre. Make three lists demonstrating the ways “No Name Woman” can be characterized as 1) a memoir, 2) an essay, and 3) a short story (fiction).

These questions encourage you to relate your own life to the story that Kingston tells us in “No Name Woman.”

1. This cautionary tale is meant to persuade Kingston to conform to her parents’ values. What is the argument behind the narrative the mother tells? Does it make sense to you? What might be a contemporary argument in a middle-class American family?

2. Were you ever put at an “outcast table” or anything comparable in your house or school? Did you ever hear of such a ritual? What did happen when you were punished? What kinds of things were you punished for? Why do you think these specific things were chosen?

3. Our syllabus directs us to take this selection following the theme of gender and sexuality (Telling Lives: Exploring Gender and Sexuality), how is this a tale about gender inequality? How does Kingston suggest this? How are relations between men and women portrayed here?

4. Kingston talks a good deal about spirits and ghosts. How do they function in this essay? Which parts of this piece seem true to you? Which seem fictional? Why does she blend these elements together?

5. Sexual mores change over time and from country to country. What specifically about the aunt’s context made her transgression so severe? How would her “crime” be viewed in contemporary America? Why? What do you think an ideal response would be?

Thanks to Dr. Kelli Olson and Mary Clare DiGiacomono at Piedmont Virginia Community College for the guide questions

The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" is a short story about the body of a dead man that washed ashore in a town that desperately needed something to believe in. Through the literary effect of magical realism, the drowned man comes to symbolize all the beauty of life.
The children first saw the body that washed upon the shore. When they initially spotted it, the children thought it was an enemy ship or a whale, but when they removed the seaweed and other ocean debris that had become attached during its journey, there was no mistaking the fact that the large object was indeed a human body.

The children played with the body all afternoon and were stopped only when a passing adult happened to see them. Word that there was a body on the beach spread quickly throughout the village and, before long, the dead man was taken to the nearest house. The men who moved the man noticed that he was heavier than any body they had carried before, which caused them to assume that he had been floating in the sea for a long time. Because he was very tall, the villagers wondered if some people had the ability to continue growing even in death.

The village was quite small, about twenty houses in all. Because of this, all the residents knew each other and it did not take long for the residents to know that the dead man was not one of their own. The village was situated on a small cape with little land and no flowers. Because there was little spare land, villagers that died were buried at sea.

When night came, the men did not go out to work at sea as they normally did. Instead, they went to the neighboring villages to see if there was anyone missing. Meanwhile, the women of the village remained behind to clean the drowned man's body. As they removed the vegetation that had attached to him during his journey, they noticed that the plants and grasses were from faraway oceans. They also noticed that not only did he have a peaceful look on his face, but also that he was quite possibly the strongest and best built man they had ever seen.

Because the man was so big, the villagers had trouble finding a suitable manner in which to hold his wake. There was no bed big enough in the entire village, nor were there clothes that would fit him. As a result, the women decided to make him clothes from a piece of sail and some bridal linen. As they sewed his clothes, each woman wondered in silence what it would have been like to have the man live among them; they supposed his home would have been the biggest in the village and that his wife would have been the happiest woman in the entire village. They also imagined that he would have had the ability to draw water from the barren ground and that their village would be adorned with flowers. As the woman imagined all the great deeds this dead man could have accomplished, they dismissed their own husbands as weak, incapable men.

The women's thoughts were eventually interrupted by the oldest among them who pronounced that the man should be called "Esteban." While most of the women agreed with this decision, there were some who imagined him to be "Lautaro;" nonetheless, they conceded to the old woman's wishes and began to refer to the dead man as "Esteban."

After the women were finished dressing the man, they began to dread the thought of dragging him along the ground when the time came to give him his at-sea burial. As they contemplated this, they began to imagine how the man's size must have affected his life: having to duck his head through doorways, and always opting to stand during visits rather than risk breaking a chair. They imagined how people must have pitied him for his size.

The women's despair became even more pronounced when they covered the man's face with a handkerchief. With his face covered, there was no mistaking the fact that the man was dead and this brought many of the women to tears. Their tears turned to jubilation when the men of the village returned with the news that the drowned man was not known in any of the neighboring villages.

The men were puzzled by this reaction; for to them, the drowned man was just another thing to be dealt with. Anxious to dispose of him before the heat of the day bore down on them, the men began the task of constructing a device on which to carry the man to the cliff. They pondered whether they should tie a ship's anchor to him so that there would be no chance of his returning to their shore. Yet, as anxious as the men were to complete their task, the women found ways to delay the burial. They spent so much time decorating the drowned man's body with relics and other items that the men began to voice their impatience. In response to this, one of the women lifted the handkerchief from the dead man's face, an act that left the men as awestruck as the women by the drowned man's presence.

Now that they are united in their purpose, the men and women set out to hold the most spectacular funeral that the village had ever experienced. One woman went to a neighboring village for flowers and returned with another woman who had come to see the drowned man. This set off a steady stream of visitors and curiosity-seekers, all of whom came bearing flowers. Soon, there were so many flowers in the tiny village that it was difficult to walk.

Wanting to ensure that the drowned man had a family, the villagers selected a mother and father for him as well as aunts, uncles and cousins from among the village's remaining residents. When the time came to return the man to the sea, many fought for the privilege of carrying him to the cliff. As they walked with the drowned man through the village they became aware, perhaps for the first time, of how desolate and barren their streets really were.

Despite their earlier insistence that they would tie the heaviest anchor they could find to the drowned man, they reconsidered so that the man could come back whenever he wished. As they threw the drowned man back into the sea, they did so with the realization that he would forever be a part of them and that from this moment on, their village would no longer be complete. They also knew that Esteban's memory would forever remain with them. They would ensure this by painting their homes bright colors, digging for springs to irrigate their barren land so that they could adorn the village with more flowers than one could possibly imagine. They would do this all in the hope that, in years to come, their little village would become known as the place where Esteban lived.

The Management of Grief by Bharati Mukherjee

Some questions you need to answer:

What does the title "Management of Grief" mean?
How do the characters deal with their, or the others', grief?
How is Canadian government criticized?

I. Theory-- Stages of Grief Management in the story:

1. Rejection,
2. depression, (Depressed Acceptance)
3. Acceptance,
4. reconstruction

What is not considered? guilt/regret,
hope, prefers ignorance, or their own versions

mourning process: searching, waiting.

II. Characters:

The narrator (Mrs. Shaila Bhave)
Pam, escape, feeling neglected.
Kusum, accept fate.
Dr. Ranganathan, another kind of escape, while keeping the connection
the elderly couple leave it to their god; insist on their own way and believe themselves "strong."

III. The Moments: -- mourning -- release

IV. The Canadian government -- evasive, indifferent
Irish giving flowers and showing sympathy <--> not blaming on the whole group of people
because of some individuals
Judith Templeton--considers them ignorant, a mess.

On June 23, 1985, an Air India Boeing 747 left Toronto for London Heathrow, the first stop on its scheduled journey to Bombay. As the plane prepared to descend into London, it was destroyed by an on board bomb, sending the craft on a fiery path into the Irish Sea. All 329 passengers, ninety percent of whom were Canadians of Indian ancestry, were killed. From the outset, Sikh extremists were thought to be the perpetrators of the worst terrorist event in the years prior to the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

"Management of Grief" begins in the aftermath of that horrible day in June 1985. The narrative voice, and in many respects the conscience of the story, is Shaila Bhave, a Hindu Canadian who knows that both her husband Vikram and her two sons were on the plane when it was lost. In the opening two pages, images of death and horror are the backdrop to the haphazard but well intentioned attempts by the Indian community of Toronto to help the families of the victims. Various neighbors, the president of the Indo-Canadian Society and children move in and out of the scene, which is driven forward by the observations by Shaila as to the confusion about the cause of the crash, and her own fanciful but maternal hopes that her family remain alive.

The opening pages of "Management of Grief" also set out the immersion of traditional Indian values and social mores into secular Canadian society-- the agony over the loss, the strangers in her kitchen making tea "the Indian way", the coming of a reporter to conduct an interview about the disaster, Shaila's desire to scream in the midst of the confusion, and her recall as to how they had initially come to Ontario-- all woven together, where the reader can imagine the riot of emotion that day.

The first segment of the story concludes with Shaila and her neighbor, Kusum, sitting together holding hands while the other well-intentioned members of their community move about them. Kusum has also lost her husband and a daughter who were on the Air India flight. Shaila tells us of the depth of Kusum's grief, a confrontation between Kusum's elder daughter Pam and Kusum as Shaila sits with her on the stairs, a challenge from the teenager that her mother was really wondering , "why not her?" Pam is a westernized teenager, who by example declares that she will take the Canada's "Wonderland" amusement park and the North American image it projects over Bombay. Her challenge goes unanswered by Kusum - she gives voice to the feeling of most of humanity when they suffer a personal loss - " 'Why does God give us so much if all along he intended to take it away?"

The second segment commences with Shaila meeting with a representative of the provincial government, an earnest and well intentioned young social worker named Judith Templeton. Templeton has contacted Shaila in the hope that Shaila can help her reach out to members of the Indian community whose family were killed in the Air India crash, but who are more isolated from the Ontario mainstream, through the barriers of language and Indian culture, than people like Shaila. Templeton tells Shaila that she has sought Shaila out because it is the opinion of the Toronto Indian community that Shaila is a very strong, resolute person in the face her family tragedy. Shaila outwardly is polite and obliging to Templeton, observing all of the social niceties, but to Templeton's suggestion that she is a stalwart.

Shaila concludes her meeting with Templeton offering to meet with her again, conflicted between the "terrible calm" she feels and how others have perceived her in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The third segment of "Management of Grief" continues four days later, on the coast of Ireland, overlooking the place where the Air India jet crashed in to the Irish Sea. Shaila has come to this place, joining Kusum and other mourners, to grieve and to identify the bodies of victims as they are recovered.

In this segment, Shaila recounts the contrasts between the hard facts of the ongoing police investigation - the cause and the fact that death would have been instantaneous, with the fanciful, abstracted words of Kusum as she sits on the edge of the sea, looking across the water. Shaila seeks relief from Valium; Kusum has consulted with a swami in Toronto, who has told her that all of the victims, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Parsi and atheists - all were fated to die together here in the Irish Sea..."They are in a better place than we swami says that depression is a sign of our selfishness"

Shaila, half fanciful, tells us that they pretend to spot their loved ones on the waves at sea from their vantage point on the cliff. At one point, both Kusum and Shaila go into the water, hoping for a miracle, that perhaps there are survivors pinned under a rock close by, or that the swimming prowess of Shaila's sons might have resulted in a miraculous escape from the crash. Another mourner, an electrical engineer, joins them and asserts that he had not yet surrendered hope. Moments later, the engineer while talking about how a good, strong swimmer of 14 years of age might be able to rescue a younger child, he throws rose petals on the surface of the sea, the ancient Indian symbol to honor death.

Shaila returns to the hospital where the bodies of the crash victims are being taken for identification. It is the intention of those who can identify a loved one that the body will be transported to India for a proper burial ceremony. Shaila is asked to identify photographs of a boy recovered from the water - she cannot. Shaila says that it is only the "unlucky ones" who leave without their children's bodies. She travels to India with Kusum, to assist her with her own efforts to honor and bury her dead family members.

Shaila describes her return to India. On arrival, with Kusum, who had the carriage of the coffins of her husband and daughter, Shaila engages in a bitter row with a customs official - "Once upon a time we were well brought up women; we were dutiful wives who kept our heads veiled, our voices shy and sweet" - a contrast to the horror of the Air India crash and the stark sense of loss described in Ireland.

In India for three months after the disaster, Shaila then sets out some thing of a reversion from her Canadian life - she returns to the role of the only child in a family of wealthy, ailing parents. Shaila describes herself in this life of conflict between her Indian roots and her newer Canadian reality, as "I am trapped between two modes of knowledge. At thirty six, I am too old to start over and too young to give up. Like my husband's spirit, I flutter between worlds." Shaila describes the imperatives of custom felt by some of the men widowed by the Air India crash, the pressure to immediately re marry, and her own comparative luck in that no one will be seeking her, an unlucky widow, as a new bride.

Six months after the crash, Shaila describes how she saw her husband while making an offering at a temple to animist gods. Her husband is wearing the clothing he wore prior to the flight, and he tells Shaila, "You must finish alone what we started together." Shaila resolves to return to Canada.

In the next segment, Shaila describes how the relatives and loved ones of the Air India crash victims maintain their own sense of connection and community. She speaks with some affection for the efforts of those left behind to persevere. She also details her further contacts with Judith Templeton, the social worker who continues to endeavor to assist members of the Toronto Indian community who either refuse to accept the loss of their family members, or who have no ability to operate effectively in a Canadian culture of legal requirements, bank documents and government forms.

Templeton tells Shaila that the government want nothing more that to help the family members "accept" loss - acceptance she defines by moving ahead, taking college courses and receiving support from various agencies in the community. Templeton asks for Shaila's help in reaching out to a particular couple whose sons were killed, but who have evidently refused to sign anything presented by the government for fear such an act truly means there is no hope for their son's lives.

Shaila agrees to assist Templeton, with her own undercurrent of misgivings - the couple are Sikh, as were the alleged bombers of the Flight 182. As they sit having tea in the small apartment, Shaila describes the contrast between the attitudes of Templeton, who is sincere in her desire to advance what she sees as the interest of people who have suffered a loss, and the Sikh couple, whose attitude to Templeton and her efforts is stated as "God will provide, not government. . . When our boys return. . . . I will not pretend that I accept (their deaths)."
Templeton is hopeful that Shaila will similarly assist her with other of her difficult cases in the Indian community. Shaila does not; she simply walks away from Templeton and the efforts of officialdom to reach out to these people.

The story concludes with Shaila's observation regarding the irony in her families initial arrival in Canada to avoid religious and political problems, and the fact that they in fact became victims of that precise issue. She describes her walk on a winter day in Toronto, when she heard voices of her family telling her that her time has come and that she must be brave. Shaila, uncertain as to her direction, heeds their advice.



Like I said, some selections that should have been taken up in our last few meetings should just be taken up in brief. Instead of scheduling a make up class due to the class disruptions brought about by extra curricular activities such as the HRM event (SCOR-4H5?), Outreach activities(1POL), parties, etc, we will just catch up online. It would now be our individual responsibilities to catch up (especially those classes affected.) I post the texts, my researches, old lectures and readings. You read, assimilate and understand and prepare for the major quiz and major exam for later :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Happy Holidays to everyone! Thought you might need some pointers on how to go about your critical/seminar papers due for submission next year. You are welcome to visit my LIT102 website for pointers ( Just click on the link and you will be redirected to the site. I have posted some pointers and guidelines in the site. Most of it, I actually just sourced from the internet too, so if you are following a format from another source (i.e. a book, or another internet site), please feel free to do so.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chabella Wedding Cake from Like Water For Chocolate by laura Esquivel

The novel “Like Water For Chocolate” deals with the shift from a traditional to a modern society & women’s liberation from the oppressive judgment of the society & the traditions that degrade them as well.

The novel falls under the genre magical realism. In magical realism, fantasy & other coexisting forces contradicting religion are infused into a story to uniquely illustrate a certain condition. Latin American writers commonly use this genre or writing style. Laura Esquivel perfectly & appropriately applied this writing style in her novel, which has received critical acclaim as it surfaced during the mid 90s.

Magical realism is a writing style in which fantasy and reality are combined to create a fantastic image or occurrence.

“Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor”

The quote describes an occurrence of childbirth. The author has combined the reality of childbirth with the fantasy of a baby being washed into the world on a large body of water. The deeper meaning of the quote is that Tita is born prematurely due to a sensitivity to onions which foreshadows the pain she will endure in life. An aesthetic image is created by contrasting the strong, sharp smell and taste of an onion instead of stating that Mama Elena will be cruel to Tita because she did not want her. While Mama Elena in her treatment of Tita could easily be compared to the step-mother in Cinderella, the author has used magical realism to show the cruelness in a unique way.

“That afternoon, when the uproar had subsided and the water had been dried up by the sun, Nacha swept up the residue the tears had left on the red stone floor. There was enough salt to fill a ten-pound sack—it was enough salt….long time”

Simile & Metaphor

A simile is a comparison between two basically dissimilar things. Similes use the words “as” or “like” to make a comparison. “A face like marbles.”

A metaphor is also a comparison but one that does not use the words “as” or “like.” “A heart of stone.” The implied or indirect comparison here is that the heart is as hard as a stone.

“How unfortunate that black holes in space had not yet been discovered, for then she might have understood the black hole in the center of her chest, infinite coldness flowing through it”

“Her hands were shaking and she was dripping sweat and her stomach was swooping like a kite on the wind”

lExplain how Tita’s relationship with Mama Elena is different from her relationship with Nacha.

lDescribe the elaborate banquet Tita prepared for Rosaura’s wedding.

How was Mama Elena able to obtain the French silk for Rosaura’s wedding sheet?

Who is the Chinaman? How was he able to become a millionaire during revolution?

What is your reaction to Mama Elena throwing such an elaborate wedding for Rosaura in the midst of the revolution? What conclusion can be made about Mama Elena?

What causes Nacha’s death?

How is Tita’s life similar to Nacha’s?

"Like Water for Chocolate" is a Mexican revolutionary-era "Heartburn," an overly rich fable on the mysterious link between sex and food. It aims to portray the onset of Mexican feminism in 1910, but it's really just another hearth-set Cinderella story, one that connects cooking to sorcery and servitude.

The tale focuses on Tita, a lovelorn cook who finds that the way to a man's heart is slightly south of his border. Tita, the youngest of the wealthy widow Mama Elena's three daughters, literally grew up in the kitchen "amidst the smell of chicken soup, thyme, bay laurel, steamed milk, garlic and, of course, onion." But, by family custom, Tita must forgo marriage to care for her mother till the day the wretched woman finally dies. Tita is consigned to the ranch's enormous kitchen, where she is expected to live out her days as a spinster.

But Tita is a scrumptious dish, a taco belle who has already won the heart of a handsome rancher, Pedro (gwapo ba?), whose request for Tita's hand is refused by Mama Elena. Instead Elena proposes he marry her eldest daughter, Rosaura , a selfish beanpole who dreams of a traditional life as mother and wife. "You can't just exchange tacos for enchiladas!" cries the middle daughter, Gertrudis, the spitfire of the bunch.

But Mama Elena is meaner than a tequila hangover, and Pedro, like his fairy tale forebears, is handsome but dumber than a half-baked adobe brick. To be near Tita, he agrees to the ill-fated marriage, which begins with a telling omen. When the guests at the wedding feast partake of the chabella cake prepared by Tita, they are overcome with tears and then nausea. Tita had wept into the batter, thereby flavoring it with her own sadness and barely suppressed desires.

Raised by the family's part-Indian cook, Nacha Tita learned not only the chemical but the alchemical reactions brought on by cooking. And these the film's narrator relates to the heroine's own heated state:

"Preparing the mole, Tita knew how contact with fire alters elements, how dough becomes a tortilla and that a breast untouched by love just isn't a breast but a useless ball of dough."

For all the metaphorical oven-stoking, the film isn't especially raunchy since most of Tita's specialties cause gastrointestinal distress. Her recipe for quail and rose petal sauce, however, made everyone felt the heat of her passions.

The sauce, which she squeezes from a bouquet given to her by Pedro, literally sends her sister Gertrudis into heat. In trying to cool down, she sets the bathhouse on fire. This draws the attention of a handsome revolutionary who happens to be passing by and lifts the naked woman onto his saddle and gallops off into the Mexican kabukiran.

The diverse characters in the novel “Like Water For Chocolate” have different significations in the society. Moreover, their characters can be appropriate in any race, culture or country that is also suffering from the strict dictates of tradition & society.

Tita is the protagonist & the central character of the novel. She signifies any ordinary woman in the society with her own principles & identity. However these women are subject to violence, not just by men but also by other women in the society, and to the traditions & other killing social norms. Given this kind of situation, she cannot assert her individuality, and thus, mislays her identity.

Since these women are subject to the harsh dictates of the society, and also traditions & other social norms, they repress their emotions. They are anxious on what the society might throw into them and they fear condemnation. However, in their own little ways, they try to fight oppression by simply objecting to it.

Mama Elena represents the traditions & the closed minded, harmful & violent society. She exudes the strong power & force that the society over its individuals through the reinforcement of social norms & standards, and the pressure of conforming to all of it.
Furthermore, she also reveals the epitome of a woman who grew into repression & bitterness. With those things, she forgot what real love truly means, the same way the society has forgotten the simple pleasures in life that could cause happiness due to the existing problems they encounter & the difficult life.

Her relationship with Tita reveals the hierarchy in the family, that there is a gap between parents & children. However this hierarchy is expressed in a very exaggerated manner.

Rosaura represents the continuing force of traditional society in the modern days. She is an ugly, unappealing remnant of the old society that has to be abolished & forgotten, and be replaced by a new approach that is more logical, rational & empowering.
The character of Pedro signifies those people who willingly & actually fight the control of the oppressing traditions. He symbolizes a revolutionary. Even if what he does is wrong, he would still go for it for the satisfaction of his passion & desires.

The half witty half sister of Tita represents the liberated type of women, more commonly called as the “woman of the world”. Although they are not the ideal women & they are denounced by the society, they are still contented with what they have become in their successes & triumphs. They are the women who have the strength to fight the suppressing cultural & social norms & inappropriate traditions of a certain society for the better expression of herself. Her character “embodies reckless indulgence of individual needs & disregard for societal norms”.

PATTERNS by Amy Lowell

"It makes you want to rip your clothes right off and run about naked."
-from a blogger

Of the many images in this poem, the constant motions of the flowers and water drops, the dress the woman is wearing, and her daydreams of her lover are most crucial in developing this theme of freedom.

In "Patterns," Amy Lowell explores the hopeful liberty of women in the early
20th century through a central theme. A woman’s dream of escaping the boundaries that society has placed on her dissipates when she learns of her lover’s untimely death.

Consider the daffodils and other types of flowers moving freely in the wind. Using imagery to appeal to the reader’s sense of sight, these flowers are given motion, and they are described as, "…blowing," and "Flutter[ing] in the breeze,". This creates a sense of freedom and flexibility. The woman in the poem, presumably Amy, wishes to be like the moving flowers, carefree and jaunty.

The, "…plashing of water drops," and, "…plopping of the water drops," describe liquid in motion.
The fact that she notices such little details in a fountain shows how intent the woman is on being free and able to move about as she pleases. The unconstrained movement of the flowers and the water manifest a way of life that the woman would like to live. What is keeping her from the liberation that she longs for?

The images in the poem name the binding dress as the culprit, but upon reading deeper into the signs of the imagery, one will find that there is a more complicated reason for her misery. The "…stiff, brocaded gown" is mentioned many times throughout the poem. Of course, back in that time, the woman was not only in a rigid, uncomfortable dress in the heat of summer, but she was also most likely wearing a corset.

The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary gives the definition of brocaded as, "a fabric woven with an elaborate raised design, often using gold or silver thread." This stiff, imprisoning piece of clothing symbolizes the boundaries that society has placed on women during their time. They had to act properly, look nice, and uphold all standards—especially if they were to be courted and married to a respectable man.

"…the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel,"

This training leaves behind a blemish, or stain, of high order (pink) and eloquence (silver) that she merely knows how to uphold, and does not want to be a part of her true self. She feels that learning the way the public wants her to act and look has somehow hindered her true being.

"… run along the paths
And he would stumble after"

" ..choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths".

These lines show how the presence of her lover allows her to lead him, thereby breaking free from the boundaries held on her. She is also running through a maze, not walking along the paths. This shows that she is no longer doing what others have done and have told her to do, but she is creating her own path and displaying free will.

This imagery is used to show that in her future with this man, she will not have to live her life the way others have patterned it out for her. Through his love for her, she will be allowed to break the mold and be her own person. Unfortunately, her lover dies at war and she is back to where she began, wearing a stiff dress, following the paths already made, and waiting for another man to come along to rescue her from this prison cell.

what do you think became of this woman in the poem?

"In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?"

reveals that the speaker, much like the author views society's "patterns" in a negative way.

The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin

Some Guide questions:

What is your personal response to "The Story of an Hour"? To Mrs. Mallard? In what ways do you think that your own experiences have affected your response?

What sort of person do you picture Mrs. Mallard to be? What sort of marriage do you think she has? Does her behavior seem plausible to you?

Were you surprised by the ending? Did you see any foreshadowing hints in the story?

Foreshadowing is used in written art and film to give hints about things to come in later plot developments. It can be very broad and easily understood, or it may be complex use of symbols, that are then connected to later turns in the plot. Sometimes an author may deliberately use false hints, called red herrings, to send readers or viewers off in the wrong direction.

A red herring refers to a device or diversion used to distract the onlooker from the original idea. Red herrings are often seen in films, adventure games, and puzzles. However, the most common use for a red herring is in literature, especially mystery and thriller stories.

Simply put, a red herring is an item which has no use in the story except to distract the reader from the real culprit. The red herring can take the form of a character, which the reader may believe to be the killer, only to discover later that he is innocent. Or it can take the form of an item which readers believe to be the clue to a discovery, but which turns out to be worthless.

What details of the story are especially significant? What questions do you have about the story at this point?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Readings for the 5th week


By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Sonnet 29
William Shakespeare

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,--and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines
Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Readings for this week

Please note Reading Assignment. We shall take these selections after our discussion on the Joy Luck Club on Wednesday (MWF classes) /Thursday (TTH classes)

The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin
Patterns by Amy Lowell
Sandra by Barry Manilow

Friday, November 23, 2007


*Will recap Initiations: Of Social Process and Institutions
*Group discussion on Joy Luck Club.
*Bingo/ Teaching Amy Tan’s novel as Literary/Filmic Text

Film Viewing: Joy Luck Club. Joy Luck Club will also be shown on Star Movies (available on Sky local cable) at 9:00 AM, November 25, Sunday morning. Tuesday will be the last day of Viewing. Other classes may also sit in my TTH classes during their vacant period on November 27. My Schedule on Tuesday:

100-230 Rm 308 Speech Lab
230-400 look for me on the 4th floor
400-530 Rm 310 (this is a rather big class, siksikan na sa klase, but ur still welcome. i'm sure class 3T1 will not mind, diba?)

based upon the novel by Amy Tan
Film Showing

The Joy Luck Club, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1989, presents the stories of four Chinese-immigrant women and their American-born daughters. Each of the four Chinese women has her own view of the world based on her experiences in China and wants to share that vision with her daughter. The daughters try to understand and appreciate their mothers' pasts, adapt to the American way of life, and win their mothers' acceptance. The book's name comes from the club formed in China by one of the mothers, Suyuan Woo, in order to lift her friends' spirits and distract them from their problems during the Japanese invasion. Suyuan continued the club when she came to the United States—hoping to bring luck to her family and friends and finding joy in that hope.

Amy Tan wrote The Joy Luck Club to try to understand her own relationship with her mother. Tan's Chinese parents wanted Americanized children but expected them to think like Chinese. Tan found this particularly difficult as an adolescent. While the generational differences were like those experienced by other mothers and daughters, the cultural distinctions added another dimension. Thus, Tan wrote not only to sort out her cultural heritage but to learn how she and her mother could get along better.

Critics appreciate Tan's straightforward manner as well as the skill with which she talks about Chinese culture and mother/daughter relationships. Readers also love The Joy Luck Club: women of all ages identify with Tan's characters and their conflicts with their families, while men have an opportunity through this novel to better understand their own behaviors towards women. Any reader can appreciate Tan's humor, fairness, and objectivity.

Themes: Initiations: Of Social Process and Institutions
Choices and Consequences

The Joy Luck Club presents the stories of four Chinese immigrant women and their American-born daughters. All of their lives, the Chinese mothers in The Joy Luck Club have struggled to make their own decisions and establish their own identities in a culture where obedience and conformity are expected. For example, when Suyuan Woo is a refugee during the Japanese invasion, she decides that she will not be a passive victim and will choose her own happiness.
"The Joy Luck Club: Introduction." Novels for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1998. January 2006. 24 November 2007. .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Introduction by Kamala Das

An Introduction
Kamala Das

I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I amIndian, very brown, born inMalabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.
Don’t write in English, they said, English is
Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.
It is half English, halfIndian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don’t
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
Is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware. Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain or the
Incoherent mutterings of the blazing
Funeral pyre. I was child, and later they
Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs
Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.
WhenI asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank Pitifully.
Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending games.
Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don’t cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love … I met a man, loved him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants. a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love. In him . . . the hungry haste
Of rivers, in me . . . the oceans’ tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is I. Anywhere and,
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I
In this world, he is tightly packed like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh, it is I who make love
And then, feel shame, it is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat. I am sinner,
I am saint. I am the beloved and the
Betrayed. I have no joys that are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I.

The Myth of Sisyphus

Week 2

B. Holding Up the Mirror: Towards Self-Discovery/Recovery

The Myth of Sisyphus
Albert Camus

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

If one believes Homer, Sisyphus was the wisest and most prudent of mortals. According to another tradition, however, he was disposed to practice the profession of highwayman. I see no contradiction in this. Opinions differ as to the reasons why he became the futile laborer of the underworld. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in regard to the gods. He stole their secrets. Aegina, the daughter of Aesopus, was carried off by Jupiter. The father was shocked by that disappearance and complained to Sisyphus. He, who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on condition that Aesopus would give water to the citadel of Corinth. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction of water. He was punished for this in the underworld. Homer tells us also that Sisyphus had put Death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of the conqueror.

It is said also that Sisyphus, being near to death, rashly wanted to test his wife's love. He ordered her to cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square. Sisyphus woke up in the underworld. And there, annoyed by an obedience so contrary to human love, he obtained from Pluto permission to return to earth in order to chastise his wife. But when he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. Recalls, signs of anger, warnings were of no avail. Many years more he lived facing the curve of the gulf, the sparkling sea, and the smiles of the earth. A decree of the gods was necessary. Mercury came and seized the impudent man by the collar and, snatching him from his joys, led him forcibly back to the underworld, where his rock was ready for him.

You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the aburd hero. He is,as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. This word is not too much. Again I fancy Sisyphus returning toward his rock, and th sorrow was in the beginning. When the images of earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy rises in man's heart: this is the rock's victory, this is the rock itself. The boundless grief is too heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged. Thus, Oedipus at the outset obeys fate without knowing it. But from the moment he knows, his tragedy begins. Yet at the same time, blind and desperate, he realizes that the only bond linking him to the world is the cool hand of a girl. Then a tremendous remark rings out: "Despite so many ordeals, my advanced age and the nobility of my soul make me conclude that all is well." Sophocles' Oedipus, like Dostoevsky's Kirilov, thus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. Ancient wisdom confirms modern heroism.

One does not discover the absurd without attempting to write a manual of happiness. "What! by such narrow ways--?" There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd discovery. It happens as well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness. "I conclude that all is well," says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.

All Sisyphus' silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing. Likewise, the absurd man, when he contemplates his torment, silences all the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to silence, the myriad wondering little voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they are the necessary reverse and price of victory. there is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night. The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that silent pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory's eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.

I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Literary Glossary


the time and place of the action in a story, poem, or play.

(authorial time is distinct from plot time and reader time, authorial time denotes the influence that the time in which the author was writing had upon the conception and style of the text.)

in medias res

"in the midst of things"; refers to opening a story in the middle of the action, necessitating filling in past details by exposition or flashback.

a plot-structuring device whereby a scene from the fictional past is inserted into the fictional present or dramatized out of order.


plot/plot structure
the arrangement of the action.

plot summary
a description of the arrangement of the action in the order in which it actually appears in a story. The term is popularly used to mean the description of the history, or chronological order, of the action as it would have appeared in reality. It is important to indicate exactly in which sense you are using the term.

plot time
the temporal setting in which the action takes place in a story or play.


that part of the structure that sets the scene, introduces and identifies characters, and establishes the situation at the beginning of a story or play. Additional exposition is often scattered throughout the work.
rising action
the second of the five parts of plot structure, in which events complicate the situation that existed at the beginning of a work, intensifying the conflict or introducing new conflict.
falling action
the fourth part of plot structure, in which the complications of the rising action are untangled.
turning point
the third part of plot structure, the point at which the action stops rising and begins falling or reversing. Also called climax.
the fifth part of plot structure, the point at which the situation that was destabilized at the beginning of the story becomes stable once more.


(1) a fictional personage who acts, appears, or is referred to in a work;
(2) a combination of a person’s qualities, especially moral qualities, so that such terms as "good" and "bad," "strong" and "weak," often apply.

major (main) characters those characters whom we see and learn about the most.

minor characters those figures who fill out the story but who do not figure prominently in it.

hero/heroine the leading male/female character, usually larger than life, sometimes almost godlike.

protagonist the main character in a work, who may be male or female, heroic or not heroic. Protagonist is the most neutral term.

antagonist a neutral term for a character who opposes the leading male or female character. Also the villain.

characterization the fictional or artistic presentation of a fictional personage. A term like "a good character" can, then, be ambig-uous—it may mean that the personage is virtuous or that he or she is well presented regardless of his or her characteristics or moral qualities.

flat character a fictional character, often but not always a minor character, who is relatively simple; who is presented as having few, though sometimes dominant, traits; and who thus does not change much in the course of a story.

round characters complex characters, often major characters, who can grow and change and "surprise convincingly"—that is, act in a way that you did not expect from what had gone before but now accept as possible, even probable, and "realistic."
more on characterization

stereotype a characterization based on conscious or unconscious assumptions that some one aspect—such as gender, age, ethnic or national identity, religion, occupation, marital status, and so on—is predictably accompanied by certain character traits, actions, even values.
persona and personality

persona the voice or figure of the author who tells and structures the story and who may or may not share the values of the actual author.

personality that which distinguishes or individualizes a person; its qualities are judged not so much in terms of their moral value, as in "character," but as to whether they are "pleasing" or "unpleasing."

the character who "tells" the story.

first-person narrator a character, "I," who tells the story and necessarily has a limited point of view; may also be an unreliable narrator.

second-person narrator a character, "you," who tells the story and necessarily has a limited point of view; may be seen as an extension of the reader, an external figure acting out a story, or an auditor; may also be an unreliable narrator.

third-person narrator a character, "he" or "she," who "tells" the story; may have either a limited point of view or an omniscient point of view; may also be an unreliable narrator.

The unreliable narrator

unreliable narrator
a speaker or voice whose vision or version of the details of a story are consciously or unconsciously deceiving; such a narrator’s version is usually subtly undermined by details in the story or the reader’s general knowledge of facts outside the story. If, for example, the narrator were to tell you that Magellan was Spanish (not Portugese) and that he discovered the Philippines in the fourteenth century when his ship the Victoria landed on the coast of Palawan near present-day Boracay, you might not trust other things he tells you.

implied author
the guiding personality or value system behind a text; the implied author is not necessarily synonymous with the actual author

voice the acknowledged or unacknowledged source of a story’s words; the speaker; the "person" telling the story.

Focus and point of view

the point from which people, events, and other details in a story are viewed. This term is sometimes used to include both focus and voice.

point of view also called focus; the point from which people, events, and other details in a story are viewed.

point of view variations

omniscient point of view also called unlimited point of view; a perspective that can be seen from one character’s view, then another’s, then another’s, or can be moved in or out of any character’s mind at any time. Organization in which the reader has access to the perceptions and thoughts of all the characters in the story.

limited point of view or limited focus a perspective pinned to a single character, whether a first-person-or a third-person-centered consciousness, so that we cannot know for sure what is going on in the minds of other characters; thus, when the focal character leaves the room in a story we must go, too, and cannot know what is going on while our "eyes" or "camera" is gone. A variation on this, which generally has no name and is often lumped with the omniscient point of view, is the point of view that can wander like a camera from one character to another and close in or move back but cannot (or at least does not) get inside anyone’s head and does not present from the inside any character’s thoughts.

unlimited point of view also called omniscient point of view; a perspective that can be seen from one character’s view, then another’s, then another’s, or can be moved in or out of any character’s mind at any time. Organization in which the reader has access to the perceptions and thoughts of all the characters in the story.
centered (central) consciousness a limited third-person point of view, one tied to a single character throughout the story; this character often reveals his or her inner thoughts but is unable to read the thoughts of others.

theme (1) a generalized, abstract paraphrase of the inferred central or dominant idea or concern of a work; (2) the statement a poem makes about its subject.

subject (1) the concrete and literal description of what a story is about; (2) the general or specific area of concern of a poem—also called topic; (3) also used in fiction commentary to denote a character whose inner thoughts and feelings are recounted

genre the largest category for classifying literature—fiction, poetry, drama.
motif a recurrent device, formula, or situation that deliberately connects a poem with common patterns of existing thought.

canon when applied to an individual author, canon (like oeuvre) means the sum total of works written by that author. When used generally, it means the range of works that a consensus of scholars, teachers, and readers of a particular time and culture consider "great" or "major." This second sense of the word is a matter of debate since the literary canon in Europe and America has long been dominated by the works of white men. During the last several decades, the canon in the United States has expanded considerably to include more works by women and writers from various ethnic and racial backgrounds.

tragedy a drama in which a character (usually a good and noble person of high rank) is brought to a disastrous end in his or her confrontation with a superior force (fortune, the gods, social forces, universal values), but also comes to understand the meaning of his or her deeds and to accept an appropriate punishment. Often the protagonist’s downfall is a direct result of a fatal flaw in his or her character.

high (verbal) comedy
humor that employs subtlety, wit, or the representation of refined life.

low (physical) comedy
humor that employs burlesque, horseplay, or the representation of unrefined life.

memory devices also called mnemonic devices; these devices—including rhyme, repetitive phrasing, and meter—when part of the structure of a longer work, make that work easier to memorize.

broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object.

a situation or statement characterized by a significant difference between what is expected or understood and what actually happens or is meant. See cosmic irony, dramatic irony, and situational irony.

Glossary Courtesy of W. W. NORTON & COMPANY, INC

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Course Syllabus LIT205A for ITHM

LIT205A Course Syllabus: World Literature
Instructor: Timothy Sanchez
Official website:

General Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to promote intellectual growth by strengthening students' abilities to read analytically and creatively, by filing in or reinforcing students' knowledge of the outlines of history, and by making students conversant with many major cultural landmarks and developing their sensitivity to cultural diversity through a critical study of the literatures of the world. This course intends to develop among students the ability to read, understand and appreciate the literatures of the world in order to deepen their knowledge of the complexities of human life and nature, and to inculcate among them the respect for people and cultures, love for nature, desire for peace and passion for truth and justice, which will, eventually, contribute to the enhancement of a compassionate, competent and committed global Thomasian.

Specific Course Objectives

At the end of the course, the students are expected to:

Identify, comprehend and value the different types and forms of literature across cultures;

Appreciate the significant human experiences exemplified in the different literary works;

Gain insights on the complexities of human nature, cultures, and practices through a close reading of world literatures;

Write a critique paper on a novel, drama or epic; and

Creatively transform literature to other artistic forms.

Learning Outcomes and Competencies

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to demonstrate the following on appropriate testing/evaluation instruments:

1. An ability to analyze a piece of literature and effectively write about it using appropriate critical strategies and other materials that I require.

2. An ability to appreciate literature in its broader social context and thereby garner insights into the human condition through examination of such fundamental relationships as those between man and self, man and society, and man and Nature.

3. An appreciation for the historical context of literature, how it affects and reflects the age in which it was written, and how it is linked to broader historical currents in politics, philosophy, psychology, science and art as well as how it resonates within contemporary culture.

Intellectual Competencies Expected of all Students Enrolled in General Education Courses in English and the Humanities

Students will find that although they are only taking this General Education course in their Junior class (General Education Course is supposed to be taken up in their freshman and sophomore years), this course will afford them the opportunity to refine their existing skills in the following six areas:

Reading: Reading at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret a variety of printed materials.

Writing: Competency in writing is the ability to produce clear, correct, and coherent prose adapted to purpose, occasion and audience.

Speaking: Competence in speaking is the ability to communicate orally in clear, coherent, and persuasive language appropriate to purpose, occasion, and audience.

Listening: Listening at the college level means the ability to analyze and interpret various forms of spoken communication.

Critical Thinking: Critical thinking embraces methods for applying both qualitative and quantitative skills analytically and creatively to subject matter in order to evaluate arguments and to construct alternative strategies.

Computer Literacy: Computer literacy at the college level means the ability to use computer-based technology in communicating, solving problems, and acquiring information.

**Since ITHM Tourism students are taking this course in their Junior year, there is a much higher expectation from them especially since they have already taken up ENG1, SPEECH, LIT102, ETC.

Assessment Procedures

Students will listen to lectures, participate in class discussions through reporting, and write about the authors and works through activities that include essay exams and critical papers. Successful essays and papers must respond to the requirements established by the assignment prompt.

Traditional academic essays must contain a clearly stated arguable thesis, effective evidence used in support of the thesis, a clear organizational pattern, adequate paragraph development, paragraph unity and coherence, and appropriate and accurate documentation, including paraphrasing, quoting, and a "works cited" list at the end when requested by the prompt.

All essays, in quizzes and in papers must be written according to conventional standards of English grammar and punctuation and should not contain errors that significantly harm or diminish meaning. The following are considered major grammatical errors: sentence boundaries, subject/verb disagreement, and verb tense and form. All essays and papers must be written for the appropriate reader and the subject, occasion, and purpose of writing. They must contain complex sentence structure and effective word choice and include a title.

Consultation Hours
Office: ITHM Faculty Room E-mail:
Monday-Thursday, 2-3 p.m.

Students may earn a maximum of 435 points, and grades are based on the percentage of those points a student earns. The percentage is traditional. Grades are broken down as follows:

Writing Assignments, Group/Individual Reporting, Quizzes
135 pts., or 30% of your grade.
Prelim Examination
100 pts., or 40% of your grade.
Final Examination
100 pts., or 40% of your grade.
100 pts., or 30% of your grade.

(Keep track of the points you have earned for the assignments listed above and convert them into a percentage to determine your grade. For more information on calculating your grade in class, see the information on Quizzes and Grade Calculation below.)

Quizzes and Grade Calculation

Quizzes will usually be worth ten points. I will not announce quizzes in advance; students should expect one at the beginning of every class period. Students will be given ample time to complete quizzes if they arrived to class on time, but if a student is late for class he/she will have less time to complete the quiz. In a 10-minute quiz, for instance, if a student arrives 8 minutes late, he/she will only have 2 minutes to complete the quiz. If the student arrives after the quiz is over or if the student is absent, he/she will not be allowed to make up the quiz. At the end of the semester I may have one make-up/replacement quiz to allow the student to improve his/her quiz score or make-up a quiz he/she has missed.

Prepare for quizzes by using the (1) course pack reader, (2)lectures in our official website ( and (3) by reading taken lecture notes.

Lecture Notes

Taking notes from lecture is a required part of class and an essential habit of serious students. On any given class period I may ask the student to show me his/her notes for that class period. May merit or demerit points in class participation.

Attendance and Class Participation Rules and Point Deductions

Attendance is mandatory; absences should be rare; tardiness and leaving early will be penalized; disrupting class is unacceptable. Each student will begin the term with 100 points for attendance and participation; these are the points to lose for violating class rules:-15 points per absence-10 points for arriving late or leaving early-10 points for failing to bring your course pack and required materials-5 points for failing to take lecture notes or completing homework-10 points for disrupting class (examples are cell phones going off in class, having private conversations while class is in session, leaving your seat without permission in the middle of lecture, discussion, or other class activities, etc.)-100 points for cheating or plagiarizing, + failure for the assignment (notice that this means that if you cheat, you will most certainly fail the course. I reserve the right to refer you to the Prefect of Discipline as well.)If a student has accumulated more than -100 points, he/she will earn 0 points for this portion of the grade and the remaining points will be deducted from his/her overall grade. I expect active rather than passive learning. All students must be prepared for class. All students in this course must be prepared to ask and answer questions and participate in class discussion.

Reading Assignment as Homework

Essentially, the homework of students in this course is to read assigned texts. In between each class period, students are expected to review their lecture notes and the material covered in the previous class period, in addition to completing all assignments for the next class period.

Writing Assignment

Students enrolled in this course will write one paper during the term. I will provide separate assignment sheet for the writing assignment. The paper is due at the beginning of the class period on the date listed on the syllabus. Late paper will not be accepted. Writing assignments will be worth 50 points.


All exams may consist of identification, true-false, and short answer and essay sections. Exams may consist of open and closed book portions. My students will need an envelope to compile all quizzes and exams.

Academic Dishonesty

Student Responsibility: Students are expected to be above reproach in all scholastic activities. Students who engage in scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and dismissal from the university. Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, taking an examination for another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts. Since scholastic dishonesty harms the individual, all students, and the integrity of the university, policies on scholastic dishonesty will be strictly enforced. (Refer to the Student Handbook for more information.)

Emergency Academic Continuity Program

Academic courses, partially, will hopefully be made available on the ELEAP Blackboard Academic Suite management system before PRELIMS (meanwhile, please refer to the subject’s official website at

This will allow me and my students to continue my teaching and learning via UST E-Learning Access Program (E-LeAP), UST BLACKBOARD Academic Suite management system, in case the university shuts down as a result of a typhoon or any other natural disaster. If the university is forced to shut down, I will notify my students using Blackboard (and/or via the official website) on how to proceed with the course. To receive credit for a course, it is the student's responsibility to complete all the requirements for that course. Failure to access course materials once reasonably possible can result in a reduction of the student’s overall grade in the class. To facilitate the completion of classes, most or all of the communication between students and the institution, the instructor, and fellow classmates will take place using the features in the E-LeAP Blackboard and/or though the course’s website.

In the event of a disaster or other disruptions of normal operations that would result to the suspension of classes, all students must make every effort to access an internet-enabled computer as often as possible to continue the learning process.


Extra Credit To make up for absences, failing quizzes and examinations, or poor grades in the writing activities, students may earn extra credit by participating in any Literature-related cultural and literary activities at UST and the community; or by submitting additional written work (movie reviews; book reviews, etc.) about Literary-related topics. This may ONLY be resorted to after consultation with the instructor.

From time to time, I shall announce to class some related cultural and literary events which students may participate in and subsequently earn extra credit from.