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?