Thursday, April 19, 2012

The End

As the semester is drawing to a close, so is the characters that have shaped our opinions this summer. As we finish our discussion of The Sun Also Rises, I feel compelled to comment on the unbalanced character of Robert Cohn. From the discussion in class and from analyzing the text, I recognize that Cohn is a contrast to the other characters, but the unrealistic proportions of everyone else having a few character flaws, while Cohn bears the bulk leads me to feel that the character is unrealistic. He is obnoxious and rude, along with a superiority complex that makes him pretty much hated by everyone. In addition, his pathetic nature of beating up a man and then crying and begging for forgiveness makes him a joke. Taking these problems into account, everyone else seems fine and well balanced, which makes Cohn even more unbelievable. In my opinion, some of his flaws should have been transposed onto the others or removed from the story. Why would Brett spend time with him if he is so annoying? Why would he still have the friends he does if he is so annoying?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Return to Babylon vs. Ice Palaces

As we learned today in class, Fitzgerald's life had an extreme high and an extreme low, which was transposed into his writing. When he was happy and high on life, his characters were too and when depression destroyed his happiness, his characters became a lot more realistic and pragmatic. In Ice Palaces, the contrasts in the North and South are giant and lead Sally Carrol through some unhappy and highly depressing events. Some examples that led to her depression are the lack of respect for women and being removed into a merely trophy position in Harry's life. At the end though, she is able to recognize that her happiness is not dependent on monetary funds, but the people and environment around her. The people in the South may be more relaxed and less motivated to grow and become industrial, but in living a slower life are able to appreciate the little things and have the time to actual enjoy themselves and their lives. She leaves the North and returns to her home and in doing that achieves a mostly happy ending. Return to Babylon in truth does not end wholly sad, as Ethan Frome did, but does not reflect the ability to return to the past either. Sally Carrol is able to fit into her life, while Charlie is forced to accept the consequences of his early actions and must reconcile to redeem himself each day just to get his daughter back. If Ice Palaces was written later in Fitzgerald's life and thus influenced by the sad events he was forced to endure, would Sally Carrol be able to return to her haven? Would she still be able to be happy? For my opinion, I would say no, that Sally would have to answer for forsaking the South and would realize that even though the South was her happiness before, she could never truly return to it. Much like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Margret in North and South, no matter how hard she wished it, she could never go back.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


After reading Summer, I was surprised to find it very similar to Roman Fever. Both stories discusses love and the choice to practice sex outside of wedlock with a resulting pregnancy, which leads to an unfulfilled marriage. The setting for the two is different, one being in America while the other is in a foreign country, but the characters reflect a similar lack of care for consequences until they are in effect. Finally both women claim to have an illness, when in truth they are suffering from morning sickness. With these commonalities, the women are forced to chose the best life for their child and their reputation, thus sacrificing their happiness to maintain a comfortable life. At of the two though, I liked how Summer showed the results of not marrying Royce for Charity, thus displaying to the audience why she would choose a man who only cared for her as a possession, exemplified by the fact that he was aware she was pregnant with another man's child. In terms of final words, leaving a that wow factor, Roman Fever is better. I think there are few phrases that can beat "I had Barbara." Taking that into account, both stories could be merged into one and it would take little effort. And if a sled ride was placed at the end, it might possibly work with Ethan Frome, but that would require him and Matty to consummate their relationship. If they had and all four of them had lived together, it would be very close to the hell the other women in Summer and Roman Fever accepted as their fates.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fixing Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome has to be one of Edith Wharton's darker novels. Having the "hero" suffer unimaginable psychological pain with no clear escape in sight. As I was reading though it and definitely afterwards, I came up with a simple yet effective solution. The one obstacle standing in the way of Ethan and Mattie's happiness is Zeena. She may be pitiable as a person because of her loneliness and inability to nurse anyone, but that doesn't mean she can be forgiven for being a metaphorical vampire, sucking the life force, i.e. happiness, out of her husband to add entertainment to her life. Thus, she should have died or to be more particular, killed off. She is already reclusive and known to be ill, especially with all her visits to the doctor. If Ethan or Mattie were to add a little something deadly to her medicine or overdose her on it, she would pass on and no one would be the wiser. He could also open a window, thus bringing on a fever which could also kill her. Less imaginative ways could be to stab her or push her down the stairs, but they may create a more suspicious nature around her death. A truly imaginative way to end her life could be to make sure the weather is bad, such as winter, lock her outside, let her catch cold, and then not fetch help because there would be no way to make it in the snow. Any way he/she chose, the problem would be solved without the consequences that occur at the end of the novel. In addition, it would be for the greater good because it would be one death instead of three lives ruined. Also, Zeena would be freed from her suffering. All around happiness! Disclaimer: I do not usually-ever advocate the murder of a spouse, but I'm willing to make an exception for Ethan Frome. The ending would also leave readers with a sense of hope and not a sense of the misery that is Ethan's proverbial life sentence. To answer the argument of being caught for the murder of his wife, at least in prison he would be warm and fed, free from the torture of the never reaching love of one woman and the dominating hell of the other.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Death of a Soldier: A Silent Passing

Many writers have written about death, planned or suddenly, focusing on different aspects. Wallace Stevens examines the fatality and existence of a soldier's death. In the poem Death of a Soldier, Stevens discusses the truth of a soldier's death, reflecting reality instead of the glorification of the sacrifice. Much like the poem 124 by Emily Dickinson, the dead person in the poem is dead and nothing can change that. The soldier was meant to die and thus did. The world did not end, but continued on. The wind blew and the day became night. This idea is seen by the repetition of "As in a season of autumn", which continued to change and become winter even though a person had been killed. Since the man is dead, he no longer cares of his death or the world, again as 124 would claim. Who sentenced the soldier and contracted his death? How will the soldier by remembered? Stevens claims that there will be no memorial, thus death passes without the knowledge of a single person. Does not the poem become a memorial to the soldier though because the audience now reads about the death and the words last long after the last period? In viewing the death of the soldier as expected, but pointless, the author can be seen to criticize war and the reasons for it. Is the gain of power worth the silent passing of soldiers, who are lied to into the failing of life?