Category Archives: World Literature

2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

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A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 350 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

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10 Amazing Pictures of Libraries


Interesting Literature

How about some truly amazing pictures of bookshelves? What follows are ten of our favourite pictures of the beautiful interiors of libraries from around the world. What’s more, these images are all in the public domain – click on the hyperlink to take you to the source for each picture. You can also enlarge each picture by clicking on it.

IL - library 11. Melk Benedictine Abbey Library, Austria. This library is part of Melk Abbey in Austria. The abbey was founded in 1089, and its library has an extensive collection of manuscripts.

Picture credit: Emgonzalez, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


IL - library 22. The George Peabody Library, Baltimore, US.
This library is part of Johns Hopkins University at Mount Vernon Place, and is a nineteenth-century institute founded by Peabody as a bequest to the people of Baltimore.

Picture credit: Matthew Petroff, Wikimedia Commons.

IL - library 33. The Stockholm Public Library, Sweden. This library was built by Gunnar…

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Jeanette Winterson’s, “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit”


Jeannette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) contains elements common to both modernism and post-modernism. To illustrate, the author experiments with technique, employing tactics that result in a unique work. In Winterson’s piece, we find a novel whose plot is pluralistic replete with different storylines, appearing side by side and written in different genres: Fiction and non-fiction prose as well as poetry/prose-poetry. The author weaves in other elements also such as ambiguity where different interpretations create a web of possibilities; the intricately webbed plot leaves the readers with no clear resolution but rather an ironic conclusion.

One of the most interesting techniques that Winterson employs in her work is the weaving of two stories: One appears to be her non-fiction biography while the other appears to be a series of fairy tales, which increase in appearance as the plot thickens. As the action rises, it appears the fairy tale is attempting to esoterically explain or enhance the meaning of the conflict in the non-fiction biography as both plots involve a main character experiencing a similar problem. The first place where the reader gets a glimpse of this modernist/post-modernist strategy is on page 9, in a chapter aptly named “Genesis,” where Jeanette, the author and Jeanette the character end the scene with the following question: “…but what do these things mean?” (Winterson, 1985). The fairy tale that ensues immediately after the scene in which the question appears offers the possibility that meeting a certain “magical” person will offer answers that will allow all an education into “such things” that appear unanswerable as well as to become an educator of such esoteric knowledge to those she finds in the same predicament as the one she once found herself.

In addition to weaving in fairy tales, Winterson carefully sprinkles outbursts of “stream of consciousness” poetry and prose poetry juxtaposed brilliantly after each scene that ends ambiguously as though trying to explain and enhance further through the mysterious words of poetry; words revealing there is more beneath the surface not visible to the eye. An example of one of these scenes appears on page 89 in the Numbers chapter. The scene in the top half of the page ends as follows:

Melanie and I had volunteered to set up the Harvest Festival Banquet, and we worked hard in the church throughout the day. When everyone arrived and started to pass the potato pie, we Stood on the balcony, looking down on them. Our family. It was safe. (Winterson, 1985)

One view may be that the religious girls felt safe and cozy as pie; however, keeping in mind that pieces of the era at times have ambiguous endings and nothing is what seems, a second view is that something else is going on: Perhaps a hint at the lesbian motif that runs through the piece giving it an ironic twist since Jeanette is supposed to be the “chosen” and “pure” child of God, yet she commits the sin of loving the same sex, prohibited by her religion.

The “stream of consciousness prose/poem” follows, stating and confirming either the secure position of both girls within their home or “outside” of it looking in as the “other”:

Here is a table set at feast, and the guests are arguing about the best recipe for goose…It has always been this way, nothing can intrude./Father and Son. Father and Son./It has always been this way. Outside, the rebels storm the Winter Palace. (p. 89)

Are these words to be taken literally? Or is there more than meets the eye? Are the guests Jeanette’s and Melanie’s family? Are they the rebels outside? Is the storm a metaphor for their lesbian relationship? This is a masterpiece of a work that incorporates the different layers of interpretation because of the author’s use of ambiguous methods, often resulting in paradoxical situations.

Winterson (1985) uses a similar technique on page 122 in the Joshua chapter at the bottom of the page where the female protagonist states that her friend Katy offers a sleep over. The next scene is composed of poetic prose about “a secret garden cunningly walled” (p. 123). A secret entrance exists. The main character writes about eating forbidden fruit and “other longings” (p. 123). Could there be a connection between the ending of the previous storyline and this esoteric scene? Is it possible Winterson hints at lesbian relationships? The non-linear and fuzzy plot rises in action by what appears to be a conflict related to homosexuality and its forbidding practice due to the “sex sin” as tradition dictates within her religious upbringing. The climax finds Jeanette banished from the household because she refuses to stop loving women, an ironic twist in that both the real Jeanette and the character Jeanette were raised and trained to preach the holy word that denounces such practices.

Another way to look at Winterson’s (1985) work is through the Feminist lens, which focuses on the behaviors of the females and males within a male dominated society. One such part of the book, revealing such relationships is found on page 133, “The real problem, it seemed, was going against the teachings of St Paul, and allowing women power in the church…” (p. 133). However, when viewing the piece specifically through Elaine Showalter’s approach–gynocriticism, which presents three phases or stages: Feminine, Feminist, and Female (Barton & Hudson, 2011, p. 83), the reader realizes that Winterson’s piece reflects the Female or third stage. In the Feminine stage, the female is imitating and internalizing the views of the dominant tradition; in the Feminist stage the female rebels against the dominant tradition; during the Feminine stage the female “sees with fresh eyes” (p. 83). Winterson’s main character clearly illustrates a stage of self-discovery and the ability to see the world without the coloring of the male’s tradition but through one whom only the feminine eyes can see.

The lesbian theme is one that reflects this phase of discovering to love the same sex as opposed to the traditional view found in the male-dominated society, particularly those views within her religious upbringing, and “reflects three levels of awakening–physical, mental and spiritual–which are nevertheless, interrelated” (p. 85). Physically, Melanie makes love to the women she loves, awakening the physical need for a woman’s physical touch although frowned upon by her immediate society/culture. Mentally, Melanie awakens to the fact that she is independent and powerful. She states, “If you want to talk in terms of power I had enough to keep Mussolini happy” (Winterson, 1985, p. 124). Spiritually she awakens to the fact that “if there was such a thing as spiritual adultery, her mother was a whore” ( p. 134). And as she had always known, that “to the pure all things are pure…” (p. 123), including loving other woman.

Finally, Winterson’s (1985) narrative illustrates elements of New-Historicism. Through the New Historicist’s lens, the reader sees how the work of an author is tied to the society in which he or she has assimilated into and how that author is also “bound by social codes and conventions, while they prove, in other ways, to subvert or undercut the dominant beliefs of their societies” (Barton & Hudson, 2011, p. 359). As a result, the piece will reflect the authors “behaviors and thoughts” (p. 135). Winterson’s piece is clearly her biography mixed with fiction as was previously illustrated. Her main storyline indicates that the author is bound and shaped by her society’s codes and beliefs; both author and character are able to “subvert and undercut” these codes and beliefs through extensive participation within its context while at the same time rejecting it by practicing otherwise and making fictions to conceal such practices. Once again, one motif that supports this is the lesbian one that runs through the piece as both author and main character prove that although they were born bound by certain values and beliefs, each reflects what interests and what New Historians look for in the literature: The ability “to express, reflect and interconnect matters of history, biography and religious belief” (Barton & Hudson, 2011, p. 137). In short, the context of the novel within Winterson’s piece cannot be analyzed in isolation of the time period and other social factors for a true account, specifically when viewing it through the New Historicists Lens (Barton & Hudson, 2011).

Winterson’s novel, “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,” is representative of how post-modernists continued using the experimentation of techniques as did the modernists when writing narratives. In addition, by using both the Feminist and New Historicists Lens when reading it, readers experience an authentic richness and depth to the novel because of the many possible interpretations that yield more meaning and purpose.

References

Barton, E.J. & Hudson, G.A. (2011). A contemporary guide to literary terms. (3rd ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Winterson, .J. (1985). Oranges are not only fruit. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

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Filed under Feminism, Literary Approaches, New Historicists, Women in Literature, Women Studies

Women in Literature: An Illustration of Oppression


ebook cover

Three essays presenting negative images of women in Latin American, Caribbean, British and American literature.

Available now at the Kindle Store

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I76HPL6

 

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Filed under Condition of the American Female, Cultural Perspectives, Feminism, Fragmented Psyche, Literature and Philosophy, Mind and Body, Women in Literature, Women Studies, World Literature

Put to a higher use…


(Roughly) Daily

Nine more “Awesome Bookstores Repurposed from Unused Structures” here.

And then there’s…

Nine more “Wonderful Libraries Repurposed from Unused Structures” here.

And, closer to home…

Share Your Shelf: “You have bookshelves. People want to see them. That’s what happens here.”

###

As we alphabetize, we might recall that it was on this date in 1996 that noted overachiever Stephen King, who has published 50 novels and almost 200 short stories, released not one, but two novels: Desperation, under his own name, and The Regulators, as Richard Bachman.  He found time that same year to appear on guitar with The Rock Bottom Remainders.

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A Continuation of American Experimentation with Realistic Theater: The Sandbox


A Continuation of American Experimentation with Realistic Theater: “The SandBox

Edward Albee‘s (2004) “The Sandbox” is a continuation of American experimentation with realistic theater because he does not delve into the absurd; instead, the author focuses on an existential worldview as well as on the psychological, leaving out the metaphysical realm and surrealists stylistic techniques and methods as those appearing in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In contrast, Albee experiments with words to re-invent old clichés when pertaining to both social behaviors and discussions to give his pieces a realistic taste. To further play with realistic theater, the author creates scenery, plots and characters involved in psychologically irrational behaviors. The characters behave in believable ways. Maintaining the realistic flavor, Albee (2004) depicts these pathetic souls living rich but vacuous lives–Americans who indulge in the materialistic and mechanistic worldview but without the fortune of inheriting heart, soul and substance.

Albee’s (2004) “The Sandbox” is realistic in the sense that the plot involves the sick and nasty psychological disposition of characters, reflecting the society and world that they live in: A world where there are heartless and soulless people. Albee (2004) writes:

DADDY Where do we put her?

MOMMY (the same little laugh) Wherever I say, of course. Let me see…well…all right,       over there…in the sandbox. (Pause) Well, what are you waiting for, Daddy…The             sandbox! (Together they carry GRANDMA over to the sandbox and more or less dump           her in.) (p. 2292)

As they do the dumping of GRANDMA in her death “Sandbox” where she awaits her death, they walk away from her as she yells out at the top of her lungs in discomfort. What do DADDY and MOMMY do or say? Albee (2004) continues,

“DADDY (pause) What do we do now?

MOMMY (as if remembering) We…wait. We…sit here…and we wait…that’s what we         do” (p. 2293).

There is no hope for GRANDMA, not even from the attractive young but mysterious fellow who has been lurking around with a smile, taking into account the cliché about smiling strangers: Beware. It turns out that he is nothing more than the angel of death, waiting for her demise.            Experimenting with realistic theatre, Albee (2004) gives death an ironic material persona as a smiling and good-looking youth. He juxtaposes that image with death, looming about to cause trouble, yet clothed with seemingly good behaviors and words illustrating that he appears not too comfortable about what he must do but does it anyway, “I am the Angel of Death. I am…uh…I am come for you” (p. 2295). The Angel of Death turns out to be the couple’s young son who is in the plot to kill granny who has become like luggage. Although not playing his role very well, he acts out the characters part as must be done in his world where the once family unit that resulted in a warm and nurturing home has dissolved. In its place scheming families have arisen, families who plot against one another, especially when that other is a pest as is the grandmother in this play.

Through the play of dialogue and simple, conversational clichés that at times tend to be sarcastic with a caustic humorous twist, Albee (2004) masters the use of understated dialogue that does not reveal the conflict but moves it along at a mundane pace, paralleling the feelings of “Mommy” and “Daddy” who are having a very long day–for good reason as the reader will soon discover. More interestingly and pleasantly surprising for the reader is the way Albee (2004) is able to mimic the understated dialogue used by Ernest Hemingway in his “Hill Like White Elephants” and brilliantly. Just as Hemingway (1961) was able to use understated dialogue in a natural and simple conversational tone that created a realistic drama, so has Albee (2004) succeeded in this essay.

Because of the understated dialogue and its masterful incorporation in this piece, the characters are real for the reader or the audience, depending on whether reading or viewing this no more than 15 minute realistic theatrical performance. Indeed, the characters are very believable and dialogue, especially when used as within this piece, is an excellent way to enhance a piece’s authenticity. Clearly, it has done so in “The Sandbox.” What is more is that in its understatement, the reader clearly understands the movement and the conflict.

The actors portraying the characters only need to act in a cliché kind of way, “both language and social” (p. 2291). The symbolism portrayed by characters is realistic in the sense that the symbolic representation maintains the level of realism. As mentioned previously, the young son plays the role of the angel of death. Albee (2004) experiments with the realistic theatre itself by making a real person play the character of an abstract concept such as death. Yet, the author maintains the realistic quality of the character in role, the character playing death by making him err during his speech to grandma where he mumbles his lines, making it obvious for the reader that this is not death but the grandmother’s grandson about to do the dirty deed.

Such a theme as the one that Albee (2004) experiments and continues when pertaining to the realistic theatre is realistic in that it represents the reality of some families within a capitalist society–those families who want to get rich at the expense of others. The news is full of happenings within wealthy and not so wealthy families who get rid of the annoying elders in order to receive the winnings or inheritance. This is realistic theatre–depicting what has become cliché both in behavior and language, using the psychological to create the metaphysical yet continuing the experimentation with realistic theatre.

In his piece “The Sandbox,” Albee (2004), by using certain strategies and techniques, is able to maintain an air of realism in spite of the surreal qualities of his piece. This is but a sign of further experimentation in realistic theater–or what some may call the continuation of experimentation with old fashioned satire.

Copyright 2013 by Hakes Publishing

 

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Filed under Fragmented Psyche, Psychological Analysis of Literature, Realistic Theater, Satire, World Literature

Cultural Perspectives: Native American Literature


Cultural Perspectives: Native American Literature

My undergraduate focus was on the Native American plight, specifically the Miccosukee Tribe of South Florida. The Miccosukee and their cousins, the Seminole, are one of the few successful Native Americans on the continent due to a very successful casino business. Yet, there is much criminal behavior within the tribe, driven by alcohol and drug abuse. Native American culture is one that remains mysterious to some.  They see the Native American as an Indian good only for drinking, smoking and gambling in their casinos and reservations. The stereotype is of an ignorant and uneducated drunkard, incapable of morals and intelligence. They are low-class individuals whose descendants were barbaric heathens (Blake, 2004; Wiget, 2004). No one sees!

Once upon a time, these same people roamed the American lands, considering every inch of it sacred. They lived in harmony with not only the land but also with all of its inhabitants. This was an organic worldview they lived by, one which had its own principles and values. Although there were warring groups, war was minimal; disease was minimal. They were not drunkards or ignorant people–alcohol was introduced by the white man. Each tribe was able to commune with the land and each other in synchronicity, resulting in balance of both mind and matter (Blake, 2004; Wiget, 2004).

Now, yes, alcohol and drug abuse runs rampant within the tribes. Diabetes is the number one killer due to the staples forced upon them by the government. Cancer is another problem for certain of the Native American as tumors pop like corn within their being. For these people, exposure to contaminated water has pierced their body and soul (Blake, 2004; Wiget, 2004).

It is baffling as to why more empathy is not shown to these strong minded and intelligent people. Horrendous massacres occurred that included the slaughtering of babies, women, and the elderly–this is known. That young children were torn away from their parents at a young age to “Christianize” and “Civilize,” in public schools is well-known. That most of these children, some as young as five, committed suicide is less known; that this is still going on is even less known. That racism still exists against this culture is known but yet most “others” remain indifferent. The suffering and the pain endured by the past generations, the genocide no different from Hitler’s, still pervades in the minds of the Native American people’s dreams–better said, nightmares. Native American literature, as far back as to Chief Seattle’s speech, exposes a nation whose voice pleads to be heard but who have been denied that need. Today’s Native American prose and poetry is the only voice that reveals truths that most “others” find humorous, indifference remaining the same.

The seven pieces I have chosen, Seattle (2004) “Chief Seattle’s Speech,” William Apess’ (2004) “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man,” Elias Boudinot’s (2004) “An Address for the White,” Thomas Whitecloud’s (2004) “Blue Winds Dancing,” Simon Ortiz’s (2004) “from Sand Creek,” Joy Harjo’s (2004) “The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window,” and Sherman Alexie’s (2005) The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, delineate the progress of the Native American not through U.S. history books or through ancient oral stories, but through written literature, both prose and poetry, capturing the emotion of the experience in addition to the narrative in chronological order as well as in the order of the culture’s literature evolvement. This movement of literature shows the parallel in methods, techniques and strategies with the other cultural literatures of the same time.

Although not an essay and although its authenticity disputed, I include Seattle’s (2004) “Speech of Chief Seattle,” to illustrate how by the turn of the century, this great chief gave a not very bright prophecy for the future of his kind. By the time Chief Seattle came onto humanity’s scene, the Native American plight had already taken shape as many tribes were massacred and eradicated from existence. In other words, most of the Native Americans tribes that existed before Columbus’ wave of murderers simply became extinct due to genocide (Wiget, 2004). The narrative for the Indian had begun, the climax reached and passed. By the Seattle’s (2004) time, the resolution was well underway. Seattle (2004) accepted defeat in this address, at the same time questioning whether the White man’s God was the same as the Red man‘s since that God had not shown any sympathies for the Indian, their cultural narrative playing out like Greek tragedy. In fact, the chief asserts that the Red man’s God has also shown no mercy. Seattle (2004) sadly spoke:

Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine. He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the pale face and leads him by the hand as a father leads his infant son–but He has forsaken His red children–if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax strong every day. Soon they will fill all the land. (p. 660)

This speech by Seattle (2004) is but the last words of a once robust culture as Seattle (2004) states, “The Indian’s night promises to be dark” (p. 661) and the days numbered, specifically to the days when the Native American roamed free in their land. The narrative of what once was is over; the characters have all “ebbed away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return” (p. 660).

Showing the progression in line with the other cultural literature of its time, Apess’ (2004) “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man,” uses the language of the elite. With scholarly words and perfect structure, the author laments the condition of his people at the turn of the century, the Native American. His point, however, is to illustrate how Native Americans are also capable of scholarly writing. Apess (2004) piece portrays images of a dying Native American culture. By Apess’ time, this death force came not only from without; the white wave had now infiltrated the within of the Native American, yielding destructive behaviors that resulted from oppressive conditions and the booze introduced by the encroaching white race. In particular, Apess (2004) asks us to take a few moments to look into the reservation and what the white people would find. He illustrates:

…as they wandered from one hut to the other they would view with the females who are left alone, children half starved; and some almost as naked as they came into the world. And it is a fact that I have seen them as much so–while the females are left without protection, and are seduced by white men, and are finally left to be common prostitutes for them, and to be destroyed by that burning, fiery curse, that has swept millions, both of red and white men, into the grave of sorrow and disgrace–Rum. (p. 645).

This liquid, rum, is the demise of the U.S. Indian–the elixir that dims the lights further sinking the Native American into what Seattle (2004) called the darkest of night for the Indian, introduced to them by none other than: The White Man!

Unlike Seattle (2004) and Apess (2004), who both realized the non-fixable, marginalized and oppressed state of the Native American within the United States, Boudinot (2004) was the Benedict Arnold of the Native Americans; he is known for having sold out his race by signing the Treaty of New Echota  in 1835 (Boudinot, 2004, p,. 651). This Native American wrote like the white elitist who had massacred his kind, yet Boudinot (2004) remained erroneously hopeful that the white man would see that the barbaric heathen was no longer. His goal was to change the heart of the white man by proving to him through his polished and formal structured writing that the Native American was reaching a level of competency commanding respect from all cultures, especially the white one. Boudinot (2004) professes:

The Government, though defective in many respects, is well suited to the condition of the inhabitants. As they rise in information and refinement, changes in it must follow, until they arrive at that state of advancement, when I trust they will be admitted into all the privileges of the American family. (p. 655)

Unfortunately, Boudinot (2004) was too much of an optimistic and not much of a realist. His people killed him for his treason; his people remain stereotyped, marginalized and oppressed in the 21st century.

Fast forward a few decades and into post modernism, and we find the Native American completely changed. The change has been just as Seattle (2004) envisioned at the turn of the century. The Native American tribes and cultures as he knew them in his youth no longer exist. They are in darkness, broken people with lots of laments. Echoing the words of African American poet, Maya Angelou, in her poem “I Still Rise,” you may say the Native American writers have done the same and are the voices of the past fallen People, the present and the future.

We now find Native Americans writing poetry to depict the history of the Native American as in Ortiz’s (2004) poem, “from Sand Creek.” This poem represents a memorial for those Native American “600 Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho People, two-thirds of them women and children” (p. 2630)–people at peace and who had been assured that none would be harmed. “The People had been assured they would be protected by the flag” (p. 2631). Yet, “The reverend Colonel Chivington and his Volunteers and Fort Lyon Troops, numbering more than 700 heavily armed men, slaughtered 105 women and children and 28 men” (p. 2631). Ortiz brilliant works these statements into his poetry, illustrating the experimentation by post-modernist poets. He adds:

This America

has been a burden

of steel and mad

death,

but, look now,

there are flowers

and new grass

and a spring wind

rising

from Sand Creek.

Ortiz’s (2004) poem is but a sentence structure like a poem. What was once a compound sentence, following a straight line has been fragmented by the writer, broken up to obscure the true format–the two independent clauses. In analyzing, perhaps Ortiz meant to show the reader how what is on the surface is deceiving. One must look deeper to see the reality of what one is looking at: Is it a line of stanzas? Or is it just a compound sentence? Are the flower and new grass and spring wind that are rising from Sand Creek hiding a terrible past? What is really springing?

Some readers will find Harjo’s (2004) “The Woman Hanging from the Thirteen Floor Window,” equally disturbing. This is another post-modernist poem written by a Native American poet, this time describing the life of a Native American in modern times. The author writes:

She hangs from the 13th floor window in east Chicago,

with a swirl of birds over her head. They could

be a halo, or a storm of glass waiting to crush her.

She thinks she will be set free. (p. 2657)

This poem is written in paragraph style. This is once again painting a flare towards post-modernist strategy. The most poignant part of this poem, however, is the message of this obviously marginalized, oppressed and hopeless Native American woman living in a huge city–Chicago. She has many relatives, children and more. Yet, the last stanza says it all: She would rather die than live because she believes she will be released from her suffocating environment.

Whitecloud (2004) is another prolific Native American writer whose prose is full of effective imagery that provides the picture of the life of a Native American in post-modern times. This time, the narrative provides the reader with what it is like for a Native American to leave the compound of the reservation, to yearn the reservation and finally what it feels like to return.

His piece, “Blue Winds Dancing,” is a descriptive narrative. Whitecloud (2004) chooses his words to paint vivid imagery for the reader. His well-picked words and the way he juxtaposes the natural with the human is intriguing and refreshing at the same time. Whitecloud (2004) echoes the word “going home,” which hints at the conflict that drives the plot, the focus and purpose of this piece:

Moon and stars and clouds tipped with moonlight. And there is a fall wind blowing in my heart. Ever since this evening, when against a fading sky I saw geese wedge southward. They were going home…Now I try to study, to study, but against the pages I see them again, driving southward. Going home (p. 2111).

But, this piece is more about than just going home. It’s about finding one’s soul again–that’s what Whitecloud hints at in this piece. What he discovers when he returns home is what it truly means to be happy, alive and full of soul, something he had forgotten while living in the white man’s world. Whitecloud proclaims:

Strange, I think, and then remember. These people are not sharing words–they are sharing mood. Everyone is happy. I am so used to white people that it seems strange so many people could be together without someone talking. These Indians are happy because they are together, and because the night is beautiful outside, and the music is beautiful. (p. 2116)

In my own cultural sort of way, these words make me want to go camping in the great outdoors without my family since they would drown out Nature with their loud squeals. But, I do know what it is like to commune with people as those described above. Words cannot capture the essence of what is sensed or felt other than it feels real! It is as though we are all one, connected.

One more part of Whitecloud’s (2004) essay that captures the soul of the piece pertains to the oneness and connection the Native Americans feel when it comes to each other and a universal power that is so much greater than they are–a connection with God. Whitecloud (2004) continues,

I watch and see now that the old people are speaking to me. They nod slightly, imperceptibly, and their eyes laugh into mine. I look around the room. All the eyes are friendly; they all laugh. … I am happy. It is beautiful. I am home. (p. 2116)

The reader thinks, “I am happy. It is beautiful. I am home.” The author realizes that his people shine soul through their eyes. His people know how to connect and become one. The reader thinks, “Perhaps there is still hope. Perhaps through these beautiful Native American images, people can learn how to be quiet, be still, and shine soul through their eyes.” On the other hand, perhaps the opposite will be true. I’ll remain a realist.

Finally, the final but absolutely not the least of the Native American literature is not a speech nor a poem nor an essay; instead, it is a combination of all, wrapped up neatly in a novel called The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, first published in 1993; its author: Sherman Alexie. In this novel, one of the themes found is about alcoholism. Showcasing his prolific and creative abilities as a Native American artist, Alexie provides descriptive images of particular situations. At the same time, he is able to highlight the seriousness of the disease that is claiming the life of his tribal members and has further destroyed reservation life. Most importantly, he is able to reveal the thought process involved as well as a rationale for this behavior clearly and in a way that any reader should be able to empathize for the decision taken by those Native Americans who succumb to this drinking disease. Alexie (2005) writes:

Victor was drunk again.

A night in the wooden-floor bar and she wanted to dance, but he wanted to drink and ease that tug in his throat and gut.

“Come on, you’ve had enough,” she said.

“Just one more beer, sweetheart, and then we’ll go home.”

It happened that way. He thought one more beer could save the world. One more beer and every chair would be comfortable. One more beer and the light bulb in the bathroom would never burn out. One more beer and he would love her forever. One more beer and he would sign any treaty for her. (p. 88)

A postmodernist, Alexie combines both prose and poetry, resulting in true prose and poetic justice.

As a reader, Seattle’s (2004) words and all of the words of the works analyzed resound within my being.  The Native American has suffered more than any other human being on the planet and yet most remain indifferent to this fact, choosing to remain blind to the true plight and reason behind the superficial appearances and behaviors. Delve deeper and you will see; then, and only then, will you understand.

 

Copyright 2013 by Hakes Publishing

References

Alexie, S. (2005). The long ranger and tonto fist fight in heaven. New York, NY: Grove Press.      pp. 1-242.

Apes, W. (2004). “An indian’s looking-glass for the white man.” In P. Lauter (Ed.), The Heath      Anthology of American Literature (pp. 645-650). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin            Company.

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Filed under Cultural Perspectives, Fragmented Psyche, Native American Literature, Psychological Analysis of Literature, Reorganization of the Human Organism, World Literature