inner workings, outer stasis

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A portfolio of writings from my senior year English Literature class.


Traditionally, effective endings in novels are characterized by explicative and definite closure


Compare and Contrast-TTTC and SH54

Position Paper- Short Stories...6

Frankenstein Essay...8

Compare and Contrast- Whitman and Hughes..10

Position Paper- Drama Elements- Helen...12

Othello Literary Criticism..15

The Pawnbroker Group Essay16

Prose Response..19

Open Ended Question21

College Essay.23


Looking back on the past year of work, I have begun to see the effects of time on the efforts of a high school senior. I notice a trend in the writings, beyond the obvious fact that each is similar in concept and meant as a tool for learning. I find that the repetitive dissection of literary works into their use of figurative language, diction, syntax devices, and the like has led to repetition on my part as well. Words, thoughts, and layout find themselves being recycled over and again in my works.

Be it a lack of interest in literary analysis, built up through years of schooling, or a case of the dreaded senioritis, my writing has suffered a progressive downward spiral in quality. Perhaps this in itself is only my harsh self-criticism as a writer, but I find myself time and again asking, What was I thinking? Simply put, it is not that I am completely unsatisfied with my work, but rather that I feel it could have been much improved if more effort was put into the pieces.

Granted, this collection is a very limited sample of the full spectrum of my writing abilities. If nothing else, I myself am aware of my capabilities as a writer, and I know that they extend far beyond the confines of literary analysis. This awareness is what gives me the will to continue writing on a broader range of subjects, in a style that is more suitable to my tastes both as a reader and a writer.

My only wish as the author of this collection is that you, the reader, accept it for what it is: the efforts (or lack thereof) of a high school senior in a literature class. With that, please enjoy and maybe even take something out of the fruits of my past year of writing.

Traditionally, effective endings in novels are characterized by explicative and definite closure. This gives a sense of peace, and the idea that everything afterwards is irrelevant to the plot. However, some novels, such as The Things They Carried and Slaughterhouse-Five end abruptly, uncertainly, and ambiguously. Even so, the endings appropriately conclude their respective works. In both novels, the main character is left with unresolved problems and inner torment.

In The Things They Carried, the narrator Tim OBrien does find some degree of closure, and elaborates on his thoughts. In Slaughterhouse-Five, on the other hand, Billy Pilgrim is left in a state of total uncertainty, but shows little concern for his predicament. OBrien, is still haunted by his experiences in Vietnam, and his future is thus constantly adversely affected. He still questions his own past; he is forty-three years old, and a writer now, still dreaming Linda alive in exactly the same way (pg. 273). Similarly, Billy Pilgrim is left in the ruins of Dresden, still unstuck in time and no more emotional than at the beginning of his experiences. Both main characters obviously have many more stories that remain untold, and both of their stories end with a feeling of uncertainty.

Although both novel endings are similar, on other levels they greatly diverge. In the case of Tim OBrien, the ending is slightly more satisfactory; he discovers his purpose in writing, and this in turn helps him cope with his memories of the war. I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmys life with a story, he finally concludes (pg. 273). Less fortunate is Billy Pilgrim, who remains stoical and unfeeling throughout the novel, even in the end. While his life and death are revealed at varying points in the novel, his situation in the ruins of Dresden give a felling of uncertainty. To further complicate the ending of the novel, the narrator presents his own problems in addition to Billys predicament. The narrator states, My father died many years ago now he left me his guns. They rust, as if to compliment the troubles of Billy Pilgrim (pg. 210).

While both The Things They Carried and Slaughterhouse-Five end in unconventional ways, they tie in with the themes of the novels, and are thus appropriate conclusions. The Things They Carried consistently touches on the subject of truth in stories, so with the revelation of the meaning of a story comes a partial solution to the authors intended question of the meaning of truth. Tim OBrien the author gives ample examples from which to conclude the importance of truth in itself. On the other end of the spectrum is Slaughterhouse-Five, which is already confusing in its science fiction themes. The ending derives its effectiveness from those fantastic plot techniques; it is uncertain, out of chronological order, and ends without a feeling of content on the part of Billy Pilgrim.

Both novels were written to be thought provoking, deep, and even confusing. Thus, their ambiguous endings are appropriate in that they leave some plot lines unresolved and some questions unanswered. The seemingly hasty and mediocre endings serve their authors purpose well by evoking thought and interpretation. Without their uncertain endings, neither novel would have the effect that its author intended.

Humans often dream of what it would be like to be unable to feel pain. The main character of T. Coraghessan Boyles Sin Dolor lives out that dream despite his will and shows that it is in fact not a glorious as it is often imagined to be. This is the very message that the authors trying to convey; people are often unsatisfied with their own position in life and will go to unreasonable and unthinkable extremes to change their situations. Through an intricate weaving of literary elements, the author presents his purpose for writing the story with multi-faceted characters and fantastic yet at same time believe plot.

In Sin Dolor, Boyle creates characters that are easy to sympathize with, yet also can evoke feelings of disdain. The prime example of this is the Doctor. His ambitions of being a widely recognized doctor and living in an easy to identify with because almost all people naturally wish to be noticed and able to live comfortably how they please. At the same time, the doctor acts selfishly by clearly manipulating Damaso, who is known as Sin Dolor, to fulfill his own desires. The father is also displayed as a self-centered and pompous individual, even more so than the doctor. He simply uses his own son as a sideshow attraction to make a little extra money, something that even the doctor recognizes as cruel and immoral. Damaso is obviously intended to be the main object of sympathy and the leading method of revealing the authors purpose. He is the one who is constantly taken advantage of, but remains true to his family and considerate of those who to try to imitate his fears of self-mutilation. The author develops his characters in a way that adds to his point in a positive way. The doctor comes to truly care for Damaso and recognize what the boy tells him: that he does indeed feel pain I his heart. By the end of the story Damaso also develops in that he is more open about his own feelings and his consideration for the children of the town where he is displayed. The characterization makes it painfully obvious that the author is trying to convince people to simply be content with the way they are in life.

To date, science has in no way proven that a natural ability to not feel physical pain is feasible. Thus, the main source of conflict for the characters is an obvious and fantastic plot mechanism. Still, such an unrealistic element to the plot seems more believable simply because it cause normal human problem for the characters. Thus, the story just seems like it could be realistic, and might even be mistaken to be a work of nonfiction. This method of developing the plot is essential to the authors purpose. He makes the story seem real so that others may in some way relate it to their own life and find deep and personal meaning behind it. Generally, Boyle conveys the idea that people must find satisfaction in their lives, even in trying situations. Otherwise, they may end up like Damaso; not in his exact situation, in a similar state of perpetual dismay and self-loathing. The final plot twist, Damasos death (most likely suicide), is an exaggerated but powerful means of displaying the outcome of a low sense of self worth. Thus, the author has a perfect control over the emotions that are connected with his work and can use this control to easily convey his message.

It is said that all writing is meant to advertise something. In some cases this may be a product, in others a lifestyle, and in others a simple yet powerful message. Writers of thoughtful fiction advertise the latter, each in their own way and with their own subtly ideas.

The laws of cause and effect often have tragic implications beyond the scope of human control. This fact is frighteningly displayed in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, wherein a man by the name of Victor Frankenstein brings life to a creature that soon proves to be his downfall. Although he is undoubtedly an instrument of great suffering, Frankensteins monster also reveals himself to be a tragic figure who is in many ways more deserving of sympathy than his impulsive creator. The true tragic vision of the fiends tale is that his complete and utter loneliness cause him to lead a life of evil deeds. The monsters crimes are have both physical and spiritual outcomes; he murders those close to Victor and thus mentally and emotionally