“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt. Human beings, by nature, will gain strength, courage, resilience, and confidence with every passing experience that triumphs over our fears. We all, at some point, must inevitably face circumstances that daunt us. With each passing triumph, our perspective and ideology will be shifted, even just slightly. Our personal perspective and ideology are the sum of our experiences. Proving to ourselves that we can overcome such challenges will reaffirm the uniqueness of our perspectives and ideas. In literary works, stories, and other narratives, the human experience is represented by the protagonists in the story, such as the case with Homer as our protagonist in October Sky. In October Sky, it is highly prevalent how Homer gained such strength, courage, and changes in himself by facing his fears head-on. In the real world, I myself have faced challenges surrounding academics and studies, the likes of which are only amplified by challenges related to the current pandemic. Be it in narrative stories or in the real world, human beings regularly face adversities that shape our perspectives and ideologies to be more unique in the end.
A Unique Perspective In Story
Homer Hickam is an exemplary illustration of how facing such adversity can redefine and differentiate a perspective. As we see in the film, Homer’s character development can be equally correlated with his power of choosing to persevere through adversity. For example, although a myriad of rocket tests go awry throughout his journey, Homer makes bold choices to continue testing and innovating. Homer makes bold choices to look fear in the eye and do things that he has doubts about. Following this newfound innovation and success beyond doubt, Homer had forged in himself a more unique perspective; a perspective shaped by overcoming adversity. This overcoming of adversity changed Homer’s identity and perspective from one that was more unfruitful and unoriginal, to one that allowed him to gain some celebrity status and recognition among his people. Also at the beginning of his story arc, we see Homer as a young boy without much hope for his future, but, with a little inspiration from seeing Sputnik in the night sky, Homer begins his journey of looking fear in the face, and gaining on strength and courage along the way. He began his journey in which he regularly faced challenges which molded his perspective to be all the more special.
My Unique Perspective
Alongside our protagonists facing fears in stories and literature, so must we also look our fears in the face and flourish in strength for ourselves in the real world. In my own personal life, school has of course become stressful as a result of approaching final exams. An honest challenge I myself had to face is that of staying on top of schoolwork and grades, especially at a time when in-person class attendance is dicey because of an ongoing pandemic. A difficulty I had to face every day was that it took serious discipline showing up for class on time four times a day for two weeks, but I managed notwithstanding. Getting all of my assignments in was also something I managed to do, most of which actually came in on time. Moving forward, I learned from overcoming these tribulations that academics taking precedence in my life would ultimately be best in the end. My perspective was made more unique by my experiences as a student, which reaffirmed that academics and studies would benefit me the most.
Beit in narrative stories or in the real world, human beings have to face challenges in order for our perspectives to become unique. Seeing as how human beings are, in substance, defined by unique perspectives and ideas, doing the things we think we cannot do is a necessity. Homer Hickam didn’t think that he could make a name for himself, but he did and made his perspective an exceptionally unique one in the process. I myself had my perspective shifted and revised from persevering through studies and academics. This overcoming of adversity to better one’s self is truly a staple of the human experience that we encounter throughout our lives. And, when our life comes to an end, how will our experiences then have defined the uniquity of our own perspective?
Are We Really Free? – A PRT to ‘Harrison Bergeron’
The short story, ‘Harrison Bergeron’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is about the human need for freedom and individuality. In real life, such as in literary works like Orwell’s 1984’ and ‘Harrison Bergeron’, people will always fight for their freedom and individuality. Vonnegut’s take on this fight for freedom shows a long-lost son showing all that humans can overcome any oppression eventually. George Orwell’s 1984 foretells a grim, dystopian society that may be closer to reality than we think. Something I experienced in my lifetime was a significant resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement during this past summer in 2020. Whether it’s through trying to overthrow a totalitarian state in social science fiction literature, or taking to the streets in the summer of 2020, human beings, by nature will fight to have freedom and individuality in one way or another. All this regardless, however, so long as there is some force to rule over us, can humans really be free?
The short story itself gives us a glimpse of what Vonnegut, to some extent, knows to be a possible future of society. The dystopian work describes a world where “everybody was finally equal,”(paragraph 1) through the use of handicaps on people who displayed too much of a certain trait. The story develops this dystopian universe, and eventually brings to the forefront, long-lost Harrison Bergeron himself. Serving as a round character in the story, Harrison ultimately represents mankind’s deep-seated desire to fight passionately for freedom and individuality. The theme and climax of the story both are significantly composed of Harrison’s development as a character. The said climax of the story kicks in with Harrison taking the public stage and ripping “off his handicaps like wet tissue paper,”(58) becoming a righteous symbol of mankind’s inevitable victory over oppression. However, Harrison’s reign did not hold for long after when abruptly “Diana Moon Clampers, the Handicapper General came into the studio,”(79) and ended his show of freedom. Yes, Harrison does symbolize humankind’s need for freedom, but his abrupt death begs the question, what does Vonnegut think about our fight for freedom in comparison to what ruling powers really want for us?
In a similar work of social science fiction, George Orwell paints a picture through a slightly different lens about humankind’s need for freedom. The basis of Orwell’s 1984 is that the fabric of society as we know it has been altered to the point where every thought and notion of all citizens is known by the state; allowing a totalitarian government to exist without opposition in a world of mass surveillance, thus silencing any possibility of free thought or expression. The protagonist in the story, Winston Smith, is secretly in opposition to this fascism and owns a diary that he writes in at different points in the story. When Winston chooses one day to write messages in the diary that would have him killed for thoughtcrime, as it is referred to, it becomes apparent that “whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it”(Orwell 21) he would be discovered and killed regardless by the Thought Police. Winston Smith and Harrison Bergeron represent similar themes found commonly in life as in literature; that no matter how much oppression and suppression a society endures, there will always be figures that rise above to fight for freedom and individuality. In 1984, to spoil the story, however, Winston Smith still ends up at the mercy of the system he so desired to tear down, and that the very creation of the sacred brotherhood he fought alongside was a fabrication of the fascist system. All this, again, begs the question, does the author truly believe that the system can, no matter how oppressive, ever be completely overtaken?
Black Lives Matter.
In the real world, humankind’s need, desire, and nature to fight for freedom and individuality is even more prevalent than in literary works. A critical example of this prevalence was with the series of immensely popular Black Lives Matter protests, and the movement in general this past summer, that I witnessed on the news almost every day. The movement arose from resparked outrage of people in the United States and around the world over the murder of George Floyd on May 25, an African American man. Through my very own eyes, I watched on the news as thousands of people in the streets came together in the midst of a pandemic to cry out one message in the face of oppression; Black Lives Matter. Tuning into the news almost every night on end last summer and seeing all the people around the world reverberating this message and fighting for their true freedom from prejudice was inspiring to me. From my point of view in the universe, this movement needed to happen considering the circumstances, but we shouldn’t live in a world where millions of people need to take to the street to say that people with dark skin have lives that matter. We shouldn’t live in a world like that of Vonnegut’s ‘Harrison Bergeron’ or Orwells ‘1984’; where freedom and individuality have to be fought, bled, and died for. So long as evil reigns free through the minds of man, is it ever possible to live in a society free of such prejudice?
Through studying these literary and real-life examples, we come up with a series of questions we can ask ourselves about our lives and society. In Vonnegut’s works, we come up with the question of, what message is it that Vonnegut really wants to portray about our fight for freedom versus government control of our lives? Similarly, in Orwell’s universe, we come up with the question of, can an all-controlling state ever be overthrown by its citizens fighting for freedom and individuality? Lastly, the real-world example of the Black Lives Matter movement begs the question of, do we truly live in a society where millions need to take to the streets just to get the message across that black lives do indeed matter? Reflecting on our own life and reality from these three questions brings up one summary question, are we really free?
Life is created;
the soul of what we call home.
Day by day, it thrives.
A new creation;
consciousness thrives within us.
Our rule has begun.
The trees still growing;
Regardless of us humans;
life on earth moves on.
We take and don’t give much back;
exploiting our home.
Bells chime and trains pass;
buildings rise towards the sky.
Where is nature now?
I was the last one on the bus. The bus driver never spoke to me, nor did anyone who saw me. I was invisible, a shadow in the corner of your eye, just an illusion you may dream of after a long day. Were my efforts in vain? Was there a good chance this was going to be a waste of time? Probably, but I was taught to expect and prepare for the worst, but always hope for the best. That was key in this situation. The bus started slowing down. I gathered my thoughts, and got ready to leave.
There was a faint squealing in the air from the busses breaks. I stood up, making my way out of my seat. Grabbing my backpack, I walked down the aisle, until I came to the doors. Opened before me, I felt as if I was walking off the school bus into my old elementary school. I remembered the kids, younger and older, my friends waiting for me by our classroom window, people saying good morning to me, but all that was gone. It was just me going off of this bus. Nobody there to greet me on my way out. Attempting to keep my thoughts busy, I hummed a familiar song as I stepped out into the cold, windy night.
There was darkness all around me. The bus drove off, leaving a slight cloud of dust in its wake, quickly dissipating with a gust of wind. I looked straight ahead at the dark field, tall grass swishing in the wind. I remembered the instructions given to me by my superior, to walk Westward until you reach the lampost, and play the combination. As vague as those instructions were, I could figure there was probably some kind of instrument there to play the combination. I removed my metal compass from the mesh pocket on the side of my backpack, flipped open the cover, oriented myself in the right direction, and set off west. After scaling over a short barbed wire fence, I began to speed walk through the tall blades of grass, my compass guiding me in a straight line, heading west.
Anytime I took this path, I always thought I was going nowhere until I saw the light. As I was drawing nearer to the lampost, a sudden and powerful gust of wind knocked me off balance, but I quickly recovered and continued on my way. I got to the lampost, to find a circular clearing of flat grass about three meters in diameter, with the lampost in the center. Behind the lampost was a piano. With many indications of being very old, the piano was certainly playable, but too rough of treatment would surely break a few key components.
There were no pedals, and no cover protecting the strings. Most other wood parts looked in good enough shape, despite being outdoors. I had been instructed to play a certain combination of notes. As I struck the keys in the designated order, I could see the strings vibrating inside the piano. It was like kicking the foot of a model skeleton in a grade 8 science room, making all the fake bones shake and rattle together. This brought back more short-lived memories of my past, quickly fading. I had finished the correct combination. Whatever was supposed to happen, was supposed to happen now. This was our last chance.
The sound of the sustained notes had completely faded into the night. I waited a few seconds. Then maybe a minute or two. I looked up and around. Nothing was to be seen, just me, the lampost yellow light shining, the tall blades of grass rubbing against each other in the wind which had died down since a few minutes ago. Nothing was unordinary. Was someone supposed to hear the notes I had played? I checked my surroundings again and turned around to find a pillar made of what looked like gold! Only about half a meter in front of my face, I looked up to see that the pillar got wider, and branched off to form slim triangle-like shapes attached to golden rods, connecting seamlessly to the main pillar, leading back into the ground. It was what appeared to be a tree made of gold, certainly something you do not see every day. I touched the tree, but my hand was nearly burnt how hot it was! I could feel it getting hotter and hotter until it started to run and begin to melt. Deciding I wanted to keep my feet today, I backed away from the increasingly large puddle of glowing molten gold. Was this supposed to happen? This was certainly very strange. Was this the sign all along? Was this supposed to start a grass fire? The gold was boiling and turning to gas. Not knowing what happens if you inhale gold vapour, I covered my mouth with my coat sleeve.
The gold tree was gone. All that was remaining was the smell of burnt grass. I had no idea what just happened. I could tell all my colleagues, but with their history with me, they would never believe me. I had so many questions. One of them was how I was going to get back home. Who knows, maybe I’ll catch a ride with a unicorn.
Another literary work of fiction that follows the Hero’s Journey is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As any work that follows the Hero’s Journey, this story begins in the Hero’s familiar home. We see the Hero’s ordinary life, and we observe how the call to action impacts their life. The hero may initially refuse the call; not wanting to leave their normal life behind. But, after a little convincing, the hero accepts the call to adventure. The hero and company take off on an adventure, and encounter numerous difficulties along their journey. The hero meets a mentor, who adventures alongside them in their journey. After overcoming a true, supreme challenge of wits and strength, the hero begins their journey back home. The Hero’s Journey is a long road with challenges, but the Hero eventually returns home as a different person from when they left.
The Hero of The Lord of The Rings would be Frodo. This young man is the hero on this journey, and at the beginning of the trilogy, we see his ordinary life. In the fictional land of Hobbiton, Frodo lives peacefully with his cousin and guardian, Bilbo, his friend, Sam, and other townspeople. In its own way, this land reflects an aspect of what it means to be human. We can live our lives in mediocrity no problem, but at some point, we are called to adventure. We are called to take on challenges, and to leave our comfortable lives. This is also related to religion. More specifically, what I know about Christianity is that we may be comfortable in our lives, but we need to challenge ourselves to be selfless and take actions that will change our lives for the better. To develop an altruistic attitude is my belief for the abandonment of the comfortable; often sinful lifestyle before selflessness. Christian altruism is my point of view when it comes to leaving comfort for the sake of selflessness. As any writing of what it means to be human, part of being human also incorporates the discomfort in choosing to accept the call to action, and the call to selflessness and holiness. The call to action that summons him to adventure would be Frodo’s receiving of the One Ring from his guardian. Additionally, the same mentor, Gandalf, is the convincing imposition of Frodo. With other friends, Mary, Pippin, and Sam, Frodo begins his adventure. Of course, as is our lives, we can hardly overcome challenges and ordeals without the help of others like us. Undoubtedly, experienced or more elderly mentors help with said ordeals and challenges, but it is also beneficial to mind and spirit to be alongside others like ourselves in our adventures throughout our lives. We can see, in The Lord of The Rings, how Frodo and company take charge of their lives, exit the comfort, and change their lives for the greater good.
When taking off on his adventure to change his life, Frodo is in the company of an experienced mentor through the encountered difficulties. Soon after leaving the comfort of home, Frodo and company make it to the town of Bree, where they meet up with a new mentor. This new mentor leads them on their journey. Helping them with difficulty, this mentor is a sizeable help to the hero’s cause. In our own lives, we meet our own mentors who help us with adventuring out into the unknown and away from our normal lives. Parents, friends, religious leaders; all people who can help us on our extensive journeys that our lives are consistent with; all people who can be our mentors to overcome our supreme ordeals. We oftentimes feel lost in our seemingly dramatic or complex lives, but, in reality, it takes experienced mentorship to help us realise there is always hope. And, with this mentor, Frodo becomes more prepared for the eventual supreme ordeal of his Hero’s Journey.
The peak of the story arc of this Hero’s Journey would be the eventual arrival at the site of Mount Doom in Mordor. After so much hardship and adversity, Frodo faces a final challenge, which is to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom from which it was born. Each new day brings challenges and ordeals, but perhaps the supreme ordeal of all of our lives are yet to come. I can say with relative certainty that my supreme challenge at the top of the mountain; my supreme ordeal is yet to come. This ordeal of destroying the ring would represent the supreme ordeal as indicated by the Hero’s Journey formulated structure. Lastly, the hero returns home; changed.
Upon the return home, the hero reaches the end of his journey, and is back to where he began. Each day, we start our journey, and at the end of the day, we return to where we began. The challenges we face out in the world are our own ordeals in life. We are called to adventure, and make difficult choices that help ourselves and others. We meet experienced mentors, and others just like us who help us with our daily lives. And, although perhaps not today, we come across our supreme ordeal; a challenge at the apex of our adventure. The Hero’s Journey is seen not only in a multitude of film and literary works, but in our own lives.
What would be the house of my dreams? A dream house, like a dream car, would be needing a certain glamour as of good looks. As well, it would need a balance of practicality and aesthetic appearance. Lastly and most importantly, my dream house would be able to function as a comfortable residence. There is a multitude of factors that would make my house a dream house.
To begin with, my dream house would need to look good. A house that simply isn’t nice to look at is not my dream house. The right colours of paint on the interior and exterior would be important to consider. I’ve never been too crazy for excessive decor in homes, but I would definitely want a reasonable amount of pictures or paintings to emblazon my dream home. As for other decorative features like sculptures and pottery, I think I could pass up on those. Decorating your home can be joyous, but there is more to a home than style.
In terms of practicality, a dream home would need all the basics of your average home. A place to sleep is a must in every home, and my dream home would be no such exception. A kitchen and bathrooms are also standard and would need a presence in my dream home. Lastly, for basics, a place to spend most of my time watching television or playing games would be needed, in the form of a living room. Since I do plan on sleeping, I would omit the presence of a television in my bedroom. The basic functions of a home are widespread.
However, my dream home would have more than the average unconventional functions and features. Unconventional would mean more luxurious than average. Entertainment devices and high-end couches would have their place in my dream home. A large backyard would be necessary should I have pets that need outdoor space. A kitchen with an abundance of hardware for cooking is also something I would desire for my dream home. The list goes on for elements of a home that can make a dream home.
A dream house can take many shapes. My dream home would need a look that suits my style. A dream house or not, any residence needs the basic functions of a home; a roof over your head. And more importantly for being a true dream house, features beyond the average home would be desirable. A house becomes a dream home when you make it your own.
What is the car of my dreams? This is not a question I have asked myself too often. A dream car couldn’t just be something for showboating, I believe that it should be practical. There must also be a balance between aesthetically pleasing and practical. Another thing that would make a car a dream car, would be its ability to drive. Although there are plenty of good choices for a car for teens, To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t think of my dream car off the top of my head right now. But, with a little more thought, I have faith that I could think of a dream car that would suit me just right.
To begin with, every car needs to have practical implications. I wouldn’t want a car made completely from gold, nor one built for the sake of pure luxury. My dream car would need a sturdy frame and suspension that could handle the Alberta landscape. A car designed to be able to handle winter and uneven terrain would be a must. The last thing I would want would be a car that falls apart after a drive through the ice and snow.
As well, my dream car would have to be pleasing to the eye. A fine shape and model would be a necessity. The right colour would also be crucial. I would likely go with something more common, like black, with a nice shine to it. The car of my dreams would be nothing too extraordinary, but definitely, something to strike my fancy.
One more aspect of being a dream car would be its ability to get to your destination. The ability to drive is a priceless aspect of any automobile. Something with a V8 and plenty of horsepower is in my interest. A sizeable gas tank would also be needed. Getting from point A to point B would be the real purpose of a car, would it not?
The car of my dreams would be a 2020 Chevy Camaro. Although mainly for aesthetics, this car is also my choice because it has great specs. Elegance and authenticity embody this car’s looks. The V8 engine, 455 horsepower, and around 6000 horsepower rpm, this car would be a car of my dreams for sure. This car is nothing short of dream-worthy.
When viewing the world, do we see rosiness or gloomy gray? Many would say that they see the gloominess and drab of the world. Certainly, others would also say that there are rosiness and blissfulness in the world. Some of us see both, myself included. The writing prompt I chose was an interesting voice to this topic; the topic of the world being rosy or gloomy.
It is obvious to see why people might tend to believe solely in the gloominess of the world. More often than not we see bad news from our sources of media. However, according to this writing prompt, the rain we see falling in the world looks harder through the windows of media than it really is. The media may overemphasize world events to bring seeming validity to their sources. However, this does not mean that it isn’t raining outside. There are conflicts in the world that we hear about. Humans have found ways to ruin their very environment we rely on for survival. There are injustices and inequities; all signs of human failure. And for these reasons, I can understand why people view the world as gloomy gray.
On the contrary, there is also reasoning behind why people may see the world as a rosy place to be. Alongside threats of war and pandemics, we also receive news of improving technology; a sign of human success. People find a myriad of ways to be hopeful even in a struggling world. Hope is what powers our drive for success. And from this hope, we can drive ourselves to further successes. If we view the world as merely a gloomy gray wasteland, how can we begin to hope to fix it?
The third group of people to mention here would be those who see the good and bad in the world. I see events in the world that are beneficial, and others that are negative. Yin and yang exist in our daily lives. Though we’d all certainly like to live completely in the yang, life would be unbalanced without the bad elements. In a piano song, the black keys may represent the sad parts of life, and white keys the happiness in life; both are needed to make a song; a balanced life. This writing prompt I chose is representative of both these views because although it mentions the rain coming down, it also reassures us by mentioning that the storm looks worse than it is.
So, when I view the world, I see rosiness, and an amount of gloomy gray alongside. The gloominess may tend to dominate our lives. Knowing this, it’s our responsibility to not have tunnel vision; to look up and remember that not all to life is hopeless. Seeing the bad things in our world will help us to see the good things when they come. Not a question of if they come, but when.
I read the first few sentences of this short story and I was already captivated to read the whole thing. The limited description of this short story includes a detail about the fourth dimension, which I know to be time, which immediately interested me. The last essay I wrote was about traveling through time, and human nature, and, while in the process of reading this short story, I noticed some ideas I could write about connecting the two. Another element that interested me was the inherent certainty that this short piece of literature was a fascinating personal story. This short story was regarding man writing about the loss of his wife to cancer, and how this loss affected his outlook on life.
The story starts with the author writing about certain scientists, and how their various scientific works, such as books and theories have influenced our modern concept of time, and how it passes by. This subject, the human concept of time, fascinates me. How this concept of time plays into the story, however, is part of what makes it so interesting for me. First mentioned in the title of the story, the idea of grieving, meaning to remember someone lost, is to carry, or possess emotionally, another time. Another time from when the person you are remembering was still with you.
This idea of remembering someone you lost some time ago ties into what I wrote briefly about in my essay about time travel. In that essay, I wrote about how although it would certainly feel good to travel back to a time when you still had someone, it would be better to stay in the present. I understand why some people would want to go back, and I cannot begin to blame them. In fact, the short story which I found so interesting actually mentioned how the author wished to go back in time ” just one minute”(paragraph 9). In this particular example, the author would be wanting to back for the purpose of seeing their significant other.
By including this short detail of wanting to go back, the author can display human emotion, which will undoubtedly make for a better story. Regardless of what the story may be about, when told from a personal angle, it always seems to captivate us more thoroughly. Being able to relate to characters in literature is necessary for our psychological and emotional comprehension of said literature. When we read a story about unusual people living unconventional lives and possessing a generally unorthodox belief for life in comparison to our own, we have a lack of relatability with those characters. In contradiction to the aforementioned abnormalities, interpreting a literary work containing characters similar to us, with lifestyles and beliefs comparable to our own, a superior sense of relatability and humanity with those characters can be established. And for this reason; the story having characters that can be related to is an additional defining circumstance that makes the story exceptional.
We encounter good literature essentially every day. This literature may be surrounding various subjects that we are enthusiastic about. Good literature we encounter daily may be reflective of our own works and writings. Or, more commonly encountered, a good piece of literature might be exceptional due to its abundance of emotion and understandability. This piece of literature was exceptional for all of these reasons.