October 2, 2014

“The Hobby” and “The Tower”

“After all, what is happiness? Love, they tell me. But love doesn’t bring and never has brought happiness. On the contrary, it’s a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; it’s sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony.” – Paulo Coelho, The Witch Of Portobello

Compare what each author(Marghanita Laski and Eric McCormack) have to say about love?

or

How do we find the courage to be true to ourselves – even if we are unsure of who we are?

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October 2, 2014

“The Tower” and “The Hobby” Essay

Argue in an essay any(one) of these critical questions:

  • Compare ideas the author’s suggest to you about the gender role of the protagonist?
  • How do various literary elements of each work – plot, character, point of view, setting, tone, diction, images, symbol, archetypes etc. – reinforce its meaning?
  • Compare how psychological matters such as repression, dreams, and desire are presented consciously or unconsciously by each author.
  • Compare what each author suggests about the relationships between men and women? Are these relationships sources of conflict? Do they provide resolutions to conflicts?
  • Compare how you felt when reading the last paragraph of each story. Explain what each story suggests to you about the nature of reality. Was Caroline’s descent beyond the 470th step “real”? Is the Old Man’s train “real”? How are the Tower and the Kitchener house similar/different. What function do our memories serve in defining who we are? At the end, are Caroline and the Old Man still alive? Are they dead?
  • Are these two stories similar to any movies you have seen?
  • What do these stories contribute to our ongoing in-class discussions of the “Four Postulates”
    1. Can something come from nothing?
    2. Does God exist?
    3. Does Man have immortal soul?
    4. Does Man have free will?
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September 24, 2014

Personal Response

Continue the story …
The protagonist from “The Sea Devil” is a more specific character – but he must be a character from a story you have studied. Any other character you choose to add must also be a character from a story you have read. Continue the story.

Examples:
The protagonist is actually Neville from “The Tower.” Write a new ending in which he returns to the house and begins a conversation with his wife, Kay.

Imagine that the protagonist is actually, Mr. Berryman, or Martin Collingwood, or better yet, Bill Kline.

Imagine the protagonist is an immigrant from New Zealand. Transform him into grown-up Ned from “The Quiet One” and have him meet up with Sid and Wally for breakfast the next morning.

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September 7, 2014

“The Quiet One” and “The History of Macbeth” Essay

A wise person once said, “Be careful what mask you put on, it may stick.” Explain clearly what this quotation means. both Ned in “The Quiet One”(15) and Macbeth in “The History of Macbeth”(47), find themselves wearing “masks” (cast in roles) that make them uneasy – roles they feel they have been forced into, roles they did not choose. Explain what these roles are. To what extent have others forced these characters into their roles, and to what extent did they assume the roles willingly? Make comparisons, remembering to use quotations from the text to support your ideas. Explain why each character might or might not be able to escape from his role. Write about the following ideas: To what extent do you sometimes feel forced into a role yourself? Do you see any way out of it? Why or why not?

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September 7, 2014

Media

Listen to some of the hit songs – especially love songs – from the fifties and sixties, looking for unconscious/implied stereotyping of both genders. When you have collected ten or twelve examples, select five of the best and discuss them in your blog, embedding parts of the songs. Imagine that the gender roles in the lyrics were reversed. Invite your readers to post comments to your post on the question, “Is there stereotyping in today’s hit songs?”

Getting started:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Boyfriend’s_Back_(song)
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_angels/my_boyfriends_back.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicit_stereotype#Gender_stereotypes

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September 7, 2014

Personal Response

  1. Which of the three teenagers – Wally, Sid, or Ned – would you want to have for a best friend? Give at least three reasons why you made the choice you did. Explain why you did not choose the other two.
  2. Ned’s cousin, Marty, is going through a devastating experience. What thoughts are going through his head as he haunts the doorway where he and Dulcie used to meet? Write a poem, or the lyrics and, if possible, the music for a song representing Marty’s point of view.
  3. This story is told entirely from the male point of view How would it be different if Marty’s cousin were a girl? Begin the story from the point where the narrator leaves his friends, only assume the narrator is female. Retell the story from her point of view. If you feel the story would not be different if told from a female point of view, argue your case convincingly.
  4. Many students in a small town blame their discontent on the fact that they live in “such a dead-alive hole.” Create an online questionnaire, survey, or poll that explores people’s feelings about their home town and survey your school and adults in your neighbourhood. Plan your questions carefully. Be sure to leave room for your respondents to offer creative suggestions for improvements, if they feel improvements are needed. Are there any differences in the way students feel and adults feel? Try to account for these differences.
  5. Examine the impact and explicit attitudes toward abortion that this story suggests. Do you agree or disagree with these attitudes?
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September 7, 2014

Exploring the Text

  1. Reread the first eight paragraphs of the story, down to “chance of picking up a sheila, eh, Sid?”(15) What is your initial impression of each of the three boys? How are these impressions later modified during the quest for the girl in the black hat? Do you know anyone like any of these three boys? If you do, describe that person: What does s/he look like? What kinds of things does s/he say or do? Explain why you do or do not like this person.
  2. Reread the boys’ encounter with Jean and Isobel and answer the following questions: What is your impression of the two girls? Analyze the situation carefully and then account for the fact that Ned has little to say during this encounter. (In addition to what is said and done in this encounter, keep in mind the incident that just preceded it.)
  3. Every once in a while a cliché rings true. you may have heard the expression “Still waters run deep.” Explain what you think this expression means. Davin has called his story “The Quiet One.” Who is the “quiet one” and who called him that? Argue that, at least in this instance, the “waters” of the quiet one do indeed “run deep.”
  4. In the last paragraph, Ned says he was beginning to “wake up” to something. Explain what that was in your own words. Do you agree with Ned’s conclusions? Can you think of an incident in your own life to which his conclusions apply?
  5. Reread the last few pages of the story from Ned’s first encounter with Marty to the end. What was your first impression of Marty? Does that impression change with the rereading of the text? If so, how? Marty, like Ned, says little. Examine the text closely. Even though he says little, we have several clues that suggest his mind is in torment. What are they and what do they suggest about Marty?
  6. Ned finds himself in three different situations on this Sunday evening. While each situation focuses on a girl “lost,” there are profound differences. Examine the situations and explain what some of the differences might be. In which situation do you most easily identify with Ned? Why?
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September 7, 2014

Dan (Daniel Marcus) Davin, 1913-1990

Dan Davin was born in Invercargill, New Zealand. Although he is often identified as a New Zealand writer, he spent most of his life in England. He attended Balliol College at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, and after distinguished military service with both the British and New Zealand armed forces, he joined the Clarendon Press, Oxford. He has published many poems and novels, as well as works of criticism and memoirs. Some of his books are: The Gorse Blooms Pale (short stories); No Remittance; Not Here, Not Now; Breathing Spaces (short stories); The Salamander and the Fire: Collected War Stories.

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September 7, 2014

“The Quiet One” by Dan David (New Zealand)

There is a group of novels and short stories that concern themselves with the social traumas suffered by adolescents – especially by the kind of adolescents that grow up to be writers of novels and stories. And, for the first two thirds of “The Quiet One,” we assume that Dan Davin has simply made another contribution to this already well-populated genre. Like most narrators of stories in this genre, Ned is a sensitive young man, set apart from his somewhat loutish companions by his ability to perceive and articulate the pattern of these empty weekend nights. Again, typically, he is not capable of walking away from this pattern, even though he recognizes it as a “the game.”

Not until his encounter with Marty does Ned (and Davin’s story) break away from the self-enclosed world of adolescent agonies. The terrible fact of Dulcie’s abortion and death interrupts “the game,” with its bruising, but at the same time protective, rules. Hearing of her death, Ned suddenly finds himself in that “other country” where “the sort of thing that happens once the gloves are off” actually takes place, where he is sized up by someone he admires and is not found wanting, where not knowing what to say is somehow the right response. Ned has the maturity to know that although this is the place he yearned to be, he would rather be “anyplace else in the world.” Davin’s accomplishment is that he reminds us that a boy grows up, not in a steady purposeful ascent to maturity, but through a slow accumulation of inglorious episodes like this one.

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September 3, 2014

“An Ounce of Cure” and “The Quiet One” Essay or Narrative

Ned, in the “The Quiet One,” spends a good deal of time worrying about being “a different breed” from his friends. By contrast, the protagonist of “An Ounce of Cure” agonizes over the “painful banality” with which she behaves while in love with Martin Collingwood. Both, however, are shocked out of their dramatized feelings by what Munro calls, “the terrible and fascinating reality of … the way things happened.”

  1. Analyze and compare the incidents that startle the two adolescents out of their more or less self-inflicted miseries. What do the two incidents have in common? In what ways do they differ? How would you feel if you had experienced these incidents? Do you think they would change your life? If so, in what way? Now, compare what the two protagonists have to say about how they were affected by the incidents. Are you convinced by what they say their experiences did to them? Explain why or why not in an essay.
  2. Imagine that Ned, in the “The Quiet One,” attends the same school as the narrator of “An ounce of Cure.” Their English Language Arts teacher has instructed them to work together as a group to analyze the pressures adolescents unwittingly exert on each other. Write a narrative in which your characters discuss the pressures their peers do or do not exert on them.

    Critical Response Rubric

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