Thursday, April 23, 2009


Characteristics: cultivation of sensibility, emotion, or passion, a revived interest in and appreciation of Christianity, relish of medievalism, tragic hero, appreciation of nature

Major Themes: evocation or criticism of the past, the cult of "sensibility" with its emphasis on women and children, the heroic isolation of the artist or narrator, and respect for a new, wilder, untrammeled and "pure" nature, nationalism

Style: emphasis on intuition, imagination, feeling

Lit. Devices: motifs, imagery, metaphysical discontent, religious and philosophical allusions

Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake

Poem: A Mathematical Problem (in a letter to his brother)

This is now--this was erst,
Proposition the first--and Problem the first.


On a given finite Line
Which must no way incline;
To describe an equi--
--lateral Tri--
--A, N, G, L, E.
Now let A. B.
Be the given line
Which must no way incline;
The great Mathematician
Makes this Requisition,
That we describe an Equi--
--lateral Tri--
--angle on it:
Aid us, Reason--aid us, Wit!


From the centre A. at the distance A. B.
Describe the circle B. C. D.
At the distance B. A. from B. the centre
The round A. C. E. to describe boldly venture.
(Third Postulate see.)
And from the point C.
In which the circles make a pother
Cutting and slashing one another,
Bid the straight lines a journeying go,
C. A., C. B. those lines will show.
To the points, which by A. B. are reckon'd,
And postulate the second
For Authority ye know.
A. B. C.
Triumphant shall be
An Equilateral Triangle,
Not Peter Pindar carp, not Zoilus can wrangle.


Because the point A. is the centre
Of the circular B. C. D.
And because the point B. is the centre
Of the circular A. C. E.
A. C. to A. B. and B. C. to B. A.
Harmoniously equal for ever must stay;
Then C. A. and B. C.
Both extend the kind hand
To the basis, A. B.
Unambitiously join'd in Equality's Band.
But to the same powers, when two powers are equal,
My mind forbodes the sequel;
My mind does some celestial impulse teach,
And equalises each to each.
Thus C. A. with B. C. strikes the same sure alliance,
That C. A. and B. C. had with A. B. before;
And in mutual affiance,
None attempting to soar
Above another,
The unanimous three
C. A. and B. C. and A. B.
All are equal, each to his brother,
Preserving the balance of power so true:
Ah! the like would the proud Autocratorix do!
At taxes impending not Britain would tremble,
Nor Prussia struggle her fear to dissemble;
Nor the Mah'met-sprung Wight,
The great Mussulman
Would stain his Divan
With Urine the soft-flowing daughter of Fright.


But rein your stallion in, too daring Nine!
Should Empires bloat the scientific line?
Or with dishevell'd hair all madly do ye run
For transport that your task is done?
For done it is--the cause is tried!
And Proposition, gentle Maid,
Who soothly ask'd stern Demonstration's aid,
Has prov'd her right, and A. B. C.
Of Angles three
Is shown to be of equal side;
And now our weary steed to rest in fine,
'Tis rais'd upon A. B. the straight, the given line.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Characteristics: a revolutionary force, questioning what came before, anti-Romantic, subjective meaning, alienation from society, loneliness, procrastination (an inability to act), agonized recollection of the past, fear of death, the appearance of death, inability to feel or express love, world as a wasteland (poor environmental portrayal), man creating his own myths within his mind to fall back upon, sees world as fragmented

Major Themes: technology, violence and alienation, historical discontinuity, decadence and decay, loss and despair, rejection of history, race relations, unavoidable change, sense of place, local color

Styles: relied especially heavily on advances in narrative technique (narration is the essential building block of all literature), riddle/labyrinth-like, poems didn't always have to have a meaning

Lit. Devices: footnotes, allusions (Bible, myth, foreign languages, street life, and personal)

Authors: Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Hilda Doolittle, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, E. E. Cummings

Poem: Jehovah Buried, Satan Dead
E. E. Cummings
Jehovah buried,Satan dead,
do fearers worship Much and Quick;

badness not being felt as bad,
itself thinks goodness what is meek;
obey says toc, submit says tic,
Eternity's a Five Year Plan:
if Joy with Pain shall hand in hock
who dares to call himself a man?
go dreamless knaves on Shadows fed,
your Harry's Tom,your Tom is Dick;
while Gadgets murder squack and add,
the cult of Same is all the chic;
by instruments,both span and spic,
are justly measured Spic and Span:
to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
who dares to call himself a man?
loudly for Truth have liars pled,click;
where Boobs are holy,poets mad,
illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:
if Hate's a game and Love's a fuck
who dares to call himself a man?
King Christ,this world is all aleak;
and lifepreservers there are none:
and waves which only He may walk
Who dares to call Himself a man.

Monday, October 20, 2008


"At dat she ain't so ole as some of y'all dat's talking...Tea Cake ain't been no boy for some time. He's round thirty his ownself." (page 3)

This tells us that Janie Starks is over 40 years old and is still dating (or looking for) younger guys. Though they say that the one she's with is around 30, so he's not a boy by any means. But this also tells us that Janie looks good outwardly for being over 40 (referring back to "the men noticed her firm buttocks....then her pugnacious breasts trying to bore holes in her shirt.") and she can get younger guys to pay attention to her.

Friday, October 17, 2008


"So the beginning of this was a woman and she had come back from burying the dead...their eyes flung wide open in judgement." (page 1)

This paragraph is talking about a woman who has been dealing with people who are in horrible conditions, like starving or suffering from malnutrition (sodden and the bloated). The speaker talks about them being "dead," which they aren't, but they probably wish they were. Their eyes being "flung wide open in judgement" might refer to them realizing no one can really help them, that they're trapped in a problem they can't get out of.


"Now women forget all those things they don't want to remember...The dream is the truth." (page 1)

This paragraph is the speaker's contrast to the first paragraph about men and how they always watch their dreams, which are just out of reach yet still in sight. The speaker is saying that instead of watching their dreams and waiting for them to happen, women go on with their lives as if their dreams were going to happen no matter what. This paragraph tells us that maybe the situation(s) these women are in might be hopeless without dreams to hold onto, so they cling to their dreams like duct tape clings to itself.


"Ships at a distance have ever man's wish on board...That is the life of men." (page 1)

In this paragraph the speaker is talking about wishes and dreams. The ships do not actually have every man's wish on board, but instead they are metaphors for those wishes and dreams. What the speaker means by this paragraph is that while some men get everything they want (the ships coming in with the tide), others aren't so lucky and their wishes only get presented once they've given up (never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation). Those unfortunate ones are often discouraged and therefore their dreams are "mocked to death by Time." According to the speaker, this is the life of all men, waiting for something to happen then seeing that it only does after it's too late.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"The men noticed her firm buttocks like she had grape fruits in her hip pockets;...still it was a hope that she might fall to their level some day." (pg. 2)
This paragraph is saying that for being over 40 she is very attractive and the men still notice her when she walks by. While the men watch after her and remember how she filled out the clothes, the women remember the fact that she was wearing ratty-looking clothes that they could use against her if nothing else. They also hold some hope that her clothes symbolize that she might fall from a class above them, down to their level.

"She sits high, but she looks low. Dat's what Ah say 'bout dese ole women runnin' after young boys." (pg. 3)
The women are saying that she may have money, but she dresses and acts like she's poor. Also, that she's chasing after guys who are younger than her (like Tea Cake). And the person speaking disapproves of such behavior, so that puts Janie lower on her list of respect/approval.

"An envious heart makes a treacherous ear." (pg. 5)
This quote tells us that there is something about Janie that the other women are envious of. Maybe it's her hold over their men or the fact that she's of a higher class.

"Dat's just de same as me 'cause mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf." (pg. 6)
Janie is saying here that what she tells her friend is the same thing that she would tell anyone who asked. It's also what her friend would say if he/she was asked about her.

"They don't know if life is a mess of corn-meal dumplings and if love is a bed-quilt." (pg. 6)
What this quote is saying is that people are so caught up in other people's business that they wouldn't know love if it bit them on the butt, or what living life is if they were to die then. They don't pay enough attention to the things going on in their own lives because they're too obsessed with someone else's.

"If they wants to see and know, why don't they come kiss and be kissed?" (pg. 6)
I'm not quite sure what she means here. It's an interesting quote, but it's confusing to me. Might this have something to do with the "my tongue is in my friend's mouth" quote?

"De Grand Lodge, de big convention of livin' is just where Ah been dis year and a half y'all ain't seen me." (pg. 6)
Janie is explaining to us where she's been for the time she's been gone that everyone's been wondering about.

"They don't need to worry about me and my overhals long as Ah still got nine hundred dollars in de bank." (pg. 7)
Janie's telling Pheoby that she's still well-off and she has her money in the bank, that she needn't worry about her until that's no longer true.

"Tea Cake ain't wasted up no money of mine, and he ain't left me for no young gal, neither." (pg. 7)
Self-explanitory...She's discrediting any rumors floating around about her and Tea Cake.

"Pheoby, we been kissin'-friends for twenty years, so Ah depend on you for a good thought. And Ah'm talking to you from day standpoint." (pg. 7)
This means that she trusts Pheoby, and has for twenty years. Kissing-friends refers to her quote "my tongue is in my friend's mouth," which is about her trusting Pheoby to tell things as she says them.

"Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches." (pg. 8)
She's foreshadowing the flashback later about the pear tree, sitting beneath it for three days every chance she got, and soon after, letting Johnny Taylor kiss her. The pear tree symbolizes marriage to Janie. By referring to her life as a tree, she's saying she's married (to Tea Cake) and that she's been through some good and some bad, but she's still standing strong.

"Ah ain't never seen mah papa. And Ah didn't know 'im if Ah did. Mah mama neither." (pg. 8)
This tells us that she was raised by her grandma, not her parents. It also tells us that she doesn't really know who her parents are.

"Mah grandma raised me. Mah grandma and de white floks she worked wid. She had a house out in de back-yard and dat's where Ah wuz born. They was quality white folks up dere in West Florida. Name Washburn." (pg. 8)
Her grandma raised her in the house, on the Washburns' property, that she was born in. This also tells us that she lived in west Florida for at least a while.

"Ah never caled mah Grandma nothin' but Nanny." (pg. 8)
Is that because that's what all the white kids called her, because that's what she was, or because she didn't know she was colored as well?

"Nanny used to ketch us in our devilment and lick every youngun on de place and Mis' Washburn did de same. Ah reckon dey never hit us ah lick amiss 'cause dem three boys and us two girls wuz pretty aggravatin', Ah speck." (pg. 8)
Her grandma used to catch them when they got into things and punished them for doing so, as did Miss Washburn. And Janie suspects that the adults never hit them when they didn't deserve it because they were always caught and punished when they did something wrong.

"Ah was wid dem white chillun so much till Ah didn't know Ah wasn't white till Ah was round six years old." (pg. 8)
Janie didn't know she was colored until she was 6 years old because she was around them so much and they probably didn't treat her any different.

"A man come long takin' pictures and without askin' anybody, Shelby, dat was de oldest boy, he told him to take us." (pg. 8-9)
Shelby, the oldest boy of the five, told a man who was a traveling salesman (taking pictures and selling them to you) to take their picture which is how Janie finds out that she's colored; it also gets them all punished because it cost Ms. Washburn money when they got the picture.

"So when we looked at de picture and everybody got pointed out there wasn't nobody left except a real dark girl with long har standing by Eleanor...Ah don't see me." (pg. 9)
Everyone was shown where they were and the only person left is a real dark-colored girl and Janie doesn't realize that that's her. She thinks it might be someone else in her spot.

"Everybody laughed, even Mr. Washburn...don't you know yo' ownself?" (pg. 9)
Janie didn't even recognize herself when she looked at the picture.

"Dey all useter call me Alphabet 'cause so many people had done named me different names." (pg. 9)
Apparently many different people have "named" her in her younger years.

"Aw! Aw! Ah'm colored!" (pg. 9)
She's obviously not happy when she finds out that she's colored, not white like the other children.

"But before Ah seen de picture Ah thought Ah wuz just like de rest." (pg. 9)
Before Janie saw that picture, she thought she was white.

"Dere wuz uh knotty head gal name Mayrella dat useter git mad every time she look at me...Dat useter rile Mayrella uh lot." (pg. 9)
Mayrella was upset because Ms. Washburn would dress Janie in her kids' old clothes, which was still better than what the other kids at her school had.

"Den they'd tel me not to be takin' on over mah looks 'cause they mama told 'em 'bout de hound he could marry her." (pg. 9-10)
People are trying to rile Janie up by talking about the bloodhounds the sheriff and Mr. Washburn sent out to look for the man who raped Janie's mom (Janie's dad, a teacher), but they don't talk about how he was going to come back later to marry her.

"Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the backyard...It stirred her tremendously." (pg. 10)
When she wasn't doing chores, Janie spent every second she could under a blooming pear tree in the back yard. She watched it for three days, from the time its first bloom opened. It was a mystery and it intrigued her; she wanted to know how and why it could go from barren brown stems to leaf-buds to blooms. Maybe she's trying to look at her own life like the tree, growing from not much of anything and growing into something beautiful and captivating.

"She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace...Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid." (pg. 11)
Janie is experiencing/seeing love for the first time. She sees the harmony and bliss in the marriage between the bee and the blossom and longs to feel like that herself.

"Oh to be a pear tree - any tree in bloom!...Where were the singing bees for her?" (pg. 11)
Janie is 16 and wanting to know what it feels like to be loved like the bee and the blossom (see above).

"In her former blindness she had known him as shiftless Johnny Taylor, tall and lean. That was before the golden dust of pollen had beglamored his rags and her eyes." (pg. 11-12)
Before opening her eyes and awakening (as Thoreau called it), she didn't really notice Johnny Taylor as anything other than just another person there. Now that she is in this hormonal teenage girl mood where you notice everything to do with guys, she actu
ally sees him for the first time.