Sunday, November 12, 2017

Testing Time

By: Evan Williams

         Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This quote might've been intended to highlight the importance of being aware of history and to use some bad events as justification of change for the future. prolific 19th century Danish philosopher once said “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” History can teach us so many things, like who to trust, what to do, and how. Lessons are what progress humans and shape us, and history is a prime example of this and we use it on a daily basis. Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, is a prime example of this. Paine, in 1776, intends to convince American people to adopt a republic as their government regulation, and he uses the Roman Empire as an example of successes of it. His purpose was to sway his audience, and he used historical lessons to assist him. If there's one thing I've learned from my English class this year, it's to detect the authors purpose when they write. What was their intention and message to their audience, who is their audience, and how are they trying to affect them? These questions are the focus of books such as Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and they aren't as easy to detect compared to other novels. 





        








          


            Invisible man is my AP classic that I'm currently reading, and I'll be the first to say that it isn't easy, my English teacher agrees as well. Invisible man is a book about a man in New York City who, after his experiences growing up and living as an oppressed black citizen, lives in an underground hole and believes he is invisible to American society. It was published at a time when racial tensions where overwhelming, and segregation was a sensitive topic. The author addresses the social instability, at the time, at the beginning of the book when the narrator describes his experience giving a speech when he was in grade school. The narrator was a profound speaker and was awarded a scholarship for this, however during one of his speeches the narrator is confronted with a nagging audience that is making him repeat every word he is saying. He stumbles over the word "Social responsibility" by which they scream for him to say it again and after he echos this for the the 8th time the narrator blurts out the words "Social Equality" by which soon after, "The laughter hung smoke like in the sudden stillness. [He] opened [His] eyes, puzzled. Sounds of displeasure filled the room. The M.C. rushed forward. They shouted hostile phrases at [him]" (Ralph Ellison, 31). Racism in the 1950's, as you may know, was very real, but it's hard sometimes for us today to understand the reality and the struggle that was happening during the time. Ellison really tries to open the audience's eyes by using a shameful tone to show that it's disappointing and aggravating to not have social equality. I've had some progress with this book and honestly the overall structure is compelling. Ellison doesn't take a direct approach to the way he writes, but rather he writes in a sort of episode format, and often leaves his readers to connect the many dots in the story. This style and the overall message are some of the reasons why I'm still interested. This book can be confusing to some because sometimes the reader has to search for the clues in order to piece the full puzzle; for example, it takes a minute to understand that the narrator is not literally invisible, but only believes he is due to the lack of acknowledgement society gives him. This makes me wonder if Ellison thinks he's invisible as well. CrashCourse Literature  tells us that one of Ellison's messages is to remind us that "All people everywhere have the right to not be invisible, to develop their own identities and to be respected." This isn't only seen through whites, but also blacks as Ellison illustrates how power can corrupt their ideals as well. In chapter 6, Dr. Bledsoe, the president at the narrator's college, explains how succumbing and flaunting to powerful white men has enabled him to maintain his own position of power and authority over the college. By playing the role of the “ignorant” black man, Dr. Bledsoe has made himself nonthreatening to whites, and telling them what they want to hear, has allowed him to control what they think, and thereby control them entirely. Dr Bledsoe tells the narrator his desire to do this when he says, "The only ones I even pretend to please are big white folk, and even those I control more than they control me. . . You're nobody, son. You don't exist – can't you see that? The white folk tell everybody what to think – except men like me. I tell them; that's my life, telling white folk how to think about the things I know about…But you listen to me: I didn't make it, and I know that I can't change it. But I've made my place in it and I'll have every Negro in the country hanging on tree limbs by morning if it means staying where I am" (Ralph Ellison, 142). This quote illustrates Dr. Bledsoe's single-minded desire to maintain his power, which was also apparent back in the 1940's and 1950's. Ellison's description of the evil activity within the novel is intended to humble the reader and take an outside perspective, despite background. His grand allusions, imageries, and metaphors are simple puzzle pieces for the bigger picture: Social Equality, and Invisible man has surely contributed to the progress we see today.
















       A lot has changed since the publication of Invisible man. Brown v. Board of Education came two years after, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and even the first black president. Invisible man has stood the test of time and is very significant, in my opinion, today for its in depth view on social issues. Time has taught us the golden rule, and has created morals among us. Ellison's purpose was no different than that of Malcom X, or MLK, and the stride for social equality was desperate in the eyes of them. It's relevance is just as noticeable as it was back then, and the appreciation of it is still stiff like it always has been.


Citations

Books

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Vintage, 1952.

Websites

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Level Rebel

By: Evan Williams

       New year, new me! This year I'm going to be the best reader I can possibly be, by unlocking my improved imagination with my imagination key, and discovering rich knowledge that is somehow free. This past year I came upon a interest of books that were old. 1984 was the first, and resembles vernacular and purpose that can be compared to gold. Winston, Big Brother, and Double-Think played a crucial part that would draw me in to a point where I couldn't put the book on hold, and shifted my thinking that had me instantly sold. I've only spent time in class to read my book Wildman but in my free time I will read more.  I've read about half of the book with the other in store. I want to read Invisible Man and "Gone with the Wind" and I hope I'm not sore. My historical nonfiction will be based off MLK, a figure I adore, and maybe a genre of books I've never read before.

Image result for book apple worm,
      I am currently reading the book Wildman by J.C. Geiger during independent reading time in my English class. It's about 4.0 GPA valedictorian and first-chair trumpet player Lance Hendricks being left helpless when his 1993 Buick breaks down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. He defies his mother by staying in this strange place, forcing him to sleep at the dusty lowdown Trainsong Motel. This makes me question is that was the right decision, and when defiance is actually a good thing? In this case disobedience wasn't the best choice. After staying a couple days in the Motel, he begins to regret his decision calling it trash, and calls his mom to only hear her complain about his maturity and his speech that he needs to memorize. Lance knows his mother is right when he says "Her comments sank like fists into a heavy punching bag. They didn't hurt, just gently knocked him around. He swayed from foot to foot, muttering responses until something jabbed him hard." (J.C Geiger, 98). However Lance hates to admit it which is why he is irritated when she talks to him. Lance also being the valedictorian claims that college is "boring" and is stating things that are unusual to his behavior.  Miriam, his girlfriend,  knows theres something different about Lance when she asks, "Are you having a midlife crisis? ... You've always been advanced" (J.C Geiger, 158) referring to his high intelligence and recent mood changes. Being a teenager myself I also feel compelled sometimes to just rebel, do the opposite thing and take unpopular positions, although in some instances being defiant and rebellious can be beneficial!


      A woman by the name of Rosa Parks is a prime example of this. During the civil rights movement Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man after a hard days work. A Youtube channel by the name of United States Courts gives a full analysis of Rosa Parks' contributions to the civil rights movement hereThis simple act sparked rebellion within the south creating drastic social changes not seen before. Figures like the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King, and Malcom X devoted their lives to one day the constructing racial equality for all people. Rosa Parks generated a stance that gave African Americans an incentive to unify and stand up for themselves. Their actions allow kids like me to attend schools like Hebron High School and participate in a culturally diverse setting. African Americans are now equal thanks to those who defied and rebelled against strict laws and prioritizing themselves over others to seek freedom.

Image result for rosa parks


New Book New Me! Every new book that I read gives me glee, and without books I don't know where I'd be.





CITATIONS


Books:

Orwell, George. 1984. New American Library, June 8th 1949

J.C Geiger. Wildman. Hyperion, May 2017.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Vintage, 1952.


Websites:

The United States Courts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTcQe4_aIpk

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to be a Legend

Hello! Now I can't lie so I'm going to be completely honest with you. This year was, honestly, one of the first years that I actually started reading outside of school. I had kind of a love hate relationship with books because I loved the stories but the fact that I had to sit and actually read, when I could be playing video games or something, was somewhat of a challenge. However this year I made school a higher priority because it is starting to get harder. In the spring semester we were told to read a book at all times, and finish it then move to the next book. One of the first books that I read earlier in the year was a book called Legend, written by Marie Lu.

The message of Legend is one relating to morals in life. In the book Lu conveys the message that despite possession of vast materials, or wealth, at the core people are the same, we experience the same emotions and act the same way. Lu sends this message by creating a close relationship between Day and June both of which have their differences in both wealth and possessions. Day is considered to be a "street rat", often stealing from stores, betting on local fights, and rummaging through garbage for food. He chose to live this way, nonetheless, and is on a mission to acquire medical benefits for his family, for they think he is dead. He does not have much but has enough to get by for himself and his younger friend Tess. June, however, lives in luxury for her parents worked directly for the government and was given the utmost care and benefits the government could provide. Her brother, Metias, is a soldier of the army, and June is a child genius getting a perfect score on her trial test, a standardized test given to all children at the age of ten to decide their careers later in life. After capturing day June was given two hundred thousand notes, currency of the government and is in fact a great amount. These differences are overlooked when the two, very different in social class, are brought together for a common goal and is disregarded when their relationship grows. This can be seen when Day says to June, "You're brilliant, but you're a fool to stay with someone like me." June replies by saying, "Then we're both fools." ( Lu pg. 303). Lu also gives the reader thoughts to carry outside of the book when Day says, "I wonder what we would've been like if I'd been born into a life more like yours, and you had been born into mine. Would we be just like we are now? Would I be one of the Republic's to soldiers? And would you be a famous criminal?" (Lu pg. 304) This helps pass the message, Lu is trying to give, that we should judge and love people by their character and behavior rather than their social or economic status. Lu also asks her audience about their character, with the second quote, asking if it would be different if you were very wealthy or poor, would you as a person, internally, differ than who you are today?

Legend is a book about June and Day, two kids living in two different governments in a split America. June is a child prodigy working for the republic and is on a mission to find the killer of her brother Matias. She later finds out that it was Day, the Republics most wanted criminal who has caused havoc on them for years. June is set off to find who killed her brother when she meets day, discovers that he's the one who not only wreaked havoc on the government but also killed her brother, turns him in. However, on the quest to find the killer of her brother, and before she held Day guilty, the two had built a strong relationship, so when given a chance to kill him, June bails him out and hops on a train to Las Vegas with him to save Days brother who is being held with the Patriots.

Overall Legend is a great book, and Lu is a great author. Currently I am planning on finishing the series, (my friends finishing before me is playing a small part), and maybe expanding to other Lu written books like The Young Elites series she just wrapped up this past October. I truly aspire to read more and blogging will certainly help me stay on task!!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Door To 1984

In the english class I'm taking, throughout the year you are expected to read a decent amount of books that vary from style, genre, tone and so on. So far this year I've read 5 books, and currently I'm reading 2 books. The book I am most invested in, and is also my AP book, and currently reading is 1984 written by George Orwell

1984 was written in 1948 and is about a man named Winston Smith who is considered to be crazy because he thinks freely. In the society the government is everywhere, eyes and telescreens everywhere and it is almost impossible to try to avoid them. Big Brother is the center of the government, called the party, yet is actually a symbol rather than an actual being.  The party is everywhere through the thought police or the children or telescreens or even people going undercover. You are being watched at all times and you cant get away with anything. Just thinking of rebellious thoughts is illegal, which is called thoughtcrime. The party is circled around the motto "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength." a motto all people are supposed to live by. Winston, being a minority, sets out to disrupt the stability of the party, but in doing this he has to understand the how and why the party takes the precautions that it does. The how is very simple but can be explained further in depth in a book O'Brien supplies to him, written by the Party's enemy, but Winston's ally, Emmanuel Goldstein. Winston reads the book but later gets caught and sent to jail where he is tortured and beaten and after that is for you to read.

1984 was written just after the second world war had ended. In this time period you can see a lot of authors writing scared, concerned for the future, and also warning them, because of all the recent havoc that's occurred. You can see fear, philosophic ideas and strong opinions by the authors in this time. One example is a quote from the book itself, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past" This gives readers an idea that was broadcast beyond the book, altering the way people think and act. 

The style of 1984 is very unique in a way. When I first saw the book I groaned immediately at the sight of it; the book had nearly 300 pages and the text was microscopic with minimal line spacing. I don't want to conclude that the book is boring, but the way Orwell writes makes the book drag on in certain places. The story doesn't really move fast and is extremely detail oriented with amazing vernacular (a reason why I want to keep reading). The word choice is impeccable and can be easily followed through out the book. However, Orwell drags the book a lot applying details that, I feel like, aren't very necessary, and lacks constant progression. Even though these things bother me, it is simple to see how this book has become so popular. It amazes me how a book written 70 years ago can still be relevant, understood, and enjoyed by readers today. The dramatic vision and elaborate characters allow the book to flow easily. This is a book I would recommend to others as long as they can take it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Starting My Priorities

Hi, my name is Evan Williams, I am 15 and I'm a 10th grader at Hebron High School in Carrollton Tx. I run track play football and wreck in video games, but one thing that hasn't been a huge hobby for me and now is reading. In the past I've never been a big reader, I never saw the enjoyment in it and I would rarely do it; only when I was grounded stuck in my room would I read. I think i didn't like reading too much because I never did it, which changed 9th grade year second semester when my teacher made us pick books that we wanted to read. Books like Gym Candy by Carl Deuker and Payback Time by the same author really sparked my reading interests. Since then I've read only 5 books but I want to increase this amount by the same time next year. The book I am currently reading is Prodigy by Marie Lu and is the second in the Legend series. Although reading isn't my number one hobby currently, I wish to improve on it in the future to better my vernacular and improve my thinking. 

My goal is to read at least two more books by the end of the school year, and currently I am on pace to do so. I read around an hour and 20 minutes a day because of the given 20 in my second period and one hour at home. At school I read Prodigy but when I'm home I read, an AP title book, 1984 by George Orwell. I've been reading this book for a good month now and I enjoy it so far even though I am not finished. 

I am still relatively early in my reading stages, although I plan and desire to improve on it as well as encourage others to read so they can improve their skills too!