Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

River Comparison -- "On the Rainy River" vs "The Return"

Inanimate figures in short stories can play a very empowering role and make a lasting impression on the characters that interact with them. For example, in stories such On the Rainy River by Tim O’Brien and The Return by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, rivers are used to bring forth new kinds of action and perceptions out of the main character, resulting in personal development of the individual. Though the two story’s rivers have some similarities in the impact they cause, much of how it is brought about is varied.

            On the Rainy River placed Tim O’Brien in the struggle of his life, causing him to run away from his mandatory draft into the United States army. Upon reaching the climax of the story, O’Brien finds himself drifting in a boat along the Rainy River, stuck in between a life of violence and regret, or a life in Canada, which he assumed would offer the freedom he desperately craved. However, something about Tim’s perception changed when he was forced to make a decision. For him, being on the water represented a point-of-no-return, as if the river itself was forcing him to come to terms with the reality of the choice he had to make. With the current moving swiftly and the winter steadily approaching, the Rainy River brought forth the ultimatum that O’Brien had to make. Though the river firmly conveyed the message, it also provided a clear outlook on O’Brien’s two options, allowing for him to choose whatever he believed was the most reasonable path to take. In The Return, the Honia River also brought forth the coming to terms in a portion of the life of the main character, Kamau. After being released from captivity after five years as a political prisoner, Kamau was eager to make his way back to his home village, expecting to reacquaint himself with his family and wife. Upon reaching his home, Kamau was faced with intense disappointment when he discovered that his wife had left the village with Karanja, a member of the same clan. Feeling worthless, as if he had nothing left to live for, Kamau contemplated drowning himself in the same Honia River that once provided him with unending happiness. However, when his small bundle of possessions rolled down the bank and quickly drifted down the river, his concerns began to do the same, almost as if the river had cleansed his sorrows and helped him begin to straighten things out in his mind. In the end of both stories, the river played a key role in allowing the main characters to move forward and face the realities they are given, despite the outcomes they were facing.

Though both rivers were responsible for assisting the lead character in the stories, each river took a unique way of providing such assistance. Taking more of a reactive role, the Honia River responded to the feelings that Kamau was expressing after the final outcome occurred, instead of being responsible for providing a push forward in the decision-making process like the Rainy River. However, despite the varying methods, both of the rivers provided support when it was needed most.

Regardless of what situation the stories may have held for their characters, it is unsure how the situations would have played out if they didn’t have the implied assistance from the rivers that guided them along their journey of life. Even though Tim and Kamau still could have possibly followed the same paths without any assistance, the fact that they had some form of aid to help shoulder their burden undoubtedly made their personal struggles signifnicantly easier.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On the Rainy River -- Personal Response

Respected by others, or respected by myself?
A life of blood-stained hands, feeling trapped within my own skin,
Or a lifetime free from the shackles of expectation?
Condemned for my cowardice from the ones who love me,
Or honoured for living a lie?
A decision was made on the Rainy River.

I am a coward,
Sentenced to a life of respect and admiration I don’t deserve.
I fought, and I survived,
But a part of me was lost to the fog of war.
On the outside I may stand strong,
Yet my wounds will never heal.

I can not and will not justify my actions,
For a choice I made for the sake of others.
At the most important time in my life,
My courage reservoir was drained dry,
My heroic attributes non-existent.
We won the battle, but I was the sacrifice.

Let my story be told again and again,
Let them shout it from the heavens, despite my betrayal.
I am no soldier, no Lone Ranger,
No secret hero of olden days.
I am simply a man, no more and no less.
My resolve, unfortunately, not strong enough.
I don’t expect to be understood or forgiven,
But this conscience has waited far too long for rest.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Independent Novel Study: 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury

Farneheit 451.jpg  

For our independent novel study, I have decided to read Fahrenheit 911 by Ray Bradbury.

"Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires...

The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning ... along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think... and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do!"

Personally, I am intrigued by the concept of a society where free thinking is considered as treachery. In a world without order and justifications, as in the novel, people run around and do whatever they want, whenever they want. Seeing how the main character Guy would be perceived in our own society extremely negatively, I am interest in seeing how the story progresses and influences him to rethink his entire perspective on the world around him. Also, I'm generally interested in seeing how Guy's influence may directly alter the society area around him.