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NINE STORIES

 

The aim of the lesson is to teach you to identify the ways a poetic mood may be instilled in a story and to view a collection of stories as one single whole.

 

1. I can see the problem with most of the people who didnt like this book. They expected stories but this books main course arent stories, but feelings. Salinger used stories, places, characters and situations to paint feelings, the way a painter would use oil and canvas to paint a picture. So at the end of the story you dont have to see if you liked the story what you got to do is look at how you feel after youve read it. What Salinger tried to make you feel is mostly feelings like melancholy, and he succeeds at that, and thats what makes it a great book.

Compose your own introduction to the collection.

 

2. Salinger is known as a keen student of children. His extraordinary achievement in this area rests on the principle of viewing children not from adult perspective, but from their own, from the inside. He portrays children who are extraordinarily mature for their age, who speak, or attempt to speak like adults and who want to be accepted by adults on an adult basis. His grown-ups, suffering from loneliness and misunderstanding, often find a source of spiritual cure in communication with children. Their contact is always sincere and deeply moving, though never sentimental.

Salingers children are fragile, odd, hypersmart, whereas his grown-ups (even the materially content) seem beaten down by circumstances some neurasthenic, others (often female) deeply unsympathetic.

Show how the theme of children-adult relationship is interpreted in a story from the collection.

 

3. Salinger has an unerring eye for dialogue and for detail. Speak of the value of these methods of characterisation in the stories.

 

4. A poetic mood is not to be understood as something homogeneous, it may be created with the help of a whole range of emotions and psychological states. For instance, in the story For Esme with Love and Squalor rasa 6 (fear) is achieved via gradual accumulation and interplay of the following psychological states: depression, despair, alarm, annoyance, madness, fright.

Speak about the way the rasa is instilled in one of the stories. Be ready to discuss the others!

 

5. How does the Zen Koan used as an epigraph correlate with the Nine Stories?

 

6. Can one speak about frame construction in the collection?

 

7. Which story from the collection appeals to you most? Explain.

 

J. Steinbeck. The Pastures of Heaven. Analytical reading. Pp.31-49.

The target skills: interpreting the role of factual detail in a bigger context, predicting the role of the opening stories in a collection of stories.

 

1. John Steinbeck is, at heart, a novelist of the California experience. Born in Salinas in 1902, he grew up in the fertile Salinas Valley, the "Salad Bowl of the Nation," as it was later called. That sharply beautiful and expansive landscape, where Steinbeck spent hours as a boy roaming the hills, shaped Steinbeck's creative vision. Most of his fiction is informed by the idea that people must be seen in the context of their environments. Early in the 1930s he wrote: "the trees and the muscled mountains are the world--but not the world apart from man--the world and man--the one inseparable unit man and his environment. Why they should ever have been understood as being separate I do not know."



Can the above-said be referred to the Pastures of Heaven, judging by the beginning of the book? Reproduce the essence of the information and supply quotations to support your viewpoint.

 

2. Bring the following summary of chapter 2 to the end. Draft-age George Battle comes from New York state in 1863 and sets up a farm in the middle of the valley. His mother dies off Patagonia in her way out. He marries Salinas epileptic Myrtle Cameron who bears him a son. She winds up at Lippman Sanitarium in San Jose. John inherits her epilepsy and religious mysticism. George dies at 65 and John, returned from missionarying, lets the farm go to seed while he chases demons, finally dying of...

 

3. Each book is defined by Steinbeck's sensitivity for common man - misfits, striking workers, a lonely ranch wife, migrants who sought prosperity in the golden land. Steinbeck's California fiction, from apprenticeship novel, To a God Unknown (1932) through his epic treatment of the Salinas Valley, East of Eden (1952) envisions the dreams and defeats of common people as shaped by the magnificent land they inhabit.

What kind of people do you find in the first narrative about the inhabitants of the valley (Chapter 2)? What visual or other sensual details help to bring out their nature?

 

4. The book opens with a Spanish corporal chasing runaway Indians, rides into Las Pasturas del Cielo and is stunned by its beauty. Before he can return to retire an Indian woman gives him the pox and he dies locked in an old barn. The tone of the opening chapter is distinctly ironic. How is the irony expressed? Why does the author need such a setting to tell his story of the people dwelling there?

 

5. The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature. (from Steinbecks Nobel Prize Speech)

Can this quotation be applied to what you have read of the book so far?

 

J. Steinbeck. The Pastures of Heaven. Any three chapters, from the3rd up to the end, + the short concluding one. The target skill is that of interpreting separate stories as parts of a fragmentary novel.

 

1. Humanity has been passing through a grey and desolate time of confusion. My great predecessor, William Faulkner, speaking here, referred to it as a tragedy of universal physical fear, so long sustained that there were no longer problems of the spirit, so that only the human heart in conflict with itself seemed worth writing about. Faulkner, more than most men, was aware of human strength as well as of human weakness. He knew that the understanding and the resolution of fear are a large part of the writer's reason for being.

This is not new. The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. (J. Steinbeck. From his Nobel Prize speech)

Render the essence of the above passage and say, in a few weighty words, what passions, dreams, and failures are explored by the author of The Pastures of Heaven.

 

2. The summaries suggested in your handouts are of a purely factual kind. Give your own summaries of any two of the four stories you have read for today, (three + the concluding one) placing emphasis on the passions, fears, and dreams which govern the characters lives.

 

3. Express your agreement or disagreement with the following piece of criticism. In either case, provide more examples (not quotations, but summary-like assessments of this or that kind of human predicament).

A wonderful early collection of interrelated stories, rich in the feeling for the land and for its hardworking people so characteristic of Steinbeck's work. In these beautifully crafted, poignant stories Steinbeck charts the gradual disintegration of a peaceful farming community in a lush California valley. As he writes of a family suddenly made to feel "poor" through the charity of a neighbor, of the wanton destruction of a retarded boy's tenuous hold on reality, and of a father jealous of suspected attentions paid to his daughter, Steinbeck movingly depicts the destructive impact of one family's insensitivity on the lives of all those around them.

 

4. Formulate, partly in your own words, partly resorting to the authors vocabulary, the ever-growing obsession or uneasiness that weighs heavily on this or that protagonists mind. Try to resort to the stylistic device of gradation, i.e., semantic repetition, growing in intensity.

For instance: George Battle kept toiling on his farm incessantly for many years, bending his body lower and lower down to the earth, caring about nothing else not even his son-, until at last his hands became nothing but sockets into which the handle of tools fitted tightly. Or: John Battle, whose religious mysticism degenerates into lunacy, keeps fighting demons, sneaking about the farm armed with a heavy stick, charging upon them, fearlessly rushing forward, slashing the demons with deadly blows, - until one of them proves to be a perfectly genuine rattle snake.

 

5. Increase your groupmates awareness of the expressive capacities of the English language, by offering a number of idiomatic or emotionally colored phrases from the chapters, in Russian, and supplying the original, should your groupmates fail to provide an adequate version. E.G., think of the best way to render the following: , , (c.173) or . (47).

 

6. Give sufficient evidence of the implications suggested by descriptive, narrative and characterizing details. Say what senses they appeal to.

 

7. What glues the stories together and makes them a fragmentary novel? In what ways does the concluding story contribute to the integrity of the collection? In what ways does it differ from and echo the introductory story?

JOHN STEINBECK

THE RED PONY

 

The target skill is that of interpreting separate stories as parts of a fragmentary novel. You will also learn to evaluate the role of a descriptive/ narrative detail in a broader context.

 

 

1. John Steinbeck is, at heart, a novelist of the California experience. Born in Salinas in 1902, he grew up in the fertile Salinas Valley, the "Salad Bowl of the Nation," as it was later called. That sharply beautiful and expansive landscape, where Steinbeck spent hours as a boy roaming the hills, shaped Steinbeck's creative vision. Most of his fiction is informed by the idea that people must be seen in the context of their environments. Early in the 1930s he wrote: "the trees and the muscled mountains are the world - but not the world apart from man - the world and man, the one inseparable unit, man and his environment. Why they should ever have been understood as being separate I do not know."

Reproduce the essence of the information and say whether the above-said can be referred to The Red Pony, supply a quotation to support your viewpoint.

 

2. Nobel saw some of the cruel and bloody misuses of his inventions. He may have foreseen the end result of al his probing access to ultimate violence, to final destruction. Less than fifty years after his death, the door of nature was unlocked and we were offered the dreadful burden of choice. We have usurped many of the powers we once ascribed to God. Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life and death of the whole world of all living things. The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectability is at hand. Having taken God-like power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility and the wisdom we once prayed some deity might have. Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope. So that today, Saint John the Apostle may well be paraphrased: In the end is the word, and the word is man, and the word is with man. (John Steinbeck. 1962 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech)

Man nature relationship is manifold and it is manifested in The Red Pony. Steinbecks meticulous selection of detail (both narrative and descriptive) creates implications, which reveal the author's ideas. Provide sufficient examples of such details and explain their value.

3. The Red Pony was written a long time ago, when there was a desolation in my family. The first death had occurred. And the family, which every child believes to be immortal, has shattered. Perhaps this is the first adulthood of any man or woman. The first questions tortured Why? and then acceptance, and then the child becomes a man. The Red Pony was an attempt, an experiment if you wish, to set down this loss and acceptance and growth. (John Steinbeck. My Short Novels)

Describe the relationships within Jodys family and the attitude of the family members towards others. Do they illustrate the inner self buries beneath the debris of childhood training, adult repression and mental prejudice?

4. What knowledge/ experience does Jody gain in each story constituting the collection? Make up a summary of a story with this aspect in mind. (to be done in writing and handed in!!!) Concentrate on one but be ready to discuss the others.

 

5. What glues the stories together and makes them a fragmentary novel? How do the beginnings and the endings of the stories correlate?

6. What writers might have influenced John Steinbecks style? Or is he very much unlike those authors we have studied so far?

 

 

HOME READING. JOHN STEINBECK. THE LONG VALLEY. CHRYSANTHEMUMS.

The aim of the lesson is to teach you to analyze the composition and the conflict of a short story.

 

1. Read the following piece of information and reproduce the jist of it, enumerating the problems Steinbeck touched upon..

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968) did not start his literary career until Lewis and Fitzgerald had reached their peak. He seemed to be from a different world - the world of the Great Depression, the world of mass poverty. It was a world as far removed from that of Lewis as from that of Fitzgerald.

A Californian, Steinbeck was an athlete and president of his high school class, who went to Standford University in between various jobs. He learned to know the poor, in particular the migrant farm workers, American and Mexican, and he wrote from their point of view. By the middle of 1930s, when Lewis and Fitzgerald were past their writing prime, Steinbeck had authorized some very popular novels. Tortilla flat was a humorous story about a Mexican-American colony in Monterey, while In Dubious Battle was a serious work about a strike by migrant farmworkers. Of Mice and Men is a touching and perennialy popular tale of two migrants and their mutual dependence and shared dreams. His greatest success came in 1939 with The Grapes of Wrath. This is the saga of a family of Oklahoma farmers named Joad, who are driven by drought to migrate to California.

The collection of stories The Pastures of Heaven (1932) is Steinbecks attempt to study the life of Californian farmers, with its everyday chores and trivial amusements. But describing the slow rhythm and the atmosphere of tolerance characteristic of rural life the writer ponders on the peoples disillusionment and their inability to realize their fondest dreams. In the collection of stories The Long Valley published in 1938 the accent is almost completely removed from the details of rural life. It is an investigation of hidden inner motives of peoples behaviour.

 

2. Read the following piece of information, render the given summary and say what the story is about (in your opinion), if you dont agree with the interpretation of its theme given in the extract. (If your interpretation coincides with the one given in the extract render it as well and provide a brief comment of your own.)

, - . , , . , : , , , . , , . , , . , , , , . , , , . , .

 

3. Give the character study of Elisa Allen analyzing the authors way of character drawing.

(What do we come to know about the main character? her desires? her inner motives? her attitude to her husband? etc. as the narration moves forward? What are the chief devices the author employs to create the image?)

 

4. What is the role of description in the story? Take any piece of description and analyze it explaining its peculiarities and its purpose.

 

5. Most stories and novels are made up of incidents arising because of a struggle of some kind - a struggle which becomes more and more tense till a turning point or Grand climax is reached. Then the action drives on, still a series of dramatic movements, to its close, or the resolution. First there comes an introduction that covers the earlier scenes, which serve principally to acquaint us with the preliminaries, or attending circumstances. Somewhere near the beginning is the inciting force, which definitely begins the conflict between the opposing forces. Then comes the grand climax. The rising action (the entanglement, the complication) is the presentation of all the events that happened up to the grand climax. After the grand climax there comes the falling action (resolution, the denouement).

Conflicts may be of different kinds: the difficulty arising of ones own limitations, physical or mental; the difficulty arising in ones own mind, such as fear or nervousness, misinterpretation of other peoples motives, etc.; the opposition of other people - their hopes, fears, beliefs, judgements; the difficulty created by natural environment; the difficulty created by social environement.

Define the type of conflict in the story under discussion and show its relations with the composition.

 

6. Account for the title of the story. Is there anything symbolic in it? Explain.

Chrysanthemum. In East Asia a prized flower: in Japan an imperial emblem, and in China a symbol of autumn, as the plumblossom is of spring. Its Chinese name (chu) is a homonym for wait, linger and suggests reflective contemplation, an association that is found in poetry as well: O yellow chrysanthemums, in the light from my little lamp you have grown quite pale, or In late splendor do chrysanthemums bloom. State attire was often decorated with designs containing chrysanthemums. Rebus-like messages of good will or congratulations were built on homonymies linking pine and chysanthemum (May you have long life), or nine. quail, and chysanthemum (May nine generations live together in peace.) A European wildflower variety, the tansy (Chrysanthemum vulgare), was used in folk-medicine against intestinal worms but is used today only for garden decoration.

(Hans Bieldermann. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Symbolism)

 

 


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 874


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