Thursday, March 25, 2010


I thought it was a great technique that Norris used when he would repeat almost word for word something he had written earlier. He used this in regards to the description of Trina and also with the story of the gold plates. I thought it really got the feel across of just how blase life on Polk street was. I felt the humdrum day to day routine that these people were living each time I picked it up. I also think that it laid down a sharp contrast for the completely crazy events that happened in the end of the book. Set the stage for the tranquil, peaceful ending and then blew it apart, which ultimately reflects what naturalism is all about.

Overall the main thing that intrigued me about this book was Trina's downward slide. She came into a large amount of money, what should have been an especially great thing considering her economic situation. It was like watching a train wreck! She goes from being a thrifty shopper, to not sharing her tea with Maria, to rolling around in her money, her only desire to possess something that has no intrinsic value in possessing it. It was a weird, strange trip. While I think it was an exaggerated example I can see what Norris was trying to say about human nature. Sometimes we cling to that thing that makes us comfortable, that deep desire that makes us feel good inside, even though it has gone well beyond being healthy and is actually ruining us. She was so caught up in just having the money that when the rest of her life fell apart all around her she didn't think anything of it. I couldn't believe how much of their stuff was sold and she didn't once crack into the five thousand. When the money is initially won she tells McTeague they would be foolish to waste it on buying more tickets yet she goes in the extreme opposite direction and doesn't use one cent of it to keep themselves from having to live in complete poverty. In the end the money was not used for anything which I see as a bigger waste. At least the man who bought more tickets was buying the chance to win more money.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Iola Leroy

This story brought up so many points of interest I almost don't know where to begin when writing about it. Overall I liked the very personal touch it put on everything that was happening during that time period. Each of the characters, no matter how small, whether black or white, represented very well the fragmentation that slavery caused. I was really able to see how much this issue divided this country and how far its harmful effects spread. The whole time reading it I kept thinking about how to this day we are still dealing with these effects. I know that things are much better than they were but there is still a huge portion of our society that looks first at an individuals skin color to shape their opinion about them. For all the legal changes that have been made I sometimes wonder just how far exactly we have come as a society in regards to the social aspect.
On page 334 Captain Sybil states "We have been slow to see our danger and to do our duty. Our delay has cost us thousands of lives and millions of dollars." This made me think how slow this whole process has been. This country was founded in 1776 on the platform of freedom yet it took almost 100 years for the slaves to be freed and almost another 100 years for them to be granted civil rights. This seems ludicrous to me! To truly believe in what this country and the Constitution stand for one has to believe in its principles being put into place immediately for all its citizens.