Friday, February 10, 2012

His First Wife Part One by Grace Octavia

That last half of Part I really paints a picture of the inner-Black class distinction. There is the distinction between the two mothers (one being high born, the other being lower). Oddly enough, both mothers feel the same way about the other’s child: they are trying to get up in the world by marrying well. Both sides are understandable. First, you have Jamison’s mother who has been working hard all of her life in order to give her son the best opportunities, with which he has done well (better than Kerry who has had everything arranged for her). Now, she sees this girl coming into his life, causing distractions, and turning his focus away from medical school and towards her. Anyone could understand his mother’s frustration at this. Yet, Kerry’s mother also has legitimate concerns. Being born to wealth and privilege has its danger zones. Kerry’s mother is afraid that Jamison is trying to take advantage of her wealthy daughter so that he can have her money and prestige. Although this is a good concern, the concern of Kerry’s mother is tainted by the fact that she has control over Kerry. If Kerry marries, the mother loses most, if not all, of her control over her daughter. Much like Kerry is now asking who is she is not a dutiful wife, Kerry’s mother is faced with the dilemma of who is she if not a controlling mother?

There is also the subtle distinction made when we hear Kerry talk about skin color during the party. It almost seems that the closer your skin color is to being white, the more desirable you become and the higher status you have.

Middlemarch Book 3 by George Eliot

Book III of Middlemarch reminds me of Jane Austen. Austen has a way of telling stories about a community as a whole and how all of the different characters fit into that community. Book III does that same function in Middlemarch. We have primarily two couples that we are following through Book III: Fred and Mary then Lydgate and Rosamond. Through the interaction of these couples we see how the characters of Middlemarch fit into their community, not only in professions but in social standing. I think as book continues, we will need to understand everyone’s social standing and backgrounds in order to understand the difficulties and prejudices that these couples need to overcome.

Also in Book III, the narrator changes its style. In Books I and II, the narrator has primarily been one person, that is, from one point of view. In Book III, we see, actually, four points of view from both the female and male characters of the two couples (Fred, Mary, Lydgate and Rosamond). This is important because instead of understanding one side of the relationship, we now understand both sides and how they relate to each other. Eliot uses this tactic to create tension in the story, much like the cliffhanger of Book I.

Friday, February 3, 2012

His First Wife p. 1-100 by Grace Octavia

I have been thinking all day about what I could write that might sound academic. The plot seems simple at the moment and pretty basic. You have a woman who has just found out that her whole life is a sham. Now, if that life was not real, then who is she? The fact that it is set in Atlanta makes the story seem more familiar in a way. It is not happening in some far off country or some long ago time. It is around the corner and in the present. The underlying theme seems to be this confrontation between traditional feminine values and a contemporary coming-of-age story. Who will win? You have the mother who is controlling and stuck in the old tradition where women were decorations on a man’s arm. The mom, when faced with living without the traditional devotion to husband values, seems to take a turn for the worst. Then, you have the daughter, Kerry, who is now having to begin that same journey, or at least decide if she wants to take the trip towards being her own woman.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Middlemarch Ch. 13-22 by George Eliot

Book II of Middlemarch takes a different point of view in furthering the plot. It differs not only in person but in gender. Where Book I focused mostly on the inner thoughts of the women, Book II furthers the story from the point of view of the men. Although the identity of the narrator is still unknown, Book II lends a bi-gender nature to the narrator. The language does not change, yet the inner thoughts of the characters lend itself to being more masculine in Book II than in the previous. Where the inner thoughts in Book I focused primarily on the marriageable material of the male characters, the inner thoughts in Book II are focused primarily on the business of the male characters.

This is important because it shows the differences of opinion in the matter of love according to gender. The female characters are more concerned with romance, love, and the devotedness of marriage, while the male characters see these topics as part of their duty yet not something of an important matter, certainly not something to be rushed into on a whim of infatuation. It also shows the difference in opinion as to the relationship between the male and female characters. The women see themselves being devoted wives where their husbands are placed above all else. The men see the women as secondary to their careers.

Middlemarch Ch. 6-12 by George Eliot

I found the last half of Miss Brooke to be disappointing. I was hoping to see what the narrator had been alluding to with the comments of how Miss Brooke did not know what she was getting into by doting and marrying Mr. Casaubon. Instead, chapters 6 thru half of 10 further the story of Miss Brooke and Mr. Casaubon. Yet, once they are married they disappear completely from the story. The last half of chapter 10 begins to introduce us to new characters. This is unusual in a story – to come to the end only to meet new people. There is no satisfaction to how Dorothea enjoys her marriage or grows out of her naivety.

However, considering that the books were published in series, the last two chapters of Miss Brooke would serve as a cliffhanger. Introducing the new characters gives the reader an insight into what the next book will be about. This is important for two reasons: first, it keeps the reader’s interest. It could take a while for the next book to be released. A cliffhanger insures that the reader is anxious to know what happens next. Secondly, it connects the books in a series. By introducing the next book’s characters at the end of the current book, it allows the reader to know that the next book will be continuing the same story using the same setting and background as in the first book.