Author Archives: emrickrachel

Devi, Marquez, Saadawi, and Silko

1. The stolen beef seems to be an allusion to when the immigrants came to North America and took away the land and culture of the previous inhabitants. The way it is described is very gruesome, with images of blood and cut up pieces. The Jell-O is the modern lifestyle with a new culture that deviates from the long-standing traditions that were held. Because the grandmother had to be taught how to make Jell-O by a younger generation, shows the newness of the concept.

2. I feel like the father was inadvertently participating in the politics of the court. Because he went along with what everyone else was doing and reacted in the way that was expected when hearing of his daughter’s torture, he is  showing his acceptance of the system that he is surrounded by. He has become ineffectual, as Leila’s mother said men who participate in politics are.

3. The title  “Death Constant Beyond Love” tells the reader that the main themes are that of death and love and the imminence of one no matter what one finds during life. An important theme was the uncertainty of finding and/or maintaining love. Love is portrayed as fluid and hard to attain and keep old of, as seen by the senator leaving his wife and the widow on the roof losing her husband to another woman.  And then when the Senator tells Laura Farina that they are destined for solitude, it shows the difficulty for some to find love. All of this is displayed on the backdrop of imminent death. Everyone will eventually succumb to death, and for some it is sooner than for others.

Rilke, Xun, Kafka, Akhmatova, Lorca, and Mahfouz

1. Gregor is the provider for the family. He is the only one that works and is the one who chose their apartment and is the reason they can afford their accommodations. Work is a large contributor to the degree in which the relationship between his father and himself is unsatisfactory. We learn that Gregor started providing for his family early in his life and that he is a relatively young man. This implies that he should be starting a life and family of his own, but he is taking care of his family. When Gregor is no longer able to work, his father is forced to get a job. This shows that his dad has always been able to work, he just did not want to and was willing to let Gregor do all the heavy lifting.

2. The central event in the first section of The Metamorphosis is the transformation of Gregor. This is the start of the family coming together. At first they are all trying to figure out what is wrong with him and why he missed work, and when he emerges, the family is unified in their terror of Gregor’s new appearance.

The central event in the second section is Gregor’s second emergence from his room. Before this both his sister and mother finally became comfortable enough to enter his room. Also, his father is at work. This shows the return to traditional roles in the family. When Gregor comes out of his room, he is beaten back with apples by is father.

The main event in the third section of the story is Gregor’s death. His family is seemingly apathetic about the loss and are not worried about the disposal of the body. There is a huge sense of relief in the final parts of the story as the setting is outside of the apartment for the first time.

Each time Gregor is pushed back into his room, the encouragement he gets comes from a larger and larger distance. First Gregor’s father is close and is physically beating him back with a cane and a newspaper. The second time He is throwing apples from across the room, which is not direct contact. The last time, no one helps him until he is already back in his room and they close the door on him. This shows the progression the family takes from being close to him to distancing themselves form his existence.


Flaubert, Baudelaire, Rimaud, Tagore, and Yeats

1.  I think that Felicite is both a saint and a simple-minded servant. But I think that she is somewhat inadvertently a saint and less so one than a simple-minded servant. She is very naïve towards the events happening around her, such as the short love story and   the love for an annoying parrot, but the way she deals with these events makes her a saint, in that she manages to do the noble things.  In a way, it is  a situation where ignorance is bliss. Although she gets herself into odd situations, she never does anything wrong nor spectacular.

2. Although both Chidam and Chandara and Rama and Sita are seemingly “made for each other,” a very distinct difference is the ways in which the husbands treat their wives. Rama always seemed to contemplate his wife’s feelings and try to accommodate her, even if she did not decide to listen. Chidam, on the other hand, acts quickly without thinking of consequences.

3. Yeat’s poem “When You are Old” is about an old woman who misses her love. I find it interesting that the first and third stanzas are in the future and use a lot of words dealing with nighttime and sleep, while the second stanza is in the past tense and uses a beauty motif. This leaves the reader in the middle, present time, when the passion is seemingly lost, but the lover is still there. This poem made me feel weird, because I have not experienced any of these experiences in the poem, so instead of being “stuck” in the present of the poem, I haven’t begun the journey in the poem, which is both a nostalgic and hopeful feeling.

Tartuffe, Romanticism, Heine, Leopardi, and Hugo

1. Tartuffe is not anti-religious. I believe that Moliere uses the character of Tartuffe to bring attention to the blind following people have towards religion and the way that it can be used to manipulate people if they are not careful. It is not the religious ideals that are being attacked in this play, but the way people are easily swayed to do things if it is in the name of religion. I think that this play is more of a warning to who have chosen the path of religion to not be oblivious to what is happening around them and to not be afraid to question those who they look up to in the church, because after all, we are all still humans and we do make mistakes.

2. Hugo’s Satan could be considered a heroic figure in that he does not willingly accept defeat. He continues to fight throughout his fall and even when he is all the way into the abyss. He continues to try and find a way out of his demise. Hugo’s account of Satan differs from that of Dante because his depiction is of an active being as opposed to a very stagnant one. Hugo depicts a Satan who, as mentioned before, is fighting his demise, as seen by the words associated with motion. Another aspect that shows his activeness is how he is creating, not on purpose, by speaking words against God. Every curse he speaks is given a name of a person or place that commits a sin which is given a punishment.

3. In Heine’s poems “A pine is sanding lonely” and “Ah, death is like the long cool night” he uses nature imagery. In the first he utilizes things that are associated with loneliness and bareness. These include a lone pine, North, bare, ice, snow, lonely, silent, and rocky. In the second poem the imagery is associated with nighttime and sleeping. These words include night, sleepy, tired, bed, nightingales, and dreams. Both poems evoke a sense of longing by using objects that are easily imagined and identified with and using contrast to show what is left to be desired. In the first poem it is the contrast between the cold and loneliness on the plateau versus the warm Eastern land. The second poem contrasts the liveliness of day with the calmness of night.

Petrarch, Machiavelli, Native America, and De La Cruz

1.  I think that Machiavelli’s contrasts apply a lot to today’s politics. In a democratic society, it is quite evident that politicians run on ideals and make promises to the population that are very idealistic. These promises correspond to the way voters think governments should operate and often fail to consider how they actually do and the reality of their shortcomings.

2. Women’s hair is associated with beauty. However, it is an external beauty that is set on  attracting those around them. Hair is a way that women adorn themselves, either with accessories or by styling it with braids or other things. Because De La Cruz cuts her hair, she is turning her back to what the world views as important and beautiful, in order to pursue a more personal beauty. Hair has such a symbolic value across cultures, because it is something that all people can relate to. And because all women know the hassle of having long hair and caring for it, it is viewed as more precious and coveted.

3. In the Canteras Mexicanos, the flower is a figure for the heart and the song is a figure for the blood. The flowers are said to be necklaces for bravery and trophies. The flowers are also said to belong to the Ever Present, and the hearts were presented to him during sacrifices. The song is said to be “drizzling down incessantly beside the drum,” which could mean the heartbeat sounding like a drum.

Marie de France and The Decameron

1. Griselda is being tested, because according to her husband, Gualtieri, he “wished to show [Griselda] how to be a wife, to teach these people ho to choose and keep a wife, and to guarantee [his] own peace and quiet.” Gualtieri wanted to make sure his wife was perfectly patient.

2. In both The Decameron and The Thousand and One Nights, telling stories is the main event happening in each. In The Decameron, it is a way to pass the time for the ten young people who are trying to get their minds off of the horrible effects of the black plague. In The Thousand and One Nights, stories are used to get the king’s attention away from his destructive streak. In this way the two uses of stories are the same, in that they are being used to distract people from a bad situation. However, in the first case it is intentional, and in the second the person who is affected is not aware of the situation he is in. The tellers in both stories are aware of what they are trying to achieve and both do so successfully.

3. The nightingale is a symbol of the unattainable love between the two neighbors. This is seen in when the husband asks her for an explanation for her sitting by the window. She says that she likes to hear the nightingale sing, when in actuality it is to spend time with the knight she loves. When her husband kills the bird, it represents his putting an end to the relationship. When the other knight receives the bird and makes a golden coffin for it, this shows the ultimate end to the love and possible relationship, but also how important it was to both people, because gold shows importance.


Through his journey through Hell, Dante learned the immense suffering waiting for those who are condemned to it and the relief and gratitude that should be felt by those who are not headed there. As Dante heads deeper and deeper into Hell, he becomes more desperate to get out of there. He becomes more grateful for the journey nearing completion and for the relief he will feel once he is past all the clutches of Satan.

I do not feel like a learned all that much from this book, honestly. I experienced more of a reevaluation of what I believe about the afterlife. Although I do believe in a Hell and a Heaven, mine are very different from those proposed by Dante. As I became more acquainted with the story, I took the images and ideas offered and compared them to my personal beliefs. First of all, I do not believe in a ranking of sins, thus I do not believe in the ranking of sins based on their evilness. I understand the need  for that kind of reasoning within our justice system, but once we are dead, I do not think it matters how “bad” we were. Secondly, I do not think that anyone would have to travel through Hell to get to Heaven. This, however, I have come to be able to apply to the sinner’s journey while still living. It is actually very helpful in giving an image to idea of the road one must take to their own salvation. It is often only when we have reached our lowest point in life that we can find the road to salvation.

The Thousand and One Nights and Inferno

1. Shahrayar’s madness is based on frailties of character that are unique to him.  It is clear to see that any man that experienced what he first did with his wife would have been stricken with grief. This is seen by his brother first encountering his own troubles. However, his brother does not allow madness to overtake him. I think that Shahrayar viewed himself as above the reaches of infidelity. As the king, I think he found it unfathomable that anyone would see him as less than the ultimate to be desired. He most likely thought that any woman would have gladly married him and stayed faithful. Ay other man would be able to realize, more readily, the possibility of being cheated on.

2. The animals in The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey and The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife are able to communicate with each other and affect change in behavior among each other and humanity. In The Story of the Merchant and the Demon animals are subject to humanity. Their fate is based on the wills of those who own them and who have more power over them. This power usually  comes from witchcraft and malice. Also, in the latter, it is only the women who possess the powers to cast spells and understand the animals, whereas in the first story, it is the man who understands the animals. In The Story of the Merchant and the Demon, there are two distinct types of women. There are the ones that intend evil and the ones who inform and help  save those who are in bad situations. These animals mirror the overall story of The Thousand and One Nights because  the  animals in the first stories act among themselves to try to get what they want, like all the women that  Shahrayar encountered at the beginning of the story,  whereas the animals in the third story are helpless unless someone intervenes on their behalf, like the women who are killed by Shahrayar before Shahra

3. Honestly, I do not believe that the sufferings were appropriate. I think that there is no way to rate the evil of one sin to another. I think that they are all just as worthy of the same kind of treatment and suffering. I can, however, understand why Dante would put some sins above others, as that is how most people would rank them. But I think that it is not up to us to determine the appropriateness of punishments. Also, I don’ believe that people commit only one kid of sin. This makes no sense to me as to how it would be decided as to which circle they would end up in.

The Ramayana and The Bhagavad-Gita

1. I do not find Rama to be a less interesting hero due to his “perfection.” His story was still interesting, because it was not about a journey of self discovery, but about a “discovered” person navigating through a world of problems and imperfections. Indications of this state not being innate are found in his reminders to his companions that they need to follow dharma and become what he has, showing  that he knows what it takes to get to where he is. Kausalya is reminded at the beginning of the story of her need for discipline. She is not as far  along in her dharma as Rama is.

2. Arjuna’s  dilemma is between two loyalties, his familial loyalty versus his caste loyalty.   His dilemma is whether he should follow through with what his warrior caste asks of him and fight his family, even though they are in the wrong. This is similar to Medea, because she struggles with the decision of exacting revenge on her ex-husband and go against her children in order  do that. It is different, however, in that her children did not do anything wrong. They were innocent and even did what she told them to in seeking the approval of the new wife. Krishna tells Arjuna that evil is committed because of desire and anger which comes from passion. This follows what Homer wrote, as Medea was fully controlled by her emotions. She acted recklessly and without much thought. Even though she did have some around her who wanted to help her, she could only focus on her hurt and acted from that.

The New Testament and the Koran

1. Well, first of all, how one gets into Heaven is very different for either. In the Islamic religion, one must acknowledge Muhammad as Allah’s prophet and denounce Jesus as God. On the other hand, Christianity believes that the only way into heaven is by acknowledging Jesus to be the son of God and God incarnate. By believing that Jesus is God, he thus has the power to grant forgiveness and become the way to Heaven. Another difference is that in Islam, all will be judged as they are “on their knees around the fire of Hell.” “Those who fear Us [will be delivered], but the wrongdoers will be left there o their knees.” This is a very high contrast from the Christian belief that all will account for their actions at the gates of Heaven, when the names of those who wish to enter will be looked up in the Book of Life. If their name is not found, then they will be cast into Hell. Christians believe that everyone is was given the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God while still alive, but if they rejected him then, then they will have no standing with God and will be Cast out of his presence. So instead of the righteous being delivered from Hell, as in Islam, the unrighteous will be denied access to Heaven.

Another large contrast is the vision of Heaven itself. In the Koran, Heaven is described as a place of multiple gardens with many virgins for those who dwell in them. However, the Bible gives a  detailed description of Heaven in the book of  Revelation. This description describes the presence of God and His perfection being the ultimate of Heaven. There was no mention of God being in Heaven from what I saw in these excerpts of the Koran.

2. Considering Israel was under Roman rule, the pagan audience, at least those that were part of the Roman Empire, would understand the political proceedings. In the Nativity story, would be familiar with the rule of Augustus Caesar and the census taking process and the inconvenience of going where they were from. In the Crucifixion, the legal system is on full display, and the progression from lowest to highest rule would be familiar.

I feel like the attractiveness to Greeks stems from a different place than cultural familiarity. I think that the fact that there was nothing they could relate to made the ideas revolutionary. The Jews grew up with the stories of a coming king and a Savior. The fact that one finally came from a very small town with no flair made it hard for them to believe that he was the One. It was also hard for Jews to give up the law that they had been under for so long, for the idea of mercy and a salvation not based on acts. The Greeks were not brought up with these ideas, so when they were offered a religion that was novel, it was easier for them to abandon their other previous beliefs for these new ones.

3. This changes the relationship from one of the human constantly seeking an unattainable God to one of God bringing himself to the human. Because the righteousness of the man was based on the keeping of the law, it was impossible for anyone to be perfectly righteous. However, repentance is the acknowledgement that one cannot do it themselves and that they will never be righteous. God is pleased by the humble and thus is pleased by those who can own up to their shortcomings instead of those who are constantly striving to be perfect even though they are already marred by sin.

In Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh was friends with a part god. These two were practically equals. This shows that the people of that time viewed deities as those who could be equaled in status, strength, intelligence, etc. In the Iliad, the gods are a bit higher than the humans. The gods were able to help and hurt human lives, but they were not always in the right. This shows that the Greeks viewed themselves as equals to the gods in morality, that is by the human definition of morality, since they believed that morality was a human construct that the gods did not have.