Author Archives: megkwag

Last Discussion!

  1. What do you believe the demon symbolizes in The Story of the Fisherman and the Demon? What allegories do you read in this story?

This story starts off by explaining the present life of an old fisherman. He was married with three daughters. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any money. They didn’t even have enough money for food. The fisherman went to a nearby water hole where he would cast his net four times every day. On this one particular day, he was determined to catch something. Each cast brings him nothing, but he recites a verse after opening the net. Finally, on the fourth cast, he catches a very heavy jar! He was very happy! He was plotting different ways to take it to the copper market. He decided to remove the stopper and shake out of the contents. In doing this, nothing came out. Eventually, smoke began to come out of it and spread everywhere. There, in front of him stood a demon. The demon wanted to know how the fisherman wanted to die. The fisherman gave him his life story and the demon changed his mind. He decided to grant him the wish of making him a rich fisherman to help out his family!

I think that he demon symbolizing all of the fisherman’s doubts. When the fisherman couldn’t catch any fish, he was feeling defeated. When he finally caught the demon, he had to convince him that his life did matter. The demon gave in and helped him, which helped his family greatly!

In this story, I thought that the demon was the perfect example of an allegory. I’ve always been told to “face my fears’ and this story kind of showed that. The fisherman was in a terrible situation then faced his demon. He conquered him and ended up with a very happy ending.

Devi; Marquez; Saadawi; Silko

  1. In Silko’s “Yellow Woman,’ what do the stolen beef and the Jell-o have in common? How do these elements break the prevailing mood?
    While reading “Yellow Woman’, I had to read it a few times to figure out what was trying to be thrown at us with the stolen beef and the jell-o. The stolen beef came in the beginning of the story. Yellow Woman is trying to find her place in all of these tales that she is being told. While running into a rancher on the mountain, the stolen meat comes into play! I thought that this showed enthusiasm because the story mentions how the meat claps against her legs. This made me think of the clapping of hands and how you clap when something exciting happens. The Jell-O comes into the story when she returns home. It’s almost like the Jell-O is signifying the present. When the story talked about the stolen beef, she was being told tales of the past. Both of these elements were almost like turning points in the story, from past to present.

    2. After reading Saadawi’s “In Camera,’ how do you feel about Leila Al-Fargani’s father? Upon what evidence do you base your judgement?
    Leila was not on trial for committing a crime, she was there because she voiced her opinion and called the President stupid. In her culture, women are supposed to keep quiet about certain topics, politics being one of them. During the trial, her father supported her, even though he wished that she would not have opened her mouth. He was suffering from his daughter’s actions. He said that if she had been a male, she would not be on trial. This showed me that her father was a great one! He didn’t abandon his daughter, even when she made a mistake. He would never turn his back on her.


  1. What is the importance of the title of the story “Death Constant Beyond Love’? What does it tell us about the stories central thematic concerns?
    In this story, a senator is running for reelection and finds out that he has a terminal illness. He was only given six months and eleven days to live. However, he fell in love with an eighteen-year old girl named Laura. Laura seems to cure his loneliness and takes his mind off of his upcoming death. I believe that this is simply saying that death is the true ruler of everything. No matter how love he has for Laura, it won’t make his time on Earth last any longer.


Kafka; Rilke; Akhmatova; Lorca; Xun; Mahfouz

  1. What is the relationship between Gregor and his family? What clues in the story suggest that his relationship with his family, particularly his father, is unsatisfactory?
    Looking through Gregor’s eyes, he seems to be a great son and brother. Each and every day he goes to a job that he despises, just so he is able to provide for his family. A big reason why he is working this job is because he wants to pay his sister’s way to school. When the random transformation occurs, his family treats it like an illness. They are very calm about the entire situation. Since his transformation, Gregor’s mind begins to change. Gregor’s dad is not very thrilled with what has happened, mainly because now he has to begin to work and provide for the family. He cares more about himself rather than his own son.


  1. Discuss the central events in each of the three sections of The Metamorphoses. In what ways do these events suggest that the weakening of Gregor results in the strengthening of the family as a whole?
    First Event: Gregor is transformed into a giant insect. This transformation was unexpected. At this point in time, is family treats the transformation like an illness. Therefore, they begin to take care of him and try to help with his every need. All Gregor can think about his is job.
    Second Event: Gregor’s sister starts bringing him food and necessities, because he is no longer capable of doing these type of things himself. At this point, he begins to develop insect-like qualities. He begins crawling around and thinks it is best for his furniture to be moved so that he is able to freely move about.
    Third Event: Gregor’s father attacks him! His family begins to take pity on him. They leave his door open at night so that he can be watched. One night, he overhears his sister playing the violin. He plans on trying to talk to his sister and let her know that he wants to send her to music school. While trying, he gets spotted. His family sits down with him and explains that he needs to leave. He became very heartbroken and dies.


  1. How effective do you find Akhmatova’s Requiem as a political protest? Requiem was not published until well after the purges were over and Stalin was dead; is it, then, totally lacking in influence?
    I found Akhmatova to be very effective! Her writing seemed “real.’ A more personal influence was incorporated into her work. It drew a mental picture into my mind of what women really went through in history. It shows us what really happened during that point in time. It wasn’t just a made up story that someone wrote down, it was real-life. The writings are able to still be spoken of to show us how life used to be.


  1. How should we interpret the famous command at the end of Archaic Torso of Apollo?
    I think this poem has to do with changing one’s life. At the end, it says “for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.’ This stood out to me because I think it’s saying that you have to stand out among everyone else to be noticed. It also speaks of a stone being defaced. You are dull until you make yourself shine!

Flaubert; Baudelaire; Rimbaud; Tagore; Yeats

Is Felicite a saint or a simple-minded servant? Or is she both? Or is she neither? Outline your perspective of her character as compared to Mme. Aubain’s. How do they differ?
According to Webster, a saint is an individual who is holy or virtuous and typically regarded as being in heaven after death. From what I read, I wouldn’t consider Felicite or Madame Aubain as a “saint.’ Both of them had such a loving heart! I would characterize Felicite as partially simple-minded, for the simple fact that she completely devoted herself to a parrot. Whatever was thrown her way, she overcame it and attached herself to the bird. On the other hand, Madame Aubain didn’t attach herself to any type of animal, even after she had been through the worst of life.

How are women imagined and characterized in the poems you read? What attitude is implied? Is it dual or contradictory? Does Baudelaire give similar weight to the description of men? What definitions of womanliness are depicted, affirmed, or criticized in his work?
From these poems, I have taken that Baudelaire doesn’t believe that women are capable of doing what a man can do. He belittles women. The poems are so negative! I’m just not sure where his strong dislike for women stems from. He believes that men should be at the top of the totem pole and they could be even higher if it wasn’t for a women holding them down.

How are Chidam and Chandara distinct from Rama and Sita?
Chidam and Chandara are more about fulfilling what they want before anything. They seem to only want what is best for them, even if it means risking a relationship with another individual. Rama and Sita seem to be more of the “helpful’ couple. They always try to do what’s best, even if it isn’t something that they want.

 Pick a Yeat’s poem and discuss what it communicates to you and why.
I really enjoyed Yeat’s poem, When You Are Old. Basically, it was saying that when you get older, there’s a certain book that can be read to help you remember your younger days. It will show those who loved our beauty and the one man that loved you. When we grow older, we can’t forget about our past. It happened for a reason. When we are feeling down, we can look back on our past and it will bring us back to the person we once were.

Petrarch; Machiavelli; Native America; De La Cruz

  1. Granted that Machiavelli’s own historical context is remote, how far does his pattern of contrasts between political ideals and concrete realities apply today?
    I don’t think his ideas are far off from reality today. He had a bad view of those who were in charge and ruling everything. Still, today, many individuals still feel this way. There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t hear of someone “high and mighty’ bashing another individual over something that isn’t even worth a breathe. Individuals are very deceiving and they will say or do mostly anything in order to win or come out on top of something.
  2. Sister Juana de la Cruz cuts off her hair to force herself to learn more quickly, although she knows that among young women, “the natural adornment of one’s hair is held in such high esteem.’ Finally, she enters the convent (where woman had their heads shorn). What other works have you read that emphasize the importance of a woman’s hair? Why does it seem to have so much symbolic value in such a range of cultures and times?
    I couldn’t come up with any stories that emphasize the importance of a woman’s hair. However, my first thought went directly to the Amish community where I’m from. I’m not 100% sure of the reason, but Amish women do not cut their hair. They always have it in a bun, but is it covered with fabric (I’m not sure what the correct term is.) In their culture, it is not appropriate to wear their hair down. To their culture, it shows respect.
  3. Bear in mind that the Aztec warrior’s highest duty is to bring home live captives for sacrifice. Give the Song for Admonishing a careful reading and decide–without researching the entire Cantares Mexicanos–what possible meaning might be assigned to the figurative terms “flower’ and “song.’
    I am not too sure what possible meaning the “flower’ and the “song’ may be. If I would have to guess, the flower is to show that life is beautiful and it’s a reality. It shows that what is there, is actually there. The “song’ may be a way for the Aztec warriors to know when it’s their time to begin their duties that day, or week, or whenever the song is played.

De France; Decameron

  1. The Tenth Story of the Tenth Day: Why is Griselda being tested?
    I believe that Griselda was being tested just to see how loyal of a wife she was. Gualtieri makes her life completely unbearable doing everything possible to test her patience. He pretends to hate her, “divorces’ her, pretends to kill their children, sends her back to her poor family, pretends to have a new wife who comes into their home and Griselda basically acts as a maid. Finally, he admits it was all a joke. Griselda accepts everything!
  2. Compare the frame tales in the Decameron, and The Thousand and One Nights. In each case, what is the reason for telling stories? Do the stories accomplish the purpose for which they are intended? How important is the relationship between the tale and the teller?
    In The Thousand and One Nights, the stories are told in hopes of wasting time. Shaharazad’s father tells her stories in hopes of her not doing anything dumb with her life. He just tries to get a point across with each story. In the Decameron, I thought that the stories are being told to simply just pass the time. I believe that the stories accomplish what they are intended for. In the Decameron, I wasn’t able to really see a relationship between the tale and the teller.
  3. In Laustic, what does the nightingale symbolize? Explain your answer.
    I’m not too sure what the nightingale symbolizes, but after reading this section a few times, I want to say that the nightingale symbolizing freedom and love. She gathers at that window every night waiting for the interaction with the neighbor. When questioned about whys he is always there, she instantly came up with the nightingale. Once he kills the bird, it’s like her every hope and dream was completely destroyed.


What do you think Dante learned on his journey through Hell? How does it differ from what you learned while reading about the journey?

I think that Dante was able to reevaluate his life. He didn’t want to end up in one of the levels of hell. He was able to refocus on his life and what matters the most to him. If he did not change the way he was living, he was going to end up going somewhere that he did not want to go. He was basically given a second chance. It doesn’t really differ from what I learned while reading about the journey. The basis of both was the same to me.

One Thousand and One Nights; The Inferno

  1. How are we to understand Shahrayar’s madness? Does it make sense to you? That is, are male egos in macho societies that frail, or is his a special case?
    In a way, I do understand Shahrayar’s madness. I mean, he found his wife lying in the arms of a kitchen boy. This of course is going to make him mad. To make matters even worse, when he went to see his brother, he caught his brother’s wife cheating. Both men are irritated beyond belief. How could their wives do that? They are “anti-women’ and decide to go on an adventure. On this adventure, they find a black demon that has his wife locked in a chest. His wife has even cheated on him!
    I don’t think that is makes male egos in macho societies that frail. Everyone handles things differently. Just because they are “macho’ men in society, doesn’t mean they can’t have feelings and handle them just like other people do.
  1. Both the vizier and his daughter, Shahrazad, tell tales that surround their human characters with important animals, but the animals play different roles in the imaginative worlds of father and daughter. Compare and contrast the powers attributed to the animal world in The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey and The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife with those described in The Story of the Merchant and the Demon. How may these differences reflect the contrasting visions of gender relations so central to The Thousand and One Nights?
    In the tale of the Ox and the Donkey, the ox compares his life to the donkey’s life. He claims how much easier he has it. The donkey gives the ox some advice. The next day, the ox decides to take his advice and in fact, gets the day off! However, the donkey is put into his place. The donkey tries to persuade the ox into going back to their original places. The analogy between the donkey and the ox resembles the father and his daughter. The purpose was to show his daughter that what she plans on doing, shouldn’t be doing. This analogy to her fails. She insists that she must go to the king, so her father says “I will do to you what the merchant did to his wife’, bringing on the next story. In the Tale of the Merchant and His Wife, basically it was meant to show that men dominant women. They bring in a rooster, who insists on beating. This story was used to scare the daughter. In the Story of the Merchant and the Demon, the demon wants revenge for the death of his son. Supposedly, his son was killed by the merchant. This story was to show the daughter that women can overcome and be justified as more than what the men think.
  1. Do you believe the penalties suffered are appropriate to the sins committed in Dante’s Inferno? Why or why not?
    Yes, I do believe that penalties suffered are appropriate to the sins committed in Dante’s Inferno. Hell isn’t a place where many people want to go. Whatever sin was committed is then how they were punished. It is kind of fair. If someone is willing to do something wrong, shouldn’t the punishment correlate to that?


The Ramayana; The Bhagavad-Gita

  1. Every epic work defines heroism differently, and many heroes are great of stature without being moral paragons. As the headnote to the Ramayana points out, Rama is a virtually perfect man. Do you find him less interesting than other heroes on that account? What indications are there in this portion of the text that his perfection may not be totally innate, but a state of being that he must work to achieve? How would this mirror the efforts we see his mother, Kausalya, make to discipline her feelings? How would that be consistent with the Hindu religious beliefs that imbue this work? 

    In a way, I do find Rama less interesting than other heroes that we have read about. He is labeled as the “perfect man.’ Throughout this story, there wasn’t anything that he did that stood out to me as a hardship. Other characters we have read about have worked their way through some type of hardship and came out of it gaining something, whether it being a good or bad thing. Rama was determined to go to Heaven and was already right there. His mother, Kausalya, was very distraught when it was time for Rama to leave. She pleaded for him not to go. She finally came to terms with what was happening and listened to Rama when he said he couldn’t disobey his father. Just like the Hindu religious beliefs, Rama stayed true to himself and continued to do what was best.



  1. In The Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna speaks to Arjuna, a warrior afraid to fight: compare Arjuna’s dilemma with that of Achilles in the Iliad, or that of Medea as she struggles with her maternal emotions when she is about to kill her sons by Jason. Compare the code of behavior Krishna outlines to the view of violence in Homer’s poem or Euripides’ Medea. If appropriate, look for materials in other belief systems that reflect on these questions: consider “[The First Murder]’ (Genesis 4), the Beatitudes (Mathew 5), or “The Offering of Isaac,’ or the table (Sura 5 of the Koran).

In the Iliad, Achilles, decides to fight because he is simply out for revenge. Arjuna isn’t very thrilled about fighting against his family and friends, but comes to terms with it because he thinks it is what is best for the “purpose of life.’ Arjuna is fighting to be better in life, unlike Achilles who only fought to have his name remembered!

The code of behavior is acode set for doing the right thing in order to get a better hand at being closer to God. Arjuna takes to this because he thinks it is what is right for him at the end of his time.

The New Testament & The Koran

  1. How do Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism?
    From what I have gathered, each of these believes in a Heaven and a Hell. However, their perceptions of what Heaven and Hell look like and how an individual gets into them are different. Islamic religion weighs an individual’s good deeds against their bad deeds. They have a view that there are eight gates of which they must enter. Just because you are of Islamic religion, does not mean that you automatically get into Heaven. Within Christianity and Judaism, an individual believes in God and they will go to heaven (or the Garden of Edan within Judaism). Their good deeds and bad deeds are not weighed against each other. Overall, to me it seems like getting into Heaven or Hell is more complicated within the Islamic religion. There is more at stake. You’re not just simply reminded of your accomplishments and downfalls, but they’re thrown against you and placed onto a scale.
  1. Although Jesus was a Jew, the religious institutions created in his name proved difficult for Jews to embrace but attractive to Greeks. What elements in the Nativity and the Passion narratives seems particularly and culturally familiar to a pagan audience?
    Pagan audiences could feel very connected to Jesus, starting at his birth up until his death. They were able to relate this story to those that they have heard several times. There were parts in each of the four gospels that they were able to connect with as well. A huge one that stood out to me was Christmas! Christmas time was used to convert the pagans into Christians.
  1. Jesus claims the redeemed sinner is more precious to God than the righteous person who never sinned. This implies a conception of God unlike that found in the Old Testament or in The Iliad. How does this emphasis on human repentance and divine mercy change human relations to God? What different aspects of the divine/human relationships were emphasized in Gilgamesh, or The Iliad?
    Within the Gilgamesh and Illiad, they had many gods that were characterized to different aspects of life. The relationships between these Gods and the individual were less-attached. However, by doing good “deeds’ you were at the top of these Gods’ lists. Now, individual’s relationships with God are more connected. They’re not as distant. Individuals know the types of actions that are expected. A redeemed sinner is able to learn from his actions/mistakes and make oneself into a better person, inside and out.