Author Archives: sehoyos


  1. How does your view of the main character change throughout the course of this film? What does this movie say about its the themes of motherhood and justice? And what do you think the mother’s small tin of acupuncture needles symbolizes?


My perspective of the mother did not really change throughout the course of the film. At the beginning, we see her dancing in the middle of the field, which seemed odd to me and left me with a sense of foreboding that something was off with her. Going back to the beginning, she is definitely a protective and slightly overbearing mother who has made her son her sole purpose in life. The mother’s near fixation on everything he does has manifested into a warped dependency on him as her purpose in life. While it’s arguable that any mother would be unwilling to believe that her child is capable of murder, her fanatic search to find the murderer further shows her inability to continue on without her son.

The movie exhibits how poorly women are viewed, and the difficulties of single mothers in this culture. In terms of justice, supposedly there is none. Do-joon is released, after which he admits to the murder, and the Mother has killed the innocent junkyard man.

I think the needles symbolize criminality and perhaps of intentional ignorance. We are told that she does not have a license to practice acupuncture, but she still does and continuously denies it. She also drops the tin at the scene of the crime, and her son gives it back to her. She uses the needles on herself and medicates herself into presumed memory loss, and I think the following dance is of obliviousness.

Yellow Woman, Political Prisoner, and Death Beyond Love

  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?

The stolen beef and Jell-O are indications of where the character is. The stolen beef is her time with Silva, where she feels that she has stepped back in time to the ancient stories of Yellow Woman. She denies being Yellow Woman because Yellow Woman came from the past; she did not know highways and pick-up trucks as the main character did. However, the entire time she is with Silva she very well could be in a different time because they ride horses, Silva hunts, and there is nothing in the cabin that indicates otherwise. The Jell-O is a stark contrast to the butchered meat, one that brings the reader to present time. Jell-O is a modern food and shows how strange an old story revived itself in a more contemporary world.

  1. After reading Saadawi’s “In Camera,’ how do you feel about Leila Al-Fargani’s father? Upon what evidence do you base your judgement?
Nawal El Saadawi

Nawal El Saadawi

I am not sure how I feel about Laila Al-Fargani’s father. I want to sympathize with him, because she obviously cares for her family and the account made by her mother even brought me to tears. Regardless, her father, though he is concerned for her, seems more concerned with how people view him and his honor. When the audience cheered for his daughter, his thoughts were not to be proud of her heroism, but a desire, a feeling that it was his right, to be acknowledged and rewarded for her achievements. Then upon hearing voices around the court saying how her honor and that of her father was trampled, he lets it get to him and actually wished for death upon both himself and his daughter. He comes across as slightly selfish as his thoughts continuously turn back to him and his troubles as opposed to the plight of his daughter.

  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?

roseDeath Constant Beyond Love signifies that “it is death that awaits us beyond everything else,’ (1091). The central themes are both love and death. Spanish writer Quevedo had written “Love Constant Beyond Death’ and the idea that love is so strong that it lasts beyond death is an idea still expressed today. This concept ca be a comfort and take away fears of death. However, Marquez takes a different approach, in that nothing pervades death. You live alone and you die alone, and the Senator declares that he is an Aries, a sign of solitude. The theme of death and the inability to fight nature permeates the story. He declares in his speech that “we are here for the purpose of defeating nature’ (1092), which we know is a lie when he meets with the town officials. In the same way he tries to fight death, taking on a passionate love affair to abate his fears, but in the end his fight is futile.

The Metamorphosis

  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?
Gregor's metamorphosis.

Gregor’s metamorphosis.

Gregor’s relationship with his mother and sister is generally one of fondness. When he makes his transformation, his sister takes charge in trying to look after him by providing him food, cleaning his room, and moving furniture so he has more room to move. However, it is very probable that she took this role upon herself to spare her mother from having to witness Gregor’s transformation and prevent her father from killing him. His mother, full of maternal concern for him, wishes to see him, though she is barred from doing so by the father and sister. The reader knows that Gregor cares for his sister, as he acknowledges that “only his sister had remained close to Gregor, and it was his secret project to send her…to the conservatory next year…and meant to announce it at Christmas,’ (959-961).

His relationship with his father does not seem particularly strong. He seems mostly concerned with the financial state of the family rather than Gregor’s well-being. When the Chief Clerk came to check on Gregor, his father was not concerned that Gregor was unwell, just that he was risking losing his job which supported the family. Additionally, he treats Gregor as an animal, urging Gregor back into his room violently, both “enraged and delighted,’ (965).

Together, his relationship with his family is not strong. He was the sole provider, so often gone early and mostly concerned with bringing in money. After waking up, he was not concerned with his metamorphosis, but with the fact that he was late to work, that he needed to pay his parent’s debt off, and that he might be fired. When he first went to work as a salesman, the success and money had delighted his family. Now, “they had become used to it, both the family and Gregor; they gratefully took receipt of his money, which he willingly handed over, but there was no longer any particular warmth about it,’ (959). Both he and his family became used to him providing, and there was not much more of a relationship he had with them.

  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?

In the first section of the metamorphosis, Gregor still sees himself as the primary caretaker in the house. His mother, sister, and father are concerned that he is not about his usual business, and are at a loss as what to do.

The second section is a period of adjustment. Gregor becomes more animal-like, testing out his new body, ability to crawl every which way, and coming to terms with the new routine of his sister bringing him food and cleaning his room. Previously he had kept his door locked and the thought of calling for help laughable. The family is coming to terms with the fact that there is now a creature in the house. His sister, taking on the role as his caretaker, begins to earn the respect of her parents and they acknowledge and praise her for it. Her confidence grows as she finds herself contributing and takes pride in that she knows what is best for the new Gregor. Her father returns to work, and also grows more confident. When Gregor encounters him, he was unprepared for the alterations. No longer was his father shuffling about feebly, but “fairly erect…[with a] vigorous expression in his black eyes,’ (966). Gregor’s mother, though she fainted at the sight of him, was determined to prevent her husband from killing him.

Gregor's death.

Gregor’s death.

In the third section, resentment begins to build. Although they begin to open the door to allow  Gregor to see into the living room, we see that his sister no longer takes the time to clean his room. The lack of hygiene, attention and general ill-will toward him causes Gregor to become more desolate and he nearly stops eating and caring about things he had previously, like being seen. His sister takes on work, his father continues his, and they take on tenants. Overall, each member of the family now plays a part and contributes in some way, so they acutely feel the burden of the monster in their house. His sister snaps, “if we have to work as hard as we all are at present, it’s not possible to stand this permanent torture at home as well…this animal hounds us,’ (974). When Gregor passes, it is a great relief to all of his family. They all take the day off and, with the shed of their burden, think about their future.

A Simple Heart

  1. 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?

Felicite is a diligent, if naïve, servant, with a natural capacity for love and kindness. I think she is simple-minded, and despite her hardships optimistic. As for a saint, I would say to an extent. As far as I know, sainthood just means retaining faith throughout your life, which in a way she does. I do not know if she fully understands the acts she copies with Virginie, but she retains qualities I would think associate with a devout Christian, including generosity, unconditional love, and goodwill. In comparison, MMe. Aubain is pragmatic. With a share of her own sufferings, she determinedly perseveres.

  1. How are Chidam and Chandara distinct from Rama and Sita?

Chidam and Chandara’s relationship is full of stubborn and selfish conflicts. At times they seem to love one another, which has no true foundation and is rather rooted in distrust and possessiveness. When they fight the outcome is bitterness. Rama and Sita do not fight, although there was the initially disagreement on Sita joining Rama in exile. Overall, their relationship is open and honest, each of them having a clear duty to follow.

Tartuffe, Hugo, a young man loves a maiden, and to Sylvia

  1. Is Tartuffe in fact anti-religious, or does it only attack corruptions of religion?


Tartuffe is not anti-religious; rather it attacks the corruption and hypocrisy of dishonest piety. Cleante makes this distinction several times throughout the piece. When Orgon is blinded by Tartuffe’s act, Cleante tells him, “Those whose hearts are truly pure and lowly don’t make a flashy show of being holy. There’s a vast difference, so it seems to me, between true piety and hypocrisy… [Man] by transgressing Reason’s laws, perverts lofty aim or noble cause,’ (p.115, 71-74, 85-87). The characters not convinced of Tartuffe’s religious zeal try to make clear distinctions between a holy man and a hypocrite. For instance, a devote person will not condemn his neighbor and spread gossip. Chatter and scandal is spread by those who themselves have committed terrible deeds, so are trying to lessen their own faults by enhancing others. Later when Orgon comes to his senses about Tartuffe, he claims to be through with pious men and hates the whole false brotherhood. Cleante implores him to see reason and articulates that there is a distinction between religion and those who truly follow it, and those who manipulate it to advance their own interests. “Just because one rascal made you swallow a show of zeal which turned out to be hollow, shall you conclude that all men are deceivers, and that today, there are no true bleievers? Let the atheists make that foolish inference; learn to distinguish virtue from pretense,’ (p. 147, 45-50).

  1. In what respects is Hugo’s Satan a heroic figure? How does Hugo’s account differ from Dante’s?
Hugo's Satan

Hugo’s Satan

Hugo’s Satan is cast as a heroic figure because he is portrayed with emotions that we can relate to. A rebel, he is at first dumbfounded and grim, filled with horror and wishing for death as he falls into an endless chasm. Somber, he feels the angel within him dying and begins to feel regret. However, as long as he can see the sun and light, even far away, he can accept his fate. Suddenly the only sun left, though, begins to die, and he is filled with a crazed urgency. In desperation he chases the light, pleading not to be left alone, fearful to be left in darkness. He calls out to Jehovah like a lost child, repentant. As he flies for ten thousand years, he is given hope intermittently, just enough to keep him going. He is a creature to be pitied, broken and tired, filled with despair, and wishing not to become the monster he feels himself becoming. As Christians, repentance and forgiveness are pillars of faith, so we are meant to sympathize with the one who rebelled against God, then wished to atone for it.

There are some similarities to Dante’s Satan, who weeps with six eyes (perhaps this could convey remorse) and whose breath creates wind in Hell as Hugo’s creates hurricanes on Earth. Dante’s Satan also suffers the isolation from light, life, and warmth, like Hugo’s in his abyss. Satan is also just as much in Hell as his victim’s in Dante’s version, and Hugo’s suffers as well rather than be in control. Dante also describes that Satan is grotesque, while Hugo says he feels himself becoming a monster. However, Hugo assigns his Satan with many emotions, whereas Dante portrays him as a slobbering unfeeling giant.

  1. Discuss and compare the images in any two poems assigned for this week.


I chose “A Young Man Loves a Maiden’ by Heine and “To Sylvia’ by Leopardi. Both poems express a vivid sense of pain from love lost. The first is the romantic unrequited love of a young man who falls in love with a maiden who does not give him a second glance, even after she herself is spurned by another. It’s a poem of heartbreak that repeats itself throughout time. The poem to Sylvia is the love for a child or young woman, who died before her time. It tells of the lost potential, similar to the lost potential of the young man’s happiness, though this is the potential of a life that had yet to reach its prime. Leopardi weaves his sorrow more intricately, though it is also a tale that has unfortunately repeated time and again.

Machiavelli, de la Cruz, and Cantaras

  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?

Machiavelli created a cynically pragmatic view of men and the qualities of an ideal leader. I feel that the contrast of qualities Machiavelli describes is, for the most part, consistent with what we expect in our leaders and representatives today. We shun government spending that we qualify as extraneous, we don’t like increased taxes, and there is more than a small share of criticism for the national debt. At the same time, we benefit from public servants and welfare, we think teachers should be paid more, and economic slumps are usually aided by government spending. We are fickle citizens and opinions vary widely, however, we are more likely to respect the leaders that can be frugal.

When it comes to love or fear, we want leaders to make decisions that will lead to greater national security, which will invariably lead to some form of cruelty, both internationally and domestically. Everything from the war on terror to death penalties tests our morals and convictions, but we would prefer knowing our families are safe. We can look back more objectively now on the events leading up to the atomic bombs the U.S. dropped in Japan. We know the lasting repercussions of the bombing now, in addition to the immediate death toll. Nearly 60 years ago, our leaders made a decision to end a conflict that would supposedly save more lives than an ongoing conflict would, especially with no diplomatic end in sight. This would also assert our national power at the very beginnings of the Cold War. Would we rather them having been merciful or cruel?

As far as keeping their word, I think everyone today is just as cynical in thinking that there would be no great surprised if a portion of successful leaders do not keep their word. Although, in a majority of campaign ads I have listened to, I hear very little of any type of agenda. Most are smear ads that hold little relevance to the person’s political character. When I do hear a politician speaking for themselves, their plans are very ambiguous. Perhaps this is an attempt to make general promises that cannot be directly broken.

  1. 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 think that long hair, particularly healthy and well cared for, is associated with feminine beauty and youth. Generally, long hair appears to soften sharper aspects of the face, such as strong jaw lines or cheek bones, giving women a more youthful and friendly appearance. Today, girls who have short hair are perceived as very confident, pixie-like, or boyish. One work in which hair is emphasized is Little Women. Jo sells her hair and is told she has lost her one beauty. She cries about it later.

  1. 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 had a difficult time reading this poem. I think song represent war. The author beats his drum, which often if used to instill fear in the enemy. Songs are also used to immortalize great warriors. I think flowers represent these warriors. The author says, “let [the enemy] come and hear the flower dawn songs drizzling down incessantly beside the drum.’ I think this means that the dead warriors, celebrated in song, are in a way revived and with the living warriors in spirit.

Marie De France and Boccaccio

  1. The Tenth Story of the Tenth Day: Why is Griselda being tested?
The Wedding Day.

The wedding day of Gualieri and Griselda. He has her strip naked in front of everyone and redress in new clothes.

Griselda’s patience is being tested by her husband, the Marquis Gualtieri. This story has strong biblical undertones. Ephesians 5:22 states, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord,’ and Griselda follows the commands of her husband without resentment and with the upmost grace (p. 1360). When Gualtieri complains how disgruntled his subjects are about their daughter, she tells him to deal with her as he sees best, referencing the Virgin Mary’s response to Gabriel, “Be it unto me according to thy word.’ Then she hands over her children as instructed, as Abraham did his son Isaac. After learning that Gualtieri planned to divorce her and kick her out, she tells him, “It is to God and to yourself that I owe whatever standing I possess…for it has not escaped me that you took me naked as on the day I was born,’ (p. 1361). This alludes to Job, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord have, and the Lord hath taken away.’ That the readers do not even understand what exactly possessed Gualtieri to test Griselda is even less information than what we received in the story of Job, because we knew it was a challenge set by Satan. However, it is a similar situation in that Griselda perseveres through the trials her lord sets with poise.

  1. 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?

The reason for telling the stories in the Decameron and the Thousand and One Nights are to escape death. In the Decameron, the tellers are trying to escape that death is all around them in the form of the Plague. Enjoying themselves telling stories takes their minds off of it. In the Thousand and One Nights, Shahrazad is trying to deter the imminent death she and her sisters face at the hand of the king. She is also trying to change the king’s way of thinking, steering him through the morals of her stories, which she succeeds at in the end. In Decameron, the lessons are open-ended, each allowing the reader to interpret and take the values which fit them.

  1. In Laustic, what does the nightingale symbolize? Explain your answer.

In Laustic, the nightingale’s song symbolizes love, and it’s death represents how that love can never come to fruition. The lady tells her husband, “Anyone who does not hear the song of the nightingale knows none of the joys of this world.’ In other words, the nightingale’s song represents love, which is the origin of joy. Those who do not feel love are not living happily. The nightingale’s death meant the end of their nightly meetings, since she no longer had the excuse of the nightingale keeping her up at night. However, the death did not mean the end of their love. The knight encased the bird’s body in gold showing that even thought they could not be together physically their doomed love would forever be cherished and held to the highest standard.


Dante’s personal Hell

Dante's Inferno

I think the character Dante progressed from being more sympathetic and pitying to being cold towards the damned souls he came across in Hell. At the same time, though, he is also going further into the levels of Hell where the sins committed can be considered more abhorrent, so in a way it makes sense he would be more judgmental. I think the ultimate lesson is to make certain not to partake in any action that can lead you further away from the will of God, or sin, because his punishment is perfect justice that human sympathy and compassion may blind you to. This is something that I struggle with despite growing up as a Christian. God is supposed to be merciful and full of love, so it is difficult to grasp that people who were not born into or exposed to the Christian religion will be punished for it and denied a place in Heaven, instead stuck in limbo because they are unaware. It makes more sense to me that people who actively seek and act in goodness will be judged for what is in their heart. I have to remind myself that this is also an individual interpretation of Hell created by someone imperfect so I can’t read into it too much past the main message. This brings me back to something else I learned, which is that Dante as an author has already come to terms of this view of Hell he has created. Even though he sympathizes with these characters, he still judges them and places them in Hell, again asserting that as humans we may not understand but it is God’s will which is perfect.

Personally, I learned that everyone must actively seek the right path. Everyone strays, but you cannot expect an obvious personal guide like Virgil. You must be committed to your path and have faith that Christ will guide you should you stray.

Arabian Nights and the Comedy

  1. To an extent we can understand Shahrayar’s madness as one born from betrayal then cynicism. However, his method of trying to outwit cunning women is not clever, just an exertion of his power. I do not think it is a matter of male egos being frail. His initial reaction, though very extreme in killing his wife and her lover, is a hot rage that I imagine most men would feel. I don’t think it is a special case in that any man could be hurt and at a loss when they are cheated on, and that there can be general distrust and, in worse cases, contempt towards women after the event. In killing women, he was deterring being hurt ever again. As harsh as his response was, the base line is that he didn’t want his heart broken again. Most people build up walls or are cautious after experiencing getting cheated on. Even though other people aren’t to blame, it’s baggage that you carry with you until you heal from it.


  1. The storied that the vizier told his daughter, the Tale of the Ox and the Donkey and that of the Merchant and his wife were meant to serve as a warning of the extreme consequences that would befall her for her plan. In the story of the Donkey and the Ox, she represents the Donkey, who is trying to save others from the fate, but in doing so only serves as a substitute. He is trying to explain that by volunteering, she is not helping anyone but just temporarily filling in a space and will have the same fate as the rest. The second story is to try and further clear her misconceptions of how the night will end. Even though she plans to outwit the King, he is dominant to her, a woman, despite her best attempts. The Story of the Merchant and the Demon is supposed to show even when people, particularly women, do something wrong, they can be forgiven.


  1. I am not completely convinced that the penalties suffered are appropriate to the sins committed. Growing up, I learned that each commandment was equally important: to break one sin was of equal consequence as another. I also do not think it is appropriate to judge what other people do. I am very much a believer of, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ That being said, I do think that there are actions that are especially bad, and in order to preserve intrinsic value of what is right, a suitable punishment should be given. In the end they are all being punished by having to go to helI, or at least a kind of purgatory. It does seem to fit that once there, the severity would differ. The limbo described in the Comedy reminds me of reading the final story of the Chronicles of Narnia. Those who are not believers are left in a limbo of their mind’s own design, trapped there.

The Ramayana of Valmiki

Rama is virtually a perfect man in that he is a god reincarnate, the god Visnu who preserves dharma. This does not make him any less interesting. He undergoes his own trials and through his choices we gain a better picture of what his dharma is. I was surprised with how his response to his banishment, which was “promptly and without the least sign of the slightest displeasure’ (729), was so very different then what was seen in Greek literature, where this betrayal and injustice would be met with resistance and self-righteousness. Although at first frustrating to me as a reader (it was difficult for me to dissociate their meekness from weakness (752)), I was nonetheless fascinated with Rama’s persistence towards his dharma and how the culture perceives duty more important than justice.

There was a point where Rama struggled to continue following his dharma. When he could not find Sita, he broke down under the injustice that the powers that govern did not protect Sita from possible death. Rama proclaimed, “we adhere to dharma, but dharma could not protect Sita…we are full of self-control, compassion and devoted to the welfare of all beings: yet these virtues have become as good as vices in us now. I shall set aside these virtues and the universe shall witness my supreme glory which will bring about the destruction of all creatures including the demons’ (752). Laksmana beseeched him not to go against his nature, and that as king he could not punish all creatures for the actions of one.

It is this emotional breakdown into grief was mirrored by his mother, Queen Kausalya. As a mother, she wants to follow her son who is all she truly cares for. She declares that his leaving will be her death. Rama reminds her of her dharma (as Laksmana reminded him). As a woman, her duty is to serve her husband, and to abandon him would mean abandoning her dharma. Both Rama and Kausalya had to discipline their feelings in order to comply with their dharma. This is consistent with the Hindu religious belief that everyone has their own dharma that they must adhere to defined by their class. I found this interesting in that based on their role, their dharmas may conflict. Rama tried to convince Sita that she should stay back because it is his duty to make sure she is safe and cared for, but her duty tells her that she must follow and be with him.