Author Archives: swhoke

Last Discussion!


  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?

The mother in this film starts off as a protective mother trying to find justice for her son whom she believed was innocent of the murder he was arrested for. This could possibly be as a result of guilt from her past failures as a mother. At the end of the film when faced with the possibility of her sons guilt given to her by the old man in the junk yard, she becomes   enraged/defensive (possibly at the truth being spoken, and that she maybe knew this all along). Then when told by her son about his guilt in the murder, she wishes to forget. This movie seems to show the blind love mothers feel for their child, the compassion given when it may seem none should exist. I believe that the love a mother should have no bounds, that a mother can love her child without condoning or approving of it’s actions and choices. I feel that the small tin of acupuncture needles represents her guilt or secrets whether it be as   a mother or legally. She practiced acupuncture without a license, so hidden from regulation and the law, and she herself committed murder leaving it at the scene, then finally full circle the son admits his guilt and hands her the tin.

Discussion Questions 14 — 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?

It would seem to me that in Silko’s “Yellow Woman” the stolen beef and Jell-o both are used to represent ages both modern and long past. The beef represents a time without modern conveniences, while the Jell-o represents the modern age full of convenience and luxuries.  I believe the use of both of these separates the tale from being either a folksy story or a modern tale. Both the stolen meat and the Jell-o play important roles in differentiating the past from the present.

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  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?

It is hard to make a judgment on a father who is acting in society norms I do not understand or have not experienced. Although I will say I do believe that a father would not let the things that happened in this story happen to their daughter. Her father seems to be conforming to the norms of his society, overall it seemed he loved his daughter but not more than the fear of dishonor that drove his existence.

  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?

Explained in the opening text the title is a play on the title of the poem “Love Constant Beyond Death”, the play on words is used to convey that death is constant above all even love. In the story the Senator is diagnosed terminal and is faced with death, and finds that love is fleeting and death will still be there. A sad tale but realistic, loves may come and go, but in the end death waits for us all. So love as much as you want and prepare to die only once.

Discussion Questions 13 — 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?

Gregor’s relationship with his family seems distant and someone out of sorts. Gregor is the sole provider for the family after his father’s business flops leading for some resentment when his father doesn’t help support the family afterwards. His mother seems to be worried about his condition trying to see her “new” son but being stopped by both the sister and the father. His father seems to have had little love for his son from the start, because as soon as Gregor changes he abandons him, regarding him as bad, or evil.


  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?

Gregor’s transformation brings the family together at the loss of their sole provider and main meal ticket. After the help leaves and the father is forced to get a job, the family becomes closer and united in their efforts to support themselves but also in their distain/resentment of Gregor in his new form.

  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?

Although published after the time in which it was meant to affect, the poem brings to light the atrocities that took place and has influence on future readers. Just because a literary piece isn’t published or recognized in the time it would have seemed to make the most difference doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference at all.

  1. How should we interpret the famous command at the end of Archaic Torso of Apollo?

I read this as a challenge to become all that you are and let people see your beauty and radiance. I also read it as a threat, or warning as it read:

“would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.”

This read to me as a threat that you are being watched, and can be seen so change your life.torso-apollo-munich

Discussion Questions 12 — Flaubert; Baudelaire; Rimbaud; Tagore; Yeats


  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?

I believe that as it states in the title, she is but a “Simple Heart”. Both kind and naive to the world around her, Felicite is both loving of those in her life and excepting of the lot she has been given in life. Mme. Aubain is less outwardly kind and more caring in the sense that she wants what is best for her children. She seems to see Felicite’s affection for them as coddling. Overall they both have good intentions just with differing directions.

2. 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?

Baudelaire seemed to demonize women and their beauty(all while describing their beauty). I had a hard time discerning his love or hate for the fairer sex, but it seemed that it was because although he loved the beauty, he also knew that the same beauty could be or was also his or mans undoing. Men in Baudelaire’s writing seem weak and lack willpower of any notable standing. Men in this light are out to gain only satisfaction and thus are easily lead astray by women.

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

Chidam and Chandara have a bitter and callus relationship, constantly bickering. Their relationship seems to me to be one of convince more than that of love.  I feel that this is contradictory to the relationship of Rama and Sita which seemed to be more of love, respect and honoring the other. Chidam and Chandara also come across as petty and vengeful while Rama and Sita showed a more strait forward and honest love for each other.

  1. Pick a Yeat’s poem and discuss what it communicates to you and why.

I have the hardest time discerning the meanings or poetry, unless completely straight forward. So I looked at “Leda and the Swan”, a twisted tale made poem. Leda a young girl is raped by the Greek god Zeus in swan form.  The poem itself conveys the rape, and was easily understandable, however, I could not tell the tone of the poem overall, the author neither commits to define this as a divine encounter or a violent rape, I assume this is purposeful to let the reader decide.  I also noticed something interesting while looking for a image to include in my post, that most of the artwork associated with this tale, that I could find, do not depict  a violent rape, but a sensual encounter or something similar. I ultimately chose not to include a image of this do to the contrasting views on the poem and imagery.

Discussion Questions 11 — Tartuffe; Romanticism: Heine, Leopardi, Hugo


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

I believe that Tartuffe although very sarcastic toward religious figures was not meant to be interpreted as anti-religious. Tartuffe attacked the hypocritical figures of the church that were present in the time of its writing, and possibly still. I think that the corruption of  religion had been relevant for a long time and this is one of many outlets that we see from that time showing the frustration and discontent with the church and its clergy. It would seem a trend of artists to mock or elude to the wrongs of government or religion in their works, as it was a relatively  safe way to do so. In the end Tartuffe’s facade is seen through and he is imprisoned, overall I wouldn’t even begin to say this was anti-religious but just anti hypocrite.


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

Hugo’s Satan was defined, the poem tells of his fall and his suffering, he is made relatable. “He had been falling in the abyss some four thousand years.”

Satan in Hugo’s poem regretted his fall, and choices and this also makes it possible to connect with him on a base level, because he had faults as we have. Hugo also uses transformation but in reverse from what we might think a hero’s journey would impart. Satan falls from being an angel to a demon or “monster”, gradually losing his grace and relishing in his despair, caused by God’s anger. Hugo’s Satan compared to Dante’s who was just the center of hell, imprisoned and ruling as the ultimate sinner, and a prison himself the most deserving sinners. Hugo shows the sorrow, regret and anger of Satan, either at himself or his projection at god.

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

I have decided compare two poems from Giacomo Leopardi; “The Infinite” and “To Himself.  In “The Infinite” Leopardi refers to the endless space of eternity, daydreaming and envisioning the everlasting. He uses the images of sea and the sky to interpret the endlessness of eternity, while in the later poem “To Himself” he refers to the death of his last illusion, his belief in the eternal.

“…. The last illusion is dead, That I believed eternal….”

He also uses the word boundless, as he did in the earlier poem, to describe the emptiness of everything in contrast to the boundless silence used to summon eternity. One poem is light and reflective while the other utilizes dark imagery to convey despair in life and a wish or hope for death.

Discussion Questions 10 — Petrarch; Machiavelli; Native America; De La Cruz


Discussion Questions 10 — 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?

The political ideal today would be an honest hard working person in office with the greater good of the people at the for front of all decisions. The reality is that every politician claims this description while blatantly bad mouthing the opposition. There has probably always been this contrast as a self motivated or “bad” politician will do whatever it takes to gain office and a righteous politician would seem as corrupt as the others.


  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?

Traditionally women are thought to have longer hair than men and be more attractive because of it. This belief that women are supposed to have longer hair and that they are beautiful because of it builds on the preconception that a women’s hair holds some power or importance. Though throughout time and cultures the cutting of hair of either gender is usually a  sign of defiance or oppression depending on who is doing the cutting. Stories such as Rapunzel where her hair is magical in nature, or that of Samson where his strength is tied to his hair, these emphasize the idea that hair is important in some way shape or form. In feudal Japan a samurai who lost his status as a noble either by becoming a priest or working in the fields would cut his topknot  as a change in status in relation to society.


  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.’

This was a hard thing to figure out cause I had and have no clue. Maybe flowers are followers or possessions, and the songs are the praises of the followers or the happiness granted by possession. It seems to me that they are talking about princes and what they have that the poor do not. It is hard to know what is meant by this without reference, or prior knowledge of the subject.

Discussion 9- DeFrance; Decameron

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

In the Tenth Story of the Tenth Day Griselda is tested by the King I believe to ensure her utter loyalty to him no matter what actions he takes against her. He tormented her and berated her, took her children from her and made her life a living hell, all so that in the end he would know she was in fact a subservient, faithful wife.  In the end the King would know that she was the women she had seemed to be at the time of their marriage.

  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?

Both the tales of Thousand and One Nights as well as the ones in the Decameron are told as distractions from the real world, to escape painful and horrible truths. In the Decameron the stories are told to distract from the dark and hideous death that the black plague had caused, While the stories in The Thousand and One Nights were told to keep the King distracted and entertained so he would not kill his wife. In this light both tales used the stories to distract from death, and such to preserve life. How each teller relates to the story told influences the “meaning” of the story.

"Die Pest in Epiros" ("The Plague in Epirus") a copper engraving by Pierre Mignard (1610-1665) depicts a bubonic plague epidemic.

“Die Pest in Epiros” (“The Plague in Epirus”) a copper engraving by Pierre Mignard (1610-1665) depicts a bubonic plague epidemic.

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

In Laustic the nightingale symbolizes many things; escape from a life unwanted, love that can never be, and secrecy of that forbidden love.  The Lady loves the knight next door and he loves her although he knows she is married to another, the nightingale signifies their love and the secrecy it must keep. The lady is unhappy with her current situation and wants to be free of her husband, who for him the nightingale signifies distrust and deceit.


In the beginning of the story Dante pities the sinners of hell but as the story progresses Dante slowly learns to not have sympathy for the sinners of hell and adopt a much less pitying  outlook toward the punishment forced upon the sinners, viewing this as a reflection of divine justice. Seeing that the actions of one’s life reflects the quality of one’s afterlife.


I myself have always believed that my actions either positively or negatively affect my life and that of  those around me as well as possibly having some determination on my possible after-life whether or not it exists. Reading Dante’s Inferno again as an adult with more grounded beliefs than I may of had as a teenager gave me more insight into literature of a religious context, allowing me to analyze it with a more discerning eye. That being said this was always an interesting read with great detail and interesting analogies.

Long nights and Dante’s Hell


  1. In Shahrayar’s case I can understand his madness to some extent, he found his wife with another man this is a devastating thing. I believe that his position as king as the publicized betrayal of his wife led to his extreme reaction to his wife’s actions, but the continuance of the deeds, killing a wife every morning, is insane.

I would believe in macho societies male ego’s are fragile in the sense that their beliefs are based on a sliver of truth, “Men are stronger than women”. Though this is not always the case physically, it is the majority. Therefore in macho societies men believe women obey from fear and love because “men are superior”, and when this is questioned or disproven, the whole belief system topples. This belief that men are superior is merely a reflection of the   norm that men are stronger physically than women, but fails to realize that women, although usually less physically imposing, are equal if not superior to men in many aspects.

One Thousand and One Nights

2.        The vizier uses The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey to try and relate to his daughter the flaw in her plan to marry the sultan. In this tale the animals have human like qualities speech and higher reasoning. While the story of the Merchant and the Demon the animals lack the ability to speak but are used as a justification in that they are forgiven and made to atone through work while women are beaten and murdered. The story of the rooster shows how in this society the women are thought to be inferior to men.

Though out this tale it seems as though there is a contrasting view, women are lesser, being the prevalent but also that they are cunning tricksters manipulating men left and right. It is almost as though women were feared, maybe rightfully so, for their abilities to sway men’s hearts.



3.    I find most of the penalties suffered in Dante’s Inferno humorous if not appropriate though some make little to no sense to me. I quite enjoy how it is stated that the Astrologists or Diviners, forced to walk with their heads on backward, kind of fitting seeing how they spent their lives looking into the future. In the outlying region of Hell, the Ante-Inferno, where the souls who in life could not commit to either good or evil now must run in a futile chase after a blank banner day after day, this makes sense to me, while hornets bite them and worms lap their blood this not so much. Overall I like the punishments that are presented, but I don’t think they are just, if anything they are extreme, but again that is what makes them humorous along with the way they fit with the sins. Considering the time period and the characters in the story the penalties seem appropriate to the story.

Discussion 6- The Ramayana; The Bhagavad-Gita


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  1. I do not think that Rama being a virtually perfect man makes him less interesting than other heroes. Actually when reading this I found him more interesting, but not because of his perfection,   but because I had never heard of or read his story it was completely new to me. Rama’s perfection is shown not to be innate but an achievement by him almost losing it when Sita is taken from him and his brother Laksmana helps calm him. This shows his struggle with imperfection, and his ability to sensibly deal with situations even when he is completely overwhelmed by emotion. As with his mother Kausalya who is devastated at the exile of her son and is everything but excepting to the thought and then after talking with him calms herself and excepts it. It seems to me that there is bold and defined incurring theme throughout this writing and it says “DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD, REMEMBER YOUR PLACE AND BE HAPPY WITH IT, DO YOUR DUTY AND REMEMBER THE GODS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT”, I think that this sums up both of the literary pieces we have been assigned to read in week six.


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2.  It seems to me that the major difference between Arjuna’s dilemma and with that of most of the other heroes we have read about is that Arjuna does not want to kill, which is the exact opposite of the others. The others we have read the stories of have killed with little regard to much of   anything and that was part of their blight  that they then had to cope with what they had done or the effects of their murder sprees . Arjuna gives thought not to the victory or glory, but to the act of killing one’s own kin, and the kin left after the killing is done. To me this point of view is really quite admirable and it is really too bad that Krishna ruined it by talking Arjuna into fighting because it was his duty. Not his duty to obey the gods, but the duty of his status or role if you will, unlike Achilles who only refused to fight out of spite for his king, and then returned to fight when he is angered at the death of a friend.