Blog #42: Thoughts for Final Paper

At this point, I have a rough draft for my final paper. I am writing about the issues of identity in a Postcolonial nation, using Omeros and Ceremony as the two novels I will analyze. I am going to start off by talking about what happens when the native land gets colonized and how the people lose their culture and identity after being “deterritorialized.” I am going to discuss an article by Robert Young in which he uses this terms and applies it to colonization. I am also using two other articles that discuss identity and the affects of colonialism on native lands (but I am not sure which two articles from my bibliography that I will pick yet). I will apply Young’s article to the two novels. I will go on to discuss the importance of ancestry and history that is presented in the two novels. After introducing this idea I am going to write about how the two novels display how writing and stories can help capture identity and culture. I will be intertwining the other two articles in with the previous few topics that I just introduced. I have a rough draft done but I need to work more on including the other two articles.

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Blog #41: Amor Y Cohetes- Tourism

“Locker Room”

“For the tourists of the Lower Side, a chance to gain great cultural insight – for the natives, a chance to survive” (G. Hernandez 112).

This short comic strip begins with a mother standing with her two children. She calls over a man and tells him that she will left up her dress for a nickel. She does so and the quote above is what follows. After this, the man gives the woman a nickel and she and her two children say thank you. The last box in the comic states, “At least one family slept with full bellies.” This story reminded me of Helen from Omeros right away. The woman in this comic and Helen must use their sexuality as a way to “survive” in a nation that is controlled by (and now relies on) tourism. For the tourists, this degrading act is described as a way to “gain cultural insight.” The native woman must reveal a private and intimate part of herself for the sake of the tourists. This is not “cultural insight” at all, and it is sad that tourists may thank that this is part of the culture. It probably would not be happening if it wasn’t for tourism in the first place.

“Where Are We?”

“What do you think we can make a year if we turn it into a tourist trap?” (J. Hernandez 148).

In this comic, Rocky is talking to her robot, Fumble, after they have travelled to a deserted island. This quote seems like such a funny jab at the reality of tourism. Rocky is jokingly asking this question, but the meaning behind it and possibilities of the answer can come true. The whole scene is similarly funny because she has just landed on an island and they then find “native” footprints (J. Hernandez 149). Even if it is a joke, the first thing Rocky thinks of is turning it into a tourist spot for money, which says something about how people think about the history of discovery in the world.

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Blog #40: Amor Y Cohetes- “Bem”

I was able to connect the characters in the comic “Bem” with a few things that could connect to this class. In the story, the monster has the power to take over the land. The monster has apparently been “conditioned to do the land developer’s work” (G. Hernandez 25). Luba also wants to control the land and enslave the monster. Reading this reminded me of a few of the novels from class (Omeros, Ceremony, Mumbo Jumbo) since they involve how people want to control the land and other people. The fact that the monster is going to do the work of the land developer reminds me of how those with power and money can get workers to change the land of Native people, which is also shown in the books we have read. Also, upon reading this sentence I immediately thought of the novel The Grapes of Wrath. I know we did not read that in our class, but it was the first thing I connected the quote with and it can relate to subjects that we have discussed. In The Grapes of Wrath, there is a chapter about how the machines do the work that the people used to do, taking their jobs away. The chapter describes the machine as having living qualities, like a monster. The monster in “Bem” and the machine monster in The Grapes of Wrath have the ability to take away jobs from native people and control what the economy will be based on for the future. This is like what I talk about in my paper while discussing the affects of colonialism on nations in Omeros and Ceremony.

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Blog #39: Ceremony- The Land and the Stolen

They see no life / When they look / they see only objects. / The world is a dead thing for them [ . . . ]” (Silko 125)

“He wanted to scream at Indians like Harley and Helen Jean and Emo that the white things they admired and desired so much – the bright city lights and loud music, the soft sweet food and the cars – all these things had been stolen, torn out of Indian land: raw living materials for their ck’o’yo manipulation. The people had been taught to despise themselves because they were left with barren land and dry rivers. But they were wrong. it was the white people who had nothing; it was the white people who were suffering as thieves do, never able to forget that their pride was wrapped in something stolen, something that had never been, and could never be, theirs” (Silko 189).

Even though I already have one post about the connection that the Native Americans have with the land, I feel that the novel really emphasizes this point and I couldn’t help but to blog more about it. These two quotes expand on the concept of how connected the Native Americans are with the land. The first quote is taken from the story being told within Ceremony. It is describing the white people and how the “world is a dead thing for them.” This is in stark contrast to Native Americans, for whom the world is alive and meaningful. The whites “see no life” in the world, but the Native Americans see that the world is full of life and that this life is intertwined with theirs. The story that is being told within ceremony shows how connected the people are with the weather, the land, and the animals. The whites look at the world and “see only objects.” The use of the word “objects” is deeply significant. In one way it is saying how the whites see only themselves as representing life and everything else is only an object. On another level, it shows how the whites objectify everything, including the land. Their interests are monetary and materialistic. The second quote describes the anger that Tayo feels when he thinks about how some Native Americans envy the whites for their material goods. Tayo describes how the music, the food, and the cars were stolen from their land. “Raw living materials” were taken from Native Americans and used by the whites. The white people are the actual “thieves” and their pride is “wrapped in something stolen.” The white people are the ones that truly “ha[ve] nothing.” All of the things that the whites have, including their material goods and their pride, “could never be theirs.” Even if they took the land and used it for their own purposes, it would never be theirs and never mean to them what it meant to the Natives.

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Blog #38: Ceremony- Healing Narrative

“His sickness was only part of something larger, and his cure would be found only in something great and inclusive of everything” (Silko 116).

Throughout the novel Tayo is trying to heal from his sickness. Just as Omeros was a healing narrative with Philoctete, Ceremony is a healing narrative with Tayo. In both of these stories, the healing goes deeper than just using medicine, pills, or psychology to fix a cut or emotional problem. The healing involves spiritual and racial issues having to do with identity. Just as Philoctete needed a spiritual healing, so does Tayo. Tayo’s healing is rooted in the story being told within the story, “something larger.” His cure has to be found is something “inclusive of everything.” The healing is about more than Tayo himself, it has to do with what is going on with the Native American people. Both Philoctete and Tayo have actual wounds/sicknesses, but their problems are symbolic. There problems are connected with their people.

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Blog #37: Ceremony- Racism

“There he is. He thinks he’s something all right. Because he’s part white. Don’t you, half breed?” (Silko 52).

“He knew Emo meant what he said; Emo had hated him since the time they had been in grade school together, and the only reason for this hate was that Tayo was part white” (Silko 52).

Emo’s dislike for Tayo is clear and he straight forwardly states his feelings about Tayo being of a mixed race. Even though Tayo never says or acts like he is better than others, Emo automatically positions Tayo as someone who thinks he is above others. Emo says that Tayo “thinks he’s something all right,” all “because he’s part white.” Tayo never says this about himself . If anything, he has been confused and ashamed of his mixed heritage because of the shame that his family suffers through from his mother getting pregnant by a white man. Just being white makes Emo believe that Tayo thinks he is better than other people. This shows the power of race and the dynamic of race relations. Tayo’s true personality and actions are overlooked and, to Emo, he dispalys the air of “superiority” that other white people do. By saying how Emo hated Tayo since “they had been in grade school together,” shows how involved race has been in the Native American experience. Even in grade school, Emo had certain ideas about white people because of his experiences. It seems that Emo’s hate can come from two different places. The first is a place that hates white people and believes that Tayo represents the oppression that Native Americans face. The other is a place that also hates white people but seems to acknowledge that Tayo can have and advantage being white. The term “half breed” holds a negative vibe. It is like you cannot be considered a fully “whole” person because you are mixed. You are of two different “breeds.”

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Blog #36: Free Write- Graduate School

I have always thought that I would go to graduate school. I never really thought of NOT going. As a NYC teacher I would be required to get my masters after five years of teaching anyway so I always just figured that I would go to graduate school for Education and English. The extremely large and scary dissertation paper is definitely intimidating, but I always knew that I would still want to go to grad school. However, last week I went to an English career forum facilitated by a few English professors at our school. There reactions to graduate school honestly made me very nervous. By the end of the discussion, they were basically suggesting that we do not go to graduate school unless we really want to or have to. There was a lot of discussion about how going to graduate school for English is a great deal of work and stress for a subject that has the least guarantee/chance of getting a job. For professors to come down on the “no” side of graduate school really stuck with me. It made me think about my future and if graduate school is going to be worth it.

Also, I have been going back and forth between my choices for graduate school if I decide to go. I already have loans out for my undergrad at QC that I will have trouble paying off and this would even be my least expensive option for grad school. I am thinking of going to Adelphi, but I don’t know if I want to pay so much money.

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Blog #35: Free Write- Plans for the Future

Like I said before, I know that I am not graduating this semester but I have been thinking a lot about my future with an English degree. I will be in school for another year. The first half of the year I need to take three Secondary Education classes and during the second half of the year all I have to do is student teaching. I graduate next Spring. With the way the job market looks for teachers right now I have been thinking about back up careers or jobs. I would still love to be a NYC BOE teacher, but I can’t even turn on the news without feeling depressed about the chances of that actually happening. There is a lot going on with my family and the living situations right now and different members of my family have been thinking about moving for a while. I never really wanted to leave New York (in terms of a permanent home), but I have been thinking about it more often. Being that everyone in my family is going to be moving anyway, I am going to look into the teaching requirements and certification in different states. I can always return to New York with some job experience.

Also, I have been thinking about looking into internships for next summer. I have been researching the different internships that English majors are qualified for. I would like to do an internship with a news company or something similar. There are also broadcasting schools that recruit English majors. These are all possibilities for me that I will be researching.

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Blog #34: Reflection- Completing An English Major

Even though I am not graduating this semester (I still have to take Secondary Education classes) I have completed all of the classes required as an English major. When I first realized this, I was actually a little sad. Since I am still going to be in school next semester, I am disappointed that I wont be taking anymore English classes since those are the classes that I enjoy. I have always loved to read and while I will still read on my own, taking classes and having a class discussion is something that I will miss. Yes, I know that I can still take English classes if I want to…but who really has the money to do that? Not me.

Even though I found all of the English classes I have taken at QC to be useful, I still question if the requirements are enough to help me in the future. I have definitely expanded my reading and critical thinking skills, but honestly, the required classes for an English major at Queens seem to look past basic writing or language skills. It seems like you can get by as an English major without having to take classes that teach certain writing conventions, skills, or form.

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Blog #33: In-Class Reflection- Writing

One of the most important things I have learned about writing is to cite your sources. Plagiarism can be tricky and you can plagiarize without doing so purposely. I’ve learned how to correctly cite my sources and that the Purdue website is my friend. I have also learned how to properly use quotes in my writing and how to explicate them. Over the last four years I think that I have developed a style/process of writing that helps me to make my work my own. I usually outline my work in a certain way. Also, I learned that the way I write may not please every professor and it is best to ask questions to find out what they want. I learned that English 110 may have been helpful to me and saved me from a lot of confusion. (I took College-Now and was exempt from English 110.)

Before I started college I was told that the introduction should be one paragraph that contains your whole thesis. I used to think that conclusions can only sum up your thoughts and not deal with anything new.

One of the best things I ever wrote was the paper from Professor Alvarez’s class last semester. It had subtitles, used outside sources in my own way, and used close reading skills. It may not have been the best “scholarly” paper, but I was proud of it because I felt that I really used all of the things that I learned during the semester in order to write the paper. It was rewarding. Another thing that I consider to be one of the best things I ever wrote was a paper for my English 340 class. I used actual library books that I found in gigantic QC library. I used articles as well as quotes from the book. I was told that I intertwined my research with my own work to create my own idea and I think that this is important for writing.

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