Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The great debaters

The great debaters
In English class January 17, we saw the movie “The great debaters”. The movie was about four afro-american students in the 1930s. They joined the debate team at their school. The team won more or less every competition they joined, and their goal was to compete against a “white school”, Harvard.  However on the way to success they met some challenges they could not solve with good and convincing arguments. They met some challenges not only the students had to face, but also the rest of the population in the US. Therefore I am in this blogpost going to focus on two questions based on the social problems. Firstly “How was life for the afro-americans during the 1930s?”  and secondly “what is the Jim Craw Law?”.
How was life for the afro-americans during the 1930s?
I am going to focus on how the afro-americans in precisely this movie lived, and how their life was like. To start with, during the 1930s white people and black people were segregated. For instance, they had to go to different schools. This led to that the debate team only debated against “black schools”. Also especially in the southern states in the US the black people were seen as less valuable for a long time. They did not have as good jobs as the white people. Moreover the black people had to show so much undeserved respect to the white people. An example of that is when the father of one of the main characters hit a pig with his car, he has to pay the owner of the pig (a white man) over twice as much as the pig is really worth. Because if he does not pay, he risks the life of his own and his family. My point is, is that the life of afro-americans in the 1930s was not easy. They had to follow everything the white people told them to do.
What is the Jim Crow Law?
The Jim Crow law, was laws in the US between 1876 to 1965. The laws states that black and white Americans were equal but segregated. That meant that the black and the white Americans had to go to different schools, different hospitals, restaurants, hotels, etc. However it states that they were supposed to be equal, but that was not the reality at all. The black Americans were treated much worse than the white. They were victims of public discrimination. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Roald Dahl

When I read the short-story “Lamb to the slaughter” I got to think about Roald Dahl. He was an author from England, and he lived from 1916 to 1990. He is one of my favorite authors. I am really not a reader, and when I was a child I hated reading. However, there were some books I simply loved. That was books by Roald Dahl. I think that he is the best children’s books writer. All of my favorite children’s books are written by Roald Dahl. For instance I can’t remember how many times I have read “James and the giant peach”, “Matilda”, “Charlie and the chocolate factory” and of course “George’s marvelous medicine”. The drawings in the books are also amazing! He writes in a way no other author does, because almost all children’s books now a days have a moral, however the books Dahl writes are not like those. He often writes completely without moral, and I think that that is what children like. He writes funny, and children (including me) love his brutal humor. So the reason why I wrote this blog post is just to honour my favorite author! 

Lamb to the slaughter

Lamb to the slaughter

I have just read the short-story “lamb to the slaughter” by Roald Dahl. Furthermore I also saw the shot-movie based on the short-story by Hitchcock. The movie and the short-story were sort of different, but both were good. However I liked the short-story the best. The story is about a wife and her husband, and how the wife kills her husband.  
In this blog post I am going to focus on the main character, Ms. Maloney, so I am going to answer two questions about her. Moreover I am going to focus on her, on what she was described as in the short-story, not the movie.

·         How would you describe Mary Maloney as a person?

A more modern Housewife,
 Bree Van Der Kamp from
"Desperate housewifes"
Mary Maloney is a very typical housewife from the 60’s. She stays home all day waiting for her husband to come home. Furthermore when he comes home, she does everything to pleas him. She cooks for him and makes sure he can relax when he comes home from work. Maybe she is too “perfect”, and perhaps that is why her husband leaves her. If you have seen the TV show “desperate housewives”, Ms. Maloney is the same kind of person as Bree Van De Kamp. Both obsessed with being perfect, therefore never express their feelings and frustrations. That is maybe why she acts the way she does, it became too much for her, so she did not know what to do, and therefore she killed him.

·         Did it seem like Ms. Maloney had a well-thought plan when she first knocked out her husband?

Picture from the movie by Hitchcock
As I said earlier, I think that Ms. Maloney killed her husband in pure frustration. She had not planned anything. However, as I have also said earlier, she knew how to hide her feelings and to act cool. So Ms. Maloney pulls this off by just acting like she usually does, and it is not hard for her at all. Maybe she would regret her actions later, but she is cynical so she does what is best for her.   

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The thing around your neck

I am now going to present another shot-story from the book “The thing around your neck” This time I am actually going to write about the short-story “The thing around your neck”. This short-story is about an African girl who is more or less forced to go to America, and live with her uncle. In her country, all people think that you receive everything you have ever wanted. They think of America like “the American dream”. The main character quicly understands that America is nothing like she thought it would be like. Moreover her uncle gives her a hard time, therefore she moves away from him. I will now start with quoting a paragraph from the book, where her relationship with her uncle is reflected.

“ You laughed with your uncle and you felt at home at his house; his wife called you nwanne, sister, and his two school-age children called you Aunty. They spoke Igbo and ate garri for lunch and it was like home. Until your uncle came into the cramped basement where you slept with old boxers and cartons and pulled you forcefully to him, squeezing your buttocks, moaning. He wasn’t really your uncle; he was actually a brother of your father’s sister’s husband, not related by blood. After you pushed him away, he sat on your bed- it was his house, after all- and smiled and said you were no longer a child at twenty-two. If you let him, he would do many things for you. Smart women did it all the time. How did you think those women back home in Lagos with their well-paying jobs made it? Even women in New York City?

You could imagine your-self how horrible it must have been for the girl to live with her “uncle”. Firstly she is in a New country, where she does not know anybody. Secondly she does not have money to live by her-self. This paragraph is important to the short-story because it really shows that the girl is lost and alone, and that she has to make some changes if she is going to manage to stay.

Lagos, the city the main character comes from
The short story is called “The thing around your neck”, there are perhaps many reasons why it is called that. However I am now going to tell about my opinion why it is called that. In the whole story the girl feels like she has something around her neck. Something that chokes her, it is a metaphor of something that is slowly bringing her down. She cannot “live” when she has this thing around her neck. When I say she cannot “live” I mean it like she can’t be happy and be herself. The only thing she is doing in America is to work to stay alive. Therefor this “thing” around her neck suffocates her, and kills her joy of life.

The second paragraph I am going to present you can see how the main character has developed during the story.

“The thing that wrapped itself around your neck, that nearly chocked you before you fell asleep, started to loosen, to let go.”

Even though you see in the previous paragraph that the situation is getting better, it never turns out to be great. She still misses her family, and the culture in Africa a lot. In the end of the story she returns to her home country. Maybe the thing around her neck lets go of her finally, at that moment?    

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Cell One

I am now going to present two paragraphs from the short-story “Cell One”. Cell One is a short-story about a family who lives in Africa. The son of the family is a bit troubled. He is one of the “popular” boys, which means that he is one of the guys who steals and bullies with other guys. The daughter is the opposite of her brother. However the short-story is really about how the son learns what is right and wrong.  

“The thieving boys were the popular ones. They drove their parent's cars in the evening, their seats pushed back and their arms stretched out to reach the steering wheel. Osita, the neighbor who had stolen out TV only weeks before the Nnamabia incident, was lithe and handsome in a brooding sort of way and walked with the grace of a cat. His shirts were always sharply ironed; I used to look across the hedge and see him and close my eyes and imagine that he was walking toward me, coming to clame me as his. He never noticed me. When he stole from us, my parents did not go over to Professor Edube’s house to ask him to ask his son to bring back our things. They said publicly that it was riffraff from town. But they knew it was Osita. Osita was two years older then Nnamabia, and perhaps that was why Nnamabia did not steal from another person’s house. Perhaps he did not feel old enough, qualified enough for anything bigger than my mother’s jewelry.”

The first paragraph reflects how the boys in the neighborhood behaved, and how their parents ignored it. I think that one of the reasons why the parents of the boys ignored that they were stealing and misbehaving, was that if they got caught they did not get a chase to study and get educated. Moreover it was a shame to have misbehaving children, because that meant that the parents had failed raising them.

““Yesterday the policeman asked the old man if he wanted a free bucket of wather. He said yes. So they told him to take his clothes off and parade the corridor. My cell mates were laughing. But some of them said it was wrong to treat an old man like that.” Nnamabia paused, his eyes distant. “I shouted at the policeman. I said the old man was innocent an ill and if they kept him here they would never find his son because he did not even know where his son was. They said I should shut up immediately or they would take me to Cell One. I didn’t care. I didn’t shut up. So they pulled me out and beat me and took me to Cell One””

This is one of the last paragraphs in the short-story. Earlier in the short-story Nnamabia got himself imprisoned. However even after weeks Nnamabia had an attitude, he did not care that he was in prison. He sort of thought it was “cool” to be in prison. But after this episode his attitude changes, and he realizes that there are things in life that is more important than himself. He learns to step up for things that matter, he learns to respect other people.

Chimamanda Nogozi Adichie
My opinion of the short story is that I thought it was a good reflection of the culture. It is a big difference between the culture in Norway. A good example of that, is when the parents of the main character don’t want to confront their neighbor about their son stealing their TV. If something like that had happen In Norway, the police would have been involved at once. There is a different type of respect in Norway and Africa. Again, if an incident like the stealing of the TV would have happened in Norway, you would have lost the respect for the whole family, but in Africa you still respect the head of the family. In the short-story the parents of Nnamabia almost ignore the fact that he stole from his own mother. They acted like it was normal, and a shame that he did not earn more money on it than he did. In Norway, the son would be punished in a whole different way. Moreover, you simply don’t steal especially not from your own family. However I must say that there are "nice" mothers in Norway as well. So there are of course some similarities between the culture in Africa and the culture in Norway. But the main point is perhaps that parents should speak up to their children before it is to late.

Read about Chimamanda Nogozi Adichie 
 the autor of the short-story "Cell One" here. You can also see the autor talk about the book "the thing around your neck" where the short-story "Cell One" is, here