Nick Carraway and the American Search for Meaning

I want to explore the way in which Nick Carraway’s mental fog in The Great Gatsby parallels American attitudes and search for meaning and purpose post-World War I. One passage, in particular, inspired this idea: Through all [Gatsby] said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something – an elusive rythm, a fragment…

The Dangers of a Strong Community

Some of the most harrowing moments in Huckleberry Finn take place when a community comes together. In many of these instances, the group metes out harsh, distressing and dangerous punishments: in Chapter 33, for example, the townspeople tar and feather the king and the duke, leaving Huck feeling “kind of ornery, and humble, and to…

Jewett and Closure

One of the texts that I especially enjoyed this semester was Sarah Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs.  Now, I’ll admit that I found the story itself a little dull; as Professor Steele pointed out it is not a novel.  But its meaning really captured my interest.  I thoroughly enjoyed his two lectures on…

The Importance of a Graduation Ceremony

I know I briefly touched upon this on my “Lighter” reading, but I wanted to address the graduation speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson to a group of Harvard graduating students, titled The Divinity School Address. As I approach graduation in May 2014, I think, Where has the time gone? My uncle told me when I…

Streetcar and Slut-shaming

When Blanche arrives at Stella’s apartment in part by a streetcar named “Desire,” the car seems to be metaphorical for her own desires that have brought her to that point. Her teaching job and her good reputation were lost due to an affair with a 17-year old student, and she had turned to alcoholism, unable…

Simple Aesthetics in Jewett

Sometimes when the world starts to spin out of control, axis-shifting polarity, and the birds flock north; truth melds into a fictional sphere, a gelatinous mess of absurdities and stream of conscious informational overload, the only thing that seems to remain constant is beauty. It seems simple: consciously viewing the qualities of a person, place, or thing that exalts the…