Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Page Rewrite Metacognition

After mulling over possible memoir ideas, I decided to write about a fender bender that I was in a few weeks ago. I felt really passionate about what had happened that day and decided that I could draw a lot of inspiration from it. Honestly, I didn’t really plan much more than that and simply allowed myself to think as I wrote. This plan proved effective because it allowed me to get my initial feelings about the accident to come across in a raw way.

For this project I made a conscious effort not to mimic Sedaris’s writing exactly and just use it as a basis for my own voice to seep through. For example, a typical page in Sedaris’s memoir had only twenty-seven pages, but I just felt so passionately about my memoir that I couldn’t limit my feelings to one page. I did, as the project required, used element of Sedaris’s writing to enhance my own. For example, I used a self-deprecating and brutally honest tone. I also used sarcasm, especially when discussing the cop’s questions. My use of “bad words” isn’t typically but I decided that Sedaris does the same and that they would help create the raw tone. Sedaris tends to be offensive when discussing certain topics. So, when talking about leaving my sister at school, and referring to the man who hit us as an “idiot” even after he apologized, I used a slightly offensive tone. My diction was strategic too. In order to achieve a sarcastic tone I would exaggerate light topics by using negative adjectives to describe them, like the “treacherous” four minute walk home. Also, I transitioned from referring to the officer as “police officer” to “cop” in order to mark my transition from respect to irreverence for him. When I wanted the reader to sympathize with my mom I transitioned from using “mom” to “mother”. I did use italics to differentiate my inner thoughts from what was said out loud. Overall I did an effective job of mixing my own voice and style with those of Sedaris.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim Page Rewrite

Three weeks ago after school I decided to embrace my laziness or what I prefer to call my constitutional “right to relax” by letting my mom drive me home from school. That four minute walk home was too daunting and potentially treacherous. Little did I know, the drive home would prove even more treacherous.

Before we could get home, we had to pick up my sister from elementary school. Despite my numerous failed attempts to convince my mom to just drive home and leave her there (We don’t really need her, she’s just one more mouth to feed.), we continued down Eastern Ave. When we began closing in on the school my mom saw that all the good parking spaces were taking. Not wanting to have to fight another mother for a parking space today, my mom decided to just park a block away from the school. She slowed to a stop and put on her signal light, which last time I checked, sent the message “Pay attention I’m making to park”. Clearly this message was lost in translation because at that moment we were rear-ended. The first thought that popped into my mind was “Damn, my dad just finished paying off the car.” In retrospect I decided that any person with at least half a soul would have thought “Is any one hurt?” before thinking about car payments. As my rage reached the “seething” point, my mom instructed my sister to call the police because the impact was extremely great and we all figured that the accident was severe. At the same time the babbling idiot who had hit us, shuffled up to my mom’s window. He began to rattle of apologizes in Spanish to my mom and she gave a couple Spanish responses, but was in shock from the accident. I decided, at this point, that I liked the guy who had just hit us. One of my personality flaws is that I am easily won over by sappy apologies, something I hate myself for.

Soon a police car rolled up and parked a bit ahead of the accident site.

“Who called the police?” the police officer said.

“I think she did?” was the response from the idiot I now sympathized with.

The officer walked up to our car, swaying his narrow shoulders, thinking that he was something special. We were soon to find out that he in fact was special, in the sense that he was probably the world’s worst cop.

“Why did you call the police?” he questioned.

First of all an “Are you all alright?” may have been appropriate. Second of all, why the hell do you think we called the police?

Although still in shock, my mom gave the greatest response.
“We had an accident.”

The cop went on to explain that minor accidents didn’t require people to call the cops.

Minor? I just saw my life flash before my eyes. I think that’s reason to believe an accident wasn’t minor.

The impact of the accident was so great that we all figured that the damage was severe. Since my mom wasn’t in any shape to get out of the car and there was no way in hell I was getting out to check the damage, none of us knew the extent of the damage. The cop continued to blabber off rules about calling the cops in a tone that was exasperated and borderline angry. By this point I hated him more than the idiot who had hit us. My hate wasn’t unwarranted because A. I’m sure he had nothing better to do, and was probably annoyed that we interrupted the chili luncheon at the station and B. no one talks to my mama like that. Figuring that my word was weak against a police officer’s, I decided not to put up dukes.

Finally after this entire ordeal we got home and checked the damage. Three slight scratches and two minor dents. At least this could be fixed. Unfortunately my rage with the cop would persist for several weeks. (I can hold a grudge.) I also hated myself for not at least telling the cop to please talk to my mother properly. I hated myself for letting her take that crap. So for the next couple of weeks I tended to my bruised ego and hurt heart. Seething, I sat at home radiating a hate for both myself and for the failing police system.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Metacognition: Memoir Project Book Cover

The book cover provided a visually artistic piece and because of that I immediately knew that I wanted to do this particular project. I came into this project with a clear idea of what I wanted the cover to depict. A major theme in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris is the idea of a dysfunctional family that stands as the stark opposite of the ideal American family. The whole “white picket fence” idea is defied by this memoir. Also, Sedaris chose to open the book by discussing television, implying the controlling effect that it has, as well as the tendency for people to think that watching television is something done by everyone. I knew that these were the themes that I wanted to portray on my cover. Having a clear idea allowed me to be particularly enthusiastic about this project.

There were several components to my cover, each one symbolizing or exemplifying a theme of the memoir. First, I drew a man with the head of a television. This image served as a symbol of the mental effect of television including its tendency to dictate a lot of what people believe (even if the information depicted is false). The image on the television screen is of a 1950s family sitcom that depicted the “perfect family”. Many 1950 sitcoms come with the connotation of being about the ideal American family. I chose this image for the television screen because it showed a family that was the polar opposite of the Sedaris clan. Also, the idea of the “perfect family” is an idea that has been embedded in the minds of Americans by television. Actually when I printed the image of the family my printer messed up the color, making pinkish lines appear across the image. I decided not to reprint it because it gave the effect of poor quality on a television. This fortunate mistake could be interpreted as a defilement of the perfect family, an idea present in Sedaris’s memoir. As far as color scheme and other minor design elements, I just included them because they were visually appealing.

The strengths of my book cover include its visual appeal, relevant pictures, and the catchy hook on the back. I really put effort into the ideas behind the cover. I wanted to explain the themes of the effects of television and the idea of a dysfunctional family and I believe I achieved this. I also wanted the hook to be engaging and mimic the tone of a real back cover hook, which I also achieved. As for weaknesses, the finished product did have some glue wrinkles and I could have spent more time creating the blurbs on the back of the book to make them more exciting. On a side note, I used a picture from the internet but I did MLA cite it and the citation is pasted on the inside cover of the book. Overall, I enjoyed this project because it allowed me to express the themes of the book in a visually artistic way.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Analysis of Setting in Fay Weldon's "IND AFF"

Fay Weldon, author of the short story, “IND AFF”, uses setting as the chief means of portraying her theme. She does so to the point that the effectiveness of the theme becomes dependent on the setting, therefore making the setting inextricably linked to the theme. The realization of one’s errors and of second chances, a realization triggered by the consideration of consequences, is the theme of “IND AFF”. In order to express this idea, Weldon specifically uses the country, time period, weather, and physical setting, with each specific element of setting serving its own purpose but all coming back to achieve a common goal: portraying the theme.

Perhaps the most obvious use of setting includes the mentioning of the country in which the story takes place. The couple is traveling and during the story they are in Sarajevo in Yugoslavia long after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Weldon also weaves in the story about the young, nationalistic Princip who carried out the assassination in Yugoslavia in 1914. By setting the story in the same place where the assassination occurred the author is clearly drawing parallels between Princip’s and the narrator’s situations. Sarajevo is a place in which the realization of error did not occur that fateful summer in 1914. The idea of a second chance lost now resonates in the city. The narrator notes, “…two footprints which mark the spot where the young assassin Princip stood to shoot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife” (Weldon 201). The footprints serve as a lasting physical manifestation of the idea of consequence and not realizing the error of one’s ways. That is why it is appropriate and necessary that the story takes place here. The narrator’s own realization is therefore facilitated by the aura of consequence that exists in Sarajevo. This dependency on setting in order to bring on the narrator’s realization exemplifies why setting is so necessary, to the point where it becomes inextricable.

Weather is a major constituent of setting, and Weldon takes advantage of this. The narrator describes the weather in Sarajevo as rainy, notes “black clouds” (202) overhead. The black clouds represent impending trouble, in this case the loss of love that occurs between the professor and the narrator. Rain comes with connotations of purification. In this case the rain’s purification leads to realization of error. In a way, the rain washes away all that clouds the narrator’s view, all that prevents her from coming to a realization. She reveals that she and the professor, “sheltered from the rain in an ancient mosque in Serbian Belgrade; done the same in a monastery in Croatia; now we spent a wet couple of days in Sarajevo beneath other people’s umbrellas” (202). Based on the connotation of rain, the narrator and the professor were avoiding such purification. They did not want to acknowledge their error. The narrator mentions that, “…it seemed as if by common consent a shield of bobbing umbrellas had been erected two meters high to keep the rain off the streets. It just hadn’t worked around Princip’s corner.” (202). The rain falling on Princip’s footprints represents the purification that had occurred allowing the error of Princip’s behavior to be realized; only in that case it was too late.

One of the physical locations of the story, the restaurant, is particularly significant. Meals take place in restaurants and meals typically symbolize acts of communion and bonding, according to Thomas C. Foster in How to Read Literature like a Professor. Therefore failed meals hold opposite connotations. This is why it is necessary to set the narrator’s moment realization and therefore, loss of love, in a restaurant. The restaurant also serves another specific purpose. The narrator mentions that after Princip’s initial failed assassination attempt, he “…vanished into the crowd and gone to sit down in a corner cafĂ© and ordered coffee to calm his nerves” (205). The two points in time clearly parallel each other. The restaurant is established as a place of second chances. So, naturally this is an ideal and necessary setting for the narrator’s realization of second chances. As a result of the symbolism of the restaurant, the theme now has even further dependence on setting.

Weldon ties setting and theme in such a way that they become inextricable from each other. The effective portrayal of theme depends heavily on the specifics of the story’s setting. The interdependence of the constituents of a story is necessary in order for the story to be effective. By intertwining setting and theme Weldon exemplifies the importance and relevance of setting in literature, a point that can not be overlooked.

Characterization in The Red Carpet

Lavanyan Sankaran, author of The Red Carpet, develops the characterizations of the story’s main characters, Raju and May-dum, and by doing so, simultaneously develops their relationship, in order to portray her purpose. The purpose of the story is to express that the caste system, though at times is temporarily disregarded, is a constant and implicit part of life in India. By using character development, Sankaran shows the changes in Raju’s and May-dum’s mindsets and the shifts in their interactions and relationship. Their relationship gradually develops from one lacking in understanding, to a friendlier relationship in which understanding is present. To make her point that the caste system is a constant (although at times subtle) part of life, Sankaran, includes a regression in May-dum’s character at the end of the story. This allows the reader to grasp the purpose: that the caste system isn’t easily overcome.

The author begins by characterizing the two characters in such a way that makes the differences between their respective castes apparent. For example, the author uses car situation to show the difference in lifestyles. The narrator describes Raju as very proud and in awe of the vehicle. The narrator reports, “Even smarter, Raju thought, loving its gleaming whiteness and fancy interior. He was aware that she didn’t share his opinion” (Sankaran 4) and then describes May-dum’s reaction, “Oh God, not white!”.(4) The very feature, the white color, that Raju admires, May-dum denounces. The same goes for the red carpet. This shows the stark differences between what the lower and higher castes appreciate. This characterizes May-dum as unappreciative and ashamed of what she has and Raju as unfamiliar with upper class taste. Furthermore, the friend that inspected the car with May-dum agrees that it looks like a “greasy politician’s car”. The friend’s judgmental nature already shows that there are standards concerning public image that May-dum has to live up to.

Another feature the author uses to contrast the main characters’ is the diction used to describe May-dum’s personality and in turn to describe Raju’s personality as well. Raju, on multiple occasions, describes May-dum and her lifestyle as that of a “film star” (5). He even generalizes the lives of the upper class as “movie-star lives” (2). The words “film star” and “movie-star” clearly come with connotations of a superficial, unappreciative, uncaring, and in this case, wild lifestyle. Also, by Raju saying this, the author characterizes Raju as judgmental and unable to relate with May-dum. Raju continues to exhibit disapproval toward the fact that May-dum smokes, wears scanty clothes, and parties. At the same time, May-dum is continually portrayed a wild socialite. By using all of these techniques, the author wants to isolate each caste to get the reader to see how difficult it would be to interact, bond, or simply understand another caste’s lifestyle.

After setting up such a contrast between Raju and May-dum, the author begins to blur the lines between the castes. Sankaran introduces common ground between the two by introducing a type of sympathy and creating friendly interaction between the characters. Although Raju’s opinion of May-dum remains judgmental, it is to a lesser degree. The narrator discloses, “[Raju] knew that this behavior was unacceptable. Immoral. Should be stopped. He also knew that he shouldn’t by any calculation, like and respect May-dum so much. But there didn’t seem to be anything he could do about that either” (6). Raju maintains his judgments but at the same time he admires May-dum. Part of his attitude has clearly shifted. Later the narrator reveals that Raju began, “…telling [May-dum] everything: all his hopes, his dreams, his fondest wishes for his beloved Hema, and the despair that had dogged his footsteps these past months” (8). Raju feels the ability to open up with May-dum. Since Raju shifts to admiring May-dum, May-dum clearly had to have changed her own personality to allow such a change in Raju’s perception of her. For example May-dum inquires about Hema’s schooling, therefore showing a degree of concern. The change in May-dum is also made apparent when the author makes May-dum go against previous characterization, by acting respectfully and sympathetically towards Raju and his family during her visit. The shift in Raju’s opinion and the shift in May-dum’s portrayal lead to a change in their relationship. The relationship between Raju and May-dum becomes one of mutual understanding.

The final shift, or reiteration rather, that occurs in May-dum’s personality at the close of the story is what ties the purpose together and what makes it so apparent. The author has made May-dum out to be a woman that goes against tradition, but later reveals her as having a respectful, understanding side. This initial characterization shift therefore causes the reader to conclude that the differences in castes can be overcome. This is belief is rebuffed when after just leaving Raju’s home, May-dum responds to a friend questioning where she had just been by saying, “Visiting.”(11). By not providing further explanation, the reader gets the impression that May-dum is ashamed of her visit and needs to maintain her public image. Just when the lines between the castes seem to be blurred, it becomes apparent that despite the supposed development of understanding and respect between Raju and May-dum, the unchangeable differences in the castes and maintaining public image are still prevailing realities.

Sankaran presents the characters in such a manner, that the reader is made to believe in a greater good. The shift in characterization and therefore in the characters’ relationship is used to make the reader feel as if the caste system can be overcome or changed. By including a final shift in characterization, specifically in May-dum, the author reminds the reader that the caste system and the maintenance of public image is a constant fact of life, and despite being subtle at times, will always prevail.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Point of View Analysis of A Rose for Emily

In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, the narrator assumes the viewpoint of a participant and observer who is also objective. By doing this, Faulkner emphasizes his purpose: to allow the reader to realize that community chooses to isolate certain members of society. This isolation is caused by a community’s desire to single out and observe members of society that they do not understand or find peculiar due to factors like economic status. Through his exclusive diction, contrasting, isolative imagery and revelation of Miss Emily’s inner thoughts and motives, Faulkner allows the narrator to portray this purpose.

Faulkner’s narrator in this short story uses isolative language to separate Miss Emily from himself and the rest of the community. For example, when describing how the town was vigilantly observing Miss Emily and Homer Barron’s relationship, the narrator states, “She carried her head high enough - even when we believed she was fallen.” (Faulkner 30). The use of the word “we” separates the townspeople from Miss Emily as if the townspeople were spectators, watching and criticizing Miss Emily’s life. Later the narrator expresses, “We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off” (31), when Homer had supposedly vanished from the community. Again the narrator and the townspeople separate themselves from Miss Emily in a spectator like manner. They do so partly because this relationship is taboo, to an extent, in that community and the townspeople do not understand it. The way the narrator narrates from a participating and observant viewpoint highlights the idea that Miss Emily’s life is like an unusual drama unfolding before the eyes of spectators.

The imagery that the narrator uses exemplifies his role as an observer and participant. He singles out Miss Emily’s house by describing it in a contrasting and therefore isolative manner. He observes that, “…only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay…-an eye sore among eyesores” (26). By using such vivid imagery to stress the point that Miss Emily’s house was distinctive, the narrator further isolates her from the rest of the community. By using the word “eyesore” in particular shows that the narrator describes such imagery due to his role as an observer and participant. He allows the reader to see the town through his observant eyes. Without such isolative imagery the reader may have overlooked Faulkner’s purpose in showing how certain members of society were isolated. As a side point, the house is a symbol of wealth which reflects the idea that communities single out and isolate others on the basis of economic status.

The narrator assumes an objective viewpoint, allowing the reader to know what is occurring by describing it from the outside. Although Miss Emily’s inner thoughts are not straightforwardly revealed, the narrator reveals, for example, Miss Emily’s plan for murder and her inability to let go of people whom she loves. Miss Emily’s behavior shows how she isolates herself from others. Murdering the person who she wants as a companion is an isolating factor that makes the reader further understand the isolation that Miss Emily experienced. The objective view of how the people of the town isolated her is apparent. The narrator describes how the townspeople gossip about Miss Emily for example. Without this objective observation the author’s purpose may have been overlooked.

The authors makes the narrator of “Miss Emily” a participant and observer who is objective in order to inform the reader that communities often isolate certain members due to different factors, like economic status. The viewpoint of the narrator is key because the diction, imagery, and objective nature of the narrator are used together to emphasize and portray this purpose. The type of viewpoint used isolates Miss Emily and singles her out as an unusual spectacle. Therefore this stresses the importance of the specific viewpoint Faulkner decides to use.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Why Do I Write?

Why do I write? Interesting question. Why do I write? Up to now, to be honest, I have written mostly for the sole purpose of completing school assignments. I rarely write on my own because, for me, writing already has that association with work rather than leisure. When I do write for leisure, I write with honesty, so I guess you could say I write to be honest, to give my honest opinion. Also, depending on what I’m writing, I tend to use a humorous voice in my writing. For this reason, I write to make people laugh. Generally my purpose for writing is to give people something to think about and/or to express something that I think is worth knowing. Sometimes I write to learn about myself because when I write it causes me to look deeper inside myself to find what I am trying to say, though this is usually inadvertent. Writing allows me to get myself thinking about a subject, thinking more than I probably normally would. Though clichĂ©, writing is one of the ways I allow people to get to know me and one of the ways I get to know myself.

Things Fall Apart Part I

Hi everyone. First of all I want to discuss Okonkwo in relation to the village traditions. Okonkwo is made out to be a powerful and controlling man yet he, as well as his fellow villagers, are all subject to tradition, for example the gods and the value of masculinity. In a way Okonkwo can actually be seen as weak due to his compliance and submission to tradition. This is ironic because Okonkwo hates weakness and to combat weakness he clings to tradition, yet by doing so he is also submitting himself to the power of tradition.

Now to respond to Matt's question of whether or not we as readers are supposed to like Okonkwo. It's obvious that Okonkwo is not the best example of a protagonist (if you even view him as a protagonist at all). Okonkwo has character flaws such as a quick temper and an abusive, domineering nature. At the same time we must take into account that he is only following the culture of that setting and that his father inadvertently shaped his personality. When it is mentioned that Okonkwo inwardly felt affection towards Ikemefuna and Ezinma, it is obvious that deep down he really is a caring man who is simply subject to the tradition. In order to uphold the traditional image of masculinity he must suppress these emotions. He is simply a man caught between tradition along with a fear of failure and his true emotions. Ultimately, setting aside Okonkwo's flaws that were created by uncontrollable factors like culture and a poor upbringing, I just see him as man who was trying to maintain his honor and to not make the same mistakes that his father did.

To answer Alinne's first question, Nwoye is a male and as we have seen there are clear gender roles. Regardless of age, Nwoye is considered superior to his mother simply because he is a male. Perhaps Nwoye's mother is referred to as "Nwoye's mother" rather than by her name because of such gender roles. Or perhaps she is referred to in this way simply because Nwoye is a more prevalent character in the novel than the mother; therefore it is easier for the reader to know exactly who the author is referring to.
July 15, 2008 6:09 PM

Things Fall Apart Part II

In the second section of the novel the title of the book comes into play. The title refers to the crumbling culture and tradition of the Nigerian villages. Everything that was familiar to the villagers, especially Okonkwo, was begining to fall apart with the advent of the white missionaries. Just out of curiosity why do you think the villages couldn't resist the missionaries and retain their traditions? The exclusive, somewhat irrational and unfair nature of the village culture was probably what caused its downfall. The culture allowed women to be looked down upon, people to become outcasts, and left others like Nwoye searching for clarity. The flaws in the traditions caused such people to be drawn to this new religion. At least that's how I interpreted it.

Switching topics,I thought what Matt said,

"I found the description given intriguing, almost as if the father is the external strength of the family while the mother is the internal strength"

...was very insightful. I myself didn't initially make that connection but now that I see it,I strongly agree with it. Just to further discuss the topic, the fatherly strength represents masculinity which is the outer image projected by Okonkwo and perhaps the other men of the village. On the other hand the motherly strength, is expressed through inward emotions.
July 15, 2008 8:32 PM

Things Fall Apart Part III

Okay, I too noticed the irony of Okonkwo's death in the sense that he dedicated his life to avoiding becoming his father but in the end he ends up dying a shameful death as well (207). What does this say about societal honor and prosperity? In a way this undermines the idea of hardwork and prestige because although Okonkwo was prosperous and honored he experienced a shameful demise.

As for Okonkwo's motives for suicide, I have two ideas. First, Okonkwo is a man who values power and control over everything so once it is lost he has nothing to live for. The white men have usurped the power and with it they have taken Okonkwo's hard-earned status. Gaining status was his purpose for life and without this goal he has nothing. Another motive was that the tradition was crumbling. In my previous posts I addressed how although Okonkwo was a man of power, he was also subject to tradition. This very tradition is what kept his world together. When the people of Umuofia became "soft", and when Nwoye converted, Okonkwo believed these were signs of effeminacy that broke tradition. These changes were out of his control and when he tried to take matters into his own hands by killing the head messenger, he is criticized by the onlookers from his own village. Overall he found himself in a lose-lose situation. His entire tribe no longer backed him. Okonkwo felt his situation was hopeless and therefore committed suicide.

Cynthia brought up an interesting point concerning the D.C.'s book. He describes Okonkwo's life story as an "interesting read" (208). This shows that the white men saw the lives of the villagers as mere sources of entertainment. From what we have all read we know that Okonkwo's life was rather tragic so it kind of disturbed me when I read this. Any thoughts?

Lastly, for some reason I found the advent of the missionaries somewhat acceptable and even beneficial for some of the villagers, like Nwoye for example. I didn't see the missionary work as a totally negative change for the village of Umuofia. On the other hand, when I read about the introduction of the government or "white man's law" (174) I felt that this encroached on the culture and negatively impacted the village. I felt as if the white men had overstepped their boundaries. Perhaps this is because the Christianity offered comfort to some villagers while the government offered nothing of the sort. Overall what I'm trying to say is that it was as if the white men were going too far and really pushing their own culture onto the Nigerian villagers when they introduced their government. How did you all feel about the government's presence in the village? Was it beneficial or detrimental?
July 15, 2008 9:49 PM

Summer Reading Essay

The Journey in The Remains of the Day

In literature, journeys tend to serve as pathways to self-discovery. The journey Mr. Stevens embarks on in the novel The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is no different. Ishiguro uses Mr. Stevens’s journey to argue that life without emotion and self-satisfaction is a life unfulfilled. The journey consists of events that lead Mr. Stevens to this conclusion. Therefore, the journey plays a pivotal role in plot progression as well as exemplifying Ishiguro’s purpose.
As Mr. Stevens proceeds on his journey he encounters several characters who direct him to see the cities’ various sights. For example, the old man who he meets in Salisbury tells him to get a better view of England from atop a large hill. The man says, “I’m telling you, sir, you’ll be sorry if you don’t take a walk up there. And you never know. A couple more years and it might be too late.” (25) Symbolically, this statement is referring to the importance of fulfilling one’s duties to oneself. The view, which is supposedly a rather enjoyable sight, represents such self-fulfillment and the hill represents the struggle to reach that state of satisfaction and relaxation. Later, he meets a young woman who suggests that he sees the Salisbury cathedral steeple (Ishiguro 69). In general, cathedrals are thought of as emotional places in which enlightenment occurs. Therefore by this woman suggesting to Mr. Stevens that he see the cathedral it is clear that Mr. Stevens is being guided to a place that will allow him to embrace his emotion. Speaking more generally, the persons guiding Mr. Stevens represent the progression of his emotional journey.
The geography of the journey also illustrates Ishiguro’s claim. The journey’s starting point is Darlington Hall, a rigid, structured, and cold place. This starting point clearly reflects Mr. Stevens’s personality. The journey’s end point is the scenic peak in Weymouth. Here the atmosphere is jovial, free, and relaxing. This, in turn, represents Mr. Stevens’s new outlook and changing personality. It is important to note that the book doesn’t end with him returning to Darlington Hall even though he presumably does return. It ends at the calm, scenic location. This gives the effect that Mr. Stevens’s changes are permanent and that he won’t regress back into his once strict habits. The journey would not have the same effect and would not achieve the author’s purpose if Mr. Stevens was to return to Darlington Hall at the end of the novel.
Mr. Stevens, at various points in his journey, denies ever working for Lord Darlington. When asked whether he did or did not work for Lord Darlington he answers with “Oh no, I am employed by Mr. John Farraday” (120) and “I didn’t, madam, no.” (123). Typically, when one denies something they are trying to disassociate his or her self from the object of denial. Lord Darlington represents the past and the rigidness associated with Darlington Hall. By denying Lord Darlington, Mr. Stevens is shedding everything that Darlington symbolized. Mr. Stevens is letting go of the past and disassociating himself from the structured, emotionless lifestyle he once led. Since the denials occurred while on his journey, it is appropriate to say that the journey itself caused such change to occur.
On his journey, Mr. Stevens must lodge in various inns. In these inns he is served as all the other guests are. What makes this so significant is the fact that Mr. Stevens is not like the other guests, he is a butler. This is ironic because butlers are the ones who serve, prepare the house, and perform other household duties. Here, Mr. Stevens is a butler who is being served. This allows him to experience a kind of relaxation that he never experienced at Darlington Hall. If he hadn’t embarked on his journey he would have never had reason to lodge in an inn and would have never learned what it is liked to relax, and taken care of. Therefore, the journey leads him to this piece of self-discovery.
Finally Mr. Stevens encounters the subject of bantering once again at the end of his journey. On the subject he resolves, “After all when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in- particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth” (245) Mr. Stevens has shed his previous inhibitions and rigid nature to accept the act of bantering, an act of human emotion. Later he writes that he will make more of an effort to banter with Mr. Farraday. This simply serves as an example that the journey did in fact cause a change in Mr. Stevens’s personality and way of thinking. He now sees how life can be fulfilling when emotion is embraced.
Ultimately, the journey served as a means of self-discovery for Mr. Stevens. In this case the discovery was that life is more fulfilling when duties to oneself are fulfilled and emotions are allowed to run freely. All of the aspects of the journey and every event that Mr. Stevens experiences, leads him to this answer, and since the events constitute the journey, the journey ultimately leads him to this answer.