I understand this is one of the pivotal books in American literature and I reread it (after thirty years) as a consideration for our AP Lit class, but...moreI understand this is one of the pivotal books in American literature and I reread it (after thirty years) as a consideration for our AP Lit class, but oh my goodness, I felt like a high school student being forced to read a book I hated. We're definitely going with "Native Son" - much more approachable.
Golden lines: Crenshaw - the "insane" vet - my favorite character - "Play the game, but don't believe in it - that much you owe yourself. Even if it lands you in a strait jacket or a padded cell. Play the game, but play it your own way - part of the time at least. Play the game, but raise the ante, my boy. Learn how it operates, learn how you operate..." (153-154)..."Remember the world is possibility if only you'll discover it. (156).
Brockway - "They got all this machinery, but that ain't everything; we the machines inside the machine (217).(less)
Read this some thirty years or so - even more powerful now. Bigger is from the poorest class in the 1930s with limited education, a rudimentary readin...moreRead this some thirty years or so - even more powerful now. Bigger is from the poorest class in the 1930s with limited education, a rudimentary reading level, estranged from his family, fatherless, and without religion. I remember the horrific crime, but had forgotten the second and had really forgotten the crimes against Bigger. That struck me much more this time as well as the consequences for our individual's as well as society's actions in addition to our conscious turning away and blinding ourselves to realities we participate in. Would also be a great companion to "Blindness". I couldn't help but think of so many of our young men who are committing horrific terrorist crimes in movie theaters and in elementary schools - killing numerous innocents. Although I do believe much of those actions may be rooted in mental illnesses, some of this lines made me consider if any of their lines of thinking/justification were similar.
So many insightful lines...His thinking often reminded me of Raskolnikov from "Crime and Punishment"
"He hated his family because he knew they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them.."-9
"As long as he could take his life into his hands and dispose of it as he pleased, as long as he could decide just when and where he would run to, he need not be afraid. He felt that he had his destiny in his grasp...Had he not done what they thought he never could do? His being black and at the bottom of the world was something which he could take with a new-born strength..." -170
"In all of his life these two murders were the most meaningful things that had ever happened to him...Never had he had the chance to live out the consequences of his actions; never had his will been so free as in this night and day of fear and murder and flight." -277.
",,once more before he died he wanted to talk with him and feel with as much keenness as possible what his living and dying meant. That was all the hope he had now." - 489
"He had lived outside of the lives of men. Their modes of communication, their symbols and images, had ben denied him...Yet Max had given him the faith that at bottom all men lived as he lived and felt as he felt." -493
"'Mr. Max, how can I die!'...knowing...that a knowledge of how to live was a knowledge of how to die." -499
From author notes at the end..."But why did Bigger revolt? No explanation based upon a hard and fast rule of conduct can be given. But there were always two factors psychologically dominant in his personality. First, through some quirk of circumstance, he had become estranged from the religion and the folk culture of his race. Second, he was trying to react to and answer the call of the dominant civilization whose glitter came to him through the newspapers, magazines, radios, movies and the mere imposing sight and sound of daily American life. In many respects his emergence as a distinct type was inevitable." -513
Great great revisit with old classics (from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Jane Eyre) with detailed descriptions of the struggles and triumphs of their autho...moreGreat great revisit with old classics (from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Jane Eyre) with detailed descriptions of the struggles and triumphs of their authors. Makes me want to offer a CHIC lit class to my students.(less)
I reread this book again as my family drove Norway - waiting for ferries, late at night as the midnight sun briefly set, and in airport gates. It's be...moreI reread this book again as my family drove Norway - waiting for ferries, late at night as the midnight sun briefly set, and in airport gates. It's been a long time since I'd read it - and honestly, my three stars review holds. It's just okay. I don't love Jane. There, I said it. Strip me of my English Supervisor title if you have to, but I stand by my comment.
She's adorable and admirable as a quiet, reserved, unloved child and my heart goes out to her as she suffers arrows of outrageous fortune and mistreatment at the hands of her aunt. Later when she returns to care for her aunt, Jane's goodness of heart shows through. Her aunt remains true to her grouchy, curmudgeon self.
I do love Bronte's word choice. "A reception of finished politeness would probably have confused me: I could not have returned or repaid it by answering grace and elegance on my part; but harsh caprice laid me under no obligation;' on the contrary, a decent quiescence, under he freak of manner, gave me the advantage. Besides the eccentricity of the proceedings was piquant: I felt interested to see how he would go on" (166).
Rochester is insufferably arrogant: "You have no right to preach to me, you neophyte, that have not passed the porch of life, and are absolutely unacquainted with its mysteries (189), which of course is blatantly untrue, but he has assumed that before even learning of Jane's very difficult life. Of course he changes, softens, and comes to adore Jane - the somewhat tiresome cliche of a woman effecting miraculous improvements on a man's rough character a la Beauty and the Beast.
In addition, he is manipulative as he strings along Miss Ingram to test Jane's feelings. And she continues to call him "Sir!" I hear fingernails scratching down a blackboard every time she does that once they become involved. Then, in a rather bizarre twisted mental game they play with each other's affections, she welcomes his pinches and "severe tweak of the ear"? I would have swatted him right back right then. And left.
Jane does leave, eventually, when she discovers the truth that Rochester has been hiding from her - and embarks on a journey that leaves her almost dead. She is too conveniently rescued by a family whose fates are intertwined with her own.
Jane then allows herself to be bossed about and dictated to (whatever happened to our strong, opinionated girl?) by St. John and still finds him oh so admirable. Ew. Come on Jane - woman up! (even by those standards, she is ridiculous. St. John's sisters didn't abide by his wishes as much as Jane did.)
So fare thee well Jane. I won't revisit your life again.(less)