A Night to Remember (Flash Fiction Project for Creative Writing Class)

A Night to Remember

Catherine squinted under the Colorado sun as she guided her horse through the archway that led to the homestead. She tightened the reigns as she neared the corral, and her mare came to an abrupt stop. She sat there for some time, and reluctantly dropped her feet to the dusty ground. Her second-hand petticoat had seen better days, but she had done her best to maintain the fabric. She glanced towards the house that sat less than one hundred yards away. It was a decrepit shell, with two front facing windows and a makeshift chimney coming up the left side. An abandoned barn was set back to the right, hidden in the shade of a giant pine tree. No other structure was visible from her vantage point. After trying up her mare, she shuffled cautiously towards the porch.

The old wood creaked underneath her tiny frame, and she raised her hand to knock on the door. A minute passed, and no sound could be heard within. She began to knock again, but in the spur of a moment, reached directly for the doorknob. It swung open slowly, moaning all the while. Catherine sucked in a deep breath, expressionless, and she passed the threshold. Her boots echoed throughout the dark room for several steps before she reached a window on the closest wall. She tore back the curtains and light filtered through the dirty glass, casting shadows about the room. The air inside was stale, and an eerie silence settled in. She frantically ran back outside, grabbed a rock, and placed it against the door to block it open. She stood there for several minutes, twirling the loose strands of hair that had escaped her bun.

Catherine reached down into her boot and pulled out a derringer. After cocking the hammer, she straightened her shoulders and stepped inside. Her eyes darted about, adjusting to the light, finally settling on fireplace located opposite the window. A cast iron pot hung from the ledge, and a skillet was set close by. She let her gaze wander, surveying the rest of the meager items that made up the dwelling. Weapons and traps decorated the walls, along with the furs of wildlife. A table stood solitary in the far left corner, save for a rocking chair embellished only with a battered cushion. A tin cup and flask adorned the table’s surface, and were the only items not covered in a layer of dust and grime. A dresser was placed nearby, and a wash basin rested atop. Catherine’s gaze finally made its way to the largest object in the room that was most concealed from the stingy light.

She took two steps towards the bed and, her eyes having been adjusted to darkness, was able to make out the figure of a man lying upon it. His broad back was turned towards her, and a ragged quilt was pulled up around his shoulders. It was unclear if he was breathing. She started to aim, but hesitated, creeping closer until she reached the edge of the bed. It was faint, but evident that his stomach was slowly moving in and out, his belly budging through the worn fabric of his long-johns. She could smell the whiskey on his breath, even with the distance. His white hair was greasy and combed down towards his pillow where his beard lay matted with unknown fluids. Catherine’s temperature rose, and she restrained herself from raising the gun. Beads of sweat began to form on her forehead. She grabbed the skillet and poked the man in the shoulder. He did not stir. She prodded again, filled with aggression, and the man rolled over on his back, choking as he came to.

His eyelids shot open, revealing black eyes that showed both shock and smugness intertwined. Catherine displayed her weapon as she stepped back. The man began to cackle, but was overtaken by a coughing fit. He grabbed a stained sheet from under the quilt, and when he removed it from his mouth, fresh blood covered it. The man regained composure, and stared back at Catherine, taunting her with his eyes alone. Realizing that he was bedridden, she aimed the derringer at his head. She redirected it at the last moment, eyes burning with hatred. Her finger squeezed the trigger, and the seconds slowed as the bullet left the barrel and found its way to the man’s genitalia region. The man’s eyes widened, and he emitted a gurgled cry that was reminiscent of an injured wild animal. Catherine ignored his screams, working quickly to start a fire with the flint and steel she brought in her apron.

He pleaded with her, but she continued to work diligently and started a flame within the minute. She pushed his meager furniture towards the growing flame, and rushed back to the bed for one last look. Satisfied with the man’s hopeless demeanor, she pulled out a doll, and reflected on one of her prized childhood possessions. A cloud came over her eyes, and she shoved the doll hard against the man’s chest. She knelt down next to the bed, her face only inches from his. “Don’t worry,” she whispered into his ear. “This won’t hurt a bit, remember?” She forced a grievous smile, and retreated. She cast one last glance before she stepped outside, and saw true regret in her abuser’s eyes. That was all she needed. She slammed the door as smoke began to fill the room, and returned to the corral. She sat there for hours, watching the house turn from wood and sod to ashes. It was nightfall by the time the flames had died down, and the coals had nearly cooled. She breathed in the clean night air, and screamed until her voice broke. A single tear ran down her cheek, and a small smile spread across her lips. She jumped up on her mare and rode off into the night. At last, she was free.

Thunder Over the Bay (Conversation Piece Project for Creative Writing Class)

Thunder Over the Bay

Nick loosened his tie and laid his gray suit jacket on top of the picnic table as he strode across the yard towards the black doghouse. Caleb was sitting cross-legged in the grass, clad in raggedy jeans and a Portland Trail Blazers sweatshirt. Both father and son shared the same silky chestnut hair that contrasted their pale skin. Caleb’s brow furrowed as he delicately traced the yellow bat symbol painted on the front of the doghouse. The inside read Bruce.

“Hey Champ,” Nick said. “Your mom made some tuna casserole. Come on inside before it gets cold.”

“I hate being called Champ. And I hate tuna casserole. Bruce always eats my tuna casserole,” Caleb said, refusing to look his father’s direction.

“Look Cha- uh, Bud. I know Bruce’s death was hard on you.” Nick stopped as he flinched and then swatted at a mosquito. “But he was old and had a good life with us. Besides, we can always find you a new friend.”

Caleb turned abruptly to face him, narrowing his large, hazel eyes and tightening his lips. “Like how you want to replace mom?”

Nick could feel the color starting to rush to his face. A loud roar filled the yard, and he looked up at the clouded sky, optimizing on the distraction provided by the Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

“Think they are going out to rescue stranded boaters? Looks like a storm is coming in quick,” Nick said as he sat on the ground next to the freckle-faced ten-year-old. He grimaced as he made contact with the earth, and realized this decision meant he’d have to expedite his trip to the dry cleaners. He pulled out his Palm Pilot and moved the reminder up a day on his calendar. Caleb continued to stare at his father, all the while keeping a constant and firm facial expression. He was unimpressed by the common occurrence of an overhead helicopter, and began to rip up blades of grass.

“Listen Bud, everything is just fine with your mom and old man. We have our fights, but most mommies and daddies do.”

“Mommies and daddies?” Caleb retorted. “Don’t talk to me like I’m a baby. I’m not stupid. You’re gone all the time on work vacations or whatever you call it, and Mom says it’s with other ladies from work. Mom tells Aunt Ashley about it on the phone when you’re gone. I know things, a lot more things than you think. And don’t call me Bud either. I have a name. You should know, you gave it to me.” Caleb fiercely pulled up a nearby dandelion and blew hard. Its wispy florets burst apart and were carried away in a damp and salty breeze. The sky began to darken, and a handful of seagulls squalled as they passed over the yard on North 19th Street.

Nick had taken his tie off, wrapping it and unwrapping it repeatedly around his right hand. He took a calming breath and awkwardly placed his hand on Caleb’s left shoulder.

“Look, no matter what happens with your mother and I,”-Nick stumbled for a moment when he saw fear in the boy’s eyes- “and nothing will, you and I will always be pals.” Caleb shirked away from his touch, unconvinced, and stared at the earth. Nick looked down at his watch. “How about we say forget the casserole, and head downstairs to watch the Seahawks preseason game?”

Caleb frowned and then jumped up and climbed on top of the dog house. He pulled a tennis ball out of his sweatshirt pocket and began to toss is it in the air. A faint sound of thunder rumbled in the distance, and the sky began to turn the color of a charcoal sketch.

“Is that a yes?” Nick persisted.

“I hate the Seahawks. And baseball.”

“It’s football, Champ, football. And apparently you hate everything this fine summer evening? You normally love watching sports with me. You’re even wearing my old Blazer hoodie.” Nick stood up and cracked his neck. His body had seen better years, but at the age of thirty-eight he felt he was in better shape than most. “Whadaya say? I’ll even explain the plays to you during the commercial breaks.”

“Why can’t we ever do something I like?”

“We do all of the time. Why, just last weekend we went to that art show down on the boardwalk.”

“Yeah, for like one hour,” Caleb said. He threw the tennis ball at his father who caught it with ease.

“See, look at that arm! You’re an athlete like your old man!” Nick glanced back at Caleb and realized the art show was still a very alive and sensitive topic. “We saw everything there was to see, Bud. There was no reason to stay any longer.”

“You never asked if I was ready to go.”

“Well, I thought we had spent adequate time there.”

Caleb jumped down and reached inside the doghouse. He pulled out a book and swiftly tucked it inside of his sweatshirt.

“Aw come on, your mother and I told you to stop hiding crap in there.”

“It’s not crap. Mrs. Jenkins says to always have a book close by, and this one is my favorite. It’s about a guy who doesn’t need friends. He just needs his wolf, White Fang.” Caleb smiled for the first time, reminiscing about tales of the Yukon Territory. A cloud passed over his eyes as he also recalled he no longer had a canine companion. Gentle raindrops began to fall, and the boy sprinted towards the Douglass fir that resided in the outer skirts of the yard. He quickly reached the base and climbed up with the ease of a squirrel.

“Well thank you, Mrs. Jenkins, as if my son needs any more social anomalies,” Nick muttered under his breath. The rain was falling harder when he reached the tree, and he pushed his Palm Pilot further into his pocket.

“Ok, Bud, that’s enough. I get it. Let’s go inside, ok? We don’t have to watch the game. We could even order a pizza! No kid hates pizza. At least no kid of mine,” he said with a forced smile.

“I..” Caleb started.

“Hate pizza? Really now?” Nick said, rolling his eyes. The thunder hit again, but it was a roar this time, and much closer.

“I just want to be alone.”

The rain was pouring steadily now, and a flash of light struck in the distance.

“Bud, you’re alone enough as it is. You need friends, people friends. Maybe it’s a good thing Bruce passed on, because God knows you could, well, let’s just say human interaction is a good thing.”

“Shut up!” Caleb said, a tear trickling down his check. “Bruce was my best friend. He cared more about me than kids at school, and he loved me more than you do. I wish you were dead and Bruce was here.” The last part he whispered, but continued to hold a steady gaze all the while. Nick’s fists began to clench and he reached for the lowest tree branch.

“That’s enough!” he said, adrenaline coursing through his veins. “I have tried to be patient with you because of that damn dog’s death and all, but your attitude needs a major adjustment, Champ.” The branch weakened under his weight, but he pressed on anyways. “You get down this instance, or I’ll ban you from your precious books for a week.”

Caleb moved up several more branches, not easily hindered by the detrimental weather. Nick didn’t fair as well, and continued to struggle up each limb. The aged tree reached a height of twenty-five feet, and Nick had made it nearly halfway up. Caleb was another two feet up, and remained persistent in his climb.

“I’m going to run away,” Caleb said, squinting his eyes to guard his vision from the rain that was now blowing sideways. “I’m going to the Yukon.”

“You wouldn’t last two hours on your own,” Nick shouted against the wind. He reached for a large branch that was slicker than he had anticipated. He lost his grip, and then his balance, and fell several feet to the ground below. He remained motionless, limbs sprawled out in a contorted manner. His Palm Pilot lay just inches from his head, broken.

“Dad?” Caleb yelled. “Stop it, I’ll come inside. But I’m not watching your stupid game.” His facial features relaxed, and a cold ice ran up his spine. “Dad? It’s not funny. I’m coming down. Dad? Dad?” Thunder rolled in the distance.

Estrangement in Odour of Chrysanthemums

Bethany Herold

Professor Peter Cassidy

LIT 222 C00

9 May 2015

Estrangement in Odour of Chrysanthemums

Written by D.H. Lawrence in 1909, Odour of Chrysanthemums is a short story that was published in the English Review in 1911. Unlike many of his short stories, Lawrence focuses on a relatively small amount of time, honing in on the dramatic events that can pass in one’s life within a window of a few hours. Relationship lies key to the overall theme of the story, and the effects of isolation are not fully recognized until it is too late for the heroine to turn things around. Tracing the evolution of Elizabeth Bates’ emotions over the span of an evening, Odour of Chrysanthemums illustrates the drastic consequences of excessive apathy and estrangement when reality sets in prior to personal awakening. Through Elizabeth’s pain, Lawrence teaches the valuable lesson that often the truth and worth of relationships are not learned until the finite end, death.

Arguably uncommon for the given time, Elizabeth Gates, the wife, is all but center to the story. Hinted to have come from an upper-class family, Elizabeth feels entitled and slightly more empowered than her coal-mining husband, Walter. That being said, there is evidence of love once between them, although it has since lost much of its luster: “No,” she said, “not to me. It was chrysanthemums when I married him, and chrysanthemums when you were born, and the first time they ever brought him home drunk, he’d got brown chrysanthemums in his button-hole.” (Damrosch et al. 2505). These memories still hold meaning for Elizabeth, and perhaps help to hold the marriage together. With lack of Walter’s presence, Elizabeth subconsciously takes her frustrations out on their son. She is nit-picky and stern with John, concentrating on all his selfish aspects, and sees much of Walter in him. This is an early sign of the marital problems, as she can only perceive the faults in both father and son. The blame is placed solely on Walter, due to his poor influence as a father figure. She is thoroughly appalled at Walter’s selfishness and neglect of the family’s emotional needs, and regrets giving up so much of her life and propriety for him.

Walter is never given a chance to defend himself, only appearing in the story as a lifeless body laid upon a stretcher. He is consistently referred to as being a careless man, in essence someone to bring home money to pay bills and provide sustenance. There are other views expressed outside of a biased opinion however, and early in the story, men of Walter’s profession are described as “single, trailing, and in groups, like shadows diverging home.” (Damrosch et al. 2502). This can suggest that Walter is not regarded in a radiant light by most of the population. It is quite the opposite, as if the menial purpose of the miners is the job they perform alone; it is all they have to contribute to society. It can also imply that Walter is a shadow of a human, meaning that he is void of emotional qualities that his wife so strongly desires. Ultimately, Walter’s means of employment as a miner, and specifically industrialization and its effects on society as a whole, has driven a large wedge between him and Elizabeth. As she angrily awaits his return, she is caught contemplating the validity of the marriage all together: “What a fool I’ve been, what a fool! And this is what I came here for, to this dirty hole, rats and all, for him to slink past his very door.” (Damrosch et al. 2505). The fact that she does not attempt to hide her disdain from the children shows that the relationship has reached a breaking point.

The harsh contrast of a world with and without her husband is something that haunts Elizabeth towards the end of the story. Upon bringing the body in, one of the men accidentally knocks a vase of chrysanthemums to the floor. This being a symbol of their relationship, Elizabeth appears to be ridden with guilt, averting her eyes from her husbands corpse. She continues a facade of calmness, attempting to hide the truth from her children while she gently washes the remains of a man she one loved. As she gazes upon his body, a body she knew well, she is hit with the harsh realization that she never knew Walter’s soul: “And her soul died in her for fear: she knew she had never seen him, he had never seen her, they had met in the dark and had fought in the dark, not knowing whom they met nor whom they fought.” (Damrosch et al. 2513). This is the crux of the story. Here, next to her husband’s lifeless body, Elizabeth realizes that she cared too late, and is afraid that she can do nothing with the new realizations she is now coming upon. Her husband was a fascinating and unique individual, like herself. She simply never took the time to truly get to know him. Walter’s physical death merely echoed the previous spiritual death of their marriage. The vase of chrysanthemums, perhaps a symbol of their marriage in its lack of recognition and longevity, lies there on the floor, leaving nothing but an odour.

Upon finally accepting the reality that she shared no true relation other than physical with the father of her children, Elizabeth feels that “the utter isolation of the human soul, the child within her was a weight apart from her…in her womb was ice of fear.” (Damrosch et al. 2513). Without a husband, she is distressed as to how she is to raise three children alone. But this death also brings about understanding and peace, and Elizabeth “was grateful to death, which restored the truth.” (Damrosch et al. 2513). Her loss reminds her that she still needs to fight for her family that is still living, and Elizabeth finds beauty in ashes. As if she finds some sort of closure in providing for her family, she ultimately discovers the capability to keep going, for both her living children and the memory of her late husband. Difficulties are imminent in anyone’s life, and Elizabeth finds redemption through hers.

Not only was the marriage lost through estrangement, it also becomes evident that Elizabeth lost herself somewhere along the way. The distance between Elizabeth and Walter started with their class separations, and continued to grow with the variety of their daily roles as husband and wife. By drawing away and reveling in isolation from others, Elizabeth became alienated from the woman she once knew. Instead of openly discussing the issues with Walter, both parties lived in a superficial world where they pretended as if a problem did not exist, opting to harbor bitter feelings instead. The appreciation that they were both victims did not make itself known to Elizabeth until something so final as death. However, Elizabeth is given another chance. With a new baby inside of her and two children in tow, she is able to pursue closure and begin life anew. She composes herself by symbolically locking the door, with intentions of hiding the body from the children and herself, and begins to tidy up her home. The hope of a new life pushes her on, and the fear of a premature death causes her to have a change of heart: “She knew she submitted to life, which was her immediate master. But from death, her ultimate master, she winced with fear and shame.” (Damrosch et al. 2514). Perhaps she can change the path initially set before her, and prevent her children from making the same mistakes. Difficulties come to all, but not all difficulties must be repeated.

Works Cited

Damrosch, David, Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Susan J. Wolfson, and Peter J. Manning. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 5th ed. Vol. 2C. Boston: Longman, 2012. Print.

The Development of Ideology in Haiti

Module 5 Essay: The Development of Ideology in Haiti

Bethany Herold

Political Science 105

Professor Chad Smith

“An ideology begins with the belief that things can be better; it is a plan to improve society.” (Roskin et al., 2014, pg. 35). The ideology of Haiti, a small country located on an island in the Caribbean Sea, led off with similar intentions. Initially a slave state, Haiti first gained independence through a rebellion. Although it has grown in some aspects, the politics of Haiti have often been inconclusive, and even deadly. Its ideology has not done much to help the country, and will need to be refashioned entirely if it hopes to move from a third world status.

Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, Haiti was turned into a Spanish settlement, and its people enslaved. By the seventeenth century, ownership of Haiti had changed hands from the Spanish to the French. The country gained its official name, and the French made much profit from sugar and other resources farmed by slaves brought from Africa. Overtime, Haiti developed into a successful French colony, and the rich settlers intermixed with the locals creating a new biracial group called the mulattoes. The mulattoes were not as superior as that white populace, but they were considered to be better than the pure African slaves. As the economy flourished, so did the population. By 1791, there were “approximately 500,000 slaves and about 50,000 free people.” (Corbett, 1999).

The brutality of the slave system and extreme population ratio led to an uprising in 1791. The war lasted until 1804, when the French were defeated and the nation of Haiti was officially proclaimed. The following year, a man by the name of Dessalines declared himself to be the Emperor. He did not gain the respect of the mulatto population nor appoint any other leadership, and attempted to keep peace by intermarrying the black and mulatto people. His ill-fated rule was cut short by an assassination. The Haitian constitution was soon to follow, and the positions of president and legislature were created and then filled by Henri Christophe and Alexandre Petion. Christophe eventually renamed himself King Henry I, and had a strict but prosperous rule in the north. Haiti slowly dissolved into two separate Haitis, and things continued on in a similar fashion for a number of years. The people never gained much education, and “both the Industrial Revolution and the Democratic Revolutions passed Haiti by.” (Corbett, 1999).

Europe and America were not quick to recognize Haiti’s independence, and following riots and a general breakdown of order, American troops were sent in to occupy Haiti in 1915. (Sepinwall). They remained there until 1934, running the government and creating their own structure. After America stepped out, although there are still strong ties between the two countries today, Haiti made some progress such as having its first free and open election. But the various political factions were constantly battling one another, and many people were killed by providing opposition. As if the political strains were not enough, Haiti was hit with a devastating Earthquake in 2010 that killed nearly a hundred thousand people. A political system of sorts was put into operation with a president and parliament method.

Today, political corruption is an ongoing problem at the heart of Haiti’s ideology. The people in the political offices are abusive in regards to human rights, and misuse the nation’s finances. Much of the population lives in poverty, and violence is rampant in the streets. Future stability will be greatly dependent on economic change, a feat that is unlikely to be achieved without changing the distribution of power in the Haitian government. If the country does achieve a sound financial place, the money needs to be poured back into the people. Historically, when economics were at a good standpoint, the money was used selfishly by those in power, resulting in the poor and uneducated populace today. Change will only happen with a redistribution of power, which will result in a more economically and politically sound Haiti.

References

Corbett, B. (1999, August 1). Short and Oversimplified History of Haiti. Retrieved May 1, 2015, from http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/course/unitone/short.htm

Roskin, M., Cord, R., Medeiros, J., & Jones, W. (2014). Political science: An Introduction (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Sepinwall, A. (n.d.). Teaching about Haiti in World History: An Introduction. Retrieved May 3, 2015, from http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/10.2/sepinwall.html

Endgame by Samuel Beckett

Bethany Herold

Professor Peter Cassidy

LIT 222 C00

2 May 2015

Endgame by Samuel Beckett

It could be argued that Endgame, seemingly void of plot and meaning, is a play where nothing of importance happens. At a first glance, the story appears monotonousness, focusing on the lives of four invalids, with nothing to offer to society. However, this play begs the following question: when the world as society knows it crashes down and is left in a state of nothingness, what is the point? Is dependence and relationship at the heart of it all? Or is life truly bleak and meaningless? Outside of the evident absurd influences mimicking human existence, there are else strong characteristics of existentialism, which focuse on individual existence rejecting the absolute reason. The fact that the play appears to lack a plot is really the plot in itself. The nothingness in fact creates something, and it is in these menial tasks of everyday life that Beckett gives meaning of the tale: life holds no meaning.

Repetition is at the heart of Endgame, and the characters find refuge in these day to day ordeals. Upon an initial look, simple tasks can be viewed as nothing happening, as they are often used as fillers in other literary works. However, for Beckett’s characters, routine is what gives meaning to life, and provides a reason to wake up in the morning. After debating the color of the sky yet again, Clov asks “Why this farce day after day?” “Routine. One never knows…” answers Hamm. (Damrosch et all 2593). Clov and Hamm do not understand why they cannot modify their habits, nor do they truly seem to want any change. Hamm later interjects in fear “We’re not beginning to…to…mean something?” Clovs laughs at the absurdity and exclaims “Ah that’s a good one!” (Damrosch et all 2593). They find a sense of peace in their simplicity, and see no reason if giving hope and meaning where there is none. Comedy is also woven throughout and only meant to alleviate the harsh reality pursued in the parody in the quest for meaning. If life truly is meaningless, one might as well enjoy it and find silver lining amidst the looming cloudy sky that will inevitably consume everyone at some time or another.

Another point can be found in the simplicity and building block style of the dialogue. The characters do not utilize extensive language, and the audience or readers are forced to remember what was previously mentioned to draw a sense of wholeness. Many of the sentences are short, choppy, and filled with household jargon: “A rat! Are there still rats?” “In the kitchen there’s one.” “And you haven’t exterminated him?” “Half. You disturbed us.” (Damrosch et all 2602). Beckett seems to convey the value of portraying an existence with few words in time when the importance of existence is doubted by the awareness that life can end anytime, emanating that life is short and insignificant like the lives of these characters. The meaningless of the dialogue can also express that Beckett viewed language itself as also meaningless, bringing it back around to the point that humans like to give meaning where there is none.

There are moments where the characters try to create their own little world within the house, attempting to derive some sort of meaning. For example, the toy dog was an intentionally placed symbol. Hamm asks several questions about the dog “Is he gazing at me? As if he were asking me for a walk? Or as if he were begging me for a bone?” (Damrosch et all 2596). Clov answers with an unconvincing “yes,” but it’s still enough for Hamm to sit happily in his created world, completely ok with the fact that he is ignoring what is real; the dog is not alive nor is it desiring his company. This would suggest that Beckett believed mankind spends a great deal of existence tricking ourselves into believe things matter, and putting false meaning where there is none.

Endgame also illustrates the need for dependency amongst people. Although they all frustrate each other, due to their afflictions, one cannot survive without the others. The parents in the trash cans needed general care, and Hamm needs parents. Hamm needs something less debilitated than he, and Clov needs a father figure and place to stay. Hamm also places a great deal of dependency on drugs. He asks several times throughout the play if it is yet time to take his “pain killer.” Clov usually has a negative reply in turn, and Hamm is left in his agonizing state. This can be viewed as drugs and other vices being the only hope for peace in a pointless world. Another approach can be found in the fact that Clov never complies with Hamm’s request, signifying that there is perhaps no “pain reliever” for the pointless existence of a mediocre life.

A final thought expressed in the play if the fear of death, regardless of its eminent presence to follow a pointless life. Even though the circumstances are dire, the characters are unwillingly to end their suffering. In fact, they seem to be anxious about death, even though it is the only way to end the pain of life. There’s a part in the play where Hamm orders Clov to build them a raft to escape. However, Clov begins to take action, Hamm demands him to stop, unable to confront the problem. There’s a deep existentialist theme here showing that people desire to confront nothingness, but are either to hopeless or afraid to change their circumstances.

Beckett uses Endgame to show that is pointless, and meaning is falsely given to anything to create an unrealistic sense of hope. To cope, people find consolation in routine and dependency whether on others or vices. Even though death will come to all and there is nothing further to gain from life, people still hold onto it intently, afraid of change. Whether one agrees with Beckett’s perspective fully, this is an undeniable struggle everyone experiences at one time or another.

Works Cited

Damrosch, David, Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Susan J. Wolfson, and Peter J. Manning. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 5th ed. Vol. 2C. Boston: Longman, 2012. Print.

The Benefits of Reconstructing North Korea’s Economy

The Benefits of Reconstructing North Korea’s Economy

Bethany Herold

Political Science 105

Professor Chad Smith

Following the split caused by the Korean War, North Korea was able to create its desired economy in little to no time, with industrialization as the key component. However, shortly following the reconstruction, the poorly modeled Soviet-style economy failed in both management and development, leading to a state of stagnation. Soon to follow were chronic food and power shortages, as well as failed industrial capital stock. (Bajpai, n.d.). International food aid has been a major component in keeping the populous alive, but the assistance is not enough to sustain and nurture the people nor economy. If the North Korean government does not undergo structural reform to obtain a market economy, it faces unsurpassable barriers in reaching economic growth and stability.

Throughout much of North Korea’s recent history, international business and trade have not only been looked down upon, they have also been carelessly disregarded in light of selfish pursuits. During the 1970s, the country pushed its juche ideology to the breaking point though excessive military growth, leaving it greatly in debt with little to no external help. This predicament only worsened in 1975 when the de facto embassy ultimately severed North Korea’s ties from international capital markets. The already bleak situation went from bad to worse in the 1980s with the withdrawal of Soviet economic support, which eventually led to the early 1990s ruin of the Eastern Bloc economies, which had been North Korea’s largest trade partners. (Buruma, 2013, pg. 1). North Korea’s obsession with nuclear activity, its military-first mindset, and lack of proper treatment of its people, are some of the key elements prohibiting growth in international relations and enterprise.

Due to a desire for self-sufficiency based on juche ideology, present day North Korea’s food shortage proves to be one of the most devastating elements in its failed economy. Initially, this independent drive produced more than enough food for North Korea, ultimately getting the country to a place where it could export food during the 1980s. However, without help from international sources, natural disasters all but destroyed croplands in the 1990s and left the people in a state of starvation. As the geographical regions well suited for agriculture diminished, overuse of local farms and lack of resources led to a depletion of sustainable crops within the country. A CRS report prepared for members and committees of congress noted that “food aid—largely from China, South Korea, and the United States—has been essential in filling the gap between North Korea’s supply and demand, though since 2009 donations from all countries except China have dwindled to a minimal amount. (Manyin and Nikitin, 2014, pg. 2). Even with China’s support, the future looks bleak for North Korea because food shortages are arising elsewhere, and political tensions are only increasing.

Energy is also an immense concern, and an article in National Geographic Magazine explains that “like isolated regimes of the past—Germany in the 1930s and South Africa under apartheid—North Korea is turning to coal to fuel engines that in rest of the world run on oil or natural gas.” (Lavelle, 2011, pg. 1). Having suffered from lack of energy sources for more than half a century, the country all but crumbled when the Soviet Union collapsed. China offers minor help, but is diligent to oversee each and every aspect of North Korea’s energy policy. For example, China is entangled with the oil drilling along the country’s coast, and has two long-term leases in North Korea’s valuable ports. (Ahn, 2014). With increasing rumors of energy exploitation, it is unlikely this bond will last much longer if it remains unchanged, leaving North Korea where it started: a nation without power.

In a recent New York Times article written by Andrei Lankov, a professor and historian of North Korea, it is stressed that economics is the key to bettering the people of North Korea, emphasizing how successful the small agricultural reforms have been even though the “full impact of the reforms in industry will not be felt for a while” (2015). Following in the steps of Vietnam, China, and other countries making economic reforms, would alleviate many of the nation’s problems. Glimmers of hope, such as a set of measures for economic reform enacted by North Korea in July 2002 to “improve the people’s living standards based on new economic policy,” give promise to brighter future. (The People’s Korea, August 17, 2002). That being said, minor reform is not sufficient in itself to turn around the economy. Capital is fundamental to restoring the agriculture, energy supplies, and modern technology. Many countries are not open to investing in North Korea, given the country’s ill-fated government. A facebook conducted survey revealed that many people would not participate financially with a country utilizing a command economy for ethical reasons, and that a market economy is the superior economic system. (See graphs 1 and 2). The desire to change appears evident, but old habits and a restrictive regime are currently blocking the way.

Countries that operate in a communist fashion are often prone to economic conflict, and overtime, North Korea will eventually give way to economic reform or chaos. In an article found in the Asian Studies Review, Yong Soo Park suggests that Kim Jong-un is unlikely to sway from his predecessors, explaining that “no one in the present North Korean leadership is free from the powerful and pervasive influence of the monolithic system, Juche ideology and the military-first policy” (2014). North Korea’s military-first ideology, Songun Chongchi, absorbs much of the nation’s income, and takes precedence over providing the people with adequate food, housing, and jobs. Even though the economy has been reported as more stable since 2000 through growing revenue, North Korea has increased its reliance on international food assistance. Communist governments throughout history often fail because business and the economy is entrusted to civil servants who place the wealth in one pot, only to divide the wealth amongst the populace equally. North Korea is likely to either implode into a civil war over disputes, or slowly evolve economically, thereby gaining economic stability over time. Although the North Korean economy has experienced some positive growth in recent years, the longevity of the recovery is uncertain unless drastic reforms are made to economic operations.

References

Ahn, S. H. (Director) (2014, August 9). North Korea’s Energy Crisis. The Academic Minute. Lecture conducted from The Academic Minute, .

Bajpai, P. (n.d.). How the North Korea Economy Works. Retrieved April 16, 2015, from http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/013015/how-north-korea-economy-works.asp

Buruma, I. (2013, April 6). North Korea’s Tragedy Is That No One Wants to Change the Status Quo. The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon). Retrieved March 16, 2015, from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-325111120.html?

Lankov, A. (2015, January 22). North Korea Dabbles in Reform. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/opinion/north-korea-dabbles-in-reform.html

Lavelle, M. (2011, December 20). North Korea: Nuclear Ambition, Power Shortage. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/20/north-korea-nuclear ambition-power-shortage/

Manyin, M., & Nikitin, M. (2014). Foreign Assistance to North Korea. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40095.pdf

Park, Y. S. (2014). Policies and Ideologies of the Kim Jong-un Regime in North Korea: Theoretical Implications. Asian Studies Review, 38(1), 1-14.

The People’s Korea. 2003. Various issues, http://www.korea-np.org.jp

Araby by James Joyce

Bethany Herold

Professor Peter Cassidy

LIT 222 C00

19 April 2015

Araby by James Joyce

Araby, like much of the modernist prose, is filled with hidden meanings and metaphors meant to convey the lack of satisfaction modernist writers had with mainstream society. Shadowing an adolescent boy’s first love, James Joyce illustrates the difficulty that accompanies the pursuit romance, and the fact that love and the pursuit of happiness is not always a fairy tale. This short story challenges the idealism of life that was accepted during the modernist period, and dares its readers to think outside the box of modern society.

The tale begins with a vivid metaphor, describing the street as “being blind,” or a dead end. (Damrosch et al 2218). This may suggest that these working class youths are also destined to reach a dead end, living meaningless lives with a predestined future laid before them. A solemn tone is quick to follow, as it is conveyed that “a priest, had died in the back drawing-room.” (Damrosch et al 2218). This also alludes to the fact that the family does not have much money, as they were required to rent out the room in the first place. The boy in the story, who remains nameless throughout, lives a far from perfect life. An orphan, he lives with his extended relatives, namely an uncle and aunt. The uncle is not conveyed as a pleasant man, and when he comes down the muddy North Richmond Street, the children are prompted to “[hide] in the shadow.” (Damrosch et al 2219). Aphotic themes persist as the story continues; the season is winter, and the initial settings are moist streets with “dark muddy lanes” and “ashpit[s].” (Damrosch et al 2219).

A glimmer of light fills the boy’s dark life though, as he is deeply entranced by his friend’s sister. He awaits her exit every morning, watching her door closely for the moment she sets foot outside. He immediately “[runs] to the hall, [seizes] his books and [follows] her.” (Damrosch et al 2219). Though he lacks the courage to speak to her, her mere presence envelopes his being. It’s enough to get him through his mediocre days, as he finds himself thinking of her even while he frequents plain places such as the markets or a classroom. This girl is more than a symbol of love, she is the embodiment of deeper thinking brought upon by the modernist perspective, and is a chance to escape the depressing realities of the life that is expected of him. The youth’s hope and optimistic thinking are a great inspiration, leaving one to worry that these dreams may soon be shattered by the harsh realities of life.

Finally, the boy’s prayers are answered as “at last she [speaks] to [him].” (Damrosch et al 2220). She inquires if he is visiting the bazaar known as Araby. As the girl can not attend herself, he promises to visit on her behalf and return with a gift. This brief but precious conversation only furthers his passions, and he can barely make it through the simple tasks of the days leading up to Araby. As he finally reaches the afternoon of the bazaar, he is caught looking out his window on his friends below. He hears their playful banter as “weakened and indistinct,” because he is so caught up in the wonder of his fantasy. Under different circumstances, perhaps he would have joined them. However his lust for this new found pleasure outweighed childish games. The dreams and hope that this girl inspired in him become a symbol for the beauty of things outside of the ordinary. They contrast the harsh life of the industrial world, and are a taste of the hope the modernist writers intended to inspire through their stories.

The night of the bazaar, his uncle returns later than normal, having forgotten about the promise to lend the boy money. The boy cannot leave with out it, and waits anxiously. While waiting, he is forced to endure the visit of a Mrs. Mercer, and the “gossip of the tea-table” that accompanied her visit. (Damrosch et al 2220). This adult world that is forced upon him is a mere foreshadowing of the life that he was bound to face as a working class man. This imagery is only strengthened by his delayed uncle finally coming home in a drunken stupor. This is a symbol of how the modernist writers felt like the common people were at the whims of the “bigger men,” or those well to do. Perhaps they felt like children in the eyes if the powerful men, and felt jaded after being let down and thrown aside multiple times. The boy finally arrives at Araby late in the evening, and is filled with disappointment when he realizes that “nearly all the stalls were closed.” (Damrosch et al 2221). Finding one open that sells porcelain vases and flowered tea sets, he is heartbroken upon the realization that the money in his pocket is not enough to pay for the beautiful jars. He had unknowingly underestimated the cost of his happiness, and was left defeated.

Writing this during a period where society became very materialistic, it would make sense that Joyce was implying the lack of happiness that accompanied the populous that was considered “working class.” So disheartened by his lack of money, the boy gives up, allowing the “pennies to fall against the sixpence in [his] pocket.” (Damrosch et al 2222). The boy becomes hopeless here, seeing himself as a “creature driven and derided by vanity.” (Damrosch et al 2222). The harsh reality sets in, and he becomes aware that he promised the girl a feat outside of his means. Dreams shattered, he embraces the joyless life set before him, avoiding optimism so he will not be let down again. This idea of happiness being driven by wealth is an idea that is as real today as it was in the early 1900s. The overall depressing tone and harsh realities exposed convey the modernist writers’ disenchantment with materialistic pursuits, showing how it can poison even the purest pleasure known to mankind: love.

Works Cited

Damrosch, David, Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Susan J. Wolfson, and Peter J. Manning. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 5th ed. Vol. 2C. Boston: Longman, 2012. Print.