Ray Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder” was about a stubborn man, Eckels, who travels into the past to kill a dinosaur but accidentally kills a butterfly which changes the course of his future. What struck me the most was how the seemingly delicate’s butterflies death was juxtapositioned next to the death of the giant dinosaur (who’s death was inevitable anyway). The story makes you question was is and is not important; what small change in my decisions could lead to a life altering reality later? Bradbury really makes you feel like everything is/can change the future while also making you feel like the big tyrannosaur of a problem could just be nothing. The point, I guess, is that you never know.
Sandkings was by far the most bizarre and violent horror story we’ve read in class. On the surface it was about Kress and his poor treatment of his pets (which lead to his incredibly gorey end). To me it was about the abuse of power and how you shouldn’t use those you control for only your selfish needs. Similar to how Kress was abusing/starving his sandkings for his enjoyment and forcing them to go to war for his self-serving needs, politicians should also stop taking advantage of the lower income families, immigrants, and the elderly. Like the sandkings we cluster into our castles and attack those who do not look/think/act like ourselves. We attack each other for resources, food, money, jobs, homes, etc. but we never go after the “Kress”. If anything, this story shows that we have the power, if we work together toward a common enemy, to stop the abuse of power. We are not pets, after all.
Tim O’Brien illustrated the emotional strain each solider carried through the various items they carried. Aside from the 25+ lbs of ammunition and rations, they carried their fear of death, their emotional baggage, and secret cowardice. This was shown mostly through the description of Lavender. While some men showed their fear of dying by using “hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness”, Lieutenant Cross used his death to work through his relationship with Martha. He felt shame and responsibility for his death because he thought he focused more of Martha rather than his men. Regardless of the fact that she showed no true interest in him, he held onto her pictures and letter as a way to hold onto something outside the war. He would daydream of NJ and life outside of war while in the trenches or while on look-out as his men went through tunnels.
The things they carried such as pantyhose and bibles and letters held such a strong contrast to the pounds of ammunition and guns. They were all young and afraid of dying. At the same time, they would leave ammunition and rations for the sake of losing weight and moving faster. They would walk towards gunfire and would feel more safety from the bibles than from the things that they were meant to carry. It felt as though the item they brought along represented the “other life” outside of war.
There was also this separation from death. They said it wasn’t “cruelty, just stage presence. they were actors and the war came at the min 3D. When someone dies, it wasn’t quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted… and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death” (1288). All of the soldiers kept talking about it with such disconnect, saying it was like watching a rock fall, no drama, and how it seemed un-Christian to feel relief that it was not them. The lieutenant even cried not because of the death itself but because he loved Martha so much that he was distracted from his work. The death only represented his shame in his leadership skills, not that he missed Lavender at all.
The solider that carried the thumb also struck me in the story. He kept talking about the moral of the story and brought it up twice. It seemed as though his point was, there was no point; that he can kick a dead body and take the boy’s thumb but it means nothing. The war meant nothing, and they all joined because of the fear of being humiliated not because of what it represented.
What really struck me in “The Yellow Wallpaper” was how alone the patient was. She was so far removed from her own treatment, her child, and own family. She had nothing to do every day for months and was not allowed to write or socialize. It was to the point where the unnamed character had no identity at all. Since her autonomy was slowly taken from her, she found her “self” in the wallpaper. She no longer thought of her family and child anymore and saw it as her task to figure out the wallpaper pattern. It was as though she was trying to find herself in the crooked and puzzling print. She would tear at it, call it disgusting, and she would stay up at night just thinking of the pattern and how lost and angry it made her feel. Rather than being confused and disgusted by the actions of her husband and the neglect she felt towards her care, she projected her feelings towards the paper. It was the paper’s fault she was angry, not her husbands. She slowly saw women creeping in the wallpaper and eventually became the unhinged creepy women crawling through the grounds.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s “This Blessed House” shows the interaction between Twinkle and Sanjeev as they navigate through their first few months of marriage. As they find more Christian paraphernalia in closets and bushes, you see the stark differences between the two characters. While Sanjeev is introverted and practical, Twinkle saw the items as little treasures. Despite the fact that both characters are young and look youthful, Sanjeev has a constant need to prove himself as an adult. Twinkle’s child-like disposition made Sanjeev “him feel stupid, as if the world contained hidden wonders he could not anticipate, or see”. Their stark personality contrasts and their inability to communicate were revealed every time Twinkle found another bust or snow globe. Twinkle was ecstatic whenever a new Christian statue was found while Sanjeev would think of ways to hide it or throw it out (for fear of what others might think).
I think a lot of this story is Sanjeev trying to navigate through his feelings for Twinkle. Though he hated the Christian busts and statues, he never got rid of anything other than the light switches. He talks a lot about being unsure of his feelings and how he’s never been in love before so he doesn’t know what love should feel. Even though he felt a “pang” as she descended down the ladder, he attributes a lot of that to her looks and her pearls. At the end of the story, I’m still unsure of how he feels about her, but he lets her keep the bust and follows her anyway.