Author Archives: Muhammad Qasim


Vigil (noun) – an event or a period of time when a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits, prays, etc., especially at night.


From “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka

“Sometimes there were nightly groups of watchers who carried out their vigil very laxly, deliberately sitting together in a distant corner and putting all their attention into playing cards there, clearly intending to allow the hunger artist a small refreshment, which, according to their way of thinking, he could get from some secret supplies.”

Vigil is used here to describe the nightly activities of the watchers. This shows that these groups of people go out at night and watch the hunger artist, even though they don’t understand the art.

Utopia and Dystopia Group Discussion

In our group discussion, my group and I compared both stories, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Cottagette”, and determined which is Utopia and Dystopia. Utopia refers to a world that is considered to be perfect, while Dystopia refers to a place where the conditions of life are unpleasant. After comparing the characters and plot in each story, we figured that “The Yellow Wallpaper”  is a dystopia and “The Cottagette”  is a utopia.

In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator is suffering from depression and tries to recover, but she feels that she is trapped in the mansion. Since her husband is a doctor, he prevents her from going outside and suggests her that she should stay in and rest. Our group discussed that the narrator felt content with the mansion in the beginning. However, as the story progresses, the narrator seems to feel uncomfortable in her room. She asks her husband to change the yellow wallpaper, but he refuses to do so. This is the point where this story shows dystopia. The narrator states, “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try.” The unpleasantness of the yellow wallpaper causes the narrator to feel trapped in the room and eventually causes the narrator to lose her mind.

In the story, “The Cottagette” the author shows happiness throughout the story. We discussed that life is perfect for Malda. In the beginning, Malda expresses how elated she is with the cottage. Additionally, Malda’s husband treats her good and keeps her happy. Malda’s husband, Ford, states “Your work is quite too good to lose; it is a beautiful and distinctive art, and I don’t want you to let it go.” Here, we can see that he supports her and does not want her to quit. Furthermore, in the end, it is revealed that Ford is in love with Malda and wants to marry her regardless of her cooking. This shows that Malda’s life is perfect.


Congenial (adjective) – pleasant; especially agreeably suited to one’s nature, tastes, or outlook.


From: “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gillman

“So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.”

Here, the author is saying that the narrator likes do work that they enjoy, find to be pleasant and that suits them. In this case, the narrator likes to do work that provides excitement and change.



Cabal (noun) – the contrived schemes of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also a group engaged in such schemes.


From “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

“We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily’s coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily’s allies to help circumvent the cousins.)”

Here, the author uses the word cabal to show how all the people were trying to help Miss Emily avoid her cousins. Since cabal means to unite, the townspeople united to find a way to make the cousins leave.



Aquiver (adjective):  marked by trembling or quivering


From “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

“She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life.”

Here, Kate Chopin uses the word Aquiver to describe how the trees were reacting to the spring weather. This means that the trees were shaking or vibrating in the wind.

“Tam and Cam” (Vietnam)

I read the story of “Tam and Cam”, a Cinderella story taking place in Vietnam. Over the years, I’ve read a few versions of Cinderella stories, and all of them usually contain a plot with a happy ending and no violence involved. However, “Tam and Cam” is very different from other versions. In this story, the Cinderella character, Tam, experiences many violent and gruesome obstacles in her quest to achieve a better future. A common Cinderella tradition that is followed in this story is how Tam meets her husband at the festival, where she loses one of her shoes. An interesting thing about this story is that the Cinderella character is killed multiple times by the step-mother and step-sister. This never happens to the Cinderella character in other stories.

First, the step-mother asks Tam to climb a tree and collect the best nuts to prepare an offering on her father’s death anniversary. During, the climb, the step-mother chops the tree and Tam falls into a deep pond and drowns. However, as this story focuses strongly on reincarnation, Tam is reborn as a nightingale bird and flies off to her husband’s castle. At the castle, Tam’s step-sister, Cam who is now the wife of the king, discovers that Tam is still alive in a bird form. Eventually, Tam is killed again, and her feathers allow her to be reincarnated into a tree. Afterwards, Tam is reincarnated into a fruit, which is given to an old lady who keeps and cares for the fruit. This fruit eventually reincarnates Tam back into human form.

The most gruesome part of this story happens when Cam was surprised by Tam’s beauty and wanted to learn how to become beautiful like her. Tam saw this as a perfect way to finally get revenge and told Cam to get in a hole, which she filled up with boiling water. Eventually, Tam made a sauce out of Cam’s body and sent it to her step-mother, who ended up eating it till she found a skull in the bottom and died from the shock.


Sheen (noun) –  a bright or shining condition


From ” I Always Write About My Mother When I Start to Write” by Bia Lowe

“I loved to watch her stand over the sink. The sheen of her slip in the bathroom light slid
over the curves of her body like my finger in a bowl of frosting.”

Bia Lowe uses this word to describe the brightness of her mother’s dress, which may be velvet, in the bathroom light and shows the reader that it is glowing. Sheen basically means bright or luster texture on the surface.


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