adjective: gloomily or resentfully silent or repressed

From “The Shawl”

“She was moody and sullen one moment, her lower lip jutting and her eyes flashing, filled with storms. The next, she would shake her hair over her face and blow it straight out in front of her to make her children scream with laughter.”


adjective :rejecting or lacking the capacity for social interaction

from “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”

“Of course, crazy is not the official definition of my mental problem, but I don’t think asocial disorder fits it, either, because that makes me sound like I’m a serial killer or something.”


noun : an American Indian social gathering or fair usually including competitive dancing

from- What You Pawn I Will Redeem

“I didn’t know for sure, because I hadn’t seen that regalia in person ever. I’d only seen photographs of my grandmother dancing in it. And those were taken before somebody stole it from her, fifty years ago. But it sure looked like my memory of it, and it had all the same color feathers and beads that my family sewed into our powwow regalia.”


noun :a structure built along or at an angle from the shore of navigable waters so that ships may lie alongside to receive and discharge cargo and passengers

From: What You Pawn I Will Redeem

“Back on the wharf, I stood near the Bainbridge Island Terminal and tried to sell papers to business commuters boarding the ferry.”

“That Ain’t Her Mouth.”

beloved (pdf)

I used this section of the passage I chose for Essay #2 to become a sort of visual poem. I thought that the language used by Toni Morrison in this section is so full of imagery and metaphors and I wanted to mirror that with an actual visual text. There are so many concrete and significant images in that section of the text I chose and I thought it would be important to highlight them. Some of the words are crossed out, underlined, or italicized for visual and dramatic effect. Each phrase gets bigger in font size by the line because it’s a poetic build up to this horrific realization that such a terrible thing had been done. With this visual text I hope that anyone viewing will realize the emotion in the narration, and can realize how powerful words can jump off a page to become art, news, or evoke feelings like sadness and shock. I also chose the colors to be similar to the cover art on my copy of the book Beloved. I liked that color scheme and I chose to work with it because I thought it would apply and be relevant to this visual project.

A Letter From Tobe

A Letter from Tobe


To the Town of Jefferson:

Assuming these thoughts will matter to you now although they seem too late, this release has been a long time coming and hopefully your mind will be as free as mine if you accept what I give. I’ve struggled everyday of my life after Ms. Emily. Living with Emily was more work for me than the actual work she had me do. Now this is not an implication that she treated me terribly, but getting to understand her psyche was difficult to take in; but it also awakened a big sense of sympathy within me too.

My devotion to Ms. Emily has caused me much loneliness, I’ve found no reason to laugh or smile. I’ve never been too fond of conversation anyhow and being Ms. Emily’s permanent worker didn’t allow me to be very social. Nights were somewhat darker than normal, and the days were always cold even in the high temperatures of summer. One day Ms. Emily had me waiting outside for her and a stranger asked me for directions. I opened my mouth to speak and realized it was not possible. I tried so hard and at that moment I realized that my voice had withered. I could only motion to the stranger, much to my displeasure. I didn’t know that it was possible for me to lose my voice from not using it.

I don’t even know if Ms. Emily realized that I couldn’t speak. I don’t know if she would care. She was in her own world. We had never once spoken to each other. She spoke at me and I did what was needed to be done. I was hired by her father, Mr. Grierson, many years before his death. The details of that are not clear now but I clearly remember his intention. He didn’t just want me to be a servant to his beloved daughter, but to protect her.  There was a mental withdrawal once he passed away. She was not herself for a long time, and who would be? Town folk felt that her father was too protective and  careful, but he was a good man, and he was a father to her; a real good father. I was already employed to be her helper but at the time I really wanted to put extra care into anything I did for her. I noticed she was changing. Her demeanor was slightly depressing, and I questioned her habits sometimes.

There were incidents, however where I felt her moments of mental torment had gone to extremes. On a night in the fall a year after her father died she had me go with her to a cemetery. I don’t know if she knew or not but it wasn’t the same one where her father was buried. She stood in front of a grave site and eventually kneeled in front of the tombstone. I kept my distance from her a bit, but I could see her very clearly. She got closer to the ground and it looked as if she was trying to dig into the ground. I was sure my eyes were deceiving me and I reacted late, I ran toward her but an officer in the distance had noticed her before me and got there quickly. We helped restrain her as she was hysterical and in tears. As we were leaving she blew kisses to the tombstone. That might have been the first detection I had of her necrophilia.

I’m sure you want to know about Homer Barron too. Now there’s not much I can tell you about him. I know as much as you know about who he is. Emily loved him, or maybe the idea of him; a male figure she could connect with intimately. She needed that male figure in her life, but in a sense her feelings were unrequited. It was this slight rejection that made her want to do something extreme. She wasn’t extreme by habit, but she was more of a cause and effect type of person. Her father not being there was like a missing puzzle piece that she was trying to replace, but instead she ended up jumbling it even more. This was when Emily started doing drastic things like getting arsenic rat poison to kill this man. I was only able to witness the after effects of that. I thought it was impossible to live to bear that scent of the dead man everyday. Often times I would make market trips for no reason just to escape it. Just knowing I was living with a dead person was traumatizing. I was not sure what Ms. Emily was doing with the body but then after a while I figured it out when I had terrible flashbacks of that graveyard incident.

After a while taking care of her got more difficult. We had both aged and she had been very ill. After I discovered she had been sleeping with Homer’s body it was hard to even look at her. She had stayed away from it after a while due to being bed-ridden most of the time, but there were times where she still tried. I figured I tried to accept Emily for who she was but there were times where it took it’s toll on me and Emily probably never cared. I wonder if she saw me as a human and if she ever thought of how her actions would affect me. When she died I left. I live alone and I write now to not go insane.

I cannot tell the whole story of Emily Grierson, for they would simply be too much to tell. I am sorry that she drove people away and I admit that she was deeply flawed. At the same time, Emily was human. She was insecure and often unhappy. There were many voids within her and no one could help her, even if she let them. I pity Homer Barron, and myself for living under such conditions. I cared for Ms. Emily and I did my best, but years of caring takes its emotional toll on you. Once I saw that she died I left a rose by the doorstep when I left. It was the only way I could say goodbye.








The Story Of Tobe & Emily Grierson.

William Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily” was written as a first person narrative with a distant narrator(s). The narrator never used “I” but instead used “we.” Retelling the story from a different perspective could definitely shed a closer light on a character as complex as Emily. The original story had little to no focus on the relationship between Emily and her servant, Tobe and my purpose in the retelling was to change that. The only way to do this was to have someone who was always close to her to tell their story, thus an exploratory first person narrative from the perspective of Tobe.

Tobe’s actual name is only mentioned one time in the story when the special meeting of the Board of Aldermen took place. We see that Emily is bothered by the presence of these men and their tax requests in her home and she calls for him to lead them away. “‘Tobe!’ The Negro appeared. ‘Show these gentlemen out.’” In the broader spectrum of this scene, this is where Tobe is first introduced as “the Negro” and he is called that throughout the story, but also that specific scene is the only time when he is spoken to directly. On the surface of this story one can argue that he plays a minor role but I would try to debate that argument by having him tell his version of  Emily’s story in his own words. Although he might not have directly affected the dynamic of the story as say Homer Barron would, he was still with Emily all the time and was able to see things that might not have been included or noticed by the original narrator.

The information given in the original story about Tobe could work with this idea of revealing what might have been left out. One of the few things that are revealed about him Faulkner’s story is his inability to speak.  However, a letter from his perspective allows us to get into his mind and see what more he could reveal about Emily and all the events that surround her. An example of this is a particular moment in the original story when the narrator mentions that there have been failed attempts to get information about Emily out of him. Faulkner writes, “we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro. He talked to no one, probably not even her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.”

Tobe writes this letter knowing he has valuable information and thoughts to share, however from that opening sentence he shows a shadow of doubt concerning Emily’s present relevance. He wrote the letter after she died but the narrator of the original implied that they craved for any information on Emily while she was alive. She was the talk of the town every time they noticed something about her.  “So THE NEXT day we all said ‘she will kill herself’; and we said it would be the best thing, When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, ‘She will marry him.’”


An important element of Tobe’s letter is that he gives firsthand account of Emily’s reaction to major events that took place in her life as opposed to just the public reaction and speculation seen in the original. The letter shows that there is that extreme side to Emily that is described in Faulkner’s story but Tobe’s letter gives a bit of insight of what is behind it.

The original story speaks of an incident that occurred right after Mr. Grierson’s death where ministers and the ladies tried reaching out to Emily to help her cope with her grief and also to urge her to bury her father. Initially she denies his death, but then she breaks down and they bury Mr. Grierson’s body quickly. In that section there’s a quote that stuck out to me.“We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which robbed her, as people will.”  This quote in the original shows a major side of Emily’s humanity and I intended for Tobe’s letter to expound on this theme. He writes in his letter that notices visible change in Emily once her father passes. He even gives an anecdote of an incident not mentioned in Faulkner’s story about her bizarre visit to a cemetery a year after Mr. Grierson’s death. Although she was not at her father’s grave site this experience had something to do with the loss of her father, the control he had over her, and I think it bridges the gap between one male figure (Mr. Grierson) to the next (Homer Barron.) According to the letter this scene he introduces Emily’s necrophilia existing because of her antics at the grave site.  “She got closer to the ground and it looked as if she was trying to dig into the ground. I was sure my eyes were deceiving me and I reacted late, I ran toward her but an officer in the distance had noticed her before me and got there quickly. We helped restrain her as she was hysterical and in tears. As we were leaving she blew kisses to the tombstone. That might have been the first detection I had of her necrophilia. ”

Tobe reveals his relationship (or lack thereof) with Emily. In the same quote from the original story that I mentioned earlier that stated that Tobe didn’t even talk to Emily and he confirms that assumption. He writes, “I don’t even know if Ms. Emily realized that I couldn’t speak. I don’t know if she would care. She was in her own world. We had never once spoken to each other. She spoke at me and I did what was needed to be done.”

One thing that isn’t explicit in any of the two tellings is why Tobe and Emily never built a verbal relationship, but some sort of relationship is there. He stayed with Emily through her many phases, antics, and illnesses. He was there until he also grew very old and grey. Even if the relationship between Tobe and Emily was not like a friendship but strictly professional, it was long lasting and it lasted until her death when he leaves. He ends the letter speaking of her death and leaving the rose on a step as he made his final departure. Through this retelling I wanted to bring some significance to the rose mentioned in the original title. This letter doesn’t cover as much historical information as the original story but I aimed to make the letter seem more personal and highlight the servant more and make him seem more human as well. The relationship between him and Emily did hold relevance in my opinion because of the lived experience he had with her and the understanding he had of who she was.

Passage for Essay #2

“But this ain’t her mouth,” Paul D said. “This ain’t it at all.”

Stamp Paid looked at him. He was going to tell him about how restless Baby Suggs was that morning, how she had a listening way about her; how she kept looking down past the corn to the stream so much he looked too. In between ax swings, he watched where Baby was watching. Which is why they both missed it: they were looking the wrong way–toward water–and all the while it was coming down the road. Four. Riding close together, bunched-up like, and righteous. He was going to tell him that, because he thought it was important: why he and Baby Suggs both missed it. And about the party too, because that explained why nobody ran on ahead; why nobody sent a fleet-footed son to cut ‘cross a field soon as they saw the four horses in town hitched for watering while the riders asked questions. Not Ella, not John, not anybody ran down or to Bluestone Road, to say some new whitefolks with the Look just rode in. The righteous Look every Negro learned to recognize along with his ma’am’s tit. Like a flag hoisted, this righteousness telegraphed and announced the faggot, the whip, the fist, the lie, long before it went public. Nobody warned them, and he’d always believed it wasn’t the exhaustion from a long day’s gorging that dulled them, but some other thing–like, well, like meanness–that let them stand aside, or not pay attention, or tell themselves somebody else was probably bearing the news already to the house on Bluestone Road where a pretty woman had been living for almost a month. Young and deft with four children one of which she delivered herself the day before she got there and who now had the full benefit of Baby Suggs’ bounty and her big old heart. Maybe they just wanted to know if Baby really was special, blessed in some way they were not. He was going to tell him that, but Paul D was laughing, saying, “Uh uh. No way. A little semblance round the forehead maybe, but this ain’t her mouth.”

So Stamp Paid did not tell him how she flew, snatching up her children like a hawk on the wing; how her face beaked, how her hands worked like claws, how she collected them every which way: one on her shoulder, one under her arm, one by the hand, the other shouted forward into the woodshed filled with just sunlight and shavings now because there wasn’t any wood. The party had used it all, which is why he was chopping some. Nothing was in that shed, he knew, having been there early that morning. Nothing but sunlight.

Sunlight, shavings, a shovel. The ax he himself took out. Nothing else was in there except the shovel–and of course the saw.

“You forgetting I knew her before,” Paul D was saying. “Back in Kentucky. When she was a girl. I didn’t just make her acquaintance a few months ago. I been knowing her a long time. And I can tell you for sure: this ain’t her mouth. May look like it, but it ain’t.”

So Stamp Paid didn’t say it all. Instead he took a breath and leaned toward the mouth that was not hers and slowly read out the words Paul D couldn’t. And when he finished, Paul D said with a vigor fresher than the first time, “I’m sorry, Stamp. It’s a mistake somewhere ’cause that ain’t her mouth.”

Stamp looked into Paul D’s eyes and the sweet conviction in them almost made him wonder if it had happened at all, eighteen years ago, that while he and Baby Suggs were looking the wrong way, a pretty little slavegirl had recognized a hat, and split to the woodshed to kill her children.

Bringing Fiction To Life At BHS.

Our class had the opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Historical Society and I believe our experiences there helped us each individually and collectively. Working with primary sources was a new experience for me but I appreciate what it helped me accomplish and what I was able to to take with from each trip. Our visits there coincided with our analysis of a specific text. The first trip helped us with our reading and understanding of “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn.” Seeing old railroad maps and photographs of Brooklyn seemed to enthuse the entire class because of the parallels we could make of Brooklyn then and now. I think that experience brought the reading to life for us, and made a fiction piece seem very realistic because of the familiarity the readers had with the setting. Our second and third trips to the Brooklyn Historical Society helped us with our study of Beloved by Toni Morrison. In this novel, along with another related text we deal with the issue of slavery and runaway slaves. We were able to look at transcripts of runaway slave ads and we studied all the characteristics of the documents, and the slaves. We also discovered some unique things previously undiscovered by our host who was more familiar with the documents. I really enjoyed the group work we were able to do. It gave us a chance to be more familiar with some of our classmates, and to share ideas and have meaningful conversations about themes being discussed in the class. I will always value my experience at the Brooklyn Historical Society because I think our time there was well spent, and it was an effective way to have us as students more engaged with our assigned material.

The Festival Experience

After months of planning, hours of preparation, and weeks of promotion, the 2013 Literary Arts Festival proved to be an event that will be remembered and cherished by many. It was my first time volunteering for this event and it may not be my last. I enjoy the concept of the Literary Arts Festival because it gives students and staff a reason to be excited about literature, and it’s an outlet for great creativity. I have to applaud Damaris for winning the award for best short story, which also happened to be her Essay #1 for our class. This made me feel like our Intro To Fiction class was represented well. The festival had some touching moments that had me put many things into perspective. It’s a shame that I can’t remember the names of all those that received special honors, but based on the anecdotes expressed by their fellow workers I realized that it was indeed a labor of love by those who believed in it. .Along with being inspired by hearing all the award winning writers recite their pieces, and being entertained by the lively first performance of the City Tech band, I learned a lot about the history of this festival and those who made it possible for it to exist.I began to see and appreciate the festival for more than it is on the surface, although the surface is indeed very appealing. We had the privilege of hearing from Katie Dellamaggiore who directed the documentary “Brooklyn Castle”, Pobo Efekoro who appears in the film. This was my favorite part of the festival considering that these talents came to be in the same room with college students and faculty in Brooklyn to share their wisdom, stories, and relevant encouragement. There was so much to draw from this night of wonder and showcase of applied talents. Volunteering really made me feel like I became a part of history to have my name documented as a participant. I’m looking forward to being a part of the next one, which I honestly wish was happening tomorrow.

The BHS Experience.

Our recent visit to the Brooklyn Historical society was very beneficial to my understanding of my hometown and also of our reading of “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn.” I had no knowledge of the Brooklyn Historical society prior to this class and once I heard about this trip I was looking forward to it. I can now say that I enjoyed the trip, not just because we got to leave the classroom but I found everything about the BHS so interesting and inspiring. I loved the architecture, and the mood of the building. It isn’t like a mundane public library. The resources are rare and precious and the BHS is very cautious about how their resources are shared with the public.

Being there was also constructive because we were able to have a hands-on experience with the materials. The group I worked with had a display of two maps of Brooklyn. One map was a railroad map and the other was a transit map. We also had folders that contained photographs of scenes in Brooklyn in much earlier times. I particularly studied a photo that showed the beach at Coney Island from the summer of 1958. I, along with one of the BHS hosts had noticed that many of these beach-goers were fully dressed in the summer time. I thought that this could be attributed to the different culture at the time and maybe people were more reserved in the way they dressed, even at the sunny beach.

Our study of the maps went along very well with our reading of “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn.” In the story “the big guy” claimed to use a map to find his way around Brooklyn. He found he’s way to Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and Red Hook. I found this interesting because these neighborhoods are not exactly very close to each other, and I mentally made a comparison to the time this story took place (it was published in 1935) and today and how maps are hardly used. Every now and then I’ll see a subway passenger squinting at a map, but technology has advanced and nowadays many people use GPS or search for directions online. One can make the argument that technology has made us lazy in this regard because reading a map successfully requires extra effort.

One thing I must point out, however, is that I could not locate Red Hook on the transit map I studied. I just could not find it, but I was indeed able to find “Bensenhoist.” Brooklyn is a very big and deep borough, and I agree that one may never able to to know Brooklyn through and through.


forsooth: (adv.) often used to imply contempt or doubt.

Used in “Young Goodman Brown”, paragraph 31; “‘Ah, forsooth, and it is your worship, indeed?’ cried the good dame.”

This word was actually pretty funny to me when I read it and I thought I was either reading early Shakespeare or the Bible; I don’t even think the Bible has the word “forsooth” in it. I’m glad I looked it up and now know the definition because maybe I can use it in a sentence just to throw someone off. In all seriousness however, it’s interesting to me that this word is an adverb, especially because we spoke about adverbs in class. It proves that  not all adverbs are noticeable or end with “-ly.”

Freedom & “The Story of An Hour”

Death complicates the meanings of usually positive outcomes like healing, or freedom, and they become what they are through an extreme method. Those who are sick or bound wish for healing and freedom, but they may not get it the way they had hoped for. This, I believe is the case of Louise Mallard. She was married to a man whom she “sometimes” loved. It was not explicitly said in this story that she was unhappy in this marriage; she did mourn the death of her husband. Love was present, but it wasn’t overwhelming. I believe she goes through a process in this hour and processes usually aren’t sudden, however, processes don’t need to take forever. She had her time to reflect and grieve, and as the story progresses we see that there is a gradual change.

Paragraph 9 says: “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it,  creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.”

I believe that is the moment where the emotional shift takes place; the moment where she is finding strength to move on from this momentary grief. If we notice the language of the author, these are not sudden movements taking place. There is creeping, and reaching, and waiting.

Paragraph 10 says: “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to posses her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will..”

“When she abandoned herself a little word escaped her slightly parted lips.”

Here we can see the process continuing, and the “thing” that was approaching had now arrived and we know what it is when she starts saying “free, free, free! Body and soul free!” These seem like shouts of joy but again if we pay attention to the author’s language we see that they were more like whispers. She said these words under her breath. From this I get that this freedom was somehow what she wanted but maybe she got it in a way that she didn’t, which is why she struggled with the feeling at first: “she was striving to beat it back with her will–as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.” As the process progresses she embraces this bittersweet freedom. Her mindset has shifted. She’s sad but she is ready to move on. The feeling of freedom is now setting in, and she is becoming comfortable with it. The process is winding down towards the end of the story and we see that she feels optimistic about her life now.

In a moment her freedom is stripped when she sees that her husband has not died. In a moment directly after it, this complex freedom returns with her death. She does not die with her freedom, but she dies and gains it.