Friday, May 3, 2013

Accumulation of Paragraphs from the semester + Poetry Analysis - Jenn Bae

Jenn Bae

I was having a conversation with my younger sister the other day on the amount of shoes that she had. She’s still in high school, and in comparison to me she has a “higher taste” in fashion and is more interested in material objects and clothes. I have 2 pairs of shoes that I alternate between depending on the weather, and she spends her time in the mornings deciding on what to wear. Her choice in footwear depends on whatever she chooses to wear, and I have seen her change an outfit up to at least three times before we head out of the house, even if it’s something mundane like going to the grocery store or to the bank. She constantly looks at pictures of shoes online, and I’ve seen her save images into “wish-list” documents, complete with price listings.
Younger sisters are funny things. I can’t help but look at mine in exasperated fondness. The things she thinks sometimes are so strange; she has an outlook on fashion that is pretty skewed in aesthetics. Things I think are hideous, my younger sister thinks are “in” or “trendy”, like Ugg boots. I think my sister has two pairs of fake ones and a pair of real Uggs. I think they’re pretty gross looking, and only half a step above crocs, but my sister claims otherwise. Which brought us to the topic of shoes, and on how many she had. 
Later on I was talking to my mother on the phone, and she mentioned my sister and her strange habits, and was wondering where on earth she had gotten them from. When I asked her to clarify, she told me that my sister had tossed out three pairs of her shoes into the garbage can. It turns out she had finally seen the light and figured out that Uggs aren’t as amazing as she had thought they were. I just hope that they don’t come back to haunt her.


One of the things that jumped out at me immediately upon reading this book was the Fetish that  Maggie had hidden away in her attic. The way the scene was written portrayed the doll as a means of stress relief and a target for her troubles, but there’s something disconcerting about imagining Maggie driving nails into a large doll, and beating its head upon the walls. Part of the reason may be because a doll is such a humanoid figure, so seeing such a young child push al these frustrations on a human shaped item is both worrisome and frightening. I also have some belief in that the mistreatment of inanimate objects is never a good thing; too much malicious intent focused upon such an object never leas to anything good.
            A similar scene this reminded me of was a scene in Disney’s Lilo and Stitch. It was the part when Cobra Bubbles is about the leave Lilo’s house, and he sees her scooping spoons decorated and labeled in the likeness of her “friends” into a pickle jar, while reference a book titled “Practical Voodoo” The soulless look on Lilo’s face as she utters the words, “My friends need to be punished” both made me laugh and creeped me out. It isn’t really addressed after this point in the movie, but it goes to show that Lilo is a special soul that is most definitely something else in comparison to all the “normal” girls, just like Maggie.


The thing with Maggie is that she’s such a relatable character. In an earlier part of the book, where Maggie cuts her hair off, she describes her first moments with cut her emerging with a sense of clearness and freedom, which soon turned to hurt and humiliation once her brother laughed at her. It immediately took me back to my freshman year of high school, when I allowed my friend to cut my hair for me. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to this notion, and the results were pretty disastrous, particularly because about halfway through another friend joined in and made things about 10 times worse. And, like Maggie, I had to go in to a salon in order to get my hair fixed. The judgment I received there for my own lack of judgment was pretty brutal to my delicate soul.

However, the action of cutting off my hair was, in a sense, relieving and symbolized cutting off all ties with middle school, in which I had a miserable time and long, uncut and unstyled hair. While I was getting it cut, I didn’t think it was that bad, however, that all changed when my mother came home and stared in a mix of horror and laughter. Another person’s judgment can make all the difference. However, the shorter hair did give me a sense of renewal and boosted up my personality and demeanor,  and I was able to make new friends and actually enjoy myself in high school.


The first encounter I’ve ever had with Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “The Lotus Eater”, was not in fact as a poem by Lord Tennyson, that is, the entirety of the poem. I was probably sometime in elementary school,  and I was very addicted to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. The first encounter I had with “The Lotus Eater” was in “Little Town on the Prairie”.  There was a scene in the book when Laura was putting away the laundry, and happen upon a book in her mother’s underwear drawer, which was a hidden Christmas present. The book was a volume of Tennyson’s poems, and the main character, Laura, opened the book and read part of “The Lotus Eater” before she realized what she was doing and put the book down while in the middle of reading a verse.
That scene was so vivid in my subconscious memory, that when I read the first lines of “The Lotus Eaters”,
 Courage!’ he said, and pointed to the land,
This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.
I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia and I actually had to set down the book and really think about where on earth had I read that poem before. It actually took me a while to figure out, but then I made the connection thanks to the help of Google. It’s quite interesting to see how powerful words can be, that they can stay with you throughout the years, even when you forget them.


“The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll, originally appeared in his book “Through the Looking Glass”, which was the companion book and sequel to the famous “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. The rhyming scheme in the poem is ABCBDB and has a total of 18 stanzas.

            The Poem in question is a curious one, as it is a nonsensical poem that makes perfect sense. A Walrus and a Carpenter walk along a beach, trick some oysters into taking a walk with them, and in the end the walrus and the carpenter devour the oysters. In the context of the book, Tweedledum and Tweedledee recite the poem to Alice, who then tries to determine who is the better character of the two. Alice first prefers the Walrus to the Carpenter, because the Walrus seemed to be more sympathetic to the Oysters. However, upon finding out that the Walrus ate much more than the Carpenter, she changed her opinion to the Carpenter. After finding out that the Carpenter ate as many as he could eat, she decided that they were both very unpleasant.

I personally don’t see why Alice kept flip flopping between the two. Rather than trying to determine which character was nicer, I mostly felt bad for the poor young oysters, and liked the Elder Oyster best of all, since he was wise enough to know to stay put, and not to be tricked by hungry walruses and carpenters. Even without the extra background information the twins provided, I disliked the Walrus and the Carpenter right off the bat, the Walrus more so than the Carpenter, because the Walrus was deceitful and pretended to be sympathetic to his meal. The Carpenter didn’t care for pretenses and just ate his food. Both were bad, but at least the Carpenter was bad in an honest way. It’s interesting to see that the Carpenter is an “honest villain”, the same way I find this poem to be “nonsensically sensible”.


There have been many interpretations on Lewis Carroll’s work; movies, comics, books, musicals, and art. My sister went through a phase in her life where she was obsessed with the Alice in Wonderland imagery, and checked the two books by Carroll out of the library, but then later confessed to me that she liked the adaptations of the story better than the original poems.
I myself never particularly cared for Alice in Wonderland, but upon reading the poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, I wanted to see how the poem fitted into the book. I found Tweedledum and Tweedledee to be quite irritating, although I’m not quite sure why they rub me the wrong way. I found it intriguing that such a strange poem was able to fit itself seamlessly into the book. A strange poem for a strange book, I suppose.

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