Child death in the 19th century
After the first day of class, one thing from the conversation that was stuck in my head was the frequent death of child. I have a younger sister and the thought of her suddenly being dead the next day was terrifying. And what if I had my own children? Living with the fear that my own children will suddenly die is so sad. I think the fear of child death still applies to the current time but in a way less degree, when comparing the industrialized countries, but it is hard to imagine living with that constant fear.
Another interesting fact related to this came up in my History of Photography class. Last week in class, we looked at Daguerreotypes and were discussing about them and their roles after the announcement of this invention at 1839. One interesting thing I learned is that people took Daguerreotypes of their dead children. They will wrap their dead children, usually babies, bring to the photo studio, dress them up and make Daguerreotypes. It is so weird to think of carrying a dead child in your hand and walking or taking a carriage to a photo studio. Because child death was such a common and frequent thing, parents almost expect the death and were prepared for it. The Daguerreotype is the only evidence of them ever existing and also the last chance to spend time with the dead children. I understand the logic of wanting something to remember their children, but taking a picture of them was such a surprising idea for me and it interested me a lot. I will like to do my presentation on this topic, Child death and Daguerreotype.
The Mill on the Floss- Book 1
Finishing book one of The Mill on the Floss, I found interesting how the characters in the book decided on who to get married to. Mr. Tulliver mentions when talking to Mr. Riley that he picked Mrs. Tulliver as his wife because“she was a bit weak, like; for I wasn’t agoin’ to be told the rights o’ things by my own fireside.”(page 12) And Mr. Glegg seems to have chosen Mrs. Glegg because he “had chosen the eldest Miss Dodson as a handsome embodiment of female prudence and thrift” and “calculated much on conjugal happiness.” (page 96) In both cases, there are little mentions of if they like or love their wives. I do not know how exactly things were done during the 19th century, so how it is depicted in the book might be a common way but for me it sounds very weird to choose your life long partner with practical or profitable reasons. I prefer how it is, at least from what I know of, done nowadays, choosing someone you love.
Another thing I found more interesting is the true reason Mr. Tulliver want to send Tom to a better school; “I shall give Tom an eddication an’ put him to a business, as he may make a nest for himself, an’ not want to push me out o’ mine.” As much as he wants his son to get successful, he wants it in a way that would not interfere with his own. Don’t parents usually want their children to take over their business, especially in farming and things similar to that, rather than kicking them out from it? I understand how parents will want their children to get a better education but never heard of wanting them to pursue a different occupation to secure their own position. I wonder if this was a common thing during this time.
The Mill on the Floss
During class on 3/1, my partner and me were assigned to talk about chapter 5 of book 2 but we never got to talk. In case we don’t get to talk in class next week for some reason, I am going to write what we talked about. This is the chapter when Maggie visits Tom for the second time at Mr. Stelling’s, where now Wakem’s son Philip is learning with Tom. In this chapter, Tom’s effort to impress Maggie turns into an unplanned disaster of Tom hurting his leg. I think this is the first time where Tom couldn’t achieve his goal to impress Maggie, his first failure in this aspect. I found it interesting that this happened at Mr. Stelling’s when Philip is there. Having this kind of failure when Philip, the son of his father’s enemy, is around could be suggesting Mr. Tulliver’s future defeat against Wakem.
When I was reading Chapter 3 of book 4, I was surprised to read how Maggie sought solution to her dull life in studying. As a girl having the same education as boys, to me the idea that acquiring “masculine wisdom” was going to make her contented and glad to live as men when obviously men around her was not having a happy life. Even Tom, who has this knowledge, was having unhappy life at this time. This part made me remember how education was a privilege and a hard one to obtain for women.
Notes from the Underground
I AM A SICK MAN…. What a great, depressing opening sentence. My immediate response to this sentence was that this person is sick in a more mental, psychological way than physical illness. And he is, but he is also physically sick. He talks about how he pretended to be spiteful when his true self is the opposite of spiteful and how that long pretending led him to his illness. However, when I read the 4th sentence, “I believe my liver is diseased,” I felt a little ashamed for making that early assumption. I feel like my initial assumption is showing how I view the world, even looking for clues of psychological trouble. How I, who live in the 21st century is looking for clues for something a man from the 19th century is presenting makes me realize how the essential elements of life never change, even with all the advanced technology we have now.
Another thing that I found interesting is how this person perceives the long-living elderlies, that they are fools and worthless. I don’t think this was a common view considering how short the average life expectancy was. It certainly is not the case for nowadays. We are taught to respect the elders and learn from their experiences. But here, this man is saying the exact opposite. Why is living longer than forty years bad manners, vulgar and immoral? Is it because it will be harder to support yourself and thus creating burdens to the younger? Or is it because you start to forget things and become a “fool”? This sounds like a sarcasm coming from his depressing view of life, but nevertheless, a new and very different point of view.
During middle school, I told, or actually murmured to a friend how annoying it was to be with her. I purposefully muttered to her in a small voice but enough for her to hear me. I went to a private middle school and I only had one friend from my elementary school who went there with me. Naturally, we were always together in the beginning of the school year until this other girl started to hang out with us. I was fine at first but this girl became more and more possessive about my friend and I felt like she was taking my friend from me. After she told me how this friend was hers and not anybody else’s, my annoyance grew bigger and bigger and resulted in the act of letting her know my feeling in a very mean, sneaky way. It did not occur to me that I was being equally possessive about my friend.
Another confession is a more long-term matter that still applies to me in the present. I am half Japanese and half American and grew up in Japan. Throughout my childhood, my sister and I were the only part Caucasian kids in elementary, middle, and high school. We were also the only part Caucasian kids in our neighborhood. We of course got a lot of attention for that reason and I always felt like I didn’t fit in to the community. When I came to MICA, now I was one of very few people from Japan that attracted a similar attention. I became a mystery, having a Japanese name and a weird accent, but not really looking Asian. I tell my close friends how being “different” has always been hard to deal with, creating an isolated feeling. I make it sound like a very traumatic experience. However, what I don’t tell people is that how I secretly enjoy this “difference”, how it makes me feel like I am unique and special and how I sometimes make it into a bigger deal so I can gain the anxiety that leads me to creating my art.