Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Blog

Jillian Alonzo
Understand Literature
Blog Assignment 1

In the poems entitled "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost, "Accident, Mass. Ave." by Jill McDonough, and "Learning to Read" by E. W. Harper, are similar to three steps that lead towards alienation. The first poem (the first step) "Learning to Read", represents discrimination towards others. The second poem, "Mending Wall" talks about the walls and boundaries between people. Finally, the last poem "Accident, Mass. Ave." is an example of what discrimination and building walls create. The poems signify alienation by portraying the disaffection and separation that builds between people over time.
"Learning to Read" revolves around discrimination and more specifically how "Knowledge did'nt agree with slavery" (Harper 627). This quote is especially meaningful because it illustrates how people look down upon another. After reading this poem, I tried to apply it to my own life. Though I do not look down upon people whom are illiterate or stand in the way of them trying to learn how to read; I can admit that I have thought something was more useful or valuable to me than it is for someone else. Similarly to how people thought being literate was more useful and valuable to others than to slaves. The poem essentially is saying that slaves don't need to know how to read, simply because they are slaves. 
"Mending Wall" illuminates on the idea of discrimination. Discrimination leads to building boundaries between each other. Robert Frost writes that "Good fences make good neighbors"(Frost 371). I think this quote is ironic because the idea of separation should not lead to healthy relations. How could building a wall create a good bond between anyone? Frost gives a detailed explanation about how after a long winter, the fence is warn but without a doubt, every spring the neighbors will meet to reestablish their boundaries. While reading this poem I found it to be very metaphorical. The reason I think it is metaphorical is because the idea of the "fence" that the neighbors build, can be compared to the boundaries and walls people use to separate each other in class, race, ethnicity and gender. 
"Accident, Mass. Ave." tells the reader about a car accident that takes place in Boston. Jill McDonough writes that a woman driving a Buick "cranked her wheel" and slammed right into the side of her Chevy. Two woman in the accident get out of their cars and their first reaction is to start swearing, waving their arms and yelling. Neither women even thinks to look at the car to inspect damage, all they care about is who's fault it is and how "fucking blind" you are for hitting the car in the first place. Towards the end of the poem, McDonough reveals that there was no damage. Neither car had a dent. The lady driving the Buick had luckily only hit the wheel of the Chevy and therefore nothing was really wrong. After realizing what had actually happened, the ladies exchanged a hug. "We were scared, weren't we?" (McDonough). The most significant part of this story is to understand that these people, without even analyzing the situation found it more easy to get mad at one another then try to and work things out peacefully. 
The slaves weren't given a chance, the neighbors didn't even try, and the women in the accident didn't even think to look before they acted on their emotions. Given the three instances, I think through these poems it is easy to see that because of discrimination, people build walls, and the reason they build walls is because it is easier to get angry then it is to resolve issues. After coming to this conclusion I wonder, why? Why is it easier to criticize and not compliment?  Why is it easier to shut people out then it is to become friends? Why is it easier to yell then to talk? These simple questions don't have exact answers but I wonder, what kind of world do we live in? 
This past Tuesday I went to a mediation class, where the only focus was on yourself. Meditation is something that takes a lot of mental strength and without the ability to focus and relax you can not fully meditate. During the class I learned that we are not masters of our own minds, and that it takes a lot more conscious effort to sit still then I thought. My instructor kept repeating that people these days don't know how to do the simplest thing, and that is to relax. Without time to yourself, you are more stressed and less focused. It is harder to do simply things and to do those things efficiently. After reading these poems and partaking in meditation I realized that everyone needs time to themselves. This time can be spent doing simple activities, but overall it should be relaxing. These days with all the current technology it is hard to be alone, so it makes it more difficult to find time for yourself. I can not stress enough how important it is to relax, but I can assure you that time by yourself is rewarding in a multitude of ways. I believe that the people in the poems are hostile to one another because it is easier to alienate then it is to be friendly. 

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