EN 101 17
All people strive to be free. It is an innate desire we are born with and actively pursue to protect in life. Freedom is defined as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. Freedom can be measured in more than the law. Freedom can be regarded within us, the freedom our minds pertain. The powers of our freedom and its capabilities can be very great, but also detrimental. In the poems “Liberty” by Thomas Lynch, and “Suburban” by John Ciardi, freedom is restricted by the judgmental thoughts and assumptions of others. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado”, displays the dangers of the freedom of the mind. The main character’s thoughts and actions are too free and result in violent behavior. A Loyola University event on campus this week, Not In My Neighborhood, connected to the themes highlighted in the literary works. The discussion of the transit system of Baltimore and potential effects of a future Red Line touched upon the types of freedom. The Red Line would allow greater freedom of travel, but perhaps not freedom of equality and freedom from judgment and assumptions in the eyes of fellow Baltimore residents.
John Ciardi’s poem, “Suburban”, has a humorous tone. The speaker scoops of his “dog’s” waste after a neighbor claims, “The fact is your dog has just deposited…a large repulsive object in my petunias”. The humor in the poem comes from the speaker’s knowledge that it could not possibly be his dog. His dog is away in Maine. The poet is not free from the assumption that the foul object must be from his dog. The speaker is aware of the category he has been placed inside of the neighbor’s mind and realized the only way to brush it off is with his own wise cracks. The reader recognizes the poet is well aware of his place in the mind of his neighbor when he writes, “I bore the turd/ across the line to my own petunias/ and buried it till the glorious resurrection / when even these suburbs shall give up their dead.” The last line represents the Red Line in some fashion. The poet is saying that he is burying this waste waiting for its “glorious revolution” that will take place even in the “suburbs”. One day the people, such as his neighbor, will have to open their minds and habit of assuming things of others; even if it is where a “turd” comes from. In order for the Red Line to work people will have to open their minds and free their previously held assumptions. The people of Baltimore will need to interact with new types of people. The panel spoke of people and their assumptions that the transit system was for poorer people, people who couldn’t afford cars. The assumptions of economic standings needs to be let go in order for the Red Line to help everyone communicate less in his or her car and interact more with the city.
The second poem “Liberty” by Thomas Lynch is also a humorous approach to freedom. The poet writes about fond memories of having the freedom to urinate “anywhere” and whenever he felt “encumbered to”. This freedom of urination he and men before him considered a “liberty in that last townland where they have no crowns, no crappers and no ex-wives.” It is the poet’s own sense of freedom and liberty from “porcelain and plumbing and the Great Beyond/ beyond the toilet and the sewage works.” The speaker’s imagery is obviously humorous and playful but also represents a freedom from the modern world. As his ex-wife criticized him for not urinating using plumbing of the modern day, “in concert with most of humankind.” As comical as the poet’s pose of freedom is, it also connects to a bigger picture. The speaker can still break away from the entire modern world and it’s trappings, even plumbing, to assert his freedom. Although silly, this sense of freedom can be connected to Not In My Neighborhood. The panel spoke of people not wanting to attract certain crowds into their neighborhoods or portions of their land being used. Both are examples of little things of freedom that although may not be understood by everyone, just like peeing outdoors, is still important to them. For example certain residents might pay higher taxes to live in certain environments. Perhaps some Baltimore residents want to urinate outdoors, “pay their homage to the holy trees”, and not be interrupted by a Metro Line and station. Freedom comes in all shapes, forms, and concepts, even if it is the freedom to vote against the Red Line in a neighborhood.
The last literary work analyzed this week was Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. The main character mind’s has no restraint of freedom. After “thousand injuries of Fortunato” Montresor vows revenge. Fortunato, already intoxicated, is convinced by Montresor to examine a keg of wine in the catacombs of Montresor’s estate. Instead, Montrsor plays a sick mind game, enticing Fortunato to turn around due to his cold, yet knowing Fortunato will press on until he realizes it is too late to reverse his doomed fate. Montresor “fettered him [Fortunato] to the granite” wall of the last underground niche of the catacombs and built a layered wall with stones and bones. He leaves, the now sober Forunato, to basically be buried alive awaiting his slow death. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story is dark and twisted. Montresor is greatly disturbed. He is too free in his thoughts and actions; he has nothing restraining his freedom to curb it from the insanity he obviously reaches. The movement of crime is a major area of concern the Red Line panel deals with. Will the freedom to move about with less restriction create a greater area of crime? Will crime no longer be curbed to an area where it can more greatly concentrated on by police surveillance and assistance? Will the freedom for greater commuting possibilities to certain areas produce more crime and violence? Such questions create hesitation for people to support the Red Line. Or it can also be debated that without greater interaction between parts of the city that Baltimore is building its own walls, between races, layer by layer like the stone laid by Montresor?
Not In My Neighborhood along with this week’s literary works created a very interesting combination. The humorous tones of “Liberty” by Thomas Lynch, and “Suburban” by John Ciardi, combined with the obscure and abnormal short story by Edgar Allan Poe posed a challenge to connect with this week’s event about the potential Red Line. Freedom was a common theme throughout the readings and discussion. Freedom in its literal sense as well as its abstract sense; such as the mind’s ability to look past judgment and assumptions, or its ability to be too free and dangerous. The possibility of the Red Line challenged all the types of freedom. A physical freedom for Baltimore residents to have greater and easier access to different areas for example. Also freedom was explored to see if people could free their minds and previous assumptions or judgmental views of others, to be more willing to accept a new form of interaction. Lastly the potential harm of too much freedom was questioned. What time of interaction would the Red Line attract in certain areas where towns strived to hold onto little freedoms such as their backyard or a sense of security.