Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jillian Alonzo

Jillian Alonzo
March 21,2013

"One person can make a difference, and every person should try" once said by John F. Kennedy. This quote rings true when referring to the influence one person has over their family, society, and a group of people. For example, in the short story "A Father" by Bharati Mukjerjee, a young girl gets pregnant out of wedlock. The pregnancy brings shame to her family because of the societies standards. Very similar to this issue, are the issues presented in "Serving up Hope" by Stephanie Shapiro, "First Practice" by Gary Gildner and "Directions for Resisting the SAT" by Richard Hague. Each of these short stories and poems express, in one form or another, the influence an individual can have on others. This influence, however, is not always positive for the community, as illustrated in some of this examples.
As previously stated, "A Father" addresses the influences a culture has over its people. In an Indian nation to have a child before marriage is taboo. Therefore when Mr. Bhowmick found out his daughter was pregnant, he knew she would have to abort the baby. If she denied the abortion then she would bring unbearable shame to their family. One can only imagine the troubles that Mr. Bhowmick's daughter caused. Along with these troubles, the reader can also comprehend the seriousness of the Indian culture, especially its influence on society. This being said, when I was reading "A Father" I first thought about the cultural indifferences between India and America which then lead me to think about the cultural norms in America. Here, in the United States we are so fortunate to have the amount of freedom we do. It makes me really think about how many options I have, oppose to all the "closed doors" some societies are restricted to. Some places in this world people have it much worse, and me, not being influenced by any higher-power for the exception of my parents, feels absolutely overwhelmed but the differences in cultural values.   
"Serving up Hope" highlights the idea that everyday people can influence the world and lives around them. Stephanie Shapiro writes about a visit she had to Dogwood Deli in Baltimore. Upon Shapiro's visit, she is more interested in the employees then the couple who opened the new deli. The employees who work at Dogwood Deli are previous drug addicts and convicts. Hard to image that an average couple would be happy hiring criminals and drug addicts. This being noted, the Sampsons were fascinated by social justice so hiring these employee's actually brought them joy. It is easy to sympathize with these criminals and drug addicts because of the sever challenges they face trying to obtain stable employment. In this instance, the Sampson's influenced these previous criminals and drug addicts positively, they gave them a fresh start and a chance to thrive. Statistics prove that in the United States about 47% of former prisoners will be convicted of a new crime, and 41% will be sent back to prison or jail ( Imagine if you were a store owner, you wouldn't want former prisoners as employees. The Sampson's gave these people a second shot to restart there lives. I can only imagine how hard it is for these people to get back on their feet, and I give the Sampson's kudos for hiring and helping them out. 
Gary Gildner brings up a excellent point in his poem "First Practice". "First Practice" is about the relationship between a coach and his team. The relationship is compared to military forces and the seriousness of the "game". Gildner uses descriptive language to create images and evoke a certain feeling from the reader. "Then he made two lines of us facing each other, and across the way, he said, is the man you hate most"(Gildner). This quote has a military reference but more importantly draws a picture for the reader, there is two lines of people, facing each other, and on the other side is your enemy. In this "picture" that Gildner creates, it evokes this feeling of competition. After reading "First Practice" I began to think of some of my days playing youth sports and remembering my coaches. Though Gildner's poem is not cut and dry like other poems, after reading and rereading I began to think this poem was about how coaches influence their players, positively and negatively. I know, personally, that I can think of coaches from all my years of playing sports that have influenced me. Some coaches in a good way and others in a bad. Coaches are like teachers, in the aspect that they are meant to teach and support there students and players. In "First Practice" one should be able to reflect on an experience they had with a coach or teacher and remember how superiors influence us everyday through teachings. 
"Directions for Resisting the SAT" written by Richard Hague expresses a different type of influence. From the past readings listed and discussed, the major theme running through all has been positive and negative types of influence. Different from all the rest, is Hague's argument about influence, and how influence should never hinder our ability to "make our mark on everything"(Hague). From what I understood from this poem, Hague wants us to be aware of the influences around us, but stay true to what really is inside. Internally we all have our own desires and he doesn't want us to forget about them. "Desire to live whole, like an oyster or snail"(Hague). In this quote, Hague is using oyster and snail to resemble the outer layer as influences, but inside is our deepest desires. 
Collecting everything I've learning and applying it to the Loyola speaker Julianna Baggott, one major comparison is how Baggott uses the world around her as inspiration. She writes about bizarre things because the world is bizarre, and if you write about normal things it's because you aren't looking deep enough (Baggott). Baggott uses the world to influence her writing, and similar to Baggott, the characters and speakers in the poems and short stories, are all influenced negatively and positively by similar forces. After realizing what influences me, and what doesn't, I've become more aware of my freedom, more in tune with what makes me happy, and realize the influences I receive from the outside world everyday. Despite the constant pressures from society and the negative influences I encounter daily, I will make sure I follow no directions, Listen to no one, and make my mark on everything (Hague). The external factors of the world will never change my internal desires.

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