Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Common Elements Through Literature

            Despite having trouble finish The Whale Rider, the second part of the novel eloquently tied together several themes that have strong connections with the class poetry readings as well as Stephen Graham Jones speech. Throughout Jones’ speech his variety of works seem to have similar themes that push the boundaries of not only with normative topics but also within genres. Jones’ passion was obvious for his writing as he spoke of writing various stories for different publishers because he’d rather publish work he felt passionate about rather than please a publisher. His subject material touched on ideas of accepting the norm, traditional family roles, as well as breaking through norms just as in The Whale Rider and the several poems read.
            The idea of accepting the norm is prevalent in The Whale Rider and Mending Wall. Ihimaera mentioned in a majority of the novel about Koro Apirana’s inability to accept the possible change in tradition as well as his extreme willingness to accept the norm of the Maori tribe. Just as Koro was unwilling to even show love for his great granddaughter just in order to stick to traditional values so was the neighbor’s of the speaker in Mending Wall. Both Koro and the neighbor seem to grudgingly hold on to the idea of normative, as the neighbor utters, “Good fences make good neighbors”[1] and as Koro continually states that his great grandchild must be of male descent in order to have a successful tribe. Both men seem to place an important value on tradition and what tradition says should be.
Just as The Whale Rider and Mending Wall have a theme of accepting the norm, so does Accident, Mass. Ave, which recites a situation in which two people simply act out a scenario not based on their feeling but rather on how they are expected to feel in such a situation. McDonough even reveals through her work how each women in the poem acknowledge that they are acting irrational only because they are suppose to act that way not because they truly feel it. And just how these women break through the normative to accept what they should do and began to comfort one another, so have characters in the three other readings. Just as the women in Accident, Mass. Ave broke their norm and began to act, as they really should, Koro eventually discovered that tradition was changing and it was time to accept that his great granddaughter was in fact deserving of the power of the Maori tribe.
Similarly enough, The Whale Rider and Mending Wall both have characters, such as Nani Flowers and the narrator, who serve as insight to breaking the norm before the other characters were able to breakthrough. Nani Flowers seems to have insight that her great granddaughter can in fact lead a tribe, despite the Maori tribe normally being under the control of a man. She has some sort of premonition that her great granddaughter will be one of the greats. We find a similar situation in Mending Wall as he understands that there shouldn’t be a physical wall between him and his neighbor. He understands that this might be putting up another type of barrier between them. The narrator tries fight against what his neighbor tries to prove to be the norm, although unsuccessful. This connection of fighting the norm as found in The Whale Rider and Mending Wall can also be found in Learning to Read, who seems to be a speaker who has been forced to grow up in slavery with a thirst for knowledge. Just as the speaker of Mending Wall tried to fight his neighbor on breaking down the physical barrier between them, Learning to Read seems to at least have a desire to gain knowledge by stealing books to read and gather knowledge. Harper conveys the desire his speaker wants to break against the norms of slavery who acknowledges that slaves and knowledge don’t exactly go hand in hand just as The Whale Rider, Mending Wall and Accident, Mass. have all done.
            Throughout all of the class readings there seems to be very similar themes just as I found in Jones’ speech. He discussed breaking the norms of what is normally accepted for popular books and even pushing the boundaries of a particular genre just as the characters and narrators did in each of the poems and the novel. Altogether it seemed the collective message was the evolution of breaking the norm despite being raised on a tradition to think a certain way. This evolution of tradition might prove to be interesting as we learn to evolve ourselves in the Jesuit education in the next four years of college.

[1] Frost, Robert. "Mending Wall." 1914. In Poetry an Introduction, compiled by
     Michael Meye, 358-59. Seventh ed. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. 

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