Mar 06

SURVIVE: Engaging What You Read

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Cindi

1.  Pick out one of your current assigned readings.

2. Perform at least four of the note taking activities below while/after you read:

  • brief summary
  • key terms/concepts w/definitions and/or descriptions
  • quotes w/discussion
  • questions w/discussion
  • something very new/exciting w/discussion
  • connections to other readings w/discussion
  • connections to examples w/discussion
  • connections to experiences w/discussion
  • connections to course outcomes
  • connections to personal course outcomes

3. Upload your notes.


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  1. gshine

    “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

    Summary: We find the narrator attempting to convince us (and he) that he is not insane. He attempt to prove this to us by explaining the detailed and meticulous way in which he goes about murdering the old man with the eye. Clearly not a sane person but certainly paranoid about his possible insanity which some part is trying to recognize and qualify.

    Quotes/Discussions: When the narrator explains how no evidence has been left because he used a bath to catch the blood we see ‘A tub had caught all — ha! ha!’. This is damning and complete evidence finally of insanity.

    Questions/With Discussions: I feel that the narrator does an incredible job of slipping us slowly into the mind of the insane. Is it possible for a person, prodigy, writer to write with such absolute clarity of mind and perspective on the subject of murder and insanity to be sane. I think that in the case of Poe and The Tell-Tale heart there is a mixture of both elements. Po was clearly a prodigy, but I feel that the absolute clear insight Po has into the insane cannot be generated by his talents alone. An excellent story told by a person walking a fine line between sanity and insanity.

  2. Zachary Hill

    Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

Summary: This is about a mother who lectures her daughter constantly as if she is meant to be the most perfect daughter there ever was. The two narrators in the text are the mother for most of the time and the daughter with a few replies as she questions her mother’s motives for some of the things she is telling her. The choice of form for this text is that of a seemingly continuous run-on sentence in order to reiterate consistently to the reader that the mother is being severely critical of her daughter almost as if she wants her to be like the woman she is now and not who she used to be. The theme of this seems to be that the mother wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps and only do as she says with no other direction in her life. The mother believes that if she does not follow her specific instructions down to the last finite detail then she will turn into the woman that mean hate, the non-housewife, the slut. I believe that the title of this text is meant to tell the reader that regardless what her mother is telling her, the daughter is still only a girl that is probably young and naïve like most girls are at the period in their life.

    Key terms/concepts: The key concepts from this passage are the effectiveness of using a run-on sentence as the only form of structure and the lecturing-tone throughout. Through this run-on, the reader is inclined to believe that it is one continuous lecture coming from the mother to the girl. The other main concept is the tone being that of a mother who is hell-bent on making sure her daughter does not become a slut. She is convinced that through constant bossing-around that the girl will begin to believe everything she is saying.

    Connections to course outcomes: Through this text, the reader gains an understanding of how any story or poem’s delivery can be of drastic influence on how the passage is meant to be taken. One, long run-on sentence makes the reader become aware of the long-winded-ness of the speaker and how stern she is being with each and every word that is said.

    Something very new/exciting: I have never read anything close to the length of this short story in the form of a run-on sentence. After reading it multiple times and understanding what is the intention of it, I realized that although it is grammatically incorrect; the use of this reiterates and truly drives into the reader that the mother is lecturing her daughter as if it were written in stone and should be taken as such.

  3. epapp002

    Katherine Mansfield: Miss Brill
    The story is about a lonely, old woman. She is Miss Brill. The whole story is in a little French town. Although it is not said there are a lot of things that implies this. Miss Brill spends her Sundays always the same way, she goes to the local park and sits there. She listens to the music played by the band and to other people and what they are talking about. She liked to do this because it felt like she was “sitting in other people’s lives” as the text says. This is why she is disappointed later on in the story because the old couple sitting next to her does not talk at all. She thinks about the whole park as a theater and she is imagining herself as an actress too. In the end of the story a young couple sits next to Miss Brill and starts to make fun of her. That makes her sad especially because they made fun of her fur coat which she loves so much. The story mentions that she usually stops by the baker to buy honey cake on her way home and how she likes it when there is almond in it. The story ends by mentioning that “she heard something crying”.
    2.) Quotes
    “sitting in other people’s lives”- This is her favourite thing to do. Since there is no one in her life this is the only relationship she has got.
    “They did not speak”- This part is actually before the previous one that I wrote but we did not understand the significance of this part until we realized that Miss Brill listens to other people with pleasure. So this was basically a foreshadowing.
    “she thought she heard something cry”- The significant of this part is complex. The story does not mention anybody around so we assume there was no one else to cry than her. But in this case the story should say “she cried” The only thing that could possibly be crying was her coat, which is of course impossible. But in the story we realize how close she is to her fur coat. So she thought the fur coat was crying because of the insults of the young couple but in reality she was the one crying.
    3.) Personal experiences
    I have been living in Europe for over 20 years and I have been to almost all of the countries especially in the west. Because of this it was not hard for me to imagine the whole scene and the park where the story took place. I exactly know what is the atmosphere in a park like that especially when it gets spring and “the Season had begun” as the text says. These public parks are a lot different than the ones over here in the US. Especially when we are talking about a small town. I always lived in big cities but relatives did not. They lived in small towns just like the ones mentioned in the story so it felt familiar to me.
    4.) Something very new
    As I mentioned before the place itself could not say anything new to me but it was exciting. I have not been home since almost a year now and it is funny that I never thought I would miss these things but I do. I miss the weekends when we went to the local park with friends and played soccer or just hung around. But this story made me feel like I am there again. I personally did not feel of course that I am Miss Brill, that would awkward. I felt like I am one of the other people that were in the park having fun. This was exciting for me and I cannot wait to do it when I go back.

  4. bsett002

    “Harrison Bergeron”

    1) Brief Summary: Harrison Bergeron is a story that describes a dystopian world in which everyone is handicapped to have the same appearance, intelligence, athleticism… etc. The only portion of that story that contains any sort of expression of these traits ends with that character (Harrison Bergeron) getting shot with a double barreled shotgun.

    2) Quote With Discussion: “Even as I stand here – crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”

    I thought this quote was the most important one in the story, because it showed the breaking free of oppression by Harrison. His handicaps could no longer hold him or prevent him from becoming his destiny. I don’t think that this quote was solely meant as an arrogant or egotistical statement, but more as a means to show the society that one could break free and truly be themselves. After this quote Harrison dances with the most beautiful ballerina and then both are shot down by the Handicap General (symbolic for their oppressive government).

    3) Connections to examples with discussion: I thought that this story was supposed to mock people who were for socialism, and also mock those that were against it at the same time. The necessity for handicaps was completely absurd, but Vonnegut creates the handicaps in a way which makes me think it would be truly impossible to handicap everyone equally, not just in their world, but ours too. The handicaps were meant to be satirical, and used hyperbole to prove this.

    4) Key Terms: handicap, equal, laws, ordinarily, neatness, conformity, uncompetitive, padlocked, competition, wince, government, nobody was smarter,

    —- Blair Settle

  5. Byron.Barbour

    “A Gospel According to Mark” is a story that begins by introducing the reader to the protagonist, Baltasar Espinosa. He is 33 year old freethinker in medical school. His father taught him evolution instead of religion, but his mother makes him promise to say the Lord’s Prayer every night. So he does. One summer he is invited to spend the summer in Los Alamos by his cousin. He stayes on a ranch house with a small family, the Gutres, living in barn like building next to them. There are three Gutres; a father, a son, and a girl whose parents were unknown. Baltasar gets stuck on the ranch during the rainy season because the entire country floods. When the roof leaks in the Gutres home, Baltasar invites them to stay in the house while they fix the roof. To pass the time Espinosa decides to read to the illiterate family. The only book that seems to hold their interest is the bible. Primarily the gospel of Mark. The Gutres become infixed with the story and ask him to reread it when he finishes. Throughout the flood Baltasar answers many biblical questions to help the Gutres understand the story, and in one example uses medicine to help an injured sheep. The Gutres begin to treat Baltasar like royalty. Which he doesn’t mind because he has a lazy nature to his character. One night the young girl comes to his room at night and sleeps with Baltasar without a word being spoken. The next morning the father and son ask for Baltasar’s forgiveness and then curse, spit, and drag him to the back of the house where the barn is. Baltasar then sees that the Gutres hadn’t been fixing the roof, but instead building a cross to crucify him.

    (Key Terms)
    Freethinker- person who rejects traditional beliefs, especially religious dogma, in favor of rational inquiry.
    Gauchos- South American cowboys
    Pampas- Fertile South American lowlands
    Goldfinch- Small yellow/gold bird

    (Quotes with discussion)
    “And those who drove the nails will be saved?”
    This is Gutre making sure that even though they were going to do the “right thing” and crucify Baltasar, he had a spot in heaven.

    “One night he dearmed of the Flood and was awakened by the hammering of the building of the Ark.”
    This foreshadows that the Gutres are doing something mysterious instead of fixing the roof. Who fixes the roof in the middle of the night?

    (Questions with discussion)
    Is Baltasar really a freethinker?
    There are plenty of examples of Baltasar following religious ideals, like praying everynight and answering the Gutres’ questions, but Baltsar is a medical student and does heal the sheep with medicine.

    Why does Borges have Baltasar hear a Goldfinch before he is crucified?
    Baltasar can name the bird just by its call. The goldfinch is a warning to Baltasar about what is about to happen to him.

    Why does the young girl sleep with Baltasar?
    I think the young girls knows that Baltasar will be killed tomorrow and the sex is an act of sorrow and guilt.

  6. JoeyScally

    Robert Frost: Fire and Ice

    1.) Summary
    The narrator of the poem is talking about the destruction of the world and how it will end. The speaker which we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl says that the world will end in fire, but then the speaker negates what he original said and claims that ice will is a much more devastating end of the world. There’s more than just the end world mentioned in this poem. The speaker is also talking about a relationship that he or she once had and now has ended. The comparison between fire and ice reflects the relationship because fire being the love and hate in the relationship and the eventually ice or not caring about one another.

    2.) Quotes
    “From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire.” There’s multiply meaning behind this quote the first one is the speaker is agreeing with people who say the world will end with a nuclear blast or any sort of fiery destruction, but also the relationship the speaker was in had almost burned up and was starting to decrease in any feelings of love towards the two. “…to say that for destruction ice is also great and would suffice.” Again another predict about the end of the world one that most people don’t even think of ice covering everything and a state of nothingness and quiet. The other meaning behind the ice is now the relationship has gotten to the point where the two don’t feel any sort of feelings of love or hate (because hating someone still shows feelings towards them) they’re indifferent towards each other. Indifference is nothing and people don’t want to feel like they’re nothing.

    3.) Description
    “Some say the world will end in fire” The world ending in fire isn’t hard to image because people from different cultures and societies have all predicted the world ending in fire. If you ask people on the street how the world will end they will probably say in a fiery demise.

    4.) Connection to experiences w/Discussion
    I’ve been in the same situation with my friends in my freshman year of college, our friendship first started out with so much promise. I thought my friends would always have my back, but then our relationship turned sour and I begun to see their true colors which I wanted no part in. I eventually stopped talking to them and they stopped talking to me which was fine with me. Sometimes we see each and we act so indifferent to towards each other it’s like we’re strangers. Fire and Ice helps me reflect on my old friends and wonder if there was anything I could have done to save the friendship or was our friendship like the end of the world preordained.

  7. Ian_Ambs

    Story of an Hour

    1) Summary
    It is believed that Mrs. Mallard’s husband was killed in a rail road accident and the news has to be broken to her gently because she has a heart conditions that makes her heart weak, and if she becomes too worked up it will cause her heart to give out. The news is broken by her sister Josephine and friend Richard. As expected she starts to cry and mourn and hides in her room and ponders about this loss. Eventually she takes in the pre-rainstorm moisture filled air and tunes in to the sounds of her town and utters the word “free”. This could be that she realizes she will need to live on as a strong independent woman. She hears what she expected to be just Richard coming to her home and sees that it’s both him and Mrs. Mallard’s husband Brently alive and well. Mrs. Mallard becomes so worked up that she in fact dies from her heart condition.

    2) key terms/concepts w/definitions and/or descriptions

    Mrs Mallard’s heart trouble: Mrs. Mallard had a weak heart for some unknown reason. Because she is subject to die if she is worked up by traumatic or exciting events, it’s possible tendons in her heart, that hold the heart together on the inside so there is a flawless flow of blood being pumped, were severed. These tendons are commonly known as “the heart strings”.

    Rail Road Accidents in 1894: During this time period of when the story was written, steam locomotives fueled by coal and water where the option of choice for hauling freight and people as many oil products weren’t fully developed/ mass refined. Common accidents of this time would include collisions with other trains, as time zones were not created yet so cities were often minutes ahead or behind other neighboring cities, or the train would explode due to pressure build up from the steam because of a faulty or lack of a steam regulator. Most of time these kinds of accidents would be certain death for those involved.

    3) quotes w/discussion

    “Free” The one word that Mrs Mallard would utter when she was crying and inferring about her future.

    “When the doctors came they said she had died of a heart disease- of joy that kills.” This was when Mrs. Mallard dies of her weak heart form becoming excited.

    4) Questions

    Why does Mrs. Mallard keep saying “free”?

    Why does she feel like she is finally free if she loved her husband?

    Why wasn’t Richard as careful like the narrator said he was as when the news of the “death” come up?

  8. sbrig014

    “The Gospel According to Mark” by Jorge Luis Borges

    Summary: A medical student named Espinosa, who lives in Buenos Aires, goes one summer to visit his cousin’s ranch in the pampas. While he is there, his cousin needs to make a trip to the city, so he leaves Espinosa with the foreman and his family, the Gutres, at the ranch. While his cousin is gone, a torrential storm floods the land, leaving Espinosa unable to leave the ranch. Espinosa slowly gets closer to the Gutres, reading to them from an English bible that he finds in the ranch house and actually had previously belonged to the Gutres’ family, until they lead him to be crucified on a cross they have made from the roof of their quarters.

    Terms: Pampas: Fertile low-lying areas, primarily in Argentina.
    Buenos Aires: Capital of Argentina, currently the second largest metropolitan area in South America with a population of over 15 million people.
    The Gospel of Mark: The second book in the New Testament of the Bible, it tells a slightly different version of the story of Jesus’ life than the other gospels. It ends with the resurrection of Jesus.

    Quotes: “A bird screamed; it’s a goldfinch, Espinosa thought.” This quote is significant because it shows that Espinosa has learned to recognize the calls of different birds while he has been in Junin, and the goldfinch is a symbol of resurrection, which the Gutres seem to believe will happen to Espinosa.
    “In the kitchen there was a guitar; before the incident I am narrating, the laborers would sit in a circle and someone would pick up the guitar and strum it, though never managing actually to play it. This was called “giving it a strum.” This quote is interesting in that it has nothing to do with the narrative itself, it only helps to set the scene as far as what the region in which the story takes place is like, where strumming on a guitar without actually being able to play it is a form of entertainment.

    Questions: Could the events of the story have happened if Daniel had never left the ranch? Espinosa comments at one point that he is like the Gutres’ new master, so why did the sort of events in the story never happen to Daniel?
    How did the weather play a role in the story? Other than the rain driving the Gutres into the main house, did the weather play any other role in catalyzing the action?

  9. TracieDMcGee

    “Everyday Use”
    A poor African American mother of two daughters narrates about how their life was while she was raising them and how their lives are now. The two daughters, Maggie and Dee, are basically complete opposites and always have been. Dee was almost the always favored one and seemed to get whatever she wanted. She was privileged to go to a really nice university and to have virtually a better life than that of her timid and seemingly awkward sister. Yet the story ended with Dee being denied something that she swore she deserved because she was so wrapped up in herself and condescending to her family, and in reality it was promised to her sister.

    “She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts.” This quote is referring to the determination of Dee to get the things she wanted in life and being the type of person who refuses to take no for any type of answer. From the segment that this quote comes from I can see that although Dee came from a very low income family, she was very spoiled and took advantage of that and treats her family like she doesn’t understand if it wasn’t for them, she wouldn’t even have been able to go off to a university. Her determination to stare down any disaster in her efforts meant that when the word no came along for any reason, whether it is a financial reason or situational, she would be quick to say why that person was wrong for saying no. An example of this is when her mother refused her the quilts and Dee went into a rant about how her mother and sister didn’t understand why she needed the quilts.

    From a personal point of view in relation to this story, I have seen family members that have two daughters and one is favored over the other. It really is a terrible thing because the unfavored child starts to feel as though they are not as important to the family or that they may not contribute anything as the favored one does. It also plants a bad seed in the favored child because as that child continues to grow, they will expect the world to hand them the things that they want when they ask for it for the simple fact that that is just how it has always been.

    A connection to another story that could be somewhat closely related to this is Cinderella. Although “Everyday Use” does not have a wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters, there is a young girl who is underprivileged basically her whole life, but at the very end, she receives justice and fair treatment. This is why I feel like they are pretty closely related because there is in a way a protagonist and at least one antagonist in this story. And as most good conquers evil stories go, the protagonist, Maggie, over comes her adversaries, which in this case is her mom and sister. Her mom because she was an enabler to Dee’s behavior, but the mother later became a protagonist when she enabled Maggie to be victorious over her sister.

  10. davidhale

    Carl Sanburg, Grass
    I understand the story to be about forgetting. Sanburg makes references to battles of days past. The number of soldiers lost in these battles was vast. Do we remember them all, do we remember the battles? The grass reference is a symbol of healing. Staring from dirt and growing to a nice green field. The grass is covering all wounds. As the train passes these fields people wonder what the place was, wondered what had happen there. The grass is doing its job.
    “Shovel them under and let me work”. Grass is ground cover; it hides and beautifies a plain dirt yard. “Two years, ten years, and passengers as the conductor..” this is a show of time passing and how people tend to forget specifics events in our lives. “I am the grass; I cover all.” As the grass grows shows a relationship to Time heals all wounds.
    I enjoyed the layout of the poem, short but to the point. There was a clear message to be read and the author stayed on point. This poem did not take three or four readings to understand for me.
    I understand the poem. Too many times we have forgotten was has been given to us. I understand that not one soldier can provide a way of life or a winning battle, it takes many. When you have many there will be losses. I believe we should always remember what some have sacrificed. To simply cover it up and forget about it is not acceptable. I know we have schools that teach history of such battles but maybe we should ensure we emphasize the losses as well.

  11. jrodr043

    “The Gospel According to Mark” by Jorge Luis Borges

    Summary- It starts of with main character, Baltasar Espinosa, who is 33 and still trying to complete is degree. He is invited to spend a summer at Los Alamos, a ranch, by his cousin Daniel. When arriving to Los Alamos he learns of the Gutre family who owned the ranch. The next couple of days he learns lots from the country. Daniel then has to leave for a brief visit to the capital for business. After a couple of days the storm hits and floods everything, doing lots of damage to the ranch. The Gutre family ends up leaving there quarters and moving into Baltasar’s quarters. They become close and Baltasar starts reading books to them since they cannot read. Baltasar starts reading the gospel according to Mark, where they learn about the crucifixion of Jesus. At the end the Gulre family lead Baltasar into a room with Cross.

    Key Terms:
    • Jesus’s Crucifixion- When Jesus died for our sins.
    • Freethinker- someone rejects traditional beliefs in favor of rational inquiry.
    • Gaunchos- South American Cowboys that lived in the mountains.
    • The Gutre Family- The family that owned the ranch. Consists of 3 members: father, son, and girl.
    • Goldfinch- A type of bird that is part of the finch family.

    Quotes with discussion:
    • “There was no roof on the shed; they had torn down the roof beams to build the Cross”. The Gutre family think Espinosa is Jesus, from what they have heard from the readings of the bible, because he had done some extraordinary things that have benefited them. I think they want to crucify him because of this. Also from the quote, “Kneeling on the floorm they asked his blessing.”
    • “And those that drove the nails will also be saved?” This was a question from the father when he asked Balasar. And Balasar answering “yes”. I think this is what drove the father and the Gutre family to think they were going to be saved when they decided to crucify Balasar.
    • “his mother had asked him to say the Lord’s Prayer every night and make the sign of the cross, and never in all the years that followed did he break that promise” and “Espinosa, who is a freethinker like his father but felt obliged to defend what he had read them”. This shows that Baltasar is a free thinker but also respects the Christian traditions.
    • “At age thirty three” I find this ironic because that is the age Jesus was crucified and at the end of the story Baltasar is in a room with a cross where he might get crucified.

    Questions with discussion:
    • Why did the girl go into Baltasar’s room and becomed naked and slept next to him? What is the who point of this scene?
    • Was this the reason the Gutre family decided to crucify him?
    • Why did the Gutre family after bowing down to Espinosa and praising him, decide to spit and curse him?

  12. epapp002

    William Carlos Williams: This Is Just to Say
    1.) Summary
    The poem is about a person who eats the plums which were not his or her. We do not know exactly whether or not this person is a male or female but we know that this was a note that the writer left for his wife. Otherwise we would probably just guess about the gender of the character. But the story does not end at the fact that he ate the plums. Afterwards he also says that he exactly knew that they were not his. He even knew that his wife was saving them for breakfast. In the end he actually apologizes but it is not an honest apology considering the fact that right after it he says how cold and delicious they were.
    2.) Quotes
    “I have eaten the plums…” this is just a statement that does not suggest anything bad
    “…which you were probably saving…” this is the turning point were we realize that he knew that they were not his plums and that he had eaten them despite that.
    “Forgive me” he apologizes for his act at which point we might assume that it was just an accident
    “…they were so delicious so sweet and so cold” this is also a turning point where we realize that he knew that they were not his plums but he ate it and he does not feel bad at all in fact he wants her to feel even worse by detailing it to her how good those plums were.
    3.) connection to experience
    When I read this poem I immediately realized that this could actually be about my brother. He eats so much that I cannot even imagine and he likes to eat everybody else’s food. Especially mine since we like the same things basically. But that is not the only thing. He even likes to tell me that he ate is and that it was so good.
    4.) Key terms
    icebox- It is important so that we understand why the plums were cold and more importantly how cold, ICE cold.
    Delicious, sweet, cold- all of these describe the plums and how great they were but they are also important because of the outcome. Without them we would not know that he does not feel bad at all about eating them.

  13. cynthiarosario1

    1 Summary-
    My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke was about a father that was always intoxicated but drinking didn’t define him as a bad person. He had his flaws and he was still a loving father. He may do things a little different then other parents but he really didn’t abuse his child. He may have done things but it was not to hurt him or put his son into any harm. The little boy knew that his father was an alcoholic but still accepted him as is because his father had way much more love than hate. It was just enough for the son something he was use to anyway.
    “At every step you missed my right ear scraped a buckle” Meaning they could have been dance and the little boys ears getting scraped from papa’s belt but it wasn’t like papa’s done it intentionally. They are just having fun enjoy spending time together.
    “Then Waltzed me off to bed still clinging to your shirt” The son was still around and that his father being drunk is okay because he knows his papa loves and care for him dearly.
    3 A description-
    ” The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy” from just saying that we can picture that the papa is drunk.
    4 Connections to experiences w/discussion-
    My step dad loves to get drunk but I know it does not make him a bad person. He still loves me the same way a sober dad will love their child. It may be in a different way but that different way to mew or that child can be the best way

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