Wednesday, September 11, 2013

EN 101. 16 First Post

Katelyn Barone

Dr. Juniper Ellis

EN 101.16

September 11, 2013

Zombies, Robert Frost, and Many More
As I walked up the seemingly endless stairs to attend Stephen Graham Jones' lecture on his various novels I was surprised when a professor walking next to me turned and said "Are you going to see the zombie guy?" Immediately this made me wonder, what would he have to say that could possibly connect to our readings? My skepticism was proved wrong as Jones shared stories that depicted us as a society and looked into the way our culture functions. The three other poems, as well as the reading on Jesuit education, also had deeper under arching messages about the way society forms us. Through these readings and lecture, I found that we as people are programmed to want to fit societal norms and that this aspect of our culture can often carry a very negative effect.

One of the few stories Stephen Graham Jones told that was not about the supernatural had to do with his experiences living across the country as a Native American Indian. In each story Jones' discusses the ignorant stereotypes he had to endure on a daily basis. His co-workers would refer to him as "Chief" and ask him to trace tracks by the work sight, a girl showed him her gimmicky Indian bag. To them these statements or gestures might not be offensive, but that is just the problem. Often times we grow up exposed to jokes or stereotypes about a certain group and although not always meant to be harmful they almost always are. Jones left each city after only a couple of months, which I think shows that he did not feel like his own culture and heritage was expected by the more mainstream culture, something that is both frustrating and painful.

Our society trains us to repress our issues and operate on a front that is socially acceptable. When Jones' finished his lecture he remarked that he believed modern zombies are depicting our fear as a society, something I never truly thought of but something I found fascinating. The zombie story he told about an almost post-apocalyptic society touched on our fears as a modern culture regarding things such as overpopulation and scarcity of resources. The zombies represent what we fear, and what we are often to afraid to face. This made me think of the E.W Harper's poem " Learning to Read" which discussed the oppression of slave era America. It was at that time socially acceptable to many to treat African-Americans in a demeaning way and that entire movement was driven by fear. Fear that when the slaves were educated they would succeed and surpass their white counterparts, something many of them succeeded in doing, including the woman mentioned in the poem. She refused to listen to what people had to say or let anyone bring her down, stating " Then I got a little cabin, a place of my own, and I felt as independent as the queen upon her throne" (Harper, 609).

The culture we are raised in can have serious effects on how we treat others and even how we treat ourselves. Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" addresses two men who believe in keeping up tradition, but in doing so begin to drive a wedge between each other. It seems they use the wall as almost as a security blanket. They know it keeps them apart and may be keeping apart a closer friendship but still use it anyway because it is what they see as a necessary way to determine property. Being so closed off and attached to something material seems to be cutting off any chance for the two neighbors to truly co-exist.

Although McDonough's "Accident, Mass Ave" is set in a different time than Frost's poem it examines a similar theme of the relationships and interactions between two people. The narrator gets in an accident and before even checking for damage, begins to yell and scream at the women who hit her because it was " the thing to do". She begins into a huge, curse-filled engage with this women only to find that nothing was wrong with either of their cars. I think this is a great example of how society and our environment shape our behavior. We often do things because we think that is what we are supposed to do or how we are supposed to act in certain situations, and we forget to think for ourselves.

It was interesting to see how a writer who works mainly in the realms of the imaginary could bring to light so many real world connections. His works, as well as all the poems read for class, opened my eyes to the fact that insights on our society can be found even in the most far-out or mundane works. These works allowed me to look deeper into my own life and see that there are many times societal norms are controlling me. As time passes, we see these barriers becoming higher and our struggle as a cultural going stronger.

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