Dr. EllisEnglish 101
September 11, 2013
What Makes You Whole?Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, Jill McDonough’s poem, Accident, Mass Ave, Harper’s poem, Learning to Read, and Kolvenbach’s essay, The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education, all focus on the aspects of becoming whole and one as also presented through Stephen Graham Jones’ readings. Each poem and Jones’ readings use specific examples in order to portray the idea of becoming whole and swaying away from traditional ideals or stereotypes. For example, Frost uses the wall in order to demonstrate two people coming together and breaking away from the traditional barrier they are accustomed to. McDonough uses the car accident and the feelings associated with the event in order to portray the narrator’s ability to move on from the event and realize she was wrong in yelling at the women who hit her car. Additionally, Harper uses the process of learning to read as a foundation for becoming independent. Kolvenbach uses the traditional values of Jesuit beliefs in order to emphasize the ideas of becoming a well-rounded human being who works to help others. Finally, in Jones’ reading, “Discovering America”, the idea of being an Indian allowed the narrator to embrace his stereotypes. Overall, each piece of work uses specific events, feelings, values, and objects in order to effectively illustrate the idea of becoming whole and realizing who you are as a person.
Frost uses the wall as an element in order to demonstrate the idea of two neighbors united as one after a long time of having a barrier between them. Initially the stone wall separated the two properties from each other; however, when spring comes, the narrator sees fit that the wall should not be put back up. While the neighbor does not seem to agree with the narrator’s point of view, he tries to convince him in saying, “’Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense”’ (30-34). In pointing out that walls are only used to separate cows, the narrator is suggesting that the wall should be brought down, unifying the two properties. While the neighbor refuses to change his views, as pointed out in his father’s saying, the narrator wants to feel a sense of unity, wholeness, and freedom in “mending” the wall.
Additionally, the ideas of unity and wholeness are portrayed through McDonough’s poem, Accident Mass. Ave. This idea is clearly represented through the events and emotions described after the car accident. Directly after the accident the two women were viewed screaming and cursing at each other. Towards the end of the poem, however, the two women were described as laughing at the fact that they just made a big deal over something that did not even happen. This is seen when the narrator states, “I hugged her, and I said We were scared, weren’t we? and she nodded and we laughed” (37-38). This sense of happiness demonstrates that the narrator realizes she overreacted and as a result she learned not to assume something terrible has occurred. This realization taught her a valuable lesson and helped her to understand that when something bad happens, she should not jump to conclusions. This realization of her actions and emotions represents an overall understanding of herself as a human being and ultimately brings her to a sense of wholeness.
Similarly, Harper’s poem, Learning to Read, depicts an idea of becoming whole and independent as the narrator is faced with the struggle of not being taught how to read during the time of slavery. At the beginning of the poem, the narrator discusses how the whites will not teach the African Americans to read. He also discusses his want to learn how to read as he describes himself stealing books. The final lines of the poem effectively illustrate the narrator’s pursuit of learning to read. This is seen when he states, “So I got a pair of glasses and straight to work I went, and never stopped till I could read the hymns of the Testament. Then I got a little cabin- a place to call my own – and felt as independent as the queen on her throne” (37-44). This analogy directly relates to the idea that the narrator experienced a realization of the kind of person he has become. With his ability to read, he feels independent and whole.
Kolvenbach’s essay, The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education, is the prime example in demonstrating the ideas of becoming a whole and well-rounded human being through the use of traditional Jesuit values. Based on Jesuit beliefs, students are encouraged to become well-rounded and whole individuals who work to support and help others of society. Kolvenbach directly states, “Every discipline, beyond its necessary specialization, must engage with human society, human life, and the environment in appropriate ways, cultivating moral concern about how people ought to live together” (36). Based on this statement, students should strive to become well-rounded individuals by uniting with the outside world and others peacefully. Thus, Kolvenbach’s use of Jesuit values helps to demonstrate the overall idea of wholeness and unity among a community.
Finally, Jones’ story illustrated the idea of becoming a whole person based on his ability to disregard common stereotypes he encountered when visiting different states. Jones’ story recounts his journeys to Tallahassee, New Mexico, and Alabama. In each state someone made comments based on his looks. In this instance, Jones continually stated, “Because I’m Indian.” While stereotypes were made, Jones was able to embrace his heritage and become a whole person as a result.
As seen in all three poems, Kolvenbach’s essay, and Jones’ story, the common idea of unity and wholeness is represented. Each author uses different aspects such as the wall, the car accident, learning to read, Jesuit values, and being Indian in order to portray the overall concept of wholeness, unity, and freedom.