Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patrick Donohue
Understand Literature
Dr. Ellis
11 September 2013
Breaking Old Traditions

            The works Mending Wall by Robert Frost, Accident, Mass. Ave by Jill McDonough, Learn to Read by Frances E.W. Harper all pertain to concept that past traditions should be questioned and examined to see if they are still pertinent to everyday life.  Stephen Graham Jones’ stories of gore and fantastical worlds bring new meaning to the genre of horror.  He adds a certain comedic entertainment to his stories of blood and guts.  These authors will teach the reader that mainstream ideas are made to be broken and give new insight to their backgrounds. 
            Mending Wall by Robert Frost is written about a stone wall that divides two-pieces of land.  The narrator questions the importance of this wall.  He states, “before I built a wall I’d ask to know, what was I falling in or walling out” (Frost 360).   The narrator wants to know why it is of grave importance that we must create barriers on people’s property.  He raises the question that if the two neighbors know where their boundaries lay why must we still show it?
Jones’ first short story gives a light-hearted approach to a seemingly disgusting event.  The narrator of the story goes into detail of the account in which his father lost a nipple.  The narrator explains that after the body part was severed from him the dog ate it whole.   The deformity of the father gives the narrator hour less enjoyment as he plays tricks trying to go by unnoticed.  Jones’ approach to depicting a subject that is socially grotesque is something I have never experienced before.   Stephen Graham Jones’ approach to present the grotesque and hideous in a light-hearted manor is a welcomed change. 
Harper’s poem Learning to Read, written in a lyrical format, depicts freed slave who teaches herself how to read.  In this time period it was not typical for a black man or woman to have to ability to read or write.  Harper in this poem is trying to push the idea that no matter how a person tries, at any age they can still learn something new and live an independent life. 
            The next piece of Jones’ I found is relevant involved an elder man writing a letter to a friend.  The elder man is questioning his love for his wife.  The story takes a turn for the fantastical when it is revealed that the wife of elderly age is turning into a werewolf.  The man goes to sleep every night knowing this could be his last and his wife would eat him.  Jones’ short story questions why a love story cannot be horror based. Jones’ aspect of a love story is not the conventional but rather of mystery and the possibility of death. 

Accident, Mass Ave. by Jill McDonough again offers an example that these authors are trying to push society’s limitations with this poem.  The narrator sheds light on the stressful situation of a car accident.  The first instinct is to yell at this woman as if she is being watched by the entire world around her.  If the narrator does not, she will in turn be the outcast.  She continually uses vulgarity to express the anger for this woman.  After an inspection of the car, she finds not damage at all to either car.  They both begin to cry and hug each other in the middle of the street.  In real life I would never hug a driver who just hit my car.  McDonough is conveying to the reader that compassion can still be found in a stressful period someone’s day.  Although all of these authors came from different time periods and lived in vastly different cultural backgrounds, they all question society’s pressure to continue the past traditions and try to push for a new standard of living. 

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