Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Event 4

Lindsey Dzielak
October 15, 2013
Happiness in Nature
In the poems “Theology” and “Tableau” and the novel Frankenstein, we see the importance of finding happiness within natural occurrences. In “Theology”, Paul Laurence Dunbar shows that religion does not always have to be as strict as some people make it out to be. The author of “Tableau”, Countee Cullen, describes the natural relationship between blacks and whites. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley portrays social walls in the form of an inanimate being. These three works show that happiness is found in nature and all of its interpretations.
The speaker in “Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is speaking about religion in a humorous manor, which creates a satirical/mocking interpretation of religion. The speaker is articulating that he is going to Heaven while the rest of his neighbors are going to Hell. You know this because he says: “There is a heaven, for ever day by day, the upward longing of my soul doth tell me so” (Lines 1-3). And you know that hell is present because “If there were not, where would my neighbors go?” (Lines 5-6). The speaker is making fun of religion, yet doing it in a way that is not disrespectful. The title “Theology” and the first half of this poem create the view of restraint on religious studies. When it takes a satirical turn in the second half of this poem is when the humor comes in. This epigram can be viewed as a way to lighten up something that is traditionally very strict and serious. Religion is supposed to be taken seriously, people devote their lives to it, but Dunbar is reminding them you can be serious while at the same time loosen up and add a little laughter to their lives. There is a sense of hope when the speaker says, “The upward longing of my soul” (Line 2).  He is displaying the hope and faith in religion. The combination of devotion to spiritual beliefs, faith, and hope with the addition of cynicism and humor is why this poem is perceived as mocking religion. 
The poem “Tableau” by Countee Cullen, speaks about the dream of equality and unity between white and blacks through metaphors. The idea that a white person and a black person are walking the street’s “arm in arm” is unusual enough, but the fact that it is two boys strengthens the effect of the poem. Also, the fact that the speaker refers to both the fair and the dark as “folk” signifies that they are the same and that will be known one day. Cullen uses many symbols to bring the black and white together and to show their unavoidable unity. He says, “The golden splendor of the day, the stable pride of the night” (Lines 3-4). The “golden splendor” refers to the white male and the “stable pride” refers to the black male, they are different but they are both important in a day. The idea of day and night shows how blacks and whites are unified and equal. They have their differences, but no matter how you look at them they are equal. Just as in a day, half the day is light and half the day is dark, the time spent in both is equal (or almost). The main symbol of this poem is “That lightning brilliant as a sword, Should blaze the path of thunder” (Lines 11-12). This is showing how one is within the other and usually they come together in harmony. This symbol shows the unity of blacks and whites and how one day they will see that they are equal and finally come together in harmony.
In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley portrays human relationships and the longing for a companion. Victor is trying to create a relationship with an inanimate being and is disappointed because the monster is ugly and disgusting. Victor says, “I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me” (Shelley, 36). He has put all of his life into this creation and now he sees that it will not be what he wanted. When seeing the monster, Victor Frankenstein created a wall between himself and the monster and in turn himself and society. Victor created many social walls, and because of this he is unhappy.
While at RYP this past week I gained more knowledge than I assisted in giving. I began being very optimistic about helping the students learn my favorite subject, math. The first student I worked with did not want to do a thing; she was not focused and was not willing to cooperate. Reflecting upon this I was angry with myself for getting frustrated, I forgot that they do not speak English well and were probably confused and frustrated and as a result not motivated. “Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar relates to my experience because sometimes you have to forget about the “normal” way to teach. You have to create an environment that is fun and then people will enjoy it. Paul is showing that something that is serious can also be fun; it just depends on what you do with it.
An important part of RYP is to create a feeling of unity and togetherness. It is important that we work to break the fear of intermingling with students of different ethnicities. I was told of an incident that happened there last year and this was one of the most touching stories I had ever heard. There is a group of primarily females and two males that would not separate from each other.  They would stay together because one time they were walking home separately and one of the males was jumped and everything was taken from him. He was injured badly. What I think is amazing is the next part of this story. The next week none of the students of the ethnicity went to school because they were scared. When they finally came to school, a male of another ethnicity walked them all the way home to ensure that they were safe. This story signifies the unity in “Tableau”. It shows the power of coming together while at the same time demonstrates how many people continue to suffer because of the color of their skin or their beliefs.
With regards to Frankenstein and RYP, as volunteers we try to break the wall between different races or even between the teacher and the student. Students create these walls when something is not easy, and it is important to keep those down so that they can be happy, learn and succeed. It is helpful to remember that at RYP the fact that every day the students come and attempt to learn is a success. Reminding them that they are making progress will keep those walls down.
Dunbar, Cullen, and Shelley introduce the topic of fitting into the norm. Dunbar shows you that you can be faithful but still laugh with it. Cullen shows you that it only takes one person, or in this case two people, to make a difference. And, Shelley shows that natural occurrences are what make you happy, not materialistic ideas. 

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