Forum Responses

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I need a 100 word response for each of these short forum posts. Each one is numbered where the new one starts. It doesn’t have to be extravagant just a simple response to each one. Each response should be separated and numbered 1,2,3 & 4.

1.100 word response

  • Part 1
  • The reading from this week that resonated the most with me was Jhumpa Lahiri’s essay titled “The Long Way Home: Cooking Lessons.” The reason that it resonated with me the most was that I felt a personal connection with Jhumpa Lahiri. I remember learning how to cook for my Grandmother. Thankfully, I did not have the problem of my Grandmother holding on to her recipes and techniques. She was very free with them. Out of all five of her grandkids, I was pretty much the only one who cooked with her. Just like Jhumpa, I ask my Grandmother for her secrets and recipes, but unlike Jhumpa, I did not have to work to get them out of my Grandmother. Jhumpa on the other had said in the essay that one “Mother’s Day” she gave her mother a nice book to write her recipes in but Jhumpa’s mother “filled in a page or two, with instructions on how to make samosas, then stopped (Lahiri, 38).” Another thing from the essay that I connected with was the I gained my cooking interest because of my Grandmother just like Jhumpa got invested in cook because of her Mother. Yes, her mother did not teach her as my Grandmother did, but we both got our interest from them. Jhumpa said that her Mother would scrutinize her every move in the kitchen slowly giving up her secrets and my Grandmother would more or less do the same thing except she was more free with her secrets. After reading the essay, I missed cooking with my Grandmother since she is no longer with me.

  • Part 2
  • I felt that there are a lot of characteristics that distinguish American literature. One of the biggest is that a lot of poets and authors showcase the majestic nature of the United States. We have the most beautiful mountains, forests, and rivers in the world, in addition to plants and animals that can only be found in the U.S., These things take center stage a lot. Authors like Mark Twain who showcased “The Mighty Mississippi” in many of his works. Another characteristic that has helped distinguish American literature is the American identity by this I mean our lifestyle, our mannerism, and culture. Our success, as well as our indiscretions, are showcased in our literature. I do feel that our literature is a good representation of the “American Identity” because from our founding the beauty of this country has repeatedly written about. “My Papa’s Waltz” is a good example of how our lifestyle is showcased in our literature. Theodore Roethke wrote in “My Papa’s Waltz” about our lifestyle, our mannerism and culture and how they play into our success and failures. He writes, “The whiskey on your breath could make a small boy dizzy” and “Such waltzing was not easy.” Here Roethke talks about alcoholism and a father dancing with his child but later in the poem he writes, “You beat time on my head with a palm caked hard by dirt, then waltzed me off to bed.” Here Roethke is referring to how hard the father works to provide for his family but is still tender and caring enough to dance his child to bed. Stephen Ratcliffe is a good example of a post-modern poet that showcased America’s majestic landscape. In his poem “Waterfall,” writes “Over smooth glacial granite the current sweeps as it must, swift in the white rich winter” and in the next stanza he writes “Yellow leaves of the aspen have raced here, down with purling drops that are spilling sounding the air.” These two stanzas are dripping with our counties beauty.

  • Part 3
  • Well, first off, we have already seen John Grisham in our required reading so I would say that he would continue to provide a lot of substantial literature. Another author that I feel will be represented in the future would be Steven King. I might not be much of horror/suspense, but I think that he is an excellent example of American literature. Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is also horror/suspense and it is considered to be a piece of great American literature from before the Civil War. John Grisham has written novels with many different themes, but mostly he writes legal and crime fiction. His novels are very well researched and entertaining. He is best known for his first novel “A Time to Kill” which covers racism in the south during the 1980’s. This novel is an excellent example of how our failures of society had been used in a piece of literature.

    2. 100 word response

    Part 1:

    It wasn’t easy connecting with these stories because as discussed in the lesson, most of these stories had ties to personal trials and tribulations as being a minority or persecuted woman, but I gave it a try. The story I could relate to was Jhumpa Lahiri’s “ The long way home: Cooking Lessons”. Similar to the story, as a member of the military I spent my first few years living in a dorm like barracks with no kitchen or cooking tinsels. My greatest cooking accomplishment was mastering smore’s in the microwave. “When I was eighteen, I left for college in New York City, and for the next four years I subsisted on bagels, Granny Smith apples, and cold noodles with sesame sauce.”(Lahiri NP). Once I was able to get out of the barracks and into a house of my own I knew nothing about cooking. I asked my mother to write down some old recipes that I liked as a kid, but she had a hard time writing it in a “language” I could understand; “a pinch of this or a bit of that” just didn’t work for me. Eventually, like the story, I figured a few things out on my own, mostly through trial and error and now I can better understand my mother’s recipes.

    Part II:

    I think that the most important part of American Literature that has shown through I so many of our readings and defined our country has been our “fight”. This course started with poems and stories about our country’s battle over slavery and equality. That era was followed by the battles over freedom and oppression. Once again, at the end of this course we are talking again about equality, but throughout our nation’s history we have had to fight for our rights and freedoms. Many different battles are constantly being fought such as in “What you pawn I will Redeem”, outlines the fight that Native Americans fight every day with the government and their own personal battles; “So we headed over that way, feeling like warrior drunks,” (Alexie NP). In week two we read stories about WWI and classes from authors like Mark Twain and Robert Frost. These readings are written from all different perspectives of people who lived through this countries toughest fights.

    Part III:

    Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the early 21st century that I believe we will talk about in the future as an American classic. His stories cover a range of topics including the struggles in the Middle East and the World Trade Center Attacks. Foer worked with prestigious author Joyce Carol Oates and an assortment of writers from around the world (Serifin NP). This author has had a great education and promising start as a writer.

    Kurt Leisenring

    3. 100 word response

    Part-1

    The author I connected most with this week was Jhumpa Lahiri and “The Long Way Home; Cooking Lessons. The reason for this was the cooking lesson; in my family we have an Italian sauce that was passed down from my great grandmother. This sauce has been taught to every female member in my family and any women who married in was taught the sauce as well. I am proud to say I am one of the few males in my family that knows how to make this sauce and it was passed on to my wife and will be passed to my daughters. The reason that this makes me connect with the story is like Jhumpa’s mother the recipe is not written down on anything. I honestly laughed when the author wrote “To this day, if friends ask how she made a particular dish, she cryptically replies, “It’s nothing, really, you simply take all the ingredients and put them in the pot.” (Lahiri). This reminded me of when we would have people over for dinner and they would ask what was in the sauce, and they would be meet with the standard reply of love and the Visconti family secrets. The other reason I connected with this story was because I understand the value of family coming together over cooking. My father was diagnosed with M.S. and because of that when my mother would cook I would often be in the kitchen. This brought us together and is also the reason I am one of the only males in my family to know how to make the sauce.

    Part-2

    The characteristics I feel that are most important in characteristic in American literature are describing the underling issue in America. That is to say we have read many works in this course and all seem to tell a story well still reflecting on an underling issue. Some of works are more direct about this like in John Gresham’s essay Some where for everyone when he writes “But homelessness is a problem that is not going away.” (Grisham)describing directly the issue of homelessness in America. Where as other are more vague like Mark Twain in War Prayer. When Twain writes “An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness.” (Institution source-Mark Twain). In this Twain is introducing a figure that mimicked the angle of death to give a warning about war that reflects the people of America’s concern of rushing into conflicts. Although regardless of how direct of indirect an author is I feel this is important in distinguishing American literature because it distinguishes the real America for the reader at the time. I feel the literature we have read thus far has done a great job of that. Well reading the works in this course I could get a strong grasp on the underling issues of the time and what was causing friction in our nation.

    Part-3

    The author I feel will represent the early 21st century in American Literature is Jhumpa Lahiri. This is because Jhumpa writes in a way that anyone can connect to while still describing her specific culture. This is important because I feel this style of writing covers something that will define the new era of literature, a need to connect or return to a simpler time. What I mean by this is that in today’s world there are so many distractions that take us away from simple family values, and with the post modern era being defined by threats to the family way of life. I feel there will be a shift back to more strong family values in America. Jhumpa seems to see this and illustrates the importance of family in her writings. I feel this is shown strongly when she writes “For my parents’ thirtieth anniversary, she let my sister and me cook an entire Indian meal for them and a few of their friends. She fretted over the fact that we did not place foil in the broiler, to catch the drippings from the lamb kebabs. But when the meal that we had spent all day cooking was assembled, the eight dishes lined up on her table from end to end, she took a photograph.” (Lahiri). This passage describes a couple that has been together for 30 years, two daughters that celebrate with them by simply cooking a meal, and the pride the mother felt when they did a good job. I feel this theme will be reflected on more and analyzed in readings as literature progresses.

    4. 100 word response

    The reading I chose was “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”. This story struck me the most because of the wandering character of not only the story itself but the protagonist. Jackson finds himself on a quest he is not fit to undertake. He however overcomes the odds to win his prize, his dead grandmother’s regalia. The interesting part of this story is how much Jackson does nothing but survive but in the end accomplishes his goal. The final stanza is one of the most powerful endings to a short story.

    ‘I took my grandmother’s regalia and walked outside. I knew that solitary yellow bead was part of me. I knew I was that yellow bead in part. Outside, I wrapped myself in my grandmother’s regalia and breathed her in. I stepped off the sidewalk and into the intersection. Pedestrians stopped. Cars stopped. The city stopped. They all watched me dance with my grandmother. I was my grandmother, dancing.’ (Alexie)

    The transitory nature of this final paragraph, of being part of the bead but also being the bead and the re-connection of his past is an amazingly quick turn compared to the rest of the story.

    The single most important characteristic of American literature is simply the story of being in America. All of the readings of this semester have in some part related the fact that America is an untamed, natural, hard yet accepting landscape on which any man or woman can weave a story. In ‘The Long Way Home; Cooking Lessons’, Lahiri recounts the connection of being a first generation immigrant learning culinary culture in America while having a deep and rich tradition of food in her own home as a child. One section

    ‘On rare occasions, she let me roll out a luchi and slip it into the bubbling oil in her karhai, but from the way she hovered, and monitored, anxious that the disk of dough would not puff up in my unpracticed hands, the message was clear: cooking was her jurisdiction.’ (Jhumpa)

    points out that the story of her immigrant mother is tied directly to the cuisine, a cuisine Lahari’s mother refuses to teach her. However at the end Lahari’s mother begins to drop subtle hints as she she’s her daughter take interest in her culture. This I suppose is another key ingredient to the American style of literature. No matter the journey, it is always about the journey. The line, ‘Nevertheless, I began to understand the techniques and philosophy of what my mother did in the kitchen. ‘ (Jhumpa) shows it is indeed the journey, the learning along the way, that is paramount to the American experience.

    I believe that Mark Z. Danielewski will be an author studied in future American Lit courses. Danielewski’s claim to fame is a novel titled House of Leaves. This novel is of particular interest as it is a ‘cinematic’ novel written in a way that the physical book controls the pacing. Much like a choose your own adventure novel of the 1970’s, the novel tells a non-linear story of three separate protagonists. The departure from classical writing styles made a stark impression upon release in March of 2000. The contemporary setting along with the semi-realistic story line make for some of the most compelling of fiction of the early 21st century. To quote the book would seem as disjointed as the actual novel but one very specific item in the entirety of the novel, that is written in both braille and in latin, is the word house appears in blue text, which is very disconcerting when it is in a language you don’t speak, which happens quite frequently throughout the novel.

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