Monday, June 13, 2011

Beast Anthem

The human abomination
That crawls under the skin
That carries us to the edge of oblivion
And then carries us in.
An agent of chaos
An agent of sin
Pain and strife
Among the troubles it brings.
If you cannot control it
Let your woes begin
For it is the Beast
That lies within.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Analysis of The Beast

(Internet went down yesterday, finally got it back up)

In Lord of the Flies by William Golding, the beast is a major plot element that eventually drives the boys to the edge of chaos and beyond. Although originally conceived by the boys as a fearful creature who roamed the forest at night, the beast was never a physical being at all yet it wasn't a figment of their imaginations either. It, in fact, had always a part of them: it was their potential for evil and destruction. 'The Beast' in reality is the deepest defect of the human heart, it is one's knowledge and one's power to cause harm to another.

At first, only the youngest boys sensed the malignancy on the island. The so dubbed "littluns" however, misguidedly identified the source as some kind of monster or harmful being of the night: "He says the beastie came in the dark." (Piggy interpreted for one of the mentioned younger boys) I believe this is because their inner beasts, being little children, had yet to awaken. They were unstained, pure even, of society's ills. They had yet to lose their innocence's and were therefore ignorant to the animal potential of human beings.

All of the boys were eventually forced to recognize the possibility of there being a beast though, after Ralph wished for a sign from the adult world. Ironically, the sign only brought on more pain and destruction along with a single truth: humans, even in death, are beasts. The sign was a dead soldier in a parachute on the highest point of the island. The way that the cords became wrapped around the body caused the carcass to bulge and move with every breeze. The boys only encountering this being at night however, drew the conclusion that it was some malevolent creature and made a disappointing yet common decision - it is easier to fear and accommodate evil than destroy it: "This head is for the beast. It's a gift."

Simon however, was the first character to truly understand what the beast really was. In the infamous scene where he and the Lord of the Flies (direct translation of the Latin word Beelzebub meaning a prince of hell) speak, he finds that there really was no physical monster at all - only the dormant one that lies within: "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew didn't you? I'm a part of you? ...I'm the reason why it's no go?" Simon being an older boy on the island was finally able to see the true beast - a reflection of his awakened animal desires in the eyes of a dead pig head.

In conclusion, when William Golding developed such a layered story, it wasn't just because he was an excellent writer. I think he had a message: there's a beast in everyone. I believe that this dormant evil is awakened in adolescence and that much like Ralph, Piggy, and Simon we must use reason and logic to quell it or it will control us and turn us into true beasts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ralph (Revised)

"No grownups!" was Ralph's all too enthusiastic cry on only the second page of Lord of the Flies by William Golding when the realization hit him: there were no adults around. Yet, faced with leading and -more importantly- controlling a group of boys on an island with no signs of human life beyond their own it's become apparent that the lack of adult instruction is no longer something he revels in. I believe it's his new power that's caused him to abandon such a juvenile assessment of the situation he's in. Because he realizes that he is now responsible for all that happens on the island, he understands what Uncle Ben was trying to tell Peter Parker in the iconic Spiderman scene: "with great power come great responsibility."

Ralph received his position of power relatively early in the book. After originally summoning all the boys to the beach using the conch, he himself threw out the idea of having a chief to lead the group at their first meeting. And though '...what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy, while the most obvious leader was Jack...' Ralph soon found himself elected to lead the group. This is because of the conch. For the boys on the island it would become an object of authority, but at the time it was the most important thing it could be- something reminiscent of the power of adults: '"Where's the man with the trumpet?"/"There is no man with a trumpet. Only me."' (Jack and Ralph respectively)

It took him a while however, to truly understand the responsibility that comes with power. He originally believed that everything could be fun so he didn't bother trying to keep control over the group. It was practically mob rule. An example of this is when Ralph suggests to build a fire for passing ships to see and the boys run wild with the idea and end up setting half the island ablaze: "...the first Ralph says 'fire' you goes howling and screaming... Now you been and set the whole island on fire...". But it got worse, because one of the younger boys was missing: "him with the mark on his face, I don't see him. Where is he now?" Piggy's sharp accusations rang true. The young boy of which he spoke was never seen again. He died in the fire.

But it was only when a ship passed and the boys missed a potential opportunity t0 be rescued from the island due to Ralph's inability to maintain order did he really see the need to put his foot down. It was when I truly began to see him change as a character. Out was the old fun-driven Ralph with little -if any- sense of consequences. He became more mature, desperate even, because he finally understood the magnitude of their situation: "We need an assembly. Not for fun... or for cleverness. Not for these things. But to put things straight." This was really a moment of transformation for Ralph, because he himself had declared earlier in the book that "Until grownups come to fetch us we'll have fun." I believe he now understands that is not possible and that there must be a balance between fun and order. I think he's finally comprehended the responsibility that comes with power.

To conclude, the way power affects people has been a big theme so far in Lord of the Flies. Personally, as a teenager, I always want more power over myself from what I'm allowed to do to where I'm allowed to go. Yet, I don't think I've ever thought about the responsibility that comes with that power: from the responsibility not to abuse that power to the responsibility to always do the right thing with that power. Maybe it's just easier to just stay a kid.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Forgetful

It's funny how easily things are forgotten,
how quickly friends become foes,
and foes become friends.
How seamlessly a joyful day,
becomes a night of despair.
How few memories are etched into your brain,
but most flutter away like sand in the wind.
How things could be so great,
then pure love could turn to hate.
I wonder why some things are remembered,
and others are not.
I wonder why memories might linger,
like a string held sideways by a breeze that's already passed,
only to fall - and be gone from your mind.
I wonder if this will be remembered,
or simply be tossed aside,
when something new
enters your mind.

Rebellion

(expanding on writing prompt 6)

Rebel;
To Oppose or Disobey One In Authority Or Control
It is not a desire
But a need
To prove that the barriers set in place
Are not all encompassing
Not all powerful
To show that we have power
Beyond that give to us
Beyond what is "enough for someone your age"
To know, that we can do whatever we want
if we ever feel the need.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Emotionless

(expanding on prompt based on "Girl")

"Don't be such a crybaby;"
"Don't get angry with me;"
"Don't show others you are sad;"
"Don't give people the satisfaction of knowing you're mad;"
"Control yourself;"
"Control your happiness;"
"Don't laugh so loudly;"
"Don't talk to me with tears in your eyes;"
"Don't get frustrated;"

What do they want then? A robot child?
When even outbursts of joy are sins,
When even on the occasion that I dare show them my sadness,
An embrace or a pat on the back,
Is too much to give.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Appreciating The Giver (Revised)

The thing that really intrigued me the most about The Giver was the genuine emotion presented, the pure despair and joy that radiated through it's pages. This emotion, this true riveting expression of details, is unlike that of any other book I've read in the four years since I first read this book or, for that matter, at any point in my life. Due partially to the intricate world created by this story, and completely to the amazing style and creativity of the author, Lois Lowry, this incomparable book is a must read for everyone.

Nostalgia, for me, is usually a nice feeling, one that typically fills me with the happiness of the memories triggered by it. My first memory of snow is one that I've particularly enjoyed throughout the years. I must have been three, complaining about the enormous amount of winter clothing I had to wear, as I always do, and how hot it was getting underneath it all. However, as we, my sister and I, stepped out of the door, it was like stepping through a portal: piles and piles of this majestic white substance was falling from the sky onto the street, filling the air around me and covering the ground below me. This extremely endearing memory of being a toddler was the first place that The Giver took me this time around. It was when Jonas received his first memory: a sled ride. The enormity of this moment for him was so remarkably real, so accurately depicted that I couldn't help but to be sucked into my own memory. The way he felt the air: a comfortable chill, the way he felt going down the hill of snow: never wanting it to stop, was so incredibly human to me, as I hadn't wanted my first encounter with snow to end either. It was at this point in the book that I really began to gain a new appreciation, both for the book and life itself.

However, unfortunately enough, not every feeling of nostalgia is pleasant. Quite frankly, life isn't: a recent wave of emotion, probably the onset of teenage angst, has got me feeling down, lonely and mainly like, put simply, an idiot. Which is what The Giver swiftly reminded me of when Jonas goes home and realizes for the first time that he cant talk to anyone in his about what he was really feeling because they simply couldn't understand it. The isolation he feels is like that of most teens today, trying to find their place in the world, though more thorough, and I think that it really says a lot about Lois Lowry as an author: an accurate portrayal of such a thing is a hard thing to do, but when done correctly can really make story that much more compelling as it does in this situation. Rather than giving Jonas a depressed aura, which would be extreme, or giving him a calm outlook, much too conservative Lowry was able to meet things in the middle, by calling upon the reader's memories to find what they would call the middle ground.

The worst feeling in the world, though, is that failing someone, especially someone who knows you could have done better but, you simply fell short of doing so because you didn't want it enough. And though you may feel disappointed yourself, it doesn't begin to compare to knowing that someone you care about doesn't even want to look you in your eyes again, or cant, because of your lack of success. This is where The Giver takes it's final stand-in the most shame filled region of your heart. The place where things aren't about you anymore, where you wish things would change for someone else's sake. When Jonas began to feel distraught about failing Gabriel I was beside myself, amazed at what could be triggered by a single page in a book; all the times I've allowed others to suffer due to my shortcomings, or caused others to become disappointed in me, came bubbling right to the surface uncontrollably and made reading this book that much more enjoyable for it.

The Giver, ultimately draws it's true emotional power from your own memories, taking you to places you might enjoy, or might detest within yourself. Without using an insane amount of advanced vocabulary or ridiculous description, The Giver manages to keep you on the spinning roller-coaster of emotion that is reading this book.

So go ahead, get comfy, and prepare to go wherever The Giver decides to take you...