Literatura norteamericana

EEUU (Estados Unidos). Periodos y movimientos literarios. Autores. Obras. Influencias

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LITERATURA DELS ESTATS UNITS A PARTIR DEL SEGLE XIX

INNER / OUTER SPACES

  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher (p 2)

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (p. 5)

  • Susan Glaspell: Trifles (p. 9)

  • William Faulkner: A Rose for Emily (p. 12)

  • Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (p. 26)

MEMORY, NARRATIVE, IDENTITY

  • Booker T. Washington: Up from slavery (p. 19)

  • Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa): School Days of an Indian Girl (p. 25)

  • Edith Maud Eaton (Sui Sin Far): Leaves from the Mental Portafolio of an Eurasian, Mrs. Spring Fragance (p. 23)

  • Chinese Poems Carved on the Wall (p. 23)

  • Richard Rodriguez: Hunger of Memory

  • Sandra Cisneros: The House of Mango Street (p. 13)

ALIENATION IN MODERN TIMES

  • Herman Melville: Bartleby, the Scrivener

  • Crave, Stephen: The Real Badge of Courage

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (p. 45)

  • Ernest Hemingway: The Snows of Kilimanjaro (p. 53)

  • William Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!

BLACKNESS

  • W. E. B. Du Bous: The Souls of Black Folks

  • Alain Locke: The New Negro

  • Langston Hughes: The Negro and the Racial Mountain

  • Jean Toomer: Cane (p. 35)

  • Zola Neale Hurston: Characteristics of Negro Expression, Their Eyes Were Watching God (p. 40)

POETRY

  • Walt Whitman

  • Emily Dickinson (p. 18)

  • Modernist Poetry (Frost, Eliot, Pound, Stevens, Williams, Hughes)

  • American Poetry after Second World War (Bishop, Ginsberg, Lowell, Sexton, Plath, Rich, Olson, O'Hara, Ashbery, Hayden, Brooks, Knight, Harper, Dove).

'Literatura norteamericana'
Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher

-Poe wrote tales, poetry, but never a novel. He is a southerner writer.

-Reality as a symbol of something else (a hidden divinity).

-Poe is one of the theorists of short stories. He wrote The Philosophy of composition, a manifesto about the content and the form that the short story should adopt. He is a craftsman. Nothing is left to spontaneity. He's a literary architect. He continues the romantic tradition of Gothicism. The Fall of the House of Usher is a gothic tale.

Imagination for the gothic writers going back to Middle Ages is a way to question a logic and mathematical world. They want to underline the fact that there is something simmering, another reality which threatens the structured form of the surface.

In The Fall... Poe is going to explore the other side of reality: the unconscious. He was studied by many Freudians in the 20th century The emergence of the `divided self'.

One of the important topics in American literature is the use of the house, of an interior space that symbolizes an exterior reality (historical, political, economical, racial...)

-The Fall... and A Rose for Emily use this topic to emphasise a gothic death.

pag. 1386: a narrator who comes as a lonely writer. There are adjectives to emphasis that sense of oppressiveness. The house itself gives a sense of strangeness, of melancholy.

Romantics are melancholic because they are never sure about reality.

vacant eye-like windows” how houses become personified / protagonists of the story. They are a projection of its inhabitants.

Beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the reason, and the analysis, of this power, lie among considerations beyond our depth.” logic / reason can't explain this.

pag. 1388: “while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this - I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up.” how the ordinary becomes strange and unfamiliar (mystery that has to be solved).

pag. 1386: He sees the house inverted, upside down (reflection in the tarn).

pag. 1398: “There was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters - and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the `House of Usher'.” destruction of the house and of the inhabitants. The story begins and ends similarly (it is circular).

-Death of a beautiful woman (Madeline). She is buried alive (literary burial). Her resurrection at the end implies the destruction of the house, of the family. This topic - the idea of the burial - will be retaken by Gilman and William Faulkner. It will be given a symbolical meaning.

We have characters who are either buried inside this space and who bury someone else.

A crap through the wall anticipates the destruction of the house.

The house is a physical reflection of psychological sickness, disturbances. It acquires the characteristics of the protagonist.

pag. 1387: no air, isolation, closeness, destruction. This process of decay caused by the isolation and the lack of air, is what happens to the protagonists, too.

-Roderick is isolated from society. He is a non-conformist, and a supersensitive character whose objective is the search for a hided truth. He's a kind of artist. This isolation, this self-imposed exile will result in his moral disintegration (madness) and destruction.

Madeline and Roderick are twins theme of the double: two characters which are really one [Dr. Jeckill & Mr Hyde].

-Relationship between space and psychological distortion: The house may mean that the artist with no connection to the outside world is condemned to destruction and insanity.

-Roderick Usher shows three elements that reflect his problematic mind:

The painting [pag. 1391]: How a picture is a reflection of what is happening to the main character. He reflects himself in the picture.

The poem: The Haunted Palace.

The volume called “Mad Trist” of Sit Launcelot Canning. What happens in this story anticipates the end [pag. 1396].

These are ideas that are inscribed in Poe's texts and that critics, as Gilman, will retake at the end of the century.

……………………….……………………………………………………………………

-There is a long tradition of women writers in the USA who use the gothic or supernatural tales. They recognise the possibilities of the gothic elements, so they can express and explore moral, psychological and social questions related to their role in society. The lives of this group of women is still ruled by the cult of the true womanhood. That means that middle-class women are defined socially by their role as wives and mothers. The set of rules that define their behaviour limit their role to the private and domestic sphere.

* A true woman is religious, hard-working, sensitive, and obedient to patriarchal rules, to husband's rules. Women are always men's property (daughter or wife). Their lives are restricted, not only legally, but also socially and religiously. These true women are also literary imprisoned by fashion.

* A new woman is a woman who tries to claim her freedom, starting with her own body. The question of bodiness is very important. The Fall of... and The Yellow Wallpaper are fighting against this.

The theme of the “mad woman in the attic”: Jane Eyre, Harriet Jacobs. The way to silence women or to silence certain issues related to them in literature is to describe them as mad and to confine them to the attic, because it is an abandoned part of the house where forgotten things are left. In male writers, this space is changed and they use the underground.

The hero will only get happiness after the death of the woman in the attic. This woman is passive, a victim. She's outside the society.

-Harriet Jacobs said that the black woman in the attic is active, completely sane and, differently to Madeline, when she comes back to life, she doesn't commit suicide, but she kills the oppressor (change of the topic).

-Jenn Rhus: Wide Sargasso Sea She is a woman who rewrites Jane Eyre and, now, the main protagonist is that mad woman, that silenced character of the 19th century novel. Gilman, with The Yellow Wallpaper, is rewriting The Fall of...

”A woman writer must have a room of her own” (Virginia Woolf).

- Mother's kitchen: a literary theme that suggests a continuation of feminine traditions, of knowledge, story telling and what some critics describe as “gossip” (heritage of oral wisdom handed from generation to generation). Virginia Woolf, in the beginning of the 10th century, is claiming a space of freedom, a physical space of autonomy where no male presence can threaten its owner. Women want to carve a space out of the Victorian house.

When a woman doesn't adopt the social rules, she's enclosed and sent to the attic. The attic becomes the house of the father, the place where her creativity is frustrated.

'Literatura norteamericana'


Charlotte P. Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper

The original title is The Yellow Wall-paper:

  • Wallpaper” decorative item (the title is descriptive)

  • Wall-paper” (word hyphenated) the two words become more obvious. We see the exact origin of the compound noun.

An artist, a woman who is frustrated in her creativity, who is imprisoned in a room and who has to tend to the only space left for her to show that creativity: the wallpaper.

Individuals who are restricted in their freedom to create, to show their literary impulses, they desperately make use of anything so that they can pour that creativity artistic consciousness has to be put off anywhere.

The protagonist will make the wallpaper into her book where she will write her own text. The yellow wallpaper in that room becomes a projection of the narrator's problems.

This text, when it was first published, was just another gothic tale. But it was re-read by feminist writers and critics that have interpreted it as a struggle that tries to explain women's struggle at the end of the century. Gilman herself provided and manipulated the interpretation of her story and, in the second edition, to make the narrative clear up and in an attempt to sell more copies, she added a Preface (Why I wrote the Yellow Wallpaper) where se explained the reason why she had written The Yellow Wallpaper.

The Yellow Wallpaper talks about medicine, doctors, and the way women are prescribed by medical science as healthy or non-healthy, as sane or mad. Medical discourse, until very recently, was not suspected of manipulation. It described and catalogued the female body. Only men could acquire scientific knowledge.

Here, we have a woman who is making a criticism of the scientific treatment because the female body exists, as far as it is described by a male text, a male gaze. She's also questioning the objectiveness of that scientific discourse: how much throughout centuries what we assume to have been objective (= true) has been constructed by a patriarchal understanding of the world. In a way, scientific discourse is also a cultural construction and because of this, it can be analysed using the same instruments as literature.

The definition of madness / hysteria in the text is a way to separate the woman, to isolate her and to cover her problems. It's a deliberate attempt not to face difference. The reason of her feeling alienating, different, is the hysteria. She cannot fit into the cult of the true womanhood and because of that location, she has a nervous breakdown. She's completely frustrated in her creativity and she's reduced by the male text to insanity.

Gilman is attacking in the text one of the famous cures for women's breakdown at the time. The women who felt a clash between the prescriptions of society and their own desire to go beyond there, were labelled as “hysterical”, a mass of bodies that were a mystery at the time.

The life of the author (autobiography) is said to explore much of her work. She wanted to tell readers how to read the text, and also the origins of the story. Gilman says in the Preface that she has suffered from the disease that she describes in the story, but it isn't true. She's trying to manipulate our reading, our interpretation of the story.

The story is structured in blocks.

If there is no way for her in that male text, she turns to the wallpaper and makes it a projection of herself. The process of disintegration of her mind is reflected in the writing by breaking up the syntax, the language language goes mad.

pag. 649: “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” expectations that she is expecting to fulfil. Her anxiety is minimised. Her anguish is object of mockery. This is so because women's world is in contrast with the male world.

FEMALE WORLD / THINGS MALE WORLD / THINGS

Private projection, domesticity Based on reason and logic

Based on emotions Creativity, originality

Imitation, reproductivity Serious

Trifles, a mockery, a parody

Not to be taken seriously

Product of whim

HEART vs. MIND

The clash of the two points of view (John's and her own) will lead her to isolation and insanity.

Because a character is biologically a woman, that doesn't mean that she behaves as a woman.

The sister-in-law agrees with her husband and brother. She's completely restricted by that male attitude, by the same rules that the protagonist wants to break. Just because these two women are “sisters”, it does not mean that there is a sisterhood relationship between them. They represent opposite attitudes.

-A process to assume womanhood.

In the text there are four main characters and three of them are against the protagonist. The same happens in Susan Glaspell's Trifles.

John is a physician. He's excluded from emotions (rational mind).

Writing for women is a possibility of mental relieve, of self-fulfilment: the only possibility to BE. This is so in the protestant world (writing as a escape). Writing is the only possibility of growing, of escaping from reality. In American literature, the individual is obliged to write about himself/herself public and private sphere.

pag. 650: “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special directionCONTRADICTION. She is torn between her emotions, her real feelings and the way society tells her to think about her husband and marriage.

So we took the nursery at the top of the house” her husband takes control, reducing her to a state of “infancy” and imprisoning her into the children's room [topic of the mad woman in the attic].

In A Rose for Emily, Ms Emily will transform the 19th century conventions. Now she is the victimiser. She is a sort of Madeline who, instead of being dead, kills. The protagonist in Trifles is also a woman who, “buried alive”, transforms her domestic sphere into a chamber of tortures.

In The Yellow Wallpaper we have a passive victim.

pag. 651: “(Paper) commits suicide” she's projecting her self into this paper.

John hates to have me write a word” writing as a commitment to freedom.

pag. 652: “whim”. “This paper looks at me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had!” she makes the wallpaper into another character. The process of projection is starting.

The wallpaper is torn off in spots [...] the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed looks as if it have been through the wars.” HER SOUL.

She's going to write her own text, her own description of herself.

pag. 653: Her sister-in-law is an epitome of the cult of the true womanhood.

Under reality, under the pattern of the paper, she can discover herself (“sub-pattern”).

pag. 655: “It is like a woman stooping down” she sees herself (reflection).

pag. 656: Impossibility to interpret the repetition that she expected to find.

pag. 657: she recognises herself in the text. She has become that woman, that figure.

-The quiet/silent woman is the model to follow: a woman who keeps her thoughts to herself. Women are voiceless. How can women writers describe the process of social oppression and, literally make images about a process of liberation? using SILENCE, confinement. The physical and spiritual oppression is reflected in literature through linguistic oppression.

  • Epitome of silent women: VIRGIN MARY.

Women have to use literary strategies to work within that silence/voiceless framework. In feminist criticism and writing, silence becomes very important.

In the next pages it seems that things are written more telegraphically, so the text is more fragmented.

pag. 658: The pattern (male text) doesn't let the women escape. She is struggling to be liberated from male oppression, from the trap of that marriage. But she can't get away.

pag. 659: ”I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper.” Union of forces between her identification (the woman in the wallpaper) and her self. Now her madness is complete. She has completely identified with that figure. She's saying in a way that there's no space in the society for the rebellion against the dominant power.

I have locked the door and thrown the key into the front path” she has enclosed herself completely complete isolation.

pag. 660: The paper is mocking her struggle. She has already become one with that figure, but at the price of what society considers as madness.

'Literatura norteamericana'
Susan Glaspell: Trifles

Susan Glaspell belongs to the “Provincetown Players” They start writing experimental drama. Trifles is very much inspired by Ibsen's House of Dolls.

The protagonist (Minnie Wright) never appears in the text. She's voiceless, we don't even know what she has done. What we know about her is what the other characters in the play tell us she has done. We get several interpretations of her acts. We are encouraged to side with one interpretation or another.

“Trifles” is the word that defines women's activities: things which are not important, nor decisive for the world.

Minnie is restricted in a prison. She fights against her oppressor using that space, silence and that domestic confinement.

She is imprisoned in the kitchen [“QUEENDOM”]. She has to keep silent but she has to find the means to rebel. She rebels in that feminine space. Women must worry about their happiness starting in the kitchen. The kitchen, instead of being a secret place of happiness, of domestic bliss, is a place of criminal destruction where the protagonist initiated her rebellion. She will use the only elements she can handle.

Nowhere in the play it is directly said that Minnie has killed her husband. We are never sure if she has done it or not.

There are two women who come into her kitchen, which is a sort of text (Minnie's text) and they read and interpret it. There are also three men who also come into that kitchen and who also read and interpret that text. But their interpretations are very different. So the play talks about reading and women's writing, always from the margins, from the outside of the male text. Reader responds interpretation. It means that, according to our ideology, our cultural assumptions, our experience, the interpretation of a given text varies.

pag. 1126: ”Nothing here but kitchen things” when the men come into the kitchen, they look around and say this. It means that they are blind to the protagonist's problem and to women's things in general (to their texts). In the same way that the protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper projects her self onto the wallpaper, Minnie Wright will project her self onto her kitchen.

Her husband was called John Wright (representation of order, of law). Her name - Minnie - is minimised, diminished, a representation of her invisibility and a symbol of her powerlessness.

-“preserves” = broken jar. “Here's a nice mess” Traditionally, men's lives are ruled by objective time, reason. Women's lives are ruled by seasons (cycles of nature). Those preserves already tell us about Minnie's spiritual mess.

pag. 1127: “Loyal to your sex” suspicion.

pag. 1129: “Trying to get her own house to turn against her!” personification of the house: the house is no longer a physical element, but a projection of Minnie. That domestic space is Minnie.

Men do not want to imagine that the kitchen can hide a potential “terrorist”.

But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law” Mrs. Peter has been indoctrinated in the patriarchal law and she's very reluctant to agree with Mrs. Hale.

-Minnie was sewing a quilt. Mrs. Hale reads the piece of cloth and destroys and rips that sewing / writing and re-sews / re-writes that pattern again.

Minnie Wright has no right to talk, to the linguistic medium. So, left alone, she has to speak through other elements and has to leave clues about her oppression on the things that surround her. Confronted with that piece of cloth, sewing becomes Minnie's text. Instead of writing, she sews. She can either quilt it or knot it. Only Mrs. Hale can read into that text and can identify what means that piece of quilt.

Women have been limited in their speech. Susan Glaspell is recreating here the classical myth of Philomel: PHILOMEL'S MYTH (as Penelope in the Odyssey):

<<Philomel has a sister (Progne) who marries a king. He falls in love with Philomel, but she resists, so he rapes her and cuts her tongue off so that she cannot tell about her rape (he castrates her linguistic possibilities, she is condemned to silence). She sews a tapestry (the only weapon left to her) depicting her rape and shows it to her sister. Progne “reads” it and realise what has happened and they both kill the king.>>

That is what Minnie does. She knots the story. She uses a feminine art, apparently innocent, as a weapon. Minnie is also a woman who is condemned to silence, so she writes her story through sewing (spiritual castration).

-BIRD CAGE: the bird had a lovely voice, but since Minnie got married, it doesn't sing. The singing has been imprisoned into that cage. The cage is a symbol of her spirit, of her soul. The birdcage is broken and the women find the dead body of the bird. Its neck has been broken. It has been killed in the same way as John Wright. He had killed the bird, which represented the only joy in Minnie's life, her self, so in a way he had “killed” her spirit, her soul and she has taken her revenge. Her killing of John mirrors John's killing of her bird.

Mrs. Peter goes through a process of indoctrination. Mrs. Hale has to remind her of things happened in her life.

In case that the men can understand this, the women hide the clues. They undo the quilt and do it again.

At the end, men have not made the connections. They are blind to this. Mrs. Peter cannot break the law because “she is married to the law (sheriff)” [pag. 1133]. It is better for them not to read.

pag. 1134: “She was not going to quilt it. She was going to knot it” the knot refers to the type of sewing, to the way in which John has been killed (with a knot) and also to the sacrament of marriage (when the husband dies, the knot is untied).

If women hide everything, Minnie cannot be condemned, but things will go the same (no social change) a woman is saved, but there is not an attempt to change women's situation. Their silence saves Minnie. If men do not recognize the criminal potential of the quilt and the bird, if they accept Mrs. Hale's words / interpretation, everything continues to be the same, women continue to be worried about trifles, which embody no subversive power. Men's position of absolute authority continues to be the same and it is not challenged.

If men recognized that women's trifles could kill them, they would be obliged to recognize their problematic role and also to question women's role.

'Literatura norteamericana'
William Faulkner: A Rose for Emily

Faulkner writes about the burden of the south and the burden of the past. He was described as the writer who had best represented white and black relationship in the south. His novels try to reflect the obsession of whites with a past of decadence, defeat, family corruption and lost of values in a material world, and also the “Africanist presence”. They are similar to Greek tragedies. There are characters whose psychology is very investigated and who, most of the time, are losers.

He uses flashbacks and several narrators. He mixes present, future and past. He describes the events from the point of view of several characters, uses circular narrative and destroys the traditional structure of fiction (no beginning, development or end). We never know who is speaking. He creates a fictional country, imaginary people.

The way he wrote has been instrumental in initiating the careers of American and non-American writers. He's a modern writer. He is an inheritor in the line of Nathaniel Hawthorne: the reader must construct his/her own reading of the events. In the vast majority of his works, the message that is implied is that there's no single valid interpretation of the experience. The meaning very much depends on who is talking.

In A Rose for Emily, we have a woman who rebels through the only ways that system permits. She belongs to the aristocracy and her family has gone into decay. She must marry a rich man. She is not buried alive, but she buries herself in her own house and she will use the power of the system to go against the power itself she uses the cult of the true womanhood which restricts her behaviour, her desire and her sexuality to fulfil her own desires to achieve freedom. Her rebellion is not direct because, at the time, that would have ended in her death, in her exclusion from society. She uses her own restrictions to satisfy her desires.

She cannot marry the man she loves and she has to fight to fulfil her desires, so she buys arsenic and kills and mummifies her lover: NECROPHILIC RELATIONSHIP she can't love him in life, so she loves him in death.

When she dies, people find out her lover's body and realises of what have happened.

When Miss Emily tries to buy arsenic, the assistant (a man) knows it is his responsibility to ask her what it is for.

'Literatura norteamericana'

Sandra Cisneros: The House on Mango Street (1985)

Sandra Cisneros is a Latina (her parents were Mexican). She writes about the adaptation of this second generation. She writes Chicano Literature. She has taken a very traditional motive women and houses.

Some people is restricted to certain areas of the town:

    • Blacks live in the ghetto

    • Latinos live in the barrio

    • Asian-American live in Chinatown

    • And the downtown (the centre) was the place where rich people lived but, nowadays, it is a place for poor people. Rich people live now in the suburbs.

The main idea of the book is that the people who live in these poor areas, live in a kind of concentration camp. Even if there are not physical fences, psychologically, they live within a prison.

The protagonist, Esperanza Cordero, lives within a neighbourhood in which she feels like a prisoner. This prison will tell us about the process of her awareness to this fact and the way she is trying to escape from this barrio.

PROBLEMATIC QUESTION: How to escape without being a traitor to her origins and having the possibility to return?

Growing up in the barrio implies a process of acculturation, a process of becoming another self, of forgetting one social class and the original values.

Cisneros will concentrate in the growing up of a girl. In American literature, when talking about the process of growing, we talk about a young boy becoming a man (from childhood into adolescence). Male protagonists need to escape the home and achieve maturity in the “wilderness”. The classic example of this (taken from Huckleberry Finn) is the river, the nature. Boys will confront these questions outside civilization. Cisneros became famous because she gave a feminine version of this process and she showed what it means to be a woman, what it means to be an ethnic woman, not only in a patriarchal world, but also in a Chicano society.

Cisneros' narrative is very much influenced by American models and culture.

-TALES: This book is constructed as a tale. Traditional folk tales are narratives of imitation, which cultures all over the world created in order to help people to undergo certain processes of life. They are practical lessons to go on living. We can also understand The House on Mango Street as a “Chicano tale” because we find a little girl who is telling us how to survive in the “wilderness” (barrio). The barrio becomes a dangerous place and she has to go through it to become a new woman and she also has to undergo several rites of initiation (INITIATIVE RITES).

The book is a sort of collage: little stories following Esperanza and her environment (the people who live in the barrio). Cisneros dedicates it to the women (a las mujeres). She's presenting her product as a fruit of bicultural experience.

Opposite to the idea of a house as a comfortable place and the bourgeois territory for family peace, the houses on Mango Street are all little prisons and the people who live there, especially the women, are prisoners to social, political, economic and sexual conditions.

The book has a circular structure.

Esperanza is twelve years old. Sometimes it seems as if she was much older. The environment she moves around encourages precocity. She's already aware of her poverty and marginality. It is a catholic world. It is a little island inside the American Protestantism, in which this religious and cultural background will define the protagonist. It means that she will have to struggle against that patriarchal world defined by Catholicism and by the catholic definition of a woman. She is marginalized by religion and economy.

PART 1

The House on Mango Street Description of her life, of her awareness. The way she is ambitioning the bourgeois dream of owning a real house: the space in which you can grow is a house that belongs to you.

Hair She devotes much space to her mother than to the rest of her family. But she doesn't want to be like her mother. She tries to have a better life that her mother's.

My NameShe looked out the window her whole life” women looking out of the window = PRISONERS.

I would like to baptize myself under a new name” she cannot change her name but she will try to change her life.

PART 2

Those who don't She's giving the idea of segregation, of crossing the city borders.

Chanclas She describes poetically the feeling of isolation just because of her shoes.

PART 3

The book becomes much more pessimistic.

Born Bad It refers to Aunt Lupe. She is instrumental in helping Esperanza in her process of growing. “Lupe” comes from “Guadalupe”. In Mexican culture there are two main feminine figures:

Virgin of Guadalupe: epitome of purity and femininity.

La Malinche: a prostitute, a traitor to her race.

Aunt Lupe takes this name because she is a sort of Virgin, of mystic woman. She is imprisoned in her home - convent - and the only female character in the book who conveys certain spirituality.

She suffers from a terrible illness and she's a spinster (she did not get married). She's surrounded by a tone of mysticism. She's blind, but, although she cannot physically see, she can see with her spirit: she's a sort of seer. She can see through her blindness. There is no need to see.

She encourages Esperanza to educate herself, to read and to write. She's a symbolical figure, a sort of mediator who tries to help Esperanza to go from this world of Mango Street into a new one.

-The Waterbabies, Charles Kingsley (1863) It belongs to the type of literature written at the moment against industrialisation and becomes very famous thanks to Charles Dickens' Hard Times. It tries to describe the corruption of English landscapes by the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

This is the book that Esperanza reads to her aunt. In it, there's a character who is a child and who lives in a world of poverty, of blackness and will find freedom (the same as Esperanza). Now, Lupe is already a “waterbaby”, a character who has become like the protagonist of this book.

You just remember to keep writing. You must keep writing. It will keep you free” Lupe is giving Esperanza knowledge.

The story stops being realistic and becomes an urban folk tale. Cisneros is using popular culture so that the book has to be read from a more mythical point of view.

*Greek myth of Tiresias: A Greek character who is blind and who has the gift of prophecy. He becomes a helper. He's an old man: the older, the wiser. He's blind to the things of the world but aware of the things beyond, of the spiritual world.

Lupe tells Esperanza her future: “keep writing”.

PART 4

Four Skinny Trees Cisneros is getting inspiration from Emily Dickinson (poem 742): four trees, four stanzas, four paragraphs. She is taking the image of a woman imprisoned in her house. Isolation.

PART 5

No Speak English A woman imprisoned in her house and who suffers from acculturation. The experience in America is separating her from her baby. This is another way to show the terrible process of oppression that these women in the barrio suffer. It is also a linguistic oppression. In the new country, this woman finds it even difficult to be a mother.

I couldn't take my eyes off her tiny shoes” in folk tales, association of beautiful women with shoes (Cinderella).

Rafaela Who Drinks Coconut & Papaya Juice on Tuesdays reference to Rapunzel: another woman imprisoned. This woman is living in a sort of text that is oppressing her.

Sally Sally will turn out to be a harmful helper. She will bring Esperanza into misery. Sally is the friend that Esperanza should not have, but she has to discover it by herself (process of self-discovering).

Her hair is shiny black” We know with this description that there is something wrong in Sally classification of women's morality through external signs.

Sally is very precocious, very knowing and very “womanish” (little girl who behaves as a woman).

PART 6

What Sally Said Sally is also imprisoned by that familiar atmosphere. While Esperanza has a spiritual guide - Aunt Lupe -, Sally has not any. Sally represents those little girls in the barrio who lack goals in life and motivation.

He never hit me hard” violence, aggressions.

The Monkey Garden This barrio has no contact with nature. The lack of greenery (green spaces) means oppression, materialism, capitalism. This oppression and alienation is also shown by the state of this garden.

Esperanza will be betrayed by Sally and she will be raped.

Red Clowns She tells about the rape. She's accusing Sally of having abandoned and betrayed her. This dramatic experience is shown by the lack of punctuation: Esperanza's syntax goes crazy. She is telling the reader not to follow Sally's ways. Cisneros is teaching people what to do. The book is a moral lesson.

Aunt Lupe is the only one who provides HOPE, a possibility of escaping.

PART 7

Linoleum Roses A sort of revenge. Sally has got married and has imprisoned herself.

The Three Sisters Esperanza is at the funeral of a little baby. Again, we come deeply into a mythic context. This chapter cannot be read realistically.

* Number 3: a magical number. As a folkloric tale: the three helpers (Sleeping Beauty). The three moiras (Greek myth): personification of FATE. They spin the thread of life. They also have the gift of prophecy.

-Supernatural elements: wind, moon (menstruation).

These three women underline what Aunt Lupe has already said. They disappear, vanish.

- SPIDER: In American writing, white women has used the image of the spider to symbolise the act of writing: the spider spins the thread out of its entrails and, in the same way, the woman writer uses her body and experience as inspiration for her literature. This goes back to the myth of Arcane.

Black women use the analogy of the mule because they have always been the “mule of the world”.

You must remember to come back” this is repeated three times.

Alicia and I Talking on Edna's Steps controversy between the private and the collective voice.

-Who is going to make Mango Street better? Esperanza and her writing.

The idea of going and coming there, is expressed in the circular structure of the book (NARRATIVE ARCHITECTURE). She escapes but she will come back and make it a better place.

A House of My Own Apparent sense of naturalness, of spontaneity. Under this apparent simplicity there is a world of grief, a devastated life.

Not a man's house. Not a daddy's. A house all of my own” the women on Mango Street are handed down as objects from fathers to husbands. They are never free. A way to escape the house of the father is to get the “house of the husband”. It represents a trap where they die spiritually. Esperanza will have to act against this and find new ways of freedom, dictated by the protestant world (American culture). She will achieve her freedom, a house of her own, through education and writing. She is a “slave” to the system and she breaks her chains with her writing (self-elevation through knowledge).

Clean as a paper before the poem”.

Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes Finally, she finds a way to escape. She might return there sometimes.

Here's your mail he said” she's trying to give us the sense that she approaches reality and her experience as material to be fictionalised, material for literary inspiration. The act of writing is an act of sublimating the miserable situation of the women who live in Mango Street.

Controversial feeling of belonging, of being someone else.

She sets me free” barrio as a sort of maternal womb.

For the ones who cannot out” WOMEN.

'Literatura norteamericana'

Emily Dickinson

She was a normal middle-class girl. She had money, so she could afford what other women couldn't and could stay at home. She decided not to get married (marriage was an inconvenience). Feminist scholars and critics have said that she was not married because she was a lesbian (she wrote letters to her sister-in-law).

Something very important is the distinction she makes between the woman and the person who appears in her poetry (poetic persona*).

For her, staying at home was not like being in a prison: she turned the house into something positive. She was not interested in travelling because, at that time, women did not travel. The house, for her, was a place of freedom, her world. She had no need to go out. Her house was a meeting point for many people.

She always dressed in white dressing was a kind of mask. She was making herself different (women at that time used to wear in black). White was associated with virginity, purity and the convent (not corrupted by world).

She transforms that attic in her house into a convent (=freedom), into a place where she could develop her creating skills.

-Puritan style: language has to be direct (no metaphors or flowery). E. D. brings this into an extreme (minimalism).

Her poems are little pieces of wisdom. Everything is condensed. They are like a diary.

'Literatura norteamericana'

The autobiography was a super-seller in the USA from the beginning because of the change from poverty / rags to richness (thanks to the American dream / myth). Writing about this was possible.

Differently from the Old World cultures, ambition, drive, energy and willingness to overcome one's origins were possible and desired. A real American has to embrace the myth and become an example of it (Ex. Arnold Schwarzenegger).

At the end of the 19th century, these people: Booker T. Washington, Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa), Edith Maud Eaton (Sui Sin Far), are excluded from society because of the ethnicity. The way to show that they are also American, that there are other definitions of what an American is, is to write autobiographical texts in which they would talk about their experiences from different points of view. This is a time when very large waves of immigrants are arriving to the USA from Europe and Asia (especially China).

Blacks lived in segregation in the South. Racism was one of the main problems at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th.

Chinese people start to come to the country in the 1820's and 1830's because of the discovery of gold and because of the construction of the intercontinental railway. They were treated like slaves.

Chinese men are always associated with femininity. They are described as short, shy, weak incompetent and childish, or as a menace.

-ETHNIC WRITERS: They will try to define themselves through the writing as either man or woman, as non-white, as Americans. They will provide new definitions of “Americanness”.

'Literatura norteamericana'

Booker T. Washington: Up from Slavery

He is a black man whose definition imprisons his identity. He becomes a new leader for the Afro-American community. In his writing, he is influenced by the slave narratives and also by white autobiographical narratives, such as Franklin's. Whereas Frederick Douglass was obsessed with writing himself into being, with showing that he had gone from illiteracy to culture, Booker T. Washington is writing his autobiography when he is very famous and important in the country among whites and blacks. He writes as a public man and, as such, he is concerned with showing that although he is black and was born as a slave, he is an American. The American dream also belongs to him.

He was a black politician who became the most important Afro-American. Anything that had to do with racial questions was consulted to him. Most of the times, critics will reject what he says.

Lynching was the only weapon that white had to fight against black depravity (Ku Klux Klan). There were very few jobs available to blacks.

Washington defends black education, because he thinks that it should be the main target to blacks. As Americans, blacks can only joy the American dream through economic improvement, and it will be a consequence of their education. He builds a school for blacks in Alabama with the money of whites. Alabama was the heart of darkness and was very racist. The school was called “Tuskegee”. He did not defend a University education for blacks. He thought that they had to learn a job first.

He was such a personality that he convinced very rich white men to give him money. In his relationship with the white world, he was a nice black man (he was wearing a “mask”). He knew how to get money. Within the Afro-American world, he controlled everything and was hard-working. His objectives were clear. He privately fought lynching and gave money to black political associations (he played a “double game”).

Washington, as an American, he feels he has to write his autobiography: Up from Slavery. Autobiography narratives have little to do with what we understand by truth. It is a literary construction of one's self, a manipulation of one's identity. His narrative is addressed to blacks and whites. He is a black man who produces a text that has to be accepted by whites and, at the same time, by blacks. Whites will interpret his words in their literal meaning but blacks will decode them in very different ways Up from Slavery must be read between the lines because there is where the message is hidden.

As a black man, he uses a double language: he says one thing but means another. He is a master of indirection.

Up from Slavery

The title does not only refer to the chronology that separates his experience as a slave from the present moment, but it also refers to the space (spatial concept from the bottom to the top). It anticipates the idea of the journey from poverty to success and social visibility.

The first chapter is similar to Slave Narratives. As a slave, he's out of history, out of time, and his text is the method he uses to rewrite himself into history. He never condemns directly white people for the wrongs that blacks suffered. For him, slavery has produced white and black victims this is a text of reconciliation.

The main objective is not to attack the American system of segregation but to make out of a black man a representative of American, to describe himself as an extraordinary example of the American ethos and to define what an Afro-American is at the end of the century. To do so, he uses the Afro-American figure of the trickster: it is a character from the black folklore who is poor, weaker than his enemies, but more intelligent and cunning. Using his tricks, his capacity of cheating defeats the powerful enemies. He adopts the role of a trickster because it is always the weak character who fights against the powerful using different weapons to survive.

He uses a lot of irony. The poorer he describes himself in childhood, the more credit he is given for his change into a successful man.

This is a mixture of other texts. Plantation literature is one of these.

He is not interested in describing the antagonism between blacks and whites, in condemning slavery as a way to oppress blacks, or in describing the anger and the bitter feelings of blacks towards whites NO RESENTMENT.

pag. 3: he is taking a famous story from Plantation history that symbolises the good relationship between whites and blacks, and the utopian feudal system that reign in the South before the war.

He doesn't want to become hostile. He has to win the trust of the white readers that are middle-class, cultivated and very racist. He has to appear as a non-threatening voice, a voice that accommodates to the dominating values. He's following F. Douglas' doctrine: NEVER TELL THE TRUTH IN FRONT OF WHITES.

-Education as the only way to climb the social ladder => American ethos.

pag. 6: He is taking advantage of every little piece of information, of everything that surrounds him. He's not supposed to join the educational institutions.

-“Darkness of the mine” “darkness of the mind”.

He wants to become a “representative man”, a model to be followed: “It doesn't matter where you are, but the place where you come from.”

Through hard work, you can achieve money and material goodness.

pag. 8: How as ethnic subjects, they can fit into white society. He is using a very simple anecdote.

Sheets” metaphor of white society: not under (inferiority), not on top (superiority) => in between.

In this chapter (Black Race and Red Race) he becomes a teacher of Indians. The history of blacks is linked to the history of Indians.

Right from colonial times, Indians (natives) were physically and psychologically excluded from white society. They were forced to migrate and were “imprisoned” in the reservations. From the government there was never a movement to mix with the natives, but to keep them separated and to destroy their original culture. White world was physically separated from Indian world. They showed no respect for their culture. There was no fusion of cultures.

Indian writers can only appear once they have been christianised.

In this chapter we can see the difference between Afro-Americans, who are already accommodated to the American life, and Indians. For Washington, Indians are wild and ignorant. They are doubly alienated.

pag. 9: The price of assimilation / acculturation is:

  • having their long hair cut. Long hair = symbolical meaning.

  • Giving up wearing their blankets. Blankets = product of their way of life.

  • Ceasing smoking. Tobacco = native product.

SIGNS OF IDENTITY

No white American ever thinks that any other race is wholly civilized until he wears the white man's clothes, eats the white man's food, speaks the white man's language, and professes the white man's religion.”

When he's talking about himself, he's also carrying the burden of his race. He becomes a representative man of blackness.

In chapter XIV (The Atlanta Exposition Address) he's introducing into his text his most famous speech. He was to project himself as a successful public Afro-American.

His private life will only be quoted when it has to do with his public projection.

pag. 11: The papers in all parts of the United States talk about him. He offers himself as a model of success for blacks in racist America. Objective in everything he does: SUCCESS.

'Literatura norteamericana'
Oriental cultures distinctive characteristics are translated into signs of inferiority, of their incapacity to adapt to the American civilization, and they will be used as justification of that discrimination.

-ASIAN-AMERICAN LITERATURE: There are big differences within this umbrella term. It includes: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.

-1882 the American government passes a law called “The Chinese Exclusion Act” by which Chinese people be refused entering into the country.

Until the Second World War, the Japanese will be considered the best of Asians. Japan has helped the USA during the first part of the 19th century. At this time many Chinese people passed as Japanese to achieve better opportunities (theme of passing). With the Second World War and the hostility between the USA and Japan, there comes something dramatically ignored by American historians: the Japanese populations are taken into concentration camps and kept there until the war is over. Their land and properties are confiscated.

'Literatura norteamericana'

POEMS: EARLY CHINESE IMMIGRANTS

These poems were discovered in the 1970's in the walls of the offices of the Angel Island. The authors were literate. They came with a culture and a vision of the world. Faced with imprisonment, they turn to writing. These poems add a new dimension to the myth of the American dream. They were connected in a book: Carved on the wall. The word `carved' implies a very strong purpose, describes difficulty and artistry, and it also connotes the objective of permanency.

These poems are the testimony and witness of the other side of the American dream. The main theme that defines these poems is the central clash between the American myth and the reality.

They are anonymous because the authors were afraid to be known and identified. They are also undated.

These are poems of complaints and sadness. They criticize this situation and destroy the American myth. They are suffering.

'Literatura norteamericana'

Edith Maud Eaton / Sui-Sin-Far

The first writer who achieves a certain popularity in the Asian-American tradition is Sui-Sin-Far.

-Leaves from the Mental Portafolio of an Eurasian = an autobiography.

-In the Land of the Free = a short story.

Her father was an Englishman and her mother was Chinese. She was high middle-class. She arrived in the USA and published short stories, because at the turn of the century, American readers enjoyed and demanded exotic literature from territories that were far and unknown LOCAL COLOR.

Edith Maud Eaton is her real name, but in a gesture of political commitment to one of her identities (the Asian one), she changes her name to Sui-Sin-Far (a Chinese name). Her sister passed as Japanese (she changed her name into a Japanese one).

Leaves from the Mental Portafolio of a Eurasian

It is a description of the difficulties of an individual, who is not white, to join in American life. It is a description of the racism and a criticism of the stereotypes involving Asians.

`Eurasian' was the name that was given to Asian-American at the beginning of the century.

Instead of reading stories that emphasised the oriental exoticism, American readers read about the problems of Asians in America and a criticism of the white American attitude against people of other races. In a way, she's playing with the reader's expectations (exoticism) to produce a shock, a reaction. She wants to criticise the fact that race is a cultural product, not something biological, and it is produced by a society.

In this book she tells the reader her process of awareness of her own ethnic identity, the difficulty of being an Eurasian in that society, the development of racial pride and also her defence of independence for women.

For a woman, economic independence is more important than marriage. At the turn of the century, black women are also defending celibacy because the economic opportunities opened to black or Chinese women in the US were very scarce, so the probability was that women who wanted to pursue an artistic career, if married, they would probably end up alone and with children and their artistic desires would be frustrated because they would have to assume complete responsibility for their families. At the time she's writing, this was a revolutionary message for women.

* Her awakening to her ethnic identity = that moment of epiphany signals a before and an after.

pag. 17: “The day on which I first learned that I was something different and apart from other children”.

In the Land of the Free It is a story of denunciation that criticises the myth, the clash between the theoretical ideas of the nation and the reality. It is also a monument to Chinese motherhood description of a perfect mother who sacrifices her life and everything she has to get her child back. It is also a criticism of white women ethnocentrism and missionary work.

'Literatura norteamericana'

Gertrude Simmons Bonnin / Zitkala Sa

She's one of the first Indian writers to become a mediator between the Indian oral folklore culture and the written culture. This means that she's an Indian who incorporates in her writing the beliefs, the rituals and the stories of her Indian community (Sioux). She's a woman committed with Indian rights, tribal oppression and Indian culture. She writes autobiography:

  • Impressions of an Indian Childhood

  • School Days of an Indian Girl

She thinks that white education for Indian and the process white use to acculturate Indians from their native world is alienating. She changes her name because she wants to show her ethnical identity. Zitkala Sa = “red bird”.

Indian children were taken to missionary schools were they were acculturated and educated into the white men's way.

There are external signs that make an Indian:

  • Language

  • Blanket

  • Shoes

  • Hair

She is focusing in items that perhaps would not be so emphasised by a male narrator: DRESS (cultural icon). She distinguishes herself as an Indian. She is angry because they are sobbing their identity icons.

pag. 27: “chairs” = “sheets” (B.T. Washington) this shows the gap between the world they come from and the one they are obliged to adopt.

-“Hair” having it cut is a sign of shame for her. She's not speaking of hair in terms of beauty or femininity, but of racial pride. The hair for her means spirit and courage. Cutting her hair is a way to castrate spiritually her soul and it also means a symbolical cutting her from her culture.

-“moccasins” hand-made (from the skins of animals). The disappearance of the moccasins means the disappearance of a way of life.

-“shoes” process of making them is a ritual (`squeaking shoes').

pag. 29: She rejects the young people who has become “civilised”. She puts on the moccasins again as an act of protest.

'Literatura norteamericana'
Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain was born in the south, and critics for a long time decided that he was a writer of western stories. The inspiration for this novel comes from Don Quixote:

Don Quixote - Sancho // Huck - Jim

Two men from different races (the white man is the one who makes this trip and changes).

He started books with an idea and with an attitude towards his characters, and midway he changed it.

He was living at the end of the 19th century, when America was living tremendous changes. For some people, technological advances were considered as a possibility of destruction of the traditional way of life (technology as something negative that alienates people). Twain's attitude about this issue is ambiguous. He was a fierce critic of American politics and of the American situation, especially of imperialism.

In his novels and short stories (as The man who corrupted ¿Hidleburg?) written at the end of his life, he is very pessimistic. He paints a picture in which human beings have no sentiments, are selfish.

He became a sort of icon, a claim in Europe, and he played the role of the typical American.

-Humour is his defining feature. With it, he can dissect society, making a hard criticism of it. He is ironic because his humour is bitter. Behind that humour we discover a criticism of the American society, of the political situation.

-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written in 1884. It is a book about childhood, the South, segregation and racism. He uses an apparently innocent wrapping (childhood memories) to write about contemporary American politics of racism and segregation. To talk about America and the South at the end of the 19th century, Twain places the plot in antebellum American (slavery times) In order to criticise the present, he places the story in the past.

This is a picaresque, episodic novel. Huck and Jim become “picaroes”. The action takes place in the Mississippi (= the mythic river). Jim and Huck would meet along the river, in their adventures, different characters of southern society who try to cheat them, kill them or help them.

Huck is around 14 years old, and Jim is a grown-up man who is married and have children. The heart of the novel is the relationship between Jim and Huck.

This is a picaresque book because the plot will be presented as several adventures strung together. The title is a clear reference to this type of picaresque.

-Importance of the influence of the book's language: there is a narrator who does not speak Standard English. Contrary to the Victorian tradition, Mark Twain was interested in writing with the American vernacular voice. Later writers consider it, for the first time, the American language. The way Americans talk had been recreated in literature with success.

In 1996, a critic said that Huck talks Black English, and so, Mark Twain in recreating Black Speech.

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”

(E. Hemingway).

-The Adventures… becomes the book out of which modern American novel springs (it is the origin of modern American fiction).

It is a book that dramatises the experience of a boy that should be qualified as a white, low-class, southern boy. His experience is universalised. It is made to qualify the American experience as a whole.

Mark Twain, in his literature, instead of giving importance to education, manners or Victorian gentility, he is giving importance to spontaneity, innocence, childhood, freedom from civilised manners, wilderness, nature… these questions are represented by his use of the language: while educated characters use language to manipulate and reinvent reality, Huck's problem is that he sees language as a mediator between reality and truth (language always expresses honesty, sincerity and truthfulness).

Huck is an ordinary boy, uneducated, plain speaker, and his language is primitive, crude and ungrammatical. This is so because other characters, that come up as villains, abuse language. Doing so, Twain represents the corruption that is at the heart of society. Huck is innocent because he cannot speak a sophisticated language.

The source of humour in this book comes from the way Huck perceives reality and talks about it, and from the way the educated reader understands that same reality and realises Huck's unsophisticated ways of interpreting the world with the language.

Everything is written within a context (historical circumstances and biographical events). At the time Twain is writing:

He was born in the south and he lived there until his twenties. He had lived in a society where slavery existed, so he had been surrounded by blackness (black speech, black story-telling, Afro-American music, rituals…)

The south was badly segregated. There were lots of racial riots. Black population in the south was practically re-slaved.

The way to eliminate the threatening potential of a narrative is minimising and classifying it as childish, feminine and, therefore, not dangerous.

Mark Twain said of the book: “It is a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscious come into collision, and conscience suffers a defeat.

We can divide the novel into three parts:

PART 1 (chapters 1 to 16)

The action takes place in St Petersburg and Jackson Island, and concentrates on Huck, Jim, Tom Sawyer and Huck's father. At the end of chapter 16, Huck and Jim become separated.

Chapter 1:

pag. 11: “You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter” He is addressing directly to the reader and he is already establishing his fictitious status, personality `METAFICTION': characters that exist because they talk about their existence in other fictitious texts. Twain is saying that this book is a sequel of a previous one (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer).

[ pag. 281: “The end, yours truly, Huck Finn.” It is a sort of LETTER to the reader.

-“She would sivilize me” contrast between civilization and wilderness.

-“I lit out” to escape. The story starts because Huck escapes and it will end with him escaping again (pag. 281: “I got to light out for the Territory”).

-The widow is saying the blessing. Huck does not read social manners. He does not understand the representative use of language.

pag. 12: “She learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers” the book is already telling us about biblical waters. In the same way Moses is reborn, Huck, in the Mississippi, will also go through a transformation (a new reborn).

Huck's and Tom Sawyer's approaches to reality are dramatically different: for Tom, everything can become an adventure. He is a character made with fiction, who lives in fiction and who thinks the world can turn into a funny story. For Tom, everything can be converted into fiction thanks to language.

Chapter 3:

pag. 21: “Tom Sawyer called the hogs `ingots', and he called the turnips and stuff `julery'…” Tom is converting reality into fantasy. Huck is straightforward in his approach. For Tom, the world is just a place to play, where there is nothing serious. Tom represents a childish fantasy. He is a person who is not committed spiritually. Everything for him is a game. Huck is so innocent that he cannot see the difference between reality and fantasising about reality (the game).

pag. 23: Limitations of Tom's visions and how Huck distances himself from that attitude.

Chapter 4:

A vision of Jim and his world of magic and superstition.

Chapter 5 - 6:

The return of Huck's father, his escape, his need to separate himself from civilization and his symbolic death before he starts his life in Jackson Island (a new land, a place of freedom).

Chapter 7:

pag. 43: The change from civilization (the Widow Douglas) to his new life as a `free boy' begins with waters and with images similar to that of Moses rushing down the Nile and being rescued by the Pharaoh's daughter.

Chapter 8:

A new land. Jim and Huck will meet in the island. The novel is about Huck's search for freedom. Huck now is free from civilization, but his freedom is different from Jim's. They are very different stories and the book will deal with this. The raft is a space of freedom for Jim. For Huck, the wilderness is a place to encounter a moral dilemma because on the one hand, he is caught within his friendship with Jim and he ends up treating him as a human being, but on the other hand, his culture, the laws of his society and the customs of the South tell him that Jim is not a human being, but a property.

pag. 54: “I's rich now, come to look at it. I owns myself.” That is what freedom means to Jim: to own himself.

Chapter 14:

This chapter shows the innocence and the moral goodness of Huck and Jim, their lack of sophistication in front of the world and their humanity.

Jim talks a lot and becomes `the other character'. He is not stereotyped but he is Huck's partner in his adventures. They talk about the royalty and the French language (at that time, it was the language to be learned by high-classes).

pag. 80: Contrast of attitudes: For Huck, everything is an adventure. But if Jim is caught, he will lose his freedom, go back into slavery and be sold to the South. He cannot fool around as Huck because his life depends on this.

pag. 81: “He had an uncommon level head, for a nigger.” Blacks were spoken as `niggers' by whites.

pag. 82: Jim interprets the story literally.

pag. 83: “I'd take en bust him over de head. Dat is, if he warn't white. I wouldn't `low no nigger to call me dat.” Everything Jim does is dictated by slavery.

Chapter 15-16:

Central chapters in the relationship between the two characters. A fog appears and they will be separated.

Chapter 15:

The journey to the North in search of freedom. Jim becomes a free man. Because of fate (fog) they will miss Cairo and they will go south, instead of going north (instead of going to the heart of freedom, they go to the heart of slavery). Jim's dream is destroyed.

Huck is going to play a dirty trick on Jim: he says to Jim that there has been no fog, that he has dreamt it. The way Jim interprets the dream foreshadows what will happen next. The American dream of freedom evaporates for Jim, the same as the fog (symbolical meaning). While for Jim it is a tragedy, for Huck it is another adventure. His hopes are just an excuse for Huck to joke. Jim loses his hopes.

pag. 89-90: “When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn't k'yer no mo' what become er me en de raf. En when I wake up en fine you back agin', all safe en soun', de tears come en I could a got down on my knees en kiss' yo' foot I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' `bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is trash; is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes `em ashamed.

pag. 90: “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger - but I done it, and I wasn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way.” Huck is able to humiliate himself and apologize. He is considering Jim as a human being. Jim exists in the book only when Huck recognizes him as a human being. Jim reacts reinterpreting the dream on the white man's orders. The vision of reality that Huck is throwing on Jim, makes him change. Jim has been offended by his friend.

Chapter 16:

They are separated. The raft is destroyed by Huck (symbolical separation). Their lives cannot go together again. They lose each other. The destruction of the raft is the destruction of the dream of freedom and the destruction of Jim as a human being.

Dramatisation of Huck's moral dilemma. Jim tells Huck about his idea of escaping to the North where he will work hard to buy his family out of slavery. Huck is troubled about helping Jim to escape Dilemma between natural law and man's law.

pag. 91: “I begun to get it through my head that he was most free - and who was to blame it?” Jim is Miss Watson's property and Huck is troubled because he is participating in the `theft' of this property.

-The raft is a place of moral harassment, not a place of freedom. Huck is morally harassed by his conscience. He is suffering the most distressful problem of his life. Jim is manipulated to redeem Huck.

-Steamboat: it is described as a monster, as a biblical leviathan. Huck and Jim are also separated symbolically.

PART 2 (chapters 17 to 31)

Jim and Huck will come into contact with a variety of people. This is the most satirical part of the novel. Here, Twain satirises the aristocracy and the common people or `white trash' (this is the way low-class whites were called in the South). Even if Huck is `white trash', he is always above Jim because of the racial question.

-Example of picaresque (duke and king).

-Social criticism: society on the river, southern rules and their cruelty, morality of characters…

Chapter 17:

It shows how Huck's conscience is working.

Chapter 31:

Mark Twain is making a criticism of the popular society of the time (what people enjoyed) popular entertainment works like a circus.

The king and the duke try to cheat people by using language.

This is a crucial chapter that ends the seriousness of the novel and shows Huck's decision.

pag. 205-6: Jim has been sold back in slavery by the duke and the king.

pag. 207: “Thinks as long as he can hide it, it ain't no disgrace” Setting Jim free is a disgrace for Huck's community because he would be breaking the social law. Huck is torn between a dilemma because his religion says that he cannot steal a poor woman out of her property. Morally and socially, helping Jim to escape is a wicked act. Huck decides to write a letter to Miss Watson telling her where Jim is. This is a way to redeem his sin.

pag. 208: “'All right, then, I'll go to hell' - and tore it up” he starts to think of his human relationship with Jim and he decides to follow his heart and ignore social and religious rules. As an individual, he cannot accept the superiority of his natural law.

PART 3 (chapters 32 to 43)

In this part, there is a return to the mood, the tone and the atmosphere of an adventurous book (the same tone that we find in the first chapters), with the return of Tom Sawyer and the impossibility to fit Jim to that society. At the end, we discover that Jim has been free all the time.

In this last part, Twain presents a dramatic change from realism to sentimentality. The book reverts to a fantasy through the character of Tom Sawyer.

-Huck will `light out' for the territory he will escape again from society and will evade the plans of civilizing him. He is free at the end, but this implies a sacrifice of Jim. Jim is free and Huck goes away because if he went along with him, he will have to compromise his own freedom.

The book ends in exactly the same way as it has started.

'Literatura norteamericana'


Jean Toomer's Cane belongs to the Harlem Renaissance, which is a result of the massive migration of rural blacks to the north. Segregation was the law in southern states at that time. Blacks' possibilities in the labour market were reduced to agriculture. They were not owners of the land, but share-croppers blacks had to rent the land from a white owner and they had to paid back with money, whether there were benefits or not (semi-slavery situation).

The possibilities of factories in the north attracted these people in search of a better life and opportunities. They moved because of economic and racial reasons.

At that time, there was a growing and richer black middle-class man (wealthy, literate) in the north that has nothing to do with rural black in the south. These middle-class men could fight discrimination because they had money. They were very active in engaging black artists and in providing the economic means for the foundation of publishing houses, black Universities, black periodicals… Promoting literature will form part of their political agenda.

Cane and Their Eyes Were Watching God were written by people who belonged to this class: people who found it necessary to trace the origins of blackness and black culture.

-The attraction the whites felt for blacks at the turn of the century was an urge to vindicate the primitive. The natural man becomes an ideal, an alternative to the decadence and the corruption of the western society In America, at that time, the Negro fulfilled this ideal.

*1911 I World War is declared. Rich people encouraged black men to join the war by saying that America would respond to their sacrifice and would reward them. But there was no change at all. Black soldiers were segregated in the army (they did not fight with whites).

`Racial Fluidity': fluidity of the concept of race: “If you have one drop of black blood, then you are black” a cultural system saying who is black and who is white.

This is a time when writers try to break the models of 19th century realistic fiction. They are writing in the same way as modernist artists (painters, film makers…) are working. Reality is considered to be subjective, because the writer can only offer several versions of it and the reader will have to put together these versions and hive his/her own interpretation.

At the same time, in Afro-American literature, the Harlem's Renaissance cultural leaders take two positions:

W.E.B. Du Bois: He stated that art must be political, must contribute to the racial struggle and must denounce injustice. He belonged to the black bourgeoisie.

His book The Soul of Black Folks became a black manifesto. It is the origin and inspiration of Cane and of Their eyes were watching God. It is a mixture of sociology and realistic fiction that concerns racial bias, slavery and the matrix of black culture. In this book there is a narrator that goes from the north to the south and tries to discover his past, his cultural heritage and his sense of identity (“what does it mean to be a Negro in America?”). Du Bois reverses the stereotypical journey of blacks (from south to north).

Alain Locke: He edited a book called The New Negro (1920). In this book (which is a compilation of articles) he wrote an essay where he said that the Negro of the plantation was over, and where he encouraged black artists to look into their own Afro-American culture and to use its material and inspiration. Differently from Du Bois, he stated that political denunciation should not be the main target.

At the same time, there were other leaders who sponsored a return to Africa.

This was the time when primitivism was fashionable throughout western culture and Afro-American also try to discover their folk art, their rural origin, their popular culture and their myths.

Cane could be described as “the portrait of the black man as an artist”, while Zora's book as “the portrait of the black woman as an artist”.

'Literatura norteamericana'
Jean Toomer: Cane

(He is a man). Cane is not a novel, is not drama and is not poetry: it is everything, it is a collage. It is a literary experimentation. It is divided into 3 parts: in the first and second parts we find prose texts and poetry, and the last part is written in dramatic form.

Apart from taken inspiration from The Souls of Black Folks, Cane also takes inspiration from music: `Blues' the songs that are written, sung or performed out of sadness, despair or tragedy, with lots of improvisation and repetition. These are songs coming out of the heart. Songs are a way to relieve pain and reality.

-Toomer had understand the book in two ways:

    • folklore (art, cotton…)

    • journey of a northern black man who comes back to the south (the sign of his culture, the cradle of his identity - the dark one).

REDISCOVERY OF NATIVE FOLKLORE (he wants to retrieve black folklore and the original culture and reinterpret them).

The first part of the book takes place in Georgia. The narrator makes a journey into the heart of southerness (segregation, injustice…). We find portraits of women, because for Toomer, women represent the origin and are symbol of the duality of the south (a south that preaches racial purity while, at the same time, the conditions facilitate a desire for interracial relationships).

In Cane we find circularity, repetition, lyricism, women who represent a primitive desire, texts that are symbolical and metaphors and images related to the land. Toomer is manipulating a standard view of women (the seducer, the prostitute, the victim…). We don't listen to their voices.

This book represents the journey of the black man in the modernist period and the search of a new language. Toomer is trying to find the right words to describe the South.


PART I

All the stories take place in the same fictitious territory, so these women are connected with the images.

KARINTHA:

This story has two parts:

  • Childhood

  • Womanhood

  • It takes place in Georgia. Karintha is a beautiful black woman who has a child out of marriage and burns and buried it in the forest (where she has had it). She becomes a prostitute and will have a tragic ending.

    We find songs and fragments repeated at the beginning and the end of the story (they are like the lyrics of a song).

    REAPERS:

    All the images have to do with the rural world, with blacks living close to this southern land and draw inspiration from the closeness, the daily tasks, the animals around… It signs again to the black farmers and idealises that life.

    In this story, the black reapers kill unconsciously a rat with their scythes. It is showing the normal rhythm of life: life - death.

    BECKY:

    In this story, Toomer talks about mixing and about the tragic consequences of breaking the social code: blacks and whites should not mix (if they do, the society would condemn them).

    Becky is a white woman who had two Negro sons and both whites and blacks condemn her for it. There is no rape involved in this.

    pag. 8: “poor white woman” this is a cultural term (the lowest in the white social scale, but still superior to blacks). The way that blacks have to offend whites was to call them “poor whites”.

    -“Cabin” It is a symbol of her being guilty, and the place where she can be kept and hidden from both societies (black and white). She is put into the margins of society and she becomes a ghost (she disappears). Her life has been aimless.

    pag. 10: “O thank y Jesus” `call and response' method in a religious ceremony spontaneity, improvisation, emotional outpour.

    We find repetition (circularity).

    CARMA:

    There is a rumour about a story and the wind is telling it. This story is about a woman called Carma who is talked about by men (male narrator telling her story). She is driving a wagon along a road.

    pag. 17: “The sun is hammered to a band of gold” violence.

    -“She is in the forest, dancing” (“witches”) image related to superstition, ritualism, paganism… back to the primitive rites, to the non-civilised, uncontrolled and natural world.

    pag. 18: “moon” it is related to the cyclical body changes in women.

    -“She had others” she is an adulterer, a promiscuous woman.

    She takes a gun and rushes from her house. Her husband finds her body and thinks she has committed suicide, but she has just shot the gun. He goes mad because of this.

    SONG OF THE SON:

    This is a story about a son that comes back “the other son” Cain (= Cane). This is Cain's song. According to the Bible, Abel was a shepherd and Cain was a farmer (associated with the land).

    The American slave and the American black man work the land but get no profit from it. The protagonist of this story tries to go back to that state in which land is profitable to him in terms of literary inspiration. This poem foreshadows the ideas that will be fully developed in the Kabnis section (3rd part of the book). This is a search for words, for a black idiom / language.

    p. 21: Thy son, in time, I have returned to thee / Thy son, I have in time returned to thee” these lines sum up the content of the book. The black poet recognises that land as the origin of his inspiration, and he also recognises that slavery times are the origin of his song.

    PART II

    This part deals with blacks in Washington (in an urban space). There is a contrast if Georgia represents vitality, the possibility of growing as an artist and the feminine origins, in this second part the stories in the city are a denial of these possibilities.

    PART III > KABNIS:

    Back to Georgia. Kabnis tells the story of a black artist who is alienated from his roots. He is a black man who lives in a situation of self-hatred, who rejects his blackness and his origins and who eventually comes back to accept them (he “returns” to the land) this is a CIRCLE.

    We have again the rural world with the same images that we have seen in part I.

    He is a northern teacher who has come to the south. He is inverting the slave journey. Everything is hostile to him. He is not comfortable with himself. He doesn't accept his past. Kabnis and his problems with his own tradition make a spiritual coward out of him. He is consumed with self-hatred = he despises the signs of his identity, he pretends to be what he is not and he ignores his own cultural roots.

    pag. 157: “against his will” right from the very beginning he is not in tune with nature.

    pag. 158: “God, if I could develop that in words” this is his desire, the artist's complaint, his urge to sing feelings, to sing the beauty around… to sing his song.

    -“If I, the dream could become the face of the South” he wants to be the representative and the poet of the south.

    pag. 159: “Dust of slave-fields, dried, scattered…” he is covered by this dust.

    pag. 160: “Black mother sways, holding a white child on her bosom.” image of black women as mothers to white children. They are fed with their milk (nursing white children).

    pag. 161: “Earth's child. The earth my mother. God is a profligate red-nosed man about town. Bastardy; me. A bastard son has got a right to curse his marker.” he is describing himself as a bastard son.

    -“He looks up, and the night's beauty strikes him dumb” for the first time he recognises the beauty of nature. He is overwhelmed by darkness. He falls to his knees and prays. His desire is to transform all this beauty into words. He is struggling to become an Afro-American artist.

    pag. 223: “I've been shapin words after a design that branded here […] Been shapin words t fit m soul” He is becoming the artist, the “prodigal son” that comes back to the land, the representative of black culture, the poet that can develop his feelings in words but that can also voice the feelings of his community.

    pag. 224: “This whole damn bloated purple country feeds it cause its goin down t hell in a holy avalanche of words” Everything that he had rejected of the south, is now feeding his soul (inspiring him).

    There are other characters in this part of the book that help Kabnis recognise his origins:

    • Lewis is the contrast of Kabnis and will help him to confront his moral cowardice, his weaknesses. He makes Kabnis question his fear and tries to redeem him out of his self-hatred and out of his guilty.

    • Halsey is happy with his life in the south because he has learnt how to accommodate and how to survive with the violence and the indignities.

    • Father John is a symbolical figure. He is an old man who is blind and mute, and who is hidden in a cellar underground. He represents Negroes' past, the past of slavery. He is hidden because for the present generation, for people like Kabnis, he becomes an unpleasant memory. Father John, in the same way as the first slaves kidnapped from Africa, is out of sight like they were in the hold of the ship. He is in the hold because Afro-American history starts right there. He symbolises the will of blacks to keep away unpleasant memories, but also the reality of white history.

    Kabnis can fully come to terms with his culture and recognise the source of his artistic inspiration and of his history only by confronting Father John. He is telling Kabnis the truth about himself and about his race, because he represents the spirit of the black America.

    pag. 234: The end of Kabnis' journey. He is in the hole underground with Father John.

    He has been looking for words and inspiration. That process of finding a new language that fitted his soul was painful.

    pag. 235: “sin” this is the only word that Father John says.

    pag. 236: “Th whole world is a conspiracy t sin, especially in America, an against me” He is reluctant to recognise Father John's words. America is sinful and has conspired to sin because, politically, it did not follow the idea of equality (of being equal) and, morally, because of the sin of slavery, by which they reinterpreted the biblical statements of equality and fraternity.

    Father John is delivering a message of liberation to Kabnis.

    In the same way as in The House on Mango Street Aunt Lupe tells Esperanza to write and read, Father John shows Kabnis his real identity (a message of deliverance).

    Kabnis is responsible for himself and a representative of his race (a liberation for his people).

    pag. 239: The book finishes when the sun is rising Kabnis' conversion (new day, new world, new life, new possibilities and new hope). The first image of the book is that of the sun going down (dusk) and the last one is that of the sun rising CIRCLE (the journey has been completed).

    'Literatura norteamericana'
    Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

    This book is Zora's version of female experience. It also takes as the main motive the journey.

    She also belonged to the Harlem Renaissance (she was famous at that time). She was related to the main people working in this black flourish of authors. She was an anthropologist, folklorist and a fiction writer. She belonged to the black intellectual group and she was interested in language, in blackness, in the popular forms of black culture (folklore), in oral story-telling, in voodoo, in African religious rituals and their correspondence in the New World, and in what had happened to African spirituality among the black communities in the New World.

    She worked on black speech. In her fiction, she was interested in recreating the popular black idiom, the way in which rural blacks in the South spoke. It is a literary recreation of the black vernacular. She wanted to reflect that black heritage, the roots of black culture. In the same way that Jean Toomer had done, she has to make a journey to the heart of blackness (the heart of the south). Her experiment was very problematic and controversial. She incorporates unique forms of black speech.

    In her book words are powerful and can destroy and kill Blacks exercise power through words.

    To play the dozens”: linguistic game in which blacks are initiated by the community since they are children. It is a way of talking that is reflected in Zora's book. The more educated you are, the less you talk like this (no grammar). A way to come to an outstanding is using language.

    A man of words”: a man who can manipulate language, who can reverse a situation of social or psychological inferiority through language = Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali).

    Zora disappeared from literature after her death. The place where she was buried was unknown = she went into oblivion. It was the writer Alice Walker (The Colour Purple) who discovered her books in a volume called In search of our mothers' garden*, where she wrote an article describing her discovery of Zora's literary value and also her discovery of her tomb. She marked her grave. With this act, Walker symbolised the recognition of a new generation of black women writers. Zora was the `mother', the first black woman writer who dealt in her literature with the question of black women's struggle to achieve identity and autonomy. She was not longer forgotten. She became the first of a long list of black woman fiction writers in the 20th century.

    The book was published in 1937. This is the time of the big depression in the USA. Blacks are suffering from unemployment. Both white and black literature at that time were interested in political commitment: political literature = a denunciation of the economical and political crisis.

    Zora was presenting a love story, a book that describes the quest of a woman for her own identity. When Their eyes… was written, the book was rejected by the male literary establishment. There are no white people in the book. The book focuses on a female hero. Richard Wright (Native Son) said that the book has no theme, no message and no thought problems of reception.

    -It is the story of a black woman who gets married, but the marriage doesn't work, so she goes with another man without getting divorce. When he dies she goes with a third man who is younger than herself. He also dies and she goes with another man she is telling the story of her life to a friend this is a long flashback. All this is told using black vernacular. The book ends the same way it begins (circularity).

    In her book, she `revises' (reinterprets) themes and topics of previous Afro-American works. Alice Walker also `revised' Their eyes… in The Colour Purple.

    Frederick Douglass' Narrative of an American slave:

    -“ships” and “sails” (p. 1) symbolise freedom.

    Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the life of a slave girl:

          • The protagonist is searching for freedom and for spiritual and sexual fulfilment.

          • Slave narrator who claims a right to freedom, dignity and sexual fulfilment.

          • Figure of the grandmother. In Jacobs', it is limited by the restrictions of the cult of true womanhood. The embodiment of this ideal is Jacob's grandmother, who becomes an idealised character and who is respected and loved. In Zora's text, her grandmother represents an old ideal of respectability of women's slavery to marriage and middle-class values that the protagonist has to destroy to be free. The grandmother in Their eyes… represents the social values that imprisoned black women's rights to self-assertion.

          • Lonely protagonist.

          • The addressee. Jacobs' is anguished throughout her book because she knows that sooner or later she will have to tell her own daughter her sexual story (according to social white standards, she is a fallen woman). She has to confront her own daughter. She opens up the perspective. It is not only a mother-daughter relationship, but she universalises the scope knowledge has passed down through mother to daughter. Mothers have taught daughters how to become women. In Zora's book, it is a woman friend. By using black vernacular, folklore and communal knowledge, she is creating new bonds for a black sisterhood.

    Jean Toomer's Cane.

    Their eyes… is the first novel to show a woman protagonist who controls the text, who has a powerful voice and who asserts her independence. The protagonist has endured, survived, and she comes back spiritually rich and with experience and knowledge. She has seen the world and she tells her friend to enrich her life. Both characters are necessary for the story. There wouldn't exist a teller without a “hungry” listener.

    pag. 1: passivity in men vs. action in women.

    -Whereas in Cane there is a narrator that speaks in Standard English and there are black characters who speak in dialect, in Their Eyes… Zora tries to imitate black vernacular. Afro-American critics have talked about this text as the `speakerly text' because we can find here three types of discourse:

  • Indirect discourse represented by a third person narrator who tells the story in perfect Standard English (p. 4).

  • Direct discourse the characters speak in the text without mediation in black vernacular and their exact words are reflected in the text (p. 3). The author tries to reflect in writing the phonetics.

  • Free indirect discourse it is an integration of both direct and indirect discourse. Characterisation:

      • no quotation marks

      • the language reflects the characters' idiom

      • it is mixed with the narrator's voice the narrator is re-telling something that a character expresses using that character's voice and his/her own voice.

      • the third person narrator is neutral (no gender).

    Ex: pag. 11: “Oh to be a pear tree - any tree in bloom”. (pag. 27) She wants her text to be a speakerly text, that is, to recreate as much as possible, the richness, the variety and the colour of black speech (a speech she did not speak). She was interested in collecting the oral form. In a way, she is elevating the condition of Afro-American culture by elevating the black vernacular to literary level.

    -Langston Hughes, in an article called The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain (one of the black manifestoes of the Harlem Renaissance), he says:

    «We, younger Negro artist who create now, intend to express an individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If coloured people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.»

    What he is saying is: don't look for inspiration anywhere else but inside the black community.

    -One of the things that Zora tries to recreate is the use of verbal games and story telling in her book.

    -In Chapter 7 Janie's life is quite miserable. She is becoming older and her husband (Jody) does not treat her fairly. He has been psychologically abusing her.

    pag. 74: “Don't stand there rollin' yo' pop eyes at me wid yo' rump hangin' nearly to yo' knees!” These are the exact words he uses to humiliate her in front of everybody. The reaction of the others is a big laugh.

    -“That was something that hadn't been done before” for the first time, she is talking back to her husband.

    pag. 75: “When you pull down yo' britches, you look lak de change uh life” a struggle between they begin. She rhetorically `kills' her husband by saying these things. Her capacity to talk, to have access to language, is directly connected with black women's acquisition of a voice. She is `playing the dozens'.

    -“You heard her, you ain't blind” sinestesia (figure of speech: heard - blind).

    pag. 6: “You can tell `em what Ah say if you wants to” how women's story has passed from a friend to another.

    The issue of motherhood does not appear in this book (NO MOTHERHOOD + NO CHILDREN).

    Gone with the wind it represents the best example of the plantation novel and of southern stories. Their Eyes… is a rewriting of that same tradition, a reversal of the black women characters that appear in Gone… (both books are published at the same time). In Gone… we find two types of women:

    • mommy-type (= maternal figure) a woman who was a mother to a white but to no black characters. Her life is tied to the changes and the developments of Scarlet O'Hara.

    • mulatto girl a representation of the other extreme, the over-sexed black woman (the whore).

    Janie is neither one thing nor the other. She breaks the stereotypical images of black women and she becomes a “black Scarlet O'Hara” because they are both women in search of their destiny, women who, in front of terrible circumstances, struggle to survive sacrificing in the process sacred values (love and motherhood = social respectability), and they endure. Differently from the protagonists of The Yellow Wallpaper, A Rose for Emily or Trifles, these women do not die, nor commit suicide, nor get mad. They do not direct violence, aggressiveness and frustration against themselves, but against other elements: society. When women face problems, there is only one way LONELINESS.

    -Janie leaves her first husband and marries another man without getting divorce (she is committing bigamy).

    -She does not marry the third man (who is much younger than herself). She kills him.

    -At the end she is alone (no children).

    -The question of motherhood is not biological. Mother love is not natural, but a cultural construction. To understand the non-existence of motherhood in this novel we have to come back into the story: Janie's interests come first, but there is a price to pay for this (loneliness and memories). The end is so unexpected because the heroine is left alone. In white literature, women who wanted to fight repression and oppression had many problems and died. This novel shows a very different result they can live alone being happy (no men in her life). She is a woman who success.

    'Literatura norteamericana'
    F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

    It was written in a decade when everything seemed to be possible (the 20s, between the I and the II World War, after the depression). It is an example of the American modernism and of the fiction written during the in-war period, when the American fiction had important names: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner…

    «Lo que más fascinaba a Fitzgerald era la mezcla de energía e inocencia y la capacidad de soñar con la perfección que producía el nuevo rico americano.»

    Fitzgerald was a person who was extremely rich and who tried to benefit for it. His life very much parallels America at the time: alcoholic, no longer himself. At the end of his life he was alone. He died in obscurity and forgotten (there were very few people in his funeral).

    This novel is a criticism of the American dream. It talks about alienation in male terms (from the point of view of a protestant white man).

    One of the themes of the book is the possibility of a new birth in a country defined by the republican ideals of equality and freedom. No matter how or where the immigrants came from, they would go to a new baptism, spiritual and material, in the new world.

    Possibility to rise from rags to riches money is a sign of divine election (the more material success in the world, the more possibilities of spiritual salvation you have). One possibility of showing visible signs of God's election was through material success.

    Another theme is the optimistic possibilities of (re-)inventing oneself. America is the land that gives this possibility of self-creation.

    The novel is not realistic. Everything in it is symbolic.

    It is a novel about the process of self-invention, about re-imagining oneself against the tough background, about idealism and the consequences of it. The land is described as a “tabla rasa”. This process of ignoring everything was a political strategy. It also talks about someone who invents himself. The American dream is an invention / a myth in one side of the coin we find idealism, romanticism and the belief in the possibility of a new birth (optimistic view), but in the other one we find materialism and misery. Gatsby is a victim of the American dream.

    This novel is imagistic every single word counts (concentration, directness, no ornamentation and no wordiness). Every character means something.

    -PARTS:

    • Presentation (chapters 1 and 2)

    • Part 1 (chapters 3 and 4)

    • Part 2 (chapters 5 and 6)

    • Part 3 (chapter 7)

    • Part 4 (chapter 8)

    • Conclusion (chapter 9)

    -It is set in New York.

    Main locations:

    • West Egg and East Egg where the main characters live (Nick, Gatsby, Daisy, Tom).

    • New York: Tom's flat and Hotel rich places.

    • The valley of ashes a place of poverty, the alternative world. This comes from the Psalm 23. It is symbolical of DEATH.

    This is a story told by Nick (a witness), who is participating in the action. His interpretation of the events is given to the reader. Everything we get to know about Gatsby is filtered through the conscious of Nick. The information we get in the book has to do with Nick's point of view and motivations. He plays a double role: character and narrator problem of relativity.

    -Chapter I:

    Nick is the person in who people trust, but he reserves judgement. He is a character who has moved from the West to the East (the fashionable New York) and he is in the process of learning.

    At the end of the book we can wonder if the story was such. Nick's perspective on Gatsby's story determines the way he tells it.

    pag. 7: “Whenever you feel like criticising anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had” Even if he says that he has been educated not to criticise, we must question this `neutrality'.

    pag. 8: “It was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readinessfirst impression that we get of Gatsby (from Nick's point of view).

    In this chapter, Nick talks about his journey to the West Egg (the least fashionable part of the city), about Daisy and Tom, about Tom's adulterous relationship with a woman, about this snobbish people…

    pag. 24: “That's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” this is the way Daisy describes a woman when she discovers her baby is going to be a girl. She is a mother who is sorry that her child is a girl, because girls are objects of desire.

    pag. 27 / 188: “green light” HOPE

    pag. 26 / 188: “he stretched out his arms… / stretch out our arms farther…” possibility of reaching something.

    Chapters 1 and 9 (the last one) end with images of HOPE circularity.

    -At the end of chapter 1 we see the sea in classical writing, it represents transcendence, and it is a symbol of freedom, of escape

    -Chapter II: reversal of chapter I, where we have the main characters, rich people, and the superficial life of these people.

    The Valley of Ashes is reminiscent of the Valley of Shadows in Psalm 23 in the Bible. It is a forgotten, isolated place, the reversal of the idyllic, rural America.

    pag. 29 colour: grey, dark: sadness, no hope, death.

    - Fitzgerald describes men without soul, like robots, mechanicals, and “hollow men”.

    -“A fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens” how materialistic values, this waste, have taken the rural archaic place. Everything in the landscape is becoming animalistic (lack of spirituality: crawls, ghastly).

    In his description, Fitzgerald uses adjectives meaning obscurity, darkness, greyness, symbolical of the spiritual state of the place and its inhabitants.

    • In the fist paragraph ashes, valley.

    • In the second paragraph we perceive a big eye (GOD): “But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg”. We can perceive the lack of God, which has been replaced by this advertisement.

    • Third paragraph continuation of the terrible description of the place (contrast with Eggs).

    -“foul river” not even a river.

    The characters cannot really perceive reality. They are one way or another blind to their realities and they try to create themselves a new stage and sceneries to go on living.

    pag. 30:dismal scene” adjective used also with “swamp”.

    The Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan: the book Franklin discovers in the pocket of the man he risks from the sea. This is an allegory of the trip of the character Christian from earth to heaven allegory of men's trip on his way to salvation and paradise. And this character has to go through the “dismal swamp*”. The Valley of Ashes is the place where the condemned people are.

    -All the characters will have to come across and meet the Valley of Ashes (one world exists thanks to the existence of the other world).

    pag. 31 introduction of two other characters: Wilson and his wife. They are very important. Descriptions:

    • Wilson: ashing grey man with just one ambition: to buy a car.

    • Wife (Myrtle): (only her body is described) fat, no beauty in her, sensuous just sex. She is the opposite of Daisy.

    -Importance of CARS: symbol of economic power, modernity, richness, modern life, success, luxury… a symbol of who is inside and of the period. At the end it will cause tragedy and destruction, so it is also a symbol of DEATH. Cars are described as objects of admiration, and also as ominous objects. There is always a dangerous potential in these machines (p. 70: “monstruous length”).

    The success is very important because Gatsby is an example of self-made man: a man able to go from rags to riches.

    Gatsby has first appeared in chapter II, but we will never know for sure who he is mystery throughout the narrative, because Fitzgerald decides to tell the story by using several characters, so the narrative organization of the novel creates uncertainty, doubt and mystery.

    -Chapter III: Gatsby's party.

    The action of the novel is very much shaped by social gatherings: the party at Gatsby's house, the party at Tom's apartment in New York, the party at Nick's house…

    Gatsby party is a superficial meeting. Parties in this book mirrors social life the vanity of social relationships, the emptiness of the life of these characters. Parties are a symbol of power, too. Gatsby, with his party, wants to impress someone, to make a display of his success.

    pag. 47: “signed Jay Gatsby” the first time Gatsby sing himself. Process of naming oneself (self-invention). We don't know if this is his real name.

    -In this chapter, Nick meets Gatsby, and there are several characters that tell stories to him about Gatsby.

    pag. 53-54: “old sport” this is the way Gatsby will always try to call the other men. On his way of self-invention, he tries to mimic high-class language. His way of self-invention is not only materialistic, but we will discover that he has changed his name, his habits, his way of dressing, his language he has reinvented himself physically and spiritually, and he has also reinvented his past.

    In this chapter we know he has killed a man (he is some sort of gangster).

    -“Whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd” Nick comes from a very rich family, so there are things that come as natural: speech, culture, social codes of behaviour… but Gatsby is a person who has just arrived, who has not been born within the circle.

    pag. 62: the party is over. Back to the end of chapter I figure of isolated man in darkness. In chapter I he was in front of the sea. Now, he is in front of the empty house.

    -Chapter IV: Gatsby tells his life to Nick.

    We get to know more about Gatsby's mysterious background. But we never know whom to trust to know about Gatsby's life. The problem is stressed by the different perspectives from different characters. Even if he is surrounded by lots of people, he is alone and suffers from a terrible loneliness. There are many names but no voices (people do not communicate, they only come and go).

    In this part we see many people coming to his party (some of them are invited, some are not). At the end, he ends up alone and cannot trust anyone superficiality, frivolity of these rich people's life. Fitzgerald is making a criticism of the materialism of the age, of what the American dream has been transformed into. Everything in the book builds up in the connotations of (fake) richness.

    Nick's opinion goes from disappointment to admiration. Gatsby is trusting Nick. He is spotting the right person, the right morality. He is telling the reader that Nick is a legitimate teller of this story. Nick seems to be the right person to do this because Gatsby has trusted him, has chosen him among the masses.

    At the end of the book we discover that Gatsby has lied. We could also say that he is fictionalising about himself (making a fiction about his self, reinventing himself). Gatsby is very optimistic about the future, a profound romantic and a staunch believer in the American dream. His dream is Daisy (he is crazy for Daisy). He is blind to the present and to the real Daisy (he is still in love with the Daisy he met). On the other hand, he is morally corrupt: he is a lier and his journey from rags to riches is stained with crimes (he is involved with gangsters). In a way, he is representing the American dream (positive + negative aspects) Gatsby's experience is universalised as the American experience.

    pag. 75: The non-white Protestant Anglo-Saxon characters (Negroes + immigrants) represent a menace and Nick mocks at their attempts to emulate WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant).

    There are 3 things that corrupt the American Dream:

    Immigrants from southeastern Europe.

    Black people (they are in a limousine driven by a white chauffeur, which is scandalous).

    Gatsby is also a person who does not belong.

    -Women in this book are always described in negative terms. Fitzgerald felt very anxious about the new women (anxiety about the changing role of the women at the time). He also felt anxious about the rise of Negroes and about characters that have become part of the American dream not by family (“new rich people”). This is also a social novel, which is also working against the changes of America in the 1920s.

    pag. 84: “young, rich and wild” definition of these people.

    -Chapter V:

    Gatsby and Daisy meet at Nick's house (neutral territory). Nick is a mediator (a `go-between'). He arranges this meeting.

    pag. 91: “starting at the Finnish tread that shook the kitchen floor” it refers to the maid (to the way she walks, making the floor tremble) pejorative (NO FEMINITY.

    pag. 94: “demoniac Finn” second reference to the maid.

    -“clock” related to time this is novel about time / the past, about a man who lives in the past, who wants to repeat the past, who wants to stop the clock, but he cannot. His desire is condemned to be frustrated by time.

    Gatsby wants to show Daisy that he is not that old poor boy she had met years ago. He wants to show her all his richness. Everything she worships is money and luxury.

    pag. 99: We see Gatsby's obsession and vulgarity (display of his clothes). Daisy's reaction CRY. She is reacting not to his love, but to his properties (= money). This is her spirit.

    pag. 103: “but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion” Gatsby is a dreamer. Reality for him implies dreaming, creativity and fiction (he has invented himself and he wants to become a new man).

    -“He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion” This capacity to reinvent seems to be necessary for life.

    -Chapter VI:

    pag. 104: “James Gatz - that was really, or at least legally, his name.” Nick tells the reader Gatsby's “true” story, patching together the little pieces of information he has. Nick is not only a narrator, but also an interested participant in the action.

    pag. 105: “So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end” He is faithful to his own invention and it seems that he models himself on an idealised version and all his actions tend to be honest to that conception.

    pag. 108: Nick is explaining his narrative method.

    pag. 117: ”You can't repeat the past. […] Why of course you can!” He wants to erase the past, so he will be able to change the love story.

    -“I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before” optimism about the American Dream. He thinks that he can do anything. He is an innocent character (he is very naïve). He thinks everything is possible: materially and spiritually.

    -Chapter VII: Daisy's house.

    In this chapter, Gatsby is reunited with Daisy. She invites Nick and Gatsby for lunch. There is a confrontation between Gatsby and Tom, and they drive to New York. All this happens in a very hot weather.

    The atmosphere is of tragedy / ominous (something is bound to happen). They go through the Valley of Ashes. There is another mention of Dr Eckleburg's eyes. There is also a lot of confusion. Daisy and Gatsby's romance reaches its climax, and at the same time, the tragic conclusion.

    pag. 144: We see Myrtle's death: She is run over by a yellow car. It is a terrible and cruel death. Fitzgerald seems to take some pleasure in describing this outrageous death. She is just flesh, and her death is shown in carnal terms, too.

    pag. 146: Wilson is mistaken about the driver's identity. We do not know which colour the car was. A Negro character is the one who tells the police the colour of the car. With that information, Wilson projects and can trace the driver.

    pag. 152: After all this tragedy, Daisy and Tom protect each other and do not let anyone to hurt one of them. We discover Daisy's character. We have a feeling of Gatsby's wrong dream (of his stupidity). Daisy and Tom share the same life, and so one covers the other.

    -“So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight watching over nothing” Gatsby seems quite ridiculous and a pathetic dreamer.

    -Chapter VIII: Gatsby's death.

    Wilson kills Gatsby. His death is a sort of sacrifice for his devotion to Daisy. He is a victim of his own dream. We can see that Gatsby is the reversal of Wilson (he is “Wilson's double”). He has attached meaning, has trusted the green light (= optimism), a dream which has been his God. Wilson, on the contrary, has trusted other eyes (Dr. Eckleburg's eyes) which are also an illusion.

    pag. 168: Gatsby's dream is reduced to a grotesque nightmare.

    -Chapter IX:

    There is a meeting between Gatsby's father and Nick. We have another perspective on Gatsby's life (his father's).

    pag. 174: “Where have they got Jimmy?” A new revelation from his father and a new identity for Gatsby JIMMY.

    pag. 179: “a photograph of his house” Gatsby's richness: CAR + HOUSE.

    -Hopalong Cassidy title of a book belonging to the popular literature read by low-class people (about lonely heroes achieving success). This book is mentioned at this very moment to reinforce Gatsby's low origins, his dramatic change from anonymity to richness and popularity and also his tragic end (the collapse of his dream).

    In American culture, the religious exemplary lives of saints and martyrs that are recommended as best reading for children, were replaced from the end of the 18th century onwards by Franklinian success stories. These are material success stories because they show a possibility of moral salvation.

    pag. 180: SCHEDULE it reminds us the Franklinian schedule by which TIME is MONEY All the day is perfectly structured to profit from every little minute. It is a representation of Franklinian ethos.

    pag. 188: green light = future the possibility to change life throughout our acts of imaginative convention, to change oneself through self-invention. We have a capacity to create and imagine reality as Gatsby does in the book.

    'Literatura norteamericana'

    Ernest Hemingway

    Hemingway started as a journalist. He became one of the most important writers because his prose tried to follow his journalistic rules:

      • no worthiness

      • no abstract concepts

      • no use of unnecessary adjectives

      • directness

      • concreteness

      • specific language

    Showing the fact and letting the reader understand the meaning from the events given by the writer. He made a revolution in language.

    With Hemingway and modernism, all this linguistic exoticism - the 19th century realistic exoticism - is minimised. He went to England and met Ezra Pound, Eliot, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. They were all experimenting with language and narrative techniques. It was not possible to write as 19th century realistic writers did because reality had changed a fragmentation of conscience; a new concept of time; the impossibility to apprehend reality.

    Hemingway represents masculinity, the American `macho'. Among American male writers, there has always been a certain anxiety towards writing, because writing was considered to be a feminine activity. Throughout history, whenever women have profited from the opportunities to occupy a place of power, there has been a masculine backlash.

    In the 1920s, Hemingway and Fitzgerald had an anxiety towards women who were becoming very visible. Women were becoming emancipated and the `macho' felt threaten.

    The Snows of Kilimanjaro

    We have an alienated hero: a man who is a victim of society and of his own dream.

    The story takes place in Africa (the dark continent). We can see the completely ignorant attitude he has towards the places he uses in his literature. The settings he uses are just exoticism: there is no understanding of the culture or of the political situation of these places. In a way, he is `colonizing' these territories he has a 'colonizing' mentality.

    This story is not about Africa. He is going to talk about the inner crisis, the existential crisis of a frustrated writer. We also see the difference between the primitivism of the landscape and the western civilization the protagonist represents.

    This is not the first time we have seen the crisis of a male modern writer. But, whereas in Cane, the search for an identity and for cultural origins ends up in a positive way (= in light), in white male literature (like Hemingway's), the protagonist - Harry - dies. He has come from Paris on a safari, not only on vacation, but also in search of a miracle to revitalise his career and to find his past self, his illusions. But he dies, so the story ends in darkness and frustration. Hemingway will show, in the different parts of the story, how death comes.

    Characteristics of the story:

    • Very little action

    • We are shown the action in Harry's mind.

    • The movement of the story is the advance of death. We have flashbacks and, at the end, an impossible dream. Harry can be compared to Gatsby, but he will be the contrary to Kabnis.

    EPIGRAPH (=Quotation): This description is similar to the one we can find in an encyclopaedia. Hemingway's writing facts (FACTUAL WRITING). We are given the facts and, as readers, we must find the connection between the epigraph and the story. Factual writing tries to mask the agency / manipulation of the writer. He is using every day language and short sentences straight to the point. Hemingway was “obsessed with 'purify' the language of the tribe”. Nothing is missing or redundant. He is inventing a literary language (modern American literary language).

    -Harry is dying of gangrene: SYMBOLICAL MEANING OF THIS ILLNESS: the death is slower and the person is being conscious that his own death is coming closer and closer. It is so terrible that it spreads little by little. The flesh gets black and rotten. It paralyses the heart.

    Harry is not only dying physically, but also spiritually. His life got corrupted, gangrened little by little. He is being conscious of that corruption, of that spiritual death. He has betrayed his dreams and himself. Gangrene is black poisoning and his soul also got poisoned.

    -In the Bible, St Paul uses the word `gangrene' in a symbolical way to speak about the teaching of false doctrines and about the empty speeches that violate what is holy: “Their word would spread like gangrene”. This has to do with Harry's life his dreams of becoming a writer and of achieving the “summit” have been corrupted by the false doctrine of materialism and by money worship.

    -St Paul also uses this word to refer to the corruption of the Christian congregation: “These false doctrines corrupt the body of Christ (= congregation)”. He emphasises the fact that, if one limb is gangrened, the whole body is in danger of decay.

    What happens to Harry has not only individual significance, but it also becomes symbolic of the alienation of the American male writer at the time.

    -Kilimanjaro We get a spiritual objective, a spiritual end of the road. The white snow means purity and lack of sin.

    -“Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that attitude.” “You cannot change the leopard's spots” this is a quotation from the Bible used by pro-slavery intellectuals to justify the inferiority of black people. This noble animal has been successful (has achieved the summit, the top). It is an image of success. The objective of the protagonist is to become a leopard and reach the Kilimanjaro.

    PART 1: Afternoon.

    Harry quarrels with Helen. He remembers his wasted time and all the materials he had accommodated and now will not use.

    Everything that is written in italics is past flashbacks. We are shown how throughout this waiting for death, Harry is being bombed with experiences and sensations (= how the past is present). All the images that we get announce DEATH.

    pag. 1655 repetitions that attempt to recreate the immediacy of the past to show that vividness of that past into the present.

    pag. 1657 The main location for American writers at that time was Paris (for people who were escaping the modernity of American culture).

    PART 2: Evening.

    Harry has awakened. His wife has gone hunting. As he is closer to death, he is more ready to admit the truth about himself and his wife: He married her for money, not for love. In this process of recognition, of opening his heart to his own frustration, animals become symbolical.

    pag. 1660: “While it grew dark they drank and just before it was dark and there was no longer enough light to shoot, a hyena crossed the open on his way around the hill.” Everything around means the end and the animals know (vultures + hyena animals connoting death).

    pag. 1661-2 Interior monologue = FRUSTRATION.

    pag. 1667 his death (he has felt it).

    PART 3: Morning and Night.

    pag. 1668 Harry's last dream a projection of his desire (it is not written in italics because he is already dead). In this final dream, he tries to negate death and to sublimate his frustration. The images of this dream go back to the epigraph: Harry, as the leopard, tries to transcend (go beyond) his nature. But, differently from the animal (noble and frozen = cleanness), Harry is a rotting corpse. He is down in his own inferno, dying in a desperate death, while the animal has died heroically. So this dream becomes a mirage, the projection of his frustrated desires. In his imagination, he becomes the leopard and redeems himself of a life of frustration. So his dream is a way to compensate for his failures in life At the end, Harry's desire to achieve the top (Kilimanjaro) is achieved.

    This type of heroes (white, middle-class) are just failures. They are questioning the validity of the American dream.

    pag. 1669 Helen is awakened at night by the hyena.

    'Literatura norteamericana'

    'Literatura norteamericana'
    SUMMARIES

    THE YELLOW WALLPAPER

    The narrator and her physician husband, John, have rented a mansion for the summer so she can recuperate from neurasthenia. She rests in a former nursery room and is forbidden from working or writing. The spacious, sunlit room has yellow wallpaper stripped off in two places with a hideous, chaotic pattern. Two weeks later, the narrator's condition worsens; fortunately, their nanny, Mary, can take care of their baby, and John's sister, Jennie, is a perfect housekeeper. The narrator's irritation with the wallpaper grows; it sometimes looks like a figure is stuck in the pattern.

    The narrator grows more anxious and depressed. The wallpaper provides her only stimulation as she studies its confusing patterns. The image of a woman stooping down and "creeping" (crawling) around clarifies each day. John denies the narrator's request to leave the house, and she does not open up to him about the wallpaper. By moonlight, she can see very clearly in the wallpaper the figure of a woman behind bars. The narrator grows paranoid that John and Jennie are interested in the wallpaper, too.

    The narrator's health improves as her interest in the wallpaper deepens. She thinks the "yellow smell" of the wallpaper has spread over the house. At night, the woman or possibly many women in the wallpaper shakes the bars in the pattern as she tries to break through them. But the pattern has strangled the heads of many women who have tried to get through. The narrator believes she has seen the woman creeping about outside surreptitiously in the sunlight. The narrator intends to peel off the wallpaper before she leaves the house in two days.

    At night, the narrator helps the shaking woman in the wallpaper by peeling off the wallpaper halfway around the room. The next day, Jennie is mildly shocked, but understands the desire to peel off the ugly wallpaper. The next night, the narrator locks her room and continues stripping the wallpaper. She hears shrieks within the wallpaper as she tears it off. She contemplates jumping out of a window, but the bars prevent that; besides, many women creep about outside. The narrator creeps around the room. John eventually gets into the room. The narrator tells him she has peeled off most of the wallpaper, and now no one can put her back inside. John faints, and the narrator continues creeping around the room over him.

    'Literatura norteamericana'

    THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET

    The House on Mango Street traces Esperanza Cordero's coming-of-age through a series of vignettes about her family, neighbourhood, and secret dreams. Although the novel does not follow a traditional chronological pattern, a story emerges, nevertheless, of Esperanza's self-empowerment and will to overcome obstacles of poverty, gender, and race. The novel begins when the Cordero family move into a new house, the first they have ever owned, on Mango Street in the Latino section of Chicago. Esperanza is disappointed by the red, ramshackle house. It is not at all the dream-house her parents had always talked about, nor is it the house high on a hill that Esperanza vows to one day own herself.

    Esperanza is not only ashamed of her home, but she is also uncomfortable with her outside appearance, which she feels does not convey the true personality hidden insider her. She is very self-conscious about her name, whose mispronunciation by teachers and peers at school sounds very ugly to her ears. Esperanza was named after her great- grandmother, who was tricked into marriage and doomed to a life of sadness afterwards. Esperanza vows that she will not end up like the first Esperanza and so many women do- watching life pass by through the window. To break free from her name connotations, she longs to rename herself "Zeze the X," a choice she finds more reflective of her true self.

    As the new girl on the block, Esperanza observes many of life's most joyous and harsh realities while meeting her Mango Street neighbours. Her first friend, Cathy, is a short-lived friendship because Cathy's father soon moves the family away because the neighbourhood is getting bad, or in other words becoming more inhabited by lower-class Latinos like Esperanza's family. Two other young sisters, however, adopt Esperanza into their circle when she chips in money to help them buy a bicycle. Lucy and Rachel help Esperanza ponder the wonders of growing up by inventing rhymes about hips and parading around Mango Street in high-heeled shoes.

    The older kids on Mango Street open Esperanza's eyes to the hardships faced by young people in rough neighbourhoods. Louie's cousin's car-theft, the hit-and-run death of a boy Marin meets at the dance, and Marin's own desperate attempts to find a husband to take her away show Esperanza the limited possibilities she herself faces. Alicia, on the other hand, exemplifies self-betterment and strength in the face of stereotypes to Esperanza. Alicia, despite her father's macho views, attends a university and studies all night so she can one day be more than her father's housekeeper.

    As the novel progresses, Esperanza starts to notice her budding sexuality. She is excited when boys on the street or at a dance look at her; however, two instances of sexual violence destroy Esperanza's illusions of true love and her first kiss. So too, her promiscuous friend Sally's behaviour also contributes to Esperanza's cynicism and caution when dealing with the opposite sex. Nevertheless, Esperanza still dreams of sitting outside at night with her boyfriend, but she has set her standards higher than most of the women around her. She refuses to seek out a man to "escape," because she has seen too many neighbours unhappy in marriage. Ruthie, for example, has run away from her husband and has lost her senses; young Rafaela is so beautiful that her husband locks her indoors when he leaves. The tragedy which hits Esperanza the hardest though, is that of Sally. Her friend, who, like Esperanza only wanted to dream and share love, is first beaten by her father to prevent Sally ruining the family with her "dangerous" beauty. To escape, Sally, though underage, marries a travelling salesman and the cycle of abuse continues. Enraged and saddened by her friend's tragedy, Esperanza vows to leave Mango street, become a writer, and build her dream home.

    Although Esperanza is constantly reaffirming that she wants to move away from Mango Street, we know by the end novel that she will one day return to help those who will not be so lucky as she. Indeed, in the closing pages Esperanza admits that she cannot escape Mango Street; that what friends like Alicia were telling her was true: Esperanza cannot cut ties with Mango Street. It has influenced her dreams and personality and she has learned valuable life lessons from its inhabitants. That is why, explains Esperanza, she tells stories about the house on Mango Street, finding the beauty amidst dirty streets is finding her true self.

    'Literatura norteamericana'

    HUCKLEBERRY FINN

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often considered to be Twain's masterpiece. It combined his raw humour with startlingly mature material to create a novel that directly attacked many of the traditions the South held dear. Huckleberry Finn is the main character, and it is through his eyes that the South is revealed and judged. His companion, a runaway slave named Jim, provides Huck with friendship and protection during their journey along the Mississippi.

    The novel begins with Huck himself writing the story. He briefly describes what has happened to him since The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. After Huck and Tom discovered twelve thousand dollars in treasure, Judge Thatcher invested the money for them. Huck was adopted by the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, both of whom took pains to raise him properly.

    Dissatisfied with his new life, Huck runs away. Tom Sawyer manages to bring Huck back by promising to start a band of robbers. All the young boys in town join Tom's band, and they use a hidden cave as their hideout. However, many of them soon become bored with the make-believe battles and so the band falls apart.

    Soon thereafter Huck sees footprints in the snow which he recognizes as his Pa's. Huck realizes that Pa has returned to claim his money, and so he quickly runs to Judge Thatcher and "sells" his share of the money for a "consideration" of a dollar. Pa catches Huck and makes him hand over the dollar, and threatens to beat Huck if he ever goes to school again.

    Judge Thatcher and the Widow try to gain court custody of Huck, but a new judge in town refuses to separate Huck from Pa. Soon thereafter, Pa steals Huck away from the Widow's house and takes him to a log cabin. Huck says that he enjoys the life at first, but he soon decides to escape after Pa starts to frequently beat him.

    Soon thereafter Pa returns to the town and Huck seizes the chance to escape. He saws his way out of the log cabin, kills a pig and spreads the blood as if it were his own, and then takes a canoe and floats downstream to Jackson's Island. Once there he sets up camp and hides out.

    A few days later Huck stumbles onto a still smouldering campfire on the island. He is frightened but decides to discover who the other person is. The next day he discovers that the person is Miss Watson's slave Jim, who has run away after overhearing the Widow plan to sell him to a slave trader. Jim is frightened at first, believing Huck to be dead, but soon is happy to have a companion.

    The river starts rising, and at one point an entire house floats past the island. Huck and Jim climb aboard to see what they can salvage. They find a dead man lying in the corner of the house, and Jim goes over to look. Jim realizes that the dead man is Pa, and he carefully refuses to tell Huck who it is.

    Huck returns to the town dressed as a girl in order to gather some news. While talking with a woman, he learns that both Jim and Pa are suspects in his murder. The woman then tells Huck that she thinks Jim is hiding out on Jackson's Island. When Huck hears that, he immediately returns to Jim and together they leave the island.

    Using a large raft, they float downstream during the nights and hide during the days. During a strong thunderstorm they see a steamboat which has crashed. Huck convinces Jim to land on the boat, and together they climb aboard. However, they soon discover that there are three thieves on the wreck, two of whom are debating whether to kill the third man. When Huck overhears the conversation, he and Jim try to escape, only to find that their raft has come undone. They manage to find the skiff that the robbers had used and immediately take off. Soon they see the wrecked steamship floating downstream, far enough below the water-line to have drowned everyone on board. They subsequently catch up with their original raft and recapture it.

    Jim and Huck continue floating downstream, becoming close friends in the process. Their goal is to reach Cairo, where they can take a steamship up the Ohio and into the free states. However, during a dense fog they become separated, with Huck in the canoe and Jim in the raft. When they find each other in the morning, it soon becomes obvious that they passed Cairo in the fog.

    A few nights after passing Cairo, a steamboat runs over the raft and forces Huck and Jim to jump overboard. Huck swims to shore where his is immediately surrounded by dogs. He ends up being invited to live with a family called the Grangerfords. Huck is treated well and soon discovers that Jim is hiding in a nearby swamp. Everything is peaceful until an old feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons is rekindled. Within a day all of the males in the family are killed, including Huck's best friend Buck. Huck uses the chaos to run back to Jim, and together they start downstream again.

    Soon thereafter two humbugs named the Duke and the King are rescued by Huck. They immediately take over the raft and start to travel downstream, making money by cheating people in the various towns along the river.

    The two men come up with a scam called the Royal Nonesuch which earns them over four hundred dollars. The scam involves getting all the men in the town to come to the show, and then having the King parade around naked for a few minutes. The men are too ashamed to admit to having wasted their money, so they tell everyone else how great the show was. Thus the next night is also a success. On the third night everyone returns plotting revenge, but the Duke and King manage to escape with all the money.

    Further downriver the two con men learn about a large inheritance. They pretend to be British uncles of three recently orphaned girls in order to receive the money. The girls are so happy to see their "uncles" that they do not realize they are being cheated. Huck is treated so nicely by all three of the girls that he vows he will never let the humbugs steal their money.

    Huck sneaks into the King's room and steals the large bag of gold that came with the inheritance. He hides the money in the coffin of Peter Wilk's, the recently deceased "brother" of the con men. Meanwhile the humbugs spend their time liquidating the girls' property.

    Huck encounters Mary Jane Wilks, the eldest of the girls, and sees her crying. He decides to tell her the entire story about the two cons. She is infuriated by the story but agrees to leave the house for a few days so that Huck can escape.

    Right after Mary Jane leave, the real two uncles of the girls arrive in the town. However, because they lost their baggage they are unable to prove their identity. Thus the town lawyer takes all four men aside and tries to establish who is lying. The King and the Duke fake their roles so well that there is no way to determine who is telling the truth. Finally one of the real uncles says that his brother Peter had a tattoo on his chest and challenges the King to identify it. In order to figure out who is telling the truth, the townspeople decide to exhume the body.

    When they dig up the grave, the townspeople discover the missing money that Huck hid there. In the ensuing chaos, Huck runs straight back to the raft and he and Jim push off into the river. However, the Duke and King soon catch up with them and rejoin the raft.

    Farther down the river the King and Duke sell Jim into slavery by claiming he is a runaway slave from New Orleans. Huck decides to rescue Jim, and daringly walks up to the house where Jim is being kept. Luckily, the house is owned by none other than Tom Sawyer's Aunt Sally. Huck immediately pretends to be Tom.

    When Tom arrives, he pretends to be his younger brother Sid Sawyer. Together he and Huck contrive how to help Jim escape from his "prison," namely an outdoor shed. Tom manages to make Jim's life difficult by putting snakes and spiders into the room with him.

    After a lot of planning, the boys convince the town that a group of thieves is planning to steal Jim. That night they get Jim and start to run away. The local farmers follow them, shooting as they run after them. Huck, Jim, and Tom manage to escape, but unfortunately Tom gets shot in the leg. Huck returns to the town to get a doctor, whom he sends over to where Tom is hiding with Jim.

    The doctor returns with Tom on a stretcher and Jim in chains. Jim is treated badly until the doctor describes how Jim helped him take care of the boy. When Tom awakens, he demands that they let Jim go free.

    At this point Aunt Polly appears, having travelled all the way down the river. She realized there was something wrong when her sister wrote her that both Tom and Sid had arrived. Aunt Polly tells them that Jim is indeed a free man, because the Widow passed away and freed him in her will. Huck and Tom give Jim forty dollars for being such a good prisoner and letting them free him.

    Jim then tells Huck to stop worrying about his Pa. He reveals to Huck that the dead man on the floating house was in fact Huck's Pa. Aunt Sally offers to adopt Huck, but he refuses on the grounds that he had tried that sort of lifestyle once before. Huck then concludes the novel by stating that he would never have undertaken the book had he known it would take so long to write it.

    'Literatura norteamericana'

    THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD

    Janie Crawford, the protagonist of the novel, returns home after being away for a very long time. The townsfolk, particularly the women, are petty and unfriendly. They gossip about Janie and how she was too young to have married Tea Cake. Janie's best friend, Phoeby, is angry at the women and leaves their company to take some supper to Janie. Janie tells Phoeby that she should inform the community about her whereabouts for the past years to end the mean gossip. But Janie refuses; she tells Phoeby to tell her story to the community on her behalf. Then Janie begins her tale:

    Janie tells Phoeby that she is wealthy, with nine hundred dollars in the bank. Tea Cake was a wonderful husband, but he has recently died. She lived with him in the Everglades and now she's come back. She tells Phoeby that they have been best friends for twenty years and that she relies on her as a friend. Janie begins telling the story of her life. She never knew her mother or her father, and is raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother works as a nanny for some white children in the Washburn family, and Janie grows up playing with the Washburn children.

    Janie loves to spend the afternoons laying under a pear tree, staring into the branches. One afternoon she is mesmerized by the golden beauty of bees pollinating the pear blossoms. Janey feels intoxicated by the pollen and her awakened sexuality. She kisses Johnny Taylor. Nanny sees the kiss and proclaims that Janie is a woman now. She slaps Janie for her indiscretion, and tells her that she must get married. Nanny will force Janie to marry Logan Killicks.

    Janie marries Logan and moves in to his ugly house. Three months pass and she still feels no love for Logan, so she goes to visit Nanny. She wants sweet things in her marriage like the beauty of sitting under a pear tree. Janie starts crying and Nanny tells her sternly not to worry because Janie's mind will change as time passes. But later that evening, Nanny prays to God saying that she feels sorry for Janie's unhappiness but that she did the best she could. Heavy hearted, Nanny dies a month later.

    Long before the first year of their marriage had been complete, Logan's stops being sweet to Janie. Logan intends for Janie to handle one of the mules in the fall and plow potatoes; this is hard back-breaking labour. One afternoon, Janie meets Joe Starks, a " citified, stylish dressed man with his hat set at an angle that didn't belong in these parts. Joe tells Janie that he wants to buy land in Eatonville, a town that's run entirely by black people.

    Time passes and soon Joe asks Janie to leave Logan and marry him. Joe asks Janie to meet him on the road outside her house that next that they can run away together. One afternoon when Janie and Logan are fighting, Logan threatens to kill Janie with an axe. Janie runs out the gate and gets in a carriage with Joe Starks and they get married before sundown.

    When Janie and Joe arrive in Eatonville, both are disappointed with the town. Joe buys land from Captain to increase the size of the pathetic town. Joe calls a meeting on his porch to discuss his desire to build a post office and put up a store. Very quickly, Joe earns back all the money he invested in building the store by selling land to people who want to move to the town. Joe builds the town and becomes the mayor. As time passes, Janie tells Joe that all the town service is putting a strain on their relationship. But Joe states that he has always wanted a big voice and he finally has it, as town mayor.

    Janie and Joe's relationship continues to deteriorate. One day, he slaps her face for preparing a bad meal. Now he is not only psychologically abusive, but physically abusive as well. Janie realizes that her image of Joe is now shattered. Eleven years pass. Janie learns to stop fighting; "She was a rut in the road." One day Janie realizes that Joe has become very old. Joe constantly criticizes Janie for being old and ugly; he hopes that by pointing out her flaws, he can distract others from noticing his own flaws.

    One afternoon, Joe begins insulting Janie after she makes a small mistake. For the first time, Janie retaliates. She tells Joe that he is nothing but a big voice; she tells everyone that when he pulls his pants down there's nothing there. Joe is irrecoverably crushed. Joe hits Janie with all his might, and drives her from the store. Joe's health deteriorates quickly. He becomes very ill and takes to a sick bed permanently; he refuses to allow Janie to visit him. Finally, one evening Joe is about to die. His kidneys have failed.

    Janie wants to talk to Joe before it is "too late." Janie tells Joe that "not listening" has been the main problem of Joe's life: he has been so busy listening to his own big voice that he has never listened to her. She tells Joe that she did not leave Logan and "come down the road" with him to lead a life of "bowing down" and obedience. Joe breathes his last painful breath and dies.

    Janie "starches and irons her face," for the funeral. She mourns on the outside, but, on the inside, she rejoices. She is finally free of the heavily restricted life that Joe forced her into.

    One evening, a man named Tea Cake, walks into the store. They play chess, flirt and chat all day while the rest of the town is at a ball game. He helps her close the store at the end of the evening, and Janie appreciates his help.

    One afternoon, about a week since their first meeting, Tea Cake comes to the store pretending to play an invisible guitar. He suggests that they go fishing in the middle of the night. They catch a few fish and then they have to smuggle Tea Cake out of the back gate so no one in the town would know that they had spent the whole night together.

    Their relationship progresses slowly and playfully. The town criticizes Janie: how can she stop mourning the death of her dead husband so soon? Why is she with a man like Tea Cake, a man with no money and no power? Phoeby asks Janie why she's allowing Tea Cake to take her to places she used to never go to: baseball games, fishing ponds, forests for hunting. Janie used to only do "classy" things, nothing that everyone else did. Janie explains that she never wanted to be "classed off. Furthermore, Janie intends to marry Tea Cake, sell the store, and move out of town. Janie's through with living a life of property and wealth, her "Grandma's way of life." She says, "Dis ain't no business proposition, and no race after property and titles. Dis is uh love game. Ah done lived Grandma's way, now Ah means tuh live mine."

    One morning Janie gets in a train and rides to Tea Cake in her blue satin wedding dress. Janie is so happy, "so glad that she scares herself. "One week after they are married, Tea Cake leaves before Janie wakes up and steals all the money she has. Immediately, Janie thinks of the example of poor Ms. Annie Tyler, a rich widow whose money was stolen by a man who pretended to love her. Tea Cake reappears the next morning, telling Janie that he spent all her money entertaining his friends. He promises to win it back gambling. He does win it back one week later, but is almost killed by the angry men who lose their money to him and want it back. From now on, Tea Cake tells Janie, she must rely on him, and his money only, in good times and bad. Janie is fine with that.

    Tea Cake says that when he recovers from the cuts he wants to head to the muck down in the Everglades because "folks don't do nothin' down dere but make money and fun and foolishness.

    Once the season begins, Tea Cake spends his day picking beans while Janie tends the house. At night the men would have discussions and arguments, just as they used to on the porch in Eatonville. Only here, Janie can "listen and laugh and even talk some herself if she wants to. She [gets] so she can tell big stories herself from listening to the rest."

    Tea Cake has a short affair with a young girl named Nunkie; Janie finds out and slaps him. Tea Cake makes love to Janie to reconfirm their love. When they wake up, Janie asks if Tea Cake still loves Nunkie. Tea Cake says he never did love Nunkie. He tells Janie that no one can compare to her. Janie is "something tuh make uh man forgit tuh git old and forgit tuh die."

    In the autumn, Janie gets to know Mrs. Turner. Mrs. Turner is a mulatto who hates her blackness. Mrs. Turner tells Janie that she would be better off married to another mulatto, particularly her brother. Tea Cake overhears the conversation between the women. He tells Janie that if Mrs. Turner hates black people so much, she should stay away from him and Janie.

    The following season, many people return to live on the muck; some of the people were familiar from last year and some people were brand new. Mrs. Turner brings her brother to town to introduce him to Janie. Tea Cake whips Janie to show Mrs. Turner's brother that Tea Cake had full control over Janie. Tea Cake and his friends also destroy the Turners' store.

    One afternoon, Janie sees Seminole Indians passing through heading east. They are heading out of town before the hurricane hits. No one believes that there can possibly be anything wrong. Soon the animals and the Bahamans leave too; they invite Tea Cake to come with them, but Tea Cake refuses to believe that there will be a hurricane.

    That night, the weather gets extremely bad. The lights go out. "They seemed to be staring at the dark, but there eyes were watching God."

    Tea Cake and Janie decide to find a car to take them out of the storm. The dam on the lake breaks and now the lake is coming quickly behind them. Janie falls off into the water. She is starting to drown but Tea Cake instructs her to swim towards a large cow with a dog standing on it. Tea Cake swims into the water to rescue her and the dog bites him on the face. The two walk to safety. Janie tells Tea Cake they should find a doctor for his dog bite, but Tea Cake says he is fine.

    One night, Tea Cake is very ill. In the morning, Janie is very worried and calls Doctor Simmons. She tells him that Tea Cake was bit by a dog, one month ago, in the storm. Doctor Simmons tells her, in private, that Tea Cake has rabies and is liable to die; Janie should not sleep with Tea Cake because he may bite her and give her rabies, too. He will try to fetch the antidote serum for him, but he will probably die since the disease has had so much time to progress. Tea Cake becomes extremely moody, unable to drink water, and starts behaving like a wild dog.

    Tea Cake falls into a jealous rage when he finds out the Mrs. Turner's husband is back in the Glades. Tea Cake shoots Janie with a pistol and Janie shoots with a rifle. The rifle is slightly faster, and Tea Cake falls to the ground dead, biting Janie's forearm. Janie is put in jail and three hours later she is tried in court. Simmons explains her case to the jury and she is not convicted of murder. She is set free.

    Janie arranges a beautiful funeral for Tea Cake in Palm Beach then moves back to Eatonville. The narration returns to the porch where it began in Chapter 1. Back on the porch of her old home in Eatonville with Pheoby, Janie says she has been to the horizon and back; she knows now that, "you got tuh go there tuh know there...Two things everybody got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves." Janie then tells Phoeby to explain her story to the townspeople; perhaps they will learn a little about love from her experiences.

    Janie climbs the stairs to her bedroom with her nightlamp.. Tea Cake is not dead; while Janie is living, he will live on in her memory. Janie finally finds peace; she pulls in the horizon like a great fishnet and drapes it over her shoulders. "So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see."

    'Literatura norteamericana'

    THE GREAT GATSBY

    While The Great Gatsby is a highly specific portrait of American society during the Roaring Twenties, its story is also one that has been told hundreds of times, and is perhaps as old as America itself: a man claws his way from rags to riches, only to find that his wealth cannot afford him the privileges enjoyed by those born into the upper class. The central character is Jay Gatsby, a wealthy New Yorker of indeterminate occupation. Gatsby is primarily known for the lavish parties he throws every weekend at his ostentatious Gothic mansion in West Egg. He is suspected of being involved in illegal bootlegging and other underworld activities.

    The narrator, Nick Carraway, is Gatsby's neighbour in West Egg. Nick is a young man from a prominent Midwestern family. Educated at Yale, he has come to New York to enter the bond business. In some sense, the novel is Nick's memoir, his unique view of the events of the summer of 1922; as such, his impressions and observations necessarily colour the narrative as a whole. For the most part, he plays only a peripheral role in the events of the novel; he prefers to remain a passive observer.

    Upon arriving in New York, Nick visits his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom. The Buchanans live in the posh Long Island district of East Egg; Nick, like Gatsby, resides in nearby West Egg, a less fashionable area looked down upon by those who live in East Egg. West Egg is home to the nouveau riche ­ people who lack established social connections, and tend to vulgarly flaunt their wealth. Like Nick, Tom Buchanan graduated from Yale, and comes from a privileged Midwestern family. Tom is a former football player, a brutal bully obsessed with the preservation of class boundaries. Daisy, by contrast, is an almost ghostlike young woman who affects an air of sophisticated boredom. At the Buchanans's, Nick meets Jordan Baker, a beautiful, if boyish, young woman with a cold and cynical manner. The two will later become romantically involved.

    Jordan tells Nick that Tom has been having an affair with Myrtle Wilson, a woman who lives in the valley of ashes ­ an industrial wasteland outside of New York City. After visiting Tom and Daisy, Nick goes home to West Egg; there, he sees Gatsby gazing at a mysterious green light across the bay. Gatsby stretches his arms out toward the light, as though to catch and hold it.

    Tom Buchanan takes Nick into New York, and on the way they stop at the garage owned by George Wilson ­ the husband of Myrtle, with whom Tom has been having an affair. Tom tells Myrtle to join them later in the city. Nearby, on an enormous billboard, a pair of bespectacled blue eyes stares down at the barren landscape. These eyes ­ called the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg ­ once served as an advertisement; now, they brood over all that happens in the valley of ashes.

    In the city, Tom takes Nick and Myrtle to the apartment in Morningside Heights that he keeps for his affair. There, they have a lurid party with Myrtle's sister, Catherine, and an abrasive couple named McKee. They gossip about Gatsby; Catherine says that he is somehow related to Kaiser Wilhelm, the much-despised ruler of Germany during World War I. The more she drinks, the more aggressive Myrtle becomes; she begins taunting Tom about Daisy, and he reacts by breaking her nose. The party, unsurprisingly, comes to an abrupt end.

    Nick Carraway attends a party at Gatsby's mansion, where he runs in to Jordan Baker. At the party, few of the attendees know Gatsby; even fewer were formally invited. Before the party, Nick himself had never met Gatsby: he is a strikingly handsome, slightly dandified young man who affects an English accent. Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan Baker alone; after talking with Gatsby for quite a long time, she tells Nick that she has learned some remarkable news. She cannot yet share it with him, however.

    Some time later, Gatsby visits Nick's home and invites him to lunch. At this point in the novel, Gatsby's origins are unclear. He claims to come from a wealthy San Francisco family, and says that he was educated at Oxford after serving in the Great War (during which he received a number of decorations). However, a certain diffidence in his manner indicates that he may be lying to Nick. At lunch, Gatsby introduces Nick to his business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim. Wolfhsheim is a notorious criminal; many believe that he is responsible for fixing the 1919 World Series.

    Gatsby mysteriously avoids the Buchanans. Later, Jordan Baker explains the reason for Gatsby's anxiety: he had been in love with Daisy Buchanan when they met in Louisville before the war; Jordan subtly intimates that he is still in love with her, and she with him.

    Gatsby has Nick arrange a meeting between him and Daisy. Gatsby has meticulously planned their meeting: he gives Daisy a carefully-rehearsed tour of his mansion, and is desperate to exhibit his wealth and possessions. Gatsby is wooden and mannered during this initial meeting; his dearest dreams have been of this moment, and so the actual reunion was bound to disappoint. Despite this, the love between Gatsby and Daisy is revived, and the two begin an affair.

    Eventually, Nick learns the true story of Gatsby's past. He was born James Gatz in North Dakota, but had his name legally changed at the age of seventeen. The gold baron Dan Cody served as Gatsby's mentor until his death. Though Gatsby inherited nothing of Cody's fortune, it was from him that Gatsby was first introduced to world of wealth, power, and privilege.

    While out horseback riding, Tom Buchanan happens upon Gatsby's mansion. There he meets both Nick and Gatsby, to whom he takes an immediate dislike. To Tom, Gatsby is part of the "new rich," and thus poses a danger to the old order that Tom holds dear. Despite this, he accompanies Daisy to Gatsby's next party; there, he is exceedingly rude and condescending toward Gatsby. Nick realizes that Gatsby wants Daisy to renounce her husband and her marriage; in this way, they can recover the years they have lost since first they parted. This is Gatsby's great flaw: his great love of Daisy is a kind of worship ­ for him, she is ideal, and this he fails to see her flaws. He believes that he can undo the past, and forgets that Daisy's essentially small-minded and cowardly nature was what initially caused their separation.

    After his reunion with Daisy, Gatsby ceases to throw his elaborate parties. The only reason he threw such parties was the chance that Daisy (or someone who knew her) might attend. Daisy invites Gatsby, Nick and Jordan to lunch at her house. In an attempt to make Tom jealous, and to exact revenge for his affair, Daisy is highly indiscreet in her relation to Gatsby. She even tells Gatsby that she loves him while Tom is in earshot.

    Though Tom is himself having an affair, he is furious at the thought that his wife could be unfaithful to him. He forces the group to drive into the city: there, in a suite at the Plaza Hotel, Tom and Gatsby have a bitter confrontation. Tom denounces Gatsby for his low birth, and reveals to Daisy that Gatsby's fortune has been made through illegal activities. Daisy's real allegiance is to Tom: when Gatsby begs her to say that she does not love her husband, she refuses him. Tom permits Gatsby to drive Daisy back to East Egg; in this way, he displays his contempt for Gatsby, as well as his faith in his wife's complete subjection to him, Tom.

    On the trip back to East Egg, Gatsby allows Daisy to drive in order to calm her ragged nerves. Passing Wilson's garage, Daisy swerves to avoid another car and ends up hitting Myrtle; she is killed instantly. Nick advises Gatsby to leave town until the situation calms. Gatsby, however, refuses to leave: he remains in order to ensure that Daisy is safe. George Wilson, driven nearly mad by the death of his wife, is desperate to find her killer; Tom Buchanan tells him that Gatsby was the driver of the fatal car. Wilson ­ who has decided that the driver of the car must also have been Myrtle's lover ­ shoots Gatsby before committing suicide himself.

    After the murder, the Buchanans leave town to distance themselves from the violence for which they are responsible. Nick is left to organize Gatsby's funeral, but finds that few people cared for Gatsby. Only Meyer Wolfsheim shows a modicum of grief, and few people attend the funeral. Nick seeks out Gatsby's father, Henry Gatz, and brings him to New York for the funeral. From Henry, Nick learns the full scope of Gatsby's visions of greatness and his dreams of self-improvement.

    Thoroughly disgusted with life in New York, Nick decides to return to the Midwest. Before his departure, Nick sees Tom Buchanan once more. Tom tries to elicit Nick's sympathy; he believes that all of his actions were thoroughly justified, and he wants Nick to agree.

    Nick muses that Gatsby, alone among the people of his time, strove to transform his dreams into reality; it is this that makes him "great." Nick also believes, however, that the time of such grand aspirations is over: greed and dishonesty have irrevocably corrupted both the American dream and the dreams of individual Americans.

    * Persona = mask.

    * The garden reflected the creativity.

    * La laguna de los afligidos

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