Posted by: szolnickfsem | 29th Apr, 2008

Final Paper/Project

Thoreau vs. Quiroga

Henry David Thoreau grew up and studied in Massachusetts while Quiroga studied in Uruguay and South America.  Although they grew up and learned in two different countries during different time periods, research has show that they share similar views on nature and the importance of living in simplicity.  Thoreau lived a simple and somewhat easy life compared to Quiroga, who was constantly surrounded by death.  Because of these backgrounds, Quiroga’s writing is darker and more cynical while Thoreau depicts the beauties of living in nature.  Although their writing style is different, the two ingenious authors agree on the themes of nature.  Despite the contrasting backgrounds and lifestyles of Thoreau and Quiroga, their writings show their similar views on nature and experiences in the non-human world.
Throughout his life in the 1800’s, Henry David Thoreau was taught the values of living in simplicity from his father and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.   Through academic studies at a high standard, Thoreau pursued his love of writing and became a teacher.  During his peak years or writing, the Unites States was introducing new views involving Manifest Destiny and the Industrial Revolution was underway.  This new idea that “the sky is the limit” inspired Thoreau to pursue his naturalistic ideals and became a “philosopher of nature and its relation to the human condition.”
He moved to Walden Pond and began writing about themes involving the importance of self-reliance and the nature of simplicity.  Thoreau’s story of living on a pond in the middle of nature with only brief interruptions from society can truly teach us about living in simplicity and the serenity of nature.  Thoreau enjoyed his time alone, stating
“Though the view from my door was still more contracted, I did not feel     crowded or confined in the least. There was pasture enough for my imagination.      The low shrub-oak plateau to which the opposite shore arose, stretched away     toward the prairies of the West and the steppes of the Tartary, affording ample     room for all the rowing families of men,” (page 170, Walden Pond.)
Along with enjoying his life in solitude, Thoreau began to understand values of being alive and awake, “to be awake is to be alive.”  Meaning, as long as he rises with the dawn, he will be as alive as a man can be.  He taught himself to awaken when the sun rises in the morning and to sleep when it sets at night.  As he discovers new meanings to life, he learns from the animals about living in simplicity.  He notices that the animals he studies work solely to live and not for an extravagant lifestyle.  He uses this new information to provide a more simplistic life for himself and slows down his rushed lifestyle that society pressures upon people.
Along with his new views on life in nature, Thoreau is somewhat hypocritical about living completely away form society.  His cabin is actually on the edge of town where he can hear bells from a church and the trains rolling by.  He wants to live by himself in nature but is still comforted by the sounds of the life he lived before and the people he randomly meets in the woods.  Because of this, his connection with the animals grows as he seeks friendship and companions.
“I have never felt lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude, but     once, and that was a few weeks after I came to the woods, when, for an hour, I     doubted if the near neighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and     healthy life.  To be alone was something unpleasant…  I was suddenly sensible     of such a sweet and beneficent society in Nature…  Every little pine needle     expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me,” (page 213, Walden     Pond.)
Through living in nature for two years, Thoreau learned that living in simplicity would make live more worthwhile.  He learned from the animals to live with only enough to survive, meaning he worked for only enough food to live and nothing more.  Finally, Thoreau discovers his own interpretation of the meaning of life, stating, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Unlike Thoreau, Horacio Quiroga was born into a low class family in Uruguay.  His entire life was surrounded by death and despair, beginning when his father died in a hunting accident in 1879.  Only a few years later, Quiroga’s stepfather committed suicide and he accidentally kills a close friend.  Because of the constant death, his life was considered to be very miserable and unhappy.  Finally, he makes his first trip to Misiones where he finally feels a connection in nature.  From this moment on, Horacio Quiroga becomes successful in his writing and begins publishing poems and stories.  Although he is still surrounded by death and despair, he becomes a successful writer and is proud of the life he begins to lead.
Quiroga’s “The Wilderness” depicts his sense of despair about death perfectly.  The story begins with a man canoeing in solitude but still one with nature.
“The man knew his river well enough as to not be unaware of where he was, but     on such a night, and under threat of rain.  Landing his craft in the midst of     piercing tacuara canes and patches of rotten reeds was very different from     going ashore in his own little port.  And Subercasaux was not alone in his     canoe.”
By stating the main character was not alone in the canoe just further shows the authors depiction of how one can be completely alone but still have nature by their side.  The story continues to illustrate Subercasaux’s struggle to survive on the river so he can provide for his two motherless children.  He fights against the wilderness for his life every single day.  Like Henry David Thoreau, the main character wakes at dawn to begin his day of survival.  Subercasaux’s children
“Had no fear of the dark, nor of being alone, nor of anything that contributes to     the terror of babies raised at their mother’s skirts…they feared nothing, except     what their father warned them they should fear; and at the top of the list,     naturally, were snakes.”
This lesson is ironic to the story, as Subercasaux eventually dies from the bite of a small flea.  He lectured his children on not fearing nature and simply living in harmony with it and eventually he is killed by one of the most unlikely insects.  “Subercasaux had an infection in one of his toes – the insignificant little toe on his right foot – and couldn’t manage to subdue it.” The lessons he teaches his children help them learn how to live alone in nature without the guidance of an adult because their father knew someday they would be without him.  They are taught simplicity and boundaries and how to live like “free creatures.”  This lesson is similar to the one Thoreau taught himself about being one with nature and living in simplicity. The family worked to survive and even though Subercasaux had an infection in his toe, he went onto the river one stormy night without shoes to help his family survive.  This was a dangerous act but he managed to survive, only to be more ill because of the infection.  His dreams begin to change and his life was slowly slipping away.  He gave his life to the wilderness so his children could survive. Although Thoreau did not encounter any near death experiences, both authors were aware of the fact that when surviving in the non-human world it is necessary to rely on the simplicity of nature and life day by day.  This message of safety and security in nature is detrimental to living in the non-human world.
Despite the fact that Thoreau and Quiroga were born into two completely lifestyles at different time periods, their works carry similar aspects.  Each author illustrates the idea that simplicity in nature is the key component to survival, as well as trust in the non-human world.  Each story provides clear examples of how the men living in solitude survive with the sole intention of making it through the day.  They each realize the life is taken for granted and even the small things in life can ruin everything. Each author depicts an idea that humans cannot control nature, despite the feverish efforts.

Bibliography
“Henry David Thoreau.” American Transcendentalism Web. 23 Apr. 2008     <http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/authors/th    oreau/>.

“Henry David Thoreau.” Wikipedia. 23 Apr. 2008     <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau>.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Other Writings. New York: Bantam Books, 1962.

“Walden – an Annotated Edition.” Easybib. 23 Apr. 2008     <http://thoreau.eserver.org/walden00.html>.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 29th Apr, 2008

Abstract for Final Paper

Final Paper/Project: Thoreau and Quiroga
For my final paper and presentation, I am going to analyze the works from Henry David Thoreau and Quiroga. More specifically, I will be looking at Walden Pond and The Wilderness. I picked these works because they both deal with nature and the effects it can have on people. Although two completely different writers wrote these works at two different time periods and in two different places in the world, they still share some similar aspects about their views on nature and its simplicity. Even though they come from different backgrounds, the two authors share the same ideas about the dangers of nature and the unexpectedness of what can happen. In my final project, I will depict their views and prove that two completely different authors can share almost the exact same beliefs.
Henry David Thoreau is an extraordinary writer and I believe there is an uncanny amount of images and metaphors to be deciphered. Thoreau’s story of living on a pond in the middle of nature with only brief interruptions from society can truly teach us about living in simplicity. His images used in the story are intriguing. His perspectives on nature are seemingly straightforward but I believe if I thoroughly research his writing I can find more evidence of his true feelings. I would talk about his experiences in nature and how they can relate to the society in which he was living in. His feelings towards conformity would also be discussed.
I chose Quiroga’s story, The Wilderness because it is interesting to learn and read about the struggles a man living in the wilderness has to go through to live. I believe that by reading and deciphering this story I can understand more about what people like him had to go through and what kind of hardships were involved to simply survive. By researching and thoroughly reading this story, I can talk about how Quiroga felt remorseful for the family living in this time and his simple message about security and safety.

Bibliography
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Other Writings. New York: Bantam Books, 1962.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 23rd Apr, 2008

Luis Rodríguez: Trouble in the Barrio

Through his poetry, Luis Rodriquez represents the non-human almost human. He basically describes how they are hard to differentiate between because the river he loves is concrete and he is constantly running, like a river. The two are hard t distinguish between making him one with nature instead of them being two separate topics. This view is different from other views we have learned about because usually the other authors have examples of distinct differences between nature and humans. His representation of the concrete river in “always running” shows me that he is confident that this river will always be there for him, which is comforting and a place to think and heal. I believe his sense of place is where he worked, lived, had a family, and where his friends died. Basically, his sense of place is LA.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 22nd Apr, 2008

Moraga and Ecofeminism

Through reading Cherrie Moraga’s work, I learned that she believes that “the earth is female.” To her, the non human world is exploited, just like women. Her entire work is dedicated to women around the world and how they are suppressed in a male dominant society. She describes environmental justice throughout her writing, for example contamination in water, toxic dumping, and radiation. Her connection between gender and environmental studies is prevalent when she describes the earth as a women and each example she uses can he personified into the troubles a woman may go through in society. To me, this argument is somewhat convincing. I feel as though I am not as feminist as Moraga is, so her views are slightly radical to me. However, I understand where she is coming from and I agree with her that women are somewhat suppressed today.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 8th Apr, 2008

My Sense of Place

When trying to decide where to write about, I struggled to find the perfect “sense of place.” I brainstormed about places I have been throughout my life, and fortunately I am lucky enough to have a variety of places to choose from. Finally, I chose the place I live, Landenberg, PA. I chose my hometown because this is where I lived through Middle School and High School; therefore, it holds a lot of memories of my growing up. This place, and specific house and yard, is truly special to me  recently because I am moving 2,000 miles away across the country. In the fall, Landenberg will no longer be my home but a memory. I met all my friends in this town and the surrounding ones. Everyone I know and love lives around me in PA. My house in Landenberg is cherished because it holds all of my memories, happy or sad. I remember playing in the yard with my puppy and watching movies in my basement. This house will forever hold a place in my heart simply because it is where my most precious memories of growing up were created. No place will ever be the same to me, therefore, my house in Landenberg, PA has a special value to me and i consider it my most prevalent “sense of place.”

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 27th Mar, 2008

My Poem…

Riding above the clouds, where the tree line ends,
The cool breeze in my hair, the world extends.
Far into the distance we see our lives ahead,
Not looking back to past years of dread.

With the warmth on my face, we move with steady stride.
We’re alone on the mountain, pushing the world aside.
Her gait quickens as we head towards the trees,
Soon forgetting the familiar cool breeze.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 24th Mar, 2008

Split this Rock!

From listening to the various poems on the internet, it really changes my entire interpretation of each poem. Before listening to them, I feel like I got a good understand of what concepts the authors are trying to portray but from listening to them, you can really hear the emotion in each word. The authors are very into their writing and truly emphasize every important word when they read them out loud. I wish I had been able to make it to the readings so I could see the emotion on their faces and hear the emotion in their words first hand.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 17th Mar, 2008

Martin Espada

The main themes of this poetry seem to be based around politics. He describes various classes and industrialism. The poet represents the inner-city in a very sympathetic way. he describes their alcoholism and their imperfections, “This time, I dragged a corkscrewed body slowly down the stairs, hugged to my ribs, his books in my other hand, only to see the impatient taxi pulling away.” He makes the whole scene sound desperate and defeated. The landlords and bosses in the stories are not talked about much but their characteristics shine through in the poems about the inner-city dwellers. They give orders and live their own lives without a concern about the poor people around them. They take advantage and do not help at all. The poetic voice describes the various professions in the nicest and calmest way possible but when deciphering the words, we can feel the pain in which the people lived.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 10th Mar, 2008

Selected Poems

These poems were al very interesting. I liked how they varied in length and tone. The general themes seemed to be related around death and prosperity and the world. A lot of the poems mentioned death, “the deep Earth is the sum of all the dead.” Along with death, the writers seemed to focus on the ocean and whether or not it carried death or life. A lot of the poems also mentioned that the world needs a change or to focus on more important aspects. One poem that stood out to me was on page 63, titles “A Self-Analysis.” although it was short, this poem made me think a lot about which sin this person may have committed. The author seems to be contemplating what they did wrong. They seem confused. It was very interesting to think so deeply about such a short poem. Another poem that stood out was entitled “Footnote to Jorge Manrique.” This poem is simply one sentence that also creates a lot of imagination and thinking. “The sea is not a state of death but rather the endless circulating of all transformations.” The author seems to agree with the idea that the sea creates, not destroys. Finally, the poem called “Earth” caught my attention because of the somber tone in which it is written. The writer discusses how “we step on bones, dried blood, wounds, invisible wounds.” I think he was trying to convey an idea that although things may seem fine on the Earth’s surface at one point in time, people died all over the world and we take it for granted by walking all over it and not even noticing or recognizing their incredibly efforts.

Posted by: szolnickfsem | 13th Feb, 2008

Muir and Milton

From reading these two selections, I learned how views can differ about nature and human experience. Reading Muir’s essay, I can tell that his perspective on nature is very personal. The entire writing is his own direct experience in nature and the “wilderness.” He seems to love and enjoy being outside and uses incredible detail to describe his experience to make the reader believe they are with him, seeing it first hand. This is different from some of the other writers because they usually just talk about nature and rarely is their entire essay a first-hand experience.

Milton’s writing describes her view that “nature in general is constructed as personal, in the sense of being governed by international agents, by many religious beliefs and practices and as impersonal by many, but not all, scientific beliefs and practices.” I feel that this is her primary argument.

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