There are many events in the first chapter that tell us some background information we need to know before getting into the story. The first event is when Kabuo Miyamoto is staring at the December snowfall out the courthouse's window. We learn from this part of the story that Kabuo has been in jail for 77 days until his trial. He has been accused of murdering one of San Peidro's salmon gillnetters, Carl Heine. We are also introduced to Ishmael Chambers, one of the reporters, and Hatsue, the wife of the accused. We notice that these two knew each other before the trial and that they have some kind of past together.
2. Rising Action
In the rising action of the novel, we learn that Ishmael and Hatsue did have a past relationship before they reached adulthood. Secretly, they were young lovers. They kept their love and meetings private because of the different racial aspect of the relationship. There is a lot of rasicm against the Japanese because of World War II. We also discovered that Kabuo's family and Carl Heine's family had a dispute over some land. An event that had a significant role in the rising action was during the snowstorm Ishmael discovers Hatsue's family on the side of the road and decides to offer them a ride. During the ride, Hatsue pleads Ishamel to write about the unfairness of the trial in his newspaper. With this event, we learn that Hatsue has moved on while Ishmael still longs for the past. This event has a large play in the outcome of the major conflict in the story.
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The turning point and most exciting part of the story is when Ishmael Chambers goes to the Point White lighthouse station to research the last time there has been a snowstorm to this extent in San Peidro. While there, Ishmael learns that every radio-transmission is recorded and stored in the archives. On a whim, Ishmael decides to look at the recorded reports of the night that Carl Heine died. He discovered that a large freighter went off course and plowed right through the spot where Carl Heine was fishing. He also learned that a freighter of this size could create a wake so powerful that it could throw a man overboard. It passed through the area at 1:42. Carl Heine's watch was waterlogged and stopped at 1:47. Ishmael realizes that this freighter is responsible for Carl Heine's death and the only reason it wasn't reported was because the radiomen who recorded the incident, transferred the next day. This creates a major conflict for Ishamel. He is debating whether he should give the judge the evidence and set Kabuo free or keep the evidence and become a part of Hatsue's life?
4. Falling Action
The falling action includes the events that anticipate the choice that Ishmael is faced to decide. He keeps the record in his pocket through the proceedings of the trial and even when he is talking to Hatsue. After the trial comes to an end and the jury is still deliberating, Ishmael arrives at Hatsue's family's house and shows them proof that would prove Kabuo's innocence. After a reinvestigation of Carl's boat, they discover that there are blood and human hairs on the mast of Carl's boat.
Kabuo is released and Ishmael writes in his newspaper his version of Carl Heine's final moments.
Reader Response Journal #6
Describe your reading of "The Wife's Tale." Was this story confusing? Were you surprised by how it ended? What phrases or sentences did the author use as clues to help you understand the story and its plot twists? Was this a good story? Why or why not?
I was very zealous to read "The Wife's Tale" before I even began, because I recognized the author's name. Ursula K. Le Guin made the story truly enchanting with all the surprises she decided to incorporate. For this reason, I was a lot more engrossed in the story and really enjoyed reading it. Also, I think part of the reason I liked the story so much was because I made a calculated inference and wanted to continue reading to see if I was right. I was fairly right. I didn't get all the details exact though.
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When the story started out, I was thinking that the narrator and her family were humans. I believed this because the narrator mentioned that they were talking. There were some parts where I was confused, but the idea that they might be something other than humans never flickered in my mind. So when the narrator mentioned the problem with her husband and it being caused by the moon, I instantly thought that her husband is a werewolf. It wasn't until the narrator saw her husband transforming that I realized that they weren't humans, but actually wolfs! Everything made perfect sense now!
I reread the story again and realized that the author foreshadowed in the beginning. That was silly of me. I must have skipped right over the sentence that said, "Something comes over the one that's got the curse in his blood, they say, and he gets up because he can't sleep, and goes out into the glaring sunâ€¦" Right there is the hint that the husband isn't human. Why would the narrator and husband be sleeping when the sun is shining brightly? If I paid more attention and didn't skip to conclusions, I would have made more accurate assumptions and understood the story better.
Reader Response Journal #7
Describe one or two of the themes in "The Growin' of Paul Bunyan." Use examples from the story to show how the author presented these themes.
I think the author decided to write "The Growin' of Paul Bunyan" for the solitary purpose of making readers aware of how important our surroundings are to the world and to the continuation of life on earth. So caring for our environment is the main theme of this story. There is another closely related theme and that is to think before we act. William J. Brooke, the author, described some landscapes and images that helped to support these themes.
First, Paul can't see any more trees in his sight. He's a giant man, so he probably has a vast view of the planet. There are no trees around him, so there isn't anything left for him to fling his axe at and chop down. Paul doesn't even realize that at the rate in which the number of trees decrease, there might come a time when there won't be any trees left. At this moment, the author made me realize that trees are vital and how I don't want to be around when there is nothing left on earth. Further into the reading, I came across sort of the same message when Johnny Appleseed said, "It's always easier to chop something' down than to make it grow."
Paul finally realizes the arduous labor and amount of time it takes for a tree to grow. He also becomes alert to the number of problems that can arise while the seed is sprouting. He has to give it water, protect it from animals, keep it warm, let it have light but not too much, and etc. Even if it is hard work, Paul Bunyan continues to try and produce trees and has seized his hobby of chopping timber. Paul finally learned and we discover the important responsibility we have to care for the environment.
The Growin' of Paul Bunyan worksheet
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Theme Paper #1
By Shelby Higley
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is a passionate mystery novel about how coincidence and prejudice can change an innocent man's life forever. The readers tag along as the murder investigation of Carl Heine transpires. After a couple of hours, the sheriffs accuse and arrest the Japanese-American man, Kabuo Miyamoto. A twist of fate and a deeply rooted discrimination against the Japanese confirms Kabuo as being guilty. But can anyone in San Piedro disregard the extreme loathing they feel towards the Japanese and give Kabuo a fair trial?
Prejudice is everywhere throughout the story, especially during the investigation and trial. However, not all of the prejudice is towards the Japanese-Americans. Some of the Japanese-Americans distrust their white neighbors, mainly because of cultural differences and the concentration camps they were relocated to during World War II. Also, there are a lot of bias opinions between the reporters and fishermen. David Guterson implied through his novel that prejudice is a natural occurrence in our characters, but we should not let it cloud our judgment.
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The first day of the trial starts on December 6, 1954. Coincidentally, Kabuo's trial occurs on the anniversary date of the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the trial, everyone is remembering the tragic events of that day and World War II. It is a time where people are looking for someone to blame and who better to hold responsible then one of their enemies, the Japs.
Even from the beginning, people were taking for granted that the incidents of Carl Heine's death were not accidental and accusing Kabuo. For example, Horace Whaley, the coroner and a war veteran, examined the body of Carl. While examining the head wound on Carl's head, Horace was reminded of the kendo strike the Japanese used with the butt of their gun. Jumping to a haughty conclusion, Horace told the sheriff that he should be looking for a right-handed Jap.
I'm sure we all have made opinions about someone because of their appearance, their culture, or even what they do for a living. I know I have at least once in my life. I admit to it. I always seem to have biased first impressions. However, I try to block these impressions from controlling my actions and make sure I get to know the person before I judge. That is exactly what Nels Gudmundsson, Kabuo's defense attorney, summarizes with his closing argument:
"â€¦ As an older man I am prone to ponder matters in the light of death in a way that you are not. I am like a traveler descended from Mars who looks down in astonishment at what passes here. And what I see is the same human frailty passed from generation to generation. What I see is again and again the same sad human frailty. We hate one another; we are the victims of irrational fears. And there is nothing in the stream of human history to suggest we are going to change this. But - I digress, I confess that. I merely wish to point out that in the face of such a world you have only yourselves to rely on. You have only the decision you must make, each of you, alone. And will you contribute to the indifferent forces that ceaselessly conspire toward injustice? Or will you stand up against this endless tide and in the face of it be truly human? In God's name, in the name of humanity, do your duty as jurorsâ€¦"
Theme Paper #2
By Shelby Higley
The main theme of Atonement by Ian McEwan can be quite obvious. The title of the novel even hints at one theme, atonement. The main character, Briony, makes a childish and life-changing assumption. Unfortunately, the consequences of her misunderstanding alter the life of her sister, Celia, and brew a deep abhorrence. Not only does her sister loath her, but Briony's mistake ends up haunting her for the rest of her life and results in a constant search for atonement.
At the age of thirteen, Briony Tallis is already an inspiring writer. She has attempted to compose and direct her first play in which she planned on presenting to her brother, Leon, later that day. However, she resigns from the play when an unsuccessful rehearsal with her visiting cousins turns into a catastrophe. With no planned activities for the rest of the day, the children are forced to find other means of entertainment. It is then that Briony starts to witness moments of flirtation between her sister Celia and Robbie Turner, the housekeeper's son.
Briony's interpretations of the incidents she observed were not accurate. So when she discovers her cousin being sexually assaulted, she assumes it is Robbie and her statement leads to his arrest. Robbie then spends three years in prison and is later drafted into the army. Meanwhile, Celia became a nurse. The old lover meet for a brief lunch, prior to Robbie's departure, and promise to see each other again.
It is a happy ending, they do see each other again and Briony vows to come out with the truth to clear Robbie's name. At least in the novel it happens this way. We soon find out that Celia and Robbie never did meet again, for they were both killed during the war. That also means that Briony never made amends with her sister. So she altered the ending so that the lovers could have the happy ending they deserved. Plus, it was the only way she knew how to atone for the misfortunes.
In the book that I am reading now, The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, there is a quote that I perceived that reminded me of the main theme of this novel. "We're not punished for our sins. We're punished by them." In both Atonement and The Tea Rose, the authors suggest that our mistakes cannot be fixed and our sins forgiven but we can strive to atone for them. This is especially evident when Ian McEwen, through the voice of Briony, inscribed the following paragraph:
"The problem these fifty-nine years has been this: how can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outside her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all."
I have never affected the lives of anybody like Briony did. I would rather not have that burden on my shoulders. Also, I would not want to live with the everlasting knowledge that I changed someone's life for the worse. It already disturbs me to hear about stories of wickedness, especially those from World War II. It bothers me so much that I feel like I need to atone for their sins. Who knows what I would do to myself mentally if I had that kind of guilt on my hands? I know, though, that my sins will not be forgiven and my search for atonement will be a life-long journey.
Theme Paper #3
By Shelby Higley
Just like in Atonement, the title of The Good Earth hints at the major theme. Pearl S. Buck suggests throughout her novel that man will always have a profound connection with the land. She also implies that we should constantly strive to maintain a bond with the good earth.
The story follows Wang Lung, a farmer, as his family experiences famine, drought, escaping to the south, and finally returning home again to their land. With the jewels that his wife O-Ian stole, he decides to buy acres and acres of land. Wang Lung believes that the value of land is superior to any riches.
Wang Lung then begins to earn a fortune off his beloved land and starts to hire workers to help him harvest. After a while, he is not doing anymore labor and becomes sluggish. It is with this new idleness that his family starts to encounters man's imperfections (such as, buying women, opium, and greed). Especially, Wang Lung's sons, for they lost the significance of the land. However, Wang Lung still recognizes the importance and sometimes journeys back to his land to work.
Pearl Buck illustrates the meaning and value of owning land, with the example of the Hwang family. The Hwang family was a very prosperous family who earned their wealth from their possession of fertile land. As soon as they began to sell their land, their funds began to perish because they spent a surplus of their money on women and opium. Ultimately, they were forced out of their great house and became impoverished.
In the story, Wang Lung and his family rise in status and eventually become the new great family in the old Hwang house. Their actions even start to imitate those of the Hwang family. At the end of the novel, the sons settle that they will disregard Wang Lung's wish and sell the land. The author uses this resemblance to indirectly assist the readers in predicting that their family will reach the same result as the Hwang family.
The author uses these examples to indicate that those with an intimate connection to the earth have an inner kindness and respect for the world. While in contrast, those who have a relationship with material goods tend to be careless and selfish. We should love the earth, because it is vital and the only thing that will endure in this world.
This theme is seen everywhere throughout literature and movies. For instance, I just watched Avatar last night and was reminded of The Good Earth. They have the same kind of theme. Having a respect and bond to the earth brings out the caring and gentle qualities of human beings. In contrast, when people lose their respect for the beauty of nature, they become fixated on riches and are inconsiderate.
I've always realized that having an appreciation for nature purifies the soul. Even though I don't like to be outside frequently because of my fair skin and allergies, I still acknowledge and worship the splendors of the world. After reading and learning from The Good Earth, as well as other sources, that the natural world is the most meaningful.