Sunday, April 30, 2017

If One Is Hesitating (Analysis of the Short Story "The Judgment" By Franz Kafka)

The short story "The Judgment" by Franz Kafka includes two parts:
Consideration of young man (Georg) who is going to marry fiancée from a wealthy family about sending a letter to his friend who wasn't successful in life.

A very angry reaction of Georg's father for an innocent question of his son and following suicide of the son (Georg).

The first part represents Kafka as a highly introverted writer, the narrator demonstrates the great unsureness in generally not such an important deal. Franz Kafka had very complicated relationships with his father. For this reason, many people believe that the story "The Judgment" is partly autobiographical.

The second part shows how important could be a word which is said by parents to their children. Sometimes children would exaggerate what they heard and it could lead to terrible results.

This quote from Kafka himself explains his method of writing or more precisely would be said thinking:

"What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us."

It is better to avoid reading Kafka in the moments of weakness when a reader is perplexed, uncertain of himself and have to weigh conflicting perspectives for and against competing options. It will not be helpful.

But it is definitely a didactic and memorable work.

We discussed this story with the teacher Varvara during the class in online English school

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How And Why (Analysis of "Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood)

There is a theory for movie's makers of using different plots but with only good endings. The customer usually prefers "a happy end". Margaret Atwood made a try to explore this phenomenon and suggest readers to think about their preferences again.

The short story "Happy Endings" written by Margaret Atwood gives readers a few options for the plot development. The easiest one is John and Mary meet, get married, go through their life without problems and, eventually, die. The story A looks like a happy life, but look what style the author uses for describing it! The manner of writing the story A is simple, very simple, the writer deliberately simplified it.

"Let's add some hot", suggested Atwood in the B-story (it reminds me of a title of a very famous movie "Some Like It Hot"). This part includes an intrigue, drama, climax, attitude of the main character, feelings - all that readers want. It is more natural, but very depressing. Happy end after the main character died looks ironically.

Next variations of the love-story lead readers to the labyrinth of human relationships. Margaret Atwood makes a conclusion:

"The only authentic ending is the one provided here:
John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die."

My opinion:

It is a false conclusion. The moral of the story is hidden in the last line: "Now try How and Why."

The end doesn’t matter so much, as a process of how it had been going. "True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it's the hardest to do anything with."

Choosing the story for reading, seeing the title, we could expect a happy end but our expectations weren't fulfilled. The story with a happy end looks a little depressing (at least for me). The reason? Because we can see actions: how and why.

This is Youtube video about this story:

This story was corrected by the teacher Maria during the class on online school

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Be One In Time (Analysis Of The Story “Wants” By Grace Paley)

A story "Wants" gives the readers a feeling of loneliness. A narrator, a woman who had been married for twenty-seven years and got divorced, met her ex-husband. They had a short conversation without any emotions. He accused her of not paying much attention to his wishes like buying the boat or meeting with their acquaintances.

She has a completely different attitude to her life, her wishes are to be a better person and to live in imaginable perfect society. It is very different what she wants.

The story goes on the background of returning the books which she took in the library eighteen years ago. She was fined by the librarian and consequently, the clerk accepted her apologies.

I think that the main idea of this short story is to show how the time passes. She said that she had not thought  about his wishes because "my father was sick that Friday, then the children were born, then I had those Tuesday-night meetings, then the war began ..."

This feeling when the time has gone and there is no chance to change the passing life is known for people in the old age (in fact it is known to everyone) ... Grace Paley described it very well.

There is uncertainty in the plot of this story, but it is a part of life. People are strangers on the way between the past and the future, during the short pause they could think about what did not happen with regret.

The narrator described in very bright expressions the way, how people can harm others giving just remarks about features of others characters. What she thought:
"He had had a habit throughout the twenty-seven years of making a narrow remark which, like a plumber's snake, could work its way through the ear down the throat, half-way to my heart. He would then disappear, leaving me choking with equipment."

People are very vulnerable in terms of what other people say about them. The narrator had her personal point of view for life which is a very different from what her ex-husband had, but after she stayed alone, she didn't feel sure about her rightness.
"I felt extremely accused. Now, it's true, I'm short of requests and absolute requirements. But I do want something"

She isn't a strong person, she doesn't mind being jolting by somebody, in the last line of the story she said: "when a person or an event comes along to jolt or appraise me I can take some appropriate action". I suppose that the moral of this story is the person is only a part of society and she is acting according to the circumstances like a lonely boat in an endless ocean.

This story was discussed and corrected by the teacher Maria in online English school

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mysterious Routine (The School by Donald Barthelme - Analysis)

This story "School" is very short, it consists of only two pages. The plot is about the children who started to understand what the life is during the class at school.

The first subject is death. Everything around them becomes dead (plants, animals, people). But the story is written in a very routine manner, from the first person. There are no explanations, just description of the sequence of events.

The first philosophical question comes from the children. This is a quote from the text:
" ... where did they go? And I said, I don't know, I don't know. And they said, who knows? and I said, nobody knows."

It is important to hear the rhythm of the narration, repetition of the phrase "I don't know", multiple usages of the word "and". The readers are able to hear the rhyme of the story "I said", "they said".

And this is a philosophical question:
"And they said, is death that which gives meaning to life? And I said, no, life is that which gives meaning to life. Then they said, but isn't death, considered such a fundamental datum, the means by which the taken-for-granted mundanity of the everyday may be transcended in the direction of--"

It is a deep conclusion, isn't it?

Last part of the story turns to a request from the children to their teacher to show them what the love is. The last part of the story isn’t clear. Maybe the author wanted to change the tone of the story from depressing to an optimistic one. The last line gives to the readers a feeling of continuation of life because a new animal (gerbil) appears.

This painting looks very special, like Picasso's view of everyday life. The author's view of the school routine seems also different, it makes the reading truly interesting.


This video on Youtube demonstrates this story very well

Donald Barthelme (1931- 1989) was an American writer known for his postmodern, surrealistic style. He published more than 100 stories in his lifetime, many of which were quite compact, making him an important influence on contemporary flash fiction.

"The School" was originally published in 1974 in The New Yorker, where it is available to subscribers. You can also get a free copy of the story at National Public Radio (NPR).

We discussed this story with the teacher Maria during the class on