Monday, May 29, 2017

Downloading To The Picture (Analysis Of The Short Story "The Turkey Season" By Alice Munro)

Imagine as we are watching the old picture with a group of workers which would be taken in the time of Christmas Eve. Let's look at their faces and try to guess their thoughts, work, everyday life.

The story "The turkey season" was written by a Nobel Prize author in a style of a very precisely made description. As We can read on the Internet, Munro's works are compared with the Chekhov's stories, as a plot is secondary and "little happens".

The plot is about a fourteen years old girl who tells a story of her working in a turkey barn in a rural American or Canadian district. She describes the process of preparing turkeys for selling: "I saw them hanging upside down, plucked and stiffened, pale and cold, with the heads and necks limp, the eyes and nostrils clotted with dark blood; the remaining bits of feathers ...". After this expressive description without any aversions, she makes a characteristic of workers giving very understandable for readers details. The author writes about their relationships and shares her own impression of each of them.

The author reasons about her workmates making conclusions like "There are different ways women have of talking about their looks".

There are no sentiments in their relationships. The snippet below from the story shows it very well:

Her husband was cruel to her in those days, but later he suffered an accident—he rolled the tractor and was so badly hurt he would be an invalid all his life. They moved to town, and Marjorie was the boss now.

"He starts to sulk the other night and say he don't want his supper. Well, I just picked up his wrist and held it. He was scared I was going to twist his arm. He could see I'd do it. So I say, 'You what?' And he says, 'I'll eat it.'"

But this incident doesn't make the image of Marjorie ugly, it adds just realistic details in her personality.

The plot of the story includes something like a climax about a strange guy named Brain who eventually was expelled from the barn. The reasons of this accident are not clear. It leads us to the conclusion that the plot-line of the story is not important, as the important description. The author leads us in the atmosphere of a rural American life in the middle of a previous century. The mind draws the black and white pictures probably because the writer tells the story from her deep past trying to explain her notion about that time but keeping distance between nowadays and the past. This gains a recognition from the public.

It seems simple: how to become the Nobel laureate in literature, just write what you see and feel.

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

John Updike's short story "A&P" Summary

The short story "A&P" written by John Updike is about a turning point in life when it seemed no reasons for the big decision. A nineteen years old cash-register who was bored with his job, suddenly decided to quit when the manager made a reprimand to three girls who had come to the grocery only in the bathing suits which wasn't appropriate.

Besides the theme of rebellion, Updike drew a colorful picture of the thoughts and feelings of the young boy who was observing life around him. The author also described a daily routine. The protagonist of the story made a bit cynical comments. He thought the beauty of girls. Last part of the story was connected with his future career.

This is a link to the short movie dedicated to this story:

This story was discussed with the teacher Vitalii in online school

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Conversation with My Father by Grace Paley Analysis

The story written by Grace Paley "A Conversation with My Father" includes  a story told within another story. The plot is based on dialogues between a daughter and her elderly father.

In the text the the father asks his daughter (writer) to tell him a story. She does it telling about a woman who lived in the neighborhood with her teenage son. The son becomes addicted to drugs and then the mother tried to share the addiction of her son assuming that it would make them closer to each other.

The first variant of the story told by the writer didn't satisfy the father because it is short and she didn't give any details. He says "You left everything out. Turgenev wouldn't do that. Chekhov wouldn't do that."

She retold the story making it longer: the son fall in love with the girl and gives up the bad habit and he demanded that his mother did it too. She couldn't and he left her alone.

The writer tried to continue the story choosing a better destiny for the heroes. The father isn't satisfied again because he sees a pessimistic end of the story. The daughter believed that the author had a right to create the destiny for her protagonists freely. The father became a pessimist or realist from his life experience. "In your own life, too, you have to look it in the face." He used a logic "A person must have character, She does not."

Paley finished her story with an open question: can a person change? She (or her protagonist) thinks I that every person or character of a story should be given a chance for a better life.

My interpretation of the moral of the story that this is about a writing style with:
- advice to draw a bright picture, to pay attention to every detail, as great writers do it;
- depicting the true story facing to the truth even if it is cruel;
- discussing freedom and restrictions for writers in constructing the plot.

We can see a great example of metaphorical description. Let's compare:
A simple description: The father is in a bad physical condition but with a clear mind.
Grace Paley's description: "His heart, that bloody motor, is equally old and will not do certain jobs any more. It still floods his head with brainy light. But it won't let his legs carry the weight of his body around the house."

Grace Paley plays with language, drawing from patterns the picture of real life. This story uncovers for readers the process, mechanics of writing and does it well.

This is a link to the audio about this story from The Guardian:

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Never by H.E. Bates Summary

Many people had dreamed of some new exciting adventures, new experience, something very different from the same old existence. Some of them do this step, others are still questioning whether they're ready for it.

The plot of a very short story "Never" written by English writer H.E. Bated is similar to life-story when readers find hope in it, when they are being plucked from obscurity: "so might we"- they think. This is a story of one girl who was thinking about a change in her life.

The first paragraph had drawn the picture of drowsy, half-dark room where the young girl was sitting observing through the window the shadowed fields of British countryside "looking like black scars one minute, and like friendly sanctuaries the next".

She was repeating "I am going away… I am going away. I can't stand it any longer... I'm tired here, I never do anything, It's dead, rotten ... I never do anything.". She played the piano and thought: "I'll never play this waltz again. It has the atmosphere of this room. It's the last time!"

On the way to the train station, she tried to conjure up a vision of London.

But ... It was cold as she walked back. She had no spirit. She sat down, telling herself: "This isn't the only day. Some day I shall go. Some day."

And again and again as she played the waltz, she would tell herself that same thing: "Some day! Some day!"

The title "Never" would refer to:

- the girl who thought that she never come back to her hometown;
- the situation that she never decide to change her life;
- luck and lack of luck when her father played cards.

This book was included in The Oxford Book of Short Stories chosen by V.S. Pritchett. Probably one of the reasons is that H.E. Bates put the English countryside down on paper. Literature critics said that HE was blessed and also limited by being a little Englander.

This story is a good example of English literature, it is recommended for reading.

Enjoying art in Moscow Metro

While on the Metro in Moscow Today, I entered a carriage with art on the wall. It included an entire gallery in a carriage. An outside part of carriages is decorated with amazing images of flowers. The unusual train brings new colors to routine life of passengers and makes their travel more bright. 

I took these two pictures for publishing here.

When you visit Moscow, don't forget to step down to underground: to Moscow Metro!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Homage to Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway Analysis

The iceberg theory, which Ernest Hemingway uses, means that the good writer doesn't need to explain the plot of the story for public, it is enough to give to the reader a right picture, to draw it precisely. The imagination of the person will make the job of depicting the story better than it would be done by the writer.

The short story "Homage to Switzerland" demonstrates this writing style very well. It includes the three stories, all taking place on train stations in Switzerland. The first one is about American who tried to flirt or maybe humiliate the waitress being aware that he couldn't do it. The second story is about a successful writer who pretends being careless about his divorce. The last story is about a man who wants to show his well being as he is proud of his father who committed a suicide and it doesn’t look sincere.

Considering some facts, it is likely autobiographic work. Hemingway was known to have been most distraught following his divorce from his first wife, Hadley, but he was divorced three times in his life. Hemingway's father committed suicide in 1928.

The title "Homage to Switzerland" has a sense not only because the scenes of the story occur on Swiss rail stations but also because:
- people speak there in several languages, it is a part of their everyday life;
- protagonist tried to demonstrate his knowledge of languages;
- the rhythm of life described by the author is calm as it occurs in Switzerland.

There is an opinion that "Homage to Switzerland" isn't an homage to this country, but Hemingway's attempt of freeing himself from his life's struggles. Train stations are temporary places where a person could do it.

There are a few details of the main characters which common for these three men:

Mr. Wheeler flirted with the waitress. But he knew that he couldn't have relationships with her.

Mr. Johnson tried to forget about his divorce, he wanted to persuade himself and others that it is not a big deal, but he wasn't able to forget.

The Son of a Fellow Member pretends he has an interest in the National Geographic Society, he demonstrated an interest in this like his father. But the fact that his father committed a suicide, feeling sorry for this fact, put protagonist outside of the world Geography.

The common is they are all trying to escape reality.

Switzerland is the calm and happy country where it seems people could forget about their problems, but is it real? Ernest Hemingway suggested to readers to think about it.

This is a link for audio from Guardian:

This story was corrected by the teacher Varvara in online school

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mechanics Of Breaking Up ("Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver Analysis)

There are a lot of interpretations we can find on the Internet and the question is why such a short story as "Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver became so popular. The plot is how the couple was going to break up, the man was leaving home, woman hysterically commented his intentions and finally, they started to argue about their baby and it seemed as if the baby was torn apart (this final wasn't completely clear).

The reality effect is the first reason for reader's recognition of this story. The first paragraph draws the picture of prosaic reality:

"Early that day the weather turned and the snow was melting into dirty water... Cars slushed by on the street outside, where it was getting dark. But it was getting dark on the inside too."

Some literature's critics explain the symbolism of this story:
The snow melting into dirty water: snow is white and is considered pure, but the dirty water represents the darkness that is to come in their relationship.
Dark and slush give the story a negative feeling

There is an opinion that the story represents a modern interpretation of Solomon's decision. When two women came to Solomon each pretending as a mother for one baby, Solomon suggested to divide the child into two parts for each woman, the true mother refused her right for the baby and Solomon recognized her as a mother.

This interpretation bases on the action, on their dispute about a baby. I hold the opinion that representing a routine of human relationships is more important in this story. Two people who lived together and have a child became emotionally separated. They act as robots, as actors who are playing their own roles. Let's see the text:
The man seems to keep a calm attitude about the situation while the woman is yelling.
When the woman takes the picture it also shows that she will not give up without a fight.

This version of moral of this story would be proved by the story of naming the story. Its original title was "Mine", then, it was changed into "Popular Mechanics" by the editor, finally, the story was named "Little Things".

The author uses "just-telling-what-happened" style. The tone of the story is angry, aggressive, and tense.

I think that the main idea of the story is to represent a mechanism of breaking up without emotions. It proved the last line:

"In this manner, the issue was decided"

This is a link to Youtube video which represents this story very well:

This story was corrected by teacher Varvara during the lessons in online school

Friday, May 12, 2017

Following The Sun In Switzerland In May 2017

This was a three-day excursion trip during the time when the rain covered almost all Switzerland. But thanks to the Internet where we could find information about places with good weather and unlimited tickets for traveling through all Switzerland with Swiss pass, we visited German, Italian and French parts of the country.

The day one:

We were amazed by Zurich from the first side. It has a unique architectural style, very green and clean, colorful houses with beautifully decorated balconies. We walked along to the river Limmat up to Zurich's lake and thought that it is a very comfortable place for living.

Lucerne is located not far away from Zurich and it was our second destination for the first day in Switzerland. It took only half an hour on a train. Lucerne is considered to be Switzerland's Florence, as one of the most beautiful cities of Switzerland. The city is quite small and the clerk in the office of tourist information joked that we need only 15 minutes for observing the most famous tourist attractions. We did it for a few hours, visiting the bridge, old town, the fortress with colorful garden around.

The day two:

We choose the only sunny in that day place in the South of Switzerland - Lugano. It is Italian-speaking part of the country and it is divided by The Alps from the main part. This region has the highest number of sunny days in a year.

The journey took about two hours on the train. We enjoyed seeing fantastic landscapes which we were going through at high altitude. Imagine fabulous villages drenched in greenery, high mountains lakes, lots of waterfalls. We rode through one of the longest tunnels in Europe the length of which is 17 km. It was unforgettable when we had entered the tunnel in the location where it seemed rain will never end, and in half an hour we went out on a lovely sunny day.

Lugano is the most visited city of this predominantly Italian-speaking canton Ticino.

Coming from the station, we were astonished by amazing view on top of the medieval town standing on the banks of the emerald lake. When we went down to the main square, we witnessed two events: local dance show and international bike racing.

We walked in exotic botanical garden arguing about the abilities of a man if not to manage the weather, then at least to choose a place where it is better at the moment.

Before this trip, we read some tourists’ stories on the Internet. There was mentioned one highland village Carona with San Grato Park located nearby. After half an hour on the bus number 434, we were high up in the mountains. Our fatigue disappeared instantly when we had seen beautiful views of the snowy mountains, the lake from a great height, gorgeous gardens with unusual bright colors.

The day three:

We made a decision about travel destination this day just in the morning after observing the forecast. As it appeared there was one other place without rain in that day- Geneva, which is located at the distance of 2.5 hours riding on the train. This is mostly French speaking region. The difference between German and French speaking parts is noticeable: green meadows with cows were replaced by vineyards everywhere on the French side.

The first impression of Geneva was a large space created by the buildings around the lake. We saw the fountain located in the lake, it seemed that the jet of the fountain pulled up to the sky (this is the highest fountain in Europe). A lighthouse, located on the lake, creates a sense of the sea of the city.

Lots of tourists in that day - groups of children occupied the old town of the city. We took a few photos and decided to go further.

On the way to Bern, we went out to the train station of Fribourg. This is the city which is called the town off three dimensions due to its old part located just on the slope of a mountain. A small part of the old city is located in the ravine that enhances "the effect of three dimensions". One interesting detail, Fribourg occupies a place on the border between French and German speaking regions and we can see the names of street one in French, next in German language.

The city that we visited last was Bern. There is a parliament there and for this reason this city is considered to be a capital city of the country (there is no official capital city in Switzerland). View of the majestic buildings confirmed in my eyes the status of Bern as the capital of the country. Bear is a symbol of Bern, its statues and images are everywhere. The medieval part of the city represents the period of the Middle Ages very well, feeling of a journey on a time-travel machine stayed with us during the visit to Bern.


On the last day, we had a few hours before the flight and we spent the day walking along the old Zurich, sitting on the waterfront of Zurich's Lake and discussed our impressions about the beautiful country - Switzerland.

Some details and advice for tourists about visiting Switzerland:

The cost of transport constitutes a large part of a tourist's expenses during traveling. The minimum price for a ticket for tram or bus is 2.5 swiss francs (franc is equal to euro). The ticket from Zurich to Geneva costs 89 francs. I advise the readers to bear it in mind that there is a not so cheap, but, nevertheless good option -- which is available only for foreign tourists -- Swiss Pass. We bought three-days Swiss Pass for the price of approximately 200 francs for each person. As it appeared it was a good decision.

Food is very expensive too. The price of one Big Mac in McDonald's is 6.5 francs and it is much cheaper than visit an average restaurant. It is relatively affordable to go for dinner to Migros restaurants. Nevertheless, we found one thing which cheaper than in other countries, it is water Even (0.95 francs) or water from under faucet (it is clean and free).

The total amount of money which we spent for this trip wasn’t so high because we flew with low-cost airline AirBaltic and we lived in inexpensive but surprisingly luxurious apartments from Swiss Star.

Switzerland is an amazing country, a kind of reserve in Europe. In such a short time, we gathered so many beautiful impressions that our minds were overwhelmed with the beautiful moments which we had. The memories from this journey will remain with us 

This story was corrected by teachers Varvara and Laya during the lessons in online school

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jazz Mood: Sounds of Autumn (The Short Story Analysis "Early Autumn" by Langston Hughes)

Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He is known as one of the earliest innovators of the art form called jazz poetry. He also wrote short stories such as "Early Autumn".

This is the summary of the story "Early autumn":
Two former lovers Mary and Bill meet randomly at the bus stop after a long period of time after she left him and "married a man she thought she loved." They exchanged polite questions "how are you" and replied that each of them was fine. They have families, children, job. They said that each of them would welcome another at home with family. But when the bus came, Mary boarded it and drove away, then remembering that she didn't leave an address or phone number. She lost the opportunity to tell him about her feelings, about the name Bill which she gave her son, about the passing time ...

The first Bill's impression was how old she became. There is some connection between the autumn and the age. Autumn is a time of loss, Mary lost her love, both of them went through the time which never comes back. Leaves fall inevitably from the trees, "A great many people went past them through the park. People they didn't know."

The feeling of passing time is presented in dialog, in reminiscence, even in the description of light around:
"Suddenly the lights came on up the whole length of Fifth Avenue, chains of misty brilliance in the blue air." "The lights on the avenue blurred, twinkled, blurred."

The light represents a distancing from the present time, the light came up and the new reality came up. There is no way to escape the passage of time, the old reality got blurred as we can see in this picture.

This picture was painted by my wife. I suppose that the spectrum of colors shows the atmosphere of autumn's mood.

This video&music composition from Langston is appropriate as jazz interpretation of the feeling of autumn:

The lyrics are here:

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