Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Seventh Grade by Gary Soto Analysis

Seventh Grade by Gary Soto is a story about teenage boy Victor who fell in love with his classmate - a girl Teresa. The author chose a deliberately simple style of writing according to the age of two main characters in the story. At the beginning of the story, Victor selected French as a foreign language for studying because, "... it was cool ... there were rivers in France, and huge churches, and fair-skinned people everywhere ...". Besides, Teresa, a girl he liked, took French, too.

The story begins with the classmates meeting after summer vacation before starting the seventh grade in school. The boys talked about appearance, how to make a good impression for girls. One boy - Michael said that, "... his face had changed during the summer. He had read a GQ5 magazine that his older brother had borrowed from the Book Mobile and noticed that the male models all had the same look on their faces. They would stand, one arm around a beautiful woman, and scowl." Michael believed that it worked because as he said, "Belinda Reyes walked by a while ago and looked at me”.

The main character- Victor thought that it was superficial but nevertheless he tried to make the same expression. He noticed that the girl, who walked past him, looked at him. Umm, he thought, maybe it does work.

During the French class, Victor thought about Teresa and when the teacher asked the students to give examples of nouns in French, Victor automatically said, "Teresa". "Some of the girls giggled. They knew he had a crush on Teresa. He felt himself blushing ...".

There are few more situations where Victor embarrasses himself in front of Teresa. The story has a happy ending. Teresa asked Victor to help her with her French. They said, “Bonjour” to each other. The last line of the story,
"He was going to like seventh grade."

Good reading for the positive emotions!

This is a link to the original text of the story:

Friday, May 25, 2018

In Another Country by Ernest Hemingway Analysis

Ernest Hemingway wrote the short story "In Another Country" in the style which some critics named as a detachment-style. It means that the author's purpose was to show life as it was, the main character just described what he saw around him.

The story was told from the side of the wounded American soldier who was in an Italian hospital. Ernest Hemingway was wounded in Europe during the First World War, the story could be defined as an autobiographical story.

The first line expressed the mood of the narrative, it displayed a smooth tone and the measured the peaceful life. It was written, "In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early."

The doctor asked him about sports that he practiced before. It was football and the doctor replied, "You will be able to play football again better than ever".

There were three boys; patients in the hospital. The author compared his own medals with the medals of others. The boys were very polite at first, asking what he had done to earn the medals. He showed them the papers, where it was written in a beautiful language, that he was awarded the medals for brotherhood. In other words, and it was written that the medals had been given to him because he was an American. The attitude of the boys toward the narrator changed after that. He wrote:
"I was a friend, but I was never really one of them after they had read the citations, because it had been different with them and they had done very different things to get their medals."

So the three boys and the author drifted apart. The narrator stayed good friends with the boy who had been wounded his first day at the front. This boy could never be accepted either and the author felt more comfortable with him.

The narrator spent much time with another patient; the major whose hand was severely wounded. The major dedicated his time to correcting the grammar of the Italian language which the author was studying. He had complimented the narrator on how he spoke Italian. The narrator mentioned that Italian seemed so easy to speak that he was not interested in it. The major replied, "Why, then, do you not take up the use of grammar?”. After that, the language became so difficult for the narrator that he was afraid to speak with the major until he had learned the grammar. When the author didn't spend enough time studying grammar, the major said that he, "was a stupid impossible disgrace, and he was a fool to have bothered with me".

Once the major asked the author if he was going to marry. The major seemed very angry, he repeated, “A man must not marry....He'll lose it,” he almost shouted, “Don't argue with me!”.

Later, the major had a telephone call, he came back to the narrator:
"I am so sorry,” he said, and patted me on the shoulder with his good hand. “I would not be rude. My wife has just died. You must forgive me"

Ernest Hemingway chose for this story a detached, objective tone and attitude toward the subject. This literary method gives readers possibilities to see the time how it was, like watching the documentary. The author was able to recreate his time and to deliver the atmosphere of the place for us.

Can we pronounce Bengali letter "ভ" as "v" instead of "bh"

This is a discussion which I started on the site italki.com about the Bengali language:

According to the dictionary the Bengali letter "ভ" pronounce as "bh". But in the word good (ভালো) I heard from native Bengali speaker pronunciation "valo".

I read in the Internet that the proper pronunciation is "bh". But there is another version:
The name of Italian city Venice Google Translator translates as ভেনিস.

The question:
Can we pronounce Bengali letter "ভ" as "v" instead of "bh"?

Comment 1:

Depending on the word you use "V"
Good = ভালো ; you can use either V or Bh for this one.
However, for Beggar = ভিখারি you can use V, it will have to bh.
Best practice is using bh always for not to get confused.

Comment 2:
Can we pronounce the English letter "z" as "j"?

In Bengali, the sound "z" does not exist. People who have a lot of contact with English or other foreign languages learn to pronounce the "z" sound properly, but the rest approximate it with the sound of "j". So it's not uncommon to hear the number "zero" in English being pronounced something like "jiro" among Bengalis. It's an approximation, and it works.

Depending on the level you're trying to attain at this stage, it may be perfectly reasonable to approximate the "ভ" sound with "v". People will have no trouble understanding you.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rules of the Game by Amy Tan - Analysis

The author of the story Rules of the Game, Amy Tan, is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, who grew up in California. The main character is a girl named Meimei, who absorbed knowledge about the rules for living in a society which she learned from her mother and people around her.

The author wrote in the first line, "I was six when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength. It was a strategy for winning arguments, respect from others". The title of the story is connected with the idea of following rules for individuals living in society. Because of that, the story seems contain autobiographical memories told from the point of view of a Chinese girl who lived with her family in San Francisco's Chinatown.

The mother of the girl demanded that she, “bite back her tongue" when the girl begged for candies in the shop. Next time, only after the girl accepted this advice, did her mother buy the candies without her asking. Her mother "quietly plucked a small bag of plums from the rack and put it on the counter with the rest of the items.".

The Chinese community kept it’s identity, it was represented in the story by a few episodes. The first one was about a restaurant where the menu was only in Chinese. When one foreigner asked Meimei what they served there, she shouted, “Guts and duck's feet and octopus gizzards!” and ran off. The second episode was about the statement which one boy said in the class that Chinese people do Chinese torture. When Meimei asked her mother about it, she replied “Chinese people do many things ... Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture.

The core part of the story is dedicated to chess. Once the children received a chess set as a Christmas gift. Two of Meimei's older brothers started playing the game and Meimei begged them to allow her to play too. After, her brother briefly explained her the basic rules, she asked why the pawn could move only to the one direction. The answer was about chess but it could be referred to the general knowledge which every child faced:

Why can't they move more steps?” “Because they're pawns,” he said. “But why do they go crossways to take other men? Why aren't there any women and children?” “Why is the sky blue? Why must you always ask stupid questions?” asked Vincent. “This is a game. These are the rules. I didn't make them up. See. Here. In the book.

Eventually, Meimei studied the rules of the game, she became a regional chess champion. The success came when she understood the rules of this game. The idea of accepting rules for definite achievements was presented by the author as a crucial thing. Success will come for those people who know the rules.

Here is the link to the story:

Matthew Henson at the Top of the World Biography by Jim Haskins Review

'Matthew Henson at the Top of the World' by American author Jim Haskins is a short biography. The story is about a black American who was among the first people who successfully reached the North Pole and whose deed was undeservedly forgotten.

The author told about the difficult childhood of Matthew Henson. He grew up without his parents, he needed to work hard to survive. Since a young age, he served on the small ships, he sailed to different parts of the world. After years of traveling, he got a job as a clerk in a clothing store. During that time he met with Robert E. Peary - at that time a young navy officer of the USA - the future pioneer of the way to the North Pole. Pearly offered Matthew a job. Since that time they had several geographical expeditions together.

After their first trip to Greenland, Pearly wrote “Henson, my faithful colored boy, a hard worker and apt at anything, . . . showed himself . . . the equal of others in the party.”

The walking part of their journey started the 1st of March, 1909. As the expedition went on, Pearly had to send back several men due to their exhaustion and frostbite. Despite the temperature was sub-zero, the expedition encountered troubles with open water. One traveler went ahead and didn't come back. Only his coat was found floating in a hole in the ice.

Finally, they reached the North Pole. This was not only their success, it was is a great achievement of all humans. But his deed wasn’t rewarded. The National Geographic Society gave the gold medal only Peary, Matthew’s contributions to the expedition were not recognized for many years.

The short biography 'Matthew Henson at the Top of the World' written by Jim Haskins filled this gap in the history of research of Arctika

This is the link to the text of the story: