In the poem “The Diameter of the Bomb” Amichai reflects on his feelings and experience with war by narrowing the focus down to one of its key perpetrators, a bomb. The poem starts with precise measurements of the bomb; the diameter of the bomb in centimeters, the diameter of the range of the bomb in meters and so on. I feel he includes these particular details to emphasize that people tend to get concerned with the statistics and they forget to acknowledge the deep emotional impact war has on individuals. Amichai wants people to ponder less on the numbers and focus more on showing compassion for humans. The diameter of a bomb ranging 7 meters may seem small but the emotional suffering that it causes, has no end. In his poem he mentions, “and the solitary man mourning her death/at the distant shores of a country far across the sea.” A woman loses her life and a man in another country is devastated by her loss. The results of war and violence are not “exclusive” to one area. The effects of such tragedies reach the entire world and to God who bears witness to it all. There is this emotional connection to how people from all corners of the world can be mentally and physically impacted by the horrifying outcomes of war/bombings. Then there is this spiritual reference Almichai makes in which he is inferring that these inhumane actions are being carefully noted and assessed by God as well.
The voices of the speakers in the poems Mother to Son and Motto are significantly from one another. The poem, Mother to Son expresses the struggles and obstacles a mother had to face and overcome in order to establish the life she had for herself and her son. She wants her son to continue to push past the barriers that may try to suppress him by saying, “Don’t you set down on those steps”(15). Hence there is a very encouraging tone in which the mother addresses that life had not been easy for her, nor will it be easy for her son, but he needs to overcome the difficulties and never second-guess himself. However, Motto seems to be much more nonchalant. It seems as if the narrator is saying to just go with the flow. The narrator is essentially saying you only get to live one life so live it to the fullest. The narrator doesn’t seem to ponder too much on the struggles and hardships like the narrator in the poem Mother To Son. There distinct perspectives on life can definitely be a potential reason for tension between the speakers of both poems.
It is clear that as time has passed, Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade in The Roman Fever have grown apart. As they sat beside each other and watched their young daughters, they pondered quietly. You would imagine, growing up together, the two would be extremely close. Yet, as the two sit and take in the view, they realize how little they know about each other. Even when they were speaking of generational differences, they mention how their grandmothers worried about the Roman fever, their mothers would try to hold on to their daughters to protect them from danger. Yet their parents did not know that the more they tried to cage them in, the more they wanted to be set free. I think this is something that needs to be considered because you can see how unfamiliar different each generation was with one another and how they all valued something entirely different.
In terms of friendship, I don’t think one really existed or it was severely damaged along the way. It was overcome with jealousy and envy. Wharton mentions, “So these two ladies visualized each other, each through the wrong end of her little telescope”(27). The two women sat there passing off negative judgments on each other the majority of the time. Towards the end of the story, the women realized the whole foundation of their friendship was a lie. As a reader, I was quite enthralled by Wharton’s process of unveiling the truth piece by piece. When Mrs.Slade revealed that she knew her husband and Mrs. Ansley were having an affair and she had written a letter out of spite to mislead Mrs.Ansley, I thought, of course, they had hidden agendas. When Mrs. Ansley got the last laugh by saying, “I had Barbara” I was completely shocked. The dramatic turn this story took made me question not only the characters in the story but how much I really know about my own friends, family, and loved ones. It’s like you think you know everything, but then you are stumped when you realize you truly know nothing at all. I feel that is what Wharton wanted to establish and she delivered it spectacularly.
Betrayal and infidelity play a significant role in the shift of behavior within the characters. Betrayal is presented so strongly in the Golden Six Bits, that at times it even seemed to be a character itself. Missie May had seemingly been itching to get a taste of what it would be like to have gold money and be in the company of someone who is rich. Although it is clear that Missy May is apologetic about her actions, her infidelity it puts a massive strain on their relationship. What’s ironic is how Missie May gave off the impression of being put off by Slemmons and his reputation, saying, “Ah don’t see whut de womens see on [Slemmons]. Ah wouldn’t give ‘im a wink if de sheriff wuz after ‘im”(49). Yet, she proceeds to sleep with him. Although it is not clear as to why she decides to sleep with him, Joe’s constant mentioning of Slemmons, of his promiscuity, and his money could have triggered piqued her interest. There is a visible shift in her behavior and perception of Slemmons when she sees him at the ice cream parlor. Missie May becomes star-struck, more so by his gold money and tells her husband, “But he sho is got uh heap uh gold on ‘im. Dat’s de first time Ah ever seed gold money”(57). The change in dialogue reflects how she realized she’d underestimated Slemmons the first time around. It is clear that she is becoming curious about him and his wealth.
One can take Missie May’s actions and label her as a “golddigger” quite literally. However, May and her husband Joe are poor. They try to live their small, impoverished life with splendor and joy but it is clear that May has an inner desire to experience being rich. Her inner desire does not justify her actions in the least, but I believe it has a key role in her infidelity. With Joe, the betrayal from his wife was like a stab to the heart. It caused him to distance himself from her and doubt her words. He would not return home many times, investing in more time to work. When she got pregnant, he questioned whether or not he was the father. However, Missie May did not receive any harsh repercussions besides getting the cold shoulder from her husband at times. Missie May’s betrayal seemed to push Joe to prove his worth to her. In the end, he did come around to forgive her.
Joyce, Question #3
I began reading the story keeping death in the back of my mind obviously considering the title is called “The Dead.” However, I did not, at all, expect the story to end in the way that it did. Since the majority of the first half of the story surrounded Gabriel, I thought that perhaps he would die or something traumatic would happen to him as the story progressed. I had already developed my judgments about Gabriel. He was this posh, prideful and authoritative man. When engaging in conversations I found him to be a bit immature because he was very passive-aggressive, constantly seeking validation from women. I caught onto his lack of appreciation for his Irish roots and his favoritism towards British influence. I really thought Joyce was preparing us for his death or the death of someone close to him. I believed that the loss of someone close would probably change his attitude and show some character development. I was pleasantly surprised Gabriel had a moment of realization not through the death of someone close but through the death of his wife’s past love.
Gretta was barely mentioned in the first half of the story so I am impressed with how Joyce molded Gretta’s experience into the story. I did not at all think this would be how Gabriel comes face to face with the concept of death. Of course, I had caught onto the subtle references to death, but the word was not boldly mentioned until the end of the story. Gabriel had always been emotionally and spiritually closed off. However, Gabriel himself realized that he was dead from the soul after learning of his wife’s past. He knows that Michael has tremendous power over him, “some impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its vague world.” Realizing that Michael, although dead, holds a sacred place in Gretta’s heart, Gabriel was terrified. He had a reign over Gretta’s emotions which Gabriel would never have because their love was dead. Perhaps, the love didn’t exist at all. I had gotten the impression at first that Gretta and Gabriel were in love, as it was mentioned he would look at her lovingly. However the twist at the end left me wanting to know how they would move past this.
Shelley having the speaker practically worship the changes in the autumnal winds placed great emphasis on the cycle of life. As she describes in the poem, the West wind serves as a “…Destroyer and preserver.”While the wind tarnishes the autumn leaves leaving them to lie alone in their graves, the wind will once again return and start afresh from the Spring. The larger concept pertains to the idea that as old ideas begin to fade or”die”,it paves the path for new ideas to arise. The speakers near obsession with the wind and it’s connection to life and death can be interpreted in several ways. Considering this was written during the period of Enlightenment, the cycle of the wind very resembles the saying, “out with the old in with the new.” This fits well with the embodiment of the Enlightenment which wanted to put behind the old ways of thinking and encouraged new ideas and methods of reasoning.