4 Forum Responses

Each response must be at least 150 words.

  1. Jill

Part I: Identify three symbols in the readings from this week and discuss what you think those symbols mean in the context of the story or poem in which they are found.

In the short story Babylon Revisited by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I found profound symbolism in the title. Our study lessons this week describes a symbol as “an object that specifically represents something else while remaining unchanged” (Modernism). Babylon is an old biblical city, known for its immorality and sinful living. The Bible describes the famous city as “Ruined, ruined, Great Babylon ruined! She made all the nations drunk on the wine of her whoring (The Message, Revelation 14.8). Charlie, his late wife and their friends, are well known for their extravagant spending and lavish lifestyle. The money was spent as fast as it was earned. Their wild living was temporary, and Charlie’s wife died, and he lost his money and custody of their daughter. The name of the story featuring Babylon was symbolic of sinful living that led to destruction.

The second example of symbolism was found in the short story The Chrysanthemums, by John Steinbeck. The chrysanthemums that Elisa carefully cultivates, and nurtures represents her own identity. The flowers are strong and sturdy like she is described. The flowers are also vulnerable, as Elisa is towards the end of the story. At the end of the story we find out that she was used by the traveling man. Elisa had a fleeting moment of indiscretion with the traveler and noticed later on that the flowers she gave him had been tossed out on the road. The flowers were discarded and ruined. The ruined flowers were symbolic of how Elisa felt. Elisa felt a meaningful, yet shameful connected with the traveling man.

The third example of symbolism was found in The Hollow Men. The poem referenced eyes often. The poem reads “Eyes I dare not meet in dreams.” This could symbolize the speaker not wanting to face what the eyes have to say, possibly judgment or disappointment? The eyes in this poem are always looking, watching and seeing the speaker. Then the eyes seemingly disappear from the speaker’s mind when we read that “the eyes are not here, there are no eyes here”. This symbolizes that the judgement and disappointment have dissipated. The eyes return as “sightless, unless the eyes reappear as the perpetual star.” The eyes now symbolize hope and are no longer haunting. The eyes might even symbolize a light at the end of the tunnel.

Part II:

Based on Hemingway and TS Eliot, what are your impressions of the “Modern Man”?

Based on a few readings from both authors, I have multiple impressions of the Modern Man. TS Eliot describes the modern man in “The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as an insecure single man out on the town looking for a woman. He sees women come and go but doesn’t make a move. He wonders, “Do I dare, do I dare?” meaning, he is too scared to ask and feeling insecure. He ends up giving up for the night and goes upstairs, alone. He describes himself as balding with a pudgy neck and is concerned about what others think. Again, insecure and self-doubting. The modern man in this story is not a hero, nor is he strong. He lacks confidence and is uncertain in his life.

The Modern Man was evident in the short story, Chauffeurs of Madrid. This short story was about car drivers/chauffeurs in wartimes. Their first driver’s name is Tomas. Tomas confirms his patriotism when he says “Long live Madrid! The capital of my soul!” Tomas is famous for having difficulty getting the car started every morning. The narrator realizes that the driver, Tomas, is not as brave as he seemed when he first came on seen with his patriotic comments. Tomas’s inability to get the car started was a symbol of weakness and fear. Their last driver’s name was Hipolito. Hipolito was a union driver assigned to the soldiers. He is described as “carved out of a granite block, sound as a good bell, and as regular and accurate as a watch”. All of these tenets have symbolic meaning of toughness, loyalty and dependability in the modern man. When Hipolito’s assignment is up, the narrator tries to give him some money. Hipolito refuses the money. He says, “I don’t want anything from you, listen, we had a good time, didn’t we?” His refusal of money is symbolic of integrity in a modern man. So, in these stories I get the impression of the modern man being insecure, scared, patriotic, tough, loyal, dependable, and full of integrity.

Part III: Share a web-based resource that you located that gave you more information about one of our readings this week, about Modernism, about WWI or about a specific author we covered. It could be a video or a website with text. Explain how the source contributed to your understanding. Is it the kind of source you could use in a literary essay, or is better for ‘preliminary research’ and overall understanding, but not appropriate for academic use? Why?

The website that was extremely helpful to me this week was www.sparknotes.com. Sparknotes has study guides for multiple subjects, including literature. I especially needed help this week interpreting The Fight on the Hilltop by Hemingway. This storyline was a bit difficult for me to understand. I know the men are fighting a war, likely in Spain. I didn’t know who the La Pasionaria was, I assumed it was a religious figure. Then I read that La Pasionaria had a son who did not fight in the war. Sparknotes cleared up my confusion by helping me understand that La Pasionaria was a female leader in the public. I read this story twice without completely understanding it. There was a lot of conversation between the Communist army that I could not follow. I felt like I was reading the middle of a story without knowledge of the beginning. I then went to Sparknotes and read what they had on the story. Then I re read the story and finally understood it more.

I think that sparknotes is best used for preliminary research. It helps me see more that the superficial layer of the stories. I don’t think it is peer reviewed, so it would be a poor choice to use for research.

If you are interested in sparknotes, here is the URL!

  1. Kayla

Part 1

I have identified symbols in the poem “In Just” by E.E. Cummings. The poem has a line that reads ” in Just-spring when the world is mud-­luscious the little lame balloon man”. The symbol here is that mud comes after winter’s snowfall. It melts, and springtime is here. It is a time for children to go out and play. It seems that the setting of this poem is in a park. It is when everything becomes new.

Another symbol that I have identified is in the poem ” Since feeling is first” by E.E. Cummings. The symbol in this poem is from the second stanza, which reads ” my blood approves and kisses are a better fate than wisdom”. I think the symbolism here is that the way a person feels should be the focus. It suggests that feeling is better than thinking about it so much that it loses its meaning.

The third symbol that I found was in the poem ” The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot. The symbolism is in these two sentences from the poem, “Shape without form, shade without colour, /Paralysed force, gesture without motion;”. I think this is trying to symbolize that these men had nothing. They were just barely existing in the world they were in and no one could really see them.

Part 2

In my opinion, after looking at the readings from T.S. Eliot and Hemingway, my impressions of the Modern Man is that they are existing with no direction. It does not seem like they have any path in any of the poems or stories that I have read this week. It seems like they are just going through life. It does not seem like they have much confidence or a real sense of belonging. In T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”, it seems like they did not belong anywhere. It was like they existed in a limbo between the two worlds.

Part 3

The following is a link that I used to better understand the story,” Babylon Revisited” by Scott Fitzgerald. It gave me a better idea of what it was about. This is a resource that I think I would not be acceptable to use in a literary essay. It is from a website that helps to gain an understanding of the text. It would be better for preliminary research and overall understanding, and not for academic use. It is opinion based, and not of fact.

  1. Matthew

Part I

In the poem, “Babylon Revisited”, there were quite a few symbols that came to mind. The first thing I can think of is the bar and how Charlie always needed a drink. How many drunken nights has he had and how many times did he drink to such extent that he had such a problem with it. The Ritz, the bar in this story, is exactly where the story takes place as well as ends. The bar, in this story, is a symbol of Charlie’s home where he spends most of his time. Charlie is very alone in his life and the only person he seems to be closest with is his own bartender, Alix.

In the poem, “In Just-“, there are also symbols that come into play. This poem is taken form context of a child who is explaining the spring and the feelings they have from this season. The balloon man being a clown in this story and the puddle wonderful being a puddle in the street that children in their youth love oh so much. Spring is a time in a child’s life where everything is perfect and fun for someone of such young age. Hop scotch and jump rope are what I remembered doing as a child in the beautiful weather days. To me, this poem is an entire symbol of what spring is to someone in their youth.

For a third symbol in our readings, I chose “The Chrysanthemums”. To be honest, I had to look up what these meant as I hadn’t had a clue. While reading the story I got the jest of it, but sometimes you need to have the title defined before you jump into it! The flowers in this story are a symbol for Elisa, as she is such a bright and lovely person who compares herself to these flowers that she is a thriving and mentally strong person. Although in the end, when these flowers are thrown to the road, it shows that Elisa as taken advantage of and how much she means to society and how rejected she feels.

Part 2

In the story, “The Love Song”, by T.S Elliot, it made me feel like the author is telling of the “Modern Man” to be what that is very insecure with ones self. A man who sees these women come and go and yet never makes a move. Alfred talks about how many women he sees and speculates talking to them, but then seems to insist on belittling his thinning hair and how this his complexion is. He constantly puts himself down as soon as any kind of positive connotation comes into play. He is not a “Prince Hamlet’ and was not meant to be. The kind of mentality shows how he belittles himself and the modern man in this story is one with great depression and never finds himself worthy of others.

In the chapter, “The Fight on the Hilltop”, by Hemingway, a story of a man who is smart and very witty. El Sordo, although dying in this fight, makes a valiant effort to throw off the enemy and shoots into a dead horse making the fascists thinking they killed themselves. I find this chapter in Hemingway’s story quite opposite of what I explained by T.S. Elliot. El Sordo might has lost his life, but he did not give up and basically laughed in the face of death. The modern man in this story is a brave and witty man who, even against all odds and death, will still push forward until the very last moment!

Part III

So, whenever I go through these stories and poems, I like to read through them, analyze them myself, and then look to spark notes to maybe hit somethings I may have missed. I was never that great at literature and English classes, so any extra help is greatly appreciated. Spark notes is not something I would use necessarily as a source and citation in any essay I would write, but it would give me a better understanding of some of the symbols, themes, and summaries of what we read so I don’t fry my brain trying to understand everything that we must read in the class!

  1. Joshua

Part I: Identify three symbols in the readings from this week and discuss what you think those symbols mean in the context of the story or poem in which they are found.

I have to start out with how amazing I think “Since Feeling is first” by EE Cummings is. To go with the theme, I feel like there is so much to be read between the lines that you really “feel” the words before grasping everything the author is conveying. As far as symbolism goes, there’s several parts of the poem that could be commented on. I think the last 2 lines call to me the most and can be interpreted ,(1) “for life’s not a paragraph and death I think is no parenthesis. The symbolism of comparing feeling and life/death to writing could be viewed a couple different ways. Life is not a paragraph could mean life is much longer, like a novel with many chapters? Or it could mean life is much shorter than a paragraph? Or perhaps life is not about writing, words and what is said, it’s about the way you feel and those feelings drive you o do what you chose to do. (2) For a second unique selection of symbolism find it very interesting that the poem lacks proper punctuation and other sentence structure rules – I feel like this in and of itself can be symbolic that life is not perfect, it’s not a structured paragraph that is easy to maneuver.

(3) For a third symbolism I would say in John Steinbeck’s Chrysanthemum the title itself is symbolism. The Chrysanthemum Steinbeck speaks of symbolizes Elisa. At the beginning it represents her children, then later it represents her womanhood,

Part II: Based on Hemingway and TS Eliot, what are your impressions of the “Modern Man”?

TS Elliot and Hemingway, sure have a way to make the modern man appear insecure, lost and with no direction. In Hollow Men, the men appear to be in limbo, almost like lost souls between earth and the world beyond. In Hemingway’s “Chauffeurs of Madrid” Tomas was kind of wimpy and is short and unattractive. David seems pretty useless as he couldn’t drive. Hemingway described him to be like a horse with two gaits. His physical description was not touched on.

Part III: Share a web-based resource that you located that gave you more information about one of our readings this week, about Modernism, about WWI or about a specific author we covered. It could be a video or a website with text. Explain how the source contributed to your understanding. Is it the kind of source you could use in a literary essay, or is it better for ‘preliminary research’ and overall understanding, but not appropriate for academic use? Why?

I searched many resources for the poem “Feeling Comes First,” as I wanted many different perspectives on this writing. The one that I will mention here comes from enotes.com, which is a similar source to cliff notes or sparknotes. I like this article because breaks down different parts of the poem very well. Synopsis type website like these probably aren’t the worthiest for academic use, but I wouldn’t completely rule out there use if there was something very specific or profound I gathered from them.


Last Updated on December 9, 2021

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