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A Year In

The Life

By: Alexis Bridges


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Forward This collection of works reflects my progressing abilities as they grew throughout the year. The earlier works reflect well thought out essays that have strong points backed up by solid reasoning and textual support. As the works progress, my organization begins to lack and my textual support is left wanting. Whether this is due to harder topics or lack of attention to detail


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is up for debate. A few aspects of the writings remain strong throughout, however, indicating at least a basic understanding of literary style. The first works display a thorough understanding of the material given and a firm grasp on several literary devices. These papers are easier to read because they are well organized and they flow nicely from one idea to the next. That is one of the main problems with my last works. They tend to jump around from topic to topic and the points are not supported very well. As I said before, a few aspects of my writing remain strong from beginning to end. I always seem to find a creative approach to the topic at hand and find a way to have a neat catch phrase to commence and terminate my paper. I also always choose well grounded topics to discuss. The reason the quality still continues to decline regardless of these strong points is because I simply touch on the points. My support system for these points continues to falter, so the pieces do not turn out as potent as they could. If I could stay focused long enough to develop the points I bring up in these works, they would all be of exceptional quality. The problem is that I think of several things at once so I jump around and cannot have a coherent paper. This greatly injures the effect of my essays, as they now seem helter-skelter and scatterbrained.


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Table of Contents Included Pieces

Page #

Compare and Contrast- TTTC and SH5

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Position Paper Short Stories

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Frankenstein Essay

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Poetry Response- small group

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Compare and Contrast- Whitman and Hughes

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Position Paper- drama elements- Helen

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Othello literary criticism

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“The Pawnbroker� group essay

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Prose Response

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Open ended question

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College Essay

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“Honesty is the best policy.” From a young age, this mantra is hammered in time and again. However, no one says which type of truth honesty applies to. Is it in line with “storytruth” or “happening-truth?” O’Brien and Vonnegut take full advantage of this gray area and adjust it to fit their story. O’Brien stresses the idea that “truth can be found in fiction” throughout The Things They Carried. He obsesses over the minute importance of “happeningtruth” as opposed to “story-truth.” Vonnegut also sticks to “story-truth” through SlaughterHouse Five, as is blatantly evident after the introduction of Tralfamadorians. As each novel progresses, the author tells the truth as he perceives it. O’Brien tells a story so like a story grandpas all over the world may tell. The story involves fear, loss, anger, and confusion. He lets us in on his most private memories; offers a glimpse of an actual war. Then, he drops the bomb, “Almost everything else is invented,” (O’Brien 179). Before that information really has time to sink in, O’Brien goes on to say truth can be found in fiction. Even though the stories may not have happened to him or the events may be out of chronological order, someone somewhere felt everything he described, and O’Brien knows that is the most important thing. The very last line reads, “…I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy’s life with a story,” (O’Brien 246). This is O’Brien’s view of every story: it is an attempt to save someone’s life. Even if a person dies, her spirit lives on every time her story is told. After his experience with Linda, O’Brien is more desperate than ever to keep people alive in stories, and he therefore views “story-truth” as much more important than “happening-truth.” Slaughter-House Five is a story that twists “story-truth” and “happening-truth” so tightly, it becomes near impossible to tell them apart. Yes, Vonnegut went to war. No, there is not a


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planet called Tralfamadore. Then the difficulty begins. Was Vonnegut in a plane crash? Did his wife die from carbon monoxide poisoning on the way to see him in the hospital? If the preoccupation lies in attempting to dissect each statement for fact and fiction, the greater meaning is missed. “All this happened, more or less,” (Vonnegut 1). Even though not everything happened, everything is equally important. When both types of truth are so mixed so closely it is impossible to separate them. Vonnegut teaches us to see the bigger picture and accept the “story-truth” even if it doesn’t correspond with “happening-truth.” Viewing fiction as nothing more than a compliment to fact, both authors liberally mix them into their novels. The actual legitimacy of the facts becomes irrelevant in light of the bigger meaning in each novel. Both men actually went to war, as their narrators did. If a man had simply been dead on a road in Vietnam and if Vonnegut’s wife had died the same time he was in a plane crash, these situations would be misfortunes. However if a man is shot by the author and one eye becomes a star-shaped hole and Vonnegut’s wife dies from carbon monoxide poisoning when she refused to stay away from her hospitalized husband, there is an emotional connection; therefore, an incentive to continue reading and a more accurate description of how the person felt at the time of the tragedy. “Story-truth” is merely a way to convey emotion and is therefore no less true than “happening-truth.” Perhaps what is to be learned from these novels is that Vonnegut and O’Brien know better that given credit for that “honesty is the best policy.”


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“We can have the whole world.” “No, we can’t…It isn’t ours anymore.” An exponentially influential character must be the cause of this dramatic statement. What could the character have been done to suddenly rip away the world of opportunities in front of Jig? The character must be present a great deal of the time to have such an influence. In reality, the character is not even present in the story. Jig’s unborn baby is the one who stole the world from her, a baby that is not named or even claimed as of yet. Characters are often thought of as the people in the story given names and importance. Hemingway and Wharton used this method of absent characterization. This method steps out of the ordinary to use a character rarely or not at all present to significantly alter the outcome or plot of a story. In Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway uses the unborn baby as the origin the story centers around. Jig and her husband discuss the options for dealing with the baby and consequences of each. They used to be a happy couple, but this decision is taking its toll on their relationship. The presence of the unborn baby represents future problems in the marriage and how differing opinions may come between the couple later on. Hemingway uses this unique method of characterization to show values and perspectives of Jig and her husband. She values family and life and was perhaps looking for more in her life, which is why she is not so sure about an abortion. He values his own comfort and was content as things were, which is why he is so keen on ridding his wife of the baby. Even though the baby makes no appearances in the story, the mere knowledge of existence alters the direction of Jig and her husbands lives. “Yet here she was on her way to Westover…And yet the man she was going to was her own Christopher…” Such strong passion Nora feels for Christopher that she travels secretly to see him when he is dying. She risks everyone finding out, including her husband.

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strong the connection between Nora and Christopher, he is never present in the story. The entire


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point of Nora’s secrecy and travel was for Christopher, and Wharton completely omits him. Even as she professes her love, Nora refuses to fight to see Christopher as he lies dying. His absence in the story represents Nora’s lack of commitment and distant views on their relationship. By staying with her husband while claiming to love Christopher, Nora shows indecision and a wish to keep their love separate from her “real” life. By leaving Christopher out of the story, Wharton was able to direct emotions to an abstract person whose mere existence alters the path the story travels. Characters are generally thought of as the people present, at least characters of importance. Hemingway and Wharton challenge this popular view as they make an absent character one of the most influential in the story. As a unique concept, absent characterization allows for more indirect characterization of the absent character and direct characterization of present characters. It also allows for a more distant feel of some characters and remoteness not available if every character is present. Absent characters can represent values of present characters such as Jig who wanted her baby to live. On the other hand, they can provide a release for characters such as Nora who needs a separate love life and the reality she lives in. Absent characters add another dimension to a story that may have otherwise just been without any distinctive qualities. In other words, simply present.


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Dr. Frankenstein led a life full of sorrow. Just as he anticipated returning to a happy home, his brother was murdered and one of his friends was killed for it. Next, was the strangling of his friend Henry Clerval. The final straw came when the daemon stole his bride from him on their wedding night. What if he could have prevented these occurrences? These tragedies were all a direct result of the actions of the doctor himself. If he had not created the monster of Frankenstein, William would still be alive, Henry would be with him, and Elizabeth would not have been murdered. Dr. Frankenstein wanted to create a new race that would worship him and do his bidding. His selfish desire to rule led him to create the Frankenstein monster. However, things did not go as planned and the doctor was horrified by his creation. As he fled, the pitiful wretch sought the maker he referred to as “father.” Throughout his search, the daemon realized the human race’s aversion to his appearance. As he is continually shunned and ostracized, the creature reverted to an openly hostile disposition. As he searched for the doctor, the monster encountered a boy who he killed, William. After the murder, the creature framed Justine and she was sentenced to death as punishment for the crime. He demanded the formation of a female counterpart from his maker. And when his maker refused to create his mate, the monster became enraged and threatened the doctor’s future with Elizabeth. Because the doctor refused, the daemon never ceased to haunt his existence. The monster killed his best friend and his wife to repay the doctor for his betrayal. The problem started when the doctor wanted power. His desire directly caused these deaths and he alone set the events in motion. Shelley uses the doctor to channel the sorrow throughout. Wherever Victor goes, misery is short to come as the monster follows him. Because he was so shunned by his maker, the monster inflicts pain upon him. Unintentionally, Dr.


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Frankenstein causes himself sorrow by the betrayal of the monster. He believes he can simply leave the unpleasantness of the monster behind and move on with his life. But in creating, he becomes responsible. He shirked all responsibility and fled. The monster recognized the responsibility and requested the doctor do so, but he could not bring himself to do so. If the doctor had simply been less greedy, all of his loved ones would still be alive. A theme of this book is greed. The doctor was greedy when he attempted to create a race to follow him. The monster was greedy when he demanded a partner. Furthermore, the monster was greedy when he wished the doctor to suffer as he did throughout his short life. This book shows how greed leads to overall sorrow. The greed that stemmed from Victor’s creation affected all of his loved ones. Greed never produces the desired effects nor does it lead to eternal happiness. Mary Shelley plays upon the greed of the doctor to show the lasting effects of his actions. Another view would be the ferocity of the monster. A commonly asked question in literature is whether people are born wicked, or if wickedness is thrust upon them? A popular musical that deals with this theme is WICKED. The same question is asked of a girl ostracized because of her skin color. Elpheba later becomes the dreaded Wicked Witch of the West. Frankenstein shares a similar destiny and therefore warrants the same consideration. Perhaps if the doctor had taken responsibility for the creature he would have been caring and the lives would have been saved. Ultimately, Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his greed are to blame for the sorrow brought upon all characters in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.


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In the world, everything is classified as black or white. Literally. However, what becomes of those things unable to be securely placed in one category or the other? Langston Hughes addresses this in his poem “Cross.” The most fundamental aspect of all people is their background. In the poem, this aspect challenge society’s need for categorization. As a biracial child, where does one fit in? Does one identify more with his white father or black mother? This inner turmoil is the main focus of “Cross.” Primarily through the title and word choice does Hughes express this confusion. A cross can be a number of things. It can represent the combination of things, races, a burden to bear, the sense of being neither here nor there, or the crossing of an obstacle, selfdiscovery. Hughes speaks of the contrasting background of the speaker. The white father died in a “fine big house,” while the black mother died in a “shack.” With these two separate histories, where does the speaker belong? Is he to become wealthy as his father was, or did his destiny lead to a more humble end as his mother had? This uncertainty of both social status and final moments is the cause of consistent worry for the speaker. He is forced to make a way on his own and find himself without connection to past generations. Eventually the speaker makes a choice to more closely identify with his mother. Although subtle, when moving from the first to the third stanza, a change occurs when the speaker refers to his mother but not his father. Whereas in the beginning both are described by their age and color, at the end the speaker’s “black old mother” becomes his “ma.” This minute detail moves the speaker closer to his mother. She is no longer so distant, but has become a close figure. The term “ma” is generally an endearing name indicating intimacy and acquaintances. The speaker has chosen to more closely associate with his mother and assume


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her model to follow. Hughes uses such subtlety to indicate that everyone must choose a path in the end. The ultimate goal is to belong. To be started at such a disadvantage would put anyone into a panic. For some reason, it is felt one must know her ancestry to be able to live her own life. It would seem the past has taken precedent over the present and future. Langston Hughes addresses this view by allowing the speaker to choose for himself the life he will lead. All doors are open to him, yet he feels disadvantaged. With this absolute freedom, the speaker becomes lost. The “Cross” is a commentary on the social preoccupation with one’s history and the need for instructions. Without a set plan, people become lost. Hughes attempted to draw attention by placing the world at a man’s fingertips, and this man complained and chose to follow a path already set out.


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As the world began, everything needed a name. Everything was new, fresh, and ready to be classified. “Adam’s Task” and “Eve Names the Animals” are tales of how each of the first humans chose to name each creature. The names Adam chose were much more obvious, whereas Eve took a more creative approach. “Thou, paw-paw-paw-paw; thou glurd,” are not names still used for any animals. As Adam names the creatures, he is very matter-of-fact and very plain. His diction is simplistically visual, almost that of a child. By the sheer manner of description, anyone would recognize the animals he names. His attitude toward the task of naming was very lax. The narrator went so far as to say, “then work, half-measuring, half-humming, would be as serious as play.” In “Adam’s Task,” the sentence structures are embarrassingly simple. Perhaps this reflects upon Adam’s intelligence, or perhaps just upon his dedication to this task. “I swear that man never knew animals,” Eve begins with. She points out the juvenile nature of Adam’s names. Eve is much more creative in her naming. She puts thought into her decisions, and comes much closer to the actual names. Eve got to know each animal, and she named them as the sound of the word fit them. Eve’s diction is very original, and complexly mature such as when she “strung words by their stems and wore them as garlands.” She is very artistic in her approach and her attitude towards naming is very serious. She takes to walking alone while she names so as to concentrate all of her attention on naming. As she thinks, Eve’s thoughts are complex. The sentence structures provide insights into her deep thoughts. As with the other poem, perhaps this lends commentary on her intelligence or perhaps just upon her determination.


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Although both Adam and Eve name the animals in their own way, Adam has a simplistic view while Eve thinks it through. Both of them find associations between the animal and its name. Adam takes a more “what you see is what you get� approach. He barely scratches the surface to find what name is best suited. Eve, however, digs deeper to know the animal. She understands that with a name comes a connection. She knows when she names each animal, they will always be connected. Perhaps Adam was unaware of this bond he was so carelessly forming. His simplistic diction and thought proves show his clear misunderstanding of his task. Therefore, as Adam starts the naming and bonding process, Eve finishes it with her wisdom and insight into the deeper meanings.


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In Rachel Hadas’ version of Helen, a new side of this classic woman is seen. No longer simply the “face that launched a thousand ships,” Helen is a woman scorned by the goddesses. The subject to acts of jealousy, Helen is taken to Egypt while a double fools the rest of the world into thinking she caused a war. Hadas focuses very strongly on themes not conveyed in the original tale told by Euripides. Two of the main themes are that of the stupidity of men during war and feminism. Also, she concentrates on Helen’s internal conflict more than the original version. By highlighting these themes and Helen’s conflict with her beauty, Rachel Hadas focuses more on the relatable side of Helen. She is no longer some distant beauty, but a familiar victim. In this version of Helen, the goddesses are jealous of Helen’s beauty so they transport her to Egypt and fool the rest of the world. A double is taken to Troy by Paris, and the epic war ensues. The incredible waste of human life during the war was sickening. So many men died because two men could not talk like civilized people. Hadas highlights this loss in the “Translator’s Preface” when she talks of Helen’s happy ending in her version. Hadas points out that although it seems bright, there is plenty of suffering in this version as well. Hadas exposes the “enormous and tragic waste of the war” as a result of the carelessness of the men fighting in the war. As Helen is held in Egypt, the rest of the world hears of the war she caused. When it is over, people see her and think she is the same person who selfishly allowed the slaughter of so many men. In this way, she is portrayed as the victim. Even though she did nothing, she is hated by many and all inevitably blames her for the war. Hadas uses a very feminist view of Helen to show how things out of her control lead others to dislike her. The other thing that keeps Helen as the victim is her beauty. She is being held in Egypt by Theoclymenus who wants to marry her.


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Once again, things she has no control over, such as her beauty, are holding her back. She is a hostage to elements beyond her control. On this topic, Hadas addresses Helen’s internal conflicts. Her most prominent one is against her beauty. Because of her beauty, the goddesses became jealous and she was taken to Egypt. Then her beautiful double became the “face that launched a thousand ships.” Finally, her beauty attracted Theoclymenus and kept her in Egypt against her will. Once again, Helen is the victim to her beauty. She is at the mercy of something she never wanted. Helen never asked to be beautiful and she spends ample time wishing it were otherwise. However, instead of doing anything to undo her beauty or make it less noticeable, she continues to be as she is. She simply prefers to complain about her unfortunate situation. This also ties back to the feminist side to Hadas’ translation. A beautiful woman envied even by the goddesses. How could she be anything but grateful? In the classic story, Helen is a woman loved simply for her beauty. In Hadas’ new translation of Euripides’ new version, Helen is no longer an unknown beauty. Her inner turmoil is revealed as she attempts to fight through rumors spread about her double and break through bonds that hold her back. Through the themes of the rash stupidity of men and feminism, Hadas focus’ on the tragedy of war and past stereotypes. Through the discussion of Helen’s internal emotions, Hadas lends a view of the true woman. Perhaps this is Helen’s last stab at the goddesses. They who have everything could not even compare in beauty to Helen. The one thing they did have over her was their immortality. However, through this story, Helen joins them in immortality as women continue to read of her struggles to be more than a pretty face.


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1. Edgecombe, Rodney S. ““Put out the light” in Othello.” Summer 2008. Imcpl.org. Gale Group. Indianapolis Marian County Public Library, Indianapolis. 17 Feb. 2009 http://galenetgroup.com This article was very focused on the statement made by Othello of “Put out the light, and then put out the light.” The article analyzes what is meant by the word “light” and in which order Othello is debating killing Desdemona and putting out the lamp. Several meanings of the phrase are reviewed and then disproved due to historical or textual reasons. The article then discusses “light” representing a certain negative quality in society, in this case infidelity. By killing Desdemona, Othello would be ridding society of this threat theoretically. Finally the article moves to Othello using Desdemona’s death as an example to all women. If he kills her, other women won’t betray their husbands. 2. Martin, Tony. “Blood and Judgment in Hamlet, Othello, and Measure for Measure.” 1 Nov. 2004. Imspl.org. Phillip Allen Updates. Indianapolis Marian County Public Library, Indianapolis. 17 Feb/ 2009 http://galenetgroup.com This article is about three of Shakespeare’s plays, one of which is Othello. The argument of “blood versus judgment” is focused on in the article. “Blood” represents emotion and irrationality and “judgment” represents thinking and intellect. Eventually, Othello takes blood to associate with women and them being ruled by their emotions. They are thought of as weak and some misogynistic views emerge as he ridicules Desdemona for her emotional state. Emotion is also linked to weakness, so the men try to subdue emotion and only rely on their judgment. The article discusses how the men need to learn to balance their emotion and reason instead of suppressing one and relying fully on the other.


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Throughout “The Pawnbroker” by Maxine Kumin, the speaker addresses her inner and outer worlds and the conflict between the two. She is dealing with the death of her father and managing her feelings about the event. In her life, her father was a constant stress. He brought the family negative attention with his crude speech and actions. The speaker was constantly haunted by the decisions of her father all during her childhood. Now, however, she is freed by his death. He is no longer there to make rash decisions negatively affecting her image. Although she is relieved to be free from this attention, she still feels some loss simply because the man is her father. Through her reflections, the speaker comes to terms with her inner turmoil but has yet to resolve her external. Although an emotional time for the speaker, the death of her father is somewhat a cleansing experience. While she was growing up, the speaker’s father was a constant let down to her. From his politically incorrect speech to his lowly job, he was a constant cause for public scrutiny. The speaker uses verbal irony by saying everything she owned was secondhand in the beginning and restating that the only thing she was given firsthand was a love for her father. Even this, though, she says was only a “love ingrown” because he was her father. He was never a positive role model for her and the negative attention he brought to her family could not have done any good. After his death, she was finally free from any lingering judgment passed to her by her father. In spite of her father’s external flaws, the speaker has “an ingrown love” for him. Although she has suffered with his choices and actions in his life, he has always loved her as his daughter. These two opposites of blatant disregard for those whom he feels superior and his unconditional love for his family love have clearly caused an internal struggle within her. The disdain the speaker has for her father’s action has been at constant battle with the deep love she


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has for her father because he is her father. However eventually, her love for him proves stronger than her disapproval through the metaphors she uses to describe him shortly after his death. He is her “lifetime appraiser” and “first prince.” Even after his death, she will continue to seek his love but will no longer have to overlook the imperfections of her father. Despite being closely interrelated, the speaker’s external and internal struggles are starkly contrasting in some aspects. Externally, she never truly comes to terms with her father and the many struggles his actions put her through during his life. Internally, however, she has always had an endearing love for the man. With his passing, she and her siblings felt something of a cleansing, alluded to in religious terms. The scotch that the speaker drank after her father’s death is the symbolic reprieve from her internal struggles with the idea of her father, “the sacrament of closing down the hatch/ the sacrament of easing down the ways.” Her external unrest is similarly expressed in religious terms. She reminisces on “the grace of work, the sweat of it, the bone-tired unfolding down from stress.” Thus, using religious symbolism, the speaker contrasts her internal and external qualms. Throughout “The Pawnbroker” the speaker conveys her mixed feelings about her father in a way that portrays him as both loving and callous, hardworking and ignorant. Her final resolve to forgive and love her father, despite the fact that he is no longer alive to know what forgiveness, is a mature and moving choice that establishes her as a strong person. She is relatable character that faces struggles similar to those of many people, and her final decision to move on from her past struggles makes her an example for those who share her pain.


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The internment camps were a tough spot in history. Those forced to leave everything behind remember bitterly the old life they gave up and the new one they were forced to accept. In Obasan, Joy Kogawa describes her memories of being shipped away. At first, she uses harsh, painful language to describe the tough details. She then switches, however, to a more fragmented and positive image. In the opening paragraph, Kogawa uses such words as “weeping” and “water-logged eulogies” to describe the pain associated with leaving for internment camps. The language used is so descriptive that the negative, depressed air is almost tangible. This section categorized the people on the train. It is far more descriptive than reflective and is used to set the tone of doom and gloom. There is a break at line 23 and Kogawa begins to reflect on memories more than feelings. The section is more fragmented and details are described by Kogawa as “dream images.” Although still holding a morbid undertone, this section poses a new idea: unity. Kogawa explains even strangers are addressed as “‘ojisan’ or ‘obasan,’ meaning uncle or aunt.” This time of pain and hardship pulls everyone together. Kogawa’s obasan generously gives some food to a stranger with a baby simply because she can see the woman is struggling. This shows a new aspect of tragedy in that it has the ability to pull people together. The passage ends on a note of hope thickly surrounded by sorrow. Even though Kogawa never leaves the original image of betrayal and pain, she begins to weave in hope and unity as the community of internees band together in this difficult time. As Kogawa reviews this painful time in her life, the outstanding impression is no doubt sorrow. However, by acknowledging the


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support of those surrounding her, she recognizes the strength and courage that can bloom from such atrocities.


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Which is more compelling, loyalty to a friend or loyalty to one’s country? This age-old question is once again brought up in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. Brutus deeply struggles as he chooses what course of action to take. He is torn between the love he has for Rome and love of a friend. Ultimately, he decides that Rome deserves his loyalty more so he betrays a dear friend in an attempt to save his beloved home. Brutus is wholly faithful to Rome. All of his loyalty is deeply rooted in his beloved home. Brutus would do anything and everything necessary to protect the land he loves. So, when a leader becomes too powerful for his own good and threatens the safety of Rome, it would seem Brutus would be all too keen on ending the threat and restoring peace to Rome. The one hitch in Brutus’ unwavering loyalty is his friend, Julius Caesar. Caesar is the one other entity Brutus feels loyalty towards. As it happens, Caesar is also the force threatening Rome. Caesar and Brutus are friends and confidantes. They rely on each other and owe great loyalties to each other. Brutus must decide if loyalties to country outweigh loyalties to friends. Under great pressure from others, Brutus chooses to save the people rather than the life of his friend. Even Caesar is shocked by the betrayal by Brutus as he utters his famous line “Et tu, Brute?” The choice would seem obvious, save a friend rather than a random stranger. However, as Brutus chose the opposite, further reflection must be taken. The phrase “blood is thicker than water” could be applied here, as a man to man relationship representing blood and a man to country relationship representing water. It would seem appalling that Brutus forsakes a friend for his country, seeing as the two men were so close. This choice illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole as the ultimate decision to kill one to save millions. Although what Brutus did seems contrary to common sense, it is admirable he


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was able to see past his own selfish ties to look after the good of the common people. In a sense, Brutus thought it better to shed blood to keep the water pure.


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Being fortunate thus far in my life, I have never been on the receiving end of a great act of charity. My family is overall healthy, my house is untouched by disaster, and all aspects of my life are relatively positive. Acknowledging my fortune, I jumped at the chance to boost others’ morale when disaster struck the south. Katrina is not a name many will soon forget. As I watched millions lose all they had, I felt I had to do something. My freshman year, the youth group from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis sponsored a relief mission to Biloxi, Mississippi during spring break. I signed up with my dad and a friend and was soon being bused down for a week of service. On the third day of the trip, the group took on our biggest case. For this one day of service, three of the ten work groups combined to gut a house. The owner of the house, Cookie, had lived in a FEMA trailer in front of her house since the hurricane and everything inside the house was still as it had been that day. Soon, everyone was in a hazardous material suit and was ready to sort. She sat out front to go through her belongings to determine what to keep. Not long after, the group was ready to gut her house. As Cookie sat and watched, we tore down the only home she had ever known. When we were finished, only the wood frame remained. The worst part of it was that day happened to be her birthday. At one point during the day, a chaperone left to get a cake and when we had finished, some of the guys lifted her up in her bathtub we broke out of her house and we all sang “Happy Birthday.” When that was done, the adults led her through what was left of her house. As expected, she couldn’t help but cry at the sight of what was once her home. We got to stay for a little bit after we finished so we could hear her story. Continually during our trip to Biloxi, people told us how much they appreciated our hard work. Some even went so far as to call us angels. One of the things that struck me as so


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profound was that everywhere we went, people offered us food and drinks. Even though these people had so little, they offered whatever they did have. I loved the sense of accomplishment that came with helping the people whose lives were ruined by Katrina. After seeing all the pain and suffering of those people, I know how lucky I am. My life is far from perfect, but it is so much better than it could be. However, if such a tragedy should ever happen in my life, I would only hope I take it with the grace and faith of the people in Biloxi.

A Year In The Life  

This is a collection of my essays from my AP Lit class.

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