In this book, beginning from Jackson, Mississippi all the way to Cleveland, Ohio, writer, David Arnold introduces you to different characters, from different places, and different families, that come together to create the beautiful story of Mosquitoland. The biggest impact on setting in this story is the decisions that Mim makes. Everytime she makes a decision the setting changes. Whether it is to take the bus or miss the bus. This story is filled with different experiences. Mim describes it as, “Maybe there is some black and white, though. In our choices. In my choices.” (Arnold, 340)
Here is a story map, visually showing how the characters came together through setting, but only until the middle of the story. To find out the rest you’ll have to read the book and see.
In any short story or novel, the setting is key. Imagine a story without a setting. Life without the classroom where you met your best friend? In life, many people express their belief that they, and their significant other were “meant to be”. That the “universe” wanted them to be together. A beautiful way of seeing it. But not entirely true. The universe doesn’t have a mind of its own. All of these choices that bring us where we are, allow us to meet people that are on a similar route as you. In other words, you are in the same place at the same time as someone else. People bond over similarities, “are you in the chess club? So am I!” Type of thing.
In other situations, the setting is especially important when it brings you together with people in your life, the characters in your story, together. When something is missing from your story, the setting can help bring you together with people that complete you. Take Mosquitoland as an example. Walt (one of the main characters in the book) was living alone in the Forrest, no mum, no dad. Mim and Beck (also main characters) found him and decided to act like parents for him. Mim and Beck needed someone with Walt’s “happy-go-lucky” attitude to lighten them up. Walt needed Mim and Beck as supportive figures. “I’m done roaming hillsides. I’ve scoured the corners of the earth. And I’ve found my people.” (251)
That is why they stuck together throughout the story. The people that they didn’t connect with, stayed behind. It is not like you are bound to find an everlasting friendship with everyone you talk with.
Now you may ask, “how does this connect to the setting?”
They all found themselves surrounded by each other because they all needed something similar, Mim and Beck who just missed their bus needed a place to stay, water, food, etc. Walt, who was alone, also needed those things. Sometimes, it’s not just your similarities, it’s what you need at the moment because of where you are. That is why setting in a story is so important, it impacts the traits of your character, how the story builds, how it ends, and much more.
In this book, beginning from Jackson, Mississippi all the way to Cleveland, Ohio, writer, David Arnold introduces you to different characters, from different places, and different families, that come together to create the beautiful story of Mosquitoland.
As an added statement, going back to the beginning, we are the universe with the decisions we make and the roads we turn on. We are that universal power that brings each other together. As humans, we have the same skin and blood. Doesn’t matter what color, or type. We are one species, one race, one world. We are our universe. On this earth. Together. So maybe something really isn’t behind how you met your wife. It wasn’t “meant to be” but it was always “able to happen”.
Mim comes to the realization of this in the book.”I play the What If? game all the time. But it’s rigged, is the thing. Impossible to win. Asking What If? can only lead to Maybe Things Could Have Been Different, via Was It My Fault?” (259)
(extra added thoughts)
Now, I think to myself. “Is this really what you believe in?” I realistic outlook on the idea of “meant to be”? Of course, one side of my brain fully feels for that explanation. But the other side likes to feel the pleasure and ease of trusting the “universe”. That it really is “meant to be”.
Thinking through this, I realize. Some people, enjoy the comfort of the universe. I mean think of it. The thought of knowing there are 7.442 billion people on this earth and you found that one person that makes you complete. Really, that is magical. Then try to understand that your so-called “decisions” bring you to meet the people you meet. Two different mindsets. You would think one is better than the other, I believe they are both magnificent in their own way.
In this recording, I played measures 10-20. Hearing myself, I think I can make my notes sound more solid. At the beginning my rhythm was good, but during the middle, I went off rythm. For the future, my goal is to play my notes with a solid sound, and have the skill to read and play a different rhythm easily.
Amy Tan introduces a short story called Rules of the Game about a young girl’s struggles of playing chess and dealing with a strict, inconsiderate, and obsessive mother.
Being a mom is evidently hard, and in some cases trying to get your children to do things your way is very difficult, but is forcing your children to throw away their Christmas presents going a step too far? It is, and Waverly seems to have been treated in this harsh way whilst her mom was splitting her hair into two tight pigtails, “Bite back your tongue,” scolded my mother when I cried loudly (Tan, 1).” Also, another time cruelly naming Waverly a “Stupid girl!” When Waverly accidentally bumped into a woman at the supermarket. A part of growing up is learning through your struggles and failures. But in Waverly’s mom’s mind failure was not much of an option.
Even though Waverly is blowing up the charts with her wins, mom is not focused on congratulating her daughter but actually butchering her to work harder. Once, Waverly had won a chess match and without even a simple “good job” Waverly’s mom said, “Next time win more, lose less.” (Tan, 7). Wonder what it feels like to have won your first ever chess match, and brought home a trophy only to hear your inconsiderate mom go on about how you have to do better. Studies from the business insider, Harvard Business school, Stanford Business school, and the Daily mail all suggest that failure leads to success. Stanford professor Diego Rodriguez likes to say “failure sucks, but instructs.” Therefore, even though strict moms just like Waverly’s believe that being perfect is the only option, it really isn’t, and that is all a part of maturing and learning while growing.
Do you remember all those movies and TV shows that described the parents pushing children to do things because they (the parents) wanted them to, just for themselves? Like an obsession of making their son/daughter something successful. Well, it is a similar story for Waverly. Waverly’s mom did a number of things so that Chess was always first, so that Waverly could only “Win more” (Tan, 7) Adding on, It is always annoying to have your mom bring up all of your achievements in every conversation she has, and Waverly learns a lot about that feeling in this story. “My mother would proudly walk with me……”This my daughter Wave-ly Jong,” she said to whoever looked her way” (Tan, 5). These sort of actions shown by Waverly’s mom are just the beginning. Multiple times Waverly’s mom mentioned all about Waverly’s achievements. “…telling my [Waverly’s] admirers with proper Chinese humility, ‘Is luck'” (Tan, 4) Soon Waverly expresses her annoyance “”Why do you have to use me to show off? (Tan,5)” Instead of considering her daughter’s feelings about the subject, Waverly’s mom argues that Waverly is ungrateful to be with her. It was also described that Waverly’s mom’s eyes “turned into dangerous black slits”. (Tan, 5) Sometimes your parent’s intentions get way out of hand, like an obsession.
Waverly’s mom is not the only tiger mom in the world. A woman named Amy Chua raised her children with no playdates and no TV. Always making sure that they were No. 1. There are many moms all over the world like this, but what do the kids think? Well, both of Amy Chua’s daughters spoke out about how a balanced childhood with a supportive, but high-standard parents were the key. If only one-sided, then their childhood could be described as “tough”. Lulu, the younger daughter said “”I was playing up to six hours of violin a day and it was too much.” Nevertheless, Lulu also expressed that her mom “could easily have given up on me [her]” and that she pushed her when she needed it.
Waverly’s mom created a harsh, unsafe, and pessimistic environment in the book. But looking closely at the details Waverly’s mom really just wanted her daughter to be the best she possibly could while being proud of her daughter at the same time. That is what all mothers want for their children, for them to be their best self. Mommy’s always got a reason.
Today is Friday, the end of my first week in 8th grade. Not going to lie, 8th grade is much different than 7th grade. Last year, my teachers weren’t very keen on giving tons of HW. The average time I would spend on doing 7th grade HW on a “hard” day is the same amount of time I used each day this week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad, or annoyed. I mean sure, it’s a challenge, but I believe it is always good to work hard and push yourself. It is all a part of growing older and getting more HW. 🙂 Anyways, other than school work my classes are a lot of fun!! My teachers are very well knowledged and experienced which is so great! A part of the first week of school is introducing the schedule of topics for the whole year. I can say that all the topics we are going to be studying and learning about this year whether it is Humanities or Science all sound super interesting.
Apart from school, I began swimming again. Over the summer I wasn’t very consistent with working out and staying fit. Therefore, now I have slowed down quite a bit, and I get tired more easily. I’m ready to get back to work!
What are you looking forward to learning in Grade 8 Humanities?
I am a lover of history. I really enjoy learning about the generations before us and who, and what helped bring us to where we are as a world today. Therefore, I am super excited for all the historic things we are going to learn. To give an example, for a long time I’ve been waiting to learn about the French revolution and the American revolutionary war. On the other hand, I am also beyond excited about writing, whether it is an essay for a research/history project or just a short story. I can’t wait to improve my skills.
What challenges will you face?
In Humanities, I am always going to be challenged. I believe that a challenge we face as writers is in the planning and writing stage. When you are planning what you are going to write about, who the characters are going to be, or where it is going to take place, it’s pretty stressful but also exciting to figure it all out. In addition to planning, while writing sometimes writers come to a writes block. They don’t know what to write!
What is your plan to meet those challenges?
Brainstorming is a great tool for coming up with creative ideas. This is because it allows you to think back into your experiences: memories, things you have read or watched, etc.
The best thing that I believe you can do to get over a writing block is taking a break. Sometimes when you are so caught up and buried in writing a story it might block you from letting any other ideas to enter your brain. So taking a break helps you see other ideas to help break your writer’s block.
TODAY WAS ONEDAY! ONEDAY 2018 was a little different, we had choices of activities to pick from, unlike last year when we had the freedom to chose whatever we wanted to. To be honest, I enjoyed this year much more than last year. Personally, it is very hard to choose what to do and create, and to pick from choices was much more helpful and exciting. I chose to take pictures around our community in Shunyi. As a group, we visited and took pictures in a village and at a river next to the “Dead Ayi Road”. We first took our bus to the village, I loved going around and experiencing the different perspectives of our community and talking with the locals. Not going to lie trying to get some locals allow us to take their pictures was a little challenging. Other than that, the houses, dogs, and laundry made the village trip very fun. I mainly preferred taking pictures in the village because of the many different colors, and elements that add to the photos you take. At the river, there were some fishermen and some dried leaves. But the overall the landscape was very pretty and I enjoyed walking around and taking some pictures. Below are my favorite pictures from the trip, enjoy! 🙂
– Deniz G
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