Tag Archives: Written

Back to the Good Old Days

Pirate ships and adventures off to islands along the Mississippi River, nobody could take the venture out of Tom and his loyal friends. In the book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, a story unfolds about the interesting life of Tom Sawyer. Tom lives with his foster Aunt Polly and a young boy named Sid. Packed with audacious adventures, Tom with his best friend Huckleberry Finn tackle adventures we only dream about. Living in a small town in America, many think it’s boring; however, Tom and Huckleberry don’t live by stereotypes. Through using certain phrases to describe their daily lives, we figure out the tone of the text.

Throughout the text, there was a very patent nostalgic tone. Growing up in the 21st century, lots of the ventures Tom Sawyer went on don’t occur in our daily lives today. But, because the sense of family and reckless fun was a common experience when we were younger. When reading the book, you feel like you’re reading an autobiography of an older man writing about his young self. Though Twain didn’t write this book based on his own childhood. It makes us remember the days when we thought we had met our soul mates at the ripe age of ten in Sunday school: “ ‘You only just tell a boy you won’t have ever have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that’s all…’” (Twain 49). Remembering the first time we ever had a crush, confessing to them was the hardest part. Often the dialogue between two friends was very casual, the grammatical errors, the slang, the tone. Because of the contrast between the formal narrative text and the carefree dialogue made the whole thing very nostalgic. Another thing Mark Twain did to remind us of our childhood was using lines like “all the ‘rot’ [health magazines] contained about ventilation, and how to go to bed, and how to get up… was all gospel to her…” (75). We all experience a time in our childhood, when magazines become our best friends. Taking every quiz in the whole magazine until we find out if we’re a snicker doodle or a cinnamon bun, paying attention to those health magazines. We all felt at some point needing to listen, and really wanting to live healthier. Sometimes our parents would tell us everything in there was a lie, but kids never listen. He knows what buttons to push with trying to remind us of our childhood. This novel expresses many tones, but the main one would have is the nostalgic tone.

Another tone I found quite often was humor. Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer very satirically. Being only ten years of age, Tom Sawyer was young and immature. Filled with mischief, he envies Huckleberry Finn’s lazy lifestyle and freedom. As the novel progresses, we see Tom Sawyer mature, making better choices. How Twain narrates Sawyer growing up was bursting with humor. I found it all light-hearted especially when he uses phrases with words like “Auntie, I wish I hadn’t done it – but I didn’t think” (Twain 118). When I read this line, all I could think of was all the times I had ever said this exact phrase to my parents. He uses phrases like these sporadically throughout the book, making me chuckle at the immature excuses Tom makes to get out of trouble. Dripping with humor and nostalgia, Twain finds a good balance and writes a great childhood tale of two friends.

Overall, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, showed a great deal of nostalgia and humor. Reading the book with bring you immense joy and longing at the same time. Laughing at the satire used in certain scenes to describe the daft behaviors of immature kids, longing the feeling of foolish fun. Certain phrases are so important to setting the tone of the whole adventure.

A Changed Voice from the American Revolution

Hello, my name is Elias Smith; I’m a 14-year-old young man from 17th century America. Born into a family of British colonists, we migrated to a new country to begin a new life. Currently in Boston, there is a revolution occurring around me. As a young man living through a revolution, my life is pretty great so far. King George the third is such a great leader; he is going to bring this country greatness. In the beginning of this year, I have begun to write journal entries about my life in America, to hopefully inform future readers about my lifestyle. How great life in America will be!

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As always, all revolutions bring change. In the American Revolution, lots of things changed, but some also remain constant. There was a new government system, peace, and independence from the British crown. America started including presidents into their governing ways. The new government kept the continental congress; but because they no longer had one supreme ruler, they made a presidential organization. In the peace treaty between USA, France, and Britain, America received the east of the Mississippi River, south of Canada, and north of Florida from France. Finally, one of the most obvious changes was freedom from under the British rule; nonetheless, just because they had independence and freedom, didn’t mean everyone was equal and received all the rights human deserve. There were still social classes, where rich, white, religious men were put at the top of the food chain, and black people and women were on the bottom. Another racial rule that was kept the same was rights. Black people still didn’t receive their equal share of rights. Also, women didn’t get rights to freedom of speech until later on; but even modern day women in America still don’t have their full rights. Though the American Revolution brought some good change, some things will always remain the same.



Selfish to Selfless

An arrogant apprentice that loses it all during a horrific accident has a change of heart when he realizes what is truly important in life. In the book Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, Johnny, good-natured yet haughty, is a character who develops greatly throughout the novel. Set during the American Revolution, his character starts out vain, but soon changes. Dialogue and the narration gives us big hints about his new and improved character.

The book starts out with Johnny as a big deal in the Lapham household. Everyone – including himself – knew he was one of the best silversmiths in Hancock’s entire Harbor. Looking at his appearance – skinny and frail – you wouldn’t expect such a conceited attitude; however, never judge a book by its cover. Mr. Lapham was not afraid to express his feelings towards Johnny, “ ‘One trouble with you is you haven’t been up against any boys as good as yourself… You think you’re the best one in the world” (Forbes 34). Even others could tell, he clearly thought he was someone of great talent; however, Mr. Lapham was always very supportive and nurturing to Johnny, the whole family was. That is until he burnt his hand horribly and was unable to be a silversmith. He became invaluable and a bother to everyone apart from the head of the family. Alone and desperate, Johnny goes door to door, anywhere he could, trying to find someone who would take him in as an apprentice.


As the book progresses, Johnny turns to a new leaf, he matures and learns from Rab. Because Rab and his family took him in, they taught him to become a better person. After Johnny goes to court with Mr. Lyte, he realizes who his real friends are – Cilla, Issanah, and Rab. Cilla and Issanah fought for him in court. Since Johnny was an “expansive, easily influenced” (108) character, Rab effortlessly taught him to count to ten before speaking his mind, so he wouldn’t say anything he would regret. Johnny accepts the job as the delivery boy for the Boston Observer and becomes a great horseback rider. A British medical officer offers Johnny the job of being the delivery boy for them, and Johnny acts as a spy for the Sons of Liberty. The youngest Lapham daughters become servants for the Lytes, and all these events react significantly on Johnny’s character. Learning a great deal about life, Johnny’s view of the war complicates: “But we are still fighting for ‘English liberty’ and don’t you forget it… Only English colonies are allowed to taste the forbidden fruit of liberty––we who grew up under England… Upholding the torch of liberty–which had been lighted on the fires of England” (236). Johnny realizes that the ideas that fuel the rebels to fight for liberty come from the British. Their successes are due to the moderate English government. Even under the British, they had some freedom of speech and had weaponry.


Johnny Tremain’s characterization in this story is something to admire. He changes for the better, and in the end becomes a mature, selfless man. He realizes men should not fight for the pleasure of power, but for individual independence, the right to “stand up on their feet like men” (266). We all have a lot to learn from Johnny and Rab.




The Blink of the Minds Eye

Our minds, complex and composite, are puzzling to figure out; yet, when reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, the mind unravels into just two straightforward halves. Having written such an eye-opening book, I dissected the book into powerful ideas, to introduce the subject for my fellow audience.

Blink, a seemingly perplex book; however, when read thoroughly, very simple. The overriding focus being the subconscious mind. By reading this book, it has made me think in a whole new perspective. When we think of the subconscious mind, we usually don’t explore much about how influential it really is. Scattered around the chapters are little quizzes, which make us realize our instincts, otherwise known as what our subconscious mind is informing us. Gladwell guides us through a series of tests surrounding gender equality; these tests are based on our instincts. Our stance in our subconscious mind plays a great deal with these tests: “Did you notice the difference? This test was quite a bit harder… It took you a little longer to put the word ‘Entrepreneur’ into the ‘Career’ category when ‘Career’ was paired with ‘Female’…” (Gladwell 80). Most of you – even if you don’t agree with what he points out – will find that it is harder, that doesn’t mean you dislike gender equality, or do not believe in it. It means that because of the era you are in, where women are stereotypically defined as “Stay At Home Mothers”, whereas men are described as the “Workers” of the family. Subconscious minds – influenced by the world around us – are proven important with snap decisions.

Staying on the topic of subconscious minds, not only does Gladwell mention snap judgments, he mentions how we can use our subconscious mind with thin slicing. Thin slicing is the act of using our snap judgment to figure something out. Gladwell gives out multiple examples of how experts use thin slicing: “Predicting divorce, like tracking Morse Code operators, is pattern recognition” (Gladwell 29). Through experimenting, and careful examination using SPAFF – the system of coding – Tarabes – one of the many scientists – using a ten minute video of the couple conversing, can figure out if a couple can survive through the next thirty years of marriage. How does this relate to our snap judgments? When carefully investigating over the video, she first uses her own snap judgments instead of going over and over the same part, and really thinking about it. The advantage of snap judgments is you don’t think twice about your opinion, if it’s hurtful, if it’s unrealistic for the two, you just think. Tarabes doesn’t find difficulty in recording her snap judgment, as it comes naturally now. After reading about using the subconscious mind and doing so much, I have found that my opinions, and my control over my own mind have enhanced. Thin slicing and snap judgments help each other out, and being able to do these acts, are a great skill. These two topics both fall under our subconscious minds; they also are the overall big idea of the text Blink.

Overall the book Blink has really opened my mind – literally – about my own mind. It speaks about “The power of thinking without thinking” (Gladwell cover). The idea of our sub consciousness being an important factor in our lives, and how we can control it, is powerful within itself. This book helped me get an in-depth understanding of what our mind is, and what our subconscious truly is.

Alternate Public Persona

“Evil will rule until good men or women choose to act.” (Sepetys 338). As Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, comes to an end, we identified an idea of good in evil. The dialogue relationship between Lina Vilkas and two same yet different characters showed a centralized theme.

Knowing that they might make it out alive, Lina and her Lithuanian’s kept each others spirits up. But like every other story, there is one bittersweet character – the bald man. The bald man throughout the rising action and climax was a very mysterious omniscient character, we couldn’t even find out his name. He was very secretive, but when he did reveal something, he never made a big deal out of it. Out of the group, he was maladjusted, unstable, and yet so certain about himself. He knew one thing; he wanted to be dead, constantly complaining about how nice it would be if he could just die. Lina got fed up with him one day, and she told him off, “‘You think of nothing but yourself. If you want to kill yourself, what’s keeping you?’ … ‘Fear’ [the bald man] said”(Sepetys 322). In this scene of the novel, we can clearly start seeing the bald man’s slow change in attitude. He was able to admit reasoning behind his constant voracious attitude. From this we infer that he was just like everyone else, fending for themselves and their families. He changed his attitude towards Lina, and that was something very significant in this book. People can change, in fact most do change, when a certain circumstance or understanding happens.

Another very prominent example of changes in the bald man’s attitude from his old ways comes in a different angle. When he finally started giving to his community and helping out: “‘What about you, old man? I need teams of people to make soup and cut fish.’… He raised his head. ‘Yes, I will help,’ said the bald man.” (Sepetys 332). Sadly, we will never truly know when he changed his attitude, and what made him come to that conclusion; although, we do know he started when was Christmas, everyone talked about Christmas traditions, and memories, yet they didn’t acknowledge the reason behind him not speaking up, might’ve been because he was Jewish. He finally told everyone is a bored tone that he was Jewish, and they instantly felt guilty. He was always a very succinct man, always kept to himself, going straight to the point, not talking anymore then he had to, and did acts of selfishness. After this scene, he started opening up and helped others. Showing people can change, you just have to give them time.

Not only did the bald man change for the better, we start noticing a NVKD who changes. When the word NVKD comes to mind, kind and heartfelt aren’t the exact words I think of. More so a stymie in the path the Lithuanians where travelling down, forcing them to give up their futures and work as slaves. Nikolai, or Kretzsky, touched my heart with one line: “’Stay away. I hate you. Do you hear me? I HATE YOU!’ [Lina said] Kretzsky started at mother. ‘Me, too,’ he said” (Sepetys 298). Whilst this dispute was at its climax, Kretzsky just stood and let her comments make a indelible mark in his memory. Life as a NKVD isn’t as lavish as the Lithuanians thought, Kretzsky showed that he hated what he was doing; even though, he was being forced by the authoritative Soviets who had something over his family. We learnt that Kretzsky was doing it for his family, as Lina was here because her parents were trying to save their cousins. They weren’t so different after all. This marks the theme that can also relate to the bald man; people change, you just have to give them a chance.

In conclusion, Lina’s emotions towards the stubborn man, and the enemy, do change. Because in the end, they changed, not only did they change, but so did Lina’s perspective. You cannot judge someone too quickly, because we’re all in the same situation, and we all change in different time spans. Give someone a chance, and they might just surprise you.

Wait a Minute, Are We Between Shades of Different Emotions?

Travelling through Europe, down roads you’d never suspect to go down. Real life, had become your worst nightmare. The book, Between Shades of Grey, by Ruta Sepetys, Lina, fragile and frightened, has to put on a brave face daily while facing the wrath of the NVKD. As terrifying as travelling as a slave is, she has her mother, Jonas, and all her fellow passengers to count on; however the setting contributes to more of a hollow mood. The choice of setting in this book, affects the mood greatly, in a deal of ways.

Lithuania, 1941, WWII. Soviets are taking rule over Lina’s home country and enslaving innocent people. All around them are familiar faces, who knew that they might not see them again? We’re all used to waking up each morning in the same bed, doing our normal morning routine in the same bathroom, picking clothes from the same closet, and eating at the same table. Imagine one night being taken from all of that. Gone within seconds. How important would living in the same environment be to you, seeing familiar places, but also exploring new ones? What if your life just became an endless journey of new places, places where you aren’t accepted, and/or treated like dirt? As Lina and her family were travelling down the same road, there’d be more and more rubble, foreign battlegrounds. Then realizing, that you might never be home again.

In this book, the author captures setting, and makes you feel emotions, lots of them, and different moods throughout the book. When they finally reach one of the many destinations to come, you feel warmth, spreading throughout your body, as if you’ve been the one cramped for weeks, without food, and little water, “we weren’t at a train station… I saw mountains in the distance. The sky had never looked so blue… I breathed deeply and felt the crisp, clean air draft my polluted lungs.” (Sepetys 81). The setting made the mood suddenly light, and filled with joy. Though the word polluted caused a slight downer, in the now joyous occasion. Beautiful vivid imageries of the valley the author poured into this paragraph really brought light at the end of the tunnel. But not for long, as time disappeared, so did the bliss of being outside, “The gray wood was bald, shaved by many seasons of wind and snow… A strong wind could whisk the shack up into the sky, scattering it in a burst of pieces.” (Sepetys 104). Her description of the shack shook chills up and down my spine. In this chapter, the mood goes from cotton candy fluff, to storming thunder. These paragraphs use color, and the bright colors, like blue, green, orange, create a happier vide. Whereas darker colors, like gray, and jet black, causes a much more dull, and in certain phrases, create suspense, and creepiness. Through setting, we can feel the emotion expressed in the book.

Travelling from place to place, never knowing what’s to come, so many sights to see. What better way to show it then describing through setting? Overall this novel showed how much setting affects the mood from the powerful phrases, and descriptive words.