Author: Stephanie L. (page 1 of 10)

2 Years of IB LangLit

In the past 2 years, I’ve learned a lot in this course. I believe I’ve improved as a writer and critical thinker as I’ve strengthened past skills and acquired new ones. We read numerous literary works, ranging from graphic novels to autobiographical novels, to plays, to poems, and classics like The Odyssey. Exposure to such a variety, I was able to familiarize myself with different text types and notice their distinct features. We also wrote analyses and did oral presentations. Through these practices, I learned how to balance quality with quantity, compare literary with non-literary works in a balanced manner, and relate works to a global issue. American Born Chinese was my favorite out of the literary works we’ve read. Living in a westernized environment as a Chinese teenager made me relate to the protagonist on a deeper level, so I really enjoyed working on this text.

 

Although this course can be grueling, the brighter times always overshadow the difficult ones. Due to Covid-19, we were not able to communicate in person, collaborate freely, and present and engage with peers in front of the class. And this brought challenges. I missed the easiness of connecting with peers and focusing purely on the task at hand. Online learning created difficulties involving internet connection and sidetracking, which not only affected the individual but also hindered the learning of everyone and disrupted the flow of the class. Despite such challenges, I’m happy to say that we made it through and were fortunate enough to return back to in-person classes. I will miss the supportive atmosphere of this class and working with my table group. We help each other in and out of class in understanding texts and keep class time fun and interesting.

 

I will always remember the weeks building up to our final IO. While we all knew we were well prepared and ready, the anxiousness would not subside. I will always remember seeing everyone frantically look for two texts they haven’t used before, thinking of a global issue and topic uniquely my own, and of course, the nervousness of going into the actual IO.  Doing the IO has pushed me to look at texts from a larger perspective, and acquire organization skills.

Annotating Letters

A Doll’s House: Krogstad’s Character Trace

Character Trace: Krogstad

Krogstad is a lawyer, working under Torvald at a bank; his respectable profession puts him among the middle class. In Act 1, Krogstad is introduced as an antagonist everyone despises, specifically Nora, who feels frightened and powerless. Krogstad continuously torments and harasses Nora with unwanted visits to the Helmer household and threatens to expose her forgery and borrowing money, that is, if Krogstad loses his job. Events like these characterize his character as this cruel, cold-hearted figure who seemingly, only cares about his career and wealth. His conflict with Nora puts their enemy-like relationship at high stakes with significant complications.

Despite playing the antagonist in A Doll’s House, Krogstad isn’t entirely painted as the villain. He begins to open up in Act 2, as he says, “a mere cashier, a quill-drive, a—well, a man like me—even he has a little of what is called feeling, you know” (41). Glimpses of Krogstad showing empathy towards Nora is seen on page 42, where he confides in Nora about also contemplating committing suicide but not having the courage to follow through. Furthermore, Ibsen utilizes exposition to reveal more about Krogstad; the information justifies his unacceptable behaviors by adding reason to his motives. Krogstad just wants to keep his job at the bank to provide for his children as a single father and protect them from the hardships that come with the privileged and spoiled. In response to Nora’s pleads for him to consider her own children before exposing her wrongdoings, Krogstad replies with: “have you and your husband thought of [my children]?” (41). Compared to Torvald, who appears to desire respect and social hierarchy for superficial reasons, Krogstad strives for it for his family’s well-being.

Similar to Nora, Krogstad’s character received unfair treatment from society. Both characters committed the same crime of forging contracts. However, this crime is relatively minor, and society forced upon the stigma of Krogstad being an immoral person, which prevented him from ever having a fresh start. In Act 3, ending on page 55, readers get more insight into his past and learn about his past romantic relationship with Mrs. Linde. Krogstad and Mrs. Linde have a history filled with turbulence and misunderstanding: “you have never properly understood me […] do you believe that I did it with a light heart?” (49), says Mrs. Linde. Mrs. Linde left him for another man who can provide for her financially and bring stability. One could argue that their feelings were reciprocated, but societal norms forced Mrs. Linde away from Krogstad, leading to him breaking the law and being so determined to keep his job at the bank. From being perceived as a despicable character to an empathetic and heartbroken character, Krogstad is a round character whose complexity was shaped by his hurtful past.

 

A closer look into Krogstad’s character:

Thoughts

  • He feels conflicted but mostly misunderstood. He thinks he needs to fit the societal expectation of men being this strong, emotionless figure, but breaks out of shell
    • “a mere cashier, a quill-drive, a—well, a man like me—even he has a little of what is called feeling, you know” (41)
  • A family-oriented person. He goes to great lengths of threatening and, to some degree, harassing Nora, for the sake of keeping his job to provide for his children
    • “have you and your husband thought of [my children]?” (41)

Feelings

  • Suicidal thoughts regarding money, or the lack of money; Nora’s anxiousness regarding her own predicament inspired Krogstad to confide in her about his own struggles.
    • “Most of us think of that at first. I did, too—but I hadn’t the courage” (42)
  • Heartbroken and bitter about his past romantic relationship with Mrs. Linde. Beginning of Act 3 reveals that Mrs. Linde broke it off with Krogstad, leaving him with many repercussions. To break it off due to Krogstad not being able to provide financial stability, will cause great damage to a man’s ego, especially in the Victorian age, where it’s all about male dominance.
    • “Can we two have anything to talk about?”
    • “Was there anything else to understand except what was obvious to all the world—a heartless women jilts a man when a more lucrative chance turns up?”
  • Can readers assume that Krogstad still has feelings for Mrs. Linde? Or that it can easily be revived?
  • A lawyer working under Torvald at a bank
    • A well-respected profession paints Krogstad as a put together, clean-looking, and intellectual man

Speech

  • “the law cares nothing about motive” (24)
    • This simple sentence reveals a lot: the strict laws of Victorian society, and Krogstad’s bitter perspective on the real world which foreshadows how he once broke the law with a good heart and motive.
    • Krogstad values motive and believes the structure of society is wrongful; he may wish it to be more humane and understanding—two things he lacks from others/others don’t give enough of
  • “Mrs. Helmer” (15) versus “A fine, spoilt lady like you” (43)
    • One can argue that Krogstad has a temper, but also someone who is very dedicated to, and motivated by, his family.
    • How Krogstad addresses Nora goes hand in hand with current situation. When situations are in his favor, he is polite. As Krogstad and Nora are on neutral terms, Krogstad addresses her politely with respect. However, Krogstad and Nora’s relationship grows intense; Krogstad threatens Nora as he’s angered by the possibility of losing his job because of her doings, and Krogstad addresses her with great incivility.
  • “I will tell you […] I was content to work my way up step by step. Now I am turned out, and I am not going to be satisfied with merely being taken into favor again […] I want to get on, I tell you” (43)
    • Repetition of declaratives captures an assertive, determined and confident tone. It paints Krogstad positively, and a character who has purpose and a goal in life. It is not a secret that he is motivated by his family, so he works his way up for a higher title and income.

Actions

  • To reiterate what has already been said about family being Krogstad’s primary motive, everything that he does is to do what’s best for his family. Actions includes:
    • Demanding to keep his job position at the bank (aforementioned in Speech)
    • Harassing Nora with his uninvited visits to the Helmer’s household to threaten the exposure of her forgery and borrowing Torvald’s money without permission
    • “[at the door.] It is I, Mrs. Helmer” (15) “Nora: You? What is it?”
    • Krogstad appears, he waits a little” “Nora: Ah! What do you want?”
    • Both times, Nora replies either with timidness or surprise/fear, both signifying that Krogstad’s visit were unwanted and unwelcomed. This highlights their high-stake relationship filled with secrecy and complications
  • Writing and mailing the letter to Torvald that exposes Nora’s secrets
  • “I have the letter for your husband in my pocket” (43)
  • Although not explicitly stated, Krogstad and Mrs. Linde reunited
  • “I can dare anything together with you” “Thanks, thanks, Christine! Now I shall find a way to clear myself in the eyes of the world”

Analyzing Tasmania Website

Annotating Tasmania Website

Analyzing Comics

Analyzing “Hostess Unafraid”

Annotating “Hostess Unafraid”

Analyzing “Slavery Today” Mocks

An analysis on the works of Adichie and Duffy

“A Private Experience” is a short story by Adichie from The Thing Around Your Neck, which tackles the overarching concept of restriction due to societal standards, gender roles, and representations. This short story focuses on representations and is about a Christian and Muslim woman forming a bond in midst of a riot between their religions. I’ll be focusing on pages 43 to 44 when the two characters first meet.

“I’m a Human Being” is a political cartoon by Liza Donnelly, who often deals with political and cultural themes. This cartoon deals with race and violence, illustrating a black citizen and a white police officer both at gunpoint and thinking how they are just human beings.

I’ll be looking at how personal perceptions are the cause of conflict between different ethnoreligious groups.

 

1. Beginning with the short story, Adichie characterizes contrasting figures to create a sense of division beyond having different religious labels. She does this by illustrating their socioeconomic status.

  • Chika, the Christian women, “dropped the oranges and my handbag […] the handbag was Burberry, an original one that her mother had bought on a recent trip to London” (43)
  • Unnamed Muslim women “lost her necklace” and Chika imagines it being “plastic beads threaded on a piece of string” (43).
    • Judgment of others based on own perceptions is already established, even though Chika only just met the women. She assumes the Muslim woman is of a lower socioeconomic status than herself, as the woman wears plastic bead necklaces, while she carries original designer handbags. This subjective belief prompts readers to assume that Chika came to such a conclusion under the influence of society, parallel to how societal beliefs and the media are such profound forces of influence in the contemporary world.

2. Other than socioeconomic status, the contrast in face structure and attire furthers this divide.

  • Chika can tell the women’s a Northerner from “the narrowness of her face, the unfamiliar rise of her cheekbones” and “the long, flimsy pink and black scarf, with the garish prettiness of cheap things” (44).
    • The adjective “unfamiliar” is important because it reveals how Chika, and presumably, many others, are not knowledgeable of other cultures. This explains why Chika so blatantly believed the women are not wealthy, perhaps a stereotype obtained from the media.
    • In the following quote, “garish prettiness” is an oxymoron, where “garish” has a negative connotation as opposed to pretty. The oxymoron fuels the religious divide and the irony of two dichotomic characters being able to find common ground.

3. Despite religious, physical, and surface-level differences, Chika and the unnamed women were able to form a deeper bond.

  • Exchanges like “thank you for calling me” and “this place safe”, create a sense of trust and alliance between the two characters.
  • But “As [Chika] and the women are speaking, Hausa Muslims are hacking down Igbo Christians with machetes, clubbing them with stones” (43).
    • The diction “machetes” reflects how undeveloped the society is. Likewise, “clubbing them with stones” allude to stoning from ancient times. Both illustrating a barbaric scene.
    • The juxtaposition between peaceful vs violence demonstrates how peaceful interaction is still possible between conflicting religions. As shown by the women telling Chika “this place safe,” reveals religion is not the issue, but rather tainted and biased perceptions from ignorance are what sparks conflict and violence.

So, the unraveling riot between Christians and Muslims suggests how society views differences in socioeconomic status, appearances, and religion are reasons to start a conflict. But through Chika and the unnamed character’s bond, Adichie highlights how they are women, human, and equals.

 

My non-literary text is the political cartoon, “I’m a human being.” This is an example of conflict between different ethnicities.

  1. Beginning with the illustration, Donnelly uses racial representations for contrast.
  • To first show racial differences, Donnelly colors one figure dark-skinned with a round nose and the other light-skinned with a pointed nose. Additionally, their attire contrasts. On the left is a black civilian, as he’s wearing casual clothes like jeans and a crewneck. While on the right, is a white police officer, dressed in full uniform with an armed belt and hat.
    • Together, they represent race and racial roles in society that are parallel to perceptions of colored people being inferior to their white counterparts, and white supremacy. Donnelly uses stark contrast to show polarity and how the perception of being different is enough reason to start a conflict.
    • Looking at their body language, they mirror each other’s rigid stance, as they point their guns at each other, illustrating the aforementioned conflict.
  1. Moving onto the thought bubble, the text contradicts to the captured image, as the two figures are portrayed as similar rather than different.
  • “I’m a human being” is a simple sentence and has a clear message. The exclamation point transforms this otherwise monotonous sentence into a plea, almost a cry for mercy in an accusatory tone.
    • It’s hypocritical since both figures direct their guns towards the other. It reveals selfishness but also their acknowledgment that shooting someone is inhumane.
  • With the text being internal dialogue and the faces carrying no emotions, we know the figures are unaware of what the other is thinking.
  • This reveals to readers how Donnelly is directing the message towards her audience, communicating that we are all human. And us being human makes us equals, despite societal and surface-level perceptions of us being different.
  1. The background is the white background which creates an imbalance in graphic weight and an emptiness.
  • The figures become the focal point, as they are placed in the foreground, and the only visual elements that are colored
  • Conversely, the background is blank. The setting is ambiguous and vague, demonstrating how there’s no tangible evidence and valid reason for violence. The conflict is all in the figures’ head, a personal perception, and a belief shaped by society.

In conclusion, whether they are opinions formed based on religion and socioeconomic status as seen in “A Private Experience,” or beliefs determined by the color of your skin and the status you hold, seen in “I’m Being a Human,” they are just labels created by society and personal perceptions, made to cause conflict. Through both works, Adichie and Donnelly tackle the shared humanity concept, revealing how we should not see others as individuals or members of various groups, but simply as human beings.

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