Tag: characterization

Celcius 232

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Frederick Douglas once said. Fahrenheit 451 addresses a society that books are to be burned by firemen whenever they were found. Contrasting to his job, Montag finds this inquiring and starts his journey of changing the world to a place full of books and new ideas. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the characterization of the protagonist, Montag, shows the change of his personality.

Montag is an ordinary looking fireman who is thought to be kind-hearted; however, he ponders the restrictions he has as a member of the society. At the beginning of the story, Montag is introduced just like the other firemen in the firehouse: “He hung up his black beetle-colored helmet and shined it; he hung his flameproof jacket neatly” (Bradbury 8). Ray Bradbury emphasizes the clothes that he wears as a fireman. The black beetle-colored helmet, and his flameproof jacket symbolize the appearance as a fireman. Moreover, when meeting Clarisse, Montag explained, “‘Kerosene… is nothing but perfume to me’”(10). As fireman’s job in his society was to burn books, kerosenes were always part of him. This was common among firemen, as they were all to use kerosene daily. Montag shows his kindness by talking with Clarisse and by accepting her ideas. Clarisse said, “‘The others would walk off and leave me talking… You’re one of the few who put up with me’” (27). Clarisse shares her thoughts about Montag by comparing him to other firemen. As he was one of the few that actually listened to Clarisse and her ideas, and made corresponding reactions to them, Montag was able to show his personality of kindness to Clarisse. As the society do not accept new ideas and knowledge, many of thoughts were ignored and thought to be crazy. However, unlike the others, Montag made connections to her questionings. Montag queried the society multiple times throughout the story. “I’ve been thinking…about the man whose library we fixed. What happened to him?” (37). After Montag had several conversations with Clarisse, he started to question about the actions he has done as a fireman. This included “fixing” libraries. Burning the libraries did not seem right for Montag as he thought of libraries as a place of knowledge and stories. Later in the story, he sets his mind that knowledge and books are important: “Montag was gone and back in a moment with a book in his hand” (100). As books give stories, knowledge, and common sense to people who read them, Montag read a poem to those who were foolish in voting, and even about their families. Even though Ms. Phelps had a strong emotional reaction when the poem was finished, Montag was sure that the contradicting ideas in books about society give a strong sense of community to all people. In conclusion, Montag, the compassionate average fireman, fights for the regulations as a citizen in his society.

I, just like Montag, also have thought differently from others and wanted to fight for my opinion. In a recent Model United Nations activity, I had contrasting opinions on restricting public awareness of countries about a specific issue. At that time, I was the only one who thought that public awareness should not be restricted since it would cause more confusion to the public. This made it difficult to address my opinion to other delegates in the committee just like Montag trying to say that books are beneficial.

Image Citation: “Guy Montag.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 May 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Montag.

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The Loved and Loving Mother Changed the Leader

During “the barbarous days, … the custom of abandoning old people to die was not uncommon” (Basho 1). Like this, the farmer, the protagonist of the short story, gets an order from the leader of the Shining Province to execute all the aged people. In the short story “The Aged Mother,” Matsuo Basho creates a dynamic character who changes his opinions about the elderly because of the wisdom of the farmer’s mother that was saved with love.

At the exposition of the story, the prejudiced leader starts out thinking all aged people are not needed in the Shining province. According to the text, the governor of the Shining Province “[gave] strict orders to immediately put to death all aged people” (Basho 1). This demonstrates his thought that all aged are not desirable in the province. He did not feel the importance of the aged since he was afraid of people who were “suggestive of failing health and strength” (Basho 1). However, in the resolution of the story, the wisdom of the mother that was kept by her son’s love changed the governor into an open-minded leader of the Shining Province. The leader realized that Shining needs the wisdom of the aged as well as the strength of the youth. Finally, the leader realized and said, “‘the well-known saying, ‘with the crown of snow, there cometh wisdom!’” (Basho 2). He understood, from the rope of ashes made from the idea of the farmer’s mother, that the insights of the aged are often needed for the province to be well governed. Nobody in the province knew how to provide the leader with a rope of ashes, but only the farmer’s mother was able to make a rope of ashes with a twisted straw.

Matsuo Basho merges the theme of “The Aged Mother” throughout the course of the story. By having the son save his mother from death with love, and by his mother saving the province with her wisdom, the author constructs a theme that is very clear: the intelligence of all people should be kept with love. With the change of the opinions of the leader, it showed the readers how valuable all people’s knowledge is.

This theme could be related to Vincent Van Gogh, the famous painter’s tragedy. Van Gogh led the development of post-impressionism in the world of art. However, his arts were not welcomed by the people during the 1880s and often were rejected. Even though his paintings became famous after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, his paintings did not receive the spotlight from the people of his time. This was because of the static point of view of the people. If the people at that time were dynamic about the attitude towards the style of art like the leader of “The Aged Mother”, would Van Gogh’s paintings have received an abundant amount of welcome when he was alive?

You Could be a Genius if You Want To

Imagine yourself having a daughter that does not follow what you have her to do. Jing-Mei, the protagonist, was the type of daughter that only followed what she thought was right. This was a great frustration to her mother since she had an image of what she wanted her daughter to be. Jing-Mei always had opposing ideas with her mother. She wanted to be an ordinary child, while her mother wanted her to be a genius that has a talent. These opposing ideas established the conflict between Jing-Mei and her mother. What characteristics does Jing-Mei have that generated the growth of the conflict? In Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds”, Jing-Mei, unlike me, is a character who lacks confidence, and a character who is not determined to do activities that her mother has arranged for her to do.

Jing-Mei is shown as a character who has low sef-esteem. In a negative way, she says, “‘I’m not going to play anymore, … Why should I? I’m not a genius’” (Tan 7). In this situation, it is shown that she had set her expectations to be an ordinary child that does not have a special talent. This shows that she does not have certainty in her own abilities. On the contrary to her thoughts, her mother had high faith in Jing-Mei’s ability on playing the piano, and she believed that she could become a skillful pianist. Even with her mother’s support, Jing-Mei insisted that she does not possess the talent to become a pianist, and refused her classes with her piano teacher. She did not just have shortage in her dignity to herself. In addition to her self-esteem, she denies to show effort in her activities that her mother has suggested for her. Jing-Mei’s mother believes that she can be famous: “‘You have natural talent. You could be a genius if you want to’” (8). Towards the climax of the story, she refused her mother’s beliefs and says, “‘No, I couldn’t’” and declined to play the piano (8). Even with her mother’s thoughts about her, she claimed that she does not have a talent. She made mistakes during practices and did not correct it, and in fact, she ignored her mistakes. Thus, she ends up being neglectful in finding her talents, and finds her parents disappointed about her unsuccessful performance. Undeniably, Jing-Mei needs to increase her faith in herself, and strive to find her talents to become the daughter that her mother wants her to be.

I am a student who shows effort in activities unlike Jing-Mei. On the contrary to Jing-Mei’s uncertainty of her abilities, I always believe that I can do what I want to do. During the rock climbing unit last year in PE class, it was a great challenge for me to climb up and ring the bell on the wall. I knew that I had a safety equipment on, and that my peers were there to help me, but I did not have the courage to climb up high. I was stuck on the middle of the wall, deciding on whether or not to give up on climbing. It was the last chance that I had to ring the bell, but the height of the wall has made my determinations diminish. Hearing my peers and my teacher cheering for me to climb, I calmed myself and decided to climb up. I have set my goal to ring the bell, and did all I could to climb up. On the contrary to my actions, Jing-Mei discontinued on playing her piano, and had an ineffectual performance. Certainly, it was not my case. I made a success in climbing the wall, and rang the bell. Therefore, unlike Jing-Mei, I am a student that who strives to achieve my goal.

Image citation: “Two Kinds Summary.” Enotes.com, Enotes.com, www.enotes.com/topics/two-kinds.

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