Susan Eng. 202

Friday, April 29, 2005

Late 19th Century American Literature

This work was my best work because, even though I made grammatical and citation errors, I enjoyed writing about this era. The stories here were very interesting and about a variety of issues.

In the late 19th century, a democracy was being formed and America was turning into a technologically advanced, industrialized and urbanized nation. Many changes were being made in the Old World and the main focus of the ever-growing population of diverse cultures and ethnic groups was finding one’s self in America and the pursuit of the American dream of freedom and prosperity. Most literary publications were focused on real life experiences with their conflicts, struggles, tensions, and sacrifices. There were many economical, cultural, social, political, and geographical forces placed upon the people of post Civil War Americans; and through the strength and support of those writers, Americans and its immigrants can find themselves and learn from one another.
While writers were reacting to the events and conditions that were going on around them, these authors were also trying to help their readers come to certain understandings about their own lives. For example, this was the time of the women’s rights movement and more opportunities of self-fulfillment for women were occurring; therefore, writers such as Charlotte Gillman, Sarah Jewett, and Mary Freeman were sending out emotional and moral support for their women readers. Before the Civil War, women were only seen as the “stereotypical domestic” housewives and mothers who were subordinate to their husband and were not given the choice of self-expression and creativity. Some women came to feel as if they were trapped or imprisoned and in a state of mental ruin as the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” However, now, because of new educational and career opportunities for women, many late 19th century writers were encouraging economic independence, equality among the sexes, and social reform for American women. Young ladies, and girls, could relate to the story “A White Heron” and the moral values instilled upon Sylvia during her developmental growing in the countryside of rural New England. Meanwhile, older women found strength and courage to escape the barriers of conventional views of the male as authoritarian ruler, and they could pursue their own “special” place in society—whether it is a spinster like Louise in “A New England Nun” or an educated, self-sufficient woman and role model like Mrs. Marroner in “Turned.” Writers expressed the importance of female friendships and the bond of a new “sisterhood” among women, not only to the readers, but also to their fellow authors. Women had a need for finding their own voice and wanted to become more productive members of society.
Female writers were realists in their examinations of marriage, female sexuality, rural life settings, and racial relations. The authors were among the national best sellers for domestic realism. Written from her own experiences with depression, Charlotte Gilman says she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” “not to drive people crazy but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked” (Lavender 1). Sarah Jewett drew her stories from her life experiences as a child traveling with her father on his medical runs; and through those experiences, she was better able to describe the rural settings of New England and teach that we are all in control of what we make of our lives, no matter where we live. Kate Chopin and Edith Eaton, also known as Sui Sin Far, wrote about a different type of realism—racism. In “Desiree’s Baby,” Chopin tells of the conflicts of a marriage with multicultural racism. Racism was very prevalent during the 1900’s and the thought of a white wife having an affair with a black man was unacceptable. The realism of racial issues caused the breakup of a once totally happy couple. Eaton wrote about the racial anxieties that Chinese had to face in an America that believed in the concept of white Anglo Saxon purity. The Chinese had been brought to America to work on the railway system, and after it was finished there was much prejudice against them. Her story “In the Land of the Free” tells of one such struggle of a Chinese family. (Ling 1-3)
With the development of the transcontinental railway system and the increase in literacy, reading became not only a source of encouragement, but also a way for finding out how and where others lived and what was going on in America. Production and distribution of literature had become a big business nationwide and the most influential editor at this time was William Dean Howells who helped advance the careers of most writers. He also encouraged realistic writing about the effects technology and the industrial economy was having on the social and cultural lives of post-war Americans. There was a loss of rural America to urbanization with the population spreading out into the ever-decreasing frontier. There were no more small shops and there was a great decrease in local craftsman and artisans because of big business and political power of the upper, capitalist class. The effects of industrialization on city life were astounding, in fact so much so that some writers, such as Upton Sinclair, lived among the working class civilization to tell their side of the story. In “The Jungle,” he wrote about the harshness, the unsanitary conditions, and the injustices of wage slavery experienced by the majority of the working class. Sinclair saw what they endured in the meat-packing industry of Chicago’s suburbs. The Lithuanian peasant immigrants in the story disintegrated in a sense of helplessness through hunger, poverty, disease, and even death. However the emotional well-being of the working class was not a concern of the high-class money makers of the scientific, technological community. Still, Sinclair’s work did eventually lead the government to take another look at the horrid, industrial working conditions and made some changes, through legislature reforms, in the laws of the land.
Some writers were both realists and naturalists at the same time, writing about man’s conflicts with the forces of nature: man vs. sea; man vs. war and man vs. city. Stephen Crane has experienced the forces of the sea against man and was able to write about the courage and cooperation needed in four men who were stranded at sea on a dinghy. Through his descriptive details, he made the story of “The Open Boat” come to life with nature and, as Geneva said, “Crane was trying to emphasize how delicate the balance is between life and death”. (Gilliland 1) There was a sense of “brotherhood” as these men struggled together and, knowing they were close to death, they began thinking about their past and how they would change and be a better person if nature would spare them from this doom. Through Ambrose Bierce’s first-hand experiences in the Civil War, he was able to vividly, and gruesomely, describe the meaningless slaughter of man. In “Chickamauga,” he symbolized the reality, and heartlessness, of the war through the loss of the small child’s family. “He demonstrates that war does not show prejudice, racism, or mercy.” (Broda 7) In the story “South of the Slot,” Jack London showed the conflicts between the well-established, big businesses and wealthy upper class side of San Francisco and the underpaid, slum-dwelling minorities on the other side. London’s character, Freddie, eventually left his highly paid upper class job and who he was expected to be to become his real inner self, Bill Totts. He was living a life that had always been expected of a well-refined, educated middle class male. As Bill, he came to understand the ways of the working class society and he was able to become more relaxed in his own ways of living life. He was playing a double role in a double role society, and he finally came to realize he had to choose one.
Society was growing more and more every day with a diverse cultural population: white Anglo Saxons; African Americans; American Indians; Mexican Americans; and foreign immigrants. In the late 19th century, 14 million immigrants arrived in America seeking freedom from the cruelties of their homelands and hoping to live the “American dream” in a country of economic opportunity and political freedom. In Mary Antin’s autobiography, “The Promised Land,” she writes of the sacrifices her father, and ultimately her older sister, gave because of their faith in this dream. Her Jewish family easily adapted to the way of life in America and she eventually became a source of support for other immigrants. She never forgot her heritage, but she did believe that getting an education was an important step in defining one’s self. However, many immigrants did not find life in America as easy. Chinese immigrants were harassed by our own government as seen in “The Land of the Free.” This family became victims of racism and of the discriminatory immigration laws when their two-year-old son was taken from them for ten months. Some other immigrants just conformed to the values in their surroundings, as Jake did in Abraham Cahan’s story, “Yekl.” Jake, in the end, lost his true Jewish identity and became estranged from his wife, whom he lost in the process. There were many conflicts and tensions brought out by the integration of different ethnic and racial cultures. Immigrants had to live in slums, which Antin, in “The Promised Land,” referred to as “a sort of house of detention for poor aliens, where they live on probation till they can show a certificate of good citizenship” (Antin 871).
Writers of the late 19th century helped define one’s identity in relation to American customs and values, as well as helped bring a balance to society’s expectations and one’s private and personal needs. Increased cultural diversity and technological advancements will forever be changing the face of America; and with the help of literary publications, a better understanding of how to deal with these changes will come. Writers provide a source of strength, support, and understanding in the need for human moral values and growth. Sometimes they can show the harsh realities and struggles of everyday life and the constant social and cultural changes that go with it. Americans should take those experiences and learn from them.



Works Cited
Antin, Mary. “The Promised Land.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 871.

Broda, Donald. “Ambrose Bierce’s”Chickamauga”: An Interdisciplinary Approach”.
2002. (7). http://www.engl.niu.edu/dderosa/AmericanSurvey/1865/Bierce/chicka_studygude2.html.

Campbell, Donna M. “Regionalism and Local Color Fiction, 1865-1895” LiteraryMovements. Dec. 8, 2004. http://www.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl311/lcolor.html.

Gilliland, Marie. “Re: Geneva”. E-mail discussion. February 4,2005.

“Quick Study Academic, American Literature”. (Quick Study). Boca Raton, Fl.: Bar Charts, Inc., 2001.

Lauter, Paul. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Boston, Ma.: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2002.

Lavender, Catherine. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper” (1913)”. June 8, 1999. 1-2 http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/whyyw.html.

Ling, Amy. “Edith Maud Eaton (Sui Sin Far) (1865-1914)”. 1-3. http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/eaton.html.

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature Vol 2. 1987 ed. 324-328.
Rueben, Paul P. http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap5/intro.html.%20(pages(1/20/2005) 1-4.

Literature of the Modern Era

If I could do this piece over again, I would most definitely shorten it.

The Industrial Revolution and urbanization that began in the 17th century led to a dark skepticism for the future of Americans. The Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875 didn’t have much weight in providing equality for all African Americans and some white Americans, especially women. Some authors, through their writings, were trying to draw attention toward reforming political, economic, and social relations between all races. The early 1900’s began a Modern Era that dealt with themes and problems that were dominant in the U.S. Some of these troubling times were caused by lack of true leadership, racism and discrimination, and cultural changes causing many to question their being and their place in society.
The U.S. was divided over civil rights as many whites were asserting the position of superiority over blacks; however, because some blacks were able to get a good education, they began to take a stand against the injustices brought upon their race. Booker T. Washington led a new Modern way of thinking and writing in support of the white superiority with the belief that economic and social rights would eventually come to African Americans. First he felt “that what our people most needed was to get a foundation in education, industry, and property, and for this [he] felt that they could better afford to strive than for political preferment” (Washington 931). W. E. B. Du Bois, on the other hand, as a leader in the NAACP encouraged the fight for full civil and political rights through protests and by legal means. He wrote “Souls of Black Folk” as a challenge to Washington’s strategy and in it saying, “We have no right to sit silently by while the inevitable seeds are sown for a harvest of disaster to our children, black and white” (Du Bois 957).
Furthermore, through the words and emotions of Langston Hughes’ poems, Americans, not just African Americans, were able to better understand the prejudice and evil doings that the black community endured. He set out his poem “The Same” “to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America” (Lauter 1598).

It is the same everywhere for me: […]
Black:
Exploited, beaten, and robbed,
Shot and killed.
Blood running into […] (Hughes 1601, 1602)

Many people also had to sacrifice their ethnic background in search of a better life as shown by Richard Wright in “Bright and Morning Star” in the character Sue. In order to not lose her son, she left behind her cultural upbringing and followed her son in his quest for a Communist uprising. In this story Wright accurately portrayed the true dialect, culture, and mistreatment of blacks for all Americans to read. One such incident was when Sue was protecting the whereabouts of her son and she was hit by the sheriff: “her eyes went blank; she fell flat on her face. She felt the hard heel of his wet shoes coming into her temple and stomach. [The sheriff exclaimed,] ‘Lemme hear yuh talk some mo!’” (Wright 1902).
Racism was not the only problem of the Modern era. Economic depression was upon America and along with the effects of WWI many lives were turned upside down as impoverished Americans were searching for stability and their place in this so-called land of freedom. In the story “Barn Burning” William Faulkner tells of the struggle of being true to one’s self that a boy named Sarty faces. Sarty wants to be faithful to his father but in his heart he knows he must tell De Spain that his father is out to burn down another barn. Another example of being true to one’s self can be found in “Sweat” by Zora Hurston and the life of a woman named Delia who found the courage to stand up to an abusive husband. During one confrontation with him she said, “that ole snaggle-toothed black woman you runnin’ with aint comin’ heah to pile up on mah sweat and blood. You aint paid for nothin’ on this place, and Ah’m gointer stay right heah till Ah’m toted out foot foremost” (Hurston 1658, 1659).
These are but a few of the problems that came about during the Modern Era. Many writers felt they were doing their part in educating their readers of all races. They wanted others to see how racism, poverty, and other cultural and social effects were altering the way America should really be. By their powerful force of words and realistic descriptions, these authors wanted to tell the truth.



Works Cited
Du Bois, W. E. B. “The Souls of Black Folk.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 957.

Hughes, Langston. “The Same.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 1601-1602.

Hurston, Zora Neale. “Sweat.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 1658-1659.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002.

Washington, Booker T. “Up from Slavery.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 931.

Wright, Richard. “Bright and Morning Star.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 1902.

Literary Analysis of “A White Heron”

This piece was my greatest challenge because in order for me to thoroughly understand the symbolism in this story, I had to do a lot of extra research.

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) was a native of New England, growing up in South Berwick, Maine. She had great pride in her community because her father had instilled in her “an abiding love of and respect for the local countryside and its people” (Webb). Jewett wrote about everyday life during a time when there was a growing “interest in preserving local and regional folkways and traditions that were in imminent danger of being lost” (Lauter 11). Having been greatly influenced by her grandfather and father, she was able to accurately describe the rural community and encourage moral values in her work. In “A White Heron” Jewett writes about a young girl, Sylvia, coming to terms with her own moral values and through the use of symbolism Jewett is able to describe this girl’s daily life as she matures into womanhood.
As a child, young Sarah began writing down her experiences and the details of her everyday surroundings (Biography Resource Center). One such area she had visited many times before with her physician father describes the rural New England setting of “A White Heron.” It was at the time of its writing that naturalists from Boston unofficially established the first Audubon society. Because of the plume trade and the fear that herons and egrets would become extinct, many writers wrote in protest and as their way of helping to conserve nature. Jewett, an ecologist and nature preserver, reflected on the importance in the value of nature’s beauty in “A White Heron” (Renza 127). In her story she wrote, “It was in the beauty of the outdoors and nature that Sylvia was able to begin asking and answering the real questions of life. This was something she had been unable to do before she left the tight quarters of urban life” (Stoltzfus). The balance of nature itself was threatened by the presence of the stranger from the city into the daily harmony that Sylvia and her grandmother were able to carry out in their uncomplicated lifestyle. Jewett had a commitment to unite people with a better understanding of the life of simple country folks, as shown in “A White Heron” (Holman).
Throughout this narrative short story, Jewett was able to associate Sylvia’s struggles with life by the use of symbolism. The story begins with Sylvia as a symbol of innocence playing hide and seek with her female companion, a cow. By talking about milking her cow, a sense of purity is brought into the story; milk also symbolizes Mother. Other prominent female companions to Sylvia are “Nature,” the universal Mother, and her grandmother, representative of rural countryside survival. Jewett included Sylvia and her grandmother in this story to portray the closeness of a granddaughter to her grandmother, and as a way of incorporating her own bonds with female acquaintances, such as Annie Fields (Negri iv). Sylvia’s cow wears a bell which does not ring and symbolizes the peace and harmony found in nature away from the hectic pace of city life. Her journey, a call of fate, into the shadows of the forest symbolizes chaos and the changes she must confront to become an adult. This is the beginning of her death as a child and the inner desire of discovery and change. The continued reference to Sylvia’s eyes shows her moral conscience for truth at work throughout the story. As Sylvia and her cow walk toward home, she comes upon a stranger, who represents an obstacle in her path to maturity. However she soon grows a fondness toward him as they continue the journey homeward toward the east, which can be associated with renewal or rebirth. After they reach home and while the stranger and Sylvia’s grandmother talk, Sylvia plays outside an open door with her toad as the moon comes up. The door, also feminine, can be seen as a passageway for confronting an inner silence and Sylvia’s point of turning toward womanhood. This is also portrayed in the toad which itself transforms from a tadpole to maturity – a rebirth. The moon, with its changing phases, represents this cross from infancy to adult as well (Brown & Smith).
The next day Sylvia begins to really question the meaning of this new man in her life; she knows of this heron he seeks, but must decide which path she must follow next. Sylvia “watched the young man with loving admiration” as her “woman’s heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love” (Jewett 727). Nevertheless, she begins to think of an enormous pine-tree at the edge of the forest and what she knew would be there. Her true transformation would begin the following morning as she decides to go to this “Tree of Life/Tree of Knowledge.” Sylvia eventually finds this huge tree and begins her ascent, her struggle toward her greatest change. This represents the “test of a young girl’s character and her ability to make adult decisions […] [her] coming into womanhood” (Sellers). The dawn growing in the east is a symbol of her awakening and rebirth. When she reaches the top of this soaring tree, she sees the sea, yet another symbol of life. As she searches among the green (which means growth) branches, she knows the sun will rise soon and she must find “her” white heron. Finally the climax has come “look, look! a white spot of him like a single floating feather comes up from the dead hemlock and grows larger, and rises, and comes at last…wait! wait! do not move […] the new day!” (Jewett 729). There it is, that white symbol of innocence and “power that helps people to speak reflectively and leads them to think out many things in advance before they take action” (Brown & Smith). She now knows the secret and she will not share this knowledge with any stranger because of the “willful silence [which] stemmed from her conscience” (Hall). Sylvia can not violate the special connection that she now has with this stunning bird. She is at a “oneness” with her surroundings and the discoveries it can bring; she understands her place in this world and her life would be what she decides to make of it.
In the end, Sylvia is content to call this rural country-side her home, just as it was for the white heron. The words she says or does not say to the stranger will determine her future and that of her natural world. Jewett shows the capacity that Sylvia has for enjoying life and helps her to learn the value of the moment at hand. By choosing the heron’s life over telling the stranger of its whereabouts, Sylvia has “discovered the riches of this country that once seemed like such a simple place” (Wilson). Jewett wrote to encourage young girls’ moral values and the effects that their daily life’s decisions would have on their future. She once said, “’I have no greater wish […] than to be a good friend to young girls and I hope to be of more use in this way as I grow older’” (qtd. in Webb). Jewett was able to symbolize that life is what one chooses to make of it as her father once taught her.




Works Cited

Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thompson Gale, 2005. 22 Feb. 2005. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Brown, Geoff and Jamie Smith and Eric Jaffe. “Dictionary of Symbolism.” 2001. http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismprofect/symbolism.html (Feb. 22, 2005).

Hall, Tara. E-mail to class. Jan. 15, 2005. http://ptcwct.ptc.edu:8800/SCRIPT/1055320042/scripts/student/serv_bulletin?ARTICLE...

Hollman, C. Hugh. Encyclopedia Americana. “Realism and Naturalism.” http://ea-ada.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article (Feb. 22, 2005).

Jewett, Sarah Orne. “A White Heron.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Paul Lauter. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 723-730.

Lauter, Paul. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002.

Negri, Paul. A White Heron and Other Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1999.

Renza, Louisa. A White Heron and the Question of Minor Literature. Madison, Wis.: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

Sellers, Qushika. E-mail to class. Jan. 19, 2005. http://ptcwct.ptc.edu:8800/SCRIPT/1055320042/scripts/student/serv_bulletin?ARTICLE...

Stoltzfus, Nevin. E-mail to class. Jan. 17, 2005. http://ptcwct.ptc.edu:8800/SCRIPT/1055320042/scripts/student/serv_bulletin?ARTICLE...

Webb, Dottie. “Nineteenth-century Regional Writing in the United States.” May 23, 1997. http://www.traverse.com/people/dot/jewett_early.html (Jan. 20, 2005).

Wilson, Michael. E-mail to class. Jan. 20, 2005. http://ptcwct.ptc.edu:8800/SCRIPT/1055320042/scripts/student/serv_bulletin?ARTICLE...

“Expressing It/Facing It”

This piece will surprise people because I had background knowledge in the subject of PTSD.

Yusef Komunyakaa was not able to express “IT” until almost 20 years after he had experienced that dreadful war – The Vietnam War. Through his poems he tries to convey what he saw, heard, and felt or in some cases what he did not see, hear, or feel. Although thankful he was alive, Yusef was experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was finding it hard to face what he really lost, just as many war-time combat soldiers have and still do today.
In the poem, “Thankful,” Yusef tells of the numerous near death situations he had faced during his time in Vietnam. He was thankful to have barely escaped what countless others were barely given the chance to in their short lives. As my husband, Jim, read this poem tears came to his eyes, pouring, as he read line #31:

Again thanks for the dud
hand grenade tossed at my feet
outside Chu Lai. I’m still
falling through its silence. (Komunyakaa 2772)

Jim then stared in silence for a moment before “expressing” to me his “dud” in Dong Ha. You see, Jim would not be here today if that “Bouncing Betty” he had stepped on during one of his patrols in Vietnam had not been a dud! My husband suffers from PTSD and was having a flashback, one of the other “casualties” of war. Survivors of traumatic events can go through events such as this and may have other symptoms like insomnia, nightmare, depression and distrust. The list goes on and on and the veterans find it harder and harder to express “their” war. Jim once said the Vietnam War was more like a “Survival War.” You never knew who, or even where, the enemy was. He told me of one instance where a woman, carrying a baby, pretended to need medical help for her child. She came to one of the clinics asking a Navy Hospital Corpsman for assistance. When this medic neared her, she blew up herself, her baby, the corpsman, and several others around them with explosives she had strapped under her shirt. This could have easily been Jim because he was also a Navy Hospital Corpsman in the same area! I am thankful for this near-death experience just like Yusef in his poem.
Another way vets faced their war has been through emotional numbing. In an interview with Vincente Gotera, Yusef once said, “When you’re there in such a situation, you’re thinking about where the nearest safest place is to run, in case of an incoming rocket. You don’t have time to even think about the moral implications” (Gotera 1990). During combat these soldiers (by whom I mean all military branches) had to turn off their emotions in order to survive. Expressing their sadness when a fellow soldier/friend had just been blown apart in front of their eyes meant they had to stop and think putting themselves and the rest of their company in jeopardy. A handout that I received during a spouse VA meeting states:

In the face of a traumatic event, emotional numbing is an entirely appropriate response, for it helps a person to pass through a period of trauma or excessive stress by dulling his awareness of death, the destruction, and the terror and the anguish about him and his own helplessness in such a situation. (Matsakis)

However, this numbness, another “casualty” of war, remained with the combatant long after the battle was over. Yusef talks of such numbing in his poem “Facing It” as he was at the “Wall” in Washington, D.C.

I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I’m stone.
I’m flesh. (Komunyakaa 2773)

Tara also wrote of this in her statement about her father: “He rarely spoke of it[his war experience], but when he did, he got that faraway, haunted look in his eyes that said he was seeing something he would never erase from his memory” (Hall #1177). Attached to my paper is another poem of an ex-marine expressing his visit to the Wall and how it helped him share in the loss of his own brother during Vietnam. Furthermore, in early 2002 while an inpatient at the Salisbury VA Medical Center’s PTSD unit, my husband and his group traveled to the Wall as the final stage of their treatment. Jim’s words could only be conveyed in the form of tears as he traced the name of a remembered fellow corpsman, David R. Ray. Jim tells me very little about his experiences in Vietnam; however, I have read his medical records from the doctor visits he has had at the VA in Columbia. During a recent group therapy session a discussion began about how these veterans currently felt about being a veteran. Their therapist will be retiring soon and this was sort of a final assessment discussion. Some of their responses were as follows: “now can help other veterans; can share sorrows with each other; it took from 1970 to 2001 before I was able to talk openly about being a Vietnam Vet; have a better understanding of how/why I changed in combat” (Jenness).
War-time veterans have great difficulty in expressing their thought and feelings. Some do it through the help of doctors, some through the support of family and friends, and some even eventually through their own words on paper. Yusef Komunyakaa was able to finally deal with his unresolved PTSD his writing. I will never fully comprehend what my husband went through during his combat missions but I am thankful for the doctors and writers who are there to help me understand what he wants to forget. And when he does want to open up, I am here for him, even if it is just as a shoulder to cry on.


Works Cited
Gotera, Vincente. “Lines of Tempered Steel: An Interview with Vincente F. Gotera," Callaloo 13:2 (1990). from “Using Cliché in Dien Cai Dau. http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/komunyakaa/cliche.htm

Hall, Tara. Message no. 1177. Re: Amanda Message no. 1200. 2 Apr. 2005. Online posting Week 13 Discussion Board. http://ptcwct.ptc.edu:8800/SCRIPT/1055320042/scripts/student/serve_bulletin?ARTICLE.

Handout: from Matsakis, Aphrodite. Vietnam Wives. Sidran Press. MD. 1996.

Jenness-McClellan, Linda, Ph. D. MHSL PTSD Psychotherapy Group. Oct. 2004.

Komunyakaa, Yusef. “Facing It.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 2772-2773.

Komunyakaa, Yusef. “Thanks.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Vol 2. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 2002. 2771-2772.

Waller, James. Personal interview, 3 Apr. 2005.

My Perspective on American Literature

American authors have a way of helping their readers understand what past and present generations were all about. It is through their voice that we can find meaning in a variety of issues that make up the American way of life. Their stories can be entertaining and at the same time heartbreaking; they can be horrifying and at the same time humorous. Writers have numerous ways of getting a certain point across like writing in dialect, writing one point of view, or writing in a stream of consciousness. Their thoughts can be in the form of poetry, novels, short stories, speeches or even a piece of journalism. Overall, these authors can give us hope for a better tomorrow.

My Favorite
My favorite story this semester was “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I liked the creativity of the author and the mystery of what the main character was going through. Gilman was able to show how women were being treated during the late 1800s.

My Least Favorite
“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor was my least favorite story. I don’t understand why anyone would enjoy reading about the senseless killings of anyone!