There’s a very good reason the most widely published books in history were works of fiction, chronicling the tales of ordinary men locked in an often fatal battle with a fellow man or a supernatural monster. Fiction captures the nuances of those ideas and imbues them in an ageless magic that enables them to last through centuries of change. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Miller’s Death of a Salesman were written hundreds of years apart, but man’s struggle for power over his own life remains constant.
Not all works of literature use para-textual features in the same way – or even at all – but Maya Angelou’s prologue in her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, is a feature of the text which should not be overlooked, for it sets the stage for her to share her immensely difficult but powerful personal story. The piece’s title, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, is an allegory referring to her realization of the beauty and meaning held back by the cage created by her physical, psychological, and interpersonal circumstances. Knowing this to be the central tension in Angelou’s life, and therefore her autobiography, the prologue presents itself to readers with a dual purpose.
The ultimate coming-of-age story that doesn’t shy away from even the more difficult topics, Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is immensely honest and vulnerable. Her experience being sent from mother and father to grandmother several times throughout her life is a situation not all readers can identify with. However, the truths she shares about family, love and self-identity through these experiences are universal. By chapter 33, both Maya and her brother Bailey have become adolescents, and their trials and tribulations are representative of those which many other adolescents face. In fact, Maya’s account of Bailey’s fight with their Mother illustrates several truths all readers can relate to when it comes to conflict between a parent and child. In particular, her use of descriptive language characteristic of a fencing match provides a lens through which to understand her mother’s and brother’s conflict, and thus the plight of our own youthful turbulent relationships with our parents.
The passage from pages 52 to 55 of the book “Mad Shadows” by Marie-Claire Blais presents a turning point within the novel. It is in these four pages that the deterioration of the characters and superficial relationships begins to occur. An aura of sickness and wickedness spreads throughout the family – in their bodies and in their relationships – foreshadowing the falling apart of the household later in the novel.
I've officially gone over to the dark side. I've been converted. To what, you ask? I now annotate - that's write, I MARK UP - books. With pen. Yeah, you heard me right. *gasps and faints in the crowd* Jokes aside, I just got back from a family vacation in which I did a lot… Continue reading organization || HOW I READ: Annotating Books and eBooks, Keeping a Literature “Journal”
I’ve had “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau on my “currently reading” shelf for the longest time, and just a few weeks ago I had a little reading inspiration so I decided to finish it. Turns out I only had several pages to go anyway. Then, I was recommended “Man’s Search for… Continue reading writing || Human Virtues and the Meaning of Life: Rousseau vs. Frankl
Just finished reading “Nation” by Terry Pratchett! It’s a 5-star in my Goodreads! But before I start talking about it, here’s its Goodreads synopsis: Synopsis Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation.… Continue reading writing || Wow: “Nation” by Terry Pratchett
There are two things all religions seem to know for certain: 1. God is Good. 2. We are all a part of God’s masterfully orchestrated plan. Everything that happens is meant to happen. I’ve always puzzled over the idea of destiny. Everything that we are, or will be - has already been predetermined by a… Continue reading writing || The Case for Non-Theism: The Strengths of Buddhism
We read "Blue Bouquet" by Octavio Paz a while ago in my English class, and I wrote a response to the following assignment: Respond to any specific aspect of the story that you feel is an important part of the story (Character, setting, symbol, central metaphor, conflict) or a central idea (theme) in the text.… Continue reading writing || The Backbone of “Blue Bouquet”: An Analysis of Literary Style
Vicious! I read this book, by V.E. Schwab, a long time ago, and really enjoyed it! Although I had a lot of initial comments and discussion questions building up in my mind while I was reading, I unfortunately never wrote them down once I’d read it. Then, a few weeks later I finally did on… Continue reading writing || “Vicious” and Morality