Class 03-30

Today’s class began with a presentation of The Pink Panther in its various adaptations over the years. Matt and Steven showed a video of the main theme song from the 1963 adaptation, which is one of the catchiest songs known to man. This story was based upon the story of Sir Charles Lytton and his attempt to steal the Pink Panther diamond. There have been many films based upon this story, some successful and some unsuccessful, but all in all, this is a timeless franchise. The film’s propriety is somewhat debatable, but is ultimately up to the parent’s discretion. We still aren’t sure whether or not the movie was nominated for a Golden Globe award or a Golden Glove award…

Before we began our discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Professor Soudabeh cleared up some confusion regarding our book presentations, to take place the last two days of class. After a feeling of general panic, everyone got a grip on the assignment and we now understand that each individual will pick a topic from eLC, choose a children’s book covering it, and give a 3-4 minute presentation over it. Some students chose their topics and let Professor Soudabeh know, but there will be a sign up sheet in class on April 4th. Books are available at the main library and at the children’s literature collection in Aderhold Hall.

Next, we truly began our discussion of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For this class, we were to have read through page 79, or chapter 17. Everyone in the class broke off into pairs to discuss one chapter of the novel, summarize its events, and choose the most important event in the chapter. My partner Lindsey and I were assigned chapter 14, and we discussed what Jim and Huck were up to in this chapter, including stealing from the shipwreck. Lindsey and I felt that the most important thing that happened in this chapter had to do with character development rather than plot development. Huck and Jim sit on the bank and discuss whether or not the French speak English. While Huck thinks that they do speak English, and Jim is convinced that the French do not speak English. The fact that the two characters are having this discussion creates a situation in which readers can see the two different viewpoints they have of the world.

Each group presented their chapter, and through this we were able to discuss many different topics. Some of the most notable questions/discussions are as follows:

  • What is the purpose of the gang in terms of identity?
  • Do the children feel that they are adults because they are a part of the gang?
  • Are readers afraid of what the children will do?
  • What is the significance of Huck’s relationship with his father?
  • Huck vs. Jim
  • Is Huck’s fortune a positive or negative thing in his life?
  • What is the role of foreshadowing?
  • How does Huck change through this river adventure?
  • What is the role of the robbers in the shipwreck scene?

Through discussion of each of these questions, many students in the class were able to share their thoughts. Many of my classmates feel that identity and the struggle to find one’s identity is a large part of Huck’s adventure in the novel. His father, however, is something that holds him back in this endeavor. Despite this, it isn’t clear whether or not his caretakers, Widow Douglass and Miss Watson, are really individuals who are encouraging him to create his own identity. Additionally, we discussed the ways that Huck is already changing in this adventure. For example, he can see the importance of attempting to save the robbers despite their bad behaviors, thinking to himself that Miss Watson and Widow Douglass would be proud of him for doing so.

Seeing that a few of the students in the class have already read this novel, it is interesting to see how their impressions of the characters and the plot has changed through a second reading at a different stage in their lives. I’m sure that the class would agree that this reading is a little different from their reading in high school. Having already read this book, I am interested to see how the rest of the class reacts to the rest of this novel! I know that the discussions will be very enlightening.

 

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Class on 3/28

Today, we started off the class with a presentation by Maggie on the children’s movie Storks. The movie is about storks that used to deliver babies to people who would write the company letters, but the CEO became greedy and wanted to make more profit, so he started to deliver packages. One of the main characters, Tulip, received a letter while working in the mailroom from a little boy who was hoping for a little brother. Tulip started up the baby factory machine again to grant boy his wish of becoming a big brother. Maggie then focused on some of the major themes the movie portrayed such as: family, identity, corporate culture, and mainly, parenthood.

We then shifted focus to begin our discussion of our next class book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain. Professor Soudabeh started off a discussion of Mark Twain and where he came from. He was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1835 to a rather large family of 7 children. His first job was with a printer. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884. He got his license for steamboats in 1885, which the symbolism of steamboats played an important role in his writing.

The class had an open discussion on whether we believe that the text of the book should be changed or not. The majority of the class made comments about how they wouldn’t appreciate turning it into an anti-racist book. They feel like it’s one thing to read an offensive word, but it doesn’t force you to say it out loud of use it in everyday life because its still wrong. Leaving the words in the book shows how harsh things were during that time period and it gives us perceptive today on the reality of this harshness.

We worked in groups of two and filled out a character chart, where we described the characters’ traits, their relationships with the main character, Huck, and if they were abusive or helpful to him along the way. After all of the groups filled out the chart, we came back together and had an open discussion about all of the characters thus far in the book.

The first character we discussed was Jim, who was one of Miss. Watson’s household slaves. Jim is described as patient and protective over his family. He understands the reality of what’s going on around him unlike Huck. His relationship towards Huck is definitely a friendly one, which really develops later on in the book. At the beginning of the book, their relationship wasn’t really developed yet. Their relationship develops as they run away together; Huck running away from his abusive father and Jim running away from being a slave, so he isn’t separated from his family.

The next character we discussed was Widow Douglas, who is a wealthy woman who adopted Huck. She is very friendly towards Huck and tends to have a lot of patience with him. She isn’t as strong with her beliefs, as her sister, Miss. Watson is. Widow Douglas and Huck seem to have a pretty good relationship, even though she tends to feel obligated towards taking care of Huck.

Miss. Watson is the wealthy sister to Widow Douglas. Her relationship with Huck is similar to Widow Douglas, where she is tough on him, but her beliefs are more strongly laid out. She is always discussing her beliefs regarding religion and telling him stories.

Next, we discussed Tom, who is Huck’s best friend. Huck and Tom are really close friends, but it’s almost like Huck idolizes Tom in terms of a big brother figure. It was described that Tom is everything that Huck is not. He seems to be the dominating one in their friendship, where his passion for romance novels allows him to easily act in a way of cruelty regarding their so called “gang”.

All of these relationships are affected in a different way because Huck is still a child. Some relationships are affected negatively and others are affected positively. Among these relationships so far in the story, Huck is most comfortable with Tom because of their past together. It is brought up in the story that Huck knows Tom from the novel of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It will be interesting to continue reading and see how these particular characters further develop in this story.

 

3/23 Class

Class started with a heartwarming and educational presentation on the story of Dumbo, the flying elephant.  I have never seen the movie Dumbo, so a lot of what the presenters shared with us was very new to me.  The movie Dumbo had many themes, but the two that stood out to me the most were not judging others based on the way they look, and how powerful and influential just a single encouraging voice in someone’s life can be.  One thing I thought that was particularly funny about the movie was the whole controversy about underage drinking and the infamous ‘Pink Elephant’ scene.  It was interesting to see how Disney tried to tackle the idea of presenting drug use to children, by showing some animals hallucinate about other animals after taking a few sips of alcohol.  The scene itself was so fun that if anything it might have possibly had the opposite effect on children.  Other than that, it was also interesting learning about how Dumbo was the first main character in a Disney movie that did not speak, whose whole story was told through the words of others.  Ultimately, this is probably a movie I would show to my children one day, or at least take them on the Dumbo ride at Disney World.

After talking about Dumbo, we went into talking about The Catcher in the Rye and about how Holden continued to make bad decisions until the end of the story.  We finished the book by this class so this was the wrap up day where we split off into groups and all answered some questions about Holden and the themes of every chapter.  After each group answered the chapter questions they were given, we all went over some of them for the whole class to hear and reflect on.  Some of the questions ranged from analyzing the ‘homosexuality’ of Holden’s old teacher and what his intentions truly were, to trying to figure out just what was going through Holden’s mind when the story ended, and why he decided to stay after all and seek out mental help.  We then discusses as a class if the book seemed to have a satisfying ending or not, if the absence of a happy ending made it too unsatisfying or if it made it seem like the book was left open to a sequel.  I personally felt pretty unsatisfied with the book from start to finish.  After reflecting on the whole story, it just seemed to me like I was viewing the story of someone consistently making increasing bad and irrational decisions without learning any lessons or thinking about anyone else in a positive light.  The only saving grace Holden had was his affection of his younger sister, and how him caring for her finally shows that he actually does have the ability to be empathetic and care for people other than himself.  However, just as we start to see this caring side of Holden, the book abruptly ends and we find him after an unspecified time skip as a patient undergoing mental care and therapy.  We, as the readers, never get the payoff of witnessing Holden make his first good decision of the book not running away, or his long awaited revelation that maybe the world was not as bad as he thought it was and that maybe he was the one who needed help.  Either way, it is reassuring to know that the saga of Holden Caulfield ends with him receiving the help he so badly needs rather than him being off in some ditch somewhere after a drug overdose.  That can be happy enough, since it says to the reader that even though we do not get to see it, there may be a happy future for Holden after all.

After talking about the ending for a bit, we transitioned back into our class groups to create our own questions about the story that we wanted to present and ask to the class.  Many of these questions related back to the appropriateness of the story for children, and what the overall morals or purpose of the story were.  One of the questions, I can not remember which one, led the class into a short but interesting discussion on how the audience was meant to relate back to Holden, since Holden displayed several symptoms of mental disorders like depression or other conditions.  It was interesting to hear several other people’s ideas about this, someone said that we might not have been meant to relate to him but rather learn what living is like for someone with a mental disorder so that we can all become more empathetic in our own lives.  Someone else raised the possibility that the book was not for mainstream readers, but it was actually meant to be read by children with similar mental conditions who actually could relate to the character.  The class ended after each group was able to ask their questions.

March 23

Today in class we talked about The Catcher in the Rye, and the themes in the book. We talked about how both J.D. Salinger and Holden were represented in the book. Although the book is not an autobiography we talked about how J.D. Salinger uses his character Holden to tell his own life story.  We discussed the setting of the book and how the slang used inside the book may be viewed as controversial to some readers. We also talked about how the role of Holden and what he stands for in the book was a huge reason why many readers could relate to him and feel some sort of personal connection. Finally, towards the end of class we wrote down what we thought the themes were in The Cather in the Rye.

The themes me and my group came up with were growing up and change. There were several other themes other people came up with such as death, isolation, and sexuality but most of the themes were similar to one another. Isolation is shown throughout this book through Holdens thoughts and actions, he alienates himself to try and protect himself. We talked about how he uses his isolation as a coping method and how that could either be helping him or confusing him. Holden continuously seems to be thinking about his dead brother Allie and his sister Phoebe who is away at home, but he also is alienating himself from making friends as he leaves school.

The topic of death came up a lot in our class discussion, we talked about how death is represented for Holden in two different forms. The literal and physical sense and the spiritual and metaphorical sense. Holden loses his younger brother Allie to leukemia which clearly troubles him throughout his life however he also uses his memories of Allie to comfort himself during difficult times in his life as well. Death also appears when Holden seems to be talking about himself. He references death several times when referring to his own life. He mentions in the book that he would sit on top of an atomic bomb if a war were to break lose. We talked about several other examples where Holden would imagine death upon himself and we mentioned how all of these things could have stemmed from the death of Allie. Lastly, Holden seems to relate death to being left alone. We talked about how his brother Allie’s death and his sister Phoebe not being there for him makes him feel alone and isolated however he also seems to ask for death himself because he doesn’t want to deal with other people.  We related the theme of death to the theme of isolation because both seem to go hand in hand for Holden.

Another theme we analyzed in class was growing up and how Holdens struggle into maturity is displayed throughout the novel. It is very clear that Holden is frightened by adulthood and scared to embrace it however he does not want to acknowledge it. He paints the “adultworld” as phony and superficial and childhood as innocent and honest. Throughout the novel Holden does encounter several adults that match his awful perception of adults like Sally Hayes and Maurice but although he is good at observing bad traits in others he fails to apply the same to himself. He continuously lies to others and he himself notes that he is a compulsive liar however he still paints the world as black and white, and paints himself as he likes. His way of thinking of the world is still very immature, and throughout the book as he encounters more people you can see how he is scared of society and the responsibilities that come with it.

Next we talked about the theme of sexuality which is mainly seen in Chapter 13 of the book. In this part of the book Holden is with a prostitute in a green dress.  We talked about how in this chapter of the book Holden seems to be very vulnerable and confused in regards to sex. He asks the prostitute to leave after lying to her about his health. Not only does he isolate himself because he doesn’t like the adult world but also because he is afraid of intimacy both physically and emotionally. After discussing the themes we ended class by talking about our In Class presentations.

3/21 Class

Our class on March 21st started off with a presentation on the movie Trolls given by Camille. It was a great presentation that really described the movie very well, especially since I have not seen the movie. I felt like, after the movie, I really knew everything about Trolls without having to sit through the movie. The central theme for the movie is finding happiness. The Bergens from the Trolls movie found happiness in eating the trolls, but the trolls were able to show that they can find happiness within themselves. Our professor tied this into the topic of discussion for the day: our readings from Catcher in the Rye.
We discussed, as a class, J.D. Salinger’s intention for the The Catcher in the Rye. Holden is a representation of J.D. Salinger. We see that Holden is very similar to J.D. Salinger, and that, while the book is not an autobiography per se, Salinger pours his life out through Holden.

Before going into the discussions for the day, we split up into groups of two and were given a list of discussion questions, broken down by chapter, and sought to answer them in our groups so that we can discuss with the class. One of my group’s questions was in direct reference to his confusion about sex and sexuality, which was discussed later on in class.

We broke down Holden’s characteristics into a small list of items that encompassed all of Holden which we have read so far. These include loneliness, his obsession with death, his desperate pursuit of preserving his innocence, confusion about sex and sexuality, depression, and his inability to trust others.

We discussed Holden’s loneliness as seen throughout the readings. At first, we noticed that Holden has been lonely since the death of his brother, Allie. His sister Phoebe is away from him, at home, and his other brother D.B. is in Hollywood, which leaves Holden alone. He struggles with this as he is continually thinking about Phoebe and Allie, and also alienates himself from his group of peers as he leaves school.

Holden’s obsession with death can be seen through his continual thought of his deceased brother, Allie. He constantly lives with them and reminisces of times when he had Allie by his side. The thought of Allie often helps Holden, but sometimes it leads him into a depression.

We also discussed about depression in Holden’s life. We discussed that Holden believes that he drew the short end of the stick in life. He knows his situation, yet lacks the motivation to fix or come out of that situation. The physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral aspects of his depression tend to keep Holden down.

His confusion with sex and sexuality is especially interesting. For the discussion questions related to chapter 9, we had questions that related to Holden’s issues with sex and sexuality. The first one related to him noticing the “screwballs” outside his window: one man dressing as a woman, and a couple spitting a drink into each others’ mouths. This made Holden feel a bit aroused, shockingly, and he goes to call a girl that he does not have much knowledge about. He has the idea to call a few girls that run through his mind that he has some sort of relationship with, but insists on calling the stranger. My group discussed how this was indicative of his confusion with sex and sexuality.

Holden also has a desperate pursuit of preserving innocence, although he is unable to do so throughout the story. We discussed how Holden sort of forced himself into the world of adulthood by alienating himself from his peers and into the unknown, where he really cannot afford to be innocent. He sees the innocence in his sister Phoebe, but falls into a bit of a depression as she is the embodiment of innocence to him, but he cannot attain to it.

We ended class with discussing our In Class Puppet Theater presentations. Our professor told us that we should have our presentations ready for the end of April. My group is doing our presentation on Cinderella, so look out for it 🙂

“If a body catch a body coming through the rye”…

While in class we were not able to fully discuss our last reading chapters, it is in chapter 16 where we are introduced to the novel’s namesake. On page 105 in my book version, Holden describes seeing a young boy “making out like he was walking a very straight line…the whole time he kept singing and humming” (105). Although not mentioned in class, this is still an important part of the novel. It is a simple yet distinct observation, one that ties back to our other chapter discussions on Tuesday.

During our class, we brought up many themes and ideas to help characterize Holden, but it is necessary to distinguish what exactly everyone in the class believes him to be. We must ask ourselves whether to look at Holden as a typical teenager, or strictly as a literary archetype. In some ways he is both. Our discussion on Holden’s personality and individual nuances therefore helps us to pinpoint J.D. Salinger’s ideology. Moving on to the specific themes themselves, Professor Rafieisakhaei listed these on the board for us to analyze. They included depression, sex and sexuality, and an obsession with death. Rather than listing all that was written, I will highlight these memorable topics that we discussed in class.

Beginning primarily with this idea of depression, Professor Rafieisakhaei did disclaim that we as students are not able to give that full diagnosis for Holden’s behavior. Yet it is still valid, simply due to the fact that Holden barely exhibits any noticeable happiness. In addition to his apathy, our class mentioned Holden is both extremely observant and pessimistic. Most notably in his meeting with Mr. Sanders, Holden distinctly says: “there were pills and medicine all over the place, and everything smelled like Vicks Nose Drops. It was pretty depressing” (10). This happened to be one of the questions for the chapter 1 sheet, and it is the first introduction we as readers are given concerning Holden’s depression. Whether or not we can find the exact reason for Holden’s despondency, we as a class did attribute his time at Pencey Prep and failures in school as either a possible catalyst or byproduct for this behavior.

Next comes an analysis on sex and sexuality. Chapter 13 epitomizes this theme. This is not only due to the fact that this is Holden’s rendezvous with a prostitute in the green dress, but also because we see more into the mind of a conflicted character. Just as the class discussed how it is normal for teenagers to go through these types of emotions and unclassifiable feelings, this is one of the chapters where we see Holden at his most vulnerable. Referring back to sexuality, Holden says “If you want to know the truth, I’m a virgin. I really am. I’ve had quite a few opportunities to use my virginity and all, but I’ve never got around to it yet. Something always happens” (85). We as a class have to take Holden’s word for this, but yet it does shed more light on his personality. It seems that in the midst of Holden’s crisis, sex is a justifiable and easy tool that will help him break that barrier between childhood and adulthood. In some ways, like we mentioned in class,  Holden is burdened by his displacement in life. It would not be a “coming of age” novel without the question of what happens when we grow up. Therefore we could argue that sex, while a very intimate act, is seen by Holden as the least personable thing he could accomplish.

 

A final theme we discussed in class that I want to emphasize deals with an obsession with death. We mentioned in class how this could stem from the death of Holden’s brother, Allie, but yet we also see this same mantra appearing throughout the novel. To some extent, Holden’s constant catchphrase of “They kill me” is an extension for this idea (116). Additionally, Holden’s constant use of the word “phony” also reinforces an idea of life and realness against the backdrop of his fake surroundings. This word, along with his red hunting cap, are Holden’s way of separating himself from the world’s facade. In other words, joining other “phonies” is both social and intellectual suicide. Holden clings to this idea of death not because he is fascinated by it, but because he realizes how afraid he is of it.

With these themes, our class developed a deeper understanding for Holden’s delicate frame of mind. While we have still have yet to cover the whole book, our observations helped us evaluate Holden’s complexion and cynicism. I therefore draw attention back to the title of this post, hopefully as a future class discussion topic. It possible that these themes point to the explanation of the book’s title, yet for what reasons, we are still unsure.

Searching for Happiness: Trolls and Catcher in the Rye

Trolls and Catcher in the Rye

In class on March 21, 2017, we started off with a film presentation on the recent animated movie, Trolls. The presenter, Camille, gave a useful summary of the film because no one in the class has seen the movie. The film has no central plot but otherwise based on the Trolls and Bergens’ actions. The Bergens, who are like monster creatures, have decided to eat the trolls because they are happy; the Bergens are only happy because they eat trolls. In the movie, the two main characters are trolls named Poppy and Branch. Poppy is a troll that is always happy where on the other hand Branch is always a downer. Camille made it clear that Trolls is targeted to a very young audience.

The central theme of Trolls is about finding happiness. The theme is most blatant when the Bergens eat the trolls solely for their happiness. The only criticism about the movie is that Trolls does not capture the realities of mental illness. Then again, the movie is targeted to a very young children so this will be the reason for mental illness not expressed. Troll’s theme was very similar to the theme of today’s class. The theme of today’s class was Holden’s search for happiness with his possible mental illness. In class we discussed Holden’s depression; we also discussed the importance of agency of Holden’s character. Holden is constantly searching for happiness, especially in the readings for today.

After the presentation, we then had a class discussion. The discussion started first in small groups of two then the whole class. The discussion focused on about four question about each chapter read so far. Each question focused on a key point within the chapter. My group had chapters three, six and seven. A similar question asked is: What is the significance of Holden’s hat? Each group spoke and discussed out loud on two of the four questions. Each question related back to the themes of Holden Caulfield. The themes written on the board about Holden is: loneliness, obsession with death, desperate pursuit of preserving innocence, confusion about sex and sexuality, depression, and inability to trust others (this relates to Holden’s paranoia). The central theme of today’s class is searching for happiness and Holden is constantly trying to do that though he is struggling with depression.

After the discussion, the class learned about the background of the book. The class now knows the ongoing conversation of the author, J.D. Salinger, and Holden are one in the same. J.D. Salinger was also born in New York City on January 1, 1919. Salinger also hates math just Holden does in the book. Catcher in the Rye is not meant to be an autobiography but the book is meant to relate to his life. Basically Salinger’s art does imitate his life.

Catcher in the Rye is subject to a lot of censorship. The censorship is mainly with young adults, like high schoolers and middle schoolers, reading Catcher in the Rye in schools. The main issues that led to censorship in schools are language, lack of a positive role model in Holden’s character, and lack of values and morals. The language in Catcher in the Rye has words that are profane. The book is notable for word creation or slang. This book created the word phony. Holden is not considered a positive role model for young adults because of his pessimistic views and his mental illness. The lack of morals and values can be attributed to the teen sexual activity and underage alcohol consumption. Catcher in the Rye was written in the 1950s. The opinions of the 1950s on these issues may be different than the opinions on these issues today. Censorship on the issues were most likely raised by people who have a conservative or religious beliefs. Censorship is not so much of an issue for Catcher in the Rye in the 21rst century.

Lastly, Professor Rafieisakhaei asked each puppet show group which fairy tale the group will be performing. Puppet show performances will take place in mid-April.

 

The Little Prince

After the one-week spring break, our class resumed on Tuesday, March 14th. The class began with a movie presentation on Wall-E by Claire and Lindsey. Wall-E is a children’s animation film released in 2008, produced by Pixar Animation Studio and Walt Disney Pictures. Although the movie is classified as a fantasy film targeting children, it contains such realistic issues like scientific developments and sufferings by environmental disruption, which both seem to be and are expected to be actualized soon in the future (and even todays!). It reminded me that literature, even fantasies, is reflection of reality. When Wall-E was released, I was in my late teens. Disregarding my age, I watched the movie because I was a sort of fan of Disney, and loved it. However, when I think about the movie, I face myself who have had uncomfortableness for the loneliness and abandoned feeling presented in the beginning of the film and the love of Wall-E toward EVE which looks like blind and foolhardy. Somehow, such feelings like anxiety, instability, and insecurity arise from those aspects.

The class moved on as relating the friendship found in Wall-E to today’s reading, The Little Prince. Each of students were to write down short sentences or words describing each four characters in the noble: the little prince, fox, rose, and one character that personally liked. Then we brought up some main topics of the noble, listed on the white board as life lessons, adult perception, selfishness, and words. After then, students were questioned if there is a plot. Most of us agreed that there is a plot as the story is a journey of the prince and the narrator; furthermore, there is sequence and relationships between events. We also discussed that there is notable development in the relationship between the little prince and the narrator. One of the most interesting discussion questions we had on that day was “is the book The Little Prince for children, or about children?” I thought it is pretty reasonable question because many students, many of us, who are adult and read the book, mostly agreed that the book contains life lessons which may be approaching and touching grown-ups more than children. When I was young, in early teens, The Little Prince was my favorite book. It was not paperback, but had soft and fluffy cover, and cute-look and vivid illustrations (I recently realized that they were not original images drown by the author). I used to keep four-leaf clovers in that book. Well, it seems that I was attracted to the book because of other components rather than the story. I truly liked the story even when I was young, but I think I should admit that I get more thoughts from the story now more than the past, as an adult’s view. “There is different level of understanding.” However, it does not necessarily mean that I, as a grown-up, know and understand the meanings of everything better than children. What I know better is only compunction, remorse, and shame. Therefore, it is sad if one understands the story well.

I am talking about personal things too much.

After some discussions, our professor shared some background information of the author and of the time when the noble was written. I thanked for that, because I felt I got closer to the book after she explained. It just helped me to be little bit more empathetic to the author’s mind when he wrote the book and to understand aspects in the book, which are presented as cynical or critical toward human figures; while the author experienced World War 2, he might be struggling with “the disappointment in human being”, and also sought for peace.

The class also discussed about lessons in The Little Prince. One of the major life lessons in the book was, “you make your own path”. This reminded me the little prince who leaves his star and wonders around, meet new people, and learn about the world and himself. Although only one day has been allowed to talk about the noble, I personally enjoyed reading the book again and enjoyed a nostalgia which it stirred in me. Furthermore, I believe the story has given individual and personal impact to everyone in the class, which would remain longer and stronger than what we discussed in the class time.

Wall-E & The Little Prince

Class began on 3/14/2017 with a presentation on Wall-E. It is a children’s movie that was released in 2008 featuring the last robot on earth whose job it is to clean up trash. It was quite a the success; it earned a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award, and a Hugo Award. It also received appreciation by Time magazine. The movie addressed real life issues such as buildup of trash and its hazard to the environment. It also showed how detrimental inactivity can be. There were morals highlighted in the movie like perseverance, hard work, and dedication.

Next we began our discussion on The Little Prince. We had to write a sentence each on the characters Soudabeh assigned to us: the prince, the fox, the rose, and a character of our choice. The story itself is a collection of multiple stories that are represented as the prince’s journey through space and the earth. A lesson can be taken from each of the prince’s encounters. We discussed that children and adults may interpret the book differently. Adults are more likely to search for a deeper meaning. Soudabeh mentioned herself that she had a professor who didn’t like the story growing up, and this could be due to the fact that the morals are complex in some instances and also the language is very advanced for a six year old. Children would find greater excitement in the adventure part of the story rather than the moral part.

Most of the characters in the book appear to be very selfish. The king, for example, is thirsty for power and asks the prince to become his ambassador so he can rule over the only subject on his planet. The rose is too vain and proud to show the prince how much she actually loves him. The businessman who thinks he owns the stars does nothing for the stars to rightfully call them his. There is the geographer who doesn’t want to trouble himself by traveling to areas on the maps he develops, so he relies on explorers instead. The adults that the narrator continuously refers to squash the imaginations of children even though their imaginations aren’t harming anyone and rather are things that the adults cannot relate to.

The prince is the one character that appears to have the ultimate wisdom about life. He feels pity for those who are selfish, and he gives his attention to things that adults may consider trivial such as his rose. The narrator is close to him in this wisdom, although he is somewhat conditioned to be like the adults the prince has a disliking for. This is seen when he complains about fixing his plane to the prince. The prince becomes furious and proceeds to lecture him.

A final thing that we discussed was the author’s lifespan. He died a year before the end of World War II, and this book was written during the war. Saint-Exupery has many other works, but this one is distinct from the rest. The political climate of the time definitely seems like a reason why The Little Prince is so unique.

 

The Little Prince 3/14/2017

We began our Tuesday class with a presentation on the movie Wall-E. I really enjoyed the presentation because I became aware of the many themes I did not notice when I watched the movie for the first time. The presenters talked about perseverance, truth, friendship, and environmental concerns all represented throughout the film. The environmental issues stem from the fact that the earth has been abandoned and Wall-E’s purpose is to clean up all the garbage. The other themes I just mentioned come from Wall-E and Eve’s friendship and the adventure they go on to save Earth.

The class discussion centered around The Little Prince. We began by writing down a sentence about four characters – the prince, the fox, the rose, and a character of our choosing. We then discussed the various life lessons in the book and whether or not it is a book for children or about children.

Some life lessons and themes we agreed upon were the importance of words and communication, perceptions, and the destructiveness of selfishness. The importance of words comes from the scene where the fox is asking the prince to tame him and says, “words are the source of misunderstanding” and “anything essential is invisible to the eye”. Words have their limits and sometimes it’s difficult to understand everything through words. The theme of perception stems from the narrators description of adults and their “skewed” view of the world. The narrator and adults see life very differently, as depicted in the boa constrictor scene where all adults simply saw a hat. The destructiveness of selfishness is a lesson learned primarily from the rose. The love the little prince has for her gives her a sense of power and priority so she behaves in a selfish and vain way. It’s only when the prince decides to leave the planet that she realizes what a good thing she had. On the contrary to this, we have the lamplighter who is the most selfless character in the story.

We also discussed the different levels of understanding children and adults have. I personally think this book is for both adults and children, however, they both receive the messages differently. The life lessons speak more toward the adults because they have experienced childhood and can relate to the various themes. For children, the book is an adventurous story with many great characters. The Little Prince depicts a simple world for the children, but a realistic and impactful one to adults.

Another topic we touched on was how the author’s life comes out through this writing. Antione e Saint-Exupery was a pilot and the narrator in the book was also a pilot. We talked about how the book was written around WWII and is very different from Saint-Exupery’s other work. I thought it was interesting how this book is potentially an allegory to his life and what he was experiencing during this time.