Sunday, September 7, 2008

Intro and My First Essay

Hey guys, my name is Chris Tully. I'm a sophomore here and I'm planning on going pre-med. Anyway, I just transferred to this class last week. I started out in reading poetry and found pretty quickly that I am terrible at reading poetry so I dropped it and came on over to Narrative and Technology because it fit my schedule, covers the W requirement, and seemed at least a little more interesting to me then reading poetry does.

Essay 1:

I think an underlying theme of the book up to the 7th chapter (which is where I think everybody stopped for assignment 1) is antiquity, and people becoming obsolete. To me, it stuck out more than once in this first chunk of the book. I had seen it referenced a few times throughout and one example that I took was the fact that the Judge would look down on Hepzibah for opening the penny shop simply because she carried the Pyncheon name. While he made out pretty well with his life, she was left in the House of the Seven Gables barely able to feed herself. She was stuck in the old traditions of women not providing for themselves and for years kept cooped up in the house. When she finally made the decision that she needed to support herself she was nervous of what the Judge and even her neighbors would think of her opening up a cheap little shop.

Another example of this theme is the house itself. When it was first built it was marveled by the whole town and important government positions from England. While it is still a large house, Hawthorne refers to it in less of an awe-inspiring tone in the chapters following the first. He also describes flaws such as the half-door that was, and is now being used for the penny shop. There was a sentence farther along in the section that I thought summed up what my opinion of Hawthorne's message was. He wrote, "It was evident that the race had been degenerated, like many a noble race besides, in consequence of too strict a watchfulness to keep it pure" (61). Basically I think it means, out with the old in with the new. As the time goes on, even the most prominent business, empires, and families die out, and I think that is pretty evident in many cases throughout history.

How this relates to technology is a stretch for me. My thought is that technology, like the Pyncheon family slowly gets outdated and new, better technology comes along. People nowadays need to advance as technology advances or they get left behind. The best case example of that for me is my grandpa and how horrible it is to try and watch him use a computer. What is now like second nature for most of us, is pretty much a foreign language to those who weren't able to keep with the rapid changes in technology. I believe that this is one correlation of this book to our class.


testanick said...

Overall, I really like the ideas you convey in the last paragraph and, aside from the one sentence, feel it is pretty strong. The first and second paragraphs are pretty decent, but could use a little work (I think you should elaborate a little more on your main idea). I think you may want to add a quote or two more from the book to strengthen your argument. I think the beginning would be stronger if you did not start with the word “I” (I know we are allowed, and even encouraged to use it in this class, but I just think for an introduction, the “I” sets too informal of a tone), and I would also try to use passive voice as sparingly as possible (especially in the opening sentence, and again, it will help strengthen your opening). Also, while the word 'it' is perfectly acceptable, pronouns should not be used in succession too many times without clarification (I have noted this several times throughout the paper). The sentence, “She was stuck in... ...cooped up in the house,” seems kind of like a fragment and you should probably reword it somehow (I think the phrase “themselves and for years cooped up” is the part that might need work). The opening sentence of the second paragraph should probably restate your theme instead of referring to it as “this theme.” Also, in the second sentence, second paragraph, I believe the government positions are in England and not from it. While I understand that your quote was meant to be a more general description of what Hawthorne was going for in his book, I don't think that a quote describing chickens connects well with Hawthorne's theme of people becoming obsolete. Instead of starting a sentence with something like “Basically I think...” try to make it more personal by using something like “To me, it means...” and, also, instead of saying “the best case example for me,” I would try rephrasing that to something more formal and more personal by saying something like “It is terrible to watch people like my grandfather (who is computer illiterate) try to use new technology like computers and such.

Adam Johns said...

Nick - you're making some good contributions, but remember that your focus should be on the argument as a whole - don't lose the forest for the trees.

Chris - antiquity certainly is a major theme here. What's your argument *about* that theme, though? What do you have to say about it? Incidentally, I think what you say about the judge's opinions is far from obvious - this would have been a good place to go to the text.

"Out with the old and in with the new" is an important idea (see Holgrave, for instance), but do you take it as *Hawthorne's* idea, or one he is resisting and/or mocking? Is it representative of the book as a whole? You're writing well about individual passages - but how do they relate to the text as a whole?

Your discussion of technology is weak, but on the other hand you missed the part of the first class where we defined "technology" in various ways - so you're hardly to be blamed for that.

Short version: You do fine writing about different moments in the book, but it doesn't lead to an articulate argument.

cbt6 said...

Social change is inevitable. Ever since humans became the social beings they are today, the laws, moores and customs of society have been in a state of constant evolution. While many keep up with the rapid changes of the world's fast paced race to change, there are some that get left behind. Some refuse to take up the new "rules" of society, and for those people, trying to catch up later can be a daunting task.

For Hepzibah, this becomes very evident. Hepzibah, and the rest of the Pyncheon family once relaxed at the top of the social heirarchy. However, when Hawthorne picks up the story, Hepzibah is poor, and without means to support herself.

Being a wealthy young lady, she was brought up with little responsibility. For years she sat idley by, even as the family fell from the top. Now, set in her old ways she struggles to work up the strength to provide for herself.

"But I was born a lady, and have always lived one; no matter in what narrowness of means, always a lady!" (30).

She is so accustomed to being her definition of a lady that the thought of working to support herself is hard to take in. She is far behind the times because she let herself be hidden for so long. Now, with the need to change, it is almost unbearable for her to catch up with her new circumstances.

Today, this is apparent in many parts of out lives, but most especially with the rapid changes in technology. In a matter of a few centuries technology has brought us from muskets to massive killing machines; from wagons to jets; and much more.

Society has changed very much, and a lot that change can be credited to the huge advances in modern technology. Our social structure is far different from the social structures of families 100 years ago. Think about it, the telephone, the internet, and the media allows us to instantly connect all over the world, whereas families of the past were isolated from worldwide events.

Technology is shaping how humans live and interact, the point being that those who do not keep up with the ever-evolving changes will be left far behind. They will live in a world far different from what they are used to and it may be difficult for them to catch up later on.