I found today’s discussion on Hemingway, Steinbeck, and White illuminating and somewhat surprising. I think our discussions on POV and character illuminated how the relationship between plot and character is often a complicated and shifty one. It’s interesting how we—the pleasure readers of the world (or at lest the ones in Razran 343)—read for immediate meaning. We want to make sense of the narrative offered to us. However, we, the analytical readers, must step back and find out how we know what we know (and what we know we feel) about the writing in front of us. The power of the literature we are reading is exactly to be found in the way it gestalts a world of meaning (sometimes by the absence of meaning) in our brains through the words on the page: a world of 41-year-old dwarfs who look like 8 year old girls, of barns gone up in flames, of hunting deer that might not exist, of itinerant preachers meeting bandits and naturalists in the woods of the South West, of red ponies, of fathers and sons, of jockeys who are crooks, of the men in grey flannel suits on 34th street, of Southern belles in rooming houses and so on. In other words we are doing many things simultaneously (so don’t worry if your head is swimming a little right now): we are making meaning of the US literature in front of us, we are investigating how that meaning is produced in us, we are practicing talking about US literature in discussion, and we practice writing about our analysis (well, you do, but in my writing response letters to you I include myself—or at least I try—in the writing community of our class).
Finally, analyzing the way Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Faulkner use description so differently has really made me think about how we see the world around us and ourselves in it. Now, on to writing my description!
Tomorrow: we will dive into new fictional worlds, this time from the perspective of (primarily) female protagonists and authors, we will talk about your next assignment, and, though it’s now clear that I can’t finish writing cover-letters to all your papers from Tuesday, I have read them all, and we will talk about common patterns and challenges in preparation for the short story assignment. See you tomorrow!