Thursday, February 16, 2017

Journal 5: Alec Soule

 Part One:
 In today’s readings, I noticed when Beah's group went asking around for "why were they were given up by their commanders?" When they see a group of boys around their age they ask them and it starts an argument. In the city the civilians and UNICEF always said the phrase "it's not your fault". This phrase filled the boys with anger and rage because they wanted the civilians to respect them. In both cases we can see how the boys are more quick to anger.
 Part Two:
 My best friend from my early years went through one of these transformations. He started as a straight A student who was selected for a gifted math program like I was in elementary school, but towards the end of middle school his grades started to suffer and we started to see less and less of each other. By the end of our High school education he had dropped out and i was graduating and moving on to college. I often wonder what happens to lead two similar people in two very different directions. So far I have found that for my friend it was that allure of drugs and alcohol, along with other things that provide short term happiness.

Journal 5 by Tony

Part One 
Two specific writing techniques that I noticed while reading chapter 17 was that Beah had used very descriptive language when talking about his flashbacks and dreams. And another thing that I noticed was that he explained everytime that the staff members of the center told the children affected by the war that everything they were doing was, "Not their fault." I think this these things are interesting because the descriptive language puts a picture in your mind (not a pretty one). This is helpful because it shows the horrors that Beah endured as just a child. I chose the staff members' phrase because it shows that they are trying to bring these children back down to earth and show them that they are only children and what they did was not their faults at all. This is helpful to me because it shows me that people were there to help Beah (even though I know he was helped because he wrote a book, but still). 

Part Two
A friend of mine that I have already written about in this class was my cousin, Darian. I have chosen to write about him again because in the last journal, I couldn't explain his struggle in as much detail that I can now. It all started once he got his license around 2012. After he got his license he started skipping football practices. I instantly knew something was amiss because he always told me everything and didn't tell me anything on the days when he'd skip. After about three weeks of missing  a few days a week, he quit football. This had really upset me and I knew something or someone else was to blame. I mean, I worked my butt of in the weight room so I could have a chance to play varsity football with him my freshman year, his senior year. But I never had the chance to play a down with him. He had gotten into drugs and alcohol and quickly spiraled out of control. It was only until he was arrested and endured life behind bars, that I got my cousin and best friend back. We just recently spent a day together and he told me about how much he wants to change. I am currently trying to get him to enroll here at OSU Marion, so I can monitor him and help him even more. And now that I think about it, having his license and crappy friends, eventually put him on the path of destruction. Their bad ways and his license and car to go where he wanted was definitely the factor that sent him down the path that eventually landed him in jail. 

Journal 5 by Richard

Journal 5

In today's reading I have noticed that Beah did a great job by throwing in a flashback. In the flashback he talks about one of their raids and how they brutally murdered the prisoners. also he tells us how he acquired the name green snake. The flashback is a great technique because it doesn't let us forget how much hes been through and that this change into the non killing life is proven very difficult.

Once in the big city the civilians and UNICEF always said the phrase "its not your fault". This phrase filled the boys with anger and rage because they wanted the civilians to respect them and listen to them. But in this case its the other way around, the civilians are telling the boys what to do. Which infuriated them to the point that they would punch anything nearest to them. Also they wouldn't do anything because they think they are above these city people but in reality they are all civilians in that city. But this phrase will help the boys come to their scenes eventually. Realizing that its truly not their fault and they were brainwashed into war.

Part 2
I personally have not witnessed someone having a huge transformation but I've heard many story's from my family. My grandma told me about my dad one day. She started off talking about my grandfather passing away at a young age and how my dad being the oldest of 5 kids basically took the role of being the man in the house. But not long after that when my dad turned 18 he was sent to the army for a mandatory 2 year service that every 18 year old male had to do. She explained to me that the transformation started after he got back from the army. 

When he came back he needed to fill the role of being the man in the house. He always watched his younger siblings and did all the work around the house while my grandma was at work. But it wasn't easy for him every time the kids wouldn't listen to him he would raise his voice and start barking orders at them. It was always like that when he didn't have it his way. One day he did the same thing to my grandma and she punched him in the face and called him out on his behavior. Shocked at what just happend he realized that he has changed very much and forgot his manners and principles. My dad always says " I wish they had a mandatory 2 year army so you could go through it." Now I have a suspicion that every time he says that he wants to punch me in the face.

Journal 5 from Dallas

Part One

In today’s readings, I noticed specifically, when Beahs group and Mambus group joined up and were asking around "why were they given up by their commanders?" When they see a group of boys around their age they ask and it starts an intense argument before one of the boys reveals they are rebels. What stood out to me when this happened is this direct quote "We fought for the RUF; the army is the enemy. We fought for freedom, and the army killed my family and destroyed my village. I will kill any of those army bastards every time I get a chance to do so." (Beah,134) Beah would say the exact same thing except substitute the RUF for Army. In war, we forget that everyone is human even our enemy. We see the enemy as devils and there is no way we could ever sit beside them without wanting to tear them apart. We never see until after the smoke has cleared that you and the opposing soldier might have been interested in the same things or in this case lived through the same tragedies.

            I also noticed the profound nutriment and forgiveness the staff gave to the boys. This is evident when they battered Poppay for simply stating that they would have to wait for their mattresses to dry. They left the man unconscious on the floor bleeding. He had every right to hate the boys for what they had done to him but instead when he returned days later with a limp and flashed a smile and said “It is not your fault that you did such a thing to me.” The boys hate it every time a staff member says those words to them but what they don’t know is that it will slowly allow them to heal.
Part Two
Growing up I had a friend named Kasey. Normal kid, hyperactive, and involved in sports. We both started wrestling in 7th grade and since we were close in weight we would be workout partners. In wrestling Kasey was agile and had a great mindset on how to set certain moves up. Very talented. We had known each other since elementary school but never gotten close but the sport of wrestling helped us with that. At tournaments after matches we would always try to pick up girls. Normal things of a teenager. As high school years progressed we started to part ways not because of anything drastic. These things just happen sometimes. We were part of different crowds. I started my senior season of wrestling Kasey wasn’t there next to me. I had heard the stories of what he was into but just never grasped any of it. After I graduated I left for the army and didn’t give a care for anyone back home unless it was with my closest friends. The last I heard about Kasey is that he joined the army, got kicked out, had a few kids, and was going door to door in our small town asking for pennies to support his habit. Looking back now I see the signs that led to his falls.

journal 5 Hunter

Journal 5

          Part One: In Today’s reading in A Long Way Gone, two things I noticed were one, flash backs ran rampant through chapter 15 and 16. Beah lets us into his past war experiences, for example in chapter 16 where his “army” took prisoners from a village, made them dig their own graves, and buried them alive. Two, diction was used a lot, mostly from UNICEF. They continuously use the phrase: “It’s not your fault.”While they do generally mean this, it just makes the boys more and more angry. I feel like these two writing techniques are important because it helps give us incite on to why the boys act the way they do, why they're brainwashed, and helps understand why the UNICEF employees repeat the phrase over and over: "It's not your fault" because it is truly, not their fault
            Part Two: I don't know anyone personally that took a transformation for the worse. Most of the people I know went from terrible to a good person. But I have heard of many people who went from good people with good futures to ODing on drugs, failing in school, stealing, etc. The biggest factor for these changes I would say, is society. We put so much pressure on people to be perfect and live perfect little happy lives and some individuals just crumble under the pressure. If we tried to understand what was happening to them, we might just become a more whole society. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Journal 5 from Kai

     One of main things that stand out in Beah's memoir is the use of "city soldier" to describe the MPs that take the boys away from the war zone. To the kids, these military guy's clean clothes and weapons shows a lack of use. The boys are used to grime, war, blood, gore. They have no respect for these "city soldiers" that they feel are inferior to them in war experience. It reminds me so much of how people from the country will call people that aren't used to the outdoors or don't like to get dirty "city boys".

     Another good choice of words used is the phrase "It isn't your fault". Whether the staff were actually saying it to Beah many times over or that is simply what stood out to him in his recollection it is very important. It is building the foundation and safety net for the time when Ishmael comes face to face with all that he has done. Right now he is still desensitized, but eventually he will come down from his high and face reality. With no one to blame one usually blames themselves so hearing that it isn't your fault will help him transition.

Trigger Warning: Trauma

     There is only one person I know of that has had a massive, severe, and sudden transformation for the worse. That person is me. I had what I would still call a normal decent childhood. Everyone that I have told about my childhood has looked at me in horror, disbelief, or has actually started crying. It all hit me when I turned 15, much like it will hit Beah. In my high school years I was the terror of the hallways. I was given a wide berth as I made a bee line straight to my next class. I was very angry.

     My father passed away when I was 12. I felt nothing. I didn't care. I did not shed a single tear at his funeral. He was a great man, Vietnam vet, kept his kids in line. I kept telling people I did not care about his death while clinging to his watch and coat. His coat. It was huge. I'm a big guy now, but my father was bigger. This coat you could go camping with and not need a tent. I wore it all the time regardless of how hot it was. It was my coat now.

     Three years later I was actually pity invited to someone's house. I went without telling my mother as she would just tell me I couldn't anyway. In an impromptu football game, I was tackled and had the coat literally ripped off of me. It was an old coat and just came to pieces on me. That is when it hit me he was gone. He was gone and had stolen my childhood from me. All those skipped school days sitting in the VA hospital for eternity, the shooting ranges, the survival lessons, the fear. It wasn't what you were supposed to grow up with. I was angry.

     My mother is an entirely different beast and I will not go into that. The ones that noticed and tried to help were the school staff. I got into fights, but never seemed to get into any real trouble. I loved school and was not going to be denied my opportunity to get an education. Rules became my master. If you decided to talk or interrupt class, I would usually physically remove the student. It seemed like everything was out to get me. I used to wear a trench coat, brown, London Fog, but then the Columbine shooting happened and they were banned. I came to school in my trench coat and was arrested. It made me angry. I was doodling in class once before I got checked out of school early for a doctor's appointment and some wise guy drew a map of the school with instructions about giving me bombs or something. They then took my random doodling out of the trash and, I'm not even sure today, used it somehow to link me to some plot. I was arrested again and the District Attorney wanted to make an example of me and... and... and...

     It was bad. That is all there is to say about it. I could continue for days about the rage, the PTSD, the dissociation. There is a reason I am now 32 testing the water in one class rather than attending college 13 years ago when I had a full ride in scholarships. I know exactly what is about to happen to Beah in the story and it will not be pretty.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Journal 4 Alec Soule

Part One
  My active reading could honestly be a bit better. I like the idea of being able to mark things down in the margins of the page that will be useful to me, but when it comes to executing this during my reading I end up with only a couple metaphors and some places where I believed the writing to be at its best.
   As for the strengths and weaknesses between the two very different books we are reading for class, I think that A Long Way Gone, written by Ishmeal Beah, is very formal and structured compared to the very loose and informal writing of Sandra Cisneros in A House On Mango Street. If I had to choose which of the two I enjoy reading more, I would choose A House On Mango Street because there is always a new story with a twist or a great metaphor that is so descriptive, I feel like I can picture it in my head.  

Part Two
    I found the most important survival skill from the reading of A Long Way Gone was traveling inconspicuously. This was clear to me in chapter eleven, after the boys had been traveling all night, Beah describes the boys as, "walking in silence through the night..." (Beah, 89). This is an important survival skill because if the boys were caught they would be captured or killed.

Journal Four by Dallas Finley

Part One: How is your reading going so far?

I think my reading is going quite well actually. I think I'm being a somewhat active reader. I am noticing a lot more things in my readings than I did the first week of class. I am slowly but surely getting used to writing in the books though. It's gonna take some getting used to but I like it. I highlight major points and where the writing is at its best. I also try to think what the characters are feeling and I write those feelings within the margins. I feel I can comprehend the material better this way.

These are two completely different types of literature. With A Long Way Gone it's more formal so it's definitely an easier read as opposed to The House On Mango Street. I feel The House On Mango Street is totally confusing at times. At the end of each chapter in A Long Way Go, it is like a cliffhanger. I feel the need to find out what happens next. With The House On Mango Street, it's like a different thought or story with the next chapter. I like structure!

Part Two: Survival Skills and Adaptations/Challenges

One important survival skill that I noticed in my readings today is, Beah, receiving combat training. All up to this point, the different groups of boys that he as been apart of have ran away from the fight. Now, it's hopefully leading up to Beah, and his group taking the fight directly to the rebels. Head to head. Lt. Jabati, goes on to give numerous speeches explaining the need for a fight. The need to protect everything they have. What really resonated with me was when he stated "Some of you are here because they have killed your parents or families, others because this is a safe place. Well, it is not that safe anymore. That is why we need strong men and boys to help us fight these guys, so that we can keep this village safe." (Beah, 106)

Journal 4 by Tony

Part One: 
                My reading in the two books is going very well. I'd say I'm pretty active while reading my books. I will say that I'm more active in Ishmael Beah's book than I am in Sandra Cisneros' book. I find Beah's experience alone, to be more captivating than Cisneros' use of language. Overall the two books, in my opinion are good books. Beah's book does a great job at describing his childhood and the problems he faced. While Cisneros does a great job with her metaphors, the things that Beah sees and describes in his book really put the image in your mind and in some cases put you in the scenes. Personally, I prefer Beah's work because I find his experiences more captivating than living in the crappy neighborhood that Cisneros describes. But that's just me. 

Part Two:
                         One survival skill that I noticed, not only from the reading, but from the whole book in general, was definitely the survival skill of traveling around from village to village in complete silence. This was brought to my attention in the beginning of chapter eleven, after the group of, now six, boys had been traveling all night until morning, that Beah describes them as, "....walking in silence through the night...." (Beah p. 89). I found this as an important survival skill because if they were not quiet the boys might already be dead because they've had to sneak past rebels and if they weren't quiet they'd be dead or captured. 

Journal 4 by Richard

Part 1

The books The House on Mango Street and A Long Way Gone are very unique in their own separate ways. My personal favorite is  A Long Way Gone because the way Beah describes his experience and hardships makes the reader feel like hes going through this with Beah. He describes some scenes in such detail that you sometimes try to block the images in your head without even noticing. Also while reading this book it is very easy to follow along and the plot points, settings and characters are always made clear. I always try to highlight the settings in the chapter and the key plot points. Once I highlight these main thing it is very easy for me to refer back to the text and get a brief overview of the chapter if forgotten.

 The House on Mango Street is a good book but its not one of my favorites. One of the reasons is because it seems choppy. The chapters are short but yet very creative and descriptive but it doesn't follow a main story line. For example each chapter in Cisneros is is like watching an episode of a TV show. The charters are all the same but every episode has a different story or experience in their life. On the other hand when you read Beah its like watching a very long movie that just keeps pulling you in because you want to know how it will end.

Part 2

Survival skills play a big role inA Long Way Gone. Especially when Beah and his friends are always on the move. They are constantly living in the forests avoiding certain villages. In today's reading one survival skill that stood out to me was simple building skills. When they were walking through the forest Beah tells us "The strands of rain fell brutally from the sky, whipping us. We walked for the rest of the night, wiping the water off our faces in order to see. It became unbearable to continue, so we sat at the foot of huge trees and waited." (Beah, 90) We later find out that they spent over half a day to dry their clothes. Also they were freezing by morning which could lead to them getting sick.

Simple building skills could really help them. For example during the rain they could always find big leaves and tie them together in order to make some sort of cover. Also the fact that they spent most of their time in the forests they could make small temporary shelters. Which could potentially be much safer because the rebels don't wander deep in the forests.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Journal 4 by Hunter

Part One:
I like to think i'm being a very active reader. I underline a lot of quotes a lot/phrases that i think are important and I sometimes write down on the sides of the pages important things that have happened in 1-2 words. At the beginning, I preferred A Long Way Gone over A House On Mango Street because A Long Way Gone is 10x more interesting and eye opening while A House On Mango Street feels very broken up and hard to understand and follow along but i'm starting to prefer A House On Mango Street a little more because I love the way Cisneros intertwines metaphors with her text. While it may be hard to understand what's happening in the scene, it makes you think hard and feel a little more. A Long Way Gone is just 100% depressing 100% of the time, the kind of book that makes you feel like you need a therapist afterwords, because you're getting PTSD from the character getting PTSD.
Part Two:
An important survival skill I picked up on, while it may not seem like a real "survival" skill but I learned quite about it in one of my psych class is pure dissociation. Dissociation is basically separating or detaching yourself from something that's happening to you to detaching yourself from the world around you. Beah is experiencing migraines and pains from all these bottled up experiences but refuses to speak about it. He is living with the mentality: Just because something has happened, doesn't mean you are to talk about it. For example, Beah and his friends have been found by some soldiers and taken peacefully back to their village and they were put to work in the kitchen, washing dishes, cutting vegetables for meals, etc and Beah would busy himself with going to the river to get water for the village: "It was the only way I could distract myself from the thoughts that were giving me severe headaches"(Beah 102). He was suffering and refused to talk to anyone about it, possibly afraid he would be laughed at because let's be honest, many have had worse happen to them. I guess it's just the greatest lessons/skills are the ones you don't quite remember learning.

Journal 4 from Kai

How is your reading going so far?
     I read them. Past tense. I read them. That is about all I can say about how actively I read. I'm never going to get used to writing in the book, but have been noticing certain elements more and more. I can easily read Cisneros and have all sorts of comments, highlights, quotes underlined in the book. The chapters are small, easy to read, good. My copy of House on Mango Street looks like a toddler got a hold of it. There are marks and comments everywhere.

     A Long Way Gone is a different beast. There are barely any marks in it when there really should be. I am reading the story chapter to chapter wanting an end. As if the book knows I am forced to read it, the chapters are long. There is so much more to choose from in the book, yet I barely write anywhere in it. An occasional comment about scene transitions and new locations, but that is about it. I can only imagine it is because of the story matter combined with my own unwillingness of wanting to read it.

     I like Cisneros a lot better. The story is happier, more alive. It is fiction, but could easily be seen as happening. Beah's tale is non-fiction and shouldn't happen, to anyone, or ever. Especially to a child. Every chapter pisses me off. It gives a false hope in the beginning of a chapter and destroys it near the end. No matter how many times this happens it catches me off guard. More latina girls being stupid, please.

How to Survive: A Guide
     This poor kid. Beah somehow manages to get it all out in print. Now we are all infected with secondary PTSD just reading the thing! He discusses many physical survival traits throughout the book like medicines, preventing snake bites, keeping food safe from animals, hiding. These are all well and good, but none of these ensure his survival. Beah's best survival trait as a child is dissociation. The traumatic events he's experienced are enough to drive anyone insane. As a coping mechanism he begins to dissociate. He's psyche is very much shattered.

     Flashbacks and migraines are a common symptom to dissociating. Basically, his brain is trying to remain in a better time. Like a computer backup. Eventually he'll push all his traumatic memories to a different partition of his brain, to make it seem like a totally different life. It is a natural strategy to deal with an unnatural life. I knew he was suffering from PTSD, but it didn't hit home until he talked about activities in the village. The villagers would play soccer, a game he liked, but he wouldn't join them. Beah states, "I distanced myself from games in the village and sat behind houses, staring into the open space until my migraines temporarily subsided" (Beah, 102). He is making sure nothing reminds him of the good past so he can focus on getting through this terrible present. The less thinking, the better. It seems harsh, but in this way Beah ensures he never becomes a complete monster like the rebels. He can do what he needs to do without destroying himself.