Literary Analysis: Common Themes

Hi there! Before I left for winter break, I had just finished writing a literary analysis in Language Arts. In this piece, I discussed one of our book club books (The Eleventh Plague) and two short stories. This story is copied verbatim from my original writing piece, so there are places where you will see references, etc.


We all have found ourselves in the position of a bystander at one time in our lives, where we watched something happen that we personally wanted to stop, but just couldn’t find the courage to do so. I have found myself in the middle of many situations, but I often noticed that I didn’t do anything to stop it. In many of the books I read, bravery is described as being strong in the face of danger. In fact, Omar N. Bradley, an Army General during World War II, stated that “Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death. This quote demonstrates how many people often feel during situations that make them nervous. However, after reading several stories, I learned the true importance of bravery, and how it is important to show bravery in situations other than when you are in danger. In the book, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, and the short stories “Ponies” by Kij Johnson, and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the idea that bravery is not just facing danger, but also standing up for what is right and protecting others, is clearly demonstrated. Characters in each of these stories were forced to show bravery by standing up for what they felt was right, while also showing bravery by protecting others in the face of true danger. Though each story dealt with unique situations that required bravery, characters demonstrated true bravery by standing up for themselves and others.

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Blurred Images- A Memoir

Hi there! I’m beginning to catch up on my missed blogging, but in the meantime, I have finished my first writing piece of my 8th grade year: Blurred Images.

Names of people and locations have been removed or changed for both my and others privacy. Enjoy!

Blurred Images

Today was one of those times where I wasn’t sure what the day would hold. As I stepped out of our silver minivan, I squinted through the bright, early morning sun to glimpse the newly renovated education center. A building that displayed new, dust-free windows and freshly-washed brick, the center would decide whether I received a position on the local Council that I was hoping to join.

This experience would be my first-ever interview, and I would be meeting with a woman named ______. As I walked towards the entrance to the building, I felt the wind’s feeble attempt to ruffle my hair as a soft breeze drifted across my head. I thought I could see small goose-bumps producing on my upper arm, partly concealed by my brand-new red Abercrombie shirt. Through the soft fabric, it felt like my heart was beating a mile a minute. I glanced up to look through the tinted windows to the right of the door, which reminded me a bit of my own school, and opened the glass door before stepping into a hallway that seemed to go on forever. I tried to look at the intricate works of art to my left to calm myself down, but I was still just as nervous about my interview.

At the end of the hallway stood the program’s office, and just inside, ______ was waiting for us. Just from her welcoming expression and the energetic atmosphere around her, I already knew that this meeting would go well; I felt like I was already comfortable speaking with her.

As we entered the room, the first thing I noticed was a rectangular light above us that revealed white walls and a simple wooden conference table among several cushioned seats. As I sat down, I took a deep breath and prepared my thoughts.

I made eye contact with ______, and she asked me my first question:  “Are you nervous?”

Quite honestly, I still was. “A little bit, I guess.”

She responded, “That’s absolutely okay! Hopefully, by the end, you’ll feel more more comfortable. The purpose of this meeting is also to prepare you for the future, when you may have to apply for college or interview for a job.”

I certainly felt more comfortable as the meeting went on. _____ asked me to tell her about myself, and despite it being an easy question, it was also one of my first, and I found it hard to form words in my mouth. “I- my name is Gabe, and, uh, I’m a 6th grader at _______.”

Eventually, though, I relearned my ability to speak as my nerves settled down. The next few questions went by like a breeze, as I answered questions about my personality and my after-school activities.

As the questions became more involved, I tried to come up with a standard response for each, but at some point I realized that I would be respected for who I was and what I really thought, and so I then attempted to answer each question in my own way and as honest as possible.

Soon after, we covered more difficult topics, such as what I wanted to do for the community and what I thought the program meant to me. I had just finished talking about what issues I felt were present in our town when she asked me, “Do you feel that these issues are a big problem in our town?”

Now that I think back to the event, I wonder why I answered the way I did. I guess, at the time, I probably would have blamed my nerves. But as I matured more over the next year and a half, I eventually learned that it was actually completely okay that I thought that the issues in our town were very minor. As it turned out, I was somewhat oblivious to several aspects that should be changed in our town. And now, as I continue to learn more about them, I began to realize their importance, and I would find that problems like substance abuse along with physical and mental health, were important and needed to be paid attention to. I soon also discovered that there were so many people around me who, like myself, were not aware of these issues, and needed to realize them as well.

At the end of the meeting, we shook hands and I walked back into the mid-morning sun. I felt like I explained my responses well, but I was still left in wonder as to whether I would make it into the council.

Several weeks later, we left for our annual vacation to the mountains. As I sat on the worn down, wooden deck looking out at the snowcapped mountains amongst the crystal-clear sky, I thought I could hear someone coming from inside.

Sure enough, my mom slid open the screen door and stepped outside to be greeted by a gentle mountainside breeze. “Gabe, there’s something I think that you should read inside.”

A bit confused, I walked back inside to see the open iPad displaying an email on the table. I took a quick glance at it, and I read only the word “Congratulations,” before stopping to realize what this meant.

All of a sudden, everything had been worth it, and the summer dramatically took a turn for the better. At once, the weight was taken off of my shoulders, and while I was full of relief, I had also learned several life lessons along the path towards becoming a member of the council. 

Not only was entering the council an achievement, I began to uncover the blurred image of the world around me, and I also began to realize who I really was.

Thanks so much for reading! You can read all of my writing pieces on the page entitled ‘Gabe’s Writing’.

Gabe

 

The Boys in the Boat Book Response

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Hi there! Over the summer, I was asked to write a book response on a nonfiction book, so I decided to read The Boys in the Boat. I recently completed my response, so I decided to share it in place of my usual Tuesday book review. Please keep in mind that this is not like my regular book reviews, as I will be covering topics such as the author’s main ideas, the author’s opinion on the topic, and text structure. The Boys in the Boat certainly tops my list for my favorite nonfiction books. I would certainly recommend that you read it.


The nonfiction book I chose to read this summer was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The Boys in the Boat takes place in Seattle, and describes the rowing career of nine college students, particularly Joe Rantz. Amidst the Great Depression, these boys struggle to attend college and remain in the rowing crew at Washington University.

At the beginning of the book, the author describes a gray-skied day in Seattle, where hundreds of starving people with ragged shirts sat outside of the local soup kitchens waiting for them to open. Wall Street had fallen less than four years before, and the effects had quickly spread west across the country. Joe Rantz lived nearby in a town named Spokane, Washington. His father, Harry Rantz, had luckily found one of the few jobs remaining, and began working with automobiles. He and his wife, Nellie Maxwell, settled into one of three houses in Spokane and while Harry worked in his auto shop, Nellie taught piano at their house.

Joe, having been born in 1914, however, remembered a completely different and more harsh life in Spokane than his parents recalled. Most of Joe’s memories, though, began after Nellie quickly fell ill and died of throat cancer. Now at a loss of a job, Harry fled for Canada. Fred, Joe’s older brother, then left for college, leaving Joe to live with his aunt in Pennsylvania.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Book Response

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Hi there! Over the summer, I was tasked with reading a nonfiction and fiction book, and to choose one of the many that I did read to write about. This post will be a little bit different than my normal book reviews, as during this I will be covering topics that include themes and Author’s Craft. While I will not be weighing the goods and the bads of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, I would certainly recommend this book.


The fiction book I chose to read this summer was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas takes place during World War 2, and follows a young boy named Bruno who travels away from his home so that his father could continue his high-ranking job in the Nazi Party. At his new home, Bruno finds something very interesting outside of his bedroom window- a tall, barbed wire fence that contained thousands of people who all seemed to be wearing the same outfit, a pair of striped pajamas.

Throughout reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I came across several themes that I believed were not only important inside of the story, but also life lessons that can be used in the real world as well. The first theme centers around equality, and how no matter where a person came from, what religion they believe in, or what they look like, everyone should be treated with equal respect. In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Nazi party decided to do just the opposite. The Nazis decided that Jewish people were a danger to the German country, and that anyone who did not have German blood should be punished. Bruno discovered this when he met a new friend, Shmuel, who lived on the other side of the fence. Bruno learned about how Shmuel, among thousands, were harshly treated by soldiers, were starved, and were often taken away- never to be seen again. While Bruno did not understand the full concept of what was happening, he felt great sympathy for Shmuel, and often brought him leftovers from his own hearty lunch. Bruno even went to the extent of disguising himself with his own pair of striped pajamas to spend the day with Shmuel, even at Auschwitz. That same day, however, Bruno truly got to understand and experience what the Jewish people really felt like, as he and Shmuel were ushered into a death chamber that would end both of their lives.

During Bruno’s time on the opposite side of the fence, the fact that, during World War 2, not everyone was treated with equal respect, rang clear. In part, the theme became clear through the author’s use of techniques. Two author’s craft techniques really stood out to me: irony and the use of characterization. One part of the irony that I found was that while Bruno’s father wanted to keep Bruno safe, he was so willing to end the lives of thousands of Jewish people. Just because Bruno and Shmuel were standing on different sides of a fence, Shmuel was treated as if he was the enemy, and Bruno’s father was the hero for removing Jewish people from German territory. The author’s characterization of Shmuel gave me a clear idea of how Shmuel felt about these recent events, and how he lost his father. Shmuel explained how jews were treated just because they didn’t have german blood, how just because they were Jews, they deserved to be starved and put to death. This devastated me, but also enunciated the idea that everyone should be treated with equal respect.

Another theme that I found in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas focused around the importance of friendship, and how with the close bond of a friend you can get through any tough times. At the beginning of the story, Bruno was very unhappy about moving away from his good friends and family. But as he began to visit Shmuel at the fence, he began to like the new home, now that he had a new best friend, and why he dreaded going back home to his old home. The day before he would leave, though, the theme really presented itself. After entering the other side of the fence and being encountered by soldiers, Bruno and Shmuel entered the death chamber. While neither knew that they would be facing their death, Bruno was conscious that he was holding Shmuel’s hand, and that no matter what happened, everything would one day be okay. Had they lived through the event, both would have been best friends for the rest of their lives.

The main piece of author’s craft that the author used to present this theme were again characterization and the use of minor foreshadowing. The characterization of the way Bruno and Shmuel felt about their relationship between each other, and how nothing could ever break them apart, no matter what happened. This was extremely clear when, out of the character of Bruno, he grabbed hold of Shmuel’s hand. Even though neither Bruno nor Shmuel survived Auschwitz, the author used foreshadowing to show that the close ties Bruno had with Shmuel would help Shmuel out of the horrific situation that he was in, and how he would one day take Shmuel back to his home in Berlin and be able to really interact with Shmuel for the first time. At one point in life, through the support of each other, everything would have been alright.

I really enjoyed reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and I loved how the author’s techniques and author’s craft, along with the use of important themes were able to positively contribute to the essence of the overall story.


Thanks for reading! My nonfiction response to The Boys in the Boat will be releasing soon.

Gabe

GMO Argument Essay

Should Companies use

GMOs in Their Foods?

According to WSOCTV, “experts have found that over 60% of processed foods in the United States contains a genetically modified ingredient.” Nevertheless, millions of Americans consume foods with GMOs (Organisms whose genetic makeup is modified in a laboratory) every day without even knowing it, leading to numerous diseases, allergies, and harm to the environment. Companies should not use genetically modified organisms in foods because they are harmful to the body, harmful to the environment, and are farmed in different ways as compared to organic foods.

One reason companies should not use GMOs in their foods is because GMOs are harmful to the human body. Over 5% of kids and 2% of adults have food allergies. Consequently, with most GMO ingredients not labeled on products, people could be consuming at-risk ingredients such as corn, cotton, soy, canola, and beet sugar with no knowledge of doing so. Consuming these ingredients that have been modified in a laboratory is cause for allergic reactions, some of which can be life-threatening. According to the Non-GMO Project, “GMOs can also be found in so many common processed ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup, vitamins, and sucrose, along with almost any kind of processed meat.” Even without an allergy to the true product, genetically modified ingredients can create a new allergy in anyone and cause serious reactions. In addition, the toxic chemicals that are used during the farming of GMO crops reach our water supply. As a result, if humans drink these toxic chemicals, serious illnesses could occur along with other health problems that could hurt you long term. Continue reading “GMO Argument Essay”

The Will That Saved the World

Hey guys! In school recently, we wrote short stories. I have copied mine into this post and onto the “Gabe’s Writing” page. It is a bit long, so press “Continue Reading” when you reach it later on in the post. I hope you like it! -Gabe

The Will That Saved the World

Prologue

The nation was a disaster. What used to be luscious trees were cut down until the country looked like a dry desert. Most lakes had long before dried up. Almost everywhere you looked, you would see miles of sand, or a deep crater in the earth where a lake used to be. But you would hardly ever find a tree.

When you looked up into the sky, instead of a bright blue space, a tint of gray surrounded the atmosphere. A century before, humans started releasing toxins into the air, and nowadays pollution was out of control.

On top of the sandy deserts, humans had tried to rebuild. Every mile you would probably find a factory, or miles of housing. Very few wooden houses were built, with tree resources running low. People either lived in large apartment complexes or, very rarely, small one-floor houses made out of metal.

Almost half of the population that used to live in the United States was now living on Mars. About 100 years ago, around 2030, scientists had tried bringing people up to live on Mars, but at one point all food and oxygen supplies ran out, and NASA was not able to transport the goods in time. Every human on Mars had died.

Now, scientists had found more drinkable water on Mars, and even a limited supply of exotic fruits that grew in the depths of craters. Scientists started sending people up again. However, only about a million people would be allowed to live on the planet, in fear that supplies would run out again. Still, after the past few decades, thousands of people were sent to Mars until the oxygen-filled buildings could hold no more. The rest of United States citizens were left to live on Earth.

Once the country was completely split, the U.S. was suppressed into 30 counties, all spread out across the East Coast. Where Washington DC, the nation’s old capitol, used to be, 1st County was formed. Instead of one president, each county had one ruler that led the county. Carson was the ruler of 3rd County. Every so often, he was called forth to 1st County for special government happenings.

Since the only habitable area left was the East Coast, as you moved left across the country from above, you would see remains of forest fires and natural disasters. On the East Coast, humans decided they needed a change and cleared humongous areas to rebuild- which led to the deforestation issue.

After many generations, Carson was born when the nation was at its worst. Yet he would have to live with the environment around him for the rest of his life.

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Carson

Carson wished he could move to 1st County. There everyone was held in a higher respect, and all government affairs were held in large white marble domed buildings with velvet seats so soft you almost fell asleep. Carson lived in 3rd County, where nearly the whole area was cleared and left with piles of dead grass and broken down wooden buildings. Paint had chipped off the sides of buildings, and windows were wrapped with spider webs.

Looking at 3rd County in a positive way, he had it a lot better than others. Down in 30th County, the population was so scarce you had to travel to 29th County just to get groceries. There were deep craters in the earth, hosting numerous types of snakes, some of them even poisonous. People lived together in crowded buildings, with almost 30 people living together in one house. The walls were crumbling, the faded white stone barely holding up the foundation. It wasn’t that the county had little money, the resources had run so low that what the country had was used for larger and more important counties.

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