Water for Elephants, post A, week 3

December 5, 2007

In this part of the book, I found two vocabulary words that caught my attention.  Askew(p. 164)-To one side, out of the line, in a crooked position, and Trudge(p. 162)-To walk laboriously or wearily.  I was also able to find three examples of figurative language.  “’Hmmmm?’”(p. 134).  This is an example of onomatopoeia because it is a word said to represent a sound or noise.  On that same page, there was another example of onomatopoeia. “’Mmmmm,’ she says, her eyes half closed,” (p. 134).  Because this is explaining the sound the woman is making with her mouth, it is an example of onomatopoeia.  On page 156, I was able to find an example of symbolism.  “’Hey, Sleeping Beauty,’ he says, shaking me.”  This is symbolism because Jacob isn’t really sleeping beauty, but Walter, the one shaking Jacob, is saying it as a figurative symbol due to his drowsiness.  I found a passage in the reading that I found significant.  “’Because if I thought she was in any danger at all, there’s no knowing what I might do.’  I look up quickly.  August is staring right at me,” (p.159).  This quote is significant because Jacob realizes at this point that August suspects that Jacob is interested in Marlena.  One reoccurring theme in the book seems to be embarrassment, especially the embarrassment Jacob feels.          


types of debate

November 30, 2007
  1. Policy DebateThese debates occur in schools around the country as a competitive competition involving two sides.  The purpose of policy debate is to debate whether or not the United States should act in certain policy actions.  The debate is largely based on the amount of research and evidences both sides show, so it usually arrives at a better decision.  The debate is heavily structured, meaning the decision will not be based on emotions or biasness, but rather the evidence and argument. 


  1. Lincoln Douglas Debate-These debates also occur at schools around the country, but are a one against one type situation.  The purpose of these debates is to argue for one side or the other on morals, human rights, and philosophies.  This debate leads to a better decision than a regular home style debate, but one could argue policy, due to it’s quantity of evidence, provides a better end result.  The debate is structured, which effects the decision making process because judges must pertain both sides as equal when starting out.


  1.  Political/Presidential Debate-The Purpose of this type of debate is to introduce the candidates’ ideas and viewpoints to the public.  These debates usually occur in college auditoriums or other places of that magnitude and size.  The problem with this style of debate is that a candidate can sometimes falsely attack another without a fair ability for rebuttal, candidates can bang up on one candidate, like we saw during the democratic debate, and, most importantly, the candidates do not need evidence to back up what they say, which can lead to “Political BS”.  For this reason, the decision in the end can sometimes be flawed.  The debate is structured, which helps the decision be more than just who could talk the loudest. 


  1. Court Debate-These debates, whether civil or criminal, go on in courtrooms all around the world.  The purpose of these debates is for the prosecution to prove the defense did something or owes them something that they say they did not do or do not owe.  These debates do help arrive at a better decision, though it many times can be decided, it would seem, on how is better represented, or in plain terms, who is rich enough to get the better lawyers.  The debate is structured, which helps lead to a better end decision because both sides get equal time and treatment.         

Water for Elephants, post B, week 2

November 29, 2007

While reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, it has become apparent to me that a major concept of this book is illusion.  Everything and everyone seems to be trying to give a perception of what they want people to think they are, rather that who they are.  For instance, uncle Al seems was described as having ringmaster written all over him because of his wardrobe.  The reason he wears clothes that will make him look like a ringmaster is so that people, whether spectators or the circus workers themselves, know exactly who’s in charge.  Also, it appears that Illusion is also a big part of the circuses acts and attractions.  For instance, the circus yellers and advertisements give off the illusion that Lucinda is 800 pounds, when she is more or less on the lines of 400 pounds. Also, they claim that Frank Otto got all of his tattoos from angry headhunters in Borneo, when really, he spent nine years doing them himself.  This concept of illusion and perception becomes very obvious when August is explaining to Jacob that in the circus, it’s all about illusion.  “’Tell me, do you honestly think this is the most spectacular show on earth?’” (p. 103)  August explains to Jacob that it doesn’t matter if he never did his final exams in college.  As long as people think that he is a veterinarian, than he is one.  I find that the author is expressing something that many people do in real life; they try to give a perception of themselves as something they’re not.  It’s obvious that illusion is a concept that will no doubt make its way back into the story.

(note to Mr. Hatten:  I finished this blog 30 minutes after 12:00 so the date will probably say it was done on the 30th instead of the 29th.  once again, I had choir and came home late.  thanks. 

Water for Elephants, post A, week 2

November 29, 2007

While reading the next part of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I found two vocabulary words; Makeshift (p. 61), which means a temporary substitute, and reveling (p. 108), which means to take great pleasure or delight in something.  I was also able to find some examples of figurative language.  Like in this quote where Jacob is talking about a woman at the nursing home who is going to the circus. “She’s a turnip, she won’t remember a thing” (p. 65).  This is an example of irony because just a second ago, Jacob was complaining about how he can never remember his nurse’s name.  I was also able to find this example of a simile. “What’s not okay is Old Fart McGuinty sitting at my regular table, with my lady friends, and holding court like King Arthur” (p. 67)  This is an example of a simile because Jacob is comparing McGuinty to king Arthur, two unlike things, using like or as.  I also find found another example of a simile in the book.  “…poking the lump of red Jell-O.  It jiggles outrageously, like a breast I once knew” (p. 67).  This is a simile as well because Jacob, again using like or as, is comparing his Jell-O to a breast, which are to very unlike things.  A significant quote I found in the book is one in which Jacob and august are talking about the Jacob’s killing of Silver Star.

“’Is that your first time you’ve shot a horse?’ he says, plucking the cigarette from the package with his teeth.

‘No, but it doesn’t mean I like it.’

‘Part of being a vet, my boy.’”

This quote is significant because it exposes the harsh reality of Jacob’s situation, and by now the reader should understand that this will probably be one of many hard things that Jacob has to do in the future.  One emerging theme tends to be jealousy, especially Jacobs jealousy of McGuinty for taking his regular eating spot and turning everyone against him and the workers’ jealousy of the performers’ luxurious lives.

(note to Mr. Hatten:  I finished this blog 5 minutes after 12:00, so it will probably say nov. 30 instead of the 29th.  I had choir tonight and it ran a little long, so i wasn’t able to start for a while. 

My book choice; Water for Elephants

November 29, 2007

The name of the book I have chosen is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  The book was published in 2006 and is a work of fiction.  The book is 335 pages long.  The book has been a #1 New York Times bestseller and has been a bestseller on numerous other lists.  It has been be getting amazingly good reviews from newspapers and magazines around the country and I currently know of many adults who are reading it.  Even though the book is a pretty easy read from what I’ve read so far, the author does challenge the reader to enter the mindsets and situations of her characters, and to understand why certain characters in the book act the way that they do.  Not to mention all the emotions and themes that the reader experiences when reading, such as lust, love, anger, loss, tragedy, and jealousy, just to name a few that I have already encountered. For these reasons I feel the book is sufficiently challenging for a high school sophomore.  I chose this book because of the great reviews it has received, not only from newspapers and magazines but from peers and friends.  I chose a work of fiction like this over a work of non-fiction because I adore the way an author can, using only his or her mind, create a story so engulfing, the reader has no choice but to enter a world he knows is untrue, has been told is untrue, and yet, every time he reads it, even if for a split second, the story feels truer than you or I could ever hope to be.     

Water for Elephants, post B, week 1

November 21, 2007

While reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I was in quite and utter awe when I read that Jacob was told that his parents had died in a car accident (p. 17).  I felt this was a good way to transition into Jacob’s new life he will have to tackle, but at the same time I feel deaths, especially to one’s parents, are usually very strong events in a work of fiction.  Also, the author’s choice to put this in the book so early startled me because I wouldn’t have expected something that drastic to happen before a main setting and secondary characters are revealed.  Usually literacy works stay quite close to the basic story outline (rising action, conflict, etc.).  I don’t want to come off as if to criticize the author.  In fact, it’s quite refreshing to read a book that isn’t so tem plated.  I feel the author chose to put these deaths in the books in order to establish Jacob’s situation and why he had to leave.  It’s obvious that if he stayed in his town, he would only be able to think about his lost parents, like when he cannot take his test because he is thinking about the car crash (p. 22). Though it does seem apparent that these deaths won’t be the biggest conflicts in the book, and even though they may be mentioned once and a while, they will probably be thought as irrelevant to the current big conflict, whatever that may be. 

Water for Elephants, post A, week 1

November 21, 2007

In Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, I found 2 vocabulary words:  Devoid (p. 15), which means not possessing or owning something, untouched by, missing, void, and Pneumatic (p.10), which means Operated by air or the pressure or exhaustion of air.  I was also able to find three examples of figurative language.  For instance, page 12 includes a metaphor. “Age is a terrible thief.  Just when you’re getting the hang of life, it knocks your legs out from under you and stoops your back” (p. 12). This passage from the book is a metaphor because it is comparing to very unlike things, aging and thieves.  On page 22, you can find an instance of a personification. “I’m aware of a heavy, wet noise, and realize it’s me,” (p. 22).  This is a personification because heavy and wet are usually things used to describe humans, not noises.  By doing this, the author personifies the word noises.  Also, on page 24, a simile can be found.  “My feet slip in the sloping gravel-it’s like running in sand, and I compensate by pitching forward,” (p. 24).  This is a simile because it is comparing two unlike things, sand and gravel, using like or as.  While reading, I found a quote that I find significant. “Although there are times I’d give anything to have her back, I’m glad she went first.  Losing her was like being cleft down the middle.  It was the moment it all ended for me, and I wouldn’t have wanted her to go through that.  Being the survivor stinks,” (p. 13).  I found this quote to be significant because it greatly shows the reader the pain Jacob must be going through, with losing his wife and being elderly and all.  It also shows the reader how caring Jacob is.  One emerging theme in the book seems to be grief, such as when Jacob finds out that his parents are dead and he spends must of his time grieving.        


The Sea Inside post #3

October 29, 2007

The Sea Inside used a lot of great visual methods to help the meaning of certain shots in the movie.  For instance, in one of the earlier shots in the movie, the camera is trucking from left to right to show all the books on the wall and the items in the bookcases, which acts as a sort of long title shot.  This shot has big significance because it helps introduce the actors. The meaning of the shot is to keep the viewer in suspense about what’s special about Ramon, and the director does this by not showing Ramon in this shot and only showing the books.  In another shot, the whole family, besides Ramon is at the diner table eating.  The shot is a medium that allows all of the people in viewing range.  This shot is pretty significant because it shows all the character’s emotions at once.  The meaning of the shot was to help the viewer see everyone at once.  In another part of the movie, there is a sequence of about 2 second silent medium shots to music showing the deferent love lives of the characters.  This scene was significant because it helped the viewer understand why some of them act the way they do, especially towards Ramon.  The meaning of the sequence was to show how all the characters handle love and relationships.  This is how The Sea inside used viewing techniques to further meanings in the movie.    

The Sea Inside post #2

October 29, 2007

I found that The Sea Inside and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly were both pretty similar and at the same time, very different.  They both dealt with the topics of death and paraplegics.  Also, they were both great examples of how one man’s story of immobility can change the way we think about death and, maybe more importantly, life.  Also, both were pretty entertaining in a sense that they both made you think about more than just what was being shown on the screen or written on the pages of the book.  A big difference between the book and the movie was the conflict.  In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The main conflict is that Bauby cannot move and is forced to reflect on his life while he awaits his inevitable death, and in The Sea Inside, the main conflict is that Ramon cannot move, and wants to kill himself because of it.  Also, the fact that the book was a memoir is a great difference because it could not be scripted in a way that would be more likeable, like you could with the movie.  The Sea inside was also dealing with a much more controversial topic, euthanasia, where The Diving Bell and the Butterfly wasn’t.  I thought The Sea Inside was probably more powerful than The Diving Bell and the Butterfly because with the movie, the directors could make certain things more suspenseful or powerful using different viewing techniques that you couldn’t do with a book, not to mention the book is a memoir, so it’s probably not as exciting as a scripted work of fiction.            

the sea inside post #1

October 29, 2007

I had a pretty positive general reaction to the The Sea Inside.  I thought the movie was very thoughtful and entertaining.  I thought Ramon’s request for assisted suicide was well deserved, because his life is his choice, especially if he is in that much pain.  I thought the court could have been more lenient about the request, and could have possibly let Ramon speak at the courthouse, but at the same time, you have to respect court procedures.  I thought his eventual actions, though illegal, were inevitable in a good way because this was obviously something he had thought about ever since his accident.  I think his friends who helped him where very courageous and brave because after Ramon dies, he wouldn’t have to worry about being arrested, but anyone who helped him with his death and was caught would be put in jail.