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Words, the Mirror of Our Characters

The Catcher in the Rye takes on the style of a monologue by Holden himself. Naturally, we readers receive the narrations completely from Holden’s perspective. As a judgmental, agitative, and cynical teenager, Holden’s narrations are filled with his distinctive characteristics such as cuss words and sarcastic tones. The way Holden talks about the people and things around him directly reflects his personalities. Thanks to Salinger’s meticulous narrations, we can further detect a bewildered, lonely, ludicrous and pitiful teenager under his self-conceit. Salinger’s demonstration of teen-age speech is wonderful: the unconscious humor, the repetitions, the slang and profanity, the emphasis, all perfectly depict Holden as a sharp character. Holden’s mercurial changes of mood, his stubborn refusal to admit his own sensitiveness and emotions, his cheerful disregard of what is sometimes known as reality are typically and heartbreakingly adolescent through Holden’s words.

An interesting characteristic Holden displays through his words is sadness. “It was even depressing out in the street. Your couldn’t even hear any cars any more. I got feeling so lonesome and rotten, I even felt like waking Ackley up.”(pg.50) Even though he’s judged Ackley to be pimply and disgusting (and painted a portrait of him as a social outcast), Holden still reaches out to the guy when he feels lonely. Holden hates everybody, but he’s lonely. He ends up being sad for receiving a present.He rejects everything and everyone around him that his solitude and isolation could be increasingly sensed by the readers toward the end of the book, especially when his depressive moods deepened and his mental conditions collapsed.

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Loneliness

When Holden is walking in nighttime New York, he feels “so lonesome and depressed” and keeps wishing that he “could go home and shoot the bull for a while with old Phoebe” (pg.81). In New York Holden’s nightmarish efforts to escape from himself by liquor, sex, night clubs, movies, sociability–anything and everything–are fruitless. Misadventure piles on misadventure, but he bears it all with a grim cheerfulness and stubborn courage. He is finally saved as a result of his meeting with his little sister Phoebe, the single person who supplies and just in time–the affection that Holden needs. Phoebe, the only person with whom Holden’s really connected throughout the book also seems to be the one that understands him the most. She points out to Holden that he could not “name one thing” that he likes, but she is simultaneously a patient listener and a good companion. Holden, sometimes hysterical, craves for human company deep within and all that hidden emotion if revealed through his words.

Holden’s Troubled Mental Condition

In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden’s word choice is highly characteristic, with countless slang words and cynical tone toward everything. In Walt Whitman’s Slang in America <Language and Composition>, he defines slang as “the lawless germinal element, below all words and sentences, and behind all poetry”. It seems like Whitman holds a reverse attitude toward the viral slang words, perennial in modern world. Slang escapes from “bald literalism”, according to Whitman, demonstrating the froth of newly developed language. Holden doesn’t care much about conventional regulations or morality, just like slang words disobey the aesthetics of poetry and literature and instead pursue a fleeting trend. Holden’s forthright expressions directly help readers visualize a sharp character.

We can also view the fact that words directly reveal personalities from a scientific perspective. It is how an author expresses his or her thoughts that reveals character, asserts social psychologist James W. Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin. When people try to present themselves a certain way, they tend to select what they think are appropriate nouns and verbs, but they are unlikely to control their use of articles and pronouns. These small words create the style of a text, which is less subject to conscious manipulation. Pennebaker’s statistical analyses have shown that these small words may hint at the healing progress of patients and give us insight into the personalities and changing ideals of public figures, from political candidates to terrorists.

Holden Caulfield, by Mesymes, Deviant Art

As the epitome of teenage rebels, Holden is a dynamic and complicated character with sadness, loneliness, hysteria, and struggle all revealing through his judgments and narrations. After describing an experience with meticulous details, Holden’s heated dispositions start to abate. Toward the end of the novel, Holden seems ready to surrender to the inevitability of growing up. He no longer wants to talk about anything. He is exhausted, physically and emotionally, ready to go home and collapse.

Work Cited: Dönges, Jan. “What Your Choice of Words Says about Your Personality.”Scientific American. Scientific American, 01 July 2009. Web. 08 June 2016.

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Literary Fanzine Day

On May 31st, our group led a class activity called “literary fanzine day” based on The Catcher in the Rye. The word “fanzine” may not seem familiar to students, but it’s definitely not estranged from the modern literary world. A blend of fan and magazine, or -zine, fanzine is a nonprofessional and nonofficial publication produced by fans of a particular cultural phenomenon(such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest. Fanzines dates back to 1940’s science fictions and were first popularized within science fiction fandom, from whom it was adopted by others. These self published, photocopied collections of images and text are sometimes made into homemade magazines to promote a message or idea. The popularity and significance of zines are also revealed thorough underground punk and artistic subcultures.

Examples of Fanzines

The unique thing about fanzines is that their publishers, editors and contributors of articles or illustrations receive no financial compensation because fanzines are entirely prompted by people’s love for something. On Tuesday, we provided each group with a theme and the corresponding character such as Holden for rebelliousness and Carl Luce for sex life. We encouraged the class to be as creative with the themes they as possible. Students could cut out words, phrases, or images from magazines, doodle, and customize their pages any way they wanted. We had some amazing results. Completely unrelated subjects in the multifaceted magazines could be turned into a comprehensive analysis of Catcher in the Rye themes.  Each group created their own stylish Catcher in the Rye fanzine which was collected at the end to be stapled into a color-page mini magazine.

By conducting this “literary fanzine” activity, we wanted to invigorate our classmates’ artistic potentials and encourage them to get the ideas in their head onto the paper in creative and illustrative forms. As it turned out, they produced impressive results in just one class period. There are so many contemplative details in the book and so many ways to present our thoughts about Catcher in the Rye. We have only touched upon one small aspect of the book’s interpretations, but we hope that through this activity our classmates can feel how enjoyable it is to occasionally stray away from a traditional class setting and incorporate arts and crafts into their study.

 

Beauty of the Ordinary

“Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss….” He turned to me. “But every once in a while, you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”

When I glimpsed through the plot online before I watched it, Flipped seemed like  a long, insipid narrative filled with outdated cliches. A girl from a low-class family, Juli Baker, fell in love with her neighbor, the self-conceited Bryce Loski who held himself on the moral high ground. As I got into the movie, however, the nostalgic sincerity delivered intact by the warmly colored scenes and unvarnished story line, surprisingly, with simplicity struck right in the bottom of my heart. It amazed me how  seemingly plain lines could be so contemplative and poetic, with an interesting philosophical twist to them. The scene where Juli Baker and her father talking about his paintings, from which the quote above is extracted, brings up the dazzling moments of my life in my mind. What I’ve seen, what I’ve smelled, and what I’ve felt in my everyday life had seemed so ordinary to me, but they came to me as if polished all of a sudden. Pondering over the iridescent moments that flashed through my brain, as simple as a cherry blossom in my palm, a streak of light slipped through the tree leaves, the scent of hyacinth, or a hovering humming bird in a chilly morning, I begin to wonder how we come to define “iridescent things” in our lives.

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Juli found her iridescent moments on a large sycamore tree on which she could overlook the field and watch the skyline stretch far. She loved the picturesque horizon at dawn and dusk and the way she felt on that sycamore tree when her father’s words that “the whole can be more than the sum of its parts” came to meaning in her heart. When the sycamore tree was to be cut down for real property, it broke Juli’s heart. While Juli cherished the sycamore tree, others were eager to bring it down for commercial uses. With different perspectives and values, a thousand people have a thousand varying scales in their heart that evaluate, sometimes unconsciously, the worth of the world. In this instance, the appeal of nature doesn’t triumph over the appeal of profits. Nature is highly praised in paintings and poetry and vehemently protected among environmentalists, but it is neglected or viewed as trivial in developed countries where the government prioritizes industrial development. Yes, it might be a compromise out of careful debate, but all I’m saying is that our stances determine the way we view the things around us. If we take another angle to look at the word, we might just be astonished how ordinary things can shine so brightly in our routine life.

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Becoming Lazy

Laziness. It is something that many people face today.

Laziness (also called indolence) is “a disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to act or exert oneself”.

The source of becoming lazy, or a coach-potato is one’s hobbies. If a person has active hobbies and is usually outside; then they will mostly be a healthy and active person. If a person’s hobbies involve minimum activity; then the person will most likely spend their days laying down and being idle.

I am a person who likes reading books and watching movies or TV shows; so I spend most of my day offs laying down and being inactive. The only time I do get up and be active is when someone either makes me get up and do something, or when I have to do something for school or for a friend.

So, I guess that I am a lazy person. Yes, reading books does help you become a better writer and makes you more imaginative, but what does it do for your body? Usually, when you are reading a book, you are either sitting or laying down. So, when reading, it keeps your brain active, but your body idle.

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©2012 @simpleinsomnia [ CC BY 2.0]
Also, watching TV keeps you in a vegetated state; where your body barely moves. Your eyes are focused in one area, and all you do is watch other people act out scenes and plots that are interesting to you. What  you watch may make you think more or less, depending on the genre. Usually, when you watch a movie, you are more inclined to eating junk food, whether it be popcorn, snacks, candy, or chocolate.

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©2012 Mr. Hyde [ CC BY 2.0]
Since I read and watch a lot in my spare time, I am not as active as I would like to be. Yes, school projects and assignments or social gatherings may keep me from becoming totally inactive, but if I had an option of spending my day walking around in a park or reading a really interesting book, I would pick the book.

I used to be a really active person when I was younger, but I started to become lazier the more I aged. I guess it also had a lot to do with the people I surround myself with. Even when I was younger, I would always have to repeatedly ask my older sister and cousins to come and play with me. They would rather sit down and talk about their day or whatever interested them at the moment, so I would be left restless and bored.

I guess I just started getting used to not having anyone to go and play outside with me, so I started to sit and talk with them also. So, after I while, I too, started to become inactive. I started to become lazy.

 

 

Ambiguous Reality

How do we define the word “real”? Where are the boundaries that separate reality and everything else? In my strangest imaginations, reality is the one side of the mirror that most people see themselves in everyday.

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For hundreds of years. the inscrutable fence of reality has been struck down by mysterious, befuddling phenomenons and incidents.Yes, we’ve all heard of the construction of ancient miracles such as the Stonehenge and the Pyramids. We can go a little more unexceptional than the miraculously mathematical coincidences of bricks and stones. Have you ever felt that your dream is real? The Matrix depicts a computer-generated world where the people in the Matrix live in their computer-programmed dreams, perceiving green bar codes as reality. The “extractors” in Inception perform espionage in targets’ dreams, sometimes losing themselves in multiple layers of dream. Dream intrigues us in that they are really not so different from our memories. They are both shadowed, fragmented vignettes. Some cultures in the world view dreams as foresight of life in which the snatchy images reflect future events. Although we sight glimpses of superstition in that idea, it’s also harmless to accept it as an exotic insight since it is absolutely out of the way of textual criticism.

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As said, under current technology there’s no way to prove the validity of such “future-predicting” theory. Who knows? Maybe it’s just the physiological irregularities humans so enthusiastically exaggerated to add some spices to routine life. Or perhaps it is the justification that humans developed for their unconstrained fancies.


If we simply define real as the scent we smell, the colors we see, or the flavors we taste, then reality is just the electricity transmitted throughout our body, which seems a rather insipid idea we wouldn’t be interested to embrace. The ambivalence that reality can be both objective and vicarious leads to more complex philosophies. Based on “subject reality”, personal contact with the world creates multifaceted realities for each individual. Extreme cases such as paranoia and autism also branch off of that basic theology in which individuals with irregular body functionalities see the worlds differently from others. However, if we argue that reality lies in scientific observations and universal laws, we regard reality as precise, uniform, and tenable. In order to pursue such “reality”, humans beings would try to limit sensual variations in return for affirmative facts because emotions obscure reason, infiltrating us with reckless sentiments and thus disabling us to see “reality”.

History has sorted out categories for us albeit the undefined boundaries of subjective and objective realities. Philosophy, literature, and religion are vastly open to individual interpretations while science and mathematics emphasize on accuracy and plausibility. We, neither thinkers nor scholars (for now), may have the freedom to define the world as fit, or, not uncommonly, alter the very face of reality.

Friends

Friends.Friends comes and goes.

I’ve learned it the hard way.

Throughout my 17 years, I’ve made tons of friends and sat on the sideline watching as almost all of them walked away.

After getting bullied by my “friends” in middle school, my body unconsciously started building a self-defense mechanism. Whenever someone suddenly gets too close, I unconsciously push them away.

It was freshmen year, and most of the people I knew either chose Fountain Valley High School or Westminster High School while I was the only one from my middle school that decided to attend Huntington Beach High School. I had a few acquaintances at Huntington Beach High School, but that was it. I was new, a lone awkward fish in a tank full of intimidating sharks and beautiful dolphins swimming around graciously.

I was scared.

I remember getting lost on the first day of school. I was running around looking for my health class, D-11, when I suddenly bumped into a group of teenage boys – roughly around 5 –ditching class. They helped me get to my health class and left, after making sure supervision wasn’t around first, of course. When I got into health class, people were already sitting with their friends and there really weren’t any place for me. Dolphins and sharks, I thought, as I walked to the back of the classroom. Halfway into class, our teacher suddenly assigned us to fill out a “get to know your classmate” form. A short girl with blonde hair and Asian features walked up to me and started talking to me, she was witty and joked about almost everything. She was laid-back, we talked as if we’ve known each other for years and by lunch, we were inseparable, her name is Katherine.

I realized then that this tank had other different marine mammals rather than just strictly sharks and dolphins. There are the whales, octopuses, orcas, sea lions, seals, sea otters and many more.

credit: http://cdn.earthporm.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/orcas-jumping.jpg

The groups of teenage boys I’ve encounter earlier would be classified as Orcas in my book. Orcas are known to be highly intelligent, sociable, protective of one another, and immediately come to aid of an ailing or injured companion. Katherine would be a dolphin, but a short beaked common dolphin, as they are familiar to other people and sociable, but they always return home.

credit:http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/styles/lightbox/public/22.jpg?itok=ClXcL5LP

When I told Katherine about this, she laughed and told me to just let loose. Her exact words were, “Oh come on! You’re a high school student, a teenager to be exact. You’re supposed to learn things, get hurt and grow during the process. If you block out everything, how are you going to experience it and learn from it? Oh wait. You don’t.”

Katherine gave me that push, and each of my friends there (also including the group of boys that were ditching) pushed me one by one until I am where I am today.

A lot happened to me in 9th grade, I discovered I had some kind of health problem, my sisters were moving out and my best friend was moving to the UK, it was the lowest point in my 17 years old life, but Katherine, Tyler, James, Chris, Alex, Paul (the 5 ditching boys), Michael and Michelle never left, instead they stayed with me through thick and thin, to which I am entirely grateful for.

Thank you guys.

Ft. Image credits: http://backpackeradvice.com/blog/reasons-to-go-travelling.html

Choice or Concession

As we come to the second decade of the 21st century, we certainly have greatly improved our daily life, with access to a great variety of commodities. Simultaneously, the choices that are offered to us have burgeoned. For goods ranging from office supplies to large-size furniture, we have an incredible selection and prices vary as well. The price difference is subject to origin of the materials, manufacturing, freight, taxes, etc. Most of us would agree that we get what we pay for, which implies that higher costs lead to better qualities which lead to a higher standard of living. However, sometimes we have to compromise when we are unwilling or simply unable to pay for the benefits. Does that mean we have to choose between quality and cheaper price? Which one would most people choose then?

An answer to the question is revealed through a recent “innovation” in the airline companies in the US. United and American airlines just announced that they would introduce “basic economy”, an even lower-standard class than economy class, to their routes. This alternative provides a lower cost by cutting the countable benefits we would enjoy in the economy class such as choosing your seats beforehand. Interestingly, this dilemma proves to lean toward the money saving side. Travelers would actually give up some comfort for a cheaper price. As a result, airline companies gain more revenue through this “basic economy”

Comparing the revenue increase with department stores get more profits during a sale, it it is not difficult to see that the temptation of saving money is way more popular among the customers/consumers than other perceivable benefits such as more long-lasting products and a more enjoyable flight. It is arguable if our current economic system is forcing us to solve the dilemma, but we shouldn’t ignore a simple fact that a cheaper price is not a factor of consideration for a lot of people. In other words, those people are able to pursue quality and comfort without being too concerned about the factor of money. After all, it is our economic capabilities that define the quality of our lives.

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Reference: W., A. ““Last Class” Is Here to Stay on America’s Airlines.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 02 May 2016. Web. 02 May 2016.

Conquering Fears

Performing. Whether it be an essay or a scene; it will always be stressful and nerve-wracking before you start your presentation. Very few people are blessed enough to never worry about performing, because they don’t care how well they will present their piece. Yet, many of us unlucky ones have the unfortunate —– that make us very nervous when preparing and performing our pieces.

I hated that feeling, so I decided to face and overcome it. I auditioned for my school’s singing competition called FVHS: The Voice, and hoped for the best. Out of the entire school, I was one of the top 25 students to get picked!

All 25 of us students had to go to a lunch meeting, so that the director, who was also a teacher, can tell us how the show will be, how many people are expected to come, what the judges will look for in our performance, when to come for the mic check, and when the show will start.

After the meeting, I walked out with a pounding heart, shaking hands, and an indecisive (and doubtful) mind. Will I be able to perform in front of so many people? How will I keep my heart steady while I sing? What if I mess up?

As time went on, and I practiced a lot with my friend (who was also my guitarist), the day to sing and perform came. I met all of the contestants, and got to spend some time talking and getting to know them. I realized that I was not the only one afraid and nervous; almost every 25 of the contestants were as nervous as me, some more. Once I realized that, it somehow calmed me. I started to become the calm one telling other people that everything will be alright, that their performance will be awesome.

Once I heard the speaker say my name, and it was my turn to go up on the stage and sing, I was calm. All I saw were bright lights and a small dark place where I couldn’t see anyone. I started to only look at that area, but once I became more comfortable singing, I was able to turn and look at everyone.

I looked at the entire audience, and realized my mind was my greatest weakness. I imagined the audience to be five times the amount of people there actually was. I made myself think that the audience’s numbers would be equivalent to one of a celebrity’s concert; instead of hundreds of thousands, there was a little more than a hundred.

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(How I thought it would be) [ Pubic Domain]
So I sang; I focused on each notes and challenging rifts of my song. The longer I sang, the more nervous I got, which confused me. I was calm in the beginning, but somehow the longer I was in the spotlight, and everyone was staring at me, the more nervous I got about making a mistake in front of everyone.

But, I made it through without making any mistakes. I’m so proud that I faced my fears, that I don’t care if I didn’t make it to the next level. I did what I came to do: face my fears of performing.

-Iman