Crisis/Resolution Analysis: “The Great Silence” By: Ted Chiang

This story is narrated by a parrot, which I found oddly unique and definitely not something I would normally read. Overall, Chiang was able provide big ideas and direct questions. “Why aren’t they interested in listening to our voices?” and “Aren’t we exactly what the humans are looking for?” (Chiang, 231). Chiang definitely pulls his audience in, and at times I felt like what I was reading was real. As if, this was non-fiction. A way for Chiang to open our eyes and put those thoughts/ideas into our heads. Maybe even wanting us question our own thinking? The story is delivered in sections and gives with it different mysteries that in the end, all combine as a whole. In the beginning sections, an example about the African grey, Alex is explained about how this parrot demonstrated to humans how parrots can understand concepts; such as shapes and colors. As well as a parrot’s unique contact call, how they can learn vocally, and empathizes with humans for assuming we weren’t “bright” from not recognizing a parrots intelligence right away. Next, Chiang dives into Hindu and the parrot describes the Hindu concept “the universe was created with the sound “om””. (Chiang, 235). We learn that parrots have their own myths that are at risk of dying with them, even though we are never actually told what that is exactly. But… maybe that’s the point? I am not sure if I am responding to this part correctly, since this story is different from the typical plot arc. 

As for the resolution, I feel there is no straight to the point conclusion. Aside from the parrot accepting their fate, and the upsetting realization that it cannot be changed. Not placing blame for humans being the reason for their extinction, “They just weren’t paying attention.” (Chiang, 235). The ending is not a happy one, but simply a message the parrot left with us that amplifies the sadness of the undeniable truth. Repeating what Alex, the African grey said to the researcher right before the parrot’s death, ‘You be good. I love you.” (Chiang, 236). 

But… What does “You be good. I love you.” (Chiang, 236) reveal? What does it mean?

I feel that could be the parrot barring farewell, with forgiveness. Repeating the same mantra as Alex. Sending the message out there for us to hopefully hear them. Since mankind is so focused on seeing what else is out there, instead of seeing what is right in front of us. Question is, how will we be able to forgive and love ourself? 

By: A.Stuebbe

Ted Chiang. Exhalation : Stories. Vintage, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1868206&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Style Analysis: “The Black Cat” By: Edgar Allen Poe

What in the…

Alright, I was at a loss for words through most of the story and at the end I fist-bumped the air like nobody’s business. Like holy freaking crap, the emotions Poe evoked from me were irrevocably insane. My jaw fell straight to the floor when he axed his wife… like what in the heck?! Talk about an escalated plot twist! The tone I got from this story is ironic. While the narrator is trying to convince the audience that he is sane, all the while going into detail about his horrific behavior. In the beginning he states “From infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition” (Poe).  Ironic, right? He is the COMPLETE opposite of what he is telling us.  All of the grim events that he inflicted, like stabbing the eye of his cat and then killing it and murdering his wife; he then went on with casual indifference. Acting with out a care and showing no remorse, even as he carefully and meticulously tombs his wife’s body in the wall. By the way… I noticed that after he murdered HIS WIFE, he then refers to her as “the corpse” or “it”. As if she never was and held no importance to him. The ending is also ironic, because the narrator is overly confident with his “burying the wife” skills. Tapping on the wall where his wife resides, unbeknownst that the cat (beast) he so dreadfully despises will meow back and cause his evil deed to be revealed. 

The mood is pretty on point, going with ominous and horrific. Poe provides dark language throughout the story, and even named the cat ‘Pluto” which means roman God of the Underworld. I mean, that right there is gothic and dark. There is superstition with the black cat and the house fire, providing symbolism with the wall left standing with a mark that looks like Pluto when he was hung. The symbol being revenge. Along with superstition, we were then introduced to another cat who resembles Pluto. It is obvious this is horror fiction, because of the narrators cruel intentions and murderous crimes. I even felt half-crazed just reading this, tapping into the mind of an unstable, violent individual. 

Here I just wanted to drop a few examples of figurative language I found in the text. Yes, I know there is more. For this though, I just wanted to keep it short and sweet.

 SIMILE – “But my disease grew upon me — for what disease is like alcohol!” (Poe). Obviously comparing alcohol to a disease, amplifying the negative effects of alcohol. Perhaps Poe has experienced the ill effect of alcohol firsthand, since the narrator in the story is consumed by it from beginning to end. 

HYPERBOLE – “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me.” (Poe). Clearly exaggerated, but another way to show his violent side from his indulgence of alcohol. Showing us his short fuse and bad temper, allowing his rage to take over. A way to let the audience know that he was so angry, he was seeing red. 

PERSONIFICATION – “I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire.” (Poe). Fires do not not literally cry, but it provides us a way to envision the sound that woke him up. Giving sound effects to create the atmosphere being told. 

By: A.Stuebbe

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Black Cat”. 1845. https://poestories.com/read/blackcat

Setting Analysis: “A Rose For Emily” By: William Faulkner

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. This story intrigued me with the non-traditional theme, the mystery and gothic elements to it. I would say the movement for this story is Modernism, but also could be Naturalism. For modernism, noting from the time stamp of when it first appeared in 1930, but also because it portrays outside of normal tradition. Provides the readers with a sense of disorientation from Emily and the confusion throughout the town. This was also post Civil War. Faulkner had two of the main character embody characteristics of the decades-old feud. Emily portrayed as the “South” and Homer portrayed as the “North”.  As another thought, this could be paired into Naturalism as well… that era was diving into psychology, human behaviors and their outcomes.  The story begins in the year of 1894 in the beginning of the flashback. 

What year is it?

  • This is not a set in stone answer since it spans throughout Emily’s life. The story provides a flashback at the year of 1894 when she was relieved from paying taxes. We can surmise that the bulk of the story takes places the decade and few that follow it. Ending when she died at the age of 74.

What Country and region does it take place in? 

  • The story takes place in America, with the fictional city of Jefferson, Mississippi in the southern county of Yoknapatawpha. 

What is the political climate?

  • The town believes in the hierarchy that Emily’s family represents. Emily has been isolated due to the patriarchy from her father, when she has her breakdown to her illness; her money and social standing are what protects her. When Emily falls in love with Homer, the town cannot seem to understand or accept how she can be with someone that is a lower class northerner. 
  • This is also based Post Civil War from when there used to be slaves, but the African Americans are still not being seen as equals.

What is the culture like?

  • The era from the story is very different from our present day. So, what would be acceptable now, would be frowned upon back then. This story follows southern tradition and societal rules. Portraying the victorian era with women and the gossip that spread from Emily’s lack of husband and children. Back then, women were to be married in their 20s and already start to have kids. Emily being in her 30s went against the “established” tradition. I believe Faulkner used this perspective of Emily as a way to show that rules can be broken and that she embodies “change” in a sense. 

What specific things are apart of the surroundings?

  • Her house was stated that it is intricately decorated with cupolas, spires, and scrolled balconies, has fallen out of date and into disrepair. Also, the fact that it used to be white, suggesting the house has yellowed with age and that the paint has chipped to reveal the material underneath. 
  • The parlor: so old it “smelled of dust and disused” (Faulkner) and also “was furnished in heavy leather furniture” (Faulkner). 
  • When Faulkner mentioned the men sprinkling lime around her property to get rid of the bad smell.
  • “As they crossed the lawn, a window that had been darkness was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol.” (Faulkner). 

By: A.Stuebbe

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily”. New York. The Forum. 1930. https://americanliterature.com/author/william-faulkner/short-story/a-rose-for-emily

A piece of me…

*This is a creative non-fiction story that is based on my own personal past. A journey that shaped who I am today, and impacted my view on life. After years of keeping my inner thoughts to myself, I feel a sense of relief to write it down and put it out there for you to read.*

Normal Is Overrated

Lying in my twin-sized bed, staring up at the old faded stars stuck on the ceiling. At some point over the years, they stopped glowing, and I have been too dang lazy to take them down. It’s dark now. Leaving my window open to feel the crisp fall breeze filter inside and letting my thoughts drift with it. Four years. That is how long I have been imprisoned in this unknown agony. Trapped in my own body, my personal cage. My soul is wild and unbound, craving to do everything my body is denying. Forcefully squeezing my eyes shut, I clutch the downy blanket underneath me as I fist my hands. Not fair. This anger and frustration are pushing me to the edge of being defeated. Wanting to let myself succumb to the sadness within. I’m only 13 and 9 when this all began. Four long years of numerous doctors, tests, physical therapy. All were stating that there is nothing they can do, possibly arthritis or something I will outgrow. But this pain abusing my hips feels like a knife is slashing through my joints relentlessly. Depriving me of running, walking with being forced to limp, and even hindering me from putting on my own damn socks. Helpless. My eyes burn as a single tear wanders down my cheek as I drift off to sleep. Mentally preparing myself for another doctor’s appointment tomorrow and seeing no hope in sight.

            The following day, I was sitting in University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Another waiting room in a different hospital, but they all began to look the same. The warn leather seat I’m sitting in does nothing for comfort. I start mindlessly scraping my nail over the rough edges of a tear in the cushion while silently watching people shuffle around the halls. My mom sits impatiently next to me as we wait to be called back for my MRI the doctor requested before meeting him. Checking in and answering the nurse’s questions feel robotic to me now. Time dragged on before we were called back. The MRI tech informed me that I would be receiving a contrast dye intravenously before the scan begins. The pinch from the needle was minor, and I could feel the dye’s chilled liquid creep through my veins. A sudden rush of metal and a tang of bitterness overflowed my taste buds. The scan was almost tranquil, even if this platform I lay on is unwelcomely cold. Goosebumps raised on my arms as a shiver swept over me. Closing my eyes, enjoying the steady hum of the machine and savoring this unperturbed moment.

An hour later, the nurse sent me to the doctor’s room to wait. I figured I should try to make myself comfortable in this faded brown suede chair since it will be awhile. My mom next to me began flicking her nails. Ugh. The sound of it makes me cringe. Every. Single. Time. Before I tell her to stop, she starts to enlighten me about what she feels might be “wrong with me” from her latest search on Google. My mother thinks Google knows all and can “cure” me. Restraining from rolling my eyes, I ignore her and glance around the room. Just another white, sterile, and impersonal space that smells like disinfectant. My chest begins to feel tight, but why? I have no hope left to give. Maybe it’s nerves or the depressing expectation of another dead end. Amid my thoughts, a knock sounded right before the door edged open. The doctor ushered himself inside, his face brightening offering us a cheerful smile causing the corners of his eyes to wrinkle. He reached out his hand to introduce himself.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Hashkis. So nice to meet you!”. He beamed, gently shaking my hand.

            I looked up hesitantly as I shook his rough, calloused hand. “Hi… Ali. But you probably already knew that.”

            He nodded in agreement. Then proceeded to introduce himself to my mom. I braced myself for what he was going to say next. I could see his eyes vaguely dim as he crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the counter. His smile softened as he looked at me. The pounding of my heart began to quicken. My breath caught when he started to speak.

“The contrast dye that was administered for your MRI scan allowed me to see a more in-depth view compared to a regular scan. What I found was cysts on your hips that are slowly causing those joints to deteriorate. In simpler terms, your body is attacking itself.”

            I think I blacked out. Not sure if I was still breathing. Shell-shocked. Dr. Hashkis noticed my distress and continued speaking before I could ask what all this meant.

            He uncrossed his arms, folding his hands in front of him—sympathy in his eyes. “I need to be blunt on this, and I apologize. Your diagnosis is called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is an autoimmune disease. Your case is rare since, typically, this is most common in someone much older. Then, add that there is no family history with this disease that you are aware of. Unfortunately, there is no cure. There are treatments, though. You are so young, and I am afraid if you do not start treatment… you will need a hip replacement by the time you turn 20.”

            My eyes were burning from the tears that I struggled to hold in. This doctor just laid it all out there. My chest felt like it was just ripped open. My mom began rubbing my back, asking about the treatments, while I retreated to my internal chaos.

            The doctor turned those empathetic eyes back on me. “I want to start treatment today. This will be in the form of injections twice a week, and we can provide your first one here to show you. The shots will need to be administered behind your arms, stomach, or the top of your thighs. The medicine will help, though, significantly.”

            No words left my mouth; I just nodded and let my mom discuss the rest of the details. Well… I got my answer I so desperately wanted. Was I ready to face it? Do I have a choice? No. No choice. I am being forced to dive headfirst before I can even grasp my new reality. NOT CURABLE. Those words constantly cycling in my head. Devastation. Confusion. WHY ME?! I should be thankful the doctor found the reason for my pain. But, why do I feel so frustrated towards him? How awful can I be to be mad at the one person who provided an answer? Deep down, I knew why… it was an answer I did not want to hear. My head dropped down, my eyes downcast, my hair falling over my shoulders, and the tears that threatened to fall finally let loose. Each drop trailed down my face, speckling my denim jeans. I felt broken.

            That night I holed myself in my room, keeping the lights off and drowning in my own misery. My mother now looked at me with pity, as did the rest of my family. I just want to be “normal” like the other kids. Clenching my teeth together, I tucked myself deep in my closet, pressing my face to my pillow, and screamed my bloody heart out. My throat ached as I crawled back in bed. An unforgiving pounding started intruding my head. No more tears would fall tonight as I welcomed the blackness that swept over me, allowing me to escape this harsh truth that was now my life.

            I’m ashamed of myself for the maddening thoughts I have, even though a month has passed. Staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, taking in the bruises that marred my body. The injection sights stayed permanently sore each week. This darkness that invades my thoughts is not who I am—becoming infuriated with myself. Why am I wallowing around when so many others have it worse? The reality of that epiphany slapped me across the face. Dragging my gaze to my eyes, I stared directly at myself—determination washing over me.

            A few months went by, and the pain was subsiding. I could run again. The door to my personal cage tore open. I ran and never stopped. I was reveling in the feeling of the wind brushing through my hair and against my face. The sound of my feet pounding on the concrete, pushing my legs as fast as they would allow. Arms pumping and lungs burning, I felt free.

            With this new form of freedom, I joined the track and cross-country team in 8th grade and all through high school. I pushed my body to the limit every practice. I still felt that my disease was on display as if everyone could tell I was not “normal.” I kept my condition a secret from even my close friends. Afraid they would see me different, with pity-filled eyes.

            I refused to feel helpless again, and a fire developed to keep my body strong. Punishing and demanding myself to exert more strength, I began improving. Finishing each race with a faster time. Reciting the well-known phrase “pain is weakness leaving the body.” I willed that to be accurate and exhausted myself each day, filling my need to do better.

*15 Years Later *

Sitting on the white wood bench, looking out at the crystal blue water of the ocean. The salty breeze billowing around me, seagulls soaring overhead, thinking back to when my life changed. My lips curved upward, wishing I could tell that little girl back then that everything will be okay. I began writing in my journal, becoming aware of the hardship I had to work through; that’s what made me stronger. The battle I had to face mentally in the past had fueled my will—a will to overcome those struggles. I’m proud that I made my body strong because at 28 years old, I still have not needed a hip replacement. My recent MRI scan showed no further damage inflicted on my hips. A sense of calm washed over me, taking a deep breath and exhaling. I looked up at the cloudless sky and huffed a laugh. Remembering that I just wanted to be “normal.” Smiling to myself, I knew with absolute clarity that normal is overrated.

By: A.Stuebbe

For the taking

What is our purpose? Where do we go from here?

This life we live is ours to take

People tell us what we should do, how we should think…

What’s the point?

Their meddling and unsolicited advice makes me want to drink

Craving the path that has not been traveled

Let them judge. Let them spew their biased opinions

The headache attached to them is not worth the hassle

Let us not follow the crowd

But to choose our own destiny and be proud.

By: A.Stuebbe

Stuck Undertow

Surges of crystal waves roll upon the shore

A wondrous sight that cannot be ignored

Life up here is quaint and peaceful

But appearances can be deceitful

Reeling me in like a magic trick

Only to pull me under lightning quick

Anchors tugging me down below

Darkness engulfing me nice and slow

Trapped undersea silently drowning

No one would hear if I tried shouting

Pain ricocheted from loss? Grief?

The bond severed; my trust stolen like a thief

These rugged scars placed on my heart

Retaliated by slowly tearing me apart

Accepting the end of motherly love

Willing the cold depths to take me, praying to God above

– A.Stuebbe

Captured Moment

Darkness fades as the moon drops

Light shining through the mountaintops.

Silence settles in my soul

Beauty of the world making me feel whole.

The untouched powder glistening

The wind quietly whispering.

Crisp air brushing my skin

Breathing deeply as I take it all in.

Life keeps ticking as times burning

The World forever keeps turning.

This moment will come and go

A picturesque to bestow.

Closing my eyes briefly

My inner thoughts drifting freely.

Calmness washing over me

As I find peace in Tennessee.

By: A.Stuebbe

Fields of Green

Blades of green swaying gracefully

The wind fluting dreamy melodies

White plumes floating up high

Birds chirping sweet lullabies

Rays of yellow making everything vibrant

Emotions filling with excitement

Greedily inhaling the open air

The fresh earthy scent is everywhere

The landscape so lush and serene

Disbelief as to how much of the world is unseen

Laying back to soak up the beams of the sun

Wishing time would stop, this feeling has me undone

By: A.Stuebbe

Fear

Sitting here

The doubts fester and surface with fear

Fear she lost herself

Desires shoved up on a tattered shelf

Struggling, lost in the abyss

No one to save her, she’s been dismissed

The tears are casted aside, ignored

She fears no one truly cares anymore

How did she get here?

She’s lost and who she is just disappeared

The love for her has waned

His passion seems restrained

She wants to feel worth it

Her body to be worshipped

To show the desire

Rekindle the love that burned like fire

But there are parts of her he hates

The hurt sinks her heart with grievous weights

They’re change has caught up with reality

Praying to find herself and heat their love to a new degree

By: A.Stuebbe

Tragic Storm

Inky clouds veiled the night sky, filtering in

Rain pelting on my porcelain skin

Sounds of God’s bowling from up above

A beautiful ballad to be sung

Deafening roars tumbled around

Then silence ascended, hearing no sounds

Streaks of white flared the world alight

Crackling loud, a magical sight

Ceaseless drops chilled my bones

Restless thoughts invade of the unknown

Sorrow absorbing all the air

Loneliness? Despair? I almost can’t bare

Vortex of winds swirl about

Frightening visions unfold as I cry out

By: A.Stuebbe