All posts by Thomas Pawluk

Final Reflections

In the time spent analyzing texts and reflecting on them in this class, I realized that there were a lot of unique bodies of work that I never would have previously investigated if it were not for this class and I believe it was a positive experience. I have always liked poetry however never really read it or analyzed it. I never enjoyed drama plays but I enjoyed reading them through the lens of the assignments for this class. I always loved short stories like “The Thirteenth Night”, and analyzing pieces like this and many others from this class helped me learn a lot about myself and how I view the world, particularly when I was asked to comment about my initial reactions to the pieces.  

I would like to highlight my writing for Ichiyo’s “The Thirteenth Night”. This was the piece I enjoyed reading and writing about the most. I am not sure if it is necessarily my strongest writing by any means, but I will say It was the piece I was most mentally and emotionally invested in. I do not always have clear and identifiable ideas or feelings about a piece of literature, story, movie or poem, however this one resonated heavily with me. As I previously stated it may not be my strongest writing, but I am most proud of it because I felt very confident in the ideas and takeaways that I chose to write about in the assignments. 

I always find poetic analysis to be the most difficult for me. My personal outlook on poetry is that it is the raw expression of one’s mind. Because of this, it can be incredibly moving and beautiful, but also difficult to understand. There are people whose expressions and messages click with me right away and I understand what they were feeling when they wrote it clearly. Others it is less clear. It may be that the concepts that they are highlighting are foreign to me, the complexity of the poetic structure or vocabulary they choose to use, or even that I might just not resonate with their message. While it may be difficult for me to understand at times,  I feel as though it pushes me as a writer, reader and overall thinker. 

I enjoyed the body of work that we were asked to compose as a whole. I found the pieces to be very thought provoking and interesting, while also not being repetitive. I feel that I have grown as a reader the most after this course and my ability to pull ideas from literature has greatly improved since the beginning. Thank you Professor P!

Poetry Analysis

The poem that I have selected is “Who Said It Was SImple” by Audre Lorde. This was actually the first poem I read out of those that were provided on blackboard, because the title initially grabbed my attention. I was interested by the title because I think of myself as an overthinker who tends to make life more complicated than it already is, but the title made me feel as though someone was telling me that was normal. The opening three liners also spoke to me very directly. “There are so many roots to the tree of anger that sometimes the branches shatter before they bear”, (Lorde Who said it was simple by Audre Lorde). These lines resonated with me and my life experience because I felt as though they were saying that there are countless reasons to be angry or upset, to a point where they lose their merit. 

The poem would most likely be accepted as Lorde highlighting the hypocrisy in the feminist movement at the time, in that they are fighting for liberation and equal rights, yet the movement is still very racist. They are only fighting for specific freedoms for specific people, and are contradicting the nature of their own movement by doing so. She states, “discussing the problematic girls they hire to make them free… and the ladies neither notice nor reject the slighter pleasures of their slavery”,  (Lorde Who said it was simple by Audre Lorde). She also explains later in the poem that she “sees causes both in color as well as sex” meaning that there are issues in equality with both aspects of humanity that need to be fixed, however one is being completely neglected, and she exists as a victim of both. 

This Poem by Lorde is a free verse poem. Something that is very noticeable in the structure of the poem is that there are 3 stanzas, of which the first and last are only 3 lines each, while the second stanza is 12. This structure breaks the poem up in a very distinct way which I believe has a specific purpose behind it.

I feel that this structure provides emphasis on the beginning and ending of the poem more impactful, the shorter stanza provides emphasis on the messages within it, as well as prevents the point from being diluted with words. Additionally I believe this structure gives the poem a sense of a beginning, middle and end. The first stanza feels like the introductory idea, the middle being the explanation and context, and the final stanza being the conclusion/major takeaway from the author. The length of each line starts to get shorter towards the end of the poem as well, which I believe further perpetuates the impact. 

The other poem I chose to analyze by Adure Lorde is named “Coal”. Coal is a lyric poem with racial commentary about black people and how they are viewed by whites.It is a three stanza poem that also has a beginning, middle and end feeling to it due to its structure. This poem however is not a story, nor does it have a particular setting. 

There are some overlapping ideas and techniques used in both poems. Both pieces include a racial commentary about the treatment of black in America. Lorde shows this by using coal and its black color to represent black people. Lorde states,  “As a diamond comes into a knot of flame I am black because I come from the earth’s inside Take my word for jewel in your open light”  (Lorde Coal by Audre Lorde). The reference to earth’s inside is that coal is black and comes from the earth, and the diamond is the result of coal when put under immense pressure. The structure of this poem is also identical to “Who Said It Was Easy’, in that it is only 3 stanzas, of which the first and last are significantly shorter than the middle. 

I feel as though Lorde had an internal mission that she was carrying out through her poetry to highlight the humanity and greatness of black people. In both the poems that I chose to analyze She had highlighted how black people in society are often neglected, even by those who claim to believe in equal rights. She attempts to show the humanity of people of color in the way she describes herself and others. Her poems also tend to open and end with her major points. They are often short and concise while grabbing your attention and driving home her point in a meaningful way. Her middle stanzas seem to always tell some sort of story or perspective to provide context for how she is thinking, why, and what she is choosing to bring attention to.

I find Lorde’s poems to be rather emotional. They invoke a feeling of sadness and empathy within me because I feel I am peering into the mind of a good person who wants to be understood and accepted for what she is, in a world that is far too ignorant to do so. I do not personally share the struggles that people of color have and continue to experience, however I believe everyone at some point in their life has experienced what it is like to feel like an outcast. To feel like no matter what you do sometimes people will just not like you, or even tolerate you and it is a terrible feeling. Her experience is an extreme version of this and the way she chooses to articulate it I find to be very elegant and graceful.

Marriage Proposals

In “Marriage Proposals”  Chekov is highlighting the fact that the traditions of marriage and proposals both have not changed. He essentially mocks the idea of the proposal by showing that the feelings expressed or felt by the characters can completely contradict the circumstances, or how they actually feel about the other person. In reference Kitchener’s article, Chekov is in a way, agreeing with her point of view that proposals are stupid, overemphasized while highlighting that they can be completely theatrical while lacking true meaning. 

Chekov also shows that the societal view on marriage, even in contemporary marriages, are largely impacted by gender roles. This relates to the point made in the article regarding symbolic gendering. Chekov shows elements of very traditional marriages such as the man asking the woman’s father for permission to marry his daughter. This still occurs occasionally in contemporary marriages/proposals, yet it is ultimately outdated. The practice of asking parental permission for a woman’s hand in marriage is certainly falling out of the societal norm, however many aspects of traditional marriage shown are still relevant today. The theatrical performance of the proposal itself is a long-standing and slightly unusual tradition, as is the depiction of only men proposing to women.

Mine Eyes Have Seen

In the context of moral criticism, Plato believed that art and poets in particular simply existed to poorly hold a mirror up to nature and lacked intelligence and depth, and that the arts should exist to teach piety and virtue. In the play “Mine Eyes Have Seen”, elements of both of these ideas are shown. The play primarily holds a mirror up to nature as Plato would say, in that it highlights the hardships rooted in racism that the main characters are forced to go through and it shows the condition of society at the time. However, I do not believe that the play does this poorly as Plato would suggest, as it vividly puts the reader into the circumstances of the characters invoking empathy. Nonetheless, this would mean that the play defies moral criticism

The argument can be made that through holding the mirror up to nature, particularly the racist ideals in society at the time the play is teaching virtue. Piety is not necessarily expressed in the play, however exposing the hateful nature of human beings I believe creates awareness and invokes empathy in the readers which in turn teaches virtue.

Marxism Ichiyo

Through the Marxist theory, Oseki and Roku’s interaction was greatly significant because of the different economic classes that they ended up in. They both were from poor families originally but she was able to marry wealthy and live an upper-class lifestyle while he was never fully able to become successful. She loved him when they were younger and explains that she would have married him if the choice was fully hers, but she sees the hardships that she would have likely endured in their relationship due to his position in the lower class. She is evidently not happy in her current situation with Isamu, but it does not appear that she thinks she would be happy with Roku currently either. Through the lens of the Marxist theory, Isamu is her better option, regardless of her feelings for either of them. The interaction they have takes the reader back to what her father had said earlier when discussing her miserable marriage.He stated to her that if she remained unhappy, and if she returned to being their daughter she would also be unhappy, but she would be in an upper-class situation married living a nicer lifestyle.

Feminism Ichiyo

At this period of time in Japan women had essentially no power as explained in “The Thirteenth Night”. The main character of this story is the wife of a very wealthy, successful and powerful man, Isamu, which becomes her purpose in life. As described by their marriage, she exists as a servant to him. She is to cater to his every need and accept all abuse that is directed at her in order to please him, while also providing him a child. The aspect of bearing the child is shown to be very important in this traditional marriage when she described to her parents that Isamu treated her very well up until she gave birth to their son Taro. This implies that one of her sole purposes as a wife to Isamu was to provide him with a son, and that after that happened her value as a person drastically decreased, and his treatment of her declined.

This servant-like relationship was not unique to Ichiyo’s situation, it was the culturally acceptable dynamic between men and women at the time. This is shown by her father’s views on Ichiyo’s miserable marriage. He constantly reminds her throughout their discussion that her purpose as a woman is to support and please Isamu no matter how poorly he treats her. He feels this way despite having sympathy for his daughter’s suffering. He explains that many women are miserable in their marriages as well, however they all deal with it because that is the way that things should be.

This story shows that women at the time were not viewed as individuals, but accessories to men. Ichiyo at the end of her conversation with her parents resigns herself to remain Isamu’s property which her father essentially suggested. Additionally, her father tells her that if she divorces Isamu she goes back to being “his daughter”, implying that she does not exist as an individual, only as a wife to a husband or a daughter to a man.


In “This Is What it Means…” by Sherman Alexie, he describes the type of government that exists on reservations, such as the one that Victor and Thomas live in. Victor goes to see the counsel in order to receive financial assistance to go to his Dad who recently passed away in Phoenix. During this interaction, Alexie shows elements of this type of government. The first is that they are a tight-knit community of appointed individuals. They were selected by the community to assist the community. The other aspect of this government that is shown is that they are very poor. Victor asked for only $100 dollars and the counsel was not able to assist him, and they suggested that he seek help from someone else in the community, which did in fact end up working. As for Thomas’s experience within this community/government, he had been treated as an outcast. This is shown when Victor described him as the kid with a bunch of stories that no one wanted to listen to. This is also evident when they recall the story of Thomas falling and breaking his arm while the boys laughed at him and teased him.

Discussion: Parents

I believe honesty and transparency with one’s children is most important when communicating with them.This is a very difficult thing to navigate especially with younger children, however I believe it is important to only be honest about concepts and ideas when the child is old enough to understand and process them healthily. Life can be incredibly difficult to deal with and digest and it is a parents responsibility to prepare their child for it as much as they can. This is heavily impacted by the words parents choose to use and the things they choose to say or not say. Hiding your children from difficult concepts or hardships is detrimental to the development of their character, and their ability to handle these things on their own. As previously stated, it is important to slowly introduce children to difficult ideas and situations when they are old enough to handle it properly, however completely hiding them from difficult things only furthers their dependance on you and others.