Friday, February 24, 2012

Heritage of Words - The Boarding House

17. The Boarding House

“The Boarding House” is a social story written by James Joyce. The writer deals with the experience of adolescence. The story is about an Irish middle class family living in Dublin. Mrs. Mooney, one of the main characters of the story, was a butcher’s daughter. She was very much confident and independent woman. She was married to her father’s foreman (helper). After marriage she started a butcher’s shop which she ran successfully. But her husband was very stupid and drunkard. He drank all the time and finished most of the property. He fell into a heavy debt. He quarreled with his wife and sometimes attacked her with a cleaver. So she had to go to neighbor’s house to sleep. Therefore she got divorced from her husband and opened a boarding house where many tourists, office workers, artists would come to stay.     

Mrs. Mooney had a son and a daughter. Her daughter, Polly Mooney was a beautiful girl of 19. She fell in love with Mr. Doran, one of the young boys living at the boarding house. Mrs. Mooney suspected their relation but kept quiet watching their activities. One day she asked Miss  Polly about went to Mr. Doran’s room and informed him that her mother had known their secret relation.

Mr. Doran fell in confusion not knowing what to do. In fact, he was not in mind of marrying Polly, she was not educated and her language was not good. She was the daughter of a butcher and her boarding house had no good fame. On the other hand, he was from gentle family and he had a good job. He thought that if he married her all his friends would laugh at him. Miss Polly began to weep but he asked her not to lose patience. At the same time maid (servant) came in his room and said that Mrs. Mooney wanted to talk to him. Wearing a coat he went to see her. Miss Polly sat alone in the room thinking about what he and her mother would make the decision. After sometime her mother called her and said that Mr. Doran wanted to speak to her.

Thus, the story ends in suspense. We don’t know what decision has been made. However, we can say that Mr. Doran must have agreed to marry Miss Polly.      

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2/21/2012 05:47:00 PM - , No comments

Heritage of Words - Purgatory

16. Purgatory

In the Christian religion, purgatory is a place where souls of people that cannot go straight to heaven go to get purged because their sins have not been forgiven. Purgatory is the gateway to heaven where souls have to face the rest and purification. If the souls cannot purge up at purgatory, they come back to the earth and roam around in the familiar places as ghost and spirits. They suffer and cause other to suffer. They then take rebirth as lives and continue the good or bad deeds.

“Purgatory” is one act play. The scene of the play is a ruined house and a bare tree in the background. The play opens with the conversation between an old man and a boy. The boy is the old man’s son. They are standing in front of the ruined house. The old man tells the boy the history of the ruined house and the tragedy of a reputed family. The house belonged to the old man’s mother, a lady from aristocratic family. She fell in love with a groom (the old man’s father). She had died at giving birth of a child (the old man in the drama). After her death, the old man’s father began to waste money drinking wine, playing card and on women. He neither educated the old man nor left property to him. One day he burnt down the house being mad drinking wine. The house had a long and glorious history in which the reputed and great people of the nation were born. So the old man stabbed him to death and ran away from the village and worked as a peddler. After several years he came back to his house with his son (the boy).

As he is telling the story of his parents, the old man hears the hoof-beats of his father’s horse and sees his mother’s figure at the window of the ruined house he asks his son to hear the sound and  see the figure. The old man believes his mother’s soul is suffering in Purgatory. He believes she constantly repeats the wedding night. However, the boy neither hears sound nor sees any figure. He thinks his father to be mad. Therefore, he tries to run away stealing money from the old man. The old man sees it and grabs it. The boy asks for his right share and insists that it’s his right to get the money and spend it as he wishes. His behavior resembled his grandfather’s habits. The old man realizes that his mother’s soul can never get purged till her criminal generation survives. So to release his mother’s soul from the purgatory the old man stabs the boy to death. He says that if he is left alone, he will be more dangerous than his father. If the boy had been left, he would have married and passed the pollution on. He again hears the sound of hoof-beats and he wishes his mother’s spirit for emancipation and prays with God to appease the misery of the living and the remorse of the dead. There is darkness everywhere but the trees are bright which is the symbol of purified spirit. He did what a man could do for Purgatory of soul.

Thus, the old man tries his best for the purification of his mother’s soul. Here, the ruined house is symbolically the country, Ireland and the old man’s father is the symbol of people of new generation who have lost the sense of nationality. The old man is symbol of patriotism.          

Monday, February 20, 2012

Heritage of Words - The Tell - Tale Heart

15. The Tell - Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart is a psychological story based on the obsession of the narrator of the story. The narrator kills an old man and confesses to the policemen but still he tries to prove that he is not mad. He claims that crazy people cannot tell their story calmly. In the story the narrator tells us how he murdered the old man, how the idea cropped up in his mind and how he committed the action and finally why he confessed his crime to the policemen.

The narrator and the old man lived in the same house. Every time they met they talked in a friendly way. He loved the old man. The old man had also remained very kind and friendly to the narrator, but the writer hated the old man’s vulture eyes and his looks. For an unknown reason, the old man’s cloudy, pale blue eye incited madness in him. Whenever the old man looked at him his blood turned cold. Thus, he thought of getting himself rid of the old man’s eye by murdering him. So making up his mind to murder the old man, he would get up at midnight and sneak into the old man’s room. For the past seven nights he tried to gain courage to get into the room and murder him. But he could not bring himself to kill the man without seeing his “evil eyes”. Every next morning he used to talk to the old man about how he slept at night.

On the eighth night he was there again to kill the old man. He entered the old man’s room quietly opening the door and lighting the lantern to its minimum so that the tiny ray of light would pass to see the old man’s vulture eyes. Then suddenly he tapped the lantern and the old man sprang up and cried “Who’s there?” In the dark room, the narrator waited silently for an hour. The man did not go back to sleep; instead, he gave out a slight groan, realized that ‘Death’ was approaching eventually; the narrator shone his lamp on the old man’s eye. The narrator immediately became furious at the ‘damned spot’ i.e. the vulture eye, but soon he heard the beating of a heart so loud that he feared the neighbors would hear it. With a yell, he leapt into the room and killed the old man pressing the bed over him. Despite the murder, he continued to hear the old man’s relentless (constant) heartbeat.

After the murder, the narrator dismembered (cut into pieces) the corpse and hid the body parts beneath the planks of floorboards. He then cleaned and brushed the room in such a way that there wasn’t even a stain of blood left behind. By then it was 4 in the morning. He heard a knock on the door. To his surprise he found three policemen standing at the gate. They had come as a routine work to investigate the shriek the neighbor had reported. The narrator invited them to search the premises (area). He explained that it was his shriek due to the bad dream and the old man was out of the town. The officers were satisfied but not ready to leave. Soon the sound of the heartbeat resumed, growing more and more distinct. He became pale blue and turned red with nervousness and superstition that that might be the sound of the dead man’s heart. He grew so nervous that it was intolerable for him. So he raised his voice to muffle the sound at last, unable to stand it any longer, the narrator screamed: I admit the deed! – tear up the planks, here, here! It is beating of his hideous (frightful) heart!

Thus, the story revolves around a young man and his obsession, his intense hatred for an old man’s diseased pale blue eyes, which lead him to kill the old man. True to its little, the protagonist commits a crime and confesses his crime due to his guilt-ridden heart.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heritage of Words - A Child Is Born

14. A Child Is Born

Germaine Greer is a feminist writer and lecturer. ‘A Child Is Born’ is an extract from her book ‘Sex and Destiny’. In the essay Greer presents the comparison between traditional and modern societies in the matter of pregnancy and child bearing system.

In the traditional societies childbirth is accepted culturally and collectively so that the mothers do not feel any psychic burden. The potential misfortunes and anxieties are managed if they follow the ritual approach to pregnancy which limits them with taboos and prohibitions. Many of the ritual observances involve the participation of husband, relatives, and members of the society. The pregnant woman feels secure. She doesn’t need to think about the pain of delivery. The traditional societies are superstitious but the western societies are also not untouched by it. In the western societies a child is born unattended but in non-technocratic societies (traditional), except for remarkable accidents, childbirth is always attended. Child and mother mortality rate is greater in the traditional societies which is a great tragedy and should be prevented. Modern medicinal care for pregnant women in the hospitals has helped to decrease the mortality rate.

In some societies, women are not accepted as members of their new family until they have borne a child. So they wish for a child who provides them recognition in the family. In some traditional societies, the women are known as the mother of her first born child. She loses her identity. In such societies the relationship between the mother and the child is more important than the relationship between husband and wife.

In the Rajput society, to give birth to a child for a woman is a great success in her life. It is an occasion of joy for the whole family. In Bengal, the reward of the pregnancy is that she is allowed to go to her maternal home. The birth of a child is celebrated by feasting and singing by the women of the community. Similarly, in Bangladesh, children under the age of five or six are looked after by the whole family.

The traditional societies are affected by the modernization and technological change. All the emotions have been lost. The allopathic doctors depend only on drugs, equipment and electricity. The labouring women are ignored and treated only as patient or a case without any compassion. Though the chance of live birth is greater, the women will no longer continue to offer their bodies and minds to such brutality, specially if there is no one at home to welcome the child, to praise the mother for her courage and to help her raise it.

At last Greer suggests that if we do not feel so much proud and dignified out of child bearing, the population growth will be controlled. Thus the essay presents a comparison between the parent-child relationship in the affluent (rich) western and traditional agricultural Eastern societies.       


What differences does Greer show between a traditional society and a modern society in matters of pregnancy, child birth and child bearing in her essay “A Child Is Born”?

According to the writer, eastern society is called a traditional society and western society is called a modern society. There are many differences between a traditional society and modern society in matters of pregnancy, child birth and child bearing. In the traditional society, people believe in superstition. Women are prohibited to do something in pregnancy. They have to follow the tradition, customs and religion. They are made sure to think that they are secured and helped by their husbands, relatives and others. They have to follow the rules and restrictions. If a pregnant woman does so, she does not have psychic burden. But in a western society, the pregnant women can do anything that she likes.

In traditional societies, woman is not taken as a member of family until she gets a baby birth but in western societies it is criticized bitterly. In traditional societies, the death rate of child and mother is higher but in modern societies it has decreased.

In traditional societies, a woman satisfies her members of family by giving a baby birth. Family members are eager to see the child. They are happy to celebrate the birth of baby. The mother is visited by her relatives and friends. She gets well treatment and is looked after well. There are many ritual functions after the baby is born in traditional societies but, however, in western and modern societies these all traditions are not found. Therefore, there are some fundamental differences between traditional and modern society concerning child bearing system.     

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Heritage of Words - The Children Who Wait

12. The Children Who Wait

The essay The Children Who Wait talks about the adoption system of children. She talks about the children adoption system before and after 1960 (present).

Until about 1960 there was a trend to adopt only the healthy white infants. A child should be white, healthy and in small age to be adopted. All the disabled and diseased children, blacks, children beyond infancy (grown up) minority and mixed racial children were almost ignored. The family did not adopt them. However, in the last two decades, i.e. 1960-1980, the field of adoption has undergone a radical change. Such ignored children, who waited to be adopted, are being placed with different types of family. Such changes are due to the Black Civil Rights movements, birth control, legalized abortion, women’s movements, social science research and many more.

Due to the Black Civil Rights movements, liberal whites adopted black and mixed race infants and toddlers (children). This mode was criticized but left no effect on this. The women’s movement legalized abortion and changed the attitudes towards sexual behavior and marriage. Therefore, the number of healthy infants drastically reduced and moreover the unmarried mothers decided to keep their babies without caring the social stigma.

The researchers show that between 1960 and 1978 the number of children in foster care centers doubled to a half millions or more. The children who are kept in such centers are not all sure to be adopted. If they live in foster care till their maturity, they suffer from several problems like pseudo-mental retardation, learning disabilities, mental illness, sexual perversions etc that can root in the children’s personalities and plague their adult lives and be passed on to their children. To establish them, those foster centers need financial support but unfortunately funding for children’s services had always been scarce. So, it became clear that foster caring was both expensive and cruel.

Traugot in her essay says that today’s buzz word is ‘matching’. It is a process of seeking to match a child and a foster family. First the workers evaluate the child’s personality, cultural background, existing relationships with biological or foster family and emotional state. Based on these factors the workers draw up a profile and seek an appropriate family. Traugot presents two examples: An unmarried man or a single strong male might adopt a badly behaved 15 years old boy and a religious family with older siblings adopts a handicapped child suffering from down’s syndrome, hearing disabilities etc.

Now, some agencies work to find the potential adoptive family or parents by distributing their photos and description (or video-tape) to all other agencies. Their names are sent in the regional or state adoption exchange centers and there they try to match with the prospective parents. If they are not still adopted, the description or profiles of waiting children are published in newspaper or broadcasted through media. The media is the final solution for those children who are waiting to be adopted.

Tammy, a 5 and a half years old black girl who is suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome is waiting for the warm and supportive family. The writer hopes that Tammy would find a warm and supportive family because of the changes appeared in the children adoption system in US after 1960.