Introduction to Literature: Short Story and Poetry (Eng401)
Assignment No. 1
Total Marks: 20
Q1. “The Gift of the Magi” is a story of sacrifice told in third-person narrative. Re-write the story in first-person narrative highlighting Jim’s point of view only. What aspects of the story (200-300 words) would be revealed or hidden then?
Sitting at my office desk, reminiscing about the past years, I kept thinking about the perfect present for Della. The next day, it was Christmas, and I couldn’t come up with anything that would match her humble presence in my life. She had made me a better person with her forgiving nature. She had kept us strong through thick and thin, and these are the things that I could never thank her enough for. But I had to buy her a fitting present, and with my meager salary, I just could not come up with anything that could express my love for her.
I left the office and walked towards home. I kept thinking about the things that she loved and had once wanted to have. There were not many things, as she had always been the patient one. She contended herself with the things that she had.
I walked onto the pavement immersed in my thoughts. The lights were flashing off of every corner. The Christmas decorations hung from every stall. Every shop window had decorative items placed onto the shelves. The air was joyous; everyone was happy.
I kept looking inside the shops as I passed them by. Suddenly, I saw these beautiful stone studded combs that would make a perfect present for her beautiful hair. In an instance, I remembered that she had once looked onto them from this same spot. She had wanted them then, but couldn’t afford to, and I had to buy these now to thank her for all those times that she remained patient.
I fidgeted in my pocket to find the money. 10$ was all I could come up with. I found myself to be short of 15$. I had made up my mind. I left the shop and went in search of a vendor. I had decided, I would sell my watch to buy Della the combs.
Q1: ‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde and ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry are the stories that revolve around the themes of sacrifice and compassion. Compare both stories and examine the difference of treatment of the themes in both stories. Also, create a word cloud of your solution and paste it in your assignment file. (10 Marks)
‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde and ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry are the stories that revolve around the themes of sacrifice and compassion. Consciously or unconsciously the message of love and sacrifice has been delivered through these stories. Both stories are a magnificent tale of compassion, love and sacrifice. Wilde and O Henry chooses theme of sacrifice and compassion in order to show how modern society is lacking these traits.
The stories carry various themes: the theme of sacrifice being the major one. Wilde chooses more imaginative style to represent this theme through the characters of the swallow and the prince. On the other hand, O. Henry decides to portray these themes in a more direct and explicit manner. Both writers manage to bring this message of sacrifice in an artful manner. Both have portrayed theme of sacrifice in a very different style.
For Wilde, the swallow is an embodiment of compassion and sacrifice. He presents swallow in the light of a sacrificial character, as he prefers to stay with the statue as a servant of love, tenderness, passion and fairness. In the end, he grows old and withers away because of the weather, but remains by the side of the prince. Both the happy prince and the swallow sacrifice themselves in order to help the poor. The end of the story discloses how the sacrifice of both characters is rewarded by God.
O Henry brings out the theme of sacrifice through the characters of Della and Jim. Each of them sacrifices in order to find the most pleasing thing for their other-halves. Indeed, without revealing much of the detail, each of them picks that one present which they know the other really wants, sacrifices for it, and yet in the end learn that the present is not what they truly gave.
On the whole, it can be stated that both Wilde and O. henry picked the same themes but treated them in a very different manner. In order to deal with the subject of sacrifice, O. Henry has adopted a unique style. The abrupt beginning ‘One dollar and eighty-seven cents’ and surprise and shocking ending of the story heighten the impact of the theme. On the other hand, Wilde is more sophisticated in dealing with the subject.
Q2. “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield questions social injustice and the class conflict that resides in the society. Discuss and relate the themes of the story with the current societal happenings around you. (10 Marks)
Social injustice can be described as a situation in which dominant population is made known of the inequity that leads for others due to their relative position in the structure of power (Maus n.p.). Social injustice is also the way unjust actions are done in the society. Social injustice occurs in a situation where the equals are treated unequally and the unequal is treated equally. Three common examples of social injustice include: discrimination, ageism, and homophobia (Farooq n.p.). I want to focus on discrimination, its causes, and the solutions of discrimination.
Discrimination is found in education, housing, employment, voting, lending and credit, land use, health care services, transportation, public accommodations, and government benefits and services (Find Law n.p.). Discrimination is described as unequal treatment of persons, for a reason which has nothing to do with legal rights or ability. Discrimination is considered illegal by the federal and state laws of the United States of America. These laws prohibit discrimination in employment, availability of housing, rates of pay, right to promotion, educational opportunity, civil rights, and use of facilities based on race, nationality, creed, color, age, sex, or sexual orientation (K. Hill and G. Hill n.p.). Discrimination always promotes or reveals unfair treatment of a person or a particular group of people on the basis of prejudice and partiality which could lead to emotions such as frustration and anger. Discrimination seen or considered as a mild or serious form of suffering, with anger sometimes, in particular, if applicable, anger at the person or persons who caused it. (U.K. Essay n.p.). This is why discrimination is considered or seen as a social injustice issue in our society today.
A census data was conducted by the researchers at Brown University which found that income is not the only driving factor in the separation of races or ethnic groups in U.S. cities. Minority groups at every income level live in poorer neighborhoods than do whites with comparable incomes. White people have the advantage or better chances of living in better neighborhoods than people from other races. The study also shows that there are fewer resources for those in minority neighborhoods (Goyette and Scheller n.p.). Another study done in the state of Arizona shows during the years of 2006 to 2007, the state highway patrol was more likely to stop African Americans and Hispanic drivers than white drivers on all the highways that were studied. Native Americans and people of Middle Eastern descent were more likely to be stopped on most of all the highways studied. The highway patrol was 3.5 times more likely to search a Native American than a white individual, and 2.5 times more likely to search a stopped African American or Hispanic driver (The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights n.p.).
The Injustice at Every Turn survey revealed that twenty-five percent of transgender recipients reported losing a job because they did not conform to gender norms. A staggering ninety percent said they faced some forms of transgender-based discrimination. In 2008, a survey by the Injustice at Every Turn also showed that the amount of unemployed transgender respondent was two times the rate of the entire population used and they were more likely to get a wage of less than ten thousand dollars compared to the rest of the population in the survey conducted (Paquette n.p.). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) fielded 16,008 charges of age discrimination in 2000 and 23,264 in 2010, which was more than forty-five percent increase. The EEOC helped obtain settlements of $45.2 million in 2000 and $93.6 million in 2010, which was more than a hundred percent increase. Numbers of legation trended in the same ways and resulted in far greater costs to business, both in fees and damages paid (Smith Moore Leatherwood n.p.).
Stereotypes is a cause of discrimination, because one might not think about the stereotypes or prejudices a person holds might hurt or put other people to disadvantage without the person realizing or knowing. People, sometimes, think that they are simply behaving in ways that actually reflect the realities or abilities of a group men and women, rather they are actually discriminating and promoting inequality in the society. A stereotype is seems positive, the fact that not all persons in that group always meets the standard that often leads to a positive stereotype, which disadvantages individuals in that group (Gender Equality n.p.). Greenwald and Pettigrew reviewed experiments and survey methods from published scientific research on discrimination from the last five decades. They found that the discrimination observed in those studies occurred much more often as helping rather than harming someone. They also found that most researchers defined discrimination as based on negative attitudes and hostility, only rarely treating favoritism as a component of discrimination (Armstrong n.p.).
Discrimination is not caused by what happens outside of us. It is caused by seeing things wrongly, what is said to from one to another, commonly referred to as self-talk, and also thoughts or beliefs. When one talks his or herself into becoming anxious, annoyed or angry, because they don’t know something or lack understanding about some thing or someone else, or are scared. Quickly, it leads one into a mind-set of discrimination or prejudice (Griffith n.p.). Discrimination is also promoted by patriarchal cultural beliefs. These beliefs usually encourage discrimination by thinking of male gender to be of greater importance than that of females. These beliefs tense describes men with more positive attributes, like being stronger or smarter. Usually men occupy the higher positions and have power to decide the amount of access women have to opportunities, from education and playing sports, to participating in politics and making independent choices about their personal lives (Kidder n.p.).
One way to treat discrimination is to have government intervention discrimination, because federal laws of the United States prohibit discrimination based on a person’s country of origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status. Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination deem discrimination or discriminatory acts illegal because of a person’s birthplace, ancestry, culture or language (The United States Department of Justice n.p.). The state government also has the power to make laws prohibiting people from discriminatory acts. Many states enacted laws that ban any and all forms of discrimination. Specifically, six states have passed ballot initiatives in order to amend their constitutions and prohibit state and local governments from portraying discrimination in public, contract making, and educational aspects on the basis of race, ethnicity, or sex. These states include California in 1996, Washington in 1998, Michigan in 2006, Nebraska in 2008, Arizona in 2010, and Oklahoma in 2012 (Clegg and von Spavosky n.p.).
Another way to eradicate discrimination is to promote diversity in our society. Diversity was introduced as a kind of end run around the historical problem of racism, the commitment to diversity is associated with the struggle against racism. The objective of eradication or treating racism is to create a color-blind society rather and having a color-conscious society. Instead of treating people as if their race does not matter, we should not only recognize but celebrate racial identity (Michaels). Cultural diversity is important, because workplaces, and schools increasingly consist of various cultural, racial, and ethnic groups which we could learn from. Learning about other cultures helps understand different perspectives within the world in which we find ourselves in, dispelling negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups or ethnicities. In addition, cultural diversity helps us recognize and respect other cultures. It also makes our country a more interesting place to reside, because people from diverse cultures or contribute to our language skills, thought process, knowledge, and experiences (Belfield n.p.).
In spreading diversity, there could be a problem with lack of understanding between parties or people. A person cannot simply put a group of people together with vast differences and expect them to cooperate with each other immediately. Many people find cultures to be strange and have never had to live or habit and work together with people from completely different backgrounds or cultures. Diverse work groups often experience more conflict compared to groups that share or have more similarities (Kokemuller n.p.). It is completely normal for people to find new things uncomfortable at first. Every person builds their own idea of comfort, people can become uncomfortable when confronted with examples of people that go against how he or she sees or thinks about the world. Whether because of sexual orientation, race, religion, or any other factors that make people differ from each other, people can still struggle in their place of work to be effective as possible (Advice America n.p.).
Problems still arise from government intervention in discrimination which includes the use of affirmative action. Affirmative action is a semi-regulated policy created by the executive orders of President John F. Kennedy to provide equal opportunities for groups amongst discriminated minorities. However, affirmative action tense to lessen the value of the accomplishments by minorities, because affirmative action gives preference to groups instead of their accomplishments, experiences, and qualifications of individuals who might be in the minority group. As a result, affirmative action becomes less productive for the society (Phil for Humanity n.p.).
Discrimination prevent equal treat, therefore, it hurts the society. Discrimination has existed for a long time and it needs to be ended so that we could live together in peace with equality. The eradication of discrimination is not an easy task to accomplish due to the problems that arise from discrimination and the time taken to solve it. In order to eradicate discrimination, the help of every single person is needed. This is not a task for one person or a group of people to achieve.
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