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Literature Circle Reading Journal: March 25th 2010 March 25, 2010

Filed under: Literature Circle Journal — jennifershirley13 @ 12:17 pm

pages 65-118
March 24, 2010
The Things They Carried By: Tim O’Brien

An interesting word choice was in the statement “D-cup guts, trainer-bra brains” (O’Brien 97). This quote was said by Eddie Diamond; he was explaining how the girl Mary Anne was brave yet very naive. She came to Vietnam for her boyfriend, but at first she did not see it as a place of war; she saw it as a vacation spot. She treated the hostile villages like tourist attractions. The soldiers thought that she would never learn the ways of war and that she would always be young and innocent. I think that the soldiers hoped she would stay innocent because she was the last bit of normalcy they could hold on to. The soldiers found that she was the one holding the camp together. They thought that by staying close to Mary Anne they could stay close to home and their own families.

The book The Things They Carried raises a lot of questions in my mind. I wonder if the stories with the book are true because Tim says that you can never really tell whether the stories are true. I wonder which ones are true and which ones are lies. I think the basis behind the mystery is the fact that not many people really know or understand what really happened in Vietnam, except for the people that were there and experience the war firsthand. I would like to find some true stories from Vietnam. I think the half true half-false stories are amusing but I think I would highly benefit from firsthand stories. I think it would be great to find true stories, but how would I ever know which ones are true and which ones are glorified lies? Tim also said that the stories that sounded crazy are more likely to be true than the stories filled with normalcy.

A passage that stood out to me was one after the death of Curt Lemon. “He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. The animal did not make a sound. It went down hard, then got up again, and Rat took careful aim and shot off an ear. He shot it in the hindquarters and in the hump in its back. He shot it twice in the flanks. It wasn’t to kill; it was to hurt. He put the rifle muzzle up against the mouth and shot the mouth away. Nobody said much. The whole platoon stood there watching, feeling all kinds of things, but there wasn’t a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo. Curt Lemon was dead. Rat Kiley had lost his best friend in the world”(O’Brien 78-79). This stood out to me because if they were in the states and someone did that to an animal they would be sent to the psychiatric ward, but in Vietnam it is seen as normal. This really shows me that the soldiers were completely detached from their lives before the war. This scene helped me to understand how some of the soldiers showed or did not show their emotions to others. The soldiers did not even express concern for Rat; they just stood there and watched in silence. The soldiers have learned to detach themselves from all emotion in order to survive the war.


Literature Circle Responses- The Things They Carried- March 18th March 18, 2010

Filed under: Literature Circle Journal — jennifershirley13 @ 1:28 am

Compare an Contrast All Quiet on the Western Front and The Things They Carried

“For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. Now and then, however, there were times of panic when they squealed or wanted to squeal but couldn’t, when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said Dear Jesus and flopped around on the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and sobbed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and to God and to their mothers and fathers, hoping not to die. In different ways, it happened to all of them. Afterward, when the firing ended, they would blink and peek up. They would touch their bodies, feeling shame, then quickly hidding it. They would force themselves to stand. As if in slow motion, fram by frame, the world would take on the old logic– absolute silence, then the wind, then sunlight, then voices. It was the burden the of being alive.” (O’Brien 19).

Within these books the issue of noise is brought up many times. The issue is not only the noise you can hear, but having no time of peace. The books tell us that war is loud and never ceasing. The soldiers talk about how the few moments of silence comfort them and remind them of home. The books also relate in the sense that they explain how war can be kaotic and tragic. The books show that war is not fun and games for the soldiers on the fields, they tell us that wasr is teriffing. Also, the books show how people can die so unexpectedly and in the strangest ways. In All Quiet on the Western Front we are told that one of the toughest men is killed by a stray piece of shrapnel, and in The Things They Carried they tell us about a man who was shot in the back of the head while using the restroom. I have realized that both of the writers use a lot of imagery and symbolism to explain the ways of war to the people who have never had to experience the fear and pain. There are many similarities with these two books. I found one big similarity that is not mentioned in the passage above it was the feeling that if the men/boys did not go to war they would be considered cowards and would have been treated as out casts. Both books show that weapons and tactics may change but the basis of war will always be the same. Also, there will always be people for and against the war, but some people may not voice their opions for fear of being reidiculed. Not only were the soldiers afraid of their peers ridiculing them they also fear from there parents. I think that both of the books are very similar in the fact that war is depicted the same way and the feelings toward war are expressed.


Resarch Reflection Blog 3 November 4, 2009

Filed under: Africa Issues Research Reflections 2009 — jennifershirley13 @ 2:10 am

I found some information that is very interesting and it will help with my overall project. I have found a lot of information on the history of landmines, what the government is doing to stop them, how they are found, and who the mines hurt and kill. I found that even reading articles that might not go into my paper helps me to understand different opinions on the landmines. I have found out that when the mines were planted they were an easy and cheap way to stop opposing troops in their tracks. Since there are no written records of the placements of the landmines there is no way for the government to find the landmines. The only way to find these mines is, sadly, to wait until one of these mines are stepped on and set off. The worst part of these landmines is the fact that the victims are mostly women and children that walk the small paths on the ways out to the fields. The damage that is done is worst than death, people loose their limbs. This may not seem like a huge problem considering that here in the United States doctors can reattach limbs or even make limbs that work exactly like real ones. Although this is a huge problem in countries in Africa because with the poor hospitals and lack of supplies it is almost impossible to reattach limbs, and it is just as hard to make artificial limbs. These artificial limbs are only sticks with straps on them. They don’t bend like the ones here can. These legs make life almost impossible to live for women and girls because they depend on their legs to gather food and to carry their children. Without legs these people are seen and ugly worthless sacks of flesh. It would be much easier on these people if they had died rather than go through the suffering and depression of the loss of their limbs and since of who they are. These mines do more than maim, they take away self worth and confidence.


Reading Reflection Blog 10-26 October 26, 2009

Filed under: Literature Circle Journal — jennifershirley13 @ 7:40 pm

Reading Reflection Blog

Within the book Secrets in the Fire, Sofia hears that her new legs will be her new best friends. Sofia decides to name her legs Kukula and Xitsango “short” and “long”. She decides not to tell anyone these names because she wants it to be her own secret. I find this very interesting because she talks to them. Also, she treats them as real people.


An interesting quote I found is from Manuel, an old man that is living in the same center as Sofia. Manuel says, “You should be glas you have a home…All I have is this. No family, nothing” (Mankell 95). This makes me realize that things can always be worse than what they appear to be. No matter which way you put it, you can always have a worse circumstance. Even when you think it can’t get any worse.


Another interesting quote is, “The fire won’t betray you…It keeps your secrets and never reveals them to anyone” (Mankell 93). This was said by Muanzena. This can be related to my life in the sense that I can’t alays tell who I can trust with my secrets. Sofia is very apprehensive of who she will share her secrets with, so she shares them with the fire. As I share mine with my personal journal.


Reading Journal October 19th October 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennifershirley13 @ 7:05 pm

I have some advice for the character Sofia. Sofia needs to trust and listen to her doctor, so she can learn to walk again. Sofia needs to realize that her legs are no longer able to work. Sofia needs to stop believing that the nurses are right when they say it would be better of she had died. Sofia needs to hold her head high and go on with her life.


I have a new understanding of the novel Secrets in the Fire, Jose-Maria was a priest who came to Mozambique, Africa. At that time the country was beginning a civil war and landmines were scattered everywhere, in small villages, along roads, and on the small paths. Jose-Maria has seen a lot of landmine explosions and is trying to tell as many people as he can to stay on the paths. No matter how many times he speaks this warning, someone is still careless and ends up in the wrath of the war


A quote that stood out to me reminded me of my own experience. The following is the thought of Dr. Raul. “He’d heard from the nurses that Sofia rarely cried. She suffered silently through all the pain. Strength has nothing to do with a man being able to lift a weight above his head” (Mankell 64). This passage reminds me of when my brother was killed and I was put into rehab because I chose to suffer in silence instead of sharing my burden. I still suffer in silence to a certain degree, but for the most part I have overcome and I predict Sofia will do the same thing. As of now I will talk about my brother but not of his death, even after five years the pain feels like it happened yesterday. I don’t talk to my family about it because I don’t want to saden they with my burden. I have a different outlet for my feeling; I write poetry. Whatever I feel I write, and whatever I write I feel. I am able to take my feelings from my brothers death and turn it into a work of art.


Research Blog 1

Filed under: Africa Issues Research Reflections 2009,Uncategorized — jennifershirley13 @ 12:18 am

I have learned about a new tool for research called Google Alerts. I really like using this tool because it makes my life and research easier. I can search several topics at once and google will send the results straight to my email. I can now send out a search and check back the next day for the results without reading and scrolling through a copious amount of websites. Google Alerts gives me the freedom to do other things while the tedious topic finding is done for me. I think I will use Google Alerts on every research paper I have in the future. I use to find research hard and confusing, but now I am confident when I research new topics.

My research strategy for the time being is to find as many articles on my topic as I can. I want to compile all the information onto note cards so I can review them later. I am now searching for landmines in Mozambique Africa. Right now I am trying to find out how much these landmines affect the daily lives of the people in the villages. I want to know as much as I possibly can, so when it comes time to write my paper I will be prepared and can write with ease. I know that my research and thirst for knowledge will greatly benefit me in the near future when ever I write a research paper. Every time I research I hope to learn more and have my eyes opened even further.


October 15th Literature Circle Journal October 19, 2009

Filed under: Literature Circle Journal — jennifershirley13 @ 1:46 am

A big idea is formed when Maria and Sofia are hit by a landmine. Maria is dead and now the true story is unfolding. The main idea of the novel, Secrets in the Fire, is that landmines are hidden all over Mozambique, Africa. Sofia has caused Maria’s death. Eventhough her death is an accident, Sofia still has to live with the fact that it is her fault. Sofia also has to learn how to walk again because the doctors took her legs. Sofia is scared and just wants everything to be the way it was before the accident.


Something that really spoke to me is when Sofia is lying in her hospital bed and hears the nurse and the doctor talking about her and her sister, Maria. Sofia doesn’t understand what is going on all she knows is that she is in a lot of pain. She opens her eyes and sees her sister laying on the bed next to her. Sofia grabs her hand and Maria says, ” I want to go home” (Mankell 57). Then Maria dies in Sofia’s hands. Sofia is confused and doesn’t understand that the doctors are trying to help her rather than hurt her and rob her of her legs.


“Sofia knew that Maria had died. Her hand twitched. Then she was gone” (Mankell 57). Sofia just wittnessed her sister die, yet she has no clue what is happening. Sofia thinks her sister just got up and left to go home. Sofia is now scared, alone and wants to go home, but all she can do is sleep. This quote speaks to me because, when my brother died, all I wanted to do was go home. Little did I know that I was in my house. I wanted to go to heaven where he has his home. Now Sofia and I seem to be stuck in the world all alone. We must wait for the end of our stories. As of now, I am focusing my life on my own literature and writing.