English 10: Writing Portfolio

Essay the first: Origins  
Essay the second: Literature  
  Back in 1996, making the best out of a bad situation brought my family closer together. The ‘fun’ began when my parents decided it would be a great family experience if we packed 4 kids and two parents into our 1988 Grand Marquis blue custom wood paneled station wagon. In the beginning we were all excited to embark on a 10-day adventure to Prince Edward Island in Canada. This was the first we had been on vacation as an entire family for several years. Our lives were usually jammed packed with this or that activity for one kid or another. My parents truly believed that placing 4 kids in a station wagon and a pop- up camper would bond us together. Our traveling group consisted of mom and dad, my eldest brother John; my sister Caroline; my other brother Brian; and then there was me - the youngest at age 8.

Our journey began at 10 in the morning with our old station wagon piled high with camping gear, and the pop-up trailer hitched to the back. We had plenty of camping experience and were very excited to get going. Our parents had already been to Prince Edward Island once before, and our grandparents had emigrated from there many years ago. So we were eager to see the land of our ancestors. We, however, had no idea what we were all about to endure.

We passed through the Canadian border with little trouble and thought it was smooth sailing from there on. The Whalen’s had made it to Canada! We spent 8 fun filled days on Prince Edward Island. Little did we know that the ride home would be such a fiasco.

After 8 days of family bliss we were all getting tired, cranky and getting on each other’s nerves. 4 kids in such close quarters had taken its toll. This was where our ‘fun-filled family outing’ started to take a wrong turn. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. At this age I didn’t know about Murphy’s Law, but became a quick study. On our trip home we ran gas, we forgot to pack snacks and our radiator broke down twice. Taking well over 3 hours to fix.

We finally reached our last campsite late and with very little sunlight attempted to set up the pop-up trailer. At this point the family novelty had worn off and everyone just wanted to get to sleep. We had already spent many nights the same way - traveling, stopping at a campsite, setting up the camper, cooking, and finally going to bed. That night everyone was relying on someone else to do the camping chores. So to motivate kids, mom said we should have a contest to see who could crank the pop-up the fastest. This turned to be a very bad idea.

It turned out that my brother John was a bit too motivated. He cranked it so fast that the wire snapped and the whole thing collapsed. My mom got the bright idea to prop up one of the corners with a nine iron. This failed miserably. Not only did it not hold up, but my mom destroyed my dad’s golf club. We all thought my dad was going to have a break down, but instead he starting laughing. The whole family started cracking up and we ended staying at a really nice hotel and having a great time!

Looking back I am really glad that my parents forced us to go on this trip. It truly brought us closer as a family. We learned how to laugh with each other and how not kill each other even during difficult times! I realize now how important these memories are. All my brothers and sisters are away and I am the only one left. I miss them and I even miss the times they drove me crazy!
















Dear Philip Larken; I am sorry to tell you that the publishers group for the Prentice Hall Book has not accepted two of your poems for our publication. We think a good textbook should have appealing stories or thoughts that express a writer’s full skill and understanding of literature.  We have reviewed your many poems and we find your work to be occupied with short, bland poetry. We certainly could not include it in a textbook for students. We think a good textbook should have appealing stories or thoughts that express a writer’s full skill and understanding of literature. I think your style is boring and seriously lacking in quality.

Our students will be reading poetry that has important central themes. We should have them read about important problems like social class struggles, the inventions of the Century and matters that is most on the minds of teachers. How an individual dies or how tears gather in the eyes is an individual matter and not important to the world.

In closing Mr.Philip Larken, I “never felt an affinity for your style of sadness, and your technical gifts don’t tempt me to sympathy”.

Sincerely, Mike Whalen * Di Piero, W.S. criticism 11/04 vol. 185, Issue 1, p. 45, 1p














The major works that deal with superstition were written around the late 1800s. Some of the authors at this time were Dickens writing The Signalman and other suspense stories. These authors wrote about the social life and political times of the 1800s.. Superstition is usually built around the plot which is a struggle between characters. In a superstition work, the characters may be “supernatural elements”.

The supernatural element in “The Devil” by William Butler Yeats, 1893, is a story where the devil takes on common form in an attempt to overpower his victim. The devil asked a woman to mount his horse and ride away with him, but she refused. He then vanished. In a second example, a woman, waiting for her young man a newspaper rolled up to her feet and changed into a young man. When she refused, he vanished.

These superstitions reveal that people are concerned with the existence of the devil and also attempts to avoid giving in when approached. William Butler Yeats was a ‘political activist’ and wrote about these issues as a profession. As a writer he became interested in mythology and legends of Ireland.

This work has not been taken seriously enough because it is centered around superstition or the supernatural. That is an unknown event. It should be taken seriously because there is a message behind the plot which goes deeper that the words of the story. In both of these characters experiences, they refused to give in to an idea that was evil.

A critic who has discussed this work is Kathleen S. Peters who said “His philosophy of the mask and the image attempts to hold the pieces of Ireland together.” She reminds the reader that Yeats was writing to emphasize how democracy failed to do what it proposed to do and that his writing was an important statement of “social activism”. Yeats was a member of the Irish Senate (1922-28) and he won the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature.





































Language is ever evolving and ever changing. Words in today’s Modern English language can be traced back to the roots of Old English, Middle English and foreign influences, including, Latin, German, Slavic, Baltic, Celtic, French Greek, and Indo-Iranian. Words have developed and changed over time due to cultural and historical influences. An example of this evolution is the word “boat,” which origins can be traced back to Germanic English where it derived from the word “bot.” In my opinion, the word “boat,” knowing where it derived from, does in fact help the English language and has ever since it was born. The word and the object it describes have had a very important role in history.

The meaning and spelling of the word “boat” have changed dramatically over time. The word “boat” originally derived from the Germanic word “friede,” which means peace in a modern day translation. This word for “peace” developed into a peace offering, which then became known as “bot” or delivered goods. After a while, the words meaning changed from a gift such as meat or hides to a way of transporting goods, which soon became known as boat. A reason for this is probably because one of the only major means of transportation was by sea. The definition also varies between dictionaries but still retains certain similarities. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition is a “small open watercraft; a ship or submarine; to travel or transport by boat.” The Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it as “a small vessel for traveling on water; rowboat, sailboat, lifeboat, motorboat.” Finally, the College Dictionary similarly defines it as a “a vessel for travel on the water.” The definitions vary but all three dictionaries include reference to the use of some form of vessel on water for travel.

Over time the definition of the word “boat” in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has evolved. The first definition was in 891 and stated, a small open vessel in which to transverse the surface if the water, usually propelled by oars, though sometimes by sail. In 1571, the definition broadened to include a wider range of boat sizes as their role became more important in the world due to trade. This definition became extended to various vessels either smaller than, or in some way differing from a ship, small sailing vessels employed in fishing, or in carrying mails and packets, and small steamers. The most current definition from the OED defines the word “boat” as “a vessel in which to traverse the surface of water, usually propelled by oars, though sometimes by a sail. There are many new types of boats and many new ways to propel them such as oars, motor, pedal or sail.

People define the word “boat” in many different ways, depending on its context and usage. I asked ten people what they thought when I asked them what the word meant. The first person I asked was my dad “a hole in the water you put money into”. Secondly my brother the merchant marine said “a vessel”. My other brother said “a craft for water skiing”. My mom defined it as “a means to cross water”. My grandmother described it as “a canoe that the Indians invented”. Three of my friends defined it as “a thing you ride on the water to get somewhere,” “a cruise,” “a thing to go across water”. My sister referred to it as “a watercraft”. My English 10, British literature teacher said “when I was in the navy for a short period of time, they called “boats” “ships”. As one can see the meaning of the word varies based on the persons age and experience. This is similar to how the word has changed over time.

The word “boat’ has been used in literature since it was formed. Many authors used this word in their writing, such as Alfred Tennyson in his poem “The Lady of Shallot” in 1832, in “In Memorium” and by Charles Dickens in “Cricket on Hearth” in 1845. The usages of the word “boat” in literature today have broadened to include a wider range of boats and issues concerning boating. The word is used in an article from Motorboating magazine entitled “Seamanship- Watch your Wake.” In this article, the word “boat” is used in many forms including “powerboat,” “motorboat,” “water-ski boat” and “sailboat.” In an article called “Weekend Racing” in USA Today, the word “boat” was used in a new way. It appeared as “boat-hold” and referred to a place to store boats. This new word was not found in the OED, which means that the word is still changing and evolving.

The word “boat” has had many different meanings and spellings in English since the 800s. There are differences yet similarities between the word in English and the word for “boat in both Spanish and French. In French, the word for “boat is spelled “le bateau” and in Spanish it is “lancha.” As one can see the spellings are differ but they appear similar. The French word appears similar to the word boat and the Spanish word appears similar to the word or verb “to lauch” a boat. Therefore, people who are bilingual may find it similar or helpful that some words are similar.

In conclusion, the word “boat” has undergone many changes from Old English to Late-Modern English. The meaning of the word has also changed due to foreign influences and advances in technology. I believe the word “boat” has been helpful to the English Language through culture and communication. Through my research I conclude that the word has no negative meaning today and is used in literature because of its popularity as a means of transportation and entertainment.


Cited works

American Heritage Dictionary, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston Ma.1994 College Dictionary, N/A, N/A (old dictionary) “Seamanship-Watch your Wake”, Motorboating magazine, N/A The Oxford English Dictionary, (online), www.OED.com “Weekend Racing”, N/A, U.S.A Today, 9/5/03 Webster’s New World Dictionary, Simon & Schuster, N.Y.1979