English 10: Writing Portfolio
Essay the First

Essay the Second

Essay the third

Essay the fourth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My oldest text, I found my grandfathers Recruit Identification Card issued to him by The United States Navy Recruiting Station In August of 1942. It is the oldest text in my family that I could find.  This card gives information about my grandfather and it also describes what he looks like.  In the next few paragraphs, I am going to describe why I picked this text, and how I picked this text.
 On this card it gives Information about my grandfather, it says His Full name which is Michael Francis Haverty, it also says his color of hair was brown, the color of his eyes were brown, his height was 69 inches, his weight was 147 lbs, and it also has a section called Prominent Marks, which states that he has Burns on the side of his face, his arm and his wrist. (These burns were from a fire in his house when he was an infant; he lived with these marks his entire life.)  Also on this card it notifies my grandfather that his Recruiting Officer is George M. Powers Jr, A lieutenant, U.S.N.R.  On the back of this card it says in boldfaced letters, "INSTRUCTIONS.--Keep this card carefully and deliver it to the officer to whom you report at the Training Station.  If you fail to do so, you and others may be SERIOUSLY inconvenienced.  And following that statement it has my grandfather’s full Signature, "Michael Francis Haverty".
     The reason I picked this card for my text was because it was the oldest text I could find in my family.  This card is 61 years old, and my grandmother kept it in very good condition because my grandfather uses to take pride in being in the Navy, so she saved everything he had.  
     My grandfather was very strong and very kind.  He passed away on October 24, 1997, and he will be very well missed.  My grandmother is going to save every item she can find in her things that belonged to my grandfathers so we can always have things to remember him by.
 
(Interview)
I asked my little brother mike about this card.
ME: how old do you think this card is?
Mike: I don’t know, 50 years?
ME: do u know where this card was mailed to?
Mike: Jamaica Plain
ME: where did he live?
Mike: Jamaica plain
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One important speech in the movie "We Were Soldiers", made in 2002 starring Mel Gibson, is when Lt. Colonel Harold "Hal" Moore speaks to new soldiers in his unit, The 7th Calvary.  This was Custer's old unit and the unit my grandfather served in during World War 2.  Here, Hal Moore wanted to prepare his men for battle and make them work as a team.  
 
     Colonel Moore says even though they have Jews, Blacks, Chinese, American Indians, Hispanics and others in the unit, "They are all Americans."  Color, Religion and other differences do not matter when all are in danger.  All that matters is that they help one another.  
 
     In very objective language Moore points out simple truths.  Because of their color or religion, some members face discrimination in the United States. This was during the 1960's when many southern states still had Jim Crow laws for black people.  Many in our country did not believe the idea that all people were equal.  Many private clubs also discriminated against Jews, Catholics, and others.  
 
     Colonel Moore tells his men "Dead or alive we will all come home together."  He makes his point clearly that in battle "You wont care what color the man is next to you and he will watch the back of the man next to you and he will watch yours.  That's how we survive!"  
 
     I admire this man.  He led by example.  He said "I will be the first to set foot on the ground and the last to leave when we go into battle."  He put money where his mouth was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English playwright and poet.  Most of the world recognizes him as the greatest of all dramatists.  However, he is also well known for his poems or sonnets.  In Sonnet # 2, Shakespeare is stating that, since youthful beauty will not last, it is impotant to have children who whill carry on one's name and beautiful qualities.
 
     Shakespeare uses personification and imagery to describe the inevitability of youth's end when he says; "When forty winters shall beseige thy brow, and dig deep trenches in thy beauty's feild."  He feels that, by age 40, age will take its toll on a persons face.  He uses a metaphor that describes the results of aging on a once youthful face when he states that; "Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now, will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held."
 
     Shakespeare uses imagery again to describe the main obsession a person has with his youthful appearance as well as the reality of aging's effects on that appearance when he states; "To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes, were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise."  He is saying that once age sets in, a person realizes that what he was once so obsessed with is gone.
 
     In Sonnet # 2, Shakespeare states that the answer to endless youth and beauty is to have children to carry on one's name and youthful qualities.  This is apparent in the lines; "This fair child of mine shall sum my count and make my old excuse; Proving his beauty by succession thine!"  Here he states that, becuase a person creates a child, he is able to pass on beauty and youth once aging sets in to destroy it in himself.
 
     The message of Sonnet # 2 is that although youthful beauty will not last forever, a person can continue to be young and beautiful through his children.  It is like living on forever.  I feel that Shakespeare is correct since once a person has a child, that child becomes that person's whole focus in life.  It is only logical that that child would reap the benefits of his parent's beautiful qualities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    England, in the mid-twentieth century was in a time of great change.  The effects of two world wars had taken their toll.  England lost millions of young men during World War 2 and had experienced the worst bombing campaign in history. Cities were devestated.  Following the War, The closing of factories resulted in a tremendous loss of jobs.  The economy collapsed.  England's colonies, sucha as India and Hong Kong, became independant.  The loss of income and materials from these sources was huge.  England no longer had the greatest Navy in the world.  For 300 years, it was a great world power.  This was no longer true.  It was the end of the empire.  The rise of Russia as a super power was frightening.  The arms race between the United States and Russia added to the fear.  This "Age Of Pessimism" was reflected in the literature and music of England as well.
      
     The short story "The True Story" by Dylan Thomas has many pessimistic aspects. There is a long-dying old woman, her greedy caretaker and an impoverished house boy.  The tone of the story is gloomy as the caretaker described her duties as tedious.  Her murderous thoughts are evident when she describes picking berries and “Seeing the red currents pile up in the palm of her hand, she would think of the stain of the money under the old woman’s mattress.” She kills the old woman for her money and immediately jumps out of the window and kills herself.  The feeling of desperation and of being controlled by her role as a poor caretaker is similar to the feelings of many lower middle class British at the time.  They felt that their lack of power and economic stability left them at the mercy of more powerful nations.  
      
     In his 1995 Nobel Prize address, Seamus Heaney defined poetry as being both “true to the impact of external reality and…sensitive to the inner laws of the poet’s being”. (Greenlaw)  In his poem "Mid-Term Break", the death of a little brother is treated in an unemotional manner.  Critic John Desmond states that Heaney’s titles are “always percussively significant”. (Desmond, America) the intensity of the boy’s grief at the death of his brother contrasts greatly with the nonchalance of the title.  It is almost as if death and grief were a commonplace thing. The references to his brother as …”the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses,” seem to almost detach him from grief.  (Heaney, p.11)  The final line “A four foot box, a foot for every year”. is a depressing end to a depressing poem.  The poem is significant to the time period because it conveys that the people of this time period were almost resigned to bad times.  
    
     In the play "A Look Back In Anger", pessimism and anger are common themes. John Osbourne broke the commonplace theatrical mold with his use of blunt language and themes of sexuality. Critic Arnold Wesker says that Osbourne “…opened the doors of theatres for all succeeding generations of writers”.(Bond) This play reflects the preoccupation British society had with the uncertainty about the future and about the changes that were taking place all around them. This is seen when Alison says,“You’re hurt because everything is changed.  Jimmy is hurt because everything is the same. And neither of you can face it. Something’s gone wrong somewhere, hasn’t it?” (Osbourne)
 It is the depressing story about middle class British life. Jimmy Porter is a poor middle class man who is trapped by his financial status. He is angry about everything and feels trapped and out of control of his life.  This parallels the feeling of most middle and lower class British of this time period.  The difficulties of life at this time are evident, particularly in Jimmy who is portrayed as the “angry young man” who fights against the lack of passion and idealism in others. The hopelessness of the British is also seen in the setting of the play which is a one bedroom flat in the Midlands.  Jimmy represents the frustrations of the British lower  and middle classes. The plight of the lower middle class is seen in the statement by Jimmy that “people of our generation aren’t able to die for good causes any longer….There aren’t any good, brave causes left.” (Osbourne) This is also a good example of the feeling of pessimism that prevailed among the British at that time. Kenneth Tynan, in his Ovserver review,  felt that Jimmy Porter “represented the dismay of many young Britons…who came of age under a Socialist government, yet found, when they went out into the world, that the class system was still mysteriously intact.” (Bond)  
 
     The feeling of pessimism is also apparent in the song "Eleanor Rigby" by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  It begins on a depressing note until the live "Ah, look at all the lonely people"(Lennon and McCarney, Verse 3).  This feeling reflects the feeling of British people following World War 2.  Losing its place as a great world power, England now is uncertain about its place in the world.  The futility the English felt os reflected in the line from verse # 4: "Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear"(Lennon and McCartney Verse #4).  Eleanor Rigby(PUT IN ITALICS), then , is pessimistic just as the atmosphere of England was at that time.
 
     Pessimism and a fear of what the future holds can be seen in the novel "A Clockwork Orange". It is a dystopian novel of the near future. The England in the book is strongly socialist. 20th century England was quite fearful of the spread of communism. The novel is about Alex, a 15 year old gang leader who terrorized London with a rash of crimes. He and his gang members seem to have no feeling about humanity. Throughout the book, the question “What’s it going to be then, eh” is asked. (The answer to that question comes at the end). The lack of moral values or sense of right and wrong is reflective of the changing moral and political values of 20th century England. When Alex commits murder, he is imprisoned. Here he is involved in the murder of another convict. He is transferred to a new program, the State Institute for the Reclamation of Criminal Types where he is reprogrammed by the use of aversive therapy to give up violence.  It is inferred that he is also giving up his freedom to choose. In a conversation, the prison chaplain asks “What does God want ?  Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?” The fact that he loses his love for classical music along with his love for violence is significant. It indicated the consequences of giving up one’s own self control to others. It is similar to the fear England had of losing its control as a great world power. After a suicide attempt, Alex is reprogrammed back to what he was. The last chapter of the book begins in exactly the same way as the first.  However, in this last chapter, Alex finally answers the question “What’s it going to be then, eh?” He chooses good.  Critic John Cullinan sees this as paralleling the cyclical nature of history. With personal growth, a person is able to make better choices. Similarly, society can learn to choose paths that are more positive when faced with a repeat situation. Critic Robert Evans states that the author is implying that at least part of the fault seen in the England of this novel lies with the 2 superpowers of that time, the United States and Russia. The violence of the young gang is considered to be an American trait while their language is close to Russian. Burgess also implies what he thinks about these two superpowers when he states: “as for America, that’s just the same as Russia. You’re no different. America and Russia would make a very nice marriage.” (Evans).  A Clockwork Orange, then, is portraying both the fears and the pessimism felt by the British during this time period.  No longer a great power, they are quite fearful of control and the consequences of that control.
 
     In summeration, there was a tremendous feeling of loss and helplessness in mid-twentieth century England.  The collapse of its economy, a great loss of life and the end of its rule as a great world power all contributed to this.  British literature, music and theatre reflected this negative mood qhich has been discussed in the works cited above.  It is for these reasons that I have named this period of time in England "The Age of Pessimism."