Thursday, February 18, 2010

Silas Lapham

After reading some more of Silas Lapham, I noticed some interesting things. It seems like Silas is just unable to adjust to his new rich lifestyle. One of the best examples I've found of this is on page 146 where he gets into an argument with his wife and daughters as to how to get more aquainted with this new society.

He just doesn't seem to understand how society works, and refuses to take the advice of his wife on the matter.

"Don't you know that it wouldn't do to ask those people to our house before they've asked us to theirs? They'd laugh in our faces!" Mrs. Latham to Silas.

Previously, on page 139 or so, Bromfield Corey and others are discussing the Lathams and how they do not fit so well into society, if at all. They are amused that Silas Lapham does not have a single idea as to how society works, and as we can see, they are entirely correct.

I would like to think that in these modern day times these sorts of issues are not present, that is, earning a lot of money and being successful in business, but not being able to get in on the higher society. I think the traditions of giving dinners and such have died out for the most part, and unlike Tom and Bromfield's concepts of "good sense and right ideas" being a detriment to society have evolved to a modern day's view that good sense and right ideas, that is being a good businessman or woman are admirable attributes that are valued by high society.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daisy Miller

I have to admit the first time I read through Daisy Miller by Henry James, I was not really all that impressed. I think it was because it was mostly a romance novel, not really something I would pick out of a bookstore to read.

Upon a little closer inspection I found some parts of the book to be rather interesting, most notably its comparison between European and American values and morals as well as the perception of Americans traveling outside the United States.

Randolph is portrayed as your stereotypical American, very greedy and a little bit of a snob. He asks for some sugar from Winterbourne, who says he can have one lump, but Randolph ends up taking three. When Winterbourne says that his teeth will rot away and his mother would not be pleased, Randolph hardly seems to care, even going so far as to say that his own mother will just give him some sugar.

Daisy Miller also plays the part of the typical American traveler, disregarding the social customs of the country she is visiting and going off to do her own thing. She even nitpicks the culture on more than one occasion, stating that the europeans don't have any society or culture. Though I think she is merely perturbed that the culture in Europe is nothing like it is in the United States, and so they must have no 'proper culture' at all.

Daisy also acts with reckless disregard for the local customs. Customs such as not visiting the Colosseum in Rome at midnight because of the risk of catching Roman Fever, a deadly form of the malaria disease.

After realizing these often humorous comparisons, I enjoyed the novel much more and was able to read through it much easier. Many of the comparisons could be made about modern Americans traveling to Europe. After all, you can almost always pick an American out of a crowd of tourists these days it seems.

Brian Rush

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blog Post #3

So after finishing Joaquin Murieta I thought I'd look into a sort of comparison between the author and the persona of Joaquin Murieta. Both share some similarities. John Rollin Ridge was a member of one of America's minority populations, just like Joaquin Murieta. In addition to this, he ran away from a murder in which he committed over stealing a horse.... a similar circumstance to the early events of the Joaquin Murieta story. Not only that, but John Rollin Ridge was chased off his own land several times and was involved in several violent disputes (The Indian Removal and the Cherokee factional wars). Again, very similiar to Joaquin Murieta's forced removal from his own land and his move to become a rogue criminal.

I think it is entirely possible that John Rollin Ridge took the character of Joaquin Murieta to write one of his first books in order to have a character he might be familiar with. He may have even modeled parts of Joaquin Murieta's past after his own, some of the characters may bear a similar resemblance to his own friends and companions over the years. A little research using the class website shows that the actual life of Joaquin Murieta is quite disputed, much of it based off of John Rollin Ridge's book, which is obviously a fiction and not a true to form biography.

And, just in case anyone was wondering, Joaquin Murieta was indeed featured in the first Zorro film. Zorro's exploits were also based mainly off those of Joaquin Murieta. And just like John Rollin Ridge, bear a sharp resemblance to each other. Each fighting against the white settlers of California who were often seen abusing the mexican population and exploiting them.

-Brian Rush