Extra Credit Assignment: Wrap up!

We expected that we would meet weekly together and switch off between the three of us to write the blog, but we expected that all of us would show up to help contribute ideas and thoughts regarding the topics we were discussing in our weekly posts. We wanted everyone to show up having read the novel, short story or poem that we will be discussing so that way the blog could get done efficiently and effectively. We thought it would work well rotating, but all still collaborating on the blog and it definitely worked out well for our groups dynamic.

It worked really well doing the blog together because we could bounce new perspectives off of one another and in the end we created a really unique perspective of the text. I think for keeping it the same we would do it as a group for sure because it was really effective. The only thing that we would have liked to have done differently was potentially having a prompt to go off of.

We stayed really true to our manifesto, we switched off between the three of us every single week and we kept our blog free-form and we wrote in a relaxed and not professional manner. It did not really impact the way we thought about our topics, we just knew that we wanted to voice our opinion and perspective about every topic we were choosing to discuss for our blog.

We really loved the post we did about the white heron and how we related it to fairy tales and snow white in particular. It gave us a new perspective on the short story and let us use our creativity to convey the way in which we perceived the story in relation to the fairy tale.

It gave us an opportunity to work with people and learn how to work with others when often times you have different perspectives from one another, but it was fun seeing how all of our ideas were able to collide to create one specific perspective. Overall, we learned more than we would doing this assignment alone because we were able to bounce ideas off of each other. We enjoyed this blog a lot!


Haley, Ashley and Amanda

Extra Credit Assignment: Wrap up!

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Our group was really interested in the topic of clothing that we discussed in class, so we decided to expand on this theme and include the topic of marriage. The symbolism of clothing in this novel is relevant to the evolution of a woman. As we said in class, there is a spectrum of color in the characters’ clothes. On the lighter side is Adele Ratignolle, who seems to only wear the color white. In the center but moving more toward the lighter side is Edna Pontellier, whose clothes closely resemble Adele’s angelic style. On the darker side is Mademoiselle Reisz, who wears darker colors and has little to no care about how she looks or what she is wearing. Other minor characters on this spectrum include the lady in black and the Farival twins, who “were girls of fourteen, always clad in the Virgin’s colors, blue and white” (35). There are plenty of mentions of clothing throughout the novel. For example, when Mrs. Pontellier is to receive lady visitors on Tuesdays she is “attired in a handsome reception gown” (76) and her husband only realizes she didn’t receive visitors because she is not wearing her normal attire (77).

We are told that Adele has the perfect marriage but we are never given solid evidence. It’s not entirely obvious that Adele and her husband are perfectly happy in their marriage to one another. When Edna goes to visit them in New Orleans after the summer is over, she leaves their house with “a little glimpse of domestic harmony” (86) the couple had exhibited but it was merely a glimpse and not entirely expanded to allow the reader to view their “perfect marriage” for themselves. Apparently, not one couple in this novel has the perfect marriage. They may seem to be in love with one another, but in this society, they are keen to conceal any imperfections that acquaintances might notice. For example, when Edna decides to go out on a Tuesday afternoon, she doesn’t not leave the proper excuse for her not receiving any visitors. Her husband takes it upon himself to blow the whole ordeal out of proportion because most of the woman who came to call on Edna were married or related to prominent male figures that Mr. Pontellier works with.

This novel closely examines a married woman’s life in the 19th century, both happy (Adele) and unhappy (Edna). With the use of symbolism (such as clothing), the reader is able to identify with one character or another.


Amanda Scott (AS)

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening and other short stories. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Print.

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is a very fascinating character in the detective fiction genre, because of his intelligence and unique observation skills. The phenomenon of Sherlock has captured audiences everywhere, and allowed the character to become universally popular. The character of Sherlock is often replicated in many different adaptations of detective stories. One of the most recent adaptations is the BBC series, “Sherlock”. This series is a modernized version of a classic story, and has kept the famous character around. We are perplexed by the character of Sherlock because we are unable to see into his mind, we are only allowed to see from the perspective of Dr. Watson. This keeps Sherlock’s strategies and uncanny ability to solve mysteries a complex idea to the reader.

Often times we are familiar with Dr. Watson being the narrator of Sherlock’s stories. The print version provides readers with Dr. Watson’s voice in fifty-six of the sixty stories, and the BBC version of “Sherlock” stays true to this idea though the blogs John Watson writes about Sherlock’s cases. This allows Sherlock Holmes to gain popularity and notability throughout London, which causes him to be widely known for his crime solving abilities. Dr. Watson is similar to the reader, because he feels as if the crimes are incredibly hard to solve, but once Sherlock solves them it seems so simple. That is what keeps the reader interested and hanging onto the story. The reason Sherlock’s stories are still used today is because of how intriguing Sherlock’s abilities are, they keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

We appreciate the BBC version of “Sherlock” by staying true to the stories and characters in the Sherlock Holmes books, but also modernizing and evolving the original methods of Sherlock Holmes. The character of Sherlock in the BBC version is a witty recluse, much like the character in the books. We can view Sherlock as a byronic hero because of how he approaches other people, his love interests, and the way he solves crimes. One difference between the books and the BBC show is that this Sherlock is seen as more of a crime fighter, with his use of guns and physical violence; whereas the original Sherlock was not a crime fighter, but just a detective. Overall the BBC version holds true to the values of Sherlock, but adds a modern twist and adapts the commonly loved stories.

-Ashley Borello

Sherlock Holmes

Pudd’nhead Wilson

In Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chambers was born into slavery and his mother wanted him to have the best life possible. Even though he was very light skinned, he was still considered to be african american because of the one drop law that was set in that era. Chambers’ mom wanted to give him more than she ever could so when Chambers was a baby she switched him with the slave masters’ son, Tom. Due to the one drop rule, it did not matter how much african american blood you had in your system, even if you had any in your genetics it created a stigma of what black people should act by based upon society’s expectations. When Chambers found out that he was black his attitude and actions instantly changed due to the stigma that surrounds this race. This brought up curiosity in our group about whether or not this was a common thing that happened during this era. We decided to do some research to see if this was something that commonly happened or if it was really rare in society back then.

We had a really tough time finding any sources that could validate our curiosity about whether or not this was common or rare, but we did find an article about a woman from Spokane, Washington who is white but posed as african american and fooled society because she wanted to see if people would treat her differently because of her race. She passed as black through the city of Spokane and even went on to work for Eastern Washington University and had fake siblings try not to “blow her cover”. She created an entire back story about how she was from Montana and lived in a tipi. Her story was completely absurd and yet people still fell for her lie. This is an interesting concept that took place in todays era and it is interesting to see and read about the experiences this woman endured as she was posing as a black woman. She experienced acts of racism and she documented them and went on to research the one drop rule. She is a light skin woman portraying herself as a fair skinned black woman and she still was treated differently than other people in society.

Based on the lack of evidence and the surprising story that we found about a woman located nearby, we can assume that the scenario did not happen very often. If it did, people did not found out and it was well concealed and not documented for society to find out about. Now days, when people try to switch babies in the hospital there are finger prints that are taken almost immediately when the baby is born and this is now prevented. Almost like how Pudd’nhead Wilson was fond of taking finger prints of people around town.


Haley Tugaw HT.

Works Cited


Pudd’nhead Wilson

Sexuality in the Victorian Era

In class today, we, the Freethinkers, decided to focus on Victorian era sexuality, especially prostitution and gender roles. For example, in the short story “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” by Stephen Crane, the main character doesn’t get into a gun-slinging duel with his archenemy because said enemy realizes that he is newly married and doesn’t want to disrespect his bride by killing her groom. The role of the woman often serves a purpose of being an accessory to the man: a woman to clean, cook, and care for her husband and her home. They were often viewed as respectable and plain—they blended with the background, not raised to stand out in a social situation.

Our research showed that women often wanted to branch out and be individuals who don’t follow society’s expectations. However, medical professionals in the 19th century, such as William Acton, believed that “the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled by sexual feeling of any kind.”* He continues by saying that sex was seen by many as something that is solely enjoyed by men because women endured it for the purpose of reproduction only. Essentially, medical professionals of the Victorian era believed that woman were only having sex for babies while men were having sex for pleasure. Often women were seen as objects for sex. For example, laws had to be created so that female immigrants coming from Asia and Europe were not forced into the sex trade.**

We also researched visual representation of these ideas. We can analyze texts written by authors who have studied the era in depth. However, it’s more helpful to analyze a cartoon specifically from that time period, such as the cartoons below:

A woman was expected to be modest when dressing herself. In this cartoon, the woman is revealing her ankles, which is unacceptable in society because it’s too much skin and provokes the possibility for a scandal.


This cartoon represents a woman's role in society and all the possibilities of what she can be even if she had a right to vote. It also shows what men can be because they have the right to vote
This cartoon represents a woman’s role in society and all the possibilities of what she can be even if she had a right to vote. It also shows what men can be because they have the right to vote

In conclusion, women have been oppressed and devalued by their male counterparts. This set a standard for how women were deemed to behave and it made it extremely difficult for women to overcome these struggles. Even though these characteristics are not described fully in “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” we can safely assume they are in the undertones of the narrative. We can conclude this because of the way her character does not have any significance in the short story besides the fact that her presence prevented the shoot out in the end of the story. Otherwise, she blends into the background, which was expected of women living in this time period.

Works Cited

*Acton, William. Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs. 1865

**Library of Congress


Leech, John. “The Great Social Evil”

“What Women May Be And Yet Not Have the Vote.” <http://www.johndclare.net/Women1.htm&gt;


AS (Amanda Scott)

Sexuality in the Victorian Era

Snow White and The White Heron

The White Heron is a short story about a young girl who is very in-tune with nature. While venturing off to find her cow she stumbled upon a hunter who has offered to pay her ten dollars if she is able to find the white heron. We come to find out that he is a collector of birds and his hobby is killing and stuffing them. Sylvia’s family could have really used the money and throughout the entire story she struggles with the decision she made to save the heron. She thinks she has made the right decision because nature is such a huge part of her life and very valuable to her. Nature is something that Sylvia is able to connect with and relate to; Sylvia has the idea to climb the tree to get a better perspective showing that she sees nature as a helpful tool that she can rely on.

The White Heron can be related to modern day fairy tales, such as Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. Snow White is very similar to Sylvia in the aspect that they are both deeply connected to nature. Sylvia cherishes the presence of the white heron and Snow White also has a love for all animals in the forest. In Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs we see that Snow White is the only one able to communicate with the forest animals, much like The White Heron where Sylvia is the only one who is able to see where the bird is located. Sylvia and Snow White both live in an isolated forest which has deprived their contact with anyone outside the forest setting. Snow White finds happiness in the animals that are around her and have become her friends. Sylvia and her cow have a close relationship causing her to appreciate animals and nature even more, this leads to her respect for the white heron and her admiration for the it’s presence in a natural setting.

The idea that nature is meant to stay in it’s natural habitat preserves its beauty. It is thought that if people are to take something beautiful and deemed natural out of its original setting it is seen to have lost the natural qualities of its beauty. Just because Sylvia turned down the money does not mean she did not get a reward. She is now able to admire the natural beauty of the white heron. Even if she is admiring the bird from afar, we are able to assume that she regards the bird as a friend just like Snow White and her friendship with the forest animals.


Snow White and The White Heron

Mysteries and Plot Lines in Hard Times

Throughout Hard Times there are multiple occurrences of mysterious situations as well as mysterious characters. In class on Tuesday we discussed some of these briefly, but our group is wanting to dive deeper into the many mysteries and plot lines seen throughout the novel.

One of the mysteries surrounds Mr. Bounderby. He is introduced to the audience in the beginning of the novel and is described to us in a mysterious way. On page 19, before we are actually introduced and are able to learn about Mr. Bounderby the novel provokes the readers with the question: “…who was Mr. Boundary?”(Dickens 19).  This provides the audience with a sense of foreshadowing revolving around his character. We do not know much about his character and he does not provide us with the chance to learn much about him. Because when he does talk about himself he tells the same story over and over again. This enables the people around him to believe his story to a fault. In the end we learn that he was born into a privileged family with wonderful parents and has been paying his mother to stay away from him in order to keep up his fake persona.

Also in the beginning of the novel, after Mr. Boundary is introduced both he and Mr. Grandgrind go to Sissy’s home to expel her from the school that Gradgrind oversees. They ask to speak with her father, she goes off to find him, but he is nowhere to be found. When her father is said to of runaway Mr. Gradgrind offers to take Sissy in and let her live with his family in order to further her education. This is an ongoing mystery throughout the novel because it is never revealed exactly why Sissy’s father left her. Some say he loved her very much, but he still chose to run away. Then others say he loved her so much that he ran away. We are never given the truth as to what actually happened to Sissy’s father. On page 269 when Sissy’s faithful dog Merrylegs returns, Sleary says to Mr. Gradgrind: “Tho, whether her father bathely dithered her; or whether he broke with own heart alone, rather than pull her down along with him; never will be known…” (Dickens 269). While the novel is riddled with mysteries this is one that will never be solved.

One, if not the most major details of the plot revolve around Louisa Gradgrind. She is the central figure of the entire web of characters and other plot lines that are occurring throughout the novel. Most of the drama and exciting bits of this novel come into contact with Louisa in this novel. She is connected to Mr. Boundary by marriage in order to protect Tom. Rachael and Stephen engage in conversation with Louisa throughout the novel because of their friendship. She’s deeply connected to Sissy because they were friends and then she pushed her away. When Louisa left she built a wall to care about anything, but then when she returns to her fathers home, she lets everything go and tells her father about how unhappy she is. Her father understands and Louisa is the one who changes his mindset. After Louisa unleashes her feelings she reconnects with Sissy and they form a strong friendship just like they were before. Louisa’s love for her family and her desire to help others allows the plot line to unfold and for many of the mysteries to be unearthed.

The many mysteries surrounding Hard Times has befuddled many of its readers, however many of the mysteries are resolved by the last chapter “Final”. Though it still leaves the audience guessing with a few mysteries such as Sissy’s Father, the end result is satisfying.

-Haley Tugaw HT

Mysteries and Plot Lines in Hard Times