TKAM #3: Boo Radley-The Ghost

Throughout the novel, Boo Radley is frequently mentioned but he is never really seen as major character until well after Tom Robinson’s trial. He doesn’t actually appear Scout and Jem on Halloween from Bob Ewell, who attacked the kids with a kitchen knife. Because it was pitch black outside, Scout and Jem never actually see who saved their lives, but it is figured out fairly quickly that it was none other than Boo Radley who saved their lives, killing Bob Ewell in the process.

Heck Tate, the county sheriff realizes this, and oddly enough, he doesn’t try to arrest Boo. Instead, he actually covers up for Boo, changing the story from: ‘Arthur Radley stabbed and killed Bob Ewell’ to ‘Bob Ewell fell on top of the knife and accidentally killed himself’

It struck me as odd, hearing this from a sheriff-a man sworn to uphold and protect the law, covering up for a man who nobody has ever really met. I can’t blame him, though. Even if he killed Ewell, he did manage to stop the murder of two innocent children, right? If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what does. The book ends shortly thereafter, although it ends on a strange note. Lee brings mentions and obscure line from the beginning of the novel, in which Scout and Jem are discussing ‘Hot Steams’ or haunting spirits that you become when you die. When they pass the Radley house, they are especially reminded of the Hot Steams, and they are afraid of it. At the end of the book, when they have matured and they are saved by Boo, they dismiss the idea of haunting spirits and accept that, to quote the Buddah: “Everything is not as it seems, nor is it otherwise”. Boo is dangerous, but not to them. Bob Ewell found that out the hard way.

The day after this discussion, we discussed another text, a two page excerpt from an essay by William James titled: On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings. The text touches on the idea that everything has two sides, one good and one bad depending on the perspective of each individual. However, I have always felt that, much like in law, there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in between.

So, in the case that James brings up in his essay, involving the tearing down of a forest and replacing it with a home, he says: “Because to me, the stumps spoke of nothing but denudation….But when they looked on the hideous stumps, what they thought of was personal victory”. This quote bears a strong correlation to the mystery of Boo Radley in TKAM near the end of the novel.

TKAM #1: An Intro into the Novel

Before I get into the details of the novel, (TKAM stands for To Kill a Mockingbird, by the way in case you haven’t figured that out yet), I would like to say that I am actually very into this book. The author uses mildly advanced vocabulary, mostly due to the fact that this book is super old(1960, to be exact). I have absolutely no issues with the dialect or vocabulary, and the characters are all likable, which is something that I cannot stress the importance of enough when I read.

Harper Lee does an amazing job of making each character with two sides: their surface value or what the characters’ first impressions are and their deeper, hidden self. Take Atticus for example: He seems to be a fairly straightforward character, not particularly flat or overly dynamic, but he remains a sort of mystery for a while. Eventually, he does come out of his shell and evolve as a character(More on that another time).

Scout is a hardcore tomboy. Since most books from that era feature male narrators(Huck Finn, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye etc.), it’s kind of tough to tell. In fact, for the first half of chapters one through four, I wasn’t sure if she was male or female. She is a rebel to the core and it shows when she arrives at school.

Jem, the elder of the Finch kids, is like an older version of Scout except with more of a adventurous side. He definitely shows up as a dynamic character but his metamorphosis doesn’t begin until around chapter 10.

Last but not least Dill, the quirky, little man-boy who sort of pops up in Maycomb whenever the plot needs another ball to be thrown in the mix. He is an outsider at first, sort of alien to Jem and Scout, but they take him as one of their own. Eventually, Scout’s friendship with Dill escalates to a future wedding(Come on, it’s the 1930s and in the South, so it makes perfect sense).

So overall, I recommend this book to…….. Everyone. Yeah, if you haven’t ever seen, read or picked up this book, you’re missing out on something great. Please, don’t get used to positive reviews on books assigned in English class. Most likely, another positive review won’t come until I’m 1,001 years old.

TKAM #2: Atticus’ Evolution

Since my last post, the novel has really gotten good. The plot has drastically changed from a very slow, not entirely focused flow, into a story better than almost any movie.

Jem and Scout go on a search to find out something interesting about their father that they can be proud to tell kids at school. Their finds are not quite what they were expecting. He can play the Jew’s Harp like it’s nobody’s business and “he can make somebody’s will so airtight can’t nobody meddle with it” These facts only serve to make Scout more ashamed of her father. However, a storm was brewing in Maycomb.

Atticus, who was previously a fairly flat and not very dynamic character has suddenly been the center of attention. When Jem and Scout see the “town pet”, a dog named Tim Johnson acting “mad”, they rush home to alert Calpurnia. Calpurnia, upon seeing how Jem described the dog’s behavior then phoned just about everyone in town, letting them know about the supposedly rabid dog. Heck Tate, Maycomb’s sheriff sees the dog, draws his gun and  does something surprising: rather than shoot it himself, he hands Atticus the rifle and after a short argument, Atticus takes the shot. It was a perfect shot and it seemed to surprise the kids a lot.

This abrupt and unexpected event serves to impress the kids and the reader as well. Our discussion this week on chapters ten through fourteen were focused highly on Atticus, mainly his impact on his children.

In our next discussion, I hope to touch on Boo Radley and his role in the story

Halfway….Sort of

If I were to say that I’ve been working hard on my project I’d be lying. In all honesty I have, unfortunately, made little to no progress. Procrastination is one of my weaknesses and I have been procrastinating for almost a month. I feel a passion for my project but I lack the conviction to push myself forward. The problem with school is having to juggle homework from multiple classes. I’m not making excuses, but planning ahead has never been one of my strengths.

Anyway, rather than dwell on the past, I feel that I should plan for the future. If I can manage to get myself prepared I may be able to get back on track. So I propose a two-week plan to get back on track.

Week One:

  • Day 1: Advertise
    • Place posters
    • Create Social Media Accounts to monitor traffic
  • Day 3: (If I have received word from my flyers):
    • Meet with a volunteer
  • Day 5: Meet with more volunteers(Hopefully)
  • Weekend(Days 6/7):  Edit and meet with volunteers

Week Two:

  • Day 1: Advertise More
    • Announcements
  • Day 2: (With more volunteers)
    • More interviews
  • Days 4/5: Editing and/or Volunteers
  • Weekend(Days 6/7): Editing and/or Volunteers

If my two-week plan manages to get me back on track, I will have to remain diligent from that point out. The only thing that could cause this plan to fail is either me procrastinating or a lack of volunteers. My hope is that I will have at least five volunteers and 10+ would make my year. By my next post, I should have made some actual progress, but only time will tell.

And So It Begins

I can prepare for the journey ahead no longer. I have my idea, I have my message to send out, I have my sources to send it, I have my equipment and I have a focused mind. I can no longer prolong what I must do, so, in this post, I intend to plan and develop my procedure.

I will first need the following materials:

  • Camera/cameraman
  • A guest
  • A quiet place to film and practice unless otherwise required

I will also be going around school and asking various people questions regarding happiness. Since they will be unprepared, they will likely say the first thing they think of when they think of ‘happy’. This is good as it negates the need for any forethought or rejection of otherwise good ideas.

I will be needing a schedule so that I do not get overwhelmed. My general idea is as follows:

Monday/Wednesday/Thursday: Filming and meeting with people about their replies to the poster

Tuesday/Thursday: Random Interviewing

Sunday/Saturday: Editing/replying to emails

There will obviously be days where I get no replies and/or have no more to do for the time being, so those days will be my days off.

I hope to have sufficient video so as to be finished with the documentary around June 10th.

The documentary will (hopefully) be roughly 30-40 minutes in length. I will be narrating some times and essentially interviewing myself on the subjects. By my next blog post, I hope to have begun the process and also to have made some progress.

So, What Now?

I have my idea, I have a way to send the word out, but how do I proceed? Simple: I have several ways in which to proceed.

Step 1. Hand the flyers to several teachers willing to notify their students. (I already have several in mind)

Step 2. Post on various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to spread the word.

Step 3. Hopefully, I have received emails from several students by now, but if not, I wait until I do.

Step 4. Select a few of these students and create a series of questions

Step 5. Film the conversation, much like 60 minutes, and then try it out for myself.

Though these 5 steps, I hope to take a small step forward in determining how to be able to find inner happiness in most anything I do.

 

Progress???

Over the course of this project, I have developed my idea further. In order to determine what kinds of things make people happy, I must get the word out. In order to do so, I need to create some kind of message that would stand out amongst the many, many colorful propaganda posted around my school. So far, I have managed to design a flyer that should do the trick. (below).

screenshot-2017-02-23-at-1-01-34-pm

The purpose of the flyer is to(hopefully) get a response or two. Should I get a response, I intend on pursuing their form of happiness. Consider it a pursuit of Happyness, but starring me, rather than Will Smith. Hopefully, the replies I get are mostly different and also something that I believe could be used with others.

Image result for pursuit of happyness

20Time Project 2.0

I will be starting this year off with something unique- I will be embarking on a journey to discover what makes people happy. By putting up several posters around my school, I hope to find a few people who find happiness in odd, unique or downright strange ways. Obviously, I expect some students to treat this project as a joke, but I truly believe there are people out there who derive happiness from unexpected places. Some of the sources of happiness that I expect to find are some simple things like dance, singing, playing music, writing poetry, etc.Image result for sunset But I know there are people out there who find happiness in unique places. I know of a group of people who find their happiness in experiencing pain. While this may seem odd to us, pain makes these people truly happy; and that is why I intend to find some people like that.

Rebelling Against Authority

Max Moliken

20 January, 2017

Rebelling Against Authority: The True Meaning of Carpe Diem

     On August 7, 1974, the crowds of New York gathered before the twin towers to watch the daringness of Philippe Petit. He shifts the long metal pole onto his shoulders and prepares to step out onto the tightrope that spans the vast expanse of open air between the Twin Towers. One can only wonder what crazy thing was going through this man’s mind as he crossed the rope not once, not twice, but an astounding eight times even though that wasn’t his plan. Philippe just seemed to be having fun. While it was certainly a risk to seize the opportunity, Philippe did it out of sheer joy, later inspiring both a documentary(2008s, Man on Wire) and the 2015 movie The Walk. So one must wonder, could seizing our own days be the key to a similar happiness? Could this idea of Carpe Diem be the answer to true happiness?

     As we take a  lesson from Philippe Petit, I wonder if it is possible for one to go through life without, at one point or another, hearing the term: Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem, the Latin term for seize the day, can be a very confusing concept because it is not clear as to exactly what seize the day means. Does it mean, as a certain Mr. Keating of Dead Poets Society(DPS)may agree, “to make your life extraordinary”? For Philippe Petit it certainly did, but what about the rest of us. Does it mean to accomplish the little things in life that make us all happy as John Spencer noted in his video, ‘What if the Small Life Actually the Epic Life’? Perhaps they may all be true, although I believe that some may just find it to be a reason to rebel, but what are they rebelling against?

     Before determining the meaning of Carpe Diem, it may be helpful to first determine what it means to be a rebel. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘rebel’ as a noun: 1- A person who resists authority, control, or convention, and as a verb: 1- To resist authority, control or convention. In both of these definitions, the word ‘authority’ is mentioned. Although Carpe Diem is widely revered as a cathartic experience, at its core lies the concept of authority. To learn to reject authority and control oneself.

     In other words, Carpe Diem is widely about an individual finding themselves to change his/her state of mind. In the film, Dead Poets Society, the protagonist(Neil Perry) decides to set out on a quest to find himself. His journey through Carpe Diem was slowed and blockaded by his father; an overbearing seemingly emotionally absent man who wants nothing more than for his son to become a talented doctor. Neil, much like Phillipe Petit, set his mind on something more fulfilling-he applied for a position as the editor of the school newspaper and got the job, nonetheless. When his father caught wind of this, he shot the idea down. When Neil decided he’d give acting a try, He got the main part in a Shakespearean play and again, upon hearing of this, his father was immediately against it. So one must wonder how anyone would be surprised to see Neil Perry dead on the study floor, with a smoking revolver in his cold, lifeless hands.

     While this scene powerfully demonstrates the darker side of Carpe Diem, it does provide other characters with their cathartic experiences. Take Todd Anderson, for example. Neil’s shy and oftentimes guarded roommate. Throughout the film, we see Todd in the background, reserved as always, while his classmates are as boisterous as can be. It isn’t until about halfway through the film that we see even a little bit into his life. It is at this moment, when we learn that his parents are much like Neil’s. He stands on a small bridge holding his birthday gift- a small desktop accessory that he admittedly receives every year. After a short talk with Neil(his most personal moment yet), he throws the gift over the edge. This scene in particular symbolizes Carpe Diem in the sense of finding yourself. Neil’s talk with Todd and this symbolic scene helps Todd along the way. In the aftermath of Neil’s death, We see Todd sprinting out of the school and into the snow. Throughout the entire film, this is the most emotion we have yet seen from Todd. It illustrates perfectly how Carpe Diem allows us to find ourselves.

     While some may argue that change is in no way illustrated by these two characters’ existential journeys, it is in fact there. In the beginning of the film, upon our first time meeting Neil, we see him talking with his friends and smoking a cigarette. He laughs and talks and sounds upbeat. Fast forward about two minutes and his entire attitude changes when his father disallows him from being the editor of the school paper. Shortly after their parley, Neil is upset. He bounces back quickly, and remains so until his next encounter with his father’s dictator-like attitude. Shortly afterwards, he is dead and his journey has been cut short by authority.

     Wise men have before said that rebelling against authority is inevitable. One such quote, written by Thomas Paine states: “He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defense of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to defender of the faith than George III.” This quote illustrates that authority has been rebelled against since long before Carpe Diem became such a largely discussed topic.

     So, how does this all tie together? Does Neil’s death prompt the others to find themselves and stand up to authority? Does his demise bring about change? In short, yes. I can, without a doubt, say  that Neil’s death was what I consider to be the most pivotal moment in the film. The tragic end of his journey to ‘seize the day’ allowed many others to fully express their core nature, thus completing the vicious circle that is Carpe Diem. And, so, as Philippe Petit before us, we follow in his footsteps to seize our own days and make our own lives extraordinary.

 

Works Cited

Biography.com. “Philippe Petit.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 07 Aug. 2015.          Web. 27  Jan.2017.

OurSocialVoice. YouTube. YouTube, 10 Jan. 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.  

     <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8_VZo993BI>.

“Thomas Paine.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2017. 27 January 2017.

     https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomaspain400195.html