Michelle's blog

October 26th, 2010

Luc Sante

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

“Hey that sounds like something I have already read”. As I was reading Sante’s piece I realized that there were moments where I felt as though I had explored some of the ideas he is mentioning in different texts I had already read. For example, every time immigrants were mentioned I couldn’t help but think of Whitehead and his description of immigrants. Another similarity I found between Sante and Whitehead was that they both mentioned the dead. “When the dead are endlessly represented in monuments, images, memorials, and ceremonies, their vigor passes into these objects and events.” (x). This description reminded me of when Whitehead states, “The bones of their ancestors lie at the bottom among refrigerator doors and license plates. They cannot wave but currents stir their bones and perhaps that is a gesture toward kin.” (105). Certain lines in Sante also made me think of some themes that Whitman was portraying. When Sante says “The city was like this a century ago, and it remains so in the present”(xviii), this reminds me of how Whitman felt that all generations were connected. Another part of Sante’s text that stood out to me was his description of the city as a monster, “It is a city and it is also a creature, a mentality, a disease, a threat” (ix). This description of the city made me think of the way Whitehead begins his piece describing the city as food, something that she can take a piece of, “It’s over there, that striated island, cut up carved out and waiting. Pick up your favorite cuts and gorge.” (99). Both of these are very unique ways of depicting the city, and I definitely would have never thought of the city in these ways without the help from these authors.

October 12th, 2010

tentative thesis statement and outline

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

However a common theme present within three texts, “Brooklyn Bridge” by Colon Whitehead, “Brooklyn Bridge” by Lewis Mumford”, and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman, is that the journey begins as a physical one, getting from one destination to another, but as you continue on reading these essays, you realize that the journey is a spiritual and mental one rather than a physical one.

This thesis statement is still very general, and still needs to be adjusted, but it’s a starting point!

Thesis Statement

I. Brooklyn Bridge: Colon Whitehead

-Journey motif

  • The girl is traveling across the bridge, her physical journey.
  • The reason for going across the bridge was to leave her “immigrant spices” behind and to move away from the crowd.
  • She didn’t want to be a part of the crowd anymore and going to Manhattan she thought would be the solution to this problem.
  • When she walks onto the bridge, there is a clear destination in mind, and her reason for getting onto the bridge is clear
  • As the journey continues, she faces challenges along the way.
  • Not knowing if she should continue on
  • Why are there people coming back from manhattan and heading in the other direction on the bridge? What do they know that she doesn’t.
  • Everything is hazy and unclear to her. The future is unknown.
  • The real reason for going on the journey becomes clear as we continue reading on.
  • To escape reality and think about the future.
  • Looking forward to what’s to come and realizing that there’s going to be changes.
  • Journey through time
  • Thinking about the future. Reflecting on what she wants to accomplish.
  • Future is unclear to her and the journey provides her with the chance to discover the changes that are to come.

–Whitehead also provides other smaller examples of a journey throughout this journey.

  • The journey of the man who once walked the bridge and now has two kids and a corner office.
  • The man who stopped in the middle of his journey.

II. Brooklyn Bridge, Lewis Mumford

-Journey Motif

  • The person who goes on the journey is himself.
  • He goes on a physical journey across the bridge, but in reality he really is going through a spiritual journey.
  • His intentions when first getting onto the bridge is to just get from one side to the other.
  • Along the way we realize that his journey is about so much more than just getting to the other side.
  • In the end the journey becomes about the transition from childhood into adulthood.
  • While on the bridge, the perfect moment provides for an epiphany.
  • This epiphany is the moment where everything makes sense to him and he loses all of the confusion that he had felt beforehand.

III. Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman

–journey motif

  • The person who is going on the journey is Whitman himself when he goes on the ferry.
  • Whitman is going on a simple everyday journey on the ferry across the river on his way back home from work just as many other people do everyday.
  • His initial reason just as everyone else’s reason is just to get across the river so that he an get home.
  • Challenges on the way include discovering how the past and future are related.
  • Other challenges along the way include all of the hatred and violence and evils that everyone has to face in life.
  • In the end the real reason for going on this journey is really to discover how past and future generations are related, the spiritual journey that he went through, future generations will also experience the same things.
  • The experience of self discovery is a common journey that relates him to the future generations
  • Journey also provides him with the opportunity of connecting with nature, and in doing so he discovers more about himself, which is what will be common with future generations as well.
October 6th, 2010

journey motif

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

While reading Colon Whitehead’s essay “Brooklyn Bridge” I found myself finding many similarities between this essay and the novel The Grapes of Wrath. I guess the main reason why I kept relating this essay to the Grapes of Wrath was because of the idea of a journey taking place throughout the essay. In the Grapes of Wrath, the Joads leave everything and journey off to California in search of jobs and the novel explains the struggles that they face along the way. The motif of journey is seen throughout The Grapes of Wrath and similarly the journey motif is seen in “Brooklyn Bridge” by Colon Whitehead.

The piece is written so that Whitehead is telling us a story. This story is about the journey that a women is taking across the Brooklyn Bridge. That’s all right? Is this whole essay just about a girl going over a bridge, crossing over from one side and going to the other? At first you may think so, but as you continue to read on you realize that there is more to this story than someone crossing over a bridge; we discover that this journey over the bridge is so much more.

The piece begins with a women getting onto the bridge. She knows where this bridge leads to. We know this right away from the first lines of the essay, “It’s over there, that striated island, cut up carved out and waiting” (99). When the women gets onto the bridge there is a clear destination, which is Manhattan. She gets onto the bridge with a purpose, which is to get to the other side, and get away from the crowd of immigrants which she is a part of. “Her whole history hordes behind her with its unfashionable are code and immigrant spices”(99) “She steps on the bridge to exit” (100).

Throughout her journey she encounters challenges. These challenges include dealing with the unknown and whether or not she should continue on in her journey, “Up here everything is hazy” (102). She is faced with making decisions as to whether or not she will continue going. “Refugees pass her going the other way and she wonders what they know that she doesn’t. Forsaking what she seeks, concrete walkway becomes wooden slats and less assured” (100). In the end the overall journey isn’t about making it to the other side of the bridge, but rather it is about the knowledge obtained during the course of the journey.

The real reason for the journey is to escape reality and think about the future. It’s about looking forward to what’s to come and realizing that there’s going to be changes. In essence it becomes really a journey through time. Being up on that bridge to this women really becomes an opportunity for her to decide what she wants in life. “Years ago, she picked a window and told herself one day she would live behind that window and watch them walk on the bridge like she walks now” (103). The future is unclear to her and this journey provides her with the opportunity of discovering the changes that are to come. “Closer you get to the other side, the slower you walk. On the other side there is no more dreaming. Just solid ground” (108).

Whitehead also includes other smaller journeys within the story of the journey of this one women. “A couple of years ago he stopped in this very spot, shook his fist at the skyline and declared, You can’t break me. Now he has two kids and a corner office” (103). This provides us with an example of a journey where the person has been successful in changing. However Whitehead also provides us with an example of someone who is unable to change and is paused in their journey. “A man pitched a tent here once and was hauled away. He told the police, I renounce all boroughs. You have the right to remain. You have the right to shout to the gods. If you have no philosophy one will be appointed to you” (105).

Through the journey motif, Whitehead is making a statement about making choices and dealing with the future. The future is unclear and mysterious. People are afraid to approach it since it’s so unknown, they’d rather stay where it’s safe, remain where everything is known. However this is not what life is about, we can try to escape reality and avoid change, but in the end as much as we may try to escape our future, we are brought back to reality.

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